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Bad Angel

VIEWS: 66 PAGES: 170

									BAD ANGEL
Author: Abbyland
Rating: NC-17
WARNINGS: Contains non-consensual/coerced sex, rape and battery.
Disclaimer: I own nothing. All of the characters are the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy and 20th Century Fox.
DISTRIBUTION: PLEASE ASK
A/N: This is totally AU. Everyone is human. There is a lot of exposition at the beginning but it’s necessary so please, just hang in there. Also,
although he’s human, this is Angelus we’re dealing with here, not Angel. He is a bastard.
Thanks to my betas Eve and Premiere.
Summary: Angelus Rayne has a vendetta against Hank Summers and Buffy is the pawn he uses to wreak his vengeance.
******
Introduction
******
Angelus sat in the darkened study nursing a tall glass of bourbon. He was numb. He had been sitting there for hours now. Ever since the
moment his father drew his last breath. He only moved to refill his glass. Disbelief clouded his mind. Ethan Rayne, the great mobster and
organized crime lord was dead, of cancer no less. And Angelus, his only child, barely knew him. A lone tear slipped down his face as reality
slowly settled in. In his mind he had failed his father and left him to rot in prison. Images of Ethan’s emaciated body haunted him. He squeezed
his eyes closed in a futile attempt to block it out. The frail man who died in his arms just hours before was nothing like the man he
remembered from his childhood. He vividly recalled how his father looked when he was taken away after the trial. He was strong and
distinguished. His entire being exuded power. THAT man was Angel’s father. The person he collected from the prison’s infirmary and took care
of for the past few weeks was a stranger. In fact, Angel would never have recognized him had the nurse not pointed him out. What happened
to him? He was so broken. And his senility only worsened it. Angelus too was broken to see him like that. The burden of taking care of Ethan,
even for so brief a time, destroyed something within him. As Ethan’s health deteriorated, Angelus became despondent and depressed. He had
been trying to get his father paroled for years now and even after his diagnosis, the damn parole board still refused to budge. It was only after
Ethan could no longer eat or see to his own hygiene that they released him. He clearly posed no threat to the public then. They kept him until
all that was left of the once great man was a shadow. Angel felt robbed. Robbed of his father’s life, robbed of his own. That was something
he’d never get back. Ethan’s death was like salt in his childhood wounds. That was when Ethan was first taken from him. He was seven years
old when his life changed forever.

Angel sighed, his eyes slowly scanning the room as he reflected on his life, the dim lights casting shadows against the walls of the room. He
smiled gravely. He remembered how the shadows scared him as a boy and that he would only enter the room during the day or when his
father was there. Ethan would hold him in his lap and tell him stories, shielding him from them. He remembered feeling safe with his father.
But all of that ended the moment he was taken away. Suddenly a soft knock on the door disrupted his reverie.

“Yes.” Emotional exhaustion filled his voice.

“Angel?” Cordelia slowly opened the door. She didn’t want to intrude on his privacy but she was so concerned for him. Entering, she eyed the
rapidly disappearing bottle of bourbon disapprovingly. “You really should eat something.”

“I’m not in the mood to eat.” His tone silenced any further comments on his drinking.

“I’m about to head out, do you need anything?” She knew he hated her mothering him.

“No.” It was both a response and a dismissal.

She got the hint and quietly left him alone again.

Shortly after she left, Angelus resumed his brooding, the painful memories twisting a knife in his heart. Once Ethan was convicted of various
counts of murder and racketeering, he was sentenced to consecutive life sentences, in addition to being charged hundreds of thousands in
fines. In his absence, the entire Rayne organization collapsed as feuding partners who managed to escape incarceration, squabbled over
control and money. And the ongoing federal probes sent many of his associates fleeing the country. If not for the funds Ethan had kept beyond
the reach of the District Attorney and the federal government, Ethan and his family would have been completely ruined. However, the
whereabouts of his fortune remained a mystery for years. No one but Ethan knew and he wasn’t sharing. As long as the feds were looking for
it, he’d take the secret to his grave.

Unfortunately, because of Ethan’s mistrust and secrecy, Angel and his mother, Darla, were left virtually penniless. They were forced to seek
refuge with Ethan’s brother, Holtz. Holtz was a tyrant. His wife Kate, and their son Lindsey were both deathly afraid of him. Darla was also
terrified of him but she was desperate and needed help and protection from the law, in addition to Ethan’s enemies.

But in the end, they needed to be protected from Holtz as well. Although no one ever told him, Angel was certain that Holtz took sexual
liberties with his mother. He walked in on them once as a teenager and although he didn’t actually see anything, he was sure that he had
interrupted something. Darla quickly began making excuses and Holtz was furious at the intrusion. But Holtz’s liberties didn’t end with Darla.
The man was truly sadistic and he found great pleasure in tormenting Angel. He never understood why Darla allowed it even when he begged
her to help him. No matter what Holtz did, or how Angel screamed and cried for her, she stood aside while he made him his whipping boy.

During their time with Holtz and his family, Angel and Darla tried to visit Ethan in prison as much as possible. But as the years passed and the
abuse worsened, the visits became more and more difficult, and less and less frequent. Eventually, they stopped altogether. But Ethan was no
fool. He knew what was happening. However, Holtz was a greater asset to him alive than dead. He needed Holtz’s services on the outside as
long as he remained imprisoned and so he forced himself to turn a blind eye. And so, Darla and Angel unwittingly became “payment” to Holtz.
The irony being that they withheld what was happening to them from Ethan thinking they were protecting him, when really he had already
sacrificed them to the wolf.

The nightmare that was Angel’s life continued to the day Darla finally could take no more and left. Angelus was almost eighteen by then and
he worked part-time to help support them as he attended college. Fortunately, he was a highly intelligent young man and was able to secure
financial assistance for his education. Together they managed to carve out an existence for a few years before Darla was killed in a car
accident. Angel was convinced her death was the work of one of Ethan’s enemies. A message to Ethan that whatever conflict existed between
them still wasn’t over. He remembered finding the police outside of their small apartment as he returned from his classes. He was devastated
when they told him. His mother was gone. When he finally summoned the courage to tell Ethan, the man was livid. And Angel, for the first
time, was glad for the bars separating them. It was during this visit that Ethan revealed to Angel where his money was and whom he needed to
see, as well as avoid. Angel dutifully made contact with some of his father’s former associates and under their tutelage, gradually took steps to
reclaiming his father’s fortune and rebuilding his empire. His first order of business was to have Holtz murdered and then move back into his
parents’ house.

Angelus sat in his armchair as sadness washed over him. The memories of his parents left a void within him. First his father, then his mother.
He was overcome with despair. He felt tremendous guilt that he hadn’t visited Ethan for so many years and it ate away at him. Knowing what
happened between Darla and Holtz and what his uncle did to him, made seeing his father difficult. And later, when he discovered that his
father knew about the abuse, it became an even greater struggle for Angel and he could hardly look at Ethan. As he became more deeply
involved with Ethan’s affairs, Angel came to the horrific realization that he and his mother had been “sold” to Holtz. But even in his fury and
horror, he could not bring himself to blame his father completely. He rationalized Ethan’s betrayal as the act of a desperate man, twisted and
deranged by the injustices he suffered as a convict in the state penitentiary. But despite his reasoning, seeing Ethan always evoked strong and
conflicting emotions. Even when he tried to visit, seeing him caged like an animal became more and more difficult as the years passed and he
eventually couldn’t do it anymore. He left him there for all that time, alone. Despite the knowledge that he worked feverishly to have Ethan
released, Angel could not move past what he saw as his own utter failings as a son. He should have protected Darla, especially when he got
older. Perhaps if he had begged his father, Ethan would have told him where the money was and things would have been easier.

As he sat, staring at the portrait of his parents on their wedding day, Angel could feel the emptiness festering and gradually consuming him,
draining his life and slowly suffocating him. As he replayed the grievous events of his past, his inebriated mind kept drawing one conclusion.
No matter what Holtz, his father or Darla did, everything that happened to him was because Ethan was taken away. And, according to Angel,
there was only one person responsible for that, Hank Summers.

The name Hank Summers was anathema to Angelus. Hank was a former Assistant District Attorney with high political aspirations. He came
from a wealthy and politically influential family. After college, he studied law and joined the D. A’s Office where he worked in the trenches
doing his civil duty, paving the road to his political future. He had been working for the D. A. for five years when he was handed Ethan Rayne’s
case. It didn’t take a genius to know that winning the case would be the ticket to his future. And Hank took the responsibility to heart. He
worked endless hours interviewing witnesses, preparing briefs and putting together the most extensive case he’d ever handled. The feds, for
once, proved to be an asset rather than a hindrance to the state and when the trial started, Hank was confident that a conviction would result.

The intense media interest sensationalized every aspect of the trial and everyone involved became instant celebrities. The attention was
unexpected and eventually began to wear thin on Hank but his upper class breeding truly became an asset and helped him greatly in handling
the press. The trial lasted eight weeks and when the jury handed down the guilty verdicts on the many charges against Rayne, the media
frenzy only intensified. Hank couldn’t remember how many talk shows he went on or how many interviews he had afterwards. His social
calendar was suddenly overbooked. He was shocked to learn that not only was the public fascinated by the details of the trial itself, but that
people were also intrigued by him. And Hank’s handsome looks only fueled the fire. Soon people recognized him on the street and asked for
autographs and Hank had never had so many women proposition him. The personal questions were somewhat bracing. They were practically
clamoring over each other to get to him. It was hard not to get swept up in the blitz. But, to Hank’s relief, the fascination seemed to simmer
down quite a bit some months after the trial ended and within a year or two, he was a nobody again. And that was just fine with him as he
pursued his career.

Then, one Christmas Eve, his mother hosted a dinner party; all of their friends were invited. It was that night that he first met Joyce. She was
the daughter of a shipping merchant. Her family was also very wealthy and politically powerful. She was the perfect match for Hank. And like
actors following a script, they met and fell hard for each other. Months later, they were inseparable and rumors of an imminent engagement
were soon spreading through their social circle. They managed to delay satisfying the rumor mill for another year before they officially
announced their wedding date. Over the ensuing months, the Society pages were filled with announcements and little details of the upcoming
nuptials. The wedding itself was a formal affair, the guest list a veritable “Who’s Who” in America. The newlyweds seemed to live a charmed
life. Sailing here or jetting there whenever Hank’s schedule allowed.

Eventually, Hank left the law and officially entered politics. At his side, Joyce joined several charities and became an activist for a few causes.
He and Joyce were the toast of the town. A few years into the marriage, Joyce became pregnant and soon a baby girl was born. From the
outside looking in, life couldn’t be better. But as is usually the case, life wasn’t easy for the couple. They loved each other and their daughter,
Buffy, was a beam of sunlight in their life. But they found that their careers, particularly Hank’s, placed a lot of pressure on the marriage. As his
career progressed, the demands continued growing and Hank spent less and less time at home. The media was a constant presence and their
privacy became more and more difficult to protect. Despite appearances, life was less than charmed for the small family. Eventually, a second
child, Dawn, was born. By then, Hank was a senator and the Summers family was among the most respected in the country. Joyce busied
herself with her children and her charities. However, despite their difficulties, great affection and caring still remained between them and each
found fulfillment in their careers and children. Buffy and Dawn grew up as the delight of their parents’ lives and as the years passed, they
blossomed into charming, well-rounded young women. Great things were expected of them.

It was now 30 years since Hank Summers made a name for himself with the Rayne case but every now and then whenever he was interviewed,
someone would mention it. It was commonly referred to as the case that made Hank a star. As the girls grew up, they occasionally heard
stories of the famous trial but neither really knew much about it. Buffy was now 21. She had just finished college and was living on her own
and working at a nonprofit organization. Dawn was 16 and attending a private boarding school. And Joyce was deeply immersed in her
charitable work and social activities. Now, with the girls almost grown, Hank was considering running for the ultimate of his political ambitions.
He was seriously contemplating a run for the White House. Once his intent became known, rumors were soon buzzing around town. Within
weeks, he and his picture perfect family were again thrust into the media spotlight.

Throughout his life, Angelus maintained a deep interest in his father’s trial. As a teenager, he studied the trial transcripts and the statues that
were used to convict his father. He collected every newspaper clipping or magazine article he could find that had anything to do with the case.
He recorded televised interviews and news conferences. He was literally obsessed with anything pertaining to it, including the lawyers. As a
child, he was terrified of the man who, in his mind, was taking his daddy away. That fear turned into fascination as he learned more and more
about Hank Summers. Even as a young adult, he continued to follow Hank’s career and life. He knew of his marriage and the births of his
children. Angelus even knew their names and ages. His fascination eventually turned into resentment and outright loathing as he followed
Hank’s life through magazine articles and interviews; a life that, he felt, was the direct result of his father’s ruin. In his mind, everything good in
Hank’s life was gained in some way from his father’s imprisonment. Whenever he saw a picture of Hank and his family, jealousy and rage
boiled to the surface within him. Hank got to watch his children grow up, Ethan didn’t. Buffy and Dawn had their father with them, he didn’t
and never would again.

However, as Angelus got older, he managed to bury his feelings and focus on getting his father paroled. If he could just manage to salvage
whatever was left of Ethan’s life, he could enjoy some of what he always desperately wanted. His father. But the parole board refused him
every time and the ongoing federal probes didn’t help matters. Even when Ethan was diagnosed with cancer, they refused to release him. That
was when Angelus felt the long buried anger and hatred begin to flare within him again. This was all Hank’s fault. His father wouldn’t be dying
in prison if it weren’t for Hank Summers.

But Angel still managed to suppress his anger and having his girlfriend around to help distract him was a blessing. Whenever he was frustrated
and tense, he would just fuck Cordelia long and hard and he’d feel better in the morning. Well, Cordy wasn’t exactly his girlfriend although she
liked to think of herself as that. But in truth, she was probably closer to being one than Angel would have liked to admit. First of all, she knew
who he was and what he did. They’d been together on and off for several years now and although he routinely had her followed and her
phone tapped, he trusted her somewhat. She knew of his father and his feelings towards Hank Summers. Also, of all the women he was
currently fucking, she was the only one he allowed to spend the night. And even though she didn’t have an official “draw” or anything, he
wasn’t completely against her keeping a change or two of clothes around his place. But, she knew that that was as far as it would ever go and
she seemed to accept it. He was willing to spend obscene amounts of money lavishing her with gifts and as long as she was available to him, on
his schedule, then things would be great between them for a long time to come.


In the days that passed since Ethan’s death, Angelus was consumed with funeral plans and arrangements. He hardly ate or slept. He rarely saw
anyone. A bottle of bourbon was his constant companion. The only human contact he had was Cordelia but his only use for her was to suck his
dick. She obliged eagerly. He would sit in his study; a drink in one hand while the other caressed her bobbing head. As the days wore on, Angel
became more and more reclusive.

Now, it had been a few weeks since Ethan passed away. The funeral itself was an especially somber affair with very few attendees. Angel
however, was glad for the privacy. Once it was over, he spent the following hours pounding Cordelia into his mattress. In the time that passed
since, his state of mind only worsened. He still drank continuously, hardly ever eating a meal. Beyond fucking him, Cordelia tried to lift his
spirits and get him to eat but the only thing he showed any interest in was his liquor and her pussy. When he wasn’t downing glass after glass
of the hard stuff, he was thrusting his cock into her. She was worried about him but she couldn’t force him to eat or take care of himself. And
he wouldn’t let her do it for him. He only took the occasional shower when she refused to fuck him as long as he continued to reek of stale
alcohol. Eventually, he began eating and his hygiene returned to normal but he was still getting very little sleep and drinking like a fish. But at
least there was some improvement. He also began having more outside contact; his cousin Lindsey was a frequent visitor. One day during a
visit, the conversation turned to Hank Summers.

“How are you holding up?” Lindsey’s voice was full of concern.

“Things are better.” Clearly Angel was not about to open up.

“So I see. If you want to talk about it, you know I’m here for you.” He knew it was futile but Angel’s self-imposed isolation wasn’t healthy.

“Yeah Linds, I know.” Understanding passed between the cousins and Lindsey backed off. Slightly.

“Did you get to spend any time with him, I mean while he was lucid?” He knew it was still dangerous territory but he wanted to give Angel the
opportunity to vent.

Seeing through Lindsey’s attempts Angel decided to throw him a bone. “Not much. He was in and out a lot towards the end and the morphine
he was on kept him pretty out of it. But it was good to just be there for him in his last days.” In truth, Ethan’s senility was so advanced that he
often couldn’t even recognize Angel as his son let alone hold a coherent conversation. The drugs only exacerbated it.

“I know what you mean. I don’t remember much of Ethan but I do remember that he was a nice man. I remember him reading stories to us.
Unlike my father, Ethan took an interest in me that is other than to torment me. But even though Holtz was an animal, I deeply regret not
being there in the end.” A hint of sadness entered Lindsey’s voice at the memory. He had been away at college when Holtz died. Angel felt a
small pang of guilt prick at him for never telling Lindsey that he had Holtz killed. But he knew it would only upset his cousin and what would be
the point. Holtz was a monster.
Misreading the reflective look on Angel’s face, Lindsey continued, “It’s too bad that Ethan’s life was so …” He stopped short of calling it a
waste. He wasn’t certain how to put it.

“Well, we all know who sent him to that hellhole.” Angel’s hostility towards Hank clear.

“Well, speaking on behalf of my fellow lawyers, Summers was only doing his job.” He knew he was treading on very thin ice.

Eyeing Lindsey intently he replied, “And if you believe that then you’ve got a lot more to learn about this business. Hank went after Ethan with
a vengeance. He and the feds railroaded him during that trial. They claim we threatened witnesses but what about those witnesses whose
testimonies against Ethan they practically bought with half-baked plea bargains and deals of impunity. Half of those people should have gone
to prison themselves. Hank Summers was hardly the epitome of prosecutorial discretion.”

Lindsey shrugged. He didn’t have a response to that. He knew there was some truth to Angel’s assertion, although he wasn’t certain how much
that really influenced Ethan’s conviction. Lindsey hated to say it but Angel clearly was in denial of Ethan’s role in his own demise. But they
were family and Angel was one of his top clients. Not to mention that he had his own skeletons to hide and Angel could completely ruin him.
So Lindsey wisely kept his mouth shut. Over the next few hours, the two sipped on a few vodkas while commiserating over their respective
losses. Eventually, Lindsey made his way home.
***
That night, after several rounds of vigorous sex, Angel lay in bed with Cordy sleeping next to him. He flipped through the channels looking for
something to help his insomnia pass. As he flipped, he caught a glimpse of Hank Summers on TV. At first he thought he was mistaken but when
he tuned in, sure enough, it was Hank being interviewed on Dateline. Apparently, he had his eyes set on 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Angel sat
upright in the bed. Eventually the interview turned more personal and Hank and his family were on the screen. It had been a long time since
Angel had seen or heard anything about the girls and they obviously grew up a lot since. As he watched, he couldn’t help but notice Hank’s
older daughter; she was stunning. The family talked briefly about their life in the political spotlight and then there were a few brief sections
with the girls and what it was like to have Hank as a father. During the entire time, Angel was awestruck. The golden beauty on the screen
seemed to speak directly to him. Listening to Hank talk and seeing him hug his kids triggered a blind fury within Angel. Here his own father was
now dead and this man was walking around, talking and laughing with his children and discussing a possible future in the White House. All
along Angel’s anger and hatred toward Hank were nebulous. They existed but were stagnant, with no direction to be channeled. But now, as
images of the seemingly happy family flashed across the screen, the impotent rage that resided within him for so many years was slowly
uncoiling and taking form. Angel could no longer hear what was being said on the TV. All he could hear echoing in his mind were the words of
the jury foreperson reading the guilty verdict for each and every charge against his father. And almost as a separate track in his mind, he could
hear the gasps of the crowd and reporters in the courtroom and the loud pounding of the judge’s gavel. Then suddenly he heard screaming, his
own screaming as a child when they led Ethan away in handcuffs. As the interview came to a close with a few last pictures of the Summers
family, Angel’s mind was bombarded with images from the past blending with present ones causing a kaleidoscope of painful memories to
surface. Hank’s face, Ethan’s face, Joyce’s laughter, Darla’s tears, Holtz’s face, Buffy’s smile and his own agony. The word “Guilty!” echoed
again and again as the pounding of the gavel continued in his head, drowning out his screams for his daddy.

In that moment, in the bed next to Cordelia, Angel lost all contact with sanity and concocted a plan so devious, so twisted, his vengeance was
sure to be complete. Angel was going to make Hank Summers pay and he knew exactly how to collect his payment. He’d make Hank suffer by
taking something as precious to him as Ethan was to himself. Hank’s little golden princess. He’d take her and destroy her, then give her back to
Hank as broken as Ethan was. For the first time in weeks, Angelus smiled.
******
Part 1
******
Over the next few weeks, Angel spent endless hours collecting any information he could find on Hank’s family and especially anything on Buffy.
Using his connections, he managed to glean quite a lot about the young woman. From his sources, he learnt that she had just graduated from
Vassar College where she studied Political Science and she was currently working at Amnesty International. She seemed to be following in her
mother’s footsteps in that she did a lot of volunteer work in her free time. By all accounts, she would be the ideal First Daughter. And she was
the apple of Hank’s eye. Angel also learned that although she did have a few boyfriends in the past, none were ever very serious. He smiled at
this. The more virginal she was, the better. She was currently single and lived alone. He couldn’t have picked a better target.

Once his preliminary research was complete, Angel occasionally drove into the city and watched her. Ordinarily, he’d have his men scope out
the situation for him but this was deeply personal and he wanted to handle it himself. He’d wait a short distance outside of her apartment
building and watch her come and go. Sometimes, he’d follow her to work and watch her walk down the street for lunch with her friends. He
knew he was taking the risk of being seen but once he saw her he couldn’t stay away. To maintain his cover, he limited his visits to only once or
twice a week and he always drove a different vehicle. He was a millionaire several times over so renting a different car every few days was not
an issue.

As Angel sat and watched her, he couldn’t help but picture the many ways he would take her. He imagined himself buried deep within her,
punishing her for Hank’s transgression as he thrust into her small body. He could almost hear her begging him for mercy that would never
come. His thirst for revenge only fueled his already burning desire. Soon, he wanted not only to simply punish Hank through her but he also
wanted her to want him despite herself. He wanted her to burn for him even as he destroyed her. He wanted to possess her body and soul.
And when he was done, her own desire for him would finish consuming her. Then, his vengeance would be complete. But first, he had to
control her. And he knew exactly how to accomplish that. As he continued watching her, his fantasies became more and more twisted and his
need more urgent. His fevered dreams drove him to Cordelia’s bed for release. But as his obsession deepened, even Cordelia and her many
talents could no longer sate him. He had to have Buffy. And so, Angelus set his plan in motion. Within a few days Buffy would be his.
***
It was Thursday evening. Buffy had just gotten home from work and was preparing to eat her Chinese takeout when the phone rang. It was
Joyce. Again. She rolled her eyes when she saw the number displayed on her Caller ID. She had just talked to her mother that afternoon about
the upcoming weekend. Apparently, her father had decided whether he was running for the presidency or not and this weekend the family
was coming together to discuss it. But obviously, Hank was going for it otherwise they would have just told her over the phone since then it
would have been a non-issue that didn’t call for special family bonding time. So, this weekend wasn’t about discussing whether he’d run but
rather was really about preparing them for the media onslaught that was sure to occur after his official announcement. And so, here was
Joyce, calling her for the third time that day. Buffy sighed.

“Hi Mom,” She tried to keep her annoyance out of her voice.

“Buffy dear, I’m so sorry to bother you again, I know you’re busy but I was wondering if you’d mind coming to the house a bit earlier than we
first discussed….” Joyce knew her daughter was not an early riser so Buffy’s whining voice interrupting her was fully expected.

“Mom!” She was already peeved that she was losing her entire weekend but now her mother wanted to cut into her sleep too, “we’re already
meeting at noon, which means I have to leave here by ten the latest, why do we need to meet earlier than that?”

“Darling, I know you like to sleep in but I’d like to spend some time with you and Dawn before your father comes down. He has a meeting early
Saturday morning so I thought that we could do something while he’s gone.” Joyce tried to infuse as much enthusiasm and maternal longing
into her voice as possible. “Or perhaps you can come down on Friday night instead and stay in your old room?” She missed Buffy and ever
since she moved into her own place, it was more and more difficult to get her to come out to the family home.

“Mom, I already told you. We’re really busy at work right now and I have a deadline to meet. I’ve been working late every night for the past
week and I was planning to work on Saturday to finish a few things. But now, I’m working even later on Friday instead so I can keep my
Saturday and Sunday free to hang with you guys. And I’m not going to work late and then drive for two hours. I’ll be too tired.” Her
exasperation was evident.

“You’re right, you’re right. I’m sorry. I forgot about that. I wouldn’t want you on the road that late.” Joyce was disappointed but she’d rather
Buffy be rested and come at noon on Saturday than have her exhausted and driving late Friday night.

Sensing her mother’s feelings, Buffy reconsidered, “Something like what?”

“Pardon me?” Joyce wasn’t sure to what she was referring.

“You said you wanted to do something with me and Dawn, something like what?” Buffy was hesitant. Sometimes Joyce had very embarrassing
bonding ideas, well, embarrassing for her daughters anyway.

Joyce perked up. “I just thought maybe we could go by the beach for a while. I know the season is over but at least the crowds won’t be there.
It should be quiet and peaceful. The forecast sounds positively delightful and we could have an early picnic. Say, brunch on the beach or
something?” A tinge of her earlier zeal slipping in.

Buffy took a deep breath. “Fine Mom, I’ll leave here at eight ok so I can get to the house around ten. Does that work?”

“Tell you what honey, leave at nine. That way at least you’ll get a bit more sleep. Besides, I still have to drag Dawn out of bed and she’s no
better than you.” Joyce was happy Buffy caved in but she felt bad using a guilt trip on her. Their little compromise made her feel better.

“Well that’s true. By the way, what time Friday is she coming down?” Although Buffy wasn’t thrilled about the reasons behind this weekend,
she was eager to see Dawn again. She hadn’t seen her sister in weeks. Dawn attended the same private boarding school that she had but the
place was three hours away from her parents’ house. And Buffy was two hours in the opposite direction. Needless to say, she rarely made the
five-hour trip.

“Uh, we’re sending the car for her for three so she should be here around six.” Joyce was also looking forward to seeing her baby.

“Great, well, when she gets in, have her call my cell phone. I’ll still be at work but I’ll try to take a break so we can chat for a bit. Ok?” She
always looked forward to her conversations with Dawn.

“Sure, I’ll have her do just that. Well, I’ll see you on Saturday, around eleven?” Joyce couldn’t hide her excitement.

“Yeah, eleven it is.” She was resigned that she’d get no rest this weekend.

“Take care and love you lots.” Buffy could practically see the smile on Joyce’s face.

“Love you too, Mom.” Despite her annoyance Buffy smiled too.

And with that they hung up.

Joyce continued going about finalizing plans for the weekend.

Buffy sat on her couch and watched some television as she ate her dinner.

Neither could imagine that their world was about to take a horrific turn.
***
Hours later Buffy suddenly woke. She was still on her couch and fully dressed. The glare from the TV was harsh against her eyes. She must have
fallen asleep shortly after the news ended. Slowly she stretched as she tried to work out the kinks from the terrible position she was sleeping
in. Standing, she thought she heard a noise. She froze. Her sleep-clogged mind wasn’t sure if she’d imagined it or not. And if she did hear
something, she couldn’t tell if she’d made the noise herself as she was getting up. Standing as still as possible for several seconds, she tried to
discern what she heard. When nothing happened, she cautiously moved around the room as her eyes slowly adjusted to the darkness. All the
lights were off but she couldn’t recall if she’d turned them off herself or not. As the seconds stretched out, she became more and more
agitated. Her instincts were screaming and alarms were sounding in her head. Something was wrong. She decided to call the police.

Just as she reached out for the phone on the end table, she was barrelled over and tackled to the floor by a dark, masked figure. As she and
her attacker fell, they knocked over the end table, sending the cordless phone skidding across the polished hardwood floor. Buffy fell onto her
stomach, squirming to get from under her attacker. She managed to scream just before a hand covered her mouth. She was then turned onto
her back. She fought. Her legs kicked out and she pushed with all her might. Even as her arms were held down she managed to use her feet to
pry her assailant off of her. She then kicked him in the groin and scrambled away to get the phone.

“Get her!” was all she heard before a second dark figure kicked the phone further out of her reach.

She turned and ran for her purse on the dining table. She needed her cell phone. But they anticipated her move and as she ran for it the
second figure tripped her up, sending her crashing to the floor a second time. She got up again and grabbed a golf club out of her nearby golf
bag. She swung it with all her might, making contact with his shoulder and sending him to the floor. There he lunged at her and wrenched the
club from her grasp. She kicked him in the ribs and then charged to her handbag again. However, her first attacker grabbed her arm and used
her momentum to swing her around as he picked her up, flipped her over and body slammed her onto the top of the coffee table. The force of
the impact splintered two of the wooden table legs and sent the entire thing toppling to the floor with Buffy on it. Incredible pain surged
through her body. Still she tried to crawl away. Suddenly he was on her as she struggled to escape, her screams getting louder and louder.

“Shut her up!”

She never saw the blow coming. The punch to her gut completely knocked the wind out of her. She doubled over. She could barely breathe, let
alone scream. As she gasped for air, they lifted her. She tried to fight back but she could hardly move. They carried her into her bedroom and
put her on the bed. She was terrified of what they might do to her but all she could concentrate on was trying to breathe. They turned the light
on and the bigger of the two began touching her. She tensed and let out a little whimper in protest. He spoke.

“Keep still. I need to see how hurt you are.”

Buffy’s frantic mind couldn’t comprehend why he’d be concerned over whether she was hurt when he was the one who hurt her. But she kept
still, it hurt too much to move.

The man continued to examine her. “Do you have a First Aid kit?”

Buffy’s puzzled expression made him repeat the question. She managed to gasp out that it was in the bathroom. The other man retrieved the
kit and soon Buffy’s injuries were bandaged up. They kept their masks on the entire time. Despite her pain, she wasn’t seriously hurt. As they
bandaged her, she glanced over at the clock on the nightstand. It was just after 2 am on Friday morning.

“She’s not badly hurt but he’s not going to be happy about this.” Buffy’s attacker and would-be nurse commented to his nervously pacing
partner who was absently rubbing his shoulder.

“Who?” Buffy’s soft question drew their attention. Noticing that her breathing had almost returned to normal they decided it was time to
leave before they had to hurt her more. Ignoring her question, the man next to her pulled out a bottle and soaked a cloth with a pungent
liquid. Buffy recognized the smell and uttered a frantic “No!” just as the chloroform soaked towel was placed over her nose and mouth. She
put up as much resistance as she could but after struggling for a few brief moments, she surrendered to the darkness. A short while later, the
men wrapped her in a blanket and carried Buffy’s limp body out of her building, taking the rear exit to avoid the doorman. Soon they were on
their way to where Angelus awaited them.
***
Later that morning around 7:30am, Joyce called Buffy’s apartment. She usually called her in the morning as a wake up call. She got Buffy’s
voicemail. Assuming Buffy was in the shower, she waited twenty minutes and tried again. Still nothing. She then tried her cell phone and again,
got her voicemail. Joyce thought it was odd but figured that Buffy probably went in extra early to get a jump on the day, as she did on
occasion, and just hadn’t turned on her cell phone yet. Although she knew Buffy didn’t tell her everything, Joyce thought it strange that she
didn’t mention going in to work early the night before. Perhaps it was something she decided to do after they talked. So, being the dutiful
mother, she tried Buffy’s work number. Again nothing. Joyce frowned. Maybe Buffy was still in her car and on her way to work. Despite her
reasoning, an uncertain feeling began to take hold of her. Something just didn’t seem right. Shaking the nagging feeling off, Joyce went about
preparing for her day. She’d try Buffy at work later on.
***
Buffy slowly woke. Her entire body ached from the battering it took hours before. Her muscles vehemently protested any movement she tried
to make. Her head was pounding. She slowly looked around and took in her surroundings. She was in a bedroom. There were two doors in the
room and a single small window. One door she thought might lead to a bathroom and the other most likely to freedom. On a nearby table
were a small TV, a bowl of fruit and a container of water and two glasses. There were also two chairs. Just behind it, in one of the corners was
a chest of drawers. Light streamed into the room through the small window high along one of the walls. The security bars and its height off the
floor made clear that the window was not a viable escape route. Buffy shifted as best she could to see what else was in the room but the effort
totally drained her and soon, she fell back asleep.

Angel watched her sleep on the monitors. He was furious that she was hurt during the abduction. Graham and Forrest explained that she woke
up just as they got into her apartment and they were sure she was about to call the police. They had to act quickly and she fought back. Angel
appreciated that they patched her up but he was still very angry. Her flawless skin was now bruised and he could tell she was in some pain. He
would find a way to make them pay for injuring her. Only he was allowed to hurt her.

***
By midday Joyce was worried. She had tried all of Buffy’s numbers several times but she couldn’t reach her. She called the main number where
she worked and managed to reach Buffy’s supervisor, Robin Wood. He too was worried. It was very unlike Buffy to be late for work, let alone
to not show up at all, especially without calling. He had also tried calling her apartment and her cell phone, also with no response. Joyce was
now frantic. She tried calling Hank but he was in a meeting so she left a message for him to call her immediately on her cell phone. Then she
tried the police. However, given that Buffy was an adult they wouldn’t consider her a missing person just yet. She had to be missing for at least
48 hours before they could really do anything. Joyce was beside herself. Anything could have happened to her child. The next 48 hours were
crucial. What was she to do? What if Buffy was attacked? What if she was hurt in the apartment and needed medical help but couldn’t reach
the phone? Once the endless possibilities started coming to her, Joyce’s mind ran with it and soon every mother’s nightmare imaginable
became real. She looked at the time; it was almost 1pm. She had wanted to be there when Dawn got home but she had to look for Buffy. So
she asked the housekeeper to have Dawn call her on her cell phone as soon as she got home. And without another thought, she jumped in her
car and headed to Buffy’s apartment. She couldn’t lose another minute.

Joyce got to Buffy’s place in record time. As she parked she saw Buffy’s car in the lot. She raced into the building. Using her spare key she
threw the door open and ran inside. She abruptly paused and gasped, her hands flying to her mouth. The destruction in Buffy’s apartment
stunned her. An end table was overturned and the phone was across the room on the floor. The coffee table that she and Buffy bought
together was completely destroyed and a warped golf club lay in the middle of the floor. She frantically ran through the apartment desperately
shouting Buffy’s name, tears running down her cheeks. With each step her mind braced to find her daughter’s body. When her search led her
back to the living room, she saw Buffy’s handbag on the dining table. She dug through the purse and pulled out the cell phone. Buffy never
went anywhere without it. Then she saw Buffy’s keys. Clutching the keys to her chest, Joyce collapsed in a heap on the floor. She pulled out
her own cell phone and tried to dial the police but her hand was shaking so violently she could hardly hold the phone. In frustration, she pulled
herself up and ran out of the apartment. She began banging on the neighbor’s doors, screaming for help. Eventually, the young woman from a
few doors down came out to see what the commotion was about. She approached the hysterical Joyce and tried to soothe the woman. As Tara
came closer, she recognized the distraught lady. It was Buffy’s mom.

“Mrs. Summers?” Tara asked as gently as possible. She didn’t want to startle her.

The familiar voice got Joyce’s attention. After a few moments, she managed to compose herself enough to speak. She showed Tara the
apartment and told her of her inability to reach Buffy. As she related the story, she broke down again, huge sobs wracking her body. Tara
borrowed Joyce’s phone and called the police herself. Then, she gathered Joyce up and took her to her own apartment, locking Buffy’s behind
them. As they waited for the police, Tara made some tea and tried to get Joyce to calm. During their wait, Hank finally called. Seeing Joyce was
too distraught to talk, Tara took the phone and explained to him what was happening. Moments later, he was on his way.

When the police arrived, they had Joyce recall everything from the last time she spoke to Buffy. As they searched the apartment, other signs of
a struggle became apparent. They also went through her car but after an initial search, focused their investigation on the apartment. They
seized the security camera tapes to take down to the precinct for viewing. Hank arrived just as the police sectioned off Buffy’s apartment with
yellow tape, declaring it a crime scene. Upon seeing him, Joyce immediately ran into his arms and broke down. He sat with her for a long time
trying to soothe her as she told him everything she could remember. The detectives on the scene also shared what they had discovered with
the senator. Detectives Riley Finn and his partner Parker Abrams were handling the case. Detective Finn had voted for Hank in the last
election. Senator Summers was a man he greatly admired and he was determined to help him find his daughter. The Summers case was now
their top priority. Once the evidence was collected and the apartment was secured, the officers moved the investigation to the precinct. Hank
and Joyce went with them.
***
The black car pulled up along the sidewalk outside the girls’ dormitory. Dawn quickly approached with her overnight bag, her friend Janice
beside her. The girls talked briefly before Dawn got into the back. As the car drove off, she continued waving goodbye to her friend until she
was no longer in sight. Then, she turned and happily chirped a greeting to Mr. Flutie, the chauffeur. Bob Flutie was a middle-aged man who
had been driving for Mr. Summers for ten years now and he had come to feel like part of the family. He smiled back at Dawn and the two
chatted briefly as the car made its way down the highway. A huge, black SUV followed a few cars back. When the car exited the highway and
was driving along a vacant stretch of road, the SUV sped up and slammed into the back. At first it just seemed like a regular fender bender and
Bob pulled over to the side to check out the damage and exchange information. He knew Hank would be upset but it wasn’t his fault.

When he exited the car, he was suddenly pulled to the side and pushed to the ground. There, he was set upon by two, very large men. They
rained blows down upon him, punching and kicking him. He tried desperately to defend himself but he was no match for them. Soon he was
coughing up blood as their assault continued. Dawn was in the car screaming and crying. She’d already called the police on her cell phone but
was too afraid to come out. She had locked all of the doors. Once Mr. Flutie was incapacitated, they smashed in the car windows with
crowbars and pulled open the doors. Within seconds, a struggling Dawn was dragged out of the car and thrown into the back of the SUV.

When the police arrived minutes later, all they found was an unconscious man lying outside the car. As they waited for an ambulance, Bob
regained consciousness. He kept asking about Dawn. But in the car all they found was a backpack, an overnight bag and a cell phone. There
was no sign of Dawn.
***
At the police precinct, the detectives, Hank and Joyce watched the security tapes. After a few hours of viewing they saw two men carrying
something out of Buffy’s apartment. The camera angle however only allowed the perpetrators to be seen from the back and the side. It was
clear, however, that they were carrying Buffy out of the apartment. Although they couldn’t be sure, from the way they were carrying her it
appeared that she was at least alive, if unconscious, when they took her. She was obviously taken against her will.
Just then Joyce’s cell phone went off but she was in no state to talk to anyone. Hank answered it instead. It was a police officer. Hank tensed.
He dreaded that this was some officer telling him that they’d found Buffy’s body.

“Is this about Buffy?” His voice was filled with worry.
“Uh, no sir, this is about Dawn and your chauffeur, Mr. Flutie.” The officer was a bit puzzled by Hank’s outburst.

If it were possible, Hank tensed even further. “What about Dawn?” His voice broke with the tension, drawing the attention of everyone in the
room. The officer filled him in on everything that Mr. Flutie was able to recall of the attack. From Hank’s responses, Joyce knew something
terrible had happened to her baby. She began shaking. When Hank disconnected all eyes were on him.

He lowered his head and simply said, “Dawn was taken as well.”

Joyce lost it.

Hank buried his face in his hands as the officers all rushed to assist his wife. Clearly Joyce would need to be sedated. While they were taking
care of Joyce, Detective Finn pulled Hank aside.

“Sir, I just want you to know that you have my deepest sympathy. I can’t imagine what you must be going through.” Finn hated sounding trite
but his heart went out to the man.

“Uh, thank you.” Hank wasn’t sure why the detective was telling him this right then. Surely this could wait.

Finn decided to be direct. ”Look, the authorities will do everything they can and we will investigate both kidnappings and of course the feds
have been called in but I have to tell you, we are limited in some ways. I think it might be best if you considered getting extra help.” Finn
already knew this case was going to be tough.

“Extra help?” Hank was puzzled as to his meaning.

“A private detective, sir.”

“Do you really think that’s necessary?” Hank was surprised that he was hearing this.

“Sir, I’ve worked this type of thing for a while now and I’ve seen a few cases like this. Your daughters were not random victims, they were
targeted and I think getting extra help will assist in finding out why. Given your profession, this could be politically motivated. If we find out
why, we’ll probably find out whom. And I’m sure that will lead us to your daughters.” Finn really hoped that they were not too late to save the
girls. Things like this often got messy.

”Well, uh, where would I find one?” Hank was willing to do anything to get Buffy and Dawn back.

“I can help you there. I know of a firm that specializes in sensitive cases like these.” He then pulled out his cell phone and dialed the number
for Giles & Co, Private Eye.
******
Part 2
******
Buffy woke with a start on late Friday evening. She had no idea how long she was asleep. As she looked around she realized that her bandages
had been changed and so were her clothes. She was dressed in a long, sheer, white nightgown. It was more revealing than she would have
liked. Pulling the top sheet close, she slowly got out of the bed. She discovered which door led to the bathroom. The other, which clearly led to
freedom, was locked. She looked through the draws of the chest, discovering that one was locked too. The others were filled mostly with
lingerie very similar to what she had on. Some were long, some short. Every style and color possible. Buffy frowned, she didn’t like where this
was going. Fortunately, there were also a few sweat pants and T-shirts as well. She quickly pulled out a set to change into.

Just then the locked door opened and in walked a tall, dark and gorgeous man. He locked the door behind him. Buffy scurried into a corner,
clutching the clothes between her arms and her body. He slowly walked up to her, his chocolate brown eyes roaming over her body hungrily.
Buffy felt the color drain from her face.

“Please sit down Buffy.” Angel got comfortable in the other seat, positioning himself so that she was caged in between the corner, the table
and himself. The effect was not lost on her. Although he was sitting, he was still almost at her eye level. Despite her obvious disadvantages in
both position and size, she tried not to appear intimidated.

“Who are you?” Her voice was small, hesitant. Not exactly what she was aiming for.

“Please, sit down and I’ll try to answer your questions.” Even though his words were unthreatening, his voice had a definite hint of one. Buffy
eyed him suspiciously but complied. She cautiously sat in the other chair.

“I am Angelus Rayne.” From Buffy’s blank expression he figured that she probably had never heard of him before. He was surprised at how
deeply her ignorance of his very existence wounded him. You would think she’d know everything about the case that made Hank such a
success. Angel visibly tensed “You obviously don’t know who I am but I know a lot about you. You may call me Angel. What did you want to
know?” His gaze bored into hers.
Buffy noticed the change in him and realized that she had somehow inadvertently insulted him. Not that she cared about his feelings but given
her position she decided to tread carefully.

“Where am I and why am I here?” They never broke eye contact as she spoke.
“You are at my ranch. You were brought here because I have some unfinished business with your father.” Angel leaned forward in his seat as
he spoke.

“My father? What about my father?” Buffy couldn’t imagine that her father would have anything to do with this man.

“Let’s just say that he is indebted to me and I am collecting on it… with interest.” The feral gleam in his eyes and the purely malevolent smile
that crossed his face sent a chill down her spine.

“My parents will pay whatever you want.” She tried to inject as much confidence as she could into that one statement. Her naïveté charmed
him.

“I’m sure they would.” He left it at that.

Then he stood abruptly and grabbed her arm, yanking her to her feet. The sudden movement startled her and she screamed. Pulling her plush
against his hard, lean body he pressed his entire length against her, ensuring she felt his erection. She tried to push away from him but his
large arms held her firmly. Angel was going to make sure she knew exactly how he was collecting Hank’s debt. His wandering hands groped her
everywhere. She screamed “No” again and again even as he pushed her into the corner she had fled to moments before. He worked his hand
up the nightgown and into her panties where he forced a finger into her. He was delighted at her tightness. She would suit his purposes nicely.
He was going to enjoy tearing into her. He pumped his finger into her slowly at first and then more vigorously. Her vain struggles only further
ignited his passion. He had waited so long for her and now she was finally here. He was going to savor the moment. Buffy was in tears and
shaking so violently when he finally released her that she nearly collapsed.

When he was done, he pulled her by the waist and tossed her onto the bed. There he crawled over her and began kissing her forcefully. His
huge body completely covered her. Buffy was hysterical. Kissing down her neck, her frantic breathing made her chest heave enticingly before
him. Restraining her with one hand and using the other, he pushed the nightgown down, exposing her chest. Reveling in her screams, he
kissed and sucked each of her breasts, laving the nipples into sharp peaks. He devoured her with unimaginable fervor. He continued his assault
until her protests dwindled into soft cries and whimpers as she begged and pleaded with him to stop. Yes, she knew exactly who was in
control.

Gradually he began kissing her neck and shoulders and gently caressed her. Then, turning her onto her side, he spooned against her, pulling
her into his arms and stroking her. Buffy frantically pulled the nightgown back up and tightly clutched the thin material to her. There was no
doubt in her mind what his intentions were. She was too scared to move. He firmly wrapped his arms around her as he spoke.

“You weren’t supposed to be hurt when they took you.” Angel wasn’t sure why he wanted her to know that. At her silence he went on.

“This will happen one of two ways. It will be painful. Or it will be pleasurable. That is your decision, but it will happen.” His voice was coarse
with unbridled passion.

Buffy tried to sit up and face him as she responded but he held her still

“You must be mad. I would never just give myself to you. You’re a monster. I may not be able to stop you but I certainly won’t give up.” Her
voice was low but strong.

Angel laughed. He loved her spirit and honestly would have been quite disappointed if she had just given in.

“Well, I didn’t think you’d just ‘give yourself’ to me as you put it. Everyone needs a little motivation. And I have some for you.” Just then he
pulled a remote out of his pocket and turned on the small TV on the table. The screen showed a small room not unlike the one she was held in.
And sitting on the bed was Dawn.

Buffy gasped and tried to pull away again. “You bastard!” She yelled.

Angel rolled her onto her back again and straddled her, pinning her down. She screamed again and clawed at him, trying to buck him off but all
to no avail. When she had worn herself out he calmly spoke.

“That’s exactly the reaction I was hoping for.” He smiled evilly at her. She glared. Angel continued.

”You are in quite a predicament wouldn’t you say? You can choose to cooperate and allow me to have my way with you. And I promise nothing
will happen to Dawn. Or, you can choose the hard way but I’ve got to tell you. If you do, not only will I enjoy holding you down and raping you
till you bleed but I’ll be sure to vent my frustration on innocent, little Dawn. Who knows, perhaps I’ll just slap her around a bit, or maybe I’ll
fuck her just as hard and brutal as I fuck you. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a virgin. I’m sure her screams will be worth the effort.” The
maniacal gleam in his eyes burned her.

The tears that had subsided suddenly welled up with renewed terror. She wanted to kill him. She wanted to curl up and cry her eyes out. She
wanted her mother. Holding her exposed to him, he watched her cry uncontrollably. Yes, this was the pain he wanted to see on her face.
Eventually he released his hold and moved off her, sitting on the bed. He watched her curl up into a tight little ball, her arms wrapped around
her body as if to shield her grief from his prying eyes. When her sobs died down, he stood and walked over to the chest. There he pulled out a
short, sheer negligée and placed it on the bed next to her.

“Your food will be brought to you in a while. And the bathroom is fully stocked. I’ll be back in a few hours. You have that time to make your
decision. If you choose to cooperate, wear this.” He was about to leave when she stopped him.
“H-How do I know you’ll keep your promise not to hurt her?” She couldn’t believe she was actually considering this.

“You don’t,” was his curt response. And with that, he left.
***
In the time that passed since the abductions, the investigation was taken over by the FBI. Initially, Detective Finn was unsure as to who had
jurisdiction because despite who her father was, Buffy was a private citizen and legally an adult. Her abduction could be seen either way.
However, because Dawn was a minor and the two abductions were clearly connected, the fact that the father was a senator obviously became
a factor, and that fell into federal territory. Once the feds were called in, any questions of jurisdiction were settled and the case was officially
handed over. However, given the magnitude of the situation, the Bureau and the police decided to collaborate. The FBI handled the major
aspects of the case and pursued possible leads while the detectives dealt with the general public. The arrangement being that the public was
to contact its local police with any leads, who would in turn work with the FBI. Detective Finn was the liaison between the police and the FBI.

Shortly after the FBI took over, Hank and Joyce were both given lie detector tests and thoroughly questioned. Once both were cleared as
suspects, several agents were assigned to guard the senator and his wife; among them were Agent Alexander Harris and Agent Warren Meirs.
In fact, since the motive was unclear, all members of Congress and their immediate families were now under constant FBI protection.

Once word of the abductions became public, the media immediately pounced on it and a mob of reporters immediately descended upon the
senator and his wife. After the FBI screenings, Hank and Joyce made their first public pleas for their daughters’ safe return and offered a
$100,000 reward to anyone who provided information that led to the girls and the people responsible for their kidnappings. Pictures of the
girls were circulated nationwide and an Amber alert was sent out. The intense coverage had the case in the national headlines within hours.
However, at present no productive leads had emerged.

In addition to the police and the FBI, Rupert Giles was also working on the case. When Detective Finn first suggested a Private Investigator,
Hank doubted that the FBI would allow him to participate but once the feds arrived, he was informed that Mr. Giles was a private citizen who
occasionally consulted for the FBI because of his expertise in profiling and forensic psychology. His assistance was certainly welcome and
within hours, the three-pronged approach was coordinated, with Special Agent Charles Gunn heading the initiative. It was now only a matter
of time.

Once the initial procedures of the investigation were completed, Hank and Joyce made their way home to an empty house. Of course the
throng of reporters camped on the lawn and the endless ringing of the telephone were a constant reminder of why their house was empty.
Their girls were gone. Once they heard the news, most of their family members and close friends called offering to come by and help but Hank
asked them not to. The FBI already had the place tightly guarded and for security reasons they were strongly advised to limit the number of
people who had access to their home. And quite frankly, he and Joyce wanted to be alone. That night, they held each other as each
desperately clung to the hope that Buffy and Dawn would soon be safely home.
***
Once Angel left, Buffy threw herself back on the bed and cried like she never had before. The release took so much out of her that she soon fell
asleep. A short while later, she awoke to the sound of the door opening. In walked two men, one white and one black. The black guy carried a
food tray to the table while the white guy stood in the doorway, staring at her intently. His shoulder was wrapped and his arm was in a sling.
Although he was injured, Buffy knew she would never be able to get past him before the other guy caught her. Besides, she knew if she tried
Angel would probably catch her again. And even if she managed to escape him as well, there was no way she would leave Dawn there alone.
She sighed in resignation. At her sigh the guy with the injury glared at her and realization hit. These were her attackers and it occurred to her
that she probably gave him that injury with the golf club. No wonder he was staring at her like that. She figured the other guy with the tray was
the one who slammed her onto the table and delivered the blow that took her down. He was also the one who checked her injuries and then
knocked her out with that stuff. Buffy was suddenly relieved that she didn’t try to escape. Even with one of them injured, she didn’t think her
body could handle a rematch. Swallowing hard, she avoided all eye contact with them.

Once they left, she made her way over to the table and ate as she watched Dawn doing the same on the TV. She wasn’t sure if Angel left it on
to torment her or not. During her meal, she tried not to think of what she was about to do. After eating, she took a bath and cleaned up. Over
the following hours, Buffy changed her mind a million times. Each time she pictured his hands touching her she cringed and refused to give in.
Having sex with him went against everything she ever believed and she knew by compromising herself, she’d lose. But then, he would rape her
anyway and then rape Dawn. There was nothing she could do to help herself but how could she let him hurt Dawn. How could she let him rape
Dawn? That too was compromising herself. And Buffy knew she couldn’t live with the guilt knowing she had a chance to stop it. No matter how
she looked at it, Angel was going to win. She lost if she surrendered and she lost if she fought back. And although fighting back was, of itself,
empowering, she’d only endanger Dawn further. But, if she didn’t fight at least Dawn might be spared. Buffy debated the issue again and
again. Each time arriving at the same conclusion, that she would loose no matter what but sparing Dawn would be worth it. And so, she put on
the negligée Angel had taken out for her.

As she waited, she brushed her long hair again and again trying to calm her nerves. Buffy was no virgin but she wasn’t very experienced either.
Not to mention that it had been some time since she was last sexually active. She didn’t know what Angel expected of her. The more she
thought about it, the more apprehensive she got. In the end, she decided to just lie there and let it happen. But then there was the issue of
protection. Here she was about to have sex with a total stranger and somehow she doubted he’d use a condom. And she wasn’t on the pill
anymore. Granted, right then, an unwanted pregnancy would be distressing but honestly, that was the least of her concerns. What if she
caught something? The nightmare of “what ifs” was quickly driving her mad. And that brought her to where she was now. Sitting on the bed
waiting for him. She hoped for and dreaded his arrival at the same time. She wanted to get it over with as soon as possible but she knew once
he got there, there was no turning back. As time stretched out, she tried to push the fears out of her mind as she toyed with the lace on her
little outfit. She was surprised at how well it fit her. The off white satin nicely accentuated her deeply tanned skin and the style was very similar
to a few pieces she had at home. Buffy was suddenly very curious about just how much Angel knew about her.

Just then the door opened and in walked a freshly shaven Angel. Buffy had to admit, the man was gorgeous, if criminally insane. In any other
circumstances she might have been strongly attracted to him but right then, she felt like throwing up.
“I see you’ve decided that your stay here will be a pleasant one.” His eyes were full of desire.

“I’ve decided to protect my sister.” Buffy wanted him to fully understand that this was for Dawn, and if she could manage to remember that
herself she might actually go through with it.

He smiled as he walked over to where she sat on the bed, holding her gaze. Kneeling in front of her, he gently pushed her legs apart and
nestled between them while caressing her exposed thighs, slowly working his way up. His dark eyes held her hazel gaze as he touched her. His
large hands caressed and stroked her thighs until they gently grazed her sex. Everything within her was screaming to pull away but Buffy kept
her calm and remained still. Then one of his hands came up and he ran his fingers through her hair, firmly grasping the back of her head.
Gently he pulled her down to his mouth as he snaked his tongue into hers. Instinctively, her hands flew up and grasped his shoulders, bracing
her self against him. Feeling her slight push, he tightened his hold and deepened the kiss. He didn’t expect her to reciprocate just yet.
Gradually, he shifted from his position before her and pushed her back onto the bed. Moments later, she was on her back with him above her.

He moved from her mouth to her neck and shoulders, his hands squeezing and groping her breasts. Buffy tried to just lie there but she was so
tense and jittery that she jumped at his every touch. Sensing her nervousness, he murmured for her to relax. Well, that was easier said than
done. She closed her eyes. Maybe it would be easier if she pretended he was one of her old boyfriends. She felt him moving further and
further down her body as he covered her with wet, open mouth kisses but when she felt him kiss her sex, her eyes flew open and she froze.
Angel felt her freeze up but was undeterred. As long as she didn’t fight him, she could do whatever she wanted. However, he didn’t think her
frigidness would last much longer. The instant she felt his tongue flick across her clit she flinched and brought her hands over her face in
disbelief and mortification. Holding her in position, he pulled her legs over his shoulders and spread her before him. He swirled his tongue over
her, laving her clit gently with long, languorous strokes. He smiled at her gasp. Stiffening his tongue, he gradually spread her wider, tickling her
clit with the moist tip. At the shudder that ran through her, he buried his face between her thighs and licked and sucked her clit until a river of
moisture flowed from her. Then, rubbing her nub with his thumb, he delved into her depths as he ravenously devoured her. Buffy had quickly
gone from biting her lip to stifle her gasps to panting uncontrollably as little moans escaped her. Her hands now clutching the pillows and
sheets as she writhed on the bed. Slowly he pushed two fingers into her and began pumping into her core as his tongue again swirled over her
clit. His pace soon quickened as he pumped and sucked. He worked her into a frenzy, her loud cries filling the room. She shook violently as her
climax ignited.

As the waves rippled through her, Angel swiftly climbed up and slowly pushed his cock into her. She cried out as his length penetrated her.
Propping himself up on his arms, he held down her wrists as he thrust deep into her. He began slowly but was soon fucking her hard. His
grunts getting louder as he plunged even deeper with each thrust. Buffy was crying. It was happening too fast and she was too overcome with
sensation. Her body had not yet recovered from her first orgasm and before she knew it, another one was coursing through her, melding with
the first. She thrashed wildly under him both in response to, as well as denial of, the sensations that rocked through her.

Giving her a slight reprieve, he lowered himself onto her and gently kissed her. This time he coaxed her tongue into mingling with his as he
explored her mouth. As he kissed her, she realized that he was not going to allow her to simply remain passive. He wanted her to participate.
Slowly, she began to reciprocate. She was hesitant at first but got bolder as the kiss deepened. Soon their tongues were mingling and dueling.
But that was the extent of her active participation. Her hands remained as far from him as possible. However, Angel was not upset. He could
be patient. Soon, she wouldn’t be able to get enough of him. Lowering his head he suckled voraciously on her breasts and began thrusting into
her sheath again. Keeping her pinned, he pounded into her with staggering power. The brutality of his thrusts shook the bed violently. Then he
raised himself above her again to capture her gaze. The once cold and empty eyes that stared back at her were now filled with fury. In an
instant, the sex suddenly became quite violent as he channeled every bit of his hatred into his thrusts. Buffy began panicking as the force and
sheer violence of the act intensified and his thrusts became painful. She screamed again and again as she struggled under him. He roughly
pulled her wrists together and held them with one hand. With his now free hand, he fondled her clit as he maintained the punishing thrusts.
The combination of pain and pleasure shocked Buffy and she climaxed, spiraling into oblivion even as she tried to escape him. Her scream and
the force of her orgasm sent him over the edge with a howl. He continued thrusting into her, eliciting even more cries as he prolonged her
orgasm. His rage momentarily spent, he collapsed on top of her quivering form, where he soon fell asleep buried within her.

Buffy lay under him wide-awake and shocked. Shocked from the blatant sexual violence she just experienced and shocked that she got off on
it. All along she expected to passively allow him to take his pleasure with her. She hadn’t anticipated him giving her any at all. She was
prepared to nobly throw herself to the wolf to save Dawn. Her own arousal was unexpected. Her responsiveness to him startled her. And what
was even more disturbing was that even through her fear and the pain he inflicted, she still came; and came hard at that. This was new
territory and the implications frightened and devastated her.

Suddenly he shifted above her. She wasn’t sure how long he’d been sleeping but his semi-erect cock was making its presence felt within her.
The muscles of her core reflexively clenched around him and within seconds, his rapidly engorging shaft was rock hard again. He began moving
within her even in his sleep. Remaining still, she tried to stop the involuntary clenching of her core, hoping to avoid what was sure to come.
However, he was already completely aroused and his gyrations grew even more pronounced. Biting her lip, she couldn’t help the little gasps
that escaped her. Slowly Angel opened his eyes and smiled smugly at her. He caught the pained expression that briefly crossed her face as she
tried to feign indifference. He knew she was losing the battle for control over her body. He slowed his pace, making his thrusts slow, deep and
deliberate. Her groan strengthened his determination. He lowered his head and kissed her. Now, his kiss wasn’t tender and coaxing but
demanding and left her breathless. Quickening his pace only slightly, he lightly licked her nipples before greedily suckling her breasts, her
breathing now rapid and heavy. As one hand still held her wrists, the other snaked in between them and he gently rubbed her clit. His assault
on her core, breasts and clit was relentless and soon Buffy’s loud cries again filled the room. His rhythm was slow and languorous yet blindingly
intense as to draw out her agony. Her cries got louder and louder and more and more desperate. He propelled her higher and higher but not
high enough for release. She’d have to beg and he wanted her to hear herself. Buffy was mindless. She’d never felt anything like this. How was
she to think let alone keep her calm with him doing this? Angel seemed like he was nowhere close to climaxing but she needed to. The sweet
torture was too much for her but she refused to beg. Sensing her resistance but also her desperation, he doubled his efforts and increased the
pressure on her clit just enough to drive her insane. That was her undoing. Before she knew it, she was begging him for release. Even as she
uttered the words she couldn’t stop herself. Her pleas got louder and more desperate with each second of delayed fulfillment. To Buffy’s
disbelief, he further intensified his assault while still managing to delay her orgasm. Tears of agony ran down her face as she babbled
incoherently. Reaching his own limit of control, Angel unleashed his restrained ferocity and fucked her in earnest until both were plummeting
endlessly into oblivion. His thrusts continuing even as he poured his seed into her. She cried, her entire body convulsing as the searing
numbness burned through her.

Sated, Angel rolled over, pulling her still quaking body into his arms as he spooned against her, gently kissing her face and neck. She didn’t try
to pull away but curled into a little ball in his arms. As her numbness subsided and she slowly recovered, her words and tears of desperation
haunted her. She actually begged him to fuck her. She despaired at how easily he manipulated her. Tears of shame now fell from her eyes as
she quietly cried herself to sleep in his arms. Her soft sobs filled the deafening silence. Angel was satisfied.
******
Part 3
******
Late Saturday morning, Joyce and Hank sat in Rupert Giles’ office. His assistant, Willow Rosenberg had just brought in some tea and coffee and
was taking notes. This was their first meeting with the senator and his wife. After getting the call from Detective Finn, Giles had made the case
their top priority. He had already received a copy of the file and had gone over it with Willow. They then spent most of Friday night and early
Saturday visiting both scenes taking extra photographs and going over things. They interviewed Mr. Flutie to go over his statement again.
There wasn’t much to go on. And Giles knew the situation was growing direr as time passed.

The purpose of this meeting was to get more background information on the family and the girls in particular. Giles found the situation a bit
puzzling. But fortunately, Giles loved puzzles. Clearly the girls were not random victims. Whoever took them knew exactly who they were. It
had been over 24 hours since Buffy was taken and over 18 since Dawn was and yet there had been no ransom demand. This was not about
money.

After considering the information he had of them, he concluded that neither was involved in anything illegitimate or underhanded. In fact, if it
weren’t for their parents, they would be ordinary young women. Giles’ instincts told him that was the crux of the matter. And the fact that
both girls were taken only reinforced his belief. This was about the parents, more than likely, the father. However, although possible, Giles
didn’t think this was politically motivated. If it were, again, there should have been a list of demands by now. Using the girls to manipulate the
senator politically didn’t seem to be the motive. So, no money, no pulling of political strings, what else was there? Jealousy? Hatred? Just plain
insanity? The list went on and on. Giles decided to speak to Hank alone for a while, he needed to discuss some delicate issues with him. So,
after asking Willow to take Joyce’s statement one last time, Giles addressed the senator.

“Uh, Mr. Summers, I need to ask you some rather sensitive questions that are strictly routine but, as I’m sure you can appreciate, are
necessary.” Giles didn’t want to embarrass him more than necessary.

“Go ahead, ask me anything.” Hank was prepared to bare all if it would bring his girls home.

“Well sir, quite some time has passed since the abductions and no demands whatsoever have been made. That leads me to think that the
motive might be something other than extortion or influencing your political agenda. Also, the manner in which they were taken was so
blatant, particularly Dawn. Buffy was taken in the middle of the night. And really, no one, except her employer, would have missed her right
away. I mean, had your wife not been trying to contact her, you probably wouldn’t have missed her until today. Whereas Dawn was literally
snatched in broad daylight and they left a witness. I don’t believe for a second that that was an oversight. Whoever took your girls wanted you
to know about it, so they left Mr. Flutie alive to sound the alarms if you will. But of course, they wanted you to know after they had Dawn. And
that’s partly why I think that your girls are still alive. If you’ll pardon my candor, Buffy could have been killed at her apartment, and they could
have killed Dawn in the car. But no, they want to draw this out as long as possible and I’m sure they also want you to know who is behind it.
This person is patient and calculating but at the same time, I imagine is also quite passionate and at times unpredictable, perhaps even volatile.
They feel things deeply and the manner that they took the girls is clearly demonstrating the control this person feels or at least wants. They are
clearly aware that the lack of contact, the not knowing, is maddening for you and your wife, but I imagine that’s the point. They want you to
feel the loss. However, despite that I do expect to hear something soon. I suspect the motive behind this is deeply personal, I mean beyond the
usual motives. This person most likely wants to hurt you, you specifically. That is why I need to know if you have ever been involved in
anything… uh… compromising.” Giles wasn’t sure how else to put it.

“Compromising?” Hank wasn’t sure what Giles was leading up to.

“Have you had any extramarital affairs? Any illegitimate children? Any enemies? Is there someone who would want to hurt you, or rather,
would use your children to hurt you?” Giles hated discussing such things but he had to be thorough.

“The authorities asked me these same questions and I really can’t think of anyone. I’m a senator for heaven’s sake. I suppose there are people
who don’t like me for one reason or another but to go this far? I’ve no outside children and yes, there was a brief time when I was involved
with someone outside the marriage but that was years ago, when Buffy and Dawn were still little girls. Joyce and I were having a rough patch
and things just got out of hand for a while. It ended after a few months but I can assure you that the decision was mutual. There’s been no one
else since.”

As Hank continued, his eyes nervously scanned the floor and his voice grew more sorrowful. Giles watched as the man seemed to shrink right
before him. “I, I never told Joyce but somehow I think she knew. Anyway, the other woman has been married to someone else for some years
now and she has her own family, so I can’t imagine that she’d want to drag all of that up again by going after the girls. She has no reason to.
And to be honest, I’d rather just leave it all behind as well.” Hank hadn’t even thought of his affair in years. The sudden reminder of his
infidelity and the suggestion that it might have led to this deeply shamed him.

“I understand sir but as I’m sure you can understand, we need to cover all of our bases. I can assure you of complete discretion and
confidentiality.” Giles sensed Hank’s shame and wanted to reassure him that he was not there to judge him.
“You’re right, you’re right. Now is not the time to be coy. Her name is Olivia Pennington, at the time she was Olivia Fairchild.” Hank was greatly
relieved at Giles’ professionalism. Then he remembered something Giles said earlier.

“Uh, so you think… that Buffy and Dawn are still…” He couldn’t finish the question, as if saying the words would somehow make his fear a
reality.

“Yes, I do. For the reasons I mentioned already, for a person like this simply killing them would be too easy. But you must realize that just
because I think they’re alive, that doesn’t mean that they’re…unhurt.” Hank got the full meaning of Giles’ words.

The two men talked a bit longer before a soft knock interrupted them. It was Willow and Joyce returning. Giles waited until they were all
settled before he continued. He reminded Joyce and Hank to keep the visitors to their home restricted and to grant the FBI agents guarding
them access to anything unusual before handling it themselves. Unusual mail, strange phone calls, anything. He expected to hear from the
abductor soon. A short while later, they left with their FBI escorts.

After they left Giles and Willow discussed what they’d learnt. While Willow took Joyce’s statement, she ran through a similar set of questions
with Joyce as Giles had with Hank. Not surprisingly, Joyce had no skeletons in her closet. Giles was certain that Hank was the intended target.
And although he would certainly consider other leads, he was focusing his attention on the senator.
***
Buffy woke slowly that morning. Her entire body ached. As she rolled over in the bed she realized that she was alone. Looking over to where
Angel had slept she saw a small piece of paper resting on his pillow. She picked it up and read the handwritten note.

Buff,

You are the sweetest thing I’ve ever tasted. I will return this evening to dine on your exquisite flesh. I’ve picked something out for you. Be ready
for six. I left some reading material to help you pass the time. Till tonight, Lover.

A

She glanced over to the chest of drawers and sure enough, there was a small pile of paperbacks and next to them, the soft pink scrap of silk
that he expected her to wear for him. His note infuriated her. His audacity alone was inexcusable and calling her “Lover” made her skin flush
with anger. She crumpled up the note and threw it at the door as she cursed him. Just then the door opened and she hastily pulled the sheets
closer to cover her nudity. Apparently her attackers were back to deliver her breakfast. Neither said anything but both eyed her form
appreciatively. Buffy was suddenly quite self conscious and keenly aware of her vulnerability. She had no idea where Angel had gone and she
wasn’t sure how safe she was alone with them, not that she was safe with Angel either. But she remembered him saying that she wasn’t
supposed to be hurt when they took her. Could she then assume that they weren’t allowed to have their way with her? And if they weren’t,
would they respect Angel’s orders when he wasn’t around? She tightened her hold on the sheets even as they continued to eye her hungrily.
Although she was terrified of Angel, a small part of her wished he was there.

When they finally left, she let out a deep sigh of relief. She turned on the TV and watched as Dawn too was eating. Seeing Dawn suddenly
reminded her that she was supposed to be with her family that weekend. If this hadn’t happened she would be at home busily discussing her
father’s campaign plans. Fresh tears came to her eyes as she thought of her mother and father. They certainly knew by now that she and Dawn
had been kidnapped. What were they thinking? What were they doing? She had no idea how long Angel planned to keep them and she
certainly didn’t know what he was going to do with them in the end. And after last night she wasn’t sure she wanted to. Fighting back her
tears, she simply hoped to see her family again.

Picking up her tray, she saw a little clock sitting next to her apple. ‘Damn him!’ She now had no excuse to be late when Angel arrived. After
eating, she headed into the shower.
***
Saturday afternoon, Joyce and Hank were sitting down to lunch when their housekeeper and Agent Harris walked in with a package addressed
to the senator. There was no return address. Using gloves, Harris opened it to find nothing more than an unlabelled VHS tape and a small
typewritten note. The note held Angel’s words to Buffy from the day before.

You are indebted to me and I am collecting on it…with interest. Starting with Buffy.

He carefully placed it back in the package and called Special Agent Gunn and Giles immediately. Agent Gunn arrived first and questioned the
housekeeper. She explained that she only just found the package on the doorstep of her house and brought it right over. She didn’t see who
left it. After further questioning, Gunn thanked her and sent her home. He would continue the interrogation later if necessary. A while later,
Willow and Giles arrived and they all assembled in the media room. They played the tape. On it was Buffy dressed in a very revealing
nightgown and next to her was a very tall, dark haired man. They were sitting at a table talking but the camera angle only showed him from
behind. There was no sound but it was clearly a tense conversation. Buffy looked extremely scared. Then suddenly the man stood and violently
pulled her up to him. Although the man’s frame largely blocked what was happening, it wasn’t hard to tell that Buffy was being molested.

When he shoved her against the wall the entire group flinched. Joyce was silent but shaking, her eyes filled with unshed tears. The senator
watched in disbelief. Then the attack seemed to stop and the group let out a collective sigh only to gasp aloud when suddenly Buffy was
thrown onto the bed. She was clearly screaming and struggling and the terror on her face was unmistakable. What they saw left no doubt that
Buffy was going to be raped. Joyce ran from the room. After Buffy’s attacker assaulted her further, he appeared to be talking to her again. He
then pulled something out of his pocket and Buffy suddenly seemed to attack him, or at least try to, but soon she was restrained and crying
uncontrollably. The man moved away from her and appeared to watch her cry briefly before he took something out of a draw. Then, after
talking to her again, he left. The tape ended after that.
The shocked silence echoed throughout the room. Hank was stunned. He stared unseeing at the note for a long time, unable to comprehend
what was happening. His girls were gone and he just saw his first nearly raped. And somehow this was all, his fault. Tears absently slipped
down his face.

Leaving the room to give Hank some privacy, the others discussed what to do next. They were all deeply shaken. Giles knew that kidnap
victims often endured horrific abuse but something about the brutal violence he just witnessed bothered him more than usual. It was bone
chilling. It took him a moment to collect his thoughts. After composing themselves, he sent Willow in search of Joyce. The situation had quickly
escalated into something even uglier than Giles had initially feared. They needed to find the girls before anything else happened. And to do
that Giles knew exactly what they needed. He pulled Gunn aside.

Once Willow brought the nearly catatonic Joyce back to the room, Giles took the floor and spoke as Hank held his distraught wife close in his
arms. His voice was more grave than usual.

“Mr. Summers, uh, it’s clear that the motive here is to hurt you. And from the tape and note, he doesn’t plan to negotiate. He plans to torture
you. Given the apparent nature of this situation, Agent Gunn and I have decided to bring in an associate who has extensive experience in
rescue operations. He’s a high risk operative, which is why we only bring him in for the more difficult cases. Granted, right now the major
difficulty here is identifying the man on the tape but clearly time is of the essence. Our associate can help with that. Once we locate them, he’ll
go in and bring them out. I must add though, he’s rather unorthodox but right now, your daughters’ welfare is our priority and he can get it
done.”

Hank stared at Giles momentarily as the weight of his words sank in, and then glanced over at Agent Gunn. Then he nodded dumbly before
saying, “Do whatever you must to bring my girls home.”

A while later, Gunn, Giles and Willow headed out to meet with Detective Finn after Hank and Agent Harris gave Joyce a sedative and got her
into bed. After arriving at the office, Giles made a phone call.

A short while later, Spike was on his way.

As they awaited his arrival, they worked on zooming in and enhancing the images on the tape as well as pulling up information on the senator.
They needed to identify the man with Buffy.
***
As the day wore on, Hank tried to comfort his wife. She kept blaming herself for not checking on Buffy sooner. Perhaps if she had followed her
instincts when she first couldn’t contact her, the girls might be home by now. She lamented losing all of that precious time. Hank tried
everything he could to convince her that she acted reasonably and that more couldn’t have been expected. But Joyce was inconsolable.

After a while, Hank needed a break. He had his own grief and anger to deal with and watching Joyce fall apart didn’t help. Every tear she shed
inspired an unnatural hatred within him for the man who was causing his family so much pain. But one of them had to keep a level head and
the burden fell to him. He had to get out for some air but the media invasion discouraged going outdoors. The ringing phone was a welcomed
relief. Well, almost. It was his long time friend and campaign manager Wesley Wyndam-Price. Apparently he had been trying to reach Hank
since he saw the story on the news but he kept getting his voicemail. Hank confessed that he was so exhausted that he turned off his cell
phone and was just regularly checking the messages. He apologized for not getting back to him sooner. But since Wes was on the phone, Hank
decided to take a break. He needed to talk so he invited him to the house. And so while Agent Harris kept an eye on Joyce, Hank prepared to
meet with Wesley.

After hearing the entire story, Wesley was speechless, which was a remarkable feat to be sure. Once he recovered from his shock, they
discussed what progress the authorities had made and the assistance Mr. Giles was providing. Wesley remarked on the tight security and the
hassle he had to endure just to get onto the estate. He also mentioned the staggering media presence. Hank rolled his eyes at that. He was
grateful for the assistance the press provided in getting the story and the pictures of the girls out but now he and Joyce felt like prisoners in
their own home. Everyone entering and leaving was accosted by the mass of reporters and their cameras. Each time he or Joyce tried to go
anywhere they had to battle their way through the mob. Granted, he and Joyce had previously dealt with the press on many occasions but
now, with their emotional and physical exhaustion, it was beginning to wear thin.

Hank then told Wes about the tape they had received earlier that day and the condition Joyce was in. As he spoke, he stood and casually
looked out a window. There he could see a few reporters taking photos of the house from just outside the main gates. He shook his head
grimly. Was this his life?

Sensing Hank’s despair, Wesley decided to take the plunge “Are you reconsidering?”

Before answering he looked through the window once more and sighed, a grave expression on his face, then glancing at Wes again he replied,
“I’m not reconsidering. I’ve decided. Buffy and Dawn are my priority and they’re going to need their father when they get home. Once this is …
done, so am I.”

He didn’t have to elaborate.
Once this situation was resolved, Hank refused to put his family through the stresses of the presidential campaign. Who knew what kind of
psychological and emotional scars the girls would have after this? Would they ever recover? They were going to need him and Joyce. And after
this, he wasn’t about to leave their sides to go jetting around the country for anything, not even the Oval Office.

Wesley walked over and hugged his friend. “After the girls get home we’ll make the announcement.” Hank nodded in agreement. He looked
out the window again and whispered, “My girls!” Then, as if a damn burst, Hank broke down.
Through the slightly open door, Agent Meirs quietly watched.
***
After many hours, Agent Gunn, Willow and Giles managed to isolate a frame from the tape. It barely showed a profile of the man with Buffy
but after watching the tape in slow motion over a dozen times, that was the closest thing to a mug shot they could get. They made a copy of
the tape and note for their purposes since Gunn was taking the originals and the delivery package for processing at the federal crime lab.
When Finn arrived, Gunn briefed him on the events earlier that day. It was now clear that Senator Summers was the intended target and not
all of Congress. But although the FBI would now narrow the investigation’s focus accordingly, the Bureau would continue providing security for
Congress. They discussed where their respective investigations would now be heading and what steps should be taken. The FBI would now
focus on all of Hank’s Congressional votes and activities whereas Finn would access the State’s records of all of Hank’s activities prior to
entering the Senate, which included his time as a governor and a state prosecutor. Once their discussion was over, Finn headed out. A short
while after, Spike entered the office. Giles briefed him and then he watched the tape himself.

Once he was done, he asked, “How was the package received?”

“The housekeeper said that it was on her doorstep. Apparently she found it when she went out to check her mailbox. She didn’t notice anyone
hanging around or anything else unusual.” Gunn wished he had kept agents at her house.

“Do you believe her?”

“Yeah I do. We brought her in for questioning last night after we escorted the senator and his wife home and she allowed us to search her
home. There was nothing there. I’m pretty sure she has nothing to do with this. Anyway, whoever left it knew they couldn’t take it to the
senator’s home so the housekeeper was the next best thing.” Gunn read a lot into that. This person knew what to expect from the feds.

“So I guess you can’t track where it came from.” Spike also noted what Gunn was thinking. He also figured they wouldn’t be able to trace it but
it wouldn’t hurt to try.

“Well, I’ve sent over some agents to question her neighbors in case any of them saw anything and also to keep an eye on her place just in case
anything else happens but I doubt we can, it was just left there.”

“Where does she live?”

“Just outside of town, about 30 minutes from the senator’s home. She works there five days a week. She goes home in the evenings and on
weekends.”

“Did she tamper with it at all?”

“She says she only picked it up and brought it right over once she saw that it was for the senator. Agent Harris said that it was still sealed when
she gave it to him so as far as we can tell she didn’t open it. In any event, we’ve got her fingerprints so we can eliminate them from any others
we find.”

“Well, one thing’s for certain. This tape was made and delivered in the past twenty-four hours, in fact less than that. When the agents were at
the housekeeper’s home last night, it wasn’t there. So it had to be dropped off either really late last night or early this morning. At least we
know they’re probably still in the country.” From their expressions Giles knew he was the only optimist in the room.

“Hmm, any luck with the guy on the tape?” Spike had noted that the man’s face was conveniently kept out of a direct shot.

“No. The frame we isolated is hardly a profile. There’s no way to ID him with what we’ve got.” Willow was rather disappointed with that.

“I see. Well, I’m going to check out the scenes for a bit. I’ll check in with Finn for those records later.” Spike then left.
***
Buffy spent most of the day reading and watching Dawn on the TV. While her lunch was delivered, the silent duo changed the bedding and the
bathroom linens. When Angel arrived at 6 sharp, she was wearing the pink, silk chemise. Now she was sitting across from him having dinner.
Angel looked ready to throw her on the table and ravish her but he kept his distance and just feasted on her with his eyes. They ate in silence.
After the empty trays were collected, he undid his pants freeing his cock.

“Suck it!” His command left no room for argument. At the sight a wave of nausea started at the pit of her stomach and Buffy suddenly wished
she hadn’t eaten. She fought to suppress it.

Reluctantly, she got on her knees and took him in her small hands. Holding the base, she tentatively licked his entire length. She then licked
along the vein and swirled her tongue across the tip just before she took him into her mouth, keeping her gag reflex in check the entire time.
She sucked and stroked him, gradually increasing the pressure as she rolled and squeezed his balls with her free hand. And to her relief, the
nausea soon passed. Angel happily ran his fingers through her silky hair while he watched her lips sliding along his length. He noticed that she
almost turned green when he told her to blow him so instead of insisting that she deep throat him, he decided to let her set the pace. He was
nothing if not patient and was silently relieved when she seemed to recover. She gradually increased the pressure of her strokes as she sucked
him harder and faster. Just before he came, he gripped her head firmly holding it in place. She knew what he wanted and after bracing herself,
obediently swallowed his seed.

After releasing his load, he pulled her up into his lap. She sat facing him, straddling his hips with her legs dangling on either side, her feet
barely touching the floor. He kissed her forcefully pulling her plush against his chest and wrapping her arms around his neck. The intimate
position allowed him to rub his erection against her core as he slowly rocked her in his lap. As they moved, her nipples brushed against the soft
material of the chemise, the silk lightly tickling them into hard peaks. Feeling her body respond to the friction, she hid her face in the crook of
his neck as she surrendered to him. Feeling her give in, Angel swiftly stood and placed her on the table. Instructing her to hold under her
knees, lift and spread her legs, he lowered his head to her sex. Spreading her open he dipped his tongue into her, tasting her. She gasped when
he delved deeper as he feasted on her. He thrust his tongue as deep as possible, low growls escaping him. Moisture pooled from her as she
squirmed on the table. Holding her in place, Angel continued lapping at her core eliciting a chorus of moans and gasps from his captive. His
face smeared with her essence, he gently pushed back the hood of her clit and sucked mercilessly. Releasing her legs, she shrieked as a
rainbow of sensation exploded within her. Holding her legs up with his forearm, he continued his assault. Two of his long, strong fingers
pumped wildly into her sheath, driving her again and again into an orgasmic frenzy. He kept sucking her clit, never once easing the pressure.

Buffy quickly went from peak to white, hot peak with intense power. The rapid succession of orgasms had her keening and screaming
continuously. She tried sitting up to push him away and escape the torture. Her every attempt thwarted by his grip on her and his skilled
tongue. Once her cries reached a fevered pitch, he slowly brought her down from the orgasmic high as he gently laved her clit. Buffy was limp
from over stimulation. As she quivered before him, he stood and thrust into her in one swift motion. She groaned as the penetration triggered
even more ripples of sensation. Within seconds, Angel was fucking her relentlessly. Holding her legs open he pounded into her again and
again, his pace ever increasing. He pulled her into a half sitting position and pushed her legs up against her chest, never once breaking his
stride. Buffy was alight with sensation. Suddenly he gripped her by the waist and lifted her from the table, carrying her on his cock to the
corner where he first assaulted her. There he pressed her firmly against the wall and ploughed into her with staggering brutality. Buffy
screamed at the force and tried to push away from the corner. But Angel grabbed her wrists and held them firmly above her head, as he drove
into her. Then with his free hand, began rubbing her clit as his tongue invaded her mouth, silencing her protests. Moments later, both were
propelled over the edge, the force of their combined climax making them both cry out. She collapsed in his arms. As they calmed, Angel carried
her to the bed and gently placed her under the covers. Pulling her into his embrace, he pillowed her head on his chest while he gently caressed
her. Soon they were asleep.
***
A short while later, Angel reached for her again. He pulled her onto all fours, entered from behind and was soon pounding her into the
mattress. She braced herself against the headboard as best she could. His loud grunts filled the room as he took his pleasure. Then he suddenly
came with a roar and abruptly withdrew from her. Buffy was surprised by his sudden withdrawal and her body ached from unfulfilled passion.
Slumping onto her side, she let out an agonized groan. Feeling him rise from the bed, she cursed her weakness and willed her traitorous body
to calm. Angel walked over to the chest of drawers and quietly watched her struggle to suppress the fire he’d kindled within her. He knew she
was close when he withdrew and now her body was begging for release. Well, she was about to get one she’d never forget.

He opened the locked draw in the chest. It was filled with dildos, vibrators, handcuffs and a few other items. He pulled out the tiny vibrator
and its remote before relocking the draw. Then glancing at the clock briefly, he predatorily walked over to the unsuspecting Buffy. It was just
11pm, enough time to torture her until morning. As he approached he adjusted the settings on the remote for the vibrator. Kneeling next to
her, he pulled her legs apart. Her breath hitched in surprise when he touched her. Lowering his head, he lightly nibbled on her clit, his tongue
laving, licking and flicking it until she was panting heavily. Buffy grasped the pillows and buried her face in them as he worked her again and
again, her cries getting louder as the onslaught drew out.

“Do you want to come, Lover?” His voice was low and husky.

Buffy only whimpered in response. He smiled.

“Come on, Lover. You’ve got to tell me. Do you want to come?” His voice was deep and velvety.

“Please…” was all she could gasp out.

“Please what, Lover?” His tongue lingered on her clit as he slid three fingers into her.

“Oh, God! Please, oh, don’t do this to me.” Buffy was in tears as her determination to resist warred with her body’s demand for release.

Just then she felt him slide something into her. It felt about the size of a tampon but much smoother. She tried to clamp her legs shut but he
was expecting that and held them open despite her efforts.

“What are you doing?” She asked rather alarmed.

Ignoring her question he pressed further, “Tell me what you want Buff.” Once whatever he had was deep inside her, he sucked even harder on
her clit. As he sucked, Buffy reached her limit and cried out.

“Oh God! I need to…” She could barely say the rest.

“You need to come, baby?” He drew the words out as he licked her.

“Yes!” Her breathy response made him smile as she squirmed in his grip.

“See Lover, that was so easy. Now I’ll give you what you want.” Then using the remote, he turned on the vibrator within her.
Buffy screamed.

She writhed and thrashed wildly, arching off the bed as she tried to pull the offending thing out of her. Angel grabbed her hands just as she
reached for the protruding string, halting her as he issued his stern warning.

“Pull it out and there’ll be hell to pay.” The threat was clear.

“Angel please…just make it stop.” Buffy cried. She didn’t think she could take much more of it.

“I will…when I’m ready. And if you keep asking me, I’ll leave it in longer. Do you understand?” Buffy nodded in dismay. He held her close to him
and kissed her face as she moaned and squirmed on the bed. After a few minutes, the torture device stopped on its own. Angel pulled the
sheets over them and pulled her even closer to him. He smiled to himself. It was going to be a long night.

Throughout the night, the vibrator went off at varying intervals and intensities. Buffy was mindless. The first few times she screamed and cried
out clutching the sheets and pillows to alleviate the agony. But she never mentioned taking it out again. During her moments of crisis, Angel
held her close and kissed her. Eventually she was clinging onto him, burying her face in his chest, banging her fists and crying uncontrollably as
her body violently shook. She had no idea how many orgasms she had. When the vibrator wasn’t torturing her, Angel went down on her and
feasted on the river that flowed copiously from her body. He latched onto her breasts and suckled hungrily, driving her mad. Neither got much
sleep.

By morning, Buffy was beyond exhausted and so over stimulated and sensitive that a simple touch sent aftershocks rippling through her. As
Angel greedily devoured her for breakfast he finally took it out, only to push his cock into her. He fucked her deep and slow before finally
taking her at full force. Buffy trembled as he caressed her hypersensitive flesh. Tears streaming down her cheeks from the sheer intensity.
Minutes later they both fell into oblivion.

His passion spent, Angel pulled her close to him again. She was visibly angry. Well, angrier than she already was about being kidnapped. She
stiffened in his embrace.

“You were a good girl last night Buff.” Angel kissed her face as he spoke. She remained silent. “I think I’ll do something to make it up to you.”
He nuzzled her again.

Buffy perked up, “Will you let us go home?”

Her innocence charmed him. God! He loved his power over her.

“No. But I’ll let you have a visitor. Would you like to see Dawn?” Angel could see the smile already starting in her eyes.

“You’ll let me see her for awhile, just the two of us?” She couldn’t help the excitement that entered her voice.

“For a little while each day you can see her, but only if you’re good. Tell you what, get some sleep and I’ll bring her to you later this afternoon.”
Buffy eagerly nodded in response.

“Kiss?” Angel hooked his finger under her chin and lifted her face.

Buffy briefly furrowed her brow. He was acting like they were lovers or something. As if she would be there if she had any real choice in the
matter. In any event, she wasn’t about to jeopardize her chance to see Dawn. So she lightly kissed his lips and smiled at him. Minutes later
Buffy was asleep and he was in the shower.
******
Part 4
//////
After meeting with Gunn and Giles, Detective Finn immediately requested Hank’s trial records from the sitting DA. Given the situation, the
DA’s staff came in and assisted in gathering the information. Within a few hours the files were released and Finn returned to Giles’ office to
work through them with the others.

Spike spent most of Saturday night in Buffy’s apartment. He wanted to have a sense of what she was like for when he rescued her and Dawn.
He had no idea how traumatized they’d be and he knew he’d have to gain their trust for the mission. From what he was told, he was pretty
sure that if he got Buffy trust him, Dawn would too.

Early the next morning, he eventually made his way back to Giles’ office and helped the others research the senator. From what they knew,
Hank sat on a few committees and was outspoken on a few key issues. He held a few unpopular opinions but otherwise was pretty normal.
There was nothing glaringly controversial or provocative about him. He was an Assistant D.A. for almost ten years and had left the law for
politics long before Buffy was even born. It had been at least 25 years since he tried his last case. They all felt that Hank’s work as a prosecutor
was at the heart of the matter. That was definitely a sure way to make enemies. They systematically worked through the files, focusing on
cases in which the defendants were convicted of felonies and particularly those in which life sentences or the death penalty were imposed.
There were a few cases that immediately caught their interest.
***
Buffy sat on the bed eagerly awaiting Dawn’s arrival. Angel left her hours before and had said that Dawn would be there just after lunch. In
that time she had showered and dressed in a set of sweats and a T-shirt. There was no way Dawn was going to see her in the skimpy little
outfits Angel kept her in. When the door opened and Dawn saw Buffy sitting there, she squealed loudly and ran to her. Springing to her feet,
she pulled Dawn into a tight embrace. The sisters clung to each other for several long minutes before either even thought of breaking contact.
Both were in tears as they sat on the bed and talked, still closely held in each other’s arms.

”Buffy, I didn’t know you were here. Are you ok? How long have you been here?” Dawn couldn’t speak fast enough. She didn’t know what to
expect when she was taken from her room.
“I’m ok Dawn, I’m ok. I’ve been here since early Friday. When did you get here?” Buffy tried to keep her concern out of her voice. She didn’t
want to upset Dawn more than she already was.

“Friday night. Buffy, what is going on? No one has told me anything. Do you know who’s behind this? Why are we here?” Dawn knew she was
bombarding Buffy with questions but she didn’t know how much time they had together and she had so many questions.

“Well, it’s a complicated story and I don’t know everything. The only thing I can tell you is that Angel has a big problem with Dad.” Buffy
wished she knew more about the situation herself but whenever she pressed Angel about it, he’d just ignore her questions and have sex with
her.

“Angel? Who’s Angel?” Dawn was puzzled.

“He’s the guy who had us brought here. Tall, dark brown hair and eyes. He’d actually be quite attractive if you could get past the psychotic vibe
he gives off.” Buffy was surprised that Dawn hadn’t met him.

“I haven’t seen anyone like that at all. Just these two guys who bring in my food and then the other two guys who snatched me but then I
didn’t see their faces cause they had masks on so maybe he was one of them.” Dawn was a bit nervous that there was yet another person to
be scared of.

“I doubt it. He doesn’t seem the kind to do his own dirty work.” Buffy was relieved that Dawn hadn’t had any direct contact with Angel. At
least he seemed to be keeping his promise and her recent carnal escapades with him weren’t in vain. Then something occurred to her. “If they
had on masks how do you know the guys who took you aren’t the same ones who bring the food?”

“Oh, well they look different. I mean, the two who grabbed me had really thick necks and their hair was different. And the two with the food,
well one is black and the other has one hell of a shoulder injury.” Buffy smirked proudly at her handiwork. But her amusement was tempered
by the fact that there were at least four men guarding them, in addition to Angel. She sighed. As Dawn talked Buffy was relieved that she
didn’t seem too traumatized but still, she had to ask. “Um Dawn, uh, have you been hurt or anything since you’ve been here? I mean, has
anyone, done anything to you?” Buffy didn’t want to scare Dawn but she needed to know.

“No. Well, they were kind of rough when they grabbed me but other than that, no. Actually, I’ve been bored out of my mind. I read books all
day and then I eat my meals. But, I suppose being kidnapped could be a lot worse so I’m glad no one bothers me.” As she spoke she looked at
Buffy curiously. She noticed the relief that crossed her face, “Have you been hurt?”

Buffy tensed but tried to hide it. Dawn had no idea how much worse it really could be. She had no intentions of telling Dawn, or anyone else
for that matter, about what was happening to her. She could hardly admit it to herself.

Her answer was cautious. “No Dawn. I haven’t been hurt.” She hoped Dawn didn’t realize she was lying.

Dawn wasn’t fooled though. Buffy was hiding something. But she didn’t want to spend their brief time together trying to force Buffy to open
up before she was ready. So, to Buffy’s relief Dawn let it go. To relieve the tension, Buffy shifted the conversation back to Dawn, “So, where
are they keeping you?”

“Practically on the other side of the planet. I don’t know how big this place is but it took forever to get here. I don’t think I could get back to my
little cell by myself without getting lost.” Buffy was disappointed to hear this. She hadn’t been allowed out of her room at all and now she
knew that if she did manage to escape, not only would she have to avoid Angel and his men, but also that finding Dawn would be difficult.

Over the next half hour they talked about what they each experienced since their kidnapping and how they were taken. Buffy of course,
omitted everything regarding her intimate relationship with Angel. She showed Dawn the TV that was directly linked to her room. They
speculated over the possible motives for their abductions and what ransom demands Angel might have. Soon their chatter moved to school,
work and their parents as they caught up on everything in each other’s life. Time went by quickly and before they knew it, the men who
brought her had returned to escort Dawn back to her room. The sisters hugged each other tightly again. As they were parted, each fought back
the tears that were threatening to burst forth. They had to be strong for each other.

Buffy watched the TV screen and held it together until she saw Dawn enter her own room. When Dawn waved at her, she fell apart.
***
After spending most of the day with the others working through the files from the DA, Spike headed out to meet with Hank and Joyce. Now, it
was Sunday evening and he was sitting at the center island in the Summers kitchen. Joyce seemed to have come out of her catatonia and was
glad to have company. At the moment she was digging through the cupboards looking for the tiny marshmallows she always kept around for
the girls to put in the hot chocolate she was making. Although Dawn wasn’t crazy about them, they were Buffy’s favorite. Once she found the
marshmallows, she poured a cup for Spike, Hank and herself and sat down for a chat. Hank was talking about his work as a prosecutor. He was
a little nervous with the bleach-blonde man sitting in his home. Spike was dressed in black jeans and a close fitting black T-shirt, his long
leather duster draped over his shoulders. He had a quiet intensity about him and his every movement, no matter how subtle, demanded
attention. He was the kind of person who walked into a room and everyone paid attention. But there was also an air of danger and mystery
about him, a turbulent sea of barely restrained ferocity stirring just below the surface. When Mr. Giles said unorthodox he wasn’t kidding. This
Spike seemed to be the embodiment of everything he wanted his girls to avoid in a man and yet this very same man was going to save them.
The irony was not lost on him. But Hank wondered how someone so high profile was going to get to the girls unnoticed. Joyce, on the other
hand, was quite taken with him, especially his accent. He was so charming, granted in a highly understated manner. She was instantly
mesmerized. When Spike asked her to tell him about her family, Joyce instantly lit up. She loved talking about the girls.

As the conversation progressed, the usually stoic Spike found himself swept up by the force of nature that was Joyce. She seemed genuinely
intrigued by his work and background. He told them that his real name was William Armstrong and that he was initially a member of the LAPD
SWAT team but he later joined the FBI and worked as a Special Agent for several years. Now, he consulted on security issues for politicians and
celebrities and occasionally provided emergency assistance for rescue missions, such as this one. Usually he only went in and brought his
clients out but since this was Giles, he was also assisting in locating them. At that comment, Hank and Joyce looked puzzled and Spike
elaborated that while Giles still lived in the U.K., he had been married to his Aunt Jenny and when his mother, Drusilla died, he went to live
with them. He was a teenager at the time. He never knew his father. He had no siblings and Giles and Jenny had no children themselves so he
grew up an only child. As the years passed, Jenny got sick and died as well but by then he was an adult and living on his own in the U.S.
Sometime after her death Giles also moved to the U.S. and began his own Private Investigating firm. It was during Spike’s time as an agent that
he recommended Giles as a consultant to the Bureau while working on a particularly difficult case. After hearing this, Hank was surprised that
Giles had called Spike an associate rather than his nephew but during the discussion Spike explained that although he and Giles were still close,
they led very separate lives. He noted that their relationship wasn’t top secret but whenever he and Giles worked together they tried to
maintain as much professionalism as possible so they didn’t exactly advertise their connection. As Spike shared more about himself, Hank
found that he was quite impressed by the young man and gradually warmed up to him.

Eventually, when the conversation got back to Hank and his years at the District Attorney’s Office, Spike pulled at a folder. It was full of
excerpts on the cases that he and the others had highlighted as cases of special interest and over the following hours, he and Hank went over
every detail the senator could recall. Among them was the Rayne case.

Just in the other room, Agent Meirs listened closely.
***
That evening, Buffy stood in the shower letting the hot water soothe her aching muscles when she suddenly felt a rush of cool air. Startled, she
turned abruptly and came face to face with Angel. She stood, frozen as he eyed her nude form.

“Angel!” She flushed deeply under his scrutiny and wrapped her arms around her body.

“Hello Lover.” A mischievous smile crossed his face. “Did you enjoy your visit with Dawn?” He loved how modest she was, even after
everything he had already done to her. Her obvious discomfort amused him.

“Yes. It was great to see her.” She then looked directly at him, “uh, thank you.” The words sounded odd even to her.

“That’s it? ‘Thank you’ is how you show your appreciation.” His eyes raked over her body as he spoke.

She got the hint.

She turned off the water and slowly walked over to him, standing mere inches away. He looked her over before their eyes locked. Then in a
swift move he grabbed her around the waist, pulling her plush against him. His hands roughly ran through her wet hair and his lips crushed
hers as he forced his tongue into her mouth. The kiss was deep and forceful. She heard him unzip his pants just before he lifted her and
wrapped her legs around his waist, impaling her in one thrust. She cried out in pain from the invasion. She wasn’t ready for him. He stilled
momentarily and pressed her against the wall, kissing her again. Then pulling back, he looked into her eyes and slowly began thrusting deep
into her as he spoke.

“You belong to me.” His thrusts were slow and deliberate, as if he were marking his territory. The effect was not lost on Buffy.

When he got no reply, he changed his angle and began a circular motion, thrusting a little deeper and harder. Their eyes still locked he tried
again.

“Who do you belong to Buff?” He continued the slow and steady rhythm, ensuring his pelvis rubbed against her clit with each thrust.

“What?” She looked at him in disbelief. She could barely concentrate with what he was doing to her.

“You are mine.” He enunciated each word clearly and punctuated each with a thrust. “Say it!”

“No!” At her whispered denial, his pace became punishing and soon she was breathing heavily from the onslaught but still she refused to
comply.

As the battle of wills ensued, he held her there against the wall, fucking her relentlessly and inflicting the maximum combination of pain and
pleasure all the while demanding she submit. His every thrust diminishing her resolve.

“Oh God, stop!” Buffy had no idea how long he held her there but she needed it to end.

“All you have to do is say it, Lover. And here I thought you were going to be good for Dawn’s sake. Come, say it with me.” He leaned closer and
mumbled the words in her ear again and again in rhythm to his thrusts. “I’m yours, I’m yours.”
She held on and began mouthing the words along with him. Soon her tear-filled voice filled the bathroom as she repeated his claim on her. As
she spoke he pounded into her and fondled her nub. Seconds later she cried out the blinding orgasm that took her.

Holding her on his cock, he carried her to the bed and climbed on top of her. Staying buried within her, he covered her with wet, open mouth
kisses, murmuring, “You’re mine” over and over. As he moved above her, his cock hardened again and soon he was grinding into her slow and
deep. Buffy wasn’t sure why he was so determined to have her say that she was his but she did, again and again with every thrust. Rolling
them over he held her hips and pulled her down onto him as he thrust into her.

“Come on Buff, give it to me. Show me how happy you were to see Dawn.” His gruff voice penetrated the haze of sensations clouding her mind
and slowly she began pushing down onto him as he guided her movements. Soon she was riding him at full throttle. Latching onto her breasts,
he suckled voraciously. Their moans and gasps filled the room as they drove each other over the edge again and again. She shuddered in his
arms as waves of her orgasm rushed over her and they both collapsed in exhaustion.

As she recovered, he absently caressed her back and shoulders while kissing his way up her body. When he reached her face, he firmly gripped
her head and guided it down to his groin. She took him deep within the warm cavern of her mouth and sucked him with all she had, as she
stroked his length and fondled his balls. Once she had a steady rhythm, he pulled her legs around and positioned her over his face. He fingered
her, twisting his fingers slowly as he pumped, his pace quickly escalating. She bucked wildly over him as he penetrated her. Then pulling her
down to his mouth, he parted her, plunging his tongue into her depths. She whimpered in surprise. He flicked her nub and nibbled mercilessly
until she was panting and keening in urgency. Then he reached into his pants and pulled out a dildo. He had taken it out of the draw and
slipped it into his pocket while Buffy was still in the shower. Then tightening his grip on her, he rolled them. Under his weight, she continued
sucking him and stroking his cock, completely unaware of what he was about to do. He slowly began thrusting into her mouth as she sucked,
driving his cock further down her throat. She held onto his ass as he moved above her. He groaned when he slipped even further as she deep
throated him. Well, well, well, she wasn’t as inexperienced as he thought and had some skills after all. Angel was pleasantly surprised by this
discovery. He continued thrusting until he came, shooting his seed down her throat, giving her no option but to swallow. Then, holding her legs
open, he positioned the dildo at her entrance and slowly pushed it into her. Feeling the intrusion, she suddenly thrashed under him.

“Angel? Oh God, I don’t, no, please.” Her breathy plea did nothing to deter him.

Once the dildo was fully within her, he almost completely withdrew it before thrusting it back. The groan he elicited from her made him
chuckle. He pumped into her at a slow, steady pace, slowly increasing his rhythm. Her loud cries echoed throughout the room. Lowering his
head, he assaulted her clit, worrying the sensitive pearl as she shrieked and thrashed under him. She couldn’t move to escape it. He drove her
higher and higher, taking her to the edge yet denying her release. He kept her hovering at the white, hot peak for what seemed like an
eternity. She was so desperate to come she shamelessly begged him for mercy. Finally, allowing her to climax, he sucked long and hard on her
clit as he pistoned the dildo into her. Her climax exploded so hard and fast, blurring her vision, her entire body quivering as she spiraled to
oblivion.

As she lay limp under him, he moved from over her and pulled her into his embrace. There he coddled her, kissing and caressing her. Buffy was
too numb to think yet her flesh was so sensitive that every touch sent small aftershocks coursing through her. Soon both drifted off to sleep.
***
Over the following hours, Angel indulged in every carnal act imaginable with his captive. Sometimes taking her hard and fast with ruthless
abandon, other times, taking her so gently and tenderly it could almost be mistaken for making love; if love were an emotion that existed
between them. He was incredibly insatiable and Buffy soon found herself swept up by the maelstrom of passion and eroticism. She was quickly
becoming a prisoner of his carnal appetite, not to mention her own. Buffy was young and fairly naïve but she wasn’t stupid. She knew exactly
what was happening. And throughout it all she tried to resist him and deny the desire that he fueled within her but with every orgasm, every
moan, every gasp, every touch, she became further entangled in his web. He was manipulating her body and using it as a weapon against her.

This knowledge deeply saddened her yet she had no power to resist. For she now had to fight him as well as herself. By using Dawn, he took
away the only means she had to fight back. And she had no idea how to fight like this, how to defend herself against his erotic onslaught. She
was so confused. She’d always associated sex with love or at least deep emotion. But with Angel, besides the mind-boggling orgasms, the only
thing she felt was fear. Granted, she was fascinated by the enigma that he was. She knew that just under his calm exterior was a turbulent and
deeply disturbed man. And that drew her in. However, she also saw a glimmer of the diabolical and truly evil fiend within. And that terrified
her. His violence scared her but his deceptive tenderness scared her even more. Her fear even paralyzed her hatred of him. She was losing this
battle.

Hours later she lay in his arms pondering what could possibly have driven him to do this. And would she ever escape.
***
Cordelia sat in Angel’s study, watching the entire scene unfold on the monitors. She had come by to check on him because she hadn’t heard
from him in almost two weeks. He hadn’t returned her calls or anything. When she arrived, she saw Luke and Adam patrolling the perimeter
and when she entered the house, Forrest and Graham were watching a similar set of monitors in the security room. When she asked about
Angel, they just said that he was around. Their vague response worried her. So she made her way up to his study where he usually spent his
time. She was met with the sight of him plunging his cock into some blond bimbo. And on another monitor was another girl. Probably just
waiting for her turn. She was livid. It wasn’t his infidelity that bothered her. She knew she wasn’t the only one he fucked. But this was the first
time he had totally blown her off for another woman, or women in this matter. She sat for hours, watching him eat her and then fuck her again
and again. She saw how he held her in his arms, how he kissed her, how he caressed her. This was no ordinary fuck. Her anger and jealousy
boiled to the surface, searing the face of the other woman into her memory.
******
Part 5
******
After seeing enough of Angel and his whore, Cordelia fled his ranch it a fit. She was so angry. How dare that asshole completely ignore her
after all she did for him? She stormed past Forrest and Graham on her way out, all the while muttering a steady flow of expletives. Luke and
Adam saw her leaving and wisely decided that Adam should follow to keep an eye on her. Because of his ‘special’ guests, they knew Angel
wouldn’t be pleased that she was there.

Once she left the ranch, Cordelia drove around aimlessly for hours, her anger gradually morphing into vindictive indignation. By the time she
got home, she was determined to make Angelus pay.
***
Hours later, after the seemingly endless sex-a-thon, Angel lay resting with Buffy in his arms, her head pillowed on his chest. Once their coital
marathon abated, she had fled as far to the other side of the bed as possible and fallen asleep. But once she did, Angel gently pulled her back
into his arms. He refused to let her go. And in her sleep, she snuggled deeper into his embrace. He smirked at the intimate position they were
in. They looked like lovers. But he knew more than anyone that they weren’t. And never would be. As he caressed her, she uttered something
unintelligible and gradually a small smile came over her face. He found her muttering in her sleep oddly endearing. As he held her, he
wondered what she was dreaming about, or more precisely, whom. The idea that she might be dreaming of someone other than him deeply
bothered him. He wanted to be the one in her dreams but the small smile on her face made him seriously doubt that he was the subject of her
fantasies. In fact, he knew the instant she woke up she’d cringe and turn away from him. He frowned, she was probably dreaming about being
rescued.

Just then his watch alarm went off. He sighed. As much as he loved being with Buffy, regrettably, he couldn’t stay. Some aspects of his work
just demanded his constant attention. And so, reluctantly he shifted her onto the pillows and headed into the shower.
***
A short while later Angel headed upstairs to his bedroom when Luke called his attention.

“Mr. Rayne, I just wanted to let you know that Ms. Chase was here earlier.” Luke knew Angel wasn’t entirely comfortable with the freedoms
Cordelia presumed she had.

“She was?” Angel was surprised by this news.

“Yes sir but she left again sometime later.” By Angel’s expression, Luke was glad he decided to tell him and had not waited for him to find out
on his own.

“Did she want something?” He was a little annoyed that she had just shown up without being invited.

“She didn’t say anything to me or Adam but I imagine she was looking for you. Adam and I were patrolling the perimeter but Forrest and
Graham were actually in the house when she got here so I’m sure they saw her. Perhaps she spoke with them. Adam and I saw her again when
she left and he followed her but he hasn’t gotten back yet.” Luke was glad to pass the buck onto the others. He knew they never should have
let her into the house without Angel’s say so.

“I want to see the three of you in my study immediately.” Having given his order, Angel went to his room.

A few minutes later, he was sitting at his desk when Luke, Forrest and Graham arrived.

“Mr. Rayne, you wanted to see us?” Forrest and Graham were a little nervous since Angel was still pissed that they’d injured his new little fuck
toy.

“Yes, I heard that Ms. Chase was here. Did she say what she wanted?” He noticed them visibly relax and smiled inwardly. He enjoyed seeing
them cower to his authority.

“No sir, she just asked for you but you were … occupied at the time so she came up here looking for you. She was up here for a long time
actually and then she just left.” Forrest could barely restrain his chuckle. He hoped Angel didn’t realize they were watching him and his new
friend on the monitors.

Angel, however, was well aware that they were watching him with Buffy but at the moment this thing with Cordelia was more important than
chewing them out. Besides, he knew they were drooling with envy. “She just left? She didn’t leave a message?”

“No, she seemed rather angry and just stomped out of here without saying a word.” Forrest really didn’t see the big deal. Why didn’t Angel
just call his girlfriend, send her some flowers and call it a day. Luke silently observed as Angel was clearly getting increasingly annoyed with the
situation.

“She was angry? Why didn’t you let me know she was here?”

”Well sir, you were …um … busy with the other young lady and …” Graham stopped just short of actually confessing to their voyeurism.

“Fine, fine. You’re right. I would have been rather upset had you interrupted us.” Angel knew he would have blown his lid had they interrupted
his time with Buffy.

After a moment, he asked, “You say she came up here?”

“Yes.” They answered hesitantly.

“In here, not my bedroom but in here.” Angel was now slightly alarmed.
“Yes sir. You spend a lot of time in here so I guess she thought you’d be here.” Forrest was now getting nervous as he too realized why Angel
was so annoyed. He knew no one was allowed in Angel’s study without his expressed permission.

Angel was now angry. His study was a very personal place and even Cordelia knew better than to enter without his permission. Looking around
he saw that the monitors were still on from earlier when he had been watching Buffy with Dawn. On one of the screens, he saw Buffy shifting
on the bed in her sleep. He frowned, his anger rising further. Cordelia must have seen him with Buffy and that’s why she was so angry. That
Cordelia had seen him with another woman wasn’t the issue, that she had seen him with Buffy set him on edge.

“Luke, call Adam. I want him to stay with Cordelia for the rest of the night. You will relieve him in the morning. I want you two to take shifts
and stay with her 24 hours a day until I say otherwise. Keep a close eye on her and don’t let her out of your sight. When your shifts are done I
want you to immediately report her activities to me. Forrest, monitor her phone calls. And keep me posted.” His order was a dismissal.

Once they left, Angel tried to do some work.
***
Spike returned to Giles’ office early Monday morning. He had worked through the night going over the trial records with Hank and now he was
convinced that someone connected to the Rayne case was behind the kidnappings. The trial was in the headlines for months and there were
endless scandals. Many witnesses involved in the case were threatened as well as few of the lawyers. From Hank’s recollections and the extra
information provided by the feds, there was a wealth of information on the power struggle that followed Rayne’s conviction. The fallout was
widespread and lasted over several years. The case was more like a work of fiction, with all the provocative elements of greed, hatred, murder
and betrayal.

After initially reading about the case, Spike had felt that they’d hit the jackpot but it would have been irresponsible to ignore the other
possibilities. And given Hank’s ten years as a prosecutor, there were numerous other cases that were likely possibilities, which first needed to
be eliminated. But after talking with Hank, the one thing that made the Rayne case stand out even more was that it was the only case in which
things had recently changed. Whereas all the other defendants were either still incarcerated or had been deceased for years, Rayne had been
released from prison only weeks before and had recently died. That fact alone set off alarms in Spike’s head.

As he walked in the door, Willow and Giles met him anxiously. A short while later, they were all assembled in the conference room and Spike
briefed them on what he’d learnt and his belief that the Rayne case was at the center of it all. Once the briefing was over, Giles updated Gunn
and then they each set out to research all of the people involved in the Rayne case.
***
Buffy woke late that morning. She was so tired and achy from the night before. Angel had spent hours doing unbelievably erotic things to her
and now she was really feeling it. Every muscle screamed in protest as she shifted on the bed and the soreness between her thighs was hard to
ignore. Rolling over she realized that she wasn’t alone. Angel was lying next to her, his arm draped across the pillow. He was nude. Propping
herself up, she turned towards him and for the first time, really looked at him. He was tall and very well built. Her eyes traveled along his
entire body from his feet to his muscled legs and thighs. She took in his seemingly ever-present erection and made her way to his chest and up
to his face. He was a gorgeous man. And in his sleep, he looked so harmless and peaceful. Looks could certainly be deceiving. She watched him
sleep for several minutes, the regular rise and fall of his chest almost hypnotic. She was so taken in by his slumbering form that she didn’t
notice him wake. Remaining still, he watched her visually explore him. When her eyes reached his face again and met his gaze she jumped.
Caught. Holding his gaze, she slowly backed out of the bed, threw on a T-shirt and wordlessly made her way to the bathroom where she
brushed her teeth and washed her face.

When she returned, Angel was lounging back on the bed with an expectant look on his face. Slowly she approached and sat on one of the
chairs at the table. He smirked and then indicated for her to sit next to him. Cautiously she complied. Holding her in his grasp, he kissed her
neck and shoulders, his hands groping her breasts. He gently pushed her back onto the bed and covered her with kisses. As he touched her,
she was quickly reminded of how tender and sore she was. Working his hand up the T-shirt, he placed a finger at her entrance and slowly
penetrated her. Wincing, she pushed against him, raised her hand and gently cupped his face, capturing his gaze. Angel was surprised by her
bold move and met her eyes questioningly.

“Angel, please. I can’t, not right now. It hurts.” She hoped he wouldn’t get angry.

Leaning over her, he murmured in her ear, “After last night, I thought you liked when it hurt a little.”

Blushing down to her roots, she pulled away from him. “No, I mean it really hurts, I’m not saying ‘No’ but I just need a break, please.”

As she pulled from him he noticed the slightly pained expression on her face and he realized exactly what the problem was. When he first
fucked her she was nearly virgin tight. It was obvious that she hadn’t had sex for a long time. She’d gone from complete celibacy to fuck-fest
too quickly and her body was still adjusting. He smiled inwardly. Fortunately, he had foreseen this problem.

Reaching for her again, he kissed her deeply. She returned his kiss hoping not to incur his wrath for refusing him.

Breaking the kiss, he asked, “Are you sore baby?” His voice velvety, his smile clearly indicating that he already knew the answer.

She nodded, slightly embarrassed to be discussing this with him.

“Don’t worry Lover, I’ve got just the thing for you.” Then he got up and went to the bathroom. Minutes later, she heard the water running and
after a while a light floral scent filled the room. Sometime later, he returned and scooped her out of the bed, carrying her to the bathroom.
There, she saw scented candles burning on almost every surface and that he’d drawn a bubble bath. Setting her on her feet, he pulled her T-
shirt off over her head and helped her settle into the hot water.
“There are bath salts and body oils in there to help with the soreness. Soak in there until I get back.” He then left the room.

Buffy settled back in the bath and tried to relax. When she refused him, she had expected him to force himself on her or threaten to hurt
Dawn again. She was surprised that he seemed willing to give her a break. Of course, what she didn’t realize was that Angel wanted her to
enjoy the sex between them. It wasn’t just for his pleasure. Previously when he inflicted pain, he combined it with pleasure. He wanted her to
get off on it. But with this, she wouldn’t get much pleasure at all if he forced the issue. And that went against his plan.

Close to half an hour later, Angel returned with a breakfast tray in hand. Setting it on the vanity seat, he sat next to the tub and proceeded to
feed them both. When he presented the first spoonful to her, she tried to take it to feed herself but he wasn’t having any of that. His
expression discouraged any arguments. So she sat there and allowed him to feed her. It was awkward for Buffy and made her feel strangely
vulnerable. The act was too intimate. Allowing him to put food in her mouth and sharing utensils. And the bubble bath. It was something
lovers did, not something you did with your rapist. It was a mockery of every romantic fantasy she ever had. And he was the first man she
would experience these things with. He was violating not only her body but also every shred of romance she associated with such activities. He
was trampling on the acts she should enjoy and cherish; he was tainting them. The next man to draw her a candle lit bubble bath would be
lucky if she didn’t run from the room screaming. The next man to feed her would be fortunate if she didn’t throw up.

Once the meal was over Angel stripped and slipped into the tub behind her, pulling her into his lap. And the mockery continued. She knew
what he wanted so she rested her head on his chest and tried not to think about it. As the silence stretched out and the remaining bubbles
dissolved, he caressed her. The body oils in the still warm water making her soft skin feel like silk. Shifting her slightly toward him, he took her
hand and placed it on his erection. His hand over hers, he guided her along his shaft. Closing her eyes, she allowed him to guide her hand.
Together they stroked him from the base to the tip and back again, slowly increasing the pace. The feel of their joined hands gliding along his
length was extremely erotic and Buffy found herself responding to him. As the pace increased, she gripped him more firmly. Releasing her
hand when he felt her grip increase, he reclined as she pleasured him. Soon his gasps and grunts filled the silence. As she pumped him, he
reached over and guided her mouth into a searing kiss. Their tongues battled and they devoured each other as she continued stroking him.
Again shifting her a slight bit, he broke the kiss and whispered, “Spread your legs.”

She opened her eyes in surprise to his command and met his gaze. So much for giving her a break. Slowly she obeyed and closed her eyes
again when she felt him touch her sex. Fondling her nub, he worked a finger into her and began slowly pumping. Feeling her moisture, he
inserted two fingers and gradually pumped harder and faster. Within minutes, her gasps and moans joined his as they touched each other. As
they drove each other higher and higher, their mouths met in a fevered kiss as they frantically raced towards their orgasms. Climaxing first
with a loud groan, he roughly pulled her closer and pumped wildly into her sheath while rubbing her clit. Abandoning his cock, she broke the
kiss and wrapped her arms around him as she shrieked and thrashed on his hand. Holding her legs open he rubbed her clit harder and faster,
thrusting his fingers harder and deeper. She screamed out her orgasm.

Before she could recover, he moved them to the other end of the bath and placed her on the ledge. Spreading her before him, he sucked long
and hard on her clit, tickling her until she was babbling incoherently and thrashing wildly. Her second climax rapidly exploded in the wake of
the first. Still not giving her a chance to recover, he climbed over her and plunged his length into her quivering sheath. Once seated within her,
he fucked her with staggering power. The oils from the bath making his cock easily glide in and out of her. The oils also made her slide on the
ledge with his every thrust. As he ploughed into her, Buffy held on to him for dear life, her pulse racing, her breathing ragged, her body
burning with blinding sensation. She quickly reached her crisis and as Angel roared his, she held onto him, her body convulsing as she sobbed
out her earth-shattering climax. In the last few moments, as he pumped his seed into her, prolonging her orgasm, she cried out his name.
The instant his name spilled from her lips, she opened her eyes in horror. As their gazes locked, a purely masculine smile crossed his face. The
sudden silence echoed against the walls. When he withdrew from her, she pulled away and ran from the room.

Moments later Angel was dressed. As he was leaving, he passed her prone form. She was wearing an over-sized T-shirt over her damp body.
Her long wet hair splayed across the pillows. She was obviously crying. He watched her briefly; the sounds of her sobs a haunting reminder of
Darla’s whenever Holtz left her bedroom. And like Holtz he was leaving his captive in tears. In that moment, Angel knew that he was no better
than his uncle. Using his power over Buffy the same way Holtz used his over Darla. But this realization did nothing to diminish his resolve. As
far as he was concerned, living with Holtz made him the monster he was now. And Hank Summers made that happen. Shutting out the
memory, he approached the bed and muttered, “Dawn will be here after lunch.”

Seconds later he was gone.
***
Some hours into their research, the phone suddenly rang, startling Giles, Willow and Spike.

“Giles & Co, Private Eye.” Willow’s extremely professional voice filled the silence.

“Willow, this is Finn. Turn on your TV to channel 6.” The urgency in Riley’s voice surprised her.

“What?” She wasn’t sure she heard correctly.

Giles and Spike listened to her one-sided conversation, an uneasy feeling settling over them both.

“Are you sure? Hold on.” An extremely worried expression crossed her face as she went into the conference room and turned on the
television. Puzzled, Spike and Giles followed her in.

The midday news was on and the anchor was reporting on a breaking story regarding the Summers kidnappings. Apparently, over the weekend
a national tabloid received a VHS tape and a letter from an anonymous source. The tabloid, The Star, was running a story detailing the alleged
content of the tape and the letter. According to The Star, the tape, labeled “Ideal First Whore” allegedly showed Buffy Summers on a table
having what appeared to be consensual sex with a man and the accompanying letter, among other things, insinuated that she was complicit in
her own abduction and that the entire thing was a ruse, some sort of rebellion on her part because she hated her parents, was jealous of her
sister and was against the senator running for the White House.
After the anchor reported the details of the story, a so called ‘expert’ came on and discussed the possible ramifications of the alleged content
of the letter and the tape on the investigation and the legal issues involved if the tabloid did in fact run the story. First Amendment issues and
libel were among the many.

Willow, Giles and Spike watched, mouths agape, all coming to the same conclusion. With the story being reported the way it was, the Star
didn’t have to run it. The damage was already done, both to the integrity of the investigation and Buffy’s reputation.

Once the story was over, Willow added that Finn and Gunn were already heading to judges to obtain warrants to seize the tape and the letter
as evidence but they expected to encounter some resistance because once the tape and letter were received they became property of the
tabloid and there might be Freedom of the Press issues.

Giles and Spike remained still momentarily as the gravity of what just happened settled in. Then Giles grabbed the phone and called Hank to
break the news.
***
After spending most of the previous night condemning Angelus to eternal damnation, Cordelia left her apartment determined to get even. She
was going to strike back the only way she knew how. It was just after noon and she was going shopping. With Angel’s credit card no less. She
hit all of her favorite stores where Angel had authorized her use of his card, Saks Fifth Avenue, Prada, French Connection, Gucci, Cartier and
Neiman Marcus, all to vent her anger. He was going to pay, literally. She spent hours and hours trying on clothes and selecting accessories. Her
boyfriend may be fucking every whore in town but she was going to look stunning. She never noticed Luke following at a distance.

After shopping for several long hours and doing considerable damage to Angel’s wallet, Cordelia decided to pamper herself even more by
going to a salon, Angel’s treat of course. She got her hair trimmed and highlighted, a facial and a full-body massage to finish ease the tension.
She got a manicure and a pedicure and later settled down for a late lunch, at the salon café’s exorbitant prices. Revenge was never sweeter. As
she savored the last scrumptious bites of her slice of cheesecake, Cordy heard a familiar voice in the background. Turning around she came
face to face with an old acquaintance, Faith Evans.

“Faith?” Cordelia asked surprised. It had been years since she’d seen her old classmate.

“Cordy, is that you?” Faith too was surprised to see Cordelia Chase of all people.

“Yeah, how’ve you been?”

“Five by five girl. And you?” Faith’s trademark response made Cordy smile.

“Oh, I’m fine. Just here splurging a bit. So, what have you been up to?” She hadn’t seen Faith since they graduated from Sunnydale High
together.

“Oh well, my parents opened a third branch of April Fools here in town so now I’m managing this store.” After working at the original April
Fools in Sunnydale most of her life, Faith was rather proud that she was managing the new store entirely on her own.

“Really, you guys are pretty much a chain now.” Cordy remembered spending several small fortunes in the Sunnydale store while she was a
teenager. April Fools was the most stylish store in Sunnydale. It was where she bought her prom dress.

“Yeah, I know.” Some pride slipping into Faith’s voice, a smile on her face.

“How long have you been up here?” Cordy asked genuinely interested.

“Just a few months. We had our grand opening not too long ago.” Her little smile returning.

“That’s great. Where are you located?”

“Only a few blocks from here, on Adams Street.”

“Well, that’s really nice. Maybe someday I’ll stop by and check you guys out. Perhaps we can do lunch.”

“That would be cool. Well, enjoy the rest of your dessert.”

“You too.”

Both then returned to their meals, neither really expecting to see the other again.

A while later, Cordelia left and headed home.
***
By that evening, the Summers estate was under siege. If it were possible, the already overwhelming media presence seemed to increase
exponentially by the hour. Thanks to the alleged salacious content of the tape and note, the media feeding frenzy reached epic proportions
and every news station ever heard of had a camera crew staking out the senator’s home. Despite the FBI presence, several determined
reporters tried sneaking onto the estate to get shots of the senator and his wife or to get a comment from anyone working on the case. Many
had to be escorted off the property for posing a threat to the security of the operation and a few were even arrested for repeat offenses. Soon
Hank and Joyce’s neighbors were complaining to the authorities about the sheer number of people and news vans blocking the streets and
access to their own homes. It was total chaos.
Finn and Gunn were finally able to obtain warrants but the Star’s lawyers fought them and they spent most of the day trying to resolve the
issue. Fortunately, Finn and Gunn were able to convince the editors of the potential life and death nature of the situation and they were able
to reach a compromise. The tabloid made a copy of the tape and letter and released the originals to Gunn for processing at the federal crime
lab. However, despite measures taken by Hank’s personal attorney to prevent the publication and threats of a lawsuit, they were still running
their story.

By the time Giles called, Hank had already seen the news. The story had been picked up and soon the lurid details of what the tape allegedly
showed were everywhere. As the day wore on, the story quickly changed from the sympathetic plight of two loving parents whose children
were stolen to a sensationalized tale of jealousy, anger and betrayal, with Buffy at the center of it all. Of course, no one actually claimed any of
what they reported to be fact. Each report was prefaced by a disclaimer and carefully worded to avoid any liability. No, the damage was
accomplished purely by allusion and innuendo. Most often, it was reported under the guise of journalistic credibility and responsibility, using
the Star’s situation as an example of where Freedom of the Press and the Right to Privacy were at odds. Quite frankly, it was more an example
of “pass the buck” journalism. Upon hearing the story, Joyce was devastated and fled to their bedroom. The constant ringing of the phone got
so bad that Hank eventually disconnected the main phone line, leaving only his personal, unlisted number in case of emergencies.

Now, Agent Harris was keeping an eye on Joyce again while Hank, Gunn and Wesley discussed damage control. They were considering holding
a press conference and releasing the first tape because the news stories implied that the sex between Buffy and her partner appeared
consensual. The first tape would refute that to some extent. However, although Hank desperately wanted to clear his daughter’s name, he was
torn because of the shocking elements of both tapes. There was some nudity on the first tape and from what Gunn said the second was
extremely graphic. One made Buffy out to be a victim, the other, a slut. Both exposed her body. Gunn was against releasing it at all because he
didn’t want to compromise the investigation any further but even he had to admit that if they were unable to stop the Star from running its
full-length story, in the end there’s very little that wouldn’t be compromised anyway. Reaching a consensus, Wesley suggested making an
edited version of the first tape, one in which only enough would be made public to cast doubt on the content of the second tape and hopefully
exonerate Buffy in the court of public opinion. After considering it briefly, Gunn agreed and assured Hank that it would be doctored on account
of the nudity. It would be ready for release to the public the following day. And so, Senator Summers, Wesley and Special Agent Gunn went
outside to face the media firing squad.

Gunn spoke first. He briefed the crowd, informing them of the existence of the first tape and his intent to release censored portions of it the
next day. Once Gunn was done, Hank took the makeshift podium and when he spoke, he was determined to set the record straight for his
daughter’s sake.
***
Cordelia entered her apartment precariously balancing all of her shopping bags. After leaving the salon, she managed to squeeze in a bit more
shopping before the stores closed. Once she set down her packages, she flipped on the television. As she put away her purchases, she listened
to the evening news. Just as she finished, the anchor announced that in a few minutes, the station would be covering a press conference
regarding major developments in the Summers case. When Special Agent Gunn appeared on the screen, Cordelia sat in front of the TV. She’d
heard about the kidnappings and was curious about what might have occurred. She listened to Agent Gunn and the senator talk briefly and
was just about to get her dinner ready when she froze. On the screen were photos of both Buffy and Dawn Summers. But what struck her was
the strange familiarity of Buffy. Cordelia was certain she’d seen her somewhere recently. Then it hit her. Angel. Buffy was the woman having
sex with Angel. She sat in shock, her hand over her mouth as she realized that her boyfriend had the senator’s daughters taken. She began
shaking. The horror that she gave herself so implicitly to a man who could do this escalating by the second. As more pictures of the girls and
their parents crossed the screen, she began hyperventilating, tears falling from her eyes. Feeling suddenly sick, she made a mad dash for the
bathroom. Crouching over the toilet, she promptly emptied the contents of her stomach.
******
Part 6
******
Angel sat in the armchair in his bedroom watching the press conference and marveling at how Hank seemed to age ten years almost overnight.
The senator didn’t look nearly as haggard on Friday night when he and Joyce held the first press conference. It’s amazing what stress can do to
a person.

As he watched, he couldn’t help but reflect on how dejected Buffy seemed after he left her that morning. He’d been observing her on the
monitors since he left and she just looked so lost. She did eventually get up, shower and dress but she seemed to be functioning on autopilot.
She wasn’t as perky as she was before, granted she really wasn’t all that perky since he kidnapped her. But even so, she just seemed to be
losing her spirit. He smiled. Right on schedule. But he had to give her credit though, she seemed to pep herself up for Dawn’s visit and
although she was considerably quieter than she was during their first visit, she did manage to hide her distress and keep up her end of the
conversation. But for all her efforts, she looked like she was walking around with the weight of the world on her shoulders. And this was just
the beginning. His smile broadened as he thought of the delicious torments he had in store.

The knock on the door disrupted his thoughts. It was Luke informing him of Lindsey’s arrival. Instructing him to bring Lindsey to his study,
Angel prepared for their meeting. It was time for an update.
***
Cordelia sat on the bathroom floor exhausted, her head propped against the tub. She had thrown up at least three times and yet her stomach
still felt so queasy. Of course, by now the only thing she was really bringing up was bile. She was sweating profusely and yet chills periodically
ran through her body. Her mind was a muddled mess and she had one hell of a headache. She felt so sick. She couldn’t believe what she knew
Angel had done. Her mind just refused to accept it. Just thinking about it made her head throb and sent a wave of nausea coursing through
her. She resolved to not think about it and concentrate on calming down.

After sitting for a long time her stomach seemed to settle and she managed to get to her feet. She was shaking violently and she felt faint but
she made it to the face bowl and proceeded to clean up. After washing her face and brushing her teeth, she filled a cup with some water and
took a few pills to help her headache and settle her stomach. That done, she slowly made her way to her bedroom. Somewhat dizzy, she
stumbled a little before she made it to her bed and finally collapsed, her body demanding sleep. There, she curled up and pulled her blanket
over her. Right now she needed to rest, she’d deal with reality in the morning. But as she tried to sleep, images of Buffy and Angel together
plagued her. The despair in the senator’s voice haunted her. She couldn’t escape it. Desperate to block it out, she pulled her pillow over her
head and covered her ears, all to no avail. Frustrated by the futility of her actions, she grew increasingly distraught as the escalating gravity of
the situation weighed heavily on her. Eventually she started to cry.
***
Angel and Lindsey sat in his study while Luke gave his report on Cordelia’s activities. Adam was now monitoring her.

“And she just went shopping?” Angel knew her shopping spree was intended to make him pay for his infidelity. Her jealousy and misguided
possessiveness amused him.

“Yes sir, she shopped for several hours and then went to a salon.” In the past, Luke had spent countless hours following Cordelia and detailing
her activities to Angel.

Looking at the list of places she visited Angel asked, “And there was nothing unusual?” He knew Luke was almost as familiar with Cordy’s
habits as he was.

“Nothing.” Besides the obscene amount of money he was certain Cordy spent, there was nothing to report.

“Well, continue monitoring her closely. I want to know who she sees, whom she talks to. Everything. I don’t want anything overlooked.” Luke
nodded in understanding and then left.

“So, what do you think?” After informing him of Cordelia’s possible knowledge, Angel wanted Lindsey’s impression on how much of a threat
she posed.

“Well, I’ve never seen her in a moral dilemma before so I’m not sure what to expect but if I were in your place I’d be watching her.” Lindsey
hoped Cordelia wasn’t stupid enough to betray Angelus. “Um, how are your guests?”

“They’re fine. I haven’t had contact with Dawn yet but she is behaving. And Buffy is just absolutely entertaining.” The events from that
morning still amused him. The way she was watching him sleep and how she jumped when he caught her. And then moaning his name. The
look on her face was priceless.

“Entertaining?” Lindsey asked curiously. He could only imagine what Angelus was doing to the poor girl.

“Well, besides the obvious, she is actually quite fun. She’s not as superficial as Cordelia.”

“Hmm, and the obvious?” A sly smile gracing Lindsey’s lips.

“Linds, you know I don’t kiss and tell.” At Lindsey’s expression, he conceded, “Who am I kidding, I always kiss and tell. But let’s just say she is
quite the fuck.”

“I’d have never guessed just by looking at her. She seems so, young and innocent.” Lindsey really didn’t think that the petite, young woman he
saw on the monitors would suit Angelus’ taste.

“Ah, and that’s what makes her quite the fuck. She is only now discovering the wilder side of her sexuality. You should have seen the look on
her face when I used the vibrator on her, and the dildo; she blushed so deeply I thought she’d pass out. And she is one hell of a screamer. I
don’t think she even knew that she was a screamer. And when she comes, ah, the earth shakes. She is so divine, I could eat her for breakfast,
lunch and dinner.” He was getting aroused just imaging what he’d do to her next.

“You’re obviously enjoying this immensely.” Lindsey couldn’t help but chuckle.

“Oh yes, I’ve got to hand it to Hank. The man may be a complete idiot but he sure raised one little firecracker of a daughter. And I imagine little
Dawn has some fire to her too. Then again, Joyce probably had more to do with that than Hank did. I’ve seen that woman, she looks like she
could be a sex goddess too if she’s with the right partner. Anyway, I plan to indulge my every fantasy with Buffy for as long as I can.” He was
really looking forward to visiting Buffy again.

“Hmm, speaking of, I’m not sure how much time you’ve got left.” Lindsey was glad to get to the real reason for his visit.

“They’re making progress?”

“Well, I spoke to Meirs earlier and he says that they are seriously looking into Hank’s work as a prosecutor. Ethan’s case came up more than
once.” A bit of concern tainting his voice.

“Well yes but there were a lot of people affected by Ethan’s conviction. Have they zeroed in on me yet?”

“Not that we know of. There seems to be a private detective working on the case and Meirs doesn’t have much access to his office, so we can’t
be certain. Also, they brought in some rescue operative or something so it sounds like once they locate them, it’ll be a pretty covert
operation.”
“Ah, well, I’ll be sure to put my men on alert. I’m not ready to give Buffy and Dawn back yet. So what else has Meirs reported? Has Hank been
crying like a baby again? You know, I really wish I’d seen that. But hell, I was probably fucking Buffy while her daddy cried for her.” He relished
the idea of plunging his cock into Hank’s little girl as he wept for her.

“Yes, well, besides the heads up there’s nothing much from Meirs. He planted the first tape at the housekeeper’s home but as we already
knew, they couldn’t lift any prints off it. They’re still testing the tape Abrams planted at The Star but they won’t get anything that leads to you
off that one either. Besides that, Abrams hasn’t seen much action.”

“Ah yes, Parker. What is that weasel up to?”

“He’s been keeping an eye on his partner, you know that Boy Scout, Finn, but so far there’s nothing to talk about. Of course, the tape you sent
to The Star has been causing quite a riot. It’s everywhere. People just can’t stop talking about it. And you know they’re releasing the first one.”

“Yep, I saw the press conference. Don’t worry. I went over those tapes a hundred times before releasing them. They can’t ID me with those. I
made sure to use shots that were focused only on Buffy. She got lots of exposure for her debut performance.” He chuckled evilly at the shock
Buffy was sure to get when she got home and realized that the entire country was privy to their little escapades.

“So how much longer do you think you’ll need to keep them? Cause quite frankly, if they’re focusing on Ethan’s case, it won’t take long to find
you. And if your girlfriend betrays you, that’s it.” Lindsey was rather apprehensive about the entire thing.

“I suppose.” After thinking briefly, he responded, “I’ll just have to step up the pressure on Buffy.” After a moment he added, “And if Cordelia
betrays me, I can assure you that she’ll live to regret it.” His voice low and menacing.

“You would kill her?” Lindsey really hoped Cordelia had a strong sense of self-preservation. He liked her.

“I said she’d live to regret it. There are things worse than death and given Cordelia’s vanity, I know exactly where to strike. Get an update from
Meirs and Abrams.” Angelus was now plotting his next move.
***
Sometime later, Lindsey headed home. He was worried. This situation was getting out of hand and he was getting weary. When Angelus first
told him of his intent to kidnap the senator’s daughters, he thought he was joking and just blowing off steam. But then he heard about it on
the news and during one of his visits, Angel showed him the poor girls on the monitors in his study. To say he was shocked would be an
understatement. There was no doubt in Lindsey’s mind that Angelus had completely lost his. Angel told him that he’d only taken the younger
girl to control the older. He didn’t have to say what he was planning for Hank’s older daughter. Seeing them on the monitors, Lindsey felt sorry
for them both. But he was not about to lose his cousin. Angel was his only living family and he’d help him to the end. He was only involved in
this to keep his cousin out of prison, not to mention himself. After all, he had his own skeletons to hide. So, he had a vested interest in keeping
on top of this situation. He intended to contact Meirs and Abrams that night. And in the morning he’d pay Cordelia a visit.
***
Once Lindsey left, Angel sat in his study watching Buffy for a long time on the monitors. As he watched her, his erection returned with a
vengeance. His body craved to be buried deep within her. After what happened between them that morning, it seemed his hunger for her only
intensified. For a long time he tried to ignore the throbbing in his groin so he could do some work but he wanted her so much it hurt. His
raging hard on was driving him insane, begging to plunge into her scorching heat. After a while, he could no longer bear it. He needed Buffy.
***
Buffy sat at the table reading one of the books he had left her. She wasn’t a big fan of poetry but she had already read the novels and was
desperate for something to get her mind off the events from that morning. She actually called out his name during her orgasm. That was the
first time she’d done that. She tried to convince herself that it wasn’t a big deal, that it didn’t mean anything and that she was just caught in
the moment but the sinking feeling she got every time she thought about it made her fear otherwise. Why was it that some of the most
incredible sex she’d ever had was while she was under duress? How sick was that? There was just something about him that got to her; that
got under her skin. She couldn’t explain it and quite frankly, she was deeply ashamed and terrified of it. The nature of their relationship was
beyond disturbing and the ease with which she surrendered to him each and every time was even more so. What did that say about her? What
kind of a woman was she? She no longer knew the answers to those questions and now, she wasn’t sure she wanted to. She could only find
solace in that she spared Dawn. She never wanted Dawn to experience this. She didn’t want Dawn to even know about it; she didn’t want
anyone to.

Glancing at the clock, she saw that it was just before 11pm. After humiliating herself that morning, she was glad that Angel had left her alone
most of the day. As she flipped through the pages, she wondered what was taking her parents so long to secure the ransom.

Just then Angel walked through the door.

“Hello, Lover.” He smiled mischievously at her.

“Angel.” She knew it was too much to hope that he’d leave her alone for the night.

Walking over, he reached out and gently caressed her cheek, lifting her face. Bending slightly, he gently nibbled on her lower lip, his tongue
seeking access. She granted it and soon they were engaged in a searing kiss. Lifting her from her seat, he wrapped her legs around his waist
and held her in his embrace, deepening the kiss. As their tongues mated, he clung to her as if she might disappear, pointedly rubbing his
erection against her. Both now breathless, he settled in the chair with her in his lap. After calming a bit, he picked up the book she had been
reading.

“Are you enjoying this?” He wondered what her reading tastes were like.
“It’s ok. Poetry was never really my thing but there are some nice pieces in there.” She wasn’t sure how candid to be.

“Really, which do you like?” He asked genuinely interested.

Hesitating briefly, she took the book and found the page of one she especially liked. It was about freedom. He smirked. Then, taking the book
from her he held her closer and proceeded to recite the poem to her. When he was done, tears were in her eyes. Having now lost her own
freedom, the words really spoke to her. Kissing her on the forehead, his hands wandered over her body. As he touched her, he noticed the
pensive look on her face.

“Buff?” He was curious about what she was thinking.

“Are you going to kill us?” She softly whispered. She couldn’t meet his eyes as she spoke, as if she might discover the horrible truth hidden in
their depths.

“Now why would I do that?”

“Why are you doing any of this?” She countered.

The look on his face silenced her. It was a warning. She wisely backed off. She knew she was on dangerous territory.

To ease the awkward tension, he began stroking her arms and kissing his way from her fingertips to her face. Slipping his hands under her
clothes, he caressed the supple skin of her back and stomach. Nibbling on her neck and ears, he lightly touched along her thighs, chuckling
inwardly when a shudder ran through her. During the times they were together, he discovered all of her erogenous zones and was now a
master at seducing her. She sat on his lap, lost to everything but what he was doing to her. She had surrendered to him so many times already
that she had no idea how to resist him now. And what resistance she had left was neutralized by the threat to Dawn.

When he knew she was ready for him he stood with her in his arms and carried her to the bed. Laying her down, he moved down her body,
working his hands into her underwear. Grasping the piece of satin, he slowly pulled it down her legs, slipping it over her feet. Lifting her feet
into his lap, he massaged them, working his way up her legs. All the while holding her gaze. When his hands reached her thighs, he replaced
them with his mouth and kissed his way along her inner thighs. Gently pushing her legs apart, he held her in position and paused to look at her
again. Eyes locked, he lowered his head to her sex. Closing her eyes, the last thing she saw was his tongue flick out as he tasted her. Burying his
head between her thighs, he swirled his tongue over her clit, tightening his hold when he felt her squirm in his grasp. He sucked and nibbled,
plunging his tongue into her depths, fervently devouring her until she was keening loudly and thrashing in his grasp. As he sucked on her
sensitive nub, she shrieked wildly, begging him for mercy as he tortured her with his mouth. Then, plunging three fingers into her, he pumped
hard and fast as he sucked, propelling her towards a blinding climax. Buffy was awash in sensation. Drowning in the incredible orgasm that
cascaded over her. Completely oblivious, his name spilled from her lips like an anthem, the breathy sound of his name on her lips inflaming his
own desire. As aftershocks of her climax surged through her trembling body, he kissed his way up to her face, again capturing her gaze.

Hovering over her momentarily, he freed his cock and positioned it at her entrance. Then slowly, deliberately he slid into her. Taking her inch
by agonizing inch. Fully buried, he withdrew almost completely before thrusting back in. At her gasp, he repeated it again and again until she
was moaning loudly as his length invaded her. As the urgency of his need overcame him, he pinned down her wrists and fucked her in earnest.
Their joint cries of passion echoed throughout the room as they hurtled towards their crises. When she screamed her climax, he held her down
and ploughed into her with staggering power. Within seconds, the orgasmic clenching of her core sent him over the edge with a howl and with
his final thrusts, filled her with his seed. Sated, he collapsed onto her and held her quivering body in his arms, kissing her adoringly until both
drifted asleep.
***
Just before midnight, the vibrating of his cell phone jolted Warren awake. He was on the couch in the Summers living room taking a nap. He
was off duty and was trying to get some rest before he had to take up his post with the other FBI agents again. Taking the phone out of his
pocket, he recognized the number on the display. It was Lindsey McDonald calling from the pay phone a few miles from his house.

“Yes.” Warren’s groggy voice came over the line.

“We need to talk.”

“When?”

“When can you get away?”

“Um, tomorrow, noon.”

“Fine.”

The conversation lasted less than 20 seconds. After disconnecting, Warren went back to sleep. He would call Lindsey tomorrow.
***
A short while later, Parker received a similar call. He was at home when the phone rang.

“Hello?”

“Abrams, we need to talk. Tomorrow, 2pm.” Lindsey then hung up, got in his car and drove home. He had a long day ahead of him.
******
Part 7
******
Later that night Angel lie awake watching Buffy sleep. He was mesmerized by the shadows the moonlight streaming through the small window
cast across her face. Even in the dim light he could see her features clearly. She looked so much like her mother. He was curious at how little
she resembled Hank. Listening to her deep steady breathing, he explored her face, memorizing every detail of her cheek bones, her nose, her
eyebrows, her lips. Everything. He’d seen her so many times and each time she took his breath away. And in her sleep, the serenity of her
countenance captivated him. She looked so young, so childlike. Careful not to wake her, he lightly traced the outline of her face down to her
collarbone. As he touched her he couldn’t help but wonder what might have been had they met under different circumstances, if they were
different people. What would it be like if she were his of her own free will? Would he be happier with her than with Cordelia?

Thinking of Cordelia suddenly reminded him of his meeting with Lindsey earlier that night. Lindsey was right, he was running out of time and
that was assuming Cordy kept her mouth shut. He needed to put more pressure on Buffy. He needed to see how much control he had over
her, how far he could push her. He grimaced. He was enjoying himself immensely as things were and although he enjoyed seeing people in
anguish he really didn’t want to get into the ugly stuff just yet. But he was too much of a realist to fall into a false sense of security. With
Ethan’s trial being what it was, it was only a matter of time before the feds caught up to him. He knew that going into it. In fact, he would have
left the country right after the abductions had he intended to keep Buffy and Dawn. But the plan was to torment them both, more specifically,
to send Buffy over the edge and then return them to Hank shattered and used. Staying in the country was a big risk and he would die before
going to prison so he couldn’t afford to get careless, he couldn’t afford to deviate from the plan just because he liked Buffy. Resolving to make
Hank suffer, he decided it was time he met Dawn.
***
The next morning Cordelia woke to the sound of her doorbell ringing. Dragging herself out of bed, she opened the door to discover Lindsey on
the other side.

“What are you doing here?” She asked surprised.

“Good morning to you too. No offense Cordy but you look like hell.” He was a little taken aback by her appearance. Her crumpled clothes, her
swollen, bloodshot eyes and dishevelled hair. She was usually so well groomed.

“Well, I feel like hell, so what do you want?” She was in no mood for this.

“I want to talk about Angel.” He responded as he brushed past her and into her apartment.

“Well I don’t, so get out.” Her voice dripping with venom.

“Come on Cordy, there’s no reason to get hostile. Can’t we just have a civil conversation about the man you sleep with?”

“I don’t sleep with him anymore.” The coldness of her voice was unnerving.

“Oh really? I didn’t know you had broken up again. Angel didn’t mention that at all when I saw him last night.”

“You saw him last night? At the ranch?” She wondered if Lindsey knew what Angel was up to.

“Yes I did and he didn’t mention a word about it. Actually he seemed rather concerned about you.” He didn’t want to give away anything more
than what she already knew.

“I don’t care what he’s concerned about. We’re through.”

Suddenly serious, he spun around toward her, his face hard as stone, his voice menacing. “If I were you I’d be very concerned about whatever
he’s concerned about.”

Taken aback by the sudden change in him, she countered, “Excuse me? I should be concerned about him? Why is it always about him? You
know, I thought you were different but you are just as deluded and self-centered as your cousin.”

“Oh Cordy that is funny. YOU of all people are calling me self-centered when the only reason I am here is because I have your best interests in
mind.” He knew Angel wouldn’t be too happy with him warning Cordelia.

“My best interests? What about my best interests? Tell me what entirely selfless reason you have for being here.” She challenged.

Pausing briefly he replied, “Let’s just say that for your benefit, it would be wise to reconsider your attitude.” Again, not wanting to give away
more than necessary.

“For my benefit? Are you threatening me?”

“I’m not threatening you. Believe me, I’m the last person who wants to see you hurt. What I am doing is giving you a friendly reminder of
whom you are dealing with. You know who Angelus is. And what he does, what lengths he goes to. Don’t let the fact that he occasionally fucks
you blind you to that. And don’t think for a second that he won’t hurt you. If I were you, I’d tread carefully.” Lindsey responded before he
started to leave. He’d been there long enough. If she were as smart as he hoped, she’d get it.

Realizing that Angel knew she was on to him, she remarked, “This is to keep me quiet.”
Glancing back at her he replied, “This is to keep you safe.” Then he was gone.
***
That morning Giles, Gunn, Finn, Willow, Spike and Agent Harris were sitting in Giles’ conference room going over everything they uncovered
during their research. From their work, they discovered that numerous people were directly affected by Rayne’s conviction and that many of
them might have reason to want revenge against Hank. There were several other organized crime lords who were prosecuted on the heels of
the Rayne case. And many of their associates lost their fortunes and were completely ruined.

Their initial research generated over sixty names before they narrowed their focus to people still living in the country. Now the list of
possibilities was just under thirty. Among the names of Ethan’s business partners and associates were also the few personal connections they
were able to find. Delegating the responsibilities, Giles, Finn, Gunn and Harris focused on Ethan’s business connections while Willow and Spike
concentrated on any remaining family he had.
***
Joyce and Hank were sitting in their attorney’s office discussing possible measures to stop The Star from publishing its story. Richard Wilkins III
had been Hank’s attorney since he left the District Attorney’s Office and he had known him since they were in law school together. He had
known Buffy and Dawn since they were little girls. When he heard of their abductions he was stunned. He couldn’t believe that someone
would want to hurt his friend so. And now to have this sleazy tabloid dragging their poor daughter’s name through the mud was simply
intolerable. He had a meeting with The Star’s attorneys scheduled for the following day and if he still could not dissuade them from publishing
the story, he was scheduling a hearing for the following week where he would petition for an injunction to stop the publication. He already had
an appointment with a judge set up to request a temporary injunction in the meantime. Despite the Freedom of the Press hurdle, he believed
that the gravity of the situation and Hank’s position in the Senate would help persuade the Court.

However, now The Star was only one of the many problems with the media. After Hank spoke at the press conference and the censored
version of the first tape was released, the media fascination into their lives only intensified. Now, two very different images of Buffy Summers,
and the Summers family in general, were competing for the spotlight and the public was insatiable. The contrasting impressions created by the
two tapes set off a feeding frenzy for anything and everything that might shed light on the situation. Suddenly the entire country was very
determined to know exactly who Buffy Anne Summers was.

In the time that had passed since the tabloid story broke, numerous old friends and acquaintances were dredged up and interviewed as if they
held the key that unlocked the mystery of the senator’s daughter. Several of her coworkers and fellow volunteers gave glowing accounts of her
dedication and kindness. Her old boyfriends, Owen Thurman, Scott Hope and Ben Anderson each gave comments revealing various details of
their past relationships with her. Although each painted her in a very different light, their opinions were generally favorable. In addition to her
former boyfriends, there were also comments from a few of her friends and former acquaintances from high school and college. Most
portrayed her as being kind and very thoughtful but a few made her out to be a bitch. The less favorable accounts often focused on
embellished and over dramatized accounts of arguments that Buffy allegedly had with her parents or her sister as a teenager. The tantalizing
tales were offered as some form of proof of the alleged ongoing feud between them. However, despite their claims the fact that these were at
best second or even third hand accounts tended to undermine their credibility. Not to mention the fact that the arguments that actually did
occur were about normal teenage stuff like dating and her allowance or Dawn stealing her clothes and not some major rebellion. Another such
instance was the so-called recollections of Buffy’s trip to Cancun, Mexico during the Spring Break of her junior year. What was a few days in
the sun hanging with her friends became a sordid tale of drunken stupors, wild sex and absolute debauchery. And the people spreading this
particular information didn’t even know Buffy but claimed to have met her during the infamous trip and were merely ‘acquaintances’ of the
senator’s daughter. However despite obvious inaccuracies the slander continued. It seemed that Buffy’s detractors, however few, were more
interested in the media attention than providing honest opinions. And that was the problem. Most of the people who spoke favorably of her
were uncomfortable with publicly discussing her in the first place. The comments they gave were often brief and nonspecific. Whereas her
detractors seemed to gravitate to anyone with a camera and a microphone ready to share whatever salacious tales people were willing to
hear. Some of the stories were beyond incredulous but they seemed to satisfy the public’s extraordinary fascination and preoccupation with
the lifestyles of the wealthy. The entire country seemed captivated by what it perceived to be the fall from grace of one of the nation’s most
respected families. Buffy’s young life played out like a soap opera with her ‘apparent’ abduction being just one of many scandals for the
Summers family.

It was a complete nightmare and Hank and Joyce feared what Buffy would come home to once she and Dawn were rescued. And how she’d
react.
***
Lindsey sat in his office when the phone rang promptly at noon. It was Warren.

“Yes?”

“McDonald?”

“Ah yes, Warren. What’s going on with the investigation?”

“It’s like I said, they’re looking at the Rayne case. I don’t know if they know about Angelus yet but they’re sure to find out soon enough. He
can’t hide for much longer.” He hoped Angelus was done fucking around with Hank’s daughter.

“Hmm, we need more than that.”

“I don’t have more than that. I don’t have access …”

Interrupting Warren’s little excuse, Lindsey countered. “YOU listen to me you little ingrate. You figure out a way to find out what the fuck is
going on with that damn private detective. I don’t give a damn what you have to do to do it. And I expect to hear from you by tomorrow with
something concrete, do you get me or do we need to reconsider our arrangement?”
“NO! No, I’ll do it. I’ll find out what’s happening and I’ll give you an update tomorrow.”

He answered frantically. He couldn’t afford to piss Rayne off.

“I thought you’d see things our way. Given your position, it wouldn’t do for your … entrepreneurial activities to come to light now would it?”

“No, you don’t have to worry, I’ll get it done.”

“Great. Till tomorrow then.” Lindsey thoroughly enjoyed making Warren squirm.

“Yes, tomorrow.”

Warren then hung up the pay phone and walked into the nearby restaurant. He had volunteered to pick up some take out for lunch in order to
make his phone call to Lindsey and now he had to hurry back to the Summers residence. After picking up the food, he got in his car headed
back. He was deeply concerned. He needed to find out what exactly was going on with the investigation. As he contemplated the situation, he
couldn’t help but reflect on the predicament he was in. He deeply resented that he was at Rayne’s beck and call and for the life of him,
wondered how the hell he got into this situation. But he knew how all too well. He had a gambling problem. It started in college with an
occasional trip to Vegas. Now, he blew his entire salary on any kind of gambling he could find, from the casinos to the racetrack and most
professional team sports. He was always betting on something. And most often he lost. Of course, you’d think he’d have quit before getting in
so deep but of course that’s not how it happened. When he first started gambling heavily, his bookie, Mr. Trick, ensured he had a long winning
streak. He doubled, tripled and sometimes even quadrupled his wagers overnight. It was amazing, it was exhilarating and it was addictive.
Soon he was betting larger and larger amounts and still the winnings kept coming. It was great for a while. However, soon his luck changed, or
rather Trick changed the odds against him and he was losing big even faster and more dramatically than he won. Even then you would think he
might have gotten out. Instead, he kept betting in hopes that his lucky streak would return. By the time he realized what was happening, he
was in an enormous debt and Trick’s people were after him. He was so desperate that he began abusing his position to help out a few of
Trick’s friends as a form of payment. The favors he performed ranged from turning a blind eye to certain illegal activities to breaking the law
outright himself. Eventually the favors became more and more demanding and egregious. Now he was as bad if not worse than the people he
was supposed to be putting away. But even with all of his double dealing and underhandedness, he was still in debt in a major way because
naturally, once he began ‘helping’ them out, he was allowed to gamble again and his credit line was increased. That’s when the insanity really
began. Somehow he got this idea that he could win enough to settle all of his debts and finally be completely free of Trick. It didn’t take long
before his was in an even deeper hole. And soon threats of exposure and even death were his daily nightmare. He barely escaped with his life
on several occasions.

That’s when he sought out Angelus Rayne. He needed a heavy weight on his side so he used his connections to make contact. Within days he
was in Lindsey McDonald’s office discussing his problem with them. That’s when they made their arrangement. Rayne would take care of his
problem with Trick. And he’d take care of Rayne when the occasion arrived. To be honest, he never expected to be called upon quite so
quickly. In fact, he sort of hoped that he’d never have to hold up his side of the bargain. But that was not to be. It didn’t take long to realize
that he’d pretty much gone from the frying pan to the fire. Instead of having numerous thugs to tamper evidence or lose paperwork for, he
now only had one. But Angelus Rayne was no thug. He was Satan. He was educated, wealthy, distinguished and he had many legitimate
businesses. And he had the most diabolical and conniving mind Warren ever had the misfortune of encountering. During their first and only
meeting, Rayne made clear that he knew every corrupt thing that Warren had ever done. The message ‘Fuck up and you will go down’ came
across loud and clear. That was the last time he saw Rayne. After that he only dealt directly with McDonald. He was Rayne’s puppet ever since.
He was in so deep he had no choice.

As he drove, he could feel the noose tightening around his neck.

As he pulled into the Summers driveway, he remembered that Agent Harris was now helping with the research and had access to Mr. Giles’
office. Carrying the food into the house, he decided it was time to get to know Harris better.
***
A few hours later Parker called.

“Abrams.”

“You wanted to talk.”

“Yes, what’s going on with your end of the investigation?” Lindsey wanted to get this over with.

“Nothing much, just a bunch of useless leads. The tape is causing quite a stir.”

“Yes it is. The entire thing seems to have taken on a life of its own. What is your partner up to?”

“Finn is being a good boy as always.” He rolled his eyes when he thought of his partner.

“That’s no surprise. Is he working with that private detective?”

“Um, yeah he is.”

“And?” His annoyance coloring his voice.

“And like I told you, they’re closing in.” Parker was a little exasperated by the entire situation.
“Yes but has anything new happened? What has Finn said?”

“Nothing specific. Just that they’re looking at a major case Summers handled some time ago.”

“Keep a close eye on him. Talk to him, get him to reveal what he knows.” Then remembering Cordelia he added, “And Parker, keep your ears
to the ground just in case any leads come in. I want to be informed immediately of any developments.” Again he hoped that Cordelia took his
advice and kept quiet.

“You’ll be the first to know.”

They then hung up and Parker returned to work.

As he walked back to the precinct, he couldn’t help but wonder why Angelus Rayne was so obsessed with Buffy Summers. Surely a man like
him could get any woman he wanted, why do this? But who was he to question Angelus Rayne? Parker had seen the man at his worst and he
had no desire to relive the experience. He saw the mutilated bodies of Rayne’s enemies that washed ashore and he had no interest in crossing
the man. He remembered the first time he met Angelus Rayne. It was because of a drug deal gone bad and he was one of the investigating
officers. A few days into the investigation, Lindsey McDonald approached him outside his home. Apparently they’d done a lot of research on
him and knew he was hurting financially since his divorce from Harmony. He was paying rent in addition to child support for three children.
Not to mention his credit card debts and loans. His detective’s salary was stretched beyond its limit and he was barely keeping his head above
water. They also knew he was willing to do anything for a buck. So Rayne offered to make it worth his while if he made the drug dealer’s legal
problem disappear. He did and was well compensated. Ever since he was always willing to assist Angelus for a fee. It made his cash flow
problems distant memories. And that’s when Parker got in deeper. After helping the dealer out, he became greedy and decided to have his
cake and eat it too. Rayne was paying him to help Rac and Parker pressured Rac to supply his recreational drug habit. He wasn’t an addict as
such but whenever things got a little stressful or he wanted to party with a friend or two, he knew Rac would hook him up, no questions asked.
It was the perfect set up.

Entering the precinct, he sat at his desk and wondered what his cowboy of a partner was up to. When Riley returned from Giles’ office he’d see
what he could learn.
***
Just after lunch, Dawn visited Buffy again. They were sitting on the bed busily chatting when Angel suddenly walked in startling them both.
Buffy instantly tensed up.

“Angel? What are you … I mean, I didn’t expect you until … later.” Buffy strategically placed herself between him and Dawn as she stumbled
through her sentence. It didn’t go unnoticed by Angel. He inwardly laughed at her fierce protectiveness. It always came in handy.

“Well Lover, I couldn’t wait till then. I had to see you now.” He stalked over to her as he spoke. When he was right in front of her, he gently
caressed the side of her face.

“Please, not … now,” Buffy’s voice was just above a whisper.

“Why not? You’re here; I’m here. And I want you.” He totally ignored her attempt to have a discreet conversation.

“But Dawn’s here. You said we could visit for a while.” Again she tried to keep their discussion low.

“I know I did. But I think now that you and I are so, uh, friendly, it’s time Dawn got to know who I am. Don’t you?” With that he passed her and
sat on the bed just a short distance from Dawn.

Dawn looked at him suspiciously before looking at her sister, “Buffy, what’s wrong?”

“Nothing Dawn. This is Angel. The man I told you about.” Buffy was getting more and more apprehensive by the second and she again placed
herself between Angel and Dawn.

“You told her about me?” Angel feigned ignorance. He knew Buffy hadn’t told her anything more than who he was.

“I told her you are responsible for bringing us here. That’s all.” She hoped her emphasis on the last phrase sent a clear message to him.
It did. But he chose to ignore it.

“I see. Well, continue talking and just pretend I’m not even here.” Smiling he slowly got up and walked around the room.

Buffy knew he was up to something and the tension between them continued to rise. Dawn noticed it and moved further into the corner of
the bed. She was beyond confused by the apparent familiarity between her sister and Angel. Buffy sat quietly as she watched Angel circle the
room. When he walked over to the chest and unlocked the draw fresh tears came to her eyes. As he pulled out a pair of handcuffs and put
them in his pocket she jumped up.

“Please, ok, just please send her back to her room.” She knew whatever he was planning was going to be horrible and she couldn’t let Dawn be
there for it.

“Now why would I do that? Maybe she could learn something.” His smile turned into a leer.

Walking up to Buffy, he placed his arm around her waist, pulling her closer.
“No, not like this, please!” she pleaded. She couldn’t let him do this with Dawn in the room but she knew if she fought back he’d hurt them
both. Angel smirked, amused by her obvious dilemma.

Dawn sensed Buffy’s uncertainty and slowly rose from the bed.

“Buffy?” She asked nervously. She got no response, as Buffy and Angel remained intently focused on each other.

He lowered his head and tried to kiss her but she evaded his mouth and pushed him away. Her refusal incensed him and his eyes turned wild.
He grabbed her roughly and pulled her over to the bed.

“Don’t!” she screamed as she instinctively fought back.

Seeing her sister in trouble, Dawn jumped on Angel and began hitting him with all her might. Pulling Dawn off him by her hair, he pushed her
down onto the floor with one hard shove, never once releasing his hold on Buffy. Groping Buffy as he walked, he started pulling her pants
down as she kicked and pushed him off. As they struggled he lost his balance and they both fell over onto the bed in a tangle of limbs and
proceeded to fight for control. Dawn approached the mass of struggling limbs in order to help Buffy but Angel saw her coming and while he
held Buffy down, savagely kicked Dawn in the gut, knocking the wind out of her and sending her to the floor a second time.

Using his brief distraction, Buffy tried to kick him off her. However her attempt only managed to further anger him. They struggled for several
long moments before Buffy managed to get away from him. But as she tried reaching for a chair, he caught her and pulled her right back
before she could get to it. When he threw her back onto the bed, she tried standing again only for Angel to viciously backhand her. She yelped
as she fell back onto the bed and within seconds Angel had one of her wrists cuffed to the rod iron headboard.

Once he got the upper hand, he continued pulling her pants off while she struggled and screamed under him. As he worked, Dawn managed to
get to her feet again and despite her pain, picked up a chair and swung it with all her strength. But Angel saw the blow coming and managed to
evade most of the force. She made contact with his torso rather than his head. Angrily he turned from the now restrained Buffy and went after
Dawn. She screamed and tried running out the door. It was locked. She tried to escape him but he cornered her and sent her to the floor again
with a slap. Once she was on the floor he continued to rain blows down on her. Buffy could only move as much as her cuffed wrist would allow
and she was too far away to do anything. She moved off the bed as far as she could and fell onto her knees, crying helplessly as Dawn
screamed from Angel’s brutal attack.

Suddenly his assault was halted by Buffy screaming his name.

“Angel! Oh God, please, I didn’t mean it. I do want you. You know I’m yours. Please, you don’t have to do that. Just come back to me and I’ll do
what you want. See, anything you want.” Buffy’s free hand feverishly worked to finish push down her pants as she blurted out everything she
knew Angel wanted to hear.

He smiled. She was so predictable. After a moment’s pause, he released Dawn who now lay on the floor clutching her side and wincing in pain.
She had a bloody nose and several darkening bruises. He stood and calmly sauntered over to Buffy.

Dawn watched him move over to her sister and frantically cried out. “Buffy no!”

Keeping as much fear out of her voice as she could, Buffy tried to reassure Dawn. “It’s ok Dawn, I’ll be fine.” She knew it was an obvious lie but
she had to keep him from hurting Dawn further. And there was only one way to do that.

“But Buffy, you can’t!” Dawn pleaded desperately with her.

Without breaking eye contact with Angel, Buffy replied, “I have to.”

In the next moment, Angel had Buffy in his grasp and roughly kissed her as his hands squeezed her breasts. Using her free hand, she pulled him
even closer to her and wrapped her legs around him, deepening their kiss and returning his fervor. She knew it looked bad but she couldn’t
think about that right then. If she had to fuck his brains out to protect Dawn, she would.

When he pushed Buffy onto the bed, Dawn began to cry. She couldn’t move to help Buffy. Her body hurt too much from his attack and she was
certain she had a few cracked ribs. Merely breathing was an enormous effort. Her every muscle hurt and refused to budge. Out of despair she
turned away, curling up in the corner as best she could. Her face buried between her lap and the wall while she covered her ears. She couldn’t
watch this animal hurt her sister.

Seeing Dawn retreat into the corner, Angel pulled back and turned Buffy around, pushing her onto all fours, although her cuffed wrist limited
her movement. With her ass in the air, he lowered himself and parted her sex. He held her exposed to him and then looked at Dawn before
speaking, a smug grin on his face.

“She goes absolutely wild when I suck her cunt, Dawn.” Although her head was turned, he knew she could hear him. Then, pointedly, he buried
his tongue deep within Buffy. Buffy desperately tried everything to suppress the little whimpers that escaped her but Angel seemed
determined to humiliate her. His mouth latched onto her clit and his fingers pumped into her with a vengeance. The room was filled with the
sounds of his mouth suckling her flesh. She wriggled and squirmed in his grasp and finally buried her face in the pillows to muffle her cries.

“Listen to her moaning like a whore, Dawn.” He felt Buffy flinch at his words and knew he’d struck a nerve. He was enjoying himself immensely
and her reaction only deepened his resolve. Perhaps moving into the uglier parts wasn’t such a bad idea after all. He drove her to the brink
within minutes and only stopped when her body quivered with her orgasm. Freeing himself as the spasms coursed through her, he plunged
into her with all his strength. Buffy closed her eyes and bit down on her lip to suppress her scream. He fucked her hard and fast, rubbing her
clit to ensure she climaxed.

Despite her efforts, Dawn could hear Angel’s vicious grunts as he ploughed into Buffy. And to ensure she got the full picture, he began
shouting.

“Come on Lover, give it to me. You say you want me, so fuck me.” He tightened his grip on Buffy’s hips as his rhythm became more frantic. His
fevered pace shook the bed violently and his loud grunts echoed throughout the room. Buffy, ever mindful of Dawn’s presence, tried to be as
quiet as possible. Angel, on the other hand, got louder with every thrust.

“You know when I saw you on TV I knew you’d be a good fuck.” He punctuated his crude words with a thrust.

Buffy climaxed with a silent scream, her body jerking wildly under him. Minutes later, Angel came with a howl as he pumped his seed into her.
She slumped down onto the bed, shell-shocked and pulled herself into a tiny ball when he zipped up his pants. She couldn’t look at him. She
couldn’t look at Dawn cowering in the corner either. Emotional numbness overcame her as she further withdrew into herself.

Angel looked at the quivering mess that Buffy Summers had become. He had done this to her in a matter of days. It wouldn’t be long now
before she cracked. He smiled when he imagined the wreck she’d be when he returned her to Hank, used and broken. Moments later he left,
leaving Buffy cuffed to the bed.

Several minutes passed in silence. Neither sister moved nor said a word. Then, gingerly, Dawn moved from the corner and stumbled closer to
her sister, limping slightly. Buffy had a far off look in her eyes, like she wasn’t really there, her body still shaking from Angel’s assault. Quietly,
Dawn pulled the covers over her before she climbed into the bed, careful of her own injuries. Without a word, she wrapped herself
protectively around Buffy, gently entwining their fingers.

It was a long time before Buffy spoke.

“I didn’t want you to see that.” Her voice was barely a whisper.

“How long has he been …doing … that?” Dawn couldn’t say the words.

“Since the beginning.” Buffy could hardly believe it had been less than a week since her abduction. It felt like an eternity.

“Why didn’t you tell me?” Dawn was hurt that Buffy hid something like this from her.

“What was I supposed to say, Dawn? Oh by the way, I’m fucking our kidnapper to keep him from raping you. And besides, would you have
been able to stop it if I had told you?” Buffy couldn’t help the bitterness in her voice.

“No, I’m sorry. That’s not what I meant. I know you’re just trying to protect me. But he’s raping you. I just … I just don’t know what to say.” The
helplessness she felt angered her.

“Neither do I.” The resignation in Buffy’s voice broke Dawn’s heart.

As the tears fell down Buffy’s face, Dawn gently squeezed her hand. She snuggled closer when she felt Buffy squeeze hers back. A while later,
they both fell asleep.
***
Hours later, both sisters were jarred awake by Angel entering the room. Forrest and Graham followed him in carrying Buffy’s dinner. Dawn
held onto Buffy tightly, both seeking and offering protection. Angel smirked at her show of defiance and would have enjoyed ripping into her
again had he not other matters to take care of. So he got down to business.

“Take her to her room.” Forrest and Graham immediately began extricating Buffy from Dawn’s grasp.

“NO! No, I won’t leave her with you.” Dawn screamed and struggled against their hold on her.

“Dawn, I’ll be ok.” Buffy’s words lacked all form of conviction. No one believed her.

“But Buffy…” Tears were again falling down Dawn’s face.

“Dawn, please don’t make this harder.” The look in Buffy’s eyes silenced her. She got the point. The more she fought, the more Angel was
likely to hurt both of them. Reluctantly, Dawn allowed them to lead her from the room, leaving Angel alone with Buffy.

Once Dawn left, Angel walked over to the bed and sat next to her. She spoke first, softly.

“You didn’t have to do that. I, I was sleeping with you. I wasn’t fighting. You didn’t need to …” She looked away, unable to finish.

He leaned forward and whispered sensually in her ear, “You once said I was a monster. And guess what, I am.” Suddenly he pounced and
crushed his mouth against hers. She evaded his mouth and pushed back against him with her free hand, again attempting to free herself.
“Oh no, you don’t get to fight back now.” Gripping the back of her head, he forced his mouth over hers and shoved his tongue down her
throat. When she started choking he pulled back and laughed at her futile struggles. Then he got up and walked over to the chest. He opened
the drawers and pulled out all the sweat pants and T-shirts, leaving only the lingerie.

“What are you doing?” She asked alarmed as he bundled the clothes together.

“I’ve decided I like you better with fewer clothes on.”

“But, I can’t wear that … stuff when Dawn visits.”

“That doesn’t matter. She won’t be visiting anymore.”

“WHAT?” She yelled.

He laughed outright at her stricken expression; then answered, “She has proven to be too much trouble.”

“But … please? I promise that won’t happen again. I won’t fight, I won’t.” Fresh tears stung her eyes but she fought them back.

“I said, no.” The warning in his voice silenced her. After what just happened with Dawn, she didn’t think she could push him much further
without deeply regretting it. Then he began walking towards the door.

“Angel?” She frantically called to him before he could leave.

“WHAT?” His roar made her jump.

“My wrist. I can’t … I need to use the bathroom. Please.” She held up the cuffed wrist as proof.

He eyed her carefully then slowly walked over to her and unlocked the cuff, leaving it attached to the headboard. She quickly grabbed her
wrist and rubbed the chafed skin. While caressing her wounded flesh she whispered, “Why are you doing this?”

She got no response.

As he walked away and picked up the bundle of clothes, he called over his shoulder “Get cleaned up. I’ll be back in the morning.” And with
that, he was gone.

Buffy sat silently for a moment before the floodgates opened and she was awash in tears, huge sobs wracking her body. She lost her chance to
see Dawn.
***
Hours later she had showered and lay resting on the bed. Her mind kept replaying the events from earlier that day. How he forced himself on
her and beat Dawn. She knew he was testing her. But she didn’t know why or whether she passed or not. To be honest, she wasn’t sure if she
wanted to. Dawn’s screams kept echoing in her ears and she pulled the pillow closer to block it out. She kept seeing Angel fucking her from
behind, as if she had somehow left her body and was watching the entire scene unfold. The sounds of his grunts and the force of his thrusts
plagued her. As she tried to escape the memories, his crude words came back to her.

“When I saw you on TV I knew you’d be a good fuck.” They echoed over and over in her mind, the crudeness of it stung her. Gradually the
kaleidoscope of images subsided and Buffy slowly focused on his words. He saw her on TV. Something about that stood out to her but she
wasn’t sure why. As she thought about it she remembered that that was the last time she had seen her parents. The weekend they shot the
family interviews for the Dateline exclusive was the last time she had gone down to her parents’ house. The last time she had gone home.

Suddenly, those last moments with her mom and dad meant everything and she desperately tried to remember everything that they’d shared
that weekend. She clung to the memories of her mother smiling and her father’s arm draped around her. She felt so safe then, unlike now.
Then a memory came to her. They were all taking a break between shots and she was having her make up retouched when she overheard part
of her dad’s conversation with Stone Phillips. He asked Hank if he had heard that Ol’ man Rayne had been released from prison and recently
died.

Buffy bolted upright in the bed, eyes wide. Ol’ man Rayne? Then as if a fog had been lifted, she recalled the stories of her father’s most famous
trial that her grandmother had told her as a child. Ethan Rayne. Angelus Rayne. Angel’s unfinished business with her dad. As realization hit she
began shaking violently, a wave of nausea washing over her. This wasn’t about money as she had always assumed. He wasn’t killing time by
terrorizing her and Dawn while her parents put together his ransom demands. There was no ransom. Angel was a mobster and this was simply
revenge.
******
Part 8
***
Later that evening the group reconvened to discuss what they discovered on Ethan’s contacts. Four of Ethan’s business associates seemed
likely suspects. They still lived in the state and suffered some of the heaviest losses of those affected by the trial. Using the FBI’s resources,
Giles, Gunn, Finn and Harris were able to find a wealth of information on them. However, the information they gathered seemed to rule them
out. For the past few years they were all under close surveillance by the narcotics branch of the FBI because of their criminal histories. It was
highly unlikely that they would have pulled this off without being caught. The group was a bit disappointed to discover that but at least it
narrowed the list further. Spike and Willow were somewhat more successful. They managed to track down the only two family members on
the list.
“Rayne had a son. His name is Angelus. Anyway, for several years he made numerous attempts to have Ethan released from prison, especially
once the cancer was diagnosed. And he was mightily upset when Ethan’s parole was rejected. A few weeks ago when he was finally released,
the son collected him. A nurse at the prison infirmary remembers assisting him with Ethan’s things. Anyway, looking at his financial records it
appears he leased some medical equipment and hired a live-in nurse for a few months so we assume he took care of him until he died.” Spike
hoped their findings finally led them to Buffy and Dawn.

“That’s interesting.” Giles was also hopeful. “What does he do?”

“Well according to the records he seems to be some kind of entrepreneur. He has his hands in lots of different things. In any case he is quite
wealthy.” Spike could hardly believe the sheer number of businesses that Angelus was associated with.

“Hmm, how old is he?” Gunn asked.

“About 37.”

“Do you have a picture?”

“Sure.” Spike then handed Giles the photo of Angelus.

“Well, he could definitely be the man on the video. By the way, Gunn, has the lab had any success with the tapes or the letter at all?” Giles
wondered if they’d be able to get anything useful from the tapes.

“None whatsoever. If this Angelus is behind this he is good. Fred has run every test she can think of and still nothing. The first tape is
completely clean. And the second only had the prints from the editors and a few other employees from The Star. Same thing with the letter.
Anyway, we took their prints to eliminate theirs from anything else we found but still, no success. But perhaps Fred can use this photo and see
what she can do with it. I’ll take it to the lab in the morning to see what she says.” Gunn was now looking at Angel’s photograph. He really
hoped Fred would be able to find something concrete with it.

“That certainly might help. Uh, do you have anything else on the son?” Giles anxiously asked.

“Yeah, he owns quite a bit. There are at least thirteen properties in this state alone, dozens around the country. Some he inherited while the
others he purchased himself. I don’t have much of a handle on his global holdings but if this is any indication he probably owns homes and
buildings all over the world. He also owns an airplane.” Spike felt a little overwhelmed by the enormity of Angelus’ empire. It could make
finding the girls nearly impossible.

“Are any around here?” Willow asked curiously.

“Uh, there’s a condo here in the city and a ranch not too far from the town of Sunnydale. That’s a few hours from here. Those are the closest.”
Spike hoped Angelus was careless enough to stay relatively nearby.

“Has potential. Both are close enough to pull something like this off.” Gunn was feeling a little optimistic.

“They sure are.” Finn agreed.

“Anything else?” Gunn asked.

“Willow has some.” Spike then gave the floor to Willow.

“Yeah, my guy is Ethan’s nephew, Lindsey McDonald. He was Ethan’s brother’s son. Anyway, he is a lawyer and he too owns lots of property
although not quite as much as his cousin Angelus.” She was also feeling that they’d hit the jackpot.

“Ethan’s brother’s son? Wouldn’t he be a Rayne too and not a McDonald?” Harris asked curiously.

“He was a Rayne. Apparently he changed his name shortly after his father died. McDonald was his mother’s maiden name. Anyway, I suspect
he changed his name because he intended to be a lawyer and I guess it’s hard to enter the law when you share your last name with an
infamous crime lord.” Willow answered automatically.

“That makes sense.” Finn added.

“Ok, so he’s a lawyer. Anything else on him?” Gunn wanted to move on this as soon as possible.

“Not much. He is single, has a thriving practice and generally tends to lay pretty low. Actually it seems both he and Angelus keep fairly low
profiles. Neither has a criminal record nor anything else that screams either is behind this. Well, nothing besides being related to Ethan.” She
was a little disappointed there was no smoking gun.

“Well considering the nature of the abductions and what has transpired since, I am fairly certain that we’re looking for someone with a deeply
personal hatred for the senator. Angelus and Lindsey seem to be Ethan’s only remaining family and given that Ethan just died, I suspect it’s one
or both of them.” Giles too was a bit discouraged because there was nothing definitive but he strongly believed in following his instincts. And
his were screaming.
“I agree.” Gunn added.

“That works. So can we take what we have and get a warrant?” Harris asked eagerly.

“Unfortunately, simply being related to Ethan is not enough to get search warrants.” Giles responded.

“Well yeah but what about the photo? I know it’s not much but Angelus could be the man in the video.” Finn countered.

“Well that’s just it. It ‘could’ be him. It also ‘could’ be any one of the millions of Caucasian men in this country with dark brown hair. It ‘could’
be Harris on that tape. The frame we isolated isn’t even a profile. No judge will issue a warrant on that alone. And even if we got one, we don’t
know where he might be keeping them. We don’t know exactly when that second tape and letter were made. He could be anywhere by now.
And as Spike said, he owns numerous properties. He may not be at the nearest places. If we go in prematurely and search the wrong place, we
not only lose the element of surprise but we also don’t know what kind of danger that could put Buffy and Dawn in. Right now we need to
proceed with caution.” Giles answered somewhat exasperated. He wanted this done as much as the next person but they couldn’t afford to be
rash.

“I agree. We can’t take the risk with what we have so far. So what we need to do now is get more info on them and find something definitive
like where they might be keeping the girls. If they have Buffy and Dawn we can’t afford to alert them that we’re onto them, so no freezing of
their assets or anything until we have something concrete. We can’t risk them fleeing at the first sign of trouble so please tread lightly. Who
knows what they might do to the girls. Spike, put out your feelers and see what your contacts can come up with. The rest of us will trace their
activities over the past few weeks to see if there’s something that’ll give us enough probable cause for a warrant.” Despite his anxiety, Gunn
knew Giles was right.

The group then dispersed to perform their tasks.

Spike headed out to look up a few old acquaintances.
***
That night Cordelia sat in her living room watching the news. She was in torment. Every time the station replayed the press conference with
Senator Summers she was brought to tears but she could not turn away. The desperation in the senator’s voice and the anguish on his face
held her prisoner. There was no way she could ignore it. There was just such raw honesty in his pain that she was certain that his words
regarding his daughter were sincere and honest. That Buffy really was as sweet and caring as he knew her to be. But the contrasting
impressions of Buffy Summers that now filled the media made her question what she knew.

In all honesty, she wasn’t sure what to make of what she saw between Buffy and Angel. She had watched them for a few hours before leaving
the ranch and it didn’t appear that Buffy was under duress. She seemed to be participating. However knowing Angelus, who knew what he
might have said or done to Buffy to get her to participate. Cordelia knew how manipulative and controlling Angelus could be. He had Lindsey
running around doing all sorts of underhanded things for him and she knew that deep down Lindsey was a fairly decent guy and that Angelus
exploited his loyalty.

She reluctantly admitted that Angel also had her at his beck and call. That infuriated her. And Lindsey’s visit to her that morning angered her
further. His words cut her deeply. It wasn’t the apparent threat as much as the truth that bothered her. In the hours that passed since Lindsey
left, she was forced to acknowledge the true nature of her relationship with Angel and how much control he had over her. He paid for her
apartment and her car. He provided her with a monthly allowance that was generous enough that she didn’t have to work. Except on her back.
She was a kept woman and the reality of it stung her. In all the years that they were together, she had somehow refused to let herself see
what she really was to Angel. They didn’t start out like that. She had a job and she paid for her own things when she met him. But once they
got seriously involved he bought her the apartment as a birthday gift. He even purchased it in her name. Granted at first she refused because
she didn’t want to feel like she was being bought, she didn’t want to feel like a high priced whore. But he went on and on about wanting to
cherish her and take care of her. To give her everything she deserved; to treat her like a queen. And eventually she caved. Of course once she
took the apartment, taking the car was a lot easier. Cordelia laughed sardonically at the irony. She became exactly what she didn’t want to be
and until now she didn’t even know it. Or rather she refused to.

The brutal truth of her situation saddened her. And now this. Her heart went out to the senator and his wife. She couldn’t imagine the agony
they must be enduring. She knew why Angelus hated the senator so much but nothing justified what he was doing. The more she thought
about it the more she knew she had to do something, despite what Lindsey said. She couldn’t be certain if Buffy was involved in the abductions
or not but whatever the case may be, she knew the senator and his wife needed closure. They needed to know one way or the other. No
matter how painful the truth might be they needed their children back. And if Buffy really weren’t a part of it, there was no way she could
abandon her and Dawn to Angelus’ whim.

The problem now however was how to contact the authorities. Taking Lindsey’s warning to heart she suspected that Angel was probably
having her followed, he might even have her phone calls and emails monitored. She knew she couldn’t do anything overt that would alert him
to what she was doing. She certainly couldn’t go to the authorities herself. What she needed was someone to do it for her. Someone she could
trust. Thinking of everyone she knew, she was rather distressed to find that her social circle consisted primarily of people who knew both she
and Angel. Assuming that they even believed her, they would certainly let him know what she was up to if only to curry favor with him. That
was too dangerous. She needed to find someone totally unconnected to him and whom he wouldn’t expect her to go to. That ruled out her
family. As she thought of her parents she longed for her simpler life, her life before she met him. Her life before she left Sunnydale.

Suddenly her eyes opened wide as she remembered one person who Angel had no idea existed. Faith. She and Faith were never great friends
in high school but they were close enough to exchange pleasantries now and then. And she just saw Faith the day before at the salon. Recalling
their brief conversation, she remembered that Faith’s store was on Adams Street, just a few blocks from the salon. She knew what she had to
do. Tomorrow she was going shopping at April Fools.
***
The following morning Buffy nervously sat on one of the chairs at the table watching Dawn on the TV while she waited for Angel. Once she
realized exactly who he was, she spent a lot of time thinking about what to do. She needed to know what his plans were for her and Dawn. She
was going to confront him.

When Angel walked in he was surprised to see her sitting at the table, he thought she might still be sleeping. Seeing the determined look in her
eyes he calmly approached her and sat in the other chair. She obviously wanted to talk.

“Buff?” He eyed her suspiciously. She seemed more confident than at their last meeting.

After a moment’s pause, she looked directly at him and said “Ethan Rayne was your father.” Her voice was strong, her tone challenging.

At her statement his gaze immediately shifted from her body to her eyes, his chocolate orbs boring into her. So she figured out who he was.
When he first met her he expected her to readily recognize his name but when she didn’t, although he was offended, he took advantage of his
anonymity. He’d come to enjoy it. But now she knew. She knew who he was and what he was. And her eyes reflected her contempt.
Something about that made him feel strangely exposed and vulnerable. And Angel hated feeling vulnerable.

Within seconds the burning desire reflected in his eyes was extinguished, leaving only a stone, cold fury. Buffy stared in awe at his
metamorphosis. The dramatic change in him sending a bolt of terror through her.

In a flash he dragged her up out of her seat and threw her onto the bed. She screamed at his sudden violence and tried to defend herself. She
struggled against him with all she had, kicking and fighting back as much as she could. Pinning her under his weight, he pulled her wrist
towards the handcuffs he had left on the headboard. Seeing what he intended, she kicked and fought even harder, begging him not to.

“Angel, please don’t. Don’t do that. I didn’t mean anything by it.” She pleaded as she resisted him.

“You didn’t mean anything? YOU know nothing about my father. NOTHING!” His thundering voice shook the walls. He pulled back and slapped
her with all his strength. She fell back against the bed and he roughly pulled her over, cuffing her to the bed. He climbed onto her and rained
down blow after blow on her as she screamed and curled up into a ball, desperately trying to shield herself.

Unleashing his rage with every strike, he shouted “BITCH!” over and over again, his bellows drowning out her cries. He pulled her over and
backhanded her, the face of his ring cutting into her cheek. His tirade continued until he suddenly stopped when he caught sight of blood on
his hand. The blood startled him out of his blind fury. Gradually he became aware of what he was doing. He stood, shocked by his reaction. The
violence wasn’t what shocked him; that was nothing new. What did however was that no matter how depraved his actions, he was always in
control. When he beat Dawn the day before he was very aware of what he was doing, he went in planning to rough her up a bit. But he had
not intended to physically hurt Buffy. He had never lost control before.

Slowly he looked down at her cowering form, his rage subsiding. The room was eerily silent. She had stopped screaming for some time. The
silence was deafening. Then suddenly the sounds of her ragged breathing filled the room as her sobs wracked her body. She was shaking
violently but she didn’t move. Couldn’t move.

Several long moments passed before he spoke.

“Look at me.” When she didn’t respond he yelled, “LOOK AT ME!”

She whimpered, her entire body flinching as if he had hit her again.

Undeterred by her reaction, he gently touched her on the shoulder. Her little ball tightened even further at his touch and she turned further
away from him.

Taking a deep breath, he spoke as gently as he could, “Look at me, Buffy.”

Gingerly, hesitantly, she turned and lifted her face, bracing for the blow. When none came she slowly opened her eyes and looked at him.
When their eyes met he carefully moved his hand to her face and lightly caressed her wounded, tear-streaked cheek.

He frowned. It would certainly leave a scar.

Moving to the bathroom, he took out a small towel and soaked it with ice-cold water. Then returning, he gently wiped away the blood and
held it to her face to stop the swelling, tenderly holding her as he nursed her wounds. Over the following half hour he repeated the process
several times.

As he tended her, Buffy was so hysterical and terrified she had no idea what to do. She had never been hit before in her life but in the past few
days, she’d experienced unimaginable abuse at Angel’s hand. When he had hit her in front of Dawn she was so worried about her sister that
she hardly had time to even think about it.

But the unadulterated rage she had just seen in his eyes was frightening to behold. It was almost primeval. She was reeling from the shock.
And now he was touching her and trying to soothe her. She attempted pushing him away but he held her close, refusing to let her go. As he
held her, Buffy’s fear and uncertainty paralyzed her and she could only sit there and let him minister to her.

Once satisfied, he hooked his finger under her chin and lifted her face for his inspection.
“So beautiful.”

In the aftermath of his abuse his words held a grotesque admiration. Slowly he moved in and lightly brushed his lips over hers. Lingering over
her mouth, he pressed kisses on her lips, his tongue seeking entrance. Buffy didn’t know what to do. She was stunned by his viciousness and
deadly tenderness. She wanted to kill him but she was cuffed to the bed. If she refused he’d probably kill her and then Dawn. As he kissed her,
he put his arms around her, holding her possessively.

“Don’t deny me now.” He murmured into her ear, punctuating his words with wet open mouth kisses, his grip on her tightening.

Reluctantly, tentatively she allowed him to kiss her. She was shaking uncontrollably, her breathing frantic. Feeling her tremble in his grasp, he
caressed her arms attempting to calm her as he deepened the kiss, his hunger for her rekindled.

Laying her back onto the bed, he moved his hands over her, gently stroking her. Then searching her body for the bruises he just inflicted, he
tenderly kissed each of them.

Buffy was so distraught, her mind unable to grasp what was happening. Her rapist had just beaten her and now he was trying to seduce her.

“Please let us go.” Her shaky whisper was barely audible.

“You know I won’t do that.” He answered while pressing more kisses on her face.

“You don’t need to do this.” She tried to calm herself even as he touched her.

“I have to do this.” He responded between kisses.

“Why?” She had asked him that a million times and really didn’t expect an answer.

Hovering over her he caught her gaze before responding. “I owe it to my father.”

Although she already knew this was about Ethan, she couldn’t help her surprise at his response. And despite her hatred and anger, she
couldn’t help the pity she felt for him. For the little boy who lost his father. “Oh God! I’m sorry. I’m so sorry for what happened. I’m sorry your
dad went to prison. But my dad never meant to hurt you.” Despite her fear, she cupped his face with her free hand as she spoke, hoping that
he saw her sincerity. That he would spare them.

He saw it. But her apologies simply weren’t enough to appease him. “I don’t care what Hank meant to do. I know what he did. And now he
needs to know what it feels like to have someone he loves taken away from him and destroyed.” His resolve deeper than ever.

“Destroyed?” She echoed.

“Yes, destroyed.”

“You are going to kill us.” She whispered, frantically searching his eyes for some revelation of his intent.

“No Buff. If I wanted you dead I’d have done it already.” At her puzzled look he elaborated. “There are other ways to destroy someone.” As the
full meaning of his words settled in fresh tears filled her eyes. He was going to do this until she broke.

Misinterpreting her stricken expression he added, “What Buff, did you think I was doing this just because I like fucking you? Well, I do quite
enjoy it and I will always remember our time together. But there was always a greater purpose behind it.” He intentionally understated just
how much he actually enjoyed fucking her; he wasn’t about to admit just how much he liked her. How much he wanted her.

He then went on, “But that doesn’t matter, you are mine now.”

Pulling back, she looked him directly in the eye and mustered as much courage as she could.

“I will never be yours.” Both were surprised by the strength in her voice.

“Really? Well, we’ll see about that.”

Moving down her body he roughly pulled her legs apart, pushing them up to her chest. She pushed back against his strength but being on her
back and still cuffed, she had little leverage and was soon pinned.

“NO! NO!” She screamed as his hand moved to her sex, her only free hand desperately pushing his away. Eyes locked with hers, he slowly
pushed three fingers into her. Then using his forearm to hold her legs up and prevent her from kicking, he pumped into her.

“Feel that Lover?” His voice was low and velvety. When she didn’t respond he smiled, “I know you feel it. You’ll always remember how my
fingers feel moving deep within you.” He pointedly twisted his fingers as he slid them into her. He worked her clit with his thumb as he
pumped, smirking when he felt her moisture coating his fingers. Buffy’s breathing quickly became ragged; small whimpers escaping as she
tried to resist it, her head wildly thrashing from side to side as she denied what he was doing. Denied his claim over her.
Hearing her denials turn to moans, he chuckled and pumped deeper, harder and faster. When he felt the telltale clenching of her core around
his fingers he slowly withdrew them and raised them to his mouth where he licked them clean. Throughout it all, his eyes never left hers. He
smiled.

“And I know you’ll remember this.” Keeping eye contact, he lowered his head and lightly swirled his tongue around her clit, flicking the tip and
sucking. Her gasps spurred him on and he added “Every lick, every suck.”

Spreading her wider, he plunged his tongue deep into her, rhythmically thrusting it into her. As shudders of her impending orgasm surged
through her, he licked her clit, sliding his fingers into her again. Then, pumping hard and fast, he sucked mercilessly on her sensitive nub,
rapidly driving her to the brink. As her orgasm ripped through her, a strangled shriek erupted from her quivering body. She was clearly trying
to suppress it. As her whimpers died down, he moved up her body, pushing her legs further part and impaling her in a slow, deep thrust.
Groaning, she bit down on her lip as she grabbed the pillow with her free hand.

“When you close your eyes, you’ll always see my face hovering over you. MY face. Fucking you deep and hard.” He moved slowly within her,
his thrusts pronounced and deliberate. His eyes still locked on hers.

“Look at how we’re joined. I’m inside of you, a part of you. I’m in your body and I’m in your mind. No matter what happens, we’ll always be a
part of each other.” Lowering his head, he latched onto her nipples, his teeth nipping at them as he suckled hungrily. Crying out, she closed her
eyes as he tormented her.

“NO! Open your eyes Buff, no more pretending I’m someone else.” He propped himself up on his arms and held her gaze. His pace increasing
as he pounded into her.

Then shifting his weight, he fondled her nub again, forcing her to orgasm. She resisted it for as long as she could, hysterically yanking at her
cuffed hand to free herself but Angel was relentless. Then just her core started clenching around him and she sobbed out her crisis, he roared
his, pumping into her as she milked his seed.

“Yes Buff, take it, take it all. Milk me.” He chanted as he rubbed her, drawing out her climax, ensuring she was filled with him.

Then, he drew all of his strength and ploughed into her at full force his pelvis rubbing against her clit with each thrust. She screamed and
screamed, thrashing wildly under him as he sent her spiraling to yet another orgasm.

Over the next few hours, he took her again and again, branding her with his passion.

Exhausted, she silently lay cradled in his arms. As they recovered, he tenderly kissed and spoke to her, running his fingers through her hair,
“I’ve spent my whole life waiting for you, and now you’re mine. You always will be. For the rest of your life, no matter where you are or what
you’re doing, you’ll never know when I’ll find you and take you again. I’ll never let you go. Always remember that.”

Buffy remained silent as the weight and horror of his words sank in; they echoed in her mind again and again.

Kissing her once again, he unlocked the handcuff and quietly left the room.
***
That afternoon Cordelia left her apartment. She had planned to go to Faith earlier in the day but once she started making notes on everything
the authorities might need, the time just flew by. As she thought about it, leaving a little later might be better anyway. Ordinarily she never left
her apartment before noon so if she were indeed being followed leaving earlier than normal might have roused suspicions. Getting in her car,
she took a deep breath and prepared to betray Angelus.

Waiting briefly after she pulled out of her garage, Luke followed.

About forty-five minutes later, Cordelia parked her car a few blocks from Adams Street. In order to keep up her charade, she was going to
browse a few stores before going to see Faith. Casually she strolled along, looking through store windows and browsing a few clothing racks,
hoping that whoever might be following her would lose interest when he saw that she was shopping. After browsing a few stores, she
eventually made her way to Adams Street. There she walked into a music store and purchased a few CDs and a magazine. As she was leaving
the music store, she caught a glimpse of Luke in the distance. She froze momentarily before regaining her equilibrium. Although she believed
Lindsey, actually seeing Luke made the threat to her life all the more real. It took all of her self-control to simply act normal and not freak out.
She had to be extremely careful.

Deciding that she needed to calm a bit before seeing Faith, she stopped at a café and had a cappuccino. While she sipped her drink, she
casually perused the pages of her magazine, all the while keeping a watchful eye out for her shadow. Eventually finishing her drink, she made
her way further down Adams Street and finally into April Fools, where she let out a deep sigh of relief. Almost there. Carefully, she walked
through the store, picking up random articles of clothing until she located the fitting rooms. As she headed into the back, she noticed that Luke
seemed to be loitering near the entrance of the store. She would have to talk to Faith in the fitting room.

Finally in the back and safely out of Luke’s line of vision, she asked a sales attendant to speak to the manager. Initially thinking that something
was wrong or that she was dissatisfied with the service, the attendant inquired if there was a problem. However once Cordelia set the
attendant’s worries at ease, the young lady promptly went in search of her supervisor. Moments later Faith came out of her office to see who
was asking for her. She was rather surprised to see Cordelia standing near the fitting rooms.

“Cordy, I see you made it. Is there something I can do for you?”
“I realize that you’re busy but I need to talk to you immediately about something very important. Do you have some place we can talk
privately?”

“Uh, sure. We can go into my office.” Faith was unsure of what to make of the situation but she recognized the thing she saw in Cordelia’s eyes
as fear. Instructing her attendants not to interrupt unless it was an emergency, she escorted Cordelia to her office for a talk.
***
Several hours passed before Buffy even stirred. She was numb. The only thing her mind registered was Dawn’s image on the TV screen. She
stared at it, a feeling of complete emptiness overcoming her. She didn’t know how much longer she could do this. And even if she managed to
escape him, she knew she’d never be the same. She lost part of herself every time he touched her but now this nightmare she was caught in
had just reached a new low. He fucked her just after beating her. That destroyed something deep within her. She was shattered. Now the only
thing keeping her going was the one she sacrificed it all for to begin with. Dawn. Buffy knew she had to survive long enough to get Dawn out, if
nothing else. Her determination gave her the strength to cling to a hope she had no reason to believe existed. But if she didn’t, she knew she’d
forsake Dawn and end it all.

Slowly, she rose from the bed and made her way to the bathroom, she needed to clean up. Turning on the light, she passed the vanity to turn
on the shower and caught a glimpse of her reflection. It had been days since she’d really taken a look at herself and she was shocked by what
she saw. The person looking back at her was a stranger. She looked wanton, very much like a woman who just had sex. Her hair was tousled,
her lips swollen, her body looked ripe with raw sexuality, her skin still slightly flushed from her orgasm. But as she stared at her reflection, she
began seeing beyond her oversexed image. Just below the sexual veneer was the haunting look of a slow, agonizing death. She looked haggard
and her eyes were hollow, their bright sparkle long gone. She was unnaturally pale and the darkening bruises on her body courtesy of Angel
only accentuated her unhealthy appearance. In short, she looked like hell.

In that moment all the strength she had just mustered dissipated and with a sorrowful wail she lashed out. She threw everything off the vanity,
hurling bottle after bottle at the mirror and shattering it. She opened all of the draws of the vanity and flung them and their contents across
the room. Then cursing Angel for his power over her and her father for not protecting her, she threw the vanity seat across the room and in a
moment of desperation grabbed a shard from the broken mirror and brought it dangerously close to her wrist. But she couldn’t do it. She
couldn’t let Angel win. Hurling the razor sharp shard across the room, she screamed out her anger and frustration, clawing at her body as if she
could somehow remove Angel’s essence from her until finally she collapsed in exhaustion. She was so tired she couldn’t even cry.

Sitting on the floor in utter despair her eyes fell upon a small pair of scissors. She hadn’t noticed it before and assumed it was among the many
items that were in the draws of the vanity. Picking it up she noticed just how dull it was, it was similar to the safety scissors small children used
for arts and crafts. No wonder Angel wasn’t worried about it being there, she could never use it as a weapon. Staring at it however, she found
one use for it. She took the scissors to her long, golden mane, hacking away until the dull blades chopped the silken tresses that Angel so loved
running his hands through.

After mutilating her hair, she remained on the floor until she dredged up the energy to take a shower. As she stood she saw her reflection in
what remained of the mirror. Taking in her butchered mane, she laughed at how comical it looked. But her brief amusement was soon taken
over by a deep sadness. The state of her hair reflected that of her spirit. Angel was winning. He was destroying her.

A few minutes later she stood in the shower letting the hot water soothe her sore limbs, the vivid memory of her reflection seared into her
being. His words coming back to her. As the cleansing water cascaded through her hair and down her body, she searched deep within her soul
for the strength not only to survive. But to prevail. By the time she got out of the shower, a deep calm had settled in. She knew it wouldn’t be
easy but she refused to let him win. This was no longer just for Dawn; this was for herself.
***
That evening Finn sat at his desk contemplating the information he had on Angelus Rayne. There was very little on the man and certainly
nothing to suggest he was the kidnapper. Despite his hunch that this was their guy, none of his research supported it. If anything the records
showed him to be an extremely wealthy, law-abiding citizen. Finn hoped the others were having better success than he was. As he mulled over
the situation, a young, dark-haired woman approached his desk.

“Excuse me, I’m looking for Detective Finn.” She nervously looked over her shoulder as she spoke.

“I’m Finn. What can I do for you?” He had this dream a hundred times where a sexy young woman approached his desk, stripped and rode his
cock till he popped. But somehow her demeanor suggested that this was not his lucky day.

Keeping her voice hushed she responded, “Um, I have some information for you.”

“Information about what?” Finn was quite intrigued. The way she was scanning the room made him think she was about to divulge something
top secret.

“The news said that you were one of the detectives working the Summers case.” She leaned forward when she spoke, again keeping their
conversation hushed.

“That’s correct. I am working the Summers case. Do you have information?” Finn wasn’t sure how to read her. They’d gotten numerous tips on
the case already, none of which turned out to be legit. But the way she was acting suggested that she might know something meaningful.

“Yes I do but it’s very sensitive. Can we go somewhere private?”

For a second there Finn thought he was dreaming again. “Uh, perhaps you can give me a bit more than that. We’ve gotten so many tips that
weren’t helpful, some that were even pranks. So, maybe if you just give me something, then I’ll know that this is for real.” He had a lot of work
to do and couldn’t afford to waste time on a wild goose chase.
Faith was momentarily pensive then whispered, “It’s about the Rayne case.”

Finn perked up. She did know something. Only those working directly with Giles were onto the Rayne connection. He hadn’t even told Parker
about Rayne and Abrams was his partner. This might be his lucky day after all.

“Uh, I see. I know a secure place we can talk. Come with me please?” Riley then grabbed his coat and prepared to leave.
***
A short distance away, Parker watched closely. He had seen the brunette when she first walked over to Finn’s desk and he was curious about
what she said that had Finn practically running out of the precinct. Attempting to find out, he intercepted Riley before he could leave.

“Hey Riley, if you’re heading out can you pick up some Chinese takeout?” It wasn’t an unusual request; he and Riley always took turns buying
dinner. And it was Riley’s turn.

“Sorry Parker, I can’t. I’m on my way to see Giles right this minute, I’m not sure when I’ll be back.”

“Oh, is something up? Did you guys finally get a break in the case?” Parker asked in his enthusiastic, “go-team-go” voice.

“Pretty much. We just got one hell of a lead.” Riley didn’t see any harm in sharing the good news with his partner after all they had all worked
hard on the case and besides, he wasn’t exactly giving away any details.

“Wow, that’s great. I know the senator and his wife will be pleased to hear that.” Parker wondered if perhaps he should have gone into acting.

“Yeah they will. Anyway, I’ve got to go. I’ll see you later. Maybe we can do Chinese to celebrate when this is all over.” Riley was hoping for a
quick resolution to the case.

“Yeah, that’ll be cool. I’ll cover your desk till you get back.”

“Great, thanks.” Riley then walked over to Faith and escorted her out of the precinct.

Once Riley left, Abrams left to make a call from the nearest pay phone.

When Lindsey answered the phone he anxiously responded, “It’s Abrams. You may have a problem.”
******
Part 9
******
Sometime later Buffy sat on the bed. She was dressed in a pale blue chemise, the least revealing outfit in the chest. Her entire body ached
from the abuse she endured that morning and her bruises only seemed to be getting more pronounced. She refused to look at herself in the
mirror again to see how battered she was. She tried to keep moving to ward off some of the stiffness but now she ached too much to keep
going. She needed to rest. Lying down, she subconsciously ran her hand through her hair and was abruptly reminded of her earlier rampage.
Her nearly waist length hair was now barely touching her shoulders. She hadn’t worn it that short in years. Sighing, she knew it was going to
take some getting used to but she didn’t care. She might not be able to run her hands through it anymore but neither could Angel. That was
one less part of her that he could touch. One less part he could claim. It felt oddly liberating.

As she recalled her tantrum, she wondered how she missed the little scissors in the vanity when she first looked through it. And if there was
anything else in there. Wincing, she slowly got up and walked back into the bathroom. She had to admit, the destruction was a little surprising.
She’d never done anything like that before.

Scanning the wasteland of the formerly posh bathroom, she picked her way through the debris. She was looking for something she could use
as a weapon or to pick the door lock with. Something. Anything. After looking feverishly for nearly twenty minutes all she could come up with
were a few hairpins and the dull scissors. Slightly desperate, she grabbed the vanity seat and slammed it into the wall a few times, breaking off
two of the legs. It wasn’t much but she was armed. She might not be able to kill but if she could manage to incapacitate either Angel or his
men perhaps she could buy enough time to grab Dawn and escape.

Just as she was about to end her search, an object glittering in the corner caught her eye. Wondering what it was she approached and realized
it was just light reflecting off the shard from the mirror that she was tempted to kill herself with. She grimaced at how close she came to doing
it. She couldn’t imagine ending it that way and leaving Dawn to torment. For a long time she stared at it, the memory of what she almost did
haunting her, the fact that she ever considered suicide unbelievable. Then, staring at the sharp edges she began to see it not for what she
almost did but for what she could do. It was an opportunity. It was a weapon. Picking it up, she now scanned the room again, looking at the
objects in new and useful ways. To be honest, there wasn’t much else but she did manage to find a few more pieces of the mirror to add to her
arsenal.

Having now exhausted the resources in the bathroom, she took her search into the bedroom. She found that the only useful things were the
chairs, the table and the television. She’d make use of them if she could. Carefully she stashed her weapons under the pillow, she couldn’t
afford to let Angel or his men see them. She knew she was putting herself and Dawn in greater danger by trying to escape but she couldn’t do
this anymore hoping to be rescued. She had to take the risk. It was up to her now and she needed a plan. As she sat, she played out various
scenarios in her head. She would attack whoever came first, Angel or his men. If it were his men, she would attack the black guy first and then
go for the one with the shoulder injury. If it were Angel, she’d wait until he was in bed with her, preferably going down on her before plunging
the razor sharp shard into his neck.

She really hoped it would be Angel.
***
Faith and Detective Finn sat around the conference table with Giles, Gunn, Willow, Harris and Spike. They were mulling over the information
she had just given them.

“So, you say this Cordelia is his girlfriend?” Giles was surprised by this new development.

“Yes, we’re both from Sunnydale and she and I went to high school together. Anyway, I saw her at the salon yesterday and she seemed fine.
She was the same old Cordy. Then today she came to my store looking for me. She looked so scared. First I didn’t know what could frighten her
like that but then she went on about those kidnappings in the news and how she saw her boyfriend screwing one of them. Anyway, once she
calmed down she told me that he has them at his ranch and she gave me this information to give you.” She gestured to the notes Cordelia had
made.

“This is certainly fortuitous. We can’t tell you how enormously helpful this is.” Giles was practically gushing with delight.

“Yes, thanks for coming in.” Gunn added. Then he asked, “Do you know what Cordelia was planning to do or where she was going after she
saw you?” He hoped Cordelia planned to go into hiding or something.

“Um, no. She seemed kind of in a rush. She said some guy was following her and she couldn’t stay much longer. That was it.”

Giles and Gunn exchanged worried glances. “Faith, do you know how to contact Cordelia?”

“No, before seeing her at the salon it had been years since we talked. I think she didn’t want to leave any trace that we were in touch. You
know like if I called her and her boyfriend found out or something.” Faith was also a little worried about her old friend. What Cordy said had
her a little nervous about her own safety.

“Hmm, I’d feel better if we had a handle on her whereabouts.”

”I agree. Do you want to put your men on it, see if they can find her?” Giles suggested.

“Yeah, I think I’ll do that. Uh, Finn, would you please escort Ms. Evans back home and keep an eye on her until this is resolved. Maybe your
partner can help. And um, please check the records to see if Cordelia owns a car, maybe the police can help track her down.” Gunn wanted to
keep everyone as safe as possible.

“Sure, Parker and I can stand guard until this is over. And I’ll see what we can do about tracking Cordelia.” Riley was a little disappointed to be
cut out of the action but he didn’t mind guarding Faith. She was a hottie.

A short while later, they thanked Faith again for helping and then she and Riley left.

Once they were alone, the group set out preparing for the rescue. For the security of the operation, Gunn and Giles agreed to postpone telling
Hank and Joyce about Angelus until they had Buffy and Dawn. In fact, they also chose not to inform them that they were going in to rescue the
girls. They didn’t want to get their hopes up before the girls were safely in FBI custody. Harris and two other agents would stay at the house
with Hank and Joyce during the rescue. Once Buffy and Dawn were safe, Gunn would call Harris and he would then escort Joyce and Hank to a
covert location away from the prying eyes of the media where they would be reunited with their children. The other two agents currently at
the Summers home would now be reassigned to Cordelia.

After making the general arrangements, Gunn sent Harris to his post and requested two agents be sent back to Giles’ office to be reassigned.
Then while Gunn called headquarters to obtain blueprints for Angelus’ ranch and more agents for the rescue, Spike and Giles pulled out all the
surveillance equipment and weaponry that Spike would need for the operation. As they worked, Willow pulled up as much information on
Cordelia Chase as she could find.

When Harris arrived at the Summers home, he immediately gathered the two agents that Gunn had requested for reassignment and sent
them to Giles’ office. They were Agents Cameron Walker and Warren Meirs.
***
Angelus sat in his study listening to Luke’s report on Cordelia’s activities while he awaited Lindsey’s call. He was a little surprised when Lindsey
called a while ago informing him that the feds were closing in. Now he was waiting for Lindsey to get back to him with a report from Meirs. As
he waited, he scanned the list of stores that Cordelia had shopped in that day. Adam was now watching her. Looking at her activities there
really wasn’t anything unusual to cause him alarm. The only thing of note was that she tried a new store, April Fools. But then she was always
trying new stores so that wasn’t really anything to be concerned about.

Once Luke’s report was finished, Angelus went into his bedroom and packed a few items of clothing. As he collected his important documents,
he called Lorne, instructing him to have his plane ready for takeoff in a few hours. There was no way he was going to prison. He’d die first. And
because of that he had made most of his arrangements to leave the country before he even kidnapped Buffy and Dawn. He knew he would
have to leave the country once they were free.

As Luke packed the luggage into the car, Angelus settled his affairs and made several calls to a few business associates. Now everything was in
place to run his businesses from abroad. He was glad that he had maintained Ethan’s practice of keeping most of his assets out of the country
and out of the reach of the federal government.
***
When Warren and Cameron arrived at Giles’ office, Gunn immediately passed them the information Willow had gathered on Cordelia. He then
briefed them on the situation before sending them out to guard her. They were to go to her apartment and stay there either until she showed
up or until they heard from him with further instruction.

As they headed out, Warren felt his cell phone vibrate.
***
Sometime later, the eight additional agents Gunn requested arrived at Giles’ office with the blueprints for Angelus’ ranch. The group then set
about devising the rescue strategy.
***
Buffy was anxiously sitting on the bed when Forrest and Graham delivered her dinner. For the first time she was disappointed that it wasn’t
Angel. As usual, Forrest entered and carried the tray to the table while Graham silently remained blocking the doorway. As Forrest walked
towards the table, she carefully slipped her hand under the pillow and grabbed the biggest piece of the shattered mirror. When his back was
turned to her, she pounced, lodging the shard deep into his back. She struck him so hard that the sharp edges cut into her hand as she stabbed
him. He gasped aloud before stumbling forward, supporting himself on the table while trying to dislodge the offending object from his back.
The moment she jumped onto Forrest, Graham charged towards her attempting to help his partner. But before he could grab her, she jumped
away from Forrest and grabbed a chair. She swung it with all her strength, catching Graham across the torso. He stumbled backward, stunned
by the force of the blow. As he stumbled, she hit him again, this time targeting his already injured shoulder. Falling to the floor, he howled in
pain as he felt his shoulder dislocate. She then hit him across the head, completely dazing him.

Suddenly she felt a hand grip her shoulder. Spinning, she knocked Forrest with the chair and then viciously kicked him in the groin. As he sank
to his knees in pain, she grabbed the television and threw it at his head. When he fell to the floor, she used the chair again to further
incapacitate him as he still struggled to remove the shard in his back. Both down, she hastily searched them until she found a bunch of keys in
Graham’s pocket. Turning swiftly, she grabbed the remaining weapons from under the pillow and bolted through the door frantically searching
for Dawn.
***
Angel sat in his study, shocked, as he watched the entire scene unfold on the monitors. He couldn’t believe that Buffy could be so ruthless. He
actually enjoyed watching her beat Forrest and Graham down. But once she sprinted through the door he knew it was time to quash her little
revolt. He had to intervene.

Instructing Luke to check on Forrest and Graham, Angel grabbed a pair of handcuffs from his bedroom, a towel, and a small bottle of
chloroform. He knew exactly where she was going. He intended to head her off.
***
Buffy frantically ran down the hallway clutching her weapons and the keys she nabbed from Graham. She was grasping the keys so tightly that
they dug into the cuts in her hand but she was so focused that she didn’t feel any pain. She was trying to follow the directions that Dawn had
given her during their last few visits. After taking a few wrong turns, she made her way down a hallway that looked very similar to what Dawn
described. Counting the doors, Buffy made her way to Dawn’s room. Reaching the door, she softly called out to Dawn, checking that she had
the right room as she fumbled with the keys trying to find the right one to free her sister. On the other side, Dawn heard Buffy’s voice and
rushed to the door calling back in response as she desperately yanked on the knob. Eliminating key after key, Buffy grew increasingly
frustrated as the seconds stretched out. Although she was going as fast as she could, she seemed to be moving in slow motion. The sisters
could hear each other but they couldn’t get through the final obstacle separating them.

Finally down to four keys Buffy paused momentarily, nervously scanning the hallway. She thought she heard something. She had to keep a
look out for Angel and his other men. It was only a matter of time before they discovered her escape. Seeing nothing she immediately went
back to her task of freeing Dawn.

Just as she stuck the next key into the lock, she was grabbed from behind and violently swung around. She screamed before a towel with a
familiar scent was placed over her nose and mouth. Déjà vu. Knowing what it was, she held her breath and struggled harder, even as her feet
were lifted from the floor. She kicked out wildly, using her feet to push against the wall, knocking both she and her assailant to the floor.

Even as they fell, Angel held onto her tightly, using his large arms to trap hers to her body and ensuring to keep the chloroform-soaked towel
over her face. She struggled for several long moments, her muffled cries echoing down the hallway until the instant she ran out of air and was
forced to inhale the anesthetic, the darkness quickly consuming her. Her struggles gradually died down until finally she passed out. As she
fought, Angel held her to him, murmuring soothingly in her ear until he was certain she was unconscious.

Once she was out, he gently shifted her limp body onto the floor before scooping her up and placing her onto a nearby couch. There he
cradled her in his arms, checking her breathing and pulse to ensure she was fine. He didn’t want to kill her.

As he checked her, he noticed her hair. It was completely ruined. Gently running his hand through the strands he couldn’t help but smirk at her
defiance. It was almost adorable. Continuing his perusal, he noticed the deep cuts in her hand. He had no idea how she got them but as he
gently kissed the wounds he swore if Forrest or Graham were responsible they’d live to regret hurting her. Looking down at her as he held her
in his arms, feeling her skin against his, he could no longer deny his need for her. The insatiable need that drove him to take her again and
again. He simply couldn’t stop thinking of her. She filled his every thought. Even as he held her close in his arms, he couldn’t hold her close
enough. Even when he was buried deep within her, he couldn’t get deep enough. The more he had her, the more he wanted her; the more he
needed her. Needed the feel of her quivering sheath surrounding him, grasping him and milking him as she quaked beneath him. He yearned
for her. His desire a raging inferno scorching a path through him, searing him.

Crouching over her unconscious body he knew he couldn’t let her go. He couldn’t walk away.
As he held Buffy in his arms, Dawn’s soft voice broke through his thoughts. She was calling out to Buffy from behind the door. Hearing her
brought him back to the situation at hand. He needed to make a few decisions within the next few hours before the feds came storming in.
And he knew exactly what he was going to do. Leaving Buffy on the couch, he went over to Dawn.
***
Dawn stood at the door calling out to Buffy for a long time. She knew something was wrong. She heard Buffy calling to her and it sounded like
she was trying to open the door. Then she heard Buffy scream and what sounded like a struggle. That was followed by a few muffled noises
and then silence. The silence was unnerving. But she continued calling out to her sister if only to hear her own voice filling the void. But with
each unanswered call, she grew increasingly frantic and her voice more desperate. She couldn’t imagine what might have happened to Buffy
on the other side. She was too afraid to. As the minutes stretched out, she slumped down to the floor, pressing her ear to the door in hopes
that she might hear Buffy in the distance. She had to believe Buffy was still alive.

Just then she heard keys jingling and she scrambled away from the door. When it opened revealing Angel on the other side, she moved further
into the corner, unsure of what to do. Was he there to hurt her? The last thing she expected was what came out of his mouth.

”Dawn, come with me.” His voice was calm and gentle. However, despite his demeanor, she stared at him as if he had sprung a second head.
Did he really expect her to go with him?

Seeing the mistrust written all over her face, he repeated himself.

“Dawn, please come with me. I’m not going to hurt you again. I’m sure you’d like to see your sister.” Again, he kept his tone unthreatening.

Cautiously getting to her feet, she walked closer to him. When he simply moved out of her path, she walked out of the room and into the
hallway. From there she could see Buffy lying across the couch. She ran over, calling to her again and again.

When she got no response, she gently shook Buffy’s limp body. As she touched her, she took in the dark bruises marring Buffy’s body. It was
obvious where they came from. She looked at Angel questioningly, accusingly.

Answering her unasked question he said, “She’s not badly hurt, just unconscious. She’ll be fine.” He then moved on to his next order of
business.

Just as he was about to go on Luke walked into the room.

“Sir, Mr. McDonald is on your private line.”

“Uh, thank you Luke. How are Forrest and Graham?” He hoped Buffy didn’t seriously injure them.

“Forrest’s back is injured and Graham’s shoulder is dislocated. They both have head injuries.” Luke glared at the unconscious Buffy as he
spoke.

“Hmm, patch them up as best you can and then get them into the car. Be ready to leave in twenty minutes. I’ll be in my study if you need me.”
Then before he left, he handcuffed Dawn to himself and picked Buffy up off the couch, taking them both with him.
***
When he reached his study, he placed Buffy in a chair and walked over to the phone with Dawn still attached to him.

“Lindsey?”

“Angel. Whatever you’re doing you need to head out as soon as possible. Meirs finally got back to me. Apparently, it took him a while to slip
away from his new partner. Anyway, the feds are planning to storm the ranch in the next few hours.”

“Thanks Linds, I’m on my way out. Um, what did you say about Meirs, isn’t he posted at the Summers house?”

“Uh, yeah, he was.” He answered vaguely.

Picking up the hesitation in Lindsey’s voice, Angel asked, “What is it Lindsey?”

“Well, he told me that he has been reassigned to guarding someone.” He really didn’t want to tell Angelus about Cordelia.

Growing frustrated by Lindsey’s obvious reluctance Angel pointedly asked, “Guarding who?”

Hearing the threat in Angel’s tone he hesitantly replied, “Cordelia. He’s guarding Cordelia.”

Lindsey didn’t have to say anything else.

Angel slammed the phone down, muttering a string of expletives, his anger suddenly boiling to the surface. The still-cuffed Dawn froze in
terror at his outburst. Was he going to direct any of his anger towards her?

Seeing her stiffen with fright, he caught her gaze and responded. ”Don’t worry, it’s not you this time.”

Then picking up the phone he called the cell phone that Adam was carrying with him.
When Adam picked up he simply said, “Adam, please bring my estranged girlfriend to the hangar in Sunnydale. She and I need to talk.”
******
Part 10
******
After disconnecting from Adam, Angel went about preparing to leave. He called Lindsey again instructing him to meet him at the hangar and
then he continued gathering his belongings. Taking Dawn with him, he went into his bedroom and collected a few items, including a blanket
for Buffy since she was only dressed in the thin chemise. Then, with Dawn trailing, he returned and wrapped Buffy in the blanket before
picking her up and going to the car.

A few moments later, the vehicle carrying Buffy, Dawn, Angel and his men pulled out of the garage and got on the highway heading toward
Sunnydale.
***
Cordelia sat alone at a small table in the Bronze sipping a glass of bourbon. She was exhausted. She felt completely drained physically and
emotionally, as if she were carrying a huge burden that only seemed to grow heavier with no relief in sight. In a way she was. After leaving
Faith that afternoon she did return home but her entire apartment reminded her of Angel and their time together too much. It felt like the
walls were closing in on her. She just couldn’t stay there. So she packed an overnight bag and got in her car again. She’d been driving ever
since because she couldn’t think of anywhere else to go. She couldn’t go to her parents or any of her friends. She didn’t want to put them in
any danger and besides she simply couldn’t deal with other people right now. She had even turned off her cell phone just to escape. She
wanted to be alone. Granted the bar was rather crowded but it seemed that everyone near her knew to leave her alone. Her entire demeanor
kept all the men desiring her company at bay. Even the waiter seemed nervous about approaching her. And once he took her order no one
else dared disturb her.

As she sat thinking about exactly what she had done, a deep sadness came over her. There was no doubt in her mind that she made the right
choice. But now that she had, the weight of the possible consequences came crashing down on her. She betrayed the man who until recently
she thought she could love. She remembered all the time they spent together and how sweet and thoughtful he was. It was easy to fall madly
in love with him. But she knew he would never give himself to her the way she wanted so she settled for what he would give. And although she
knew she would never be Mrs. Angelus Rayne, she had clung to the hope that they would at least be together. But now all her hopes and
dreams were dashed and her heart mourned the loss. She knew her betrayal would surely bring about his demise as well as her own. Her life
was going to change completely. She had come to depend on him for everything and now she was on her own. But it wasn’t simply the
material things that worried her. Once it became known that she was the one to cross him, her life would forever be in danger either from
Angelus or his associates. She would forever be looking over her shoulder. She did consider going to the feds for protection but what did it
matter, she was already being followed and at least now she knew whom to look out for. Who knew what unknown danger going to the feds
might put her in? No. It was best to just keep low for a while. She knew it was only a matter of time before the feds caught up with him. And
then it would all be over. Everything would be lost.

She was alone. Perhaps the most alone she had ever felt. The gravity of her plight was simply too much so she took a long, deep swig of her
drink to numb the maddening fear and uncertainty that were slowly taking hold. Then glancing at her watch and realizing just how intoxicated
she was she decided to check into the motel across the street until morning.
***
Adam sat at the end of the bar on the other side of the club. He was carefully watching Cordelia. He had hung up from Angel a short while ago
and was waiting for Cordelia to leave before accosting her. He didn’t want to risk calling attention to himself in the crowded bar. So while he
waited, he finished his drink, curious as to why Angel wanted to see Cordelia at the hangar. He had no idea what happened but Angel sounded
furious. Something was obviously up.

Just then he saw Cordelia gesture for the waiter to bring her check. While she paid, he slowly made his way outside where he patiently waited.
It was time to collect his bounty.

A few minutes later Cordelia exited the Bronze. She looked around briefly hoping to spot her shadow. It had been some time since she last saw
Luke and she wasn’t sure if he was still tailing her or if now it were one of Angel’s other goons. Seeing none of them, she quickly walked
towards her car to collect her overnight bag.

Before she got there, Adam stepped out of the shadows and grabbed her from behind. She never even got the chance to scream.
***
During the drive to Sunnydale, Angel held the still unconscious Buffy in his lap while he carefully cleaned and bandaged her cut hand. He was
completely unaware that he was being observed. Dawn watched stunned as the man who had so viciously attacked her and forced himself on
Buffy tenderly cared for her sister’s wounds and adoringly kissed her forehead. Had she not felt his formidable wrath herself, she would have
thought him the gentlest being in the world. The way he was holding Buffy, cradling her head and nuzzling her was as if she were the most
precious thing to him.

Once his task was done he settled back, holding Buffy close to him and gently caressing her. It was only then that he looked up and caught
Dawn staring at him before she quickly looked away.

They continued the journey in silence until Buffy slowly began regaining consciousness. Angel felt her move slightly in his lap and he softly
called to her and stroked her head as she woke. Dawn also called to her, hesitantly at first but more confidently when Angel indicated for her
to continue.

Hearing her sister’s voice, Buffy softly called Dawn’s name in response, prompting Dawn to take her hand while she continued calling to her.
Within minutes, Buffy was awake. She felt extremely disoriented and groggy.

“What happened?” She managed to ask, her speech slightly slurred.
“What’s the last thing you remember?” Angel asked gently.

“What?” Only then did Buffy look at him and slowly start to recall what happened. Then she said, “It was you, behind me. You came up behind
me.” That simple statement seemed to drain her of all her energy.

Pausing briefly he then responded, “Yes, it was me.” Then he asked, “How do you feel?”

Looking at him momentarily she responded, “Dizzy. My head hurts.”

“That will pass soon. Just relax and you’ll feel better.”

Buffy looked at him again and then over to Dawn. She had no idea what was happening and she felt so lightheaded and tired. All she wanted
to do was sleep.

Seeing Buffy’s confusion Dawn squeezed her hand reassuringly and added, “Yeah Buffy, try to relax. Your head will clear soon. It’ll be alright.”
She tried to infuse as much confidence as possible into her voice.

Feeling Dawn squeeze her hand, Buffy leaned into Angel’s embrace and let him cradle her in his lap where she soon fell asleep still tightly
holding Dawn’s hand.
***
When they arrived at the hangar about forty-five minutes later Buffy was awake again and more or less alert. She was still tired but at least the
dizziness and lightheadedness had passed. Getting out of the car, Angel got some rope out of the trunk and then escorted Buffy and Dawn into
the small office near the front of the building while Luke and Lorne unloaded the luggage.

“What’s happening?” Buffy asked alarmed when she saw his men unloading several bags from the vehicle.

Walking up to her, he gently caressed her cheek, “I have some business to take care of.” He then lightly kissed her mouth, lingering over her
lips until she opened for him. Deepening the kiss, he worked her into the corner, his kiss becoming more demanding and frantic. Buffy
reluctantly allowed it, after her little stunt earlier she wasn’t sure what to expect from him and with his men right there she wasn’t going to
risk it.

As his hands moved over her body, the rattling of the handcuff caught his attention and he was reminded that Dawn was still cuffed to him.
Reluctantly he broke the kiss and stepped away from Buffy, much to her and Dawn’s relief.

“You two can just relax in here for bit.” He then removed the cuff from his wrist and placed it around both of Dawn’s, cuffing her wrists behind
her. He then led her to a chair where he took some of the rope and tied her to it. When he was done, he then did the same to Buffy with the
spare cuffs he collected from his bedroom before leaving the ranch. A short while later, Angel left the office, leaving both sisters bound to their
seats while he awaited Adam’s arrival with Cordelia.
***
As soon as Angel left, Dawn filled Buffy in on everything that happened while she was unconscious. There wasn’t much to tell but she told her
about Angel’s conversations with someone named Lindsey and then Adam. When Buffy asked how her hand got wrapped, Dawn hesitantly
told her that Angel had done it. It was Dawn’s hesitation that got her attention.

“What is it?” She wondered why Dawn was looking at her so peculiarly.

“Um, Buffy, I know you’ve had to, um, sleep with him but, uh, is something, more going on between you and Angel?” Dawn had no idea what
to call what she sensed from Angel during the car trip.

“What do you mean something more?” Buffy asked somewhat puzzled and slightly offended.

“Well, it’s just the way he acts around you. Like when you were still knocked out and he was fixing your hand, he was kind of … I don’t know,
protective, like he cares about you … like …”

Before she could finish Buffy cut her off, “Cares about me? CARES ABOUT ME? Have you seen what he did to me? Look at my arms, my legs,
my face; I have bruises everywhere from him. And it’s not from the sex, he beat me Dawn. HE BEAT ME! And then he turned around and still
had sex with me. How can you even suggest that he could …” She stopped unable to even fathom what Dawn was saying.

“Buffy, I’m not saying you care for him. I just think that, well, that he likes you. A LOT! He may be insane but I think he … I don’t know. Maybe
I’m just imagining it.” She wasn’t sure how to articulate it and she wasn’t really certain anyway.

“I think you were but it’s not just your imagination. I’ve been having sex with him for a while now. Guys tend to like you when you do that. It’s
just the sex Dawn.”

“But are you sure that’s all it is to him?”

“No I’m not. But I can’t even begin to imagine what I think you’re telling me. That he could … No, he’s just doing this to get back at dad. That’s
all.” The finality in Buffy’s tone silenced Dawn but she wondered who Buffy was trying to convince more, her or herself.

Desperate for a change in subject Dawn asked, “What happened to your hair?” She had noticed it when she first saw Buffy lying unconscious
on the couch back at Angel’s house but she wanted to ask Buffy herself.
“Oh, I cut it. After what happened with Angel, I mean, after he … well, I just got really upset and I cut it.” Then after a brief pause she added, “I
trashed his bathroom too and …” From there she went on to tell Dawn how she managed to attack Angel’s men with the piece of broken
mirror and escape her room.
***
Spike, Gunn and the eight FBI agents sat in their vehicles preparing to enter Angelus’ ranch. They were parked some distance from the
entrance. As Gunn again went over the rescue plan, Spike double-checked his weapons and communications equipment. The strategy was for
him to circumvent Rayne’s security and enter the mansion. He was then to find Buffy and Dawn and secure them. Then he was to radio Gunn
and he and the other agents would then storm the place while Spike guarded the girls. Once the ranch was seized and Angelus and his men
were either in custody or eliminated, Spike and Gunn would escort Buffy and Dawn out of the mansion and into the waiting vehicles where
they would then be taken to their parents.

Once everyone was in position, Spike exited the vehicle and made his way onto Angelus’ estate.

Dressed all in black, Spike made his way onto the property. Stealthily moving through the darkness, he quickly came to the perimeter of the
mansion itself. During their planning, he, Giles and Gunn discussed the possible security measures that Rayne would have most likely used and
so as he advanced to the mansion he strategically evaded the most probable locations for the security cameras and motion detectors.
Entering through the garage, he quickly moved into the large kitchen and then into the main foyer. Blending with the shadows and keeping
low, Spike then came to the security room. There he quietly entered and checked the monitors to determine not only exactly where in the
mansion Rayne and his men were but also where Buffy and Dawn were being kept.

When he sat at the monitors he was puzzled by what he saw. Nothing. All the rooms on the monitors were empty. Using the controls, he
thoroughly scanned every room in the mansion with the same result. Nothing. There was no one in the mansion. He then used the exterior
cameras and again, nothing. A sinking feeling began creeping upon him. Confirming his fear, he used the controls to scan the garage that he
had just come through. He hadn’t noticed it before but now that he was looking at all the cars in the garage, he noticed that two were missing.
From his research on Rayne he knew that Angelus owned six cars for his personal use. The Porsche, the Bentley, the Alfa Romeo and the Jaguar
were all still parked in the garage. The Range Rover and the Navigator were gone.

As realization struck, Spike didn’t waste another second and immediately radioed Gunn.

“Gunn, no one’s here. We’re too bloody late.”
***
Angel and Lindsey were sitting in the VIP lounge when Adam pulled into the parking lot. Cordelia was bound and gagged in the back seat. As
soon as the car stopped, Adam got out and unceremoniously pulled her out of the car and walked her into the building. He and Luke then took
her into the lounge with Angelus.

“Where are Forrest and Graham?” He asked.

“They’re on the plane with Lorne already.” Luke answered automatically.

“Hmm, is everything ready to go?”

“Yes, we’re just waiting for you.” Luke answered again.

“I see. Well, now that Ms. Chase is here we can get down to business.” His voice was low and menacing, his eyes empty. Cordelia stood
terrified before him. She had never seen such coldness in him before. And his calling her ‘Ms. Chase’ deepened her fear.

He then said, “Untie her. I’ll be right back.” Angel then left the room.

Seeing Cordelia made him incredibly furious and he felt like ripping her throat out but he had to stay in control since he intended to use
Cordelia’s betrayal as a lesson to Buffy. So he walked into the office with the two sisters and untied Buffy. Then, leaving Dawn behind he
escorted the protesting Buffy into the lounge with the others.

Buffy immediately picked up on the tension when she entered the room. There was the man who drove the car from the house, who Angel
called Luke, and two other men and a woman. The woman looked petrified. Buffy had no idea what was going on but she knew it was going to
be terrible.

“Now that everyone’s here it’s time Cordelia and I had a talk.” Angelus then stalked over to her and gently caressed her cheek, lifting her face.
Buffy was surprised by the intimate touch; she never even considered that Angel might have a girlfriend.

“I will ask you this once and only once. Why did you give me up to the authorities? Don’t I provide for you? Don’t I take care of you? Haven’t I
given you everything you’ve ever desired? Is this how you thank me, by telling them what I’ve been up to with Buffy?” He circled her like a
shark as he spoke, his velvety voice disarming and unnerving. Buffy was shocked by this revelation. Angel’s girlfriend tried to help her and
Dawn and now she was being punished. Buffy’s eyes stung with unshed tears.

Cordelia was too afraid to answer. Obviously he knew that she betrayed him and it would be foolish to try to deny it. That would only make
him angrier. But for the life of her she couldn’t figure out how he knew, she had been so careful.

Lindsey sat in his seat unsure of what to do. He was annoyed that Cordelia had ignored his warning and he was extremely nervous about what
Angel might do to her. He was also nervous about Buffy’s presence. Why did Angel bring her here?
“Answer me Cordy.” Angel continued.

“I-I never meant to hurt you Angel, it’s just … what you were doing … I, I couldn’t … I’m sorry. Oh God! I’m sorry.” Tears were streaming down
her cheeks as she tried to apologize. She tried reaching out to him as she spoke, hoping that he’d have mercy but he moved out of her reach.
Standing with her arms outstretched she saw the cold fury swirling turbulently in his eyes. There was no mercy there for her and she knew.
She knew Angel was going to kill her.

Buffy saw it too, recognizing it from the morning he beat her when she confronted him about Ethan. Fear took hold of her and she moved
further into the corner Angel had placed her in.

“So you never meant to hurt me but it was something you just had to do?” He asked calmly. Too calmly.

“Y-Yes, I had to do the right thing.”

“I see. I understand why you did it. You did what you had to.” He then looked at her pointedly before adding, “Well, I hope you now
understand that I am simply doing what I have to.”

Just then Luke violently struck her across the face. She screamed from the force of the impact only to scream again when Adam did the same
thing. From there they unleashed a steady succession of punches aimed at her gut, face and chest. Although she was doubled over, she still
tried to defend herself but the two large men flanked both sides of her, the blows alternating between them. Adam then backhanded her and
she fell to the floor, desperately crawling away. They quickly maneuvered her into a corner and continued their vicious assault. Seeing the
futility of her struggles, she balled up and tried to shield herself as they savagely kicked her in the ribs. The attack continued even when she
started coughing up blood.

Buffy screamed when Luke first struck Cordelia and as the succession of blows continued she wanted to intervene, to help the woman who
tried to help her. But knowing that she was no match for them she tried running out of the room, to try and get help but Angel grabbed her
before she could leave. He held her struggling body in his arms as she screamed for help and carried her over to the couch that Lindsey sat on,
holding her securely in his lap and cuffing her wrist to his. Completely helpless, Buffy closed her eyes and hid her face in the crook of Angel’s
neck, banging her fists against his chest, her tears flowing unheeded.

Lindsey looked on in horror.

By now Cordelia was silent. She hardly even reacted when Luke or Adam struck her. It was now time for the next stage of punishment.

When Buffy heard Luke and Adam unzip their pants, her head snapped up and she stared in disbelief at what they were about to do.
Desperately she turned to face Angel and grasped his jacket, drawing his attention.

“PLEASE! Oh God! Don’t let them do that to her. Angel you’ve made your point, she’s sorry, she won’t do that again. You don’t have to. Can’t
you see she’s had enough? Angel, no more please!” She pleaded.

“Oh this isn’t just about her Buff, this is about you too. I’m sure you’ll remember this for the rest of your life but the most important thing you
must remember is that if you ever, and I do mean EVER, attack me or my men again, you will pray to God that this is all I let them do to you.”
By his tone and the look in his eyes she knew he was deathly serious. When she looked away he added, “And if you don’t watch I’ll be sure to
let them have a little fun with Dawn too.” He then grasped her chin and forced her to look at the brutal rape occurring only a few feet before
her.

Luke was now buried deep within Cordelia while Adam held her down and spread for him. Seconds later he was thrusting wildly into her, his
animalistic grunts filling the room. Sometime later they switched places.

During the assault, Buffy stared in disbelief. She somehow managed to mentally escape what was happening and although she was looking
straight at it, she wasn’t really there. She was somewhere deep within herself. In fact, she had the same far off look that Cordelia had.
However, her escape was disrupted when she felt a hand grip her knee. Looking down she saw that Angel’s hand was randomly squeezing and
caressing her knee. Granted she was vaguely aware that his hand was there all along but now it was caressing her and slowly moving up her
thigh. His other hand was on her shoulder, also tenderly touching her. What the hell was he doing? Reluctantly she met his eyes and was
startled and disgusted by the desire she saw burning there. She was further horrified when she felt his erection rubbing against her hip. This
brutal rape was turning him on. She immediately placed her hand over the one on her thigh and entwined their fingers, halting his advance.
Undeterred, he continued stroking her shoulder with his other, gradually making his way to her breast. With her other hand, she took his and
again entwined their fingers. He got the hint and decided to behave. Mostly. He couldn’t resist nibbling on her ear and kissing her neck.

Lindsey stared incredulously as Angel pawed his new plaything while just a few feet away Cordelia was still being viciously raped. His shock was
slowly morphing into anger. Anger that Angel would go this far. Cordelia wasn’t like their ruthless business associates; she didn’t deserve this
no matter what she had done. Surpassing his limit, Lindsey abruptly left the room and joined the others on the plane.

Seeing Lindsey’s obvious disgust, Angel decided they’d seen enough. Getting Luke’s attention, he called him over.

“Move on to the last stage. You have twenty minutes. We’ll be on the plane.” He then picked Buffy up and took her to the door. Before he left,
he turned back to Luke and said. ”Be sure to leave her alive.”

Luke then picked up the two crowbars he’d taken from the car.
Once they left the lounge, Buffy was deeply worried about what was going to happen to Angel’s girlfriend. She was also worried that Angel was
going to take her to the office where Dawn was and continue what he started in the lounge. But her worry was further deepened when he
began leading her away from the office. She stopped in her tracks.

“Where are you taking me?” She asked alarmed. “Dawn is in there.” She gestured towards the office, which was in the opposite direction.

“I know where Dawn is.” He then yanked her by her cuffed wrist, pulling her towards the exit.

“NO! I want to go where Dawn is.” She yelled, her protests getting louder and louder.

However despite her resistance, he still managed to drag her out the door.

That’s when she screamed.

Parked outside was a Learjet that looked just about ready to take off. That’s where they were taking the luggage. Knowing what he intended,
she used all of her strength to fight back, kicking and screaming, doing everything possible not to go on that plane. And despite his physical
advantages and the fact that she was cuffed to him, she still managed to give him quite a hard time.

As they struggled, Lindsey disembarked the plane and approached them angrily.

“ANGEL! You can’t be serious! You’re bringing her with us?” He couldn’t believe Angelus was being this reckless. Did he really expect to take
her out of the country without getting caught?

Getting fed up with both Buffy’s resistance and Lindsey’s protests Angel yelled, “Look here Linds, she is getting on that plane and I am taking
her with us. Now, if you don’t want to come then you can stay behind and let the feds come and get you. And you know it won’t be long
before they realize where we are and come down here. How long do you think you can outrun them without my help? Or are you planning to
turn yourself in? If I were you, I’d get back on that fucking plane, buckle my seat belt, relax and enjoy the damn flight.” He then threw Buffy
over his shoulder and carried her onto the plane. With Lindsey in tow.

Over the next ten minutes, Angel had to physically restrain Buffy from attempting to escape. He was beyond relieved when Luke and Adam
finally joined them on the aircraft and he was able to give Lorne the go ahead.

Twenty minutes later, they were airborne.
***
Spike, Gunn and the other federal agents sped down the highway towards Sunnydale. Once they realized that Angelus was gone, they quickly
searched the house for any indication of where he might have taken the girls. To aid in the search, Gunn called headquarters and had them
send out alerts to every law enforcement agency informing them of the situation and the description of the vehicles and their license plate
numbers. It was now an all out manhunt. Shortly after discovering their disappearance, Spike remembered that Rayne owned a plane and he
had Gunn call Giles to check the files for where Angelus kept his plane. When Giles got back to them, Spike was not surprised that Angelus’
plane was kept at a private hangar in the town of Sunnydale, which was only about an hour away. Within minutes they got back in their
vehicles and were on their way. As they drove, Gunn contacted the local police and requested that they search the building and prevent any
and all aircraft from departing.

As they neared the hangar, they saw an ambulance and several police cars parked outside. They hoped neither of the girls was hurt. When
they finally parked, they saw the Range Rover and Navigator parked in the lot with several police officers searching through them. Gunn was
immediately annoyed by the mishandling of the possible crime scene and quickly stormed out of the car demanding to know what they were
doing and who was in charge.

Lieutenant Snyder pompously walked over to the irate federal agent. His entire demeanor oozing arrogance.

“I’m in charge here. You must be Agent Gunn.” His voice was full of loathing.

“Yeah, I’m Gunn. And that’s Special Agent Gunn, Lieutenant. Now what is the status of this operation? Are the girls secured? Are Mr. Rayne
and his men in custody?” Gunn had no time to finesse this tiny impotent Nazi.

“We only found two girls. One was tied up in the office and the other is barely alive. She was severely beaten and raped. The paramedics are
still in with her but it doesn’t look good.” Gunn and Spike gasped aloud when they heard that. They hoped Buffy would pull through.

“So you don’t know where the men are?” Gunn asked impatiently.

“There was no one else here. Just the girls.” Snyder responded.

“Uh, thank you. Where are the girls?” Spike was also annoyed that Rayne appeared to have escaped but at least Buffy and Dawn were safe
now, assuming Buffy survived.

Snyder then led them to the girls. First he took them to Dawn. She was in a police car wrapped in a blanket, staring blankly ahead.

Spike readily recognized her from her photographs, “Dawn, are you ok?” When he got no response, he sat next to her and took her hand,
gently rubbing it. “Dawn, my name is Spike. I work for your parents, your mum and dad. We’re going to take you to see them soon.” He hoped
to reach her before she had a complete nervous breakdown.
At the mention of her parents she seemed to come out of her daze. She looked at him as if he had just appeared out of thin air then she said,
“Buffy was screaming. He took her then I heard her screaming. Is she ok?” Her voice was devoid of emotion, her eyes lifeless.

“I don’t know Little Bit but I’ll go and check for you, is that ok?” When she nodded, Spike released her hand, promising to come right back with
news on Buffy. He then went in search of Gunn who had gone ahead with Snyder.

When he entered the building he saw the medical team working feverishly over Buffy. He couldn’t see much more than her legs. As he
approached, he saw Gunn and Snyder off to the side. Going to them he asked if they knew anything about Buffy’s chances, would she survive?
They had nothing. When he said that he needed to tell Dawn something, Snyder was surprised that she had spoken to him. Apparently when
they first found her, she was so traumatized that she refused to even talk. She just stared off in the distance. Upon hearing this, Spike then told
them what Dawn had said, that she heard Buffy screaming and now she wanted to know if Buffy was ok. Realizing why she was so
unresponsive, Snyder then remarked that it was a good thing that he kept her from seeing Buffy. It might have been even more traumatic had
she seen Buffy so badly beaten.

Just then, the paramedics moved away and raised the gurney. Spike and Gunn froze. Even with the oxygen mask the woman was wearing, they
could clearly see that it was not Buffy. Not to mention that Buffy was a blonde. The woman on the gurney was a brunette.
******
Part 11
******
Spike and Gunn remained frozen momentarily, both shocked by the realization that Rayne had taken Buffy with him. Then suddenly bursting
into action, they ran alongside the paramedics as they wheeled the gurney to the ambulance.

“Who is this woman?” Spike asked completely puzzled.

“I think that’s Rayne’s girlfriend, Cordelia.” Gunn responded as he ran along, “I saw a photo of her in the file Willow pulled together. My men
were supposed to be guarding her but we never found her.”

“Obviously Rayne found her first.”

“Yeah, but how did he know?” Gunn asked automatically before he even considered the possible answer.

Both stopped in their tracks, both coming to the same conclusion.

Inside job.

“Oh God!” Gunn suddenly felt quite deflated. The knowledge that he trusted someone who was actually working for Rayne barreled over him
like a freight train.

Spike saw the disillusionment in Gunn’s eyes and gave him a moment to collect his thoughts. Patiently he waited for him to speak.

Shortly after the ambulance drove away Gunn found his voice.

“What do you suggest?” He was at a total loss as to what to do next.

“Well, I can vouch for Giles and Willow. I’ve known Rupert since I was a child and Willow is like a sister. I am certain they aren’t involved. So
the question is, which of your men are you certain of? Which are you sure you can trust?” Spike was also rather distressed that everything they
were working on was compromised from the very beginning. No wonder Rayne wasn’t at the ranch, he knew they were coming.

Thinking briefly Gunn answered, “I can only think of Harris. I’ve known him the longest, we were friends long before he joined the Bureau and
we’ve worked together a lot over the years. The others, I only know professionally and I’ve only worked with each of them a few times.”

“Fine, we’ll start there. I suggest that you go to the hospital and find out everything you can about Cordelia’s prognosis. Also, check in with
Finn to see what he’s come up with but be careful not to give anything away. I’ll take Dawn to Giles and inform him of what’s happened. Then
when you’re done at the hospital, call Harris. Again be careful what you say but have him bring Hank and Joyce to Giles’ office. They can
reunite with Dawn there. I don’t think we should go to the safe house. It may be a trap. Then I guess we’ll figure out what to do about getting
Buffy back after that.” Gunn nodded in agreement.

As the two walked toward their vehicles, Gunn then suggested. “Hey wait, we can still use these agents.” He gestured to the eight agents who
had accompanied them to the ranch.

“What do you mean?” Spike asked.

“Well, I think we agree that whoever is working for Rayne was part of the operation from the beginning, one of the agents posted at the
Summers home.”

“Yeah.” Spike replied curiously.

“Well, these agents only just came to us for the rescue. They weren’t around long enough to give Rayne a heads up and they certainly weren’t
there to know about Cordelia. I think we can still use them.”
“I see your point but I would feel more secure with fewer people working on this.” Spike responded skeptically.

“I agree. But I was thinking to use them for more practical tasks. I’ll have three of them secure the area and impound these cars. I’ll send a
forensics team here was well. The others will go back to the ranch with a second forensics unit to search for anything that’ll lead us to Rayne.”

“Sounds like a plan.”

Spike and Gunn then set about their tasks.
***
Lindsey sat in his seat staring through the window. He was mesmerized by the moonlight shinning on the passing clouds. And in the distance
he could glimpse the sun just coming over the horizon. It was breathtaking.

They had been flying for a few hours now and everyone in the cabin except for Lindsey and Angel had fallen asleep. Lindsey was rather
relieved that Buffy was finally asleep. When Angel carried her onto the plane, she screamed and screamed. She kept on screaming and fighting
until Adam and Luke finally boarded the plane. That’s when her screams got even more shrill and desperate. She was screaming for Dawn, her
parents, anyone and everyone. Through it all, Angel held her close in his arms and patiently tried to soothe her. Lindsey had never seen
anything so heartbreaking, the pure agony on her face forced him to turn away. But her heart wrenching cries tore at him, driving him to near
insanity. He was also certain his hearing would be permanently impaired as a result. However, once they reached cruising altitude, she started
to tire and quiet down.

That’s when the copious tears started.

Rivers streamed down her face as she begged Angel to let her go. But her pleading soon dwindled to all out bawling. Angel held her to him,
murmuring soothingly in her ear as she wept uncontrollably. But his efforts were in vain. She was inconsolable.

Eventually however, she cried herself out and sat quietly in Angel’s lap, staring blankly ahead while he tenderly stroked her arms and caressed
her hair, periodically kissing her forehead. He held her like that until she fell asleep.

As he watched them, Lindsey had to admit he was shocked to see that Angelus could be so gentle and patient.

When she fell asleep, Angel asked him to recline the empty seat next to him then after removing the handcuff, he carefully placed her in it and
wrapped the blanket around her. She’d been sleeping ever since.

With the cabin silent, Lindsey decided to ask Angel about his decision to bring Buffy along.

“Angel, obviously you’re attached to her but are you sure you want to take this risk?” He ensured to keep his voice low so as not to wake Buffy.

“Lindsey, I know you’re concerned and you have every right to be. But believe that I am fully aware of the tremendous risk I’m taking and I am
taking precautions. Keeping her wasn’t originally part of my plan but now that I’ve had her, I simply can’t walk away.”

After briefly considering Angel’s words, Lindsey asked, “Are you in love with her?”

“I don’t know. I feel a connection to her. There’s definite attraction.”

“Do you think she might feel the same … I mean, eventually?”

“Well, I’m not expecting a miracle but I’d like to get to know her better. I can’t do that with the feds breathing down my neck.”

Lindsey nodded and then cautiously proceeded onto more sensitive territory, “So what about Cordelia?”

”What about her?”

“Is she … did you leave her alive?”

“She’ll survive.”

“Hmm, ‘she’ll survive’ Angel, was that really necessary?” Lindsey marveled at Angel’s sudden coldness. How could someone have the capacity
to be so cruel to one person and yet so gentle with another?

“Look Lindsey, what happened between me and Cordelia is exactly that. I don’t get involved in your personal business and I expect you to
respect mine. Cordelia knew who and what I was when she got involved with me. She was well aware of what happened to people who
crossed me. If she chose to think that being my girlfriend exempted her from my wrath then she was sadly mistaken. What she did was
unforgivable.”

“So then am I to assume that you’d do the same to Buffy if she ever crossed you?”

“Yes. But the difference between Cordelia and Buffy is that I know I can’t trust Buffy. I would never put myself in the position where she could
betray me. Cordelia had too many freedoms, Buffy won’t have that luxury.”

“So basically she’ll be your prisoner.”
“You make it sound like I’m going to chain her to the bed.” At Lindsey’s look he conceded, “Ok, sure she was restricted to her room at the
ranch and of course she won’t be able to come and go as she pleases but now she’ll be free to roam the villa, at least for the most part. I’ve
called ahead and they’re making the necessary arrangements for her. Like I said, I’m not looking for her to love me and I know it’s going to take
time but if Buffy proves to be at least … receptive to me then we’ll see.” Angel gently caressed her arm as he spoke.

Lindsey didn’t know what to say. He was still very upset about Cordelia but Angelus did have a point, Cordy knew what she was getting into.
Angel never hid his life from her. Of course, that didn’t make him feel any better about what Angelus did. Or that he stood by and let it
happen. And now that Buffy was Angel’s new interest, Lindsey worried what would happen if Buffy proved not to be as receptive as Angelus
would like.
***
Spike quickly drove down the highway to Giles’ office. Dawn was in the seat next to him. He had tried telling her that the woman in the
ambulance was not Buffy but she refused to believe him. She kept saying that Angel killed Buffy, that it was her dead body in the ambulance
and that he was lying to her. And no matter how he tried to convince her otherwise and point out the flaws in her reasoning, she adamantly
insisted that he was lying. She was silent ever since. He was tempted to take her to the hospital so she could see for a fact that it was not Buffy
but he doubted that they’d let her see Cordelia, not to mention that Cordelia would probably be in surgery for hours. And even if he managed
to get Dawn in, she’d probably say that they switched the bodies or something. The poor girl was completely irrational at this point. So instead
Spike decided to get her to Giles as soon as possible and hopefully when Hank and Joyce arrived they would be able to help convince her. The
silence was unnerving

When they arrived the sun was just about up. Spike carefully pulled into the garage. He was hopeful that the press hadn’t caught wind of what
occurred only hours before. Seeing only Giles and Willow’s cars, he helped Dawn out and escorted her into the building and into Giles’ office.
Willow and Giles were both anxiously awaiting his arrival.

“Spike, what happened?” Giles asked without preamble. He had been on pins and needles ever since Spike called asking for the location of
Rayne’s plane. As he spoke, he noticed the familiar-looking young lady shyly following and added somewhat puzzled, “Um, you have Dawn
with you. Did you find Rayne? … Where’s Buffy?”

“Well, apparently Rayne decided to take a trip a few hours before we got to the ranch. When we figured out where he was it was too late, he
had already taken off. He took Buffy with him.” Both Giles and Willow gasped at that. Dawn stiffened in his grip. Spike continued, “We’re doing
everything we can to locate them. Gunn will be here in a while and Harris should be bringing Hank and Joyce soon. Uh, Red, in the mean time
would you take Dawn to the kitchen, maybe make her some hot chocolate, perhaps something to eat. I need to talk with Giles for a bit.”

“Sure, we have lots in the kitchen. Are you hungry Dawn?” Willow then took Dawn’s hand and led her into the office kitchen.

Giles and Spike went into Giles’ private office.

When the door was closed and both were seated Giles asked, “What really happened?” He knew Spike was intentionally leaving something
out.

“Rayne knew we were coming. By the time we got to the ranch, he was long gone. The place was empty. We figured that he was trying to
escape on his plane. That’s when we called you. Anyway, he was long gone by the time the local police got there and like I said, he took Buffy
with him. As you saw, he left Dawn behind. She was tied up in the office. But perhaps more importantly, he also left a badly raped and beaten
Cordelia behind as well.”

“Cordelia, isn’t that …”

“His girlfriend. The one who so carefully made all those notes and went to Faith, who then came to us with Finn and gave up Angelus. That’s
the one.”

“Dear Lord!”

“Exactly, Rayne knew we were coming and he knew about Cordelia.”

“Dear Lord!”

“Right again, he’s had someone working for him on the inside all along. He’s known exactly what we were doing since day one. And that’s how
he was able to plant those tapes.”

“Oh dear! What is Gunn planning to do?”

“Well, right now we’re keeping quiet about this. At the moment he is at Sunnydale Memorial checking on Cordelia. When he gets here we’ll
plan our next step. But one thing is certain; we are cutting down the number of people working on this. He is confident that Harris is
trustworthy so as of now it is you, Red, Gunn, Harris and I. We can’t afford to compromise this investigation any further.”

“That sounds reasonable.” Then Giles asked, “Has Dawn been able to provide any useful information?”

“Right now Dawn seems to be in shock or something. She is convinced that Buffy is the one in the hospital. Actually she thinks Angelus killed
Buffy. I’ve tried to tell her otherwise but she refuses to believe me so as of now, no, she hasn’t said anything useful. But perhaps after her
parents get here and things are a bit more settled she may come around and be of some help.” Spike really hoped that Dawn would come out
of her daze.
“Well, let’s hope. When are you taking Dawn to her parents?”

“Actually we’re meeting them here. For security reasons, we’re waiting until Gunn gets back.”

Spike and Giles then went to the kitchen and joined Willow and Dawn in a light meal.

As they ate Dawn seemed to come alive. She appeared to be less threatened by Willow’s presence and she slowly began speaking more and
opening up.

At they casually talked, she surprised Spike by her question, “That wasn’t Buffy was it?”

“Do you mean in the ambulance?” He asked stunned that she was speaking to him.

When she nodded he responded, “No Dawn, that wasn’t Buffy. I’m certain Buffy is alive. Angelus took her with him.” He hoped she would
believe him now.

She sat quietly considering his words then asked, “Was that his girlfriend?”

Spike nearly choked. “You know about his girlfriend?”

“I didn’t see her but now I remember that he made a few calls before we left his house. He told someone named Adam to bring his girlfriend
to the hangar in Sunnydale. I didn’t remember until just now.” She then took a small bite of her sandwich.

Cautiously Spike replied, “Yes Dawn, it was his girlfriend. She was badly hurt.”

“Did he hurt her?” Dawn asked, her voice full of worry.

“We think so.” At her stricken expression he added, “But I don’t think he’ll hurt Buffy like that.” He so badly wanted to allay her concerns.

“He beat Buffy. She showed me what he did and I saw him hit her.” Clearly his attempt was futile.

Deciding not to patronize her by perpetuating the lie Spike conceded, “I’m sorry for what he did to both of you. Neither of you should have had
to endure it. And yes, he is a very dangerous man and to be honest, he may hurt Buffy again. But the fact that he took her suggests that he has
an interest in keeping her a while longer and that means we still have some time to find her. And Dawn, we will not stop until Buffy is safe at
home. I promise you that.” Spike hoped he’d be able to make good on his promise.

She seemed to be satisfied with his response.

“Do you remember anything else?” Giles asked cautiously, not wanting to push her too much.

“A little but everything’s kind of fuzzy right now.” She replied.

“Well, when you’re done eating would you like to take a nap? It might help clear your head.” Willow suggested.

“Will you stay with me?” Dawn’s eyes reflected her anxiety.

“Sure Dawnie, I’ll stay with you.” That brought a small smile to Dawn’s face.

The four then continued their meal while casually discussing what would happen next.
***
Sometime later the phone rang. It was Gunn saying that he was on his way.

As soon as Gunn arrived he quickly briefed Giles and Spike on the situation. Harris was on his way with Hank and Joyce.

“It looks like Cordelia is going to make it but it’s pretty ugly. She has a long road ahead of her. Not only was she savagely raped and sodomized
but her jaw is broken, she has a fractured arm and leg and a few cracked ribs. There was also some internal bleeding that the doctors managed
to control. That’s just the major injuries. Her body is covered with these welts that we suspect came from a crowbar. Anyway, she is still
unconscious but her doctors will contact me when she wakes up.”

“Have you been able to locate her family?” Giles asked.

“Uh, yeah. I was going to call you guys because I left her file here when we went to Rayne’s ranch but Finn called me first. Some cop in the city
spotted her car near a nightclub. Anyway, he inspected it and that’s when he found her handbag and keys nearby and he immediately called
Finn. As it turns out Cordelia is from Sunnydale so I called mother. Her parents got there before I left.”

“How did they take it?” Spike asked.

“Not well. I mean in addition to the expected, I gathered that they didn’t approve of her relationship with Rayne.”

“You told them it was him?” Giles asked surprised.
“No, I didn’t have to. When I called I only said that she was in the hospital. When they got there and I told them what happened, they just
knew it was Rayne. Anyway, the hangar is secured and the forensics unit is almost finished there. By the way, the two SUVs we saw in the lot
were impounded but there was a third car as well. Once all the squad cars cleared away they also found a Mercedes. It is registered to Lindsey
McDonald so we know that both he and Angelus are behind this.”

“Well that helps, we know to monitor both their movements.” Giles added.

“What about the ranch? How’s the search going there?” Spike asked.

“They’re making progress but that mansion is huge. After we meet with Hank and Joyce I plan to go back out there. Speaking of Hank and
Joyce, where’s Dawn?”

“Oh, she’s taking a nap. She had something to eat a while ago and decided to rest a bit. And it appears she does remember some things that
might be of assistance but her head is still a little muddled. We have a little room with a cot next to the kitchen. Willow is with her. We figured
she should rest before her parents get here. Maybe that’ll help clear her head and you can try questioning her when she wakes up.”

“That’s a good idea. We probably need to handle her with kid gloves right now so I’ll see if she’s ready to talk later. If not, I’ll try again
tomorrow after she’s been home for a while.”

“That should be fine.”

The three then prepared for their meeting with the senator and his wife.
***
Hank and Joyce sat in the back seat as Agent Harris drove them to meet Giles. They were surprised that Giles wanted to see both of them at his
office. Ordinarily he came out to the house. As they neared the office, both grew increasingly anxious. They hoped he had good news.

After pulling into the garage, they quickly entered the building and made their way into Giles & Co. Private Eye. Spike greeted them and then
ushered them directly into the conference room.

Giles immediately got down to business.

“Senator Summers, Mrs. Summers, we have made quite a lot of progress in this case and we have some good news and bad news. Before we
get to that however, I must tell you what we know. Angelus Rayne kidnapped your daughters. He is Ethan Rayne’s son. They were being held at
his ranch. Yesterday his girlfriend came forward and confirmed what we suspected. And last night we went in to rescue them.”

Sitting across from him, Hank and Joyce were so apprehensive that they could barely sit still.

Seeing their anxiety, Giles silently indicated for Spike to bring Dawn into the room, then he continued, “As it turns out, Rayne left the ranch
before we arrived and he escaped. This is where the good news comes in.” Then pausing dramatically he added, “He left Dawn behind and she
is safe.”

Hank and Joyce nearly jumped out of their seats, “Where is she?”

“She’ll be here in a moment.” Giles answered, smiling slightly.

Then Hank cautiously asked, “And the bad news?”

Suddenly grave again, Giles replied. “The bad news is that he took Buffy with him.”

They froze and time stood still.

Joyce was the first to find her voice, “H-He took Buffy with him?” Her eyes filled tears. She looked from Giles to Gunn and back to Giles seeking
confirmation. Hank remained silent, stunned.

Gunn answered, “I’m deeply sorry. We got there as fast as we could but Rayne was already gone and as Giles said, he took Buffy with him. But
I swear to you, we will not stop until Buffy is safe at home. We will get her back.”

Just then the door opened and Spike walked in with Dawn trailing behind.

Joyce gasped, her hand flying to her mouth when she saw Dawn standing there. She was so overcome with joy that Dawn was safe but also
greatly despaired that Buffy was not. She looked from Dawn, to Giles and Gunn then to Hank and back to Dawn, unintelligible sounds spewing
from her mouth.

Then as if she suddenly remembered how to walk, Joyce jumped out of her seat and ran over to Dawn, throwing her arms around her
daughter, tears streaming down her cheeks.

Only a step behind, Hank pulled both Joyce and Dawn into a warm embrace.

Giles and the others quietly left, giving them some privacy to reunite.
***
Buffy stared out the window sipping a glass of orange juice. She had woken up some time ago and was greeted with an omelette and fresh
fruit. How was it that Angel knew exactly what she liked? That bastard! In any event, now that she was done eating she watched the clouds
drift by while the sun gleamed down on the ocean thousands of feet below them. Her thoughts kept drifting between wondering where the
hell Angel was taking her to whether Dawn was all right. She was somewhat relieved that Dawn was no longer at Angel’s mercy but she was
worried that something worse might have happened to her. However, despite her concerns she was surprisingly calm. She knew that with
Dawn out of the picture, the rules had changed. She just needed to figure out what they were and make them work in her favor.

Angel was sitting next to her with his arm draped around her shoulders.

Putting down her juice, Buffy finally could no longer ignore a pressing problem. “Angel, I need to use the bathroom.” She felt so silly asking to
use the bathroom as if she were a small child.

“Sure Buff. I’ll take you.” He then escorted her to the lavatory. Of course his decision to accompany her only made her feel worse.

The bathroom was unusually large and when she tried closing the door behind her, he casually walked in. At her shocked and questioning gaze
he remarked, “Come on Buff, don’t tell me you’re shy.”

“Can I have some privacy please?”

Smiling mischievously, he answered, “You have five minutes. And don’t lock it. I’ll be back.” He then stepped back out the door.

Quickly she relieved herself and washed her hands and face, trying to freshen up. When he returned he stood in the doorway discreetly
watching her. When she was done she asked, “Where are you taking me?”

“Some place warm, tropical and simply wonderful. A sunny California girl like yourself will love it.”

Frowning at his vague answer she asked, “Well how much longer before we get there?”

“Anxious are you Lover? Kiss me and I’ll tell you.” An evil smile gracing his lips.

She glared at him and really had to suppress the urge to slap that obnoxious grin off his face.

Instead she chose to return to her seat. Of course, his large body blocking the doorway thwarted her attempt and there they stood at an
impasse.

Not the least intimidated by her diminutive stature, he held her waist and gently pushed her back into the bathroom, locking the door behind
them.

Pressing her against the wall, he hungrily covered her mouth with his. The kiss started soft and gentle then quickly escalated into an all out
onslaught. His hands roamed her body, frantically groping her as he greedily devoured her mouth.

Feeling his erection, Buffy feared he would fuck her right in the lavatory.

“Not here.” She whispered between kisses.

“I want you.” He murmured, punctuating his words with a pronounced gyration.

“They can hear us.” Buffy really wanted to get out of it. She couldn’t imagine him touching her after everything that happened the night
before.

“I don’t care.” He then began kissing her neck, his hands slipping under the chemise.

“NO!” She yelled, violently pushing him away.

He pulled back, his eyes full of fury.

Seeing his crazed look Buffy put her arms up defensively, bracing for the blow.

When none came, she slowly opened her eyes, their gazes locking.

Taking a deep breath, he calmly spoke. “I’m not going to hit you.”

She looked at him suspiciously, mistrust all over her face. Then slowly she lowered her arms to her sides and stood before him, waiting for his
next move.

Cautiously he reached out and caressed her cheek before lightly kissing her lips.

“We’ll resume this in the privacy of our bedroom.” He then quietly left the lavatory and returned to his seat.
Buffy remained in the bathroom for several long moments trying to compose herself. She was so shaken up. He was visibly angry by her refusal
and she was certain he was going to hit her. She was at a loss for why he didn’t but she was grateful for whatever caused him to check his
temper. Taking a deep breath, she soon also left the bathroom.

Lindsey sat in his seat quietly observing them. He noticed when Angel went into the bathroom with her and locked the door. He couldn’t help
but hear what was going on, particularly when Buffy yelled for Angel to stop. And if he had any doubts, Angel looked supremely pissed when
he returned to his seat. When Buffy finally came back she looked terribly flushed and upset. And when she took her seat next to Angel, the
tension between them was palpable. Lindsey was glad the flight would soon be over.
***
About an hour later, the plane finally landed. Before they disembarked, Angel pointedly showed Buffy the gun in the holster around Adam’s
waist then said, “Don’t do anything stupid.” He then gave her his jacket to wear over the chemise and firmly took hold of her wrist, again
cuffing her to him.

As they walked off the aircraft, Buffy gasped while reading the sign on the airport.

“Welcome to Montego Bay, Jamaica.”

As they walked through the building Buffy hoped to signal to someone that she needed help, that she was kidnapped but she knew she had to
be careful. She had no idea if that gun was loaded or not. The problem was however, that she never saw anyone. They were at the section of
the airport reserved for VIP guests and private planes so the throngs of tourists she was expecting were nowhere in sight. And as they moved
along Buffy noticed that Lindsey was carrying a briefcase and walked ahead of the group with Lorne while Angel, Luke, Adam, Graham and
Forrest surrounded her and caged her in. She could barely see past the walls of large bodies surrounding her.

When the Immigration and Customs representatives appeared, Angel moved behind her, wrapping their cuffed arms tightly around her waist.
His free arm draped across her chest. To the casual observer it looked like they were just being intimate but Buffy got the message. She knew
he was ready for her to scream.

Holding her tightly he murmured, “Just be a good girl and you’ll be fine.”

She started tearing up but she was still going to take the chance until she saw Luke pointedly pounding his fist into the palm of his hand. She
vividly remembered what that fist did to Angel’s girlfriend. She started shaking. Seeing that she was about to fall apart, Angel turned her to
him and planted a long wet kiss on her mouth. He kept on kissing her while Lindsey handed over their travel documents and while Adam
showed his license to travel with a firearm. A short while later, Angel broke the kiss and the group moved on to collect their luggage from the
Customs agent.

A while later they were outside and heading towards the parking lot. Buffy was dumbstruck. How was she allowed to enter the country
without any documentation? She doubted that Angel would have had the time to get false papers prepared for her. And she never heard the
agents ask about her even once. What was going on?

Minutes later they came to two Explorers parked side by side. As they approached, an old man emerged from the passenger’s seat of one.

“Angelus my boy! How was your flight?” The man gave Angel a huge hug and a handshake.

“Long. I can’t wait to get to the house.” He then squeezed Buffy’s hand and she was suddenly reminded of what he planned to continue once
they were in the privacy of their bedroom. Her heart sank.

Just then the old man looked directly at her and smiled, “I see why you’re so taken with her. What wouldn’t I give to see Summers face right
now. By the way, I take it there were no problems in the airport?”

“No problems at all. Thank you for arranging that for me, as you know I was pressed for time.”

“I imagine you were. But you know I’m always here to help Ethan’s boy out.”

“Yes Quentin, you are one of the few of Ethan’s associates that I trust enough for something like this.”

“Well, I’m glad I can still be of some use to you. You picked up the business so quickly and after you came into your own I didn’t think there
was much more I could do for you. Ethan was my dearest friend and I wish I were able to do more for you and your mother. But now I am glad
to help when I can. And Angel, I am so sorry for the loss of your father. I wanted to attend the funeral but as you can imagine, returning to the
US wouldn’t be a wise move.” A hint of sadness in his voice.

“I know Quentin. Some things simply cannot be helped.” Angel too couldn’t hide the grief in his voice. Buffy couldn’t help but notice how
choked up Angel was getting.

“Well, that’s all past now. Ethan wouldn’t want us to despair.”

“You’re right. He’d want us to be happy.”

“Yes he would. So let’s be on our way. We have lots to do.”

Everyone then piled into the vehicles and within minutes they set out on the winding two and a half hour drive to the villa.
***
After giving Hank and Joyce some time with Dawn, the others returned to the conference room. When everyone was settled, Gunn turned his
attention to Dawn. ”Are you up to answering some questions?” He hoped she knew something useful. When she nodded he then asked, “Do
you mind if your parents leave the room?” Her alarmed expression was reply enough. She clearly wanted them to stay. And by the looks of it,
Hank and Joyce weren’t too eager to leave their daughter either. Unfortunately, Gunn was hoping she wouldn’t mind them leaving. He didn’t
want them interfering with the questioning but he certainly could understand her anxiety.

Aware of Gunn’s concerns, Giles pulled Hank and Joyce aside, “Uh, please forgive my bluntness but if we’re going to do this then we must do it
properly. Since Dawn would like for you to stay then we must insist on certain guidelines. The questioning process is very delicate and we may
need to question her several times over the following weeks. But I cannot stress enough that we need Dawn’s exact memories. It may help us
figure out Rayne’s state of mind and what he may do to Buffy or perhaps where he might have gone. So you cannot participate in any way.
Neither can you comment. And I must remind you of the nature of this situation. You may hear things that are very upsetting but you cannot
allow yourself to react and upset Dawn. It will be difficult enough for her so please refrain from any outward reactions. We don’t want her to
suppress anything. What she knows may prove crucial not only to capturing Rayne but more importantly, to rescuing Buffy. So please, if she
starts crying, let her cry. I cannot be more serious about this. As much as you want to be there for her, if you don’t think you can handle it then
I ask that you please wait in the main office, we can’t afford to disrupt the procedure for you to leave the room.” Giles kept his voice stern but
compassionate.

Hank and Joyce looked at each other briefly and then nodded. “We can do this.”

“Fine, then let’s begin.” Giles pulled out his notebook while Willow prepared the recording equipment.

When all was prepared, Gunn asked Dawn, “Are you ready?” When she nodded he added, “Now I will be asking you the questions mostly but
Mr. Giles will occasionally ask some as well. If you don’t understand something, let us know so we can clarify for you. And when you need a
break, just say so. We’re not in a rush so feel free to take your time answering the questions and if you remember something later on just say
it.” Without further delay he began the long questioning process, tracing the events from the moment she left her boarding school with Mr.
Flutie.

During the first part of the interview, it seemed that with the exception of her violent abduction, Dawn’s stay with Angelus was rather
uneventful. They were surprised that she didn’t know Buffy was even there until Sunday morning when she was taken to see her. Giles was
particularly intrigued that Rayne didn’t have any contact with Dawn himself but had a monitor in Buffy’s room for her to watch Dawn. As
Dawn’s account continued, Giles grew increasingly fascinated, particularly with the little visits Rayne permitted between the sisters. His
fascination only soared when she recounted the day she actually met Rayne and what he did to her and Buffy. Willow turned bright red as
Dawn described how Rayne forced Buffy to have sex with him right in front of her. Their heads were all cast downwards when she said that he
threatened to rape her if Buffy didn’t do what he wanted. The silence of the room was deafening. But no one reacted. Not even Hank and
Joyce. The only sign that they even heard the horror she described was their tightly clasped hands. But Giles could see Joyce was fighting back
her tears, her face was also bright red and he was certain she would break Hank’s fingers. Fortunately that particular story soon ended and
then Dawn was talking about how Buffy tried to escape but Angel caught her and knocked her out. When she got to the part where they left
the house, Giles suggested taking a break. Quietly they all dispersed, each trying to control the overwhelming emotions coursing through
them. It surprised no one when Joyce quickly left the office for some fresh air. Ragged sobs wracked her body before she could even get
outside.

Sometime later they sent Harris out to retrieve her. When they returned she was much calmer and ready for round two. Once they resumed
the questioning, Dawn went into what Angelus did before leaving the house and how he took care of Buffy’s cut hand. Then she described the
events that occurred at the hangar from when they arrived to when the cops found her, including the bruises Buffy showed her from Angel’s
beating. It was these last events that Giles particularly focused on. He asked Dawn to describe in detail how Angel took care of Buffy from the
time she was knocked out to the last time she saw her sister. Going over how he carried Buffy with him and got a blanket for her, how he
bandaged her hand, how he kissed her and held her, Dawn then recalled the conversation she had with Buffy and how she suspected that
Angel liked her.

Giles and Spike exchanged worried looks, both knowing what the other was thinking. Hank noticed their exchange.

Once Dawn finished her account, Giles and Gunn asked her a few more questions before ending the session. They knew they’d probably have
to question her again but for now this was enough.

Once the interview was over, Gunn then answered Hank and Joyce’s questions about the attempted rescue. Giles and Spike noted that he was
rather vague when discussing how Rayne found out that they were on to him. He didn’t lie but he didn’t volunteer anything either. They also
understood why. Gunn didn’t want to give away anything more than necessary. He didn’t want to alarm the mole in his group and he couldn’t
guarantee that Joyce and Hank wouldn’t inadvertently say something to the wrong person. He intended to keep a tight lid on the situation
until he could flush the traitor out and provide evidence of the treachery. He did however plan to remove all the agents currently guarding the
Summers home. He, Harris and Spike would now provide security.

As the discussion wound down Hank asked to see a picture of Angelus Rayne. Willow pulled out the photo they had.

He stared at it a long time then said, “I remember him.” Everyone grew silent, wondering what Hank was talking about.

“You’ve met him?” Giles asked.

“No, not really but I remember him. At Ethan’s trial, when the verdict came down he was there with his mother. I’d only glimpsed him a few
times before then and I probably would never have noticed him but when they took Ethan away he started screaming for his father in the
courtroom. Actually, it was pandemonium when they read the verdict but I distinctly remember seeing him and hearing him above the noise. I
guess he grew up hating me.” Everyone sensed the guilt Hank felt. No one knew how to alleviate it. Holding Dawn to her, Joyce gently took his
hand and smiled at him. This was not his burden to bear alone.

Later, Gunn and Harris left to check on the progress of the search at Rayne’s mansion. Hank, Joyce and Dawn were to stay at Giles’ office until
they returned. While they were gone, Willow took Dawn and Joyce into the kitchen where they munched on some snacks and talked. Giles,
Spike and Hank remained in the conference room.

“Uh, Mr. Giles, do you mind sharing what you were thinking when Dawn said that Rayne liked Buffy?”

Pausing briefly he answered, “I can tell you what I suspect but remember, this is just a general idea. I may be way off.”

“But you may not be.” Hank pressed. “You think he’s in love with her don’t you?”

“Well, I’m not sure if I’d call it love. Given what I know of him, I’d venture to say that he is at the very least obsessed with her. He may feel that
he’s in love, he may even think he needs her but clearly from Dawn’s recollections, it is very dark and twisted.”

Thinking over Giles’ words, Hank then asked, “Does that put Buffy in more or less danger?”

“Perhaps both. He likes her and as Dawn described he can be very gentle with Buffy. But he has also been violent with her. I think Buffy’s
safety probably lies in how she responds to him.”

“So basically if she does what he wants, she’ll be fine.”

“For the most part, yes.”

“But?”

“Well, before it seems he only wanted her to sleep with him. That was difficult I’m sure but also relatively simple. But now, he may be asking
for much more than her body. He may be asking for what Buffy simply cannot give.”

Hank nodded gravely, taking in the full meaning of Giles’ words.
***
The two vehicles pulled up to a large rod iron gate. Angel then punched in a security code and the gate opened automatically. Buffy was
instantly struck by the beauty of the place. The villa was modeled in a Mediterranean style and the extensive gardens and fountains stretched
as far as the eye could see. Angel smiled when he saw her awed expression. He knew she’d love it. This was going to be their home.

Throughout the long drive, the mountainous landscape and lush vegetation captivated her. Seeing how riveted she was, Angel pulled her into
his lap so she could get a better view. When they finally pulled into the driveway, her eyes were huge moons. As he watched her, Angel
wondered if she had any idea how wealthy he really was. Then he remembered that she never really saw the scale of the ranch so of course
she would have no idea of what to expect. Leading her inside, he took her into the main hall, through the arched doorways and into the back
where she could see the various gardens. There was a gazebo in the distance, a pool and just about everything a person could wish for. It was
amazing.

Buffy sensed that he was trying to impress her and she had to admit, she was a little impressed. Angel actually had taste. And damn good taste
at that. But he was still her kidnapper and she was there against her will.

“Do you own all of this?” She gestured to her surroundings.

“Yes, it belongs to me. Of course, it could belong to us.”

If it weren’t for the pointed look in his eyes she would have thought she misheard him. Or at least she could have pretended to. Flushing
deeply, she looked away from his penetrating gaze, not sure how to respond to that. Surely he was joking but that look in his eye made her
suddenly quite nervous.

Seeing her tense up he simply moved along as if nothing had occurred. Moving back into the main house, she saw that the others had
unloaded the luggage and were going about settling in. She couldn’t help but sense the permanence of the mood. She got the feeling that
Angel intended to keep her for a while.

Just then he led her upstairs and down a very long hallway. Eventually they entered a bedroom that looked very much like a suite. There was a
sitting area that led out to a balcony and off in a corner was a wet bar. Leading her further into the room, he took her through a doorway and
into the sleeping area. The bedroom was huge and it led out to another balcony with a small round table and two chairs. Opening two of the
doors in the room, he showed her the bathroom and the large walk-in closet.

“There are clothes in there for you but I will take you shopping over the next few days to ensure you have everything you need.” He then
unlocked the handcuff.

Moving away from him she sat on one of the armchairs, waiting for some sort of explanation.
At her expectant look he took the floor, “There are rules that I expect you to adhere to. As long as you keep my rules, your life here will be
quite pleasant. Obviously, you are not allowed to leave the grounds alone but you are free to walk around most of the villa and the gardens.
Naturally there are a few rooms that are off limits. You will not be allowed access to the phone, the mail or the Internet. You can however
watch television and listen to the radio. There are many servants here but right now I only have the basic staff. The others will come once
you’ve … adjusted to your new home. We will share this room. You are required to share this bed with me. You are also required to have
breakfast and dinner with me, whether it is out on the balcony or in the main dining hall.”

“Is that it?” She asked annoyed by his presumptuous attitude.

“Well Buff, I’m sure you will feel the need to test the boundaries and see what you can get away with so the rules are subject to constant
revision but for now, yes, that is it. Oh, and I’m sure you realize that breaking the rules comes with a penalty.”

”What are you going to do, beat me again or maybe have your thugs hold me down and rape me?” Her mocking tone stung him.

“No Buff, I won’t beat you again. And if you recall, I said you would be punished as Cordelia was if you attacked me or any of my men again.
For these other matters, I won’t hand your punishments over to anyone else. I will handle them personally. Of course, I can’t guarantee that
you’ll be able to walk afterward but I promise you won’t be seriously injured.” She glared at him.

Then he continued, “There is one last thing however. Don’t think for a second that since Dawn isn’t here then she is no longer in danger. And
that goes for your parents as well. Should you try to … hurt yourself, I only have to say the word and someone you love will pay dearly.”
Despite his menacing tone, Buffy was sure he was bluffing.

She had to challenge him, “I don’t believe you.”

“Believe what you want. But know this. My grasp is far reaching. I have people working for me all over the world, some of who were among
the people guarding your parents and looking for you. How do you think I knew Cordelia betrayed me? How did I know when to leave the
ranch and head to the hangar?” At her shocked look he went on, “Yes Buff, my spies were in your house and they saw your parents every day.
And just think, little Dawn is probably in their custody right now.” Then kneeling before her and tightly grasping her shoulders, he added, “So
don’t think for a second that I can’t order them murdered. If you try to kill yourself, who knows what I might do.”

Certain she knew he was deathly serious, he stood again, “Now I’m going to take a shower and you’re going to join me.” He then grabbed her
wrist and pulled her off her seat and into the bathroom. He locked the door behind them.

Undressing them both he turned on the shower before picking her up and carrying her in. A showerhead was mounted on each of the three
walls, creating a triple-direction spray. Within seconds Buffy was completely soaked. However despite his gestures for her to proceed, she
stood before him, refusing to move. Seeing that she intended to make this difficult, he took the loofah, poured a jasmine scented shower bath
over it and then proceeded to bathe her. Lightly he scrubbed her arms, her neck and her back. Then he moved to her chest and down to her
stomach. He then kneeled before her and washed her legs and her feet. Then, resting her thigh over his shoulder, he gently cleaned her sex,
ensuring to rub her clit with each pass of the loofah. He felt a tremor run through her. When he got her nicely lathered up he slid a finger deep
into her, causing her to take a sharp breath. Slowly withdrawing it, he then replaced it with two and then three. He knelt before her, fingering
her slow and deep before increasing his pace, their eyes locked. Buffy knew she should fight back but what did it matter now. She was in a
foreign country and totally at his mercy. Besides, he’d just hold her down and fuck her anyway. So instead she just stood there and let it
happen.

As the lather washed away from her, he began licking her clit and lightly sucking it, his fingers vigorously thrusting into her. Then when he
knew she was ready to pop he voraciously sucked her as he pumped, eliciting a shriek and sending her into a fit of convulsions. She would have
collapsed had he not held her up. Propping her on the ledge, he then proceeded to clean himself. Once he was done, he gathered her in his
arms and washed her hair, lightly kissing her. Then, as the shower washed the lather from her, he lifted her and wrapped her legs around him.
Then with a slow, deep thrust, he penetrated her, pressing her to the wall. From there he plunged into her again and again, his rhythm getting
increasingly frantic, his loud grunts filling the bathroom. As usual, Buffy closed her eyes and held on to him but this time, instead of escaping
somewhere peaceful, she was jarred back to reality by the nightmarish memory of the brutal rape she witnessed the night before. Abruptly
she released her hold on him and unwrapped her legs, a wave of nausea washing over her.

“No, Angel. I can’t. Please don’t make me!”

Puzzled, he pulled back. Then seeing her sickened expression he released her, letting her slide down his lean body until her feet touched the
tiled floor.

At his questioning gaze she said, “Please don’t hurt me but I can’t do this. It’s just too much, too soon.” When he did nothing to stop her, she
turned and left the shower.

Angel was furious. This was the second time she refused him in less than twenty-four hours. He was tempted to drag her back into that shower
and fuck her into the wall but he knew that would only undermine his goal. He wanted her to come to him on her own. Of course, he wasn’t
quite deluded enough to expect that she ever would but he wanted her to at least enjoy the sex between them. He knew that would take
time. He just didn’t know how long he could endure her acting up. And his still raging hard on did nothing to help his mood.

Quickly he showered again, this time with the cold water on full blast. Then he dressed and made his way into the bedroom. He was surprised
to find Buffy lying on the bed. He had expected to search the villa high and low for her. Instead she was wrapped in an oversized towel that
seemed to swallow her whole. He couldn’t tell if she was crying or not. Cautiously he approached her. “What is it Buff?”
“Nothing.” She barely whispered.

Not taking that for an answer he crawled into the bed and leaned over her.

“Don’t lie to me Buff. What’s wrong?”

Tired of his games she turned to him, “How can you ask me that? You took me from my home. You threatened both Dawn and I. You forced
me to have sex with you. You beat Dawn. Then you beat me. You just threatened my family. And as if that weren’t enough, what you did last
night sickens me so much I can barely stand the sight of you. And now you want me to enjoy having your dick inside me. Well, sorry to
disappoint you but I can’t get the sight of your beaten and raped girlfriend out of my head.” She then turned away from him and again hid
within the folds of the towel.

Taking a deep breath, he moved to the closet and pulled out some underwear, a T-shirt and sweatpants for her. Then placing them on the bed,
he crawled back in and pulled her into his arms. He suspected holding her would probably repulse her more but he hoped she would find some
comfort too. Sighing deeply, he reminded himself that he needed to be patient. This was going to take time. And one thing was for certain; it
wasn’t going to be boring.

Soon both fell asleep.
******
Part 12
******
Some hours later Angel awoke. Reaching over he noticed a vacancy. Buffy was gone and so were the clothes he left for her. Propping himself
up he scanned the room, nothing. Getting up he then checked the bathroom. Again nothing. As he was about to check the sitting area he
glimpsed a flash of blonde hair. She was on the balcony. Quietly, he moved in behind her, not wanting to disturb her. Then sitting in the other
chair, he watched her gaze out at the evening sun. Ribbons of red, orange, purple and blue streamed across the sky, reflecting on the ocean in
the distance. The sunset was breathtaking. And Buffy sat spellbound by it, a serene expression on her face. They sat in silence for a long time.
Then, “Why did you bring me here?”

“I already told you. Hank owes me.”

“No. That’s why you kidnapped me. I am asking why you brought me here.”

Cautiously he responded, “I wanted to get to know you better. I thought this would be a good place to start.”

“You don’t plan to ever let me go do you?”

“Well, I hope that someday I won’t have to keep you here by force but that you’ll stay because you want to.”

Turning to him she asked, “What do you want from me?”

“I thought that was obvious.”

Looking away she responded, “You’ve had my body. I have nothing else to give you.”

“Oh but you do.” When she looked at him again he moved from his seat and stalked over to her, his movement fluid and graceful. Then
kneeling before her he gently lifted her face to him. Slowly moving in, his lips lightly brushed hers and there he lingered, nibbling on her
mouth, his tongue coaxing her to grant him access. Instead, she grasped his shoulders and gently eased him back.

“I can’t.”

“I don’t want to force you.” Then standing, “But I can be patient only for so long.” Moving away from her he went on, “I’ll give you a tour of
the villa in the morning and introduce you to everyone then.” Then as he returned to the bedroom he added, “Dinner will be served shortly.”
***
Ten minutes later they were dining on the balcony. Throughout the meal, Buffy avoided all eye contact with Angel. She could feel his intense
gaze as he visually feasted on her flesh. She was certain that any second he would throw her onto the table and fuck her senseless. She vividly
remembered the last time he did that. So of course every time he reached across the table for the wine bottle or something she nearly jumped
out of her seat. Her anxiety was so obvious that Angel couldn’t help chuckling. Did she really think she could escape him if he wanted to take
her right there and then?

At his obvious amusement she stated, “It’s rude to laugh at people.”

“I’m not laughing at you.” He barely managed to get out between chuckles. Then at her look he conceded, “Alright I am but it’s not what you
think. I’m not making fun of you. I just find your anxiety rather unnecessary but extremely adorable.”

“Well you’re not the one being held against your will and forced into sex.”

“Touché. But at the moment the only thing you need worry about is eating your dinner. I have no intentions of doing anything to you tonight.
And believe me, if I wanted to there’s nothing you could do to stop me. So please, relax and enjoy the food.” She looked at him incredulously.
Was that supposed to put her at ease?
Still eyeing him suspiciously, she settled in her seat and concentrated on the plate in front of her. They continued eating in silence.

Finishing first, Angel calmly watched her eat her dessert, his eyes following her every movement, his intense gaze unnerving.

“Would you stop staring at me? You want me to relax but you’re only making me more nervous.”

“Forgive me for finding you so … enticing.” A truly feral smile gracing his lips. At her silence he asked, “Would you like to watch some
television?”

“What?” She wasn’t sure she heard him correctly.

“We have satellite television. You can watch whatever you like but I’ll need to show you how to use the remote.”

Nervously she answered, “Uh, that’s ok, you don’t need to bother. I’m sure it’s not complicated. I’ll figure it out.”

“It’s not a problem. When you’re done we’ll see what’s on.” By his tone she knew he wouldn’t let her out of it. So in retaliation she stubbornly
took as long as possible finishing her dessert.

However despite her efforts, she could only stall for so long and when the last morsel was in her mouth Angel asked, “Are you all done?”

“Yes.” She responded rather dismayed.

Standing he then casually strolled over to her. Reluctantly rising from her seat, she followed him into the sitting area.

As they settled down Angel pushed a button and a huge television screen emerged from within a cabinet. Picking up the remote, he sat down
and indicated for Buffy to come over to him. As she approached he lightly patted his lap. She froze.

“I’ll behave I promise. I just want to hold you.”

“And if I don’t?” She challenged.

“I don’t have a problem coming over there to get you but I can guarantee you won’t like it. And since you seem unaware of this, I’m
attempting to make this as pleasant for you as possible so for your own sake I suggest you do as I ask.” He then gestured towards his lap again.

Hesitantly she sat, anxiously awaiting his move and ready to bolt the instant he tried something. However apparently keeping his word, he
simply pulled up the menu and showed her how to scan and control the satellite. After a few moments they settled on The Lord of The Rings:
The Fellowship of the Ring.

Angel wasn’t big on television but the movie was quite good and as it progressed Buffy seemed to calm somewhat. Granted, she was still very
tense and clearly uncomfortable in his lap but at least she wasn’t fidgeting or trying to escape. And as far as he was concerned, if it helped her
relax around him he’d watch anything.

When he saw her stifling a little yawn he asked, “How do you feel? Are you jet-lagged?”

“A little.” She couldn’t believe how tired she still was even after all the sleep she got.

“Well, our sleep will be off for a bit but it will pass. We don’t have to start early but tomorrow we should go shopping, my staff only had time
to get you the essentials.” Then running his hand through her hair, “We also need to get your hair … fixed.”

When she looked at him he asked, “Why did you cut it?”

“I wanted a change.”

Hooking his finger under her chin, he turned her to him, “First and foremost, never lie to me Buff.”

Feeling like a child being chastised she looked at him and responded, “I was angry after you … after you beat me so I cut it.”

Considering her words briefly he replied, “I never intended to hurt you like that and I apologize. You caught me off guard that morning and I
overreacted. But as I’ve told you, I won’t hit you again. And I don’t want you hurting yourself.”

“I got that impression when you threatened my family.”

“Yes but I want to make sure that you and I have a clear understanding.”

“All I did was cut my hair, I won’t hurt myself!”

“Really, then what happened to your hand?”

“That was an accident. I was trying to escape and I accidentally cut myself.”
“With what?”

“A piece of the mirror in the bathroom.” At his look she elaborated. Since he wanted the truth that’s what he’d get. “I trashed your bathroom
and broke the mirror. And I used it to escape. Are you happy now?” She knew she was treading on dangerous ground but she didn’t care. A
small part of her hoped he’d kill her and end her misery.

“You trashed my bathroom?” He asked disbelievingly. “Well, I can’t say that I’m happy about that but I’ll excuse your little tantrum … this
time.” The warning was loud and clear. Then he added, “But since you bring it up, I do have a few ideas of what would make me happy.” He
smiled mischievously. She knew death was a mercy he’d never give her.

When she nervously looked away he went on, “I propose a compromise. I won’t force you to have sex but you must obey my rules and be …
open to a certain level of intimacy.”

Turning to him she responded, “Are you crazy? There’s no way I would …”

“Well we don’t have to have a compromise at all. I can just fuck you right here and now.”

At his words she tried getting out of his lap but he held her firmly as she struggled, pointedly showing her that he could very well take her
whenever he wanted. But despite his hold and her obvious disadvantage, she continued her defiance.

As she got increasingly hysterical he continued, “Buff, I said I wouldn’t do anything to you tonight and I meant it. I would like to make this less
painful for you but you have to cooperate.” By his tone and his grip on her, she knew his patience was running thin.

And seeing the futility of her struggles, she decided to take advantage of the compromise before his patience ran out. Taking a deep breath
she conceded defeat. “What exactly do you mean by a certain level of intimacy?”

“Meaning that you’ll let me hold you and touch you. That you won’t run or hide from me when I reach for you. That you’ll let me kiss you.”

“I’ll obey your rules but no kissing. And you can’t touch me … sexually.” She couldn’t believe she was actually negotiating the terms of their
relationship. Was she really going to agree to this?

“That’s fine but I insist on the kissing. You can control how far it goes.”

“But I don’t …”

“Like I said, we don’t have to have a compromise at all.” His voice stern.

“Fine. You won’t rape me but I’m still your little toy.”

Her words stung him. Taking a deep breath he replied, “You’re not a toy Buff.”

“I’M NOT A TOY? If I’m not a toy then what am I?”

“Believe it or not, that answer is entirely up to you.” He pointedly held her gaze, his brown eyes boring into her. And within their depths she
saw the truth. The truth she denied since her conversation with Dawn. Since the night he recited the poem to her.

Suddenly very interested in what Frodo was doing, she looked away. She wasn’t ready to deal with this. Seeing her withdraw, he carefully
wrapped his arms around her, pointedly grasping her hands and entwining their fingers. Feeling his arms tighten around her again, she was
ready to push him away when he stopped. He was just holding her. This was their agreement.

Surprisingly, despite her anxiety she wasn’t particularly threatened by the intimacy. She knew she should be but after what happened in the
shower earlier he really didn’t appear to be forcing her into sex anymore. Even when they were in bed afterwards he only held her. And he did
say that he didn’t want to force her. Was he really going to keep his word? And if so, how long would it last? She wasn’t sure if their bargain
was a good thing or not. Somehow making a deal with the devil came to mind but if it kept him off her for a while maybe she could buy some
time to figure a way out of this. Of course, despite their little compromise she wasn’t about to trust him but for now he seemed to be
behaving. And Buffy just wanted to rest. So holding his hands just as tightly to keep them occupied, she settled back and tried to enjoy the
movie.
***
Gunn and Harris sat in Giles’ private office. They had returned from Rayne’s ranch a short while ago and were discussing their progress with
the others. Hank and Joyce were talking with Dawn in the conference room.

“We’ve gone through most of the ranch but so far we have nothing suggesting where Rayne went. In the meantime we’re checking his phone
records and working with the flight control towers near Sunnydale to track his plane.”

“What about his other assets? And McDonald’s?” Giles asked.

“I’ve contacted the Bureau and they’re working on warrants but Rayne’s army of lawyers is already circling the wagon. I’m sure they’ll fight us
every step of the way.”

“I thought McDonald was his lawyer.” Spike wondered.
“McDonald is one of his personal lawyers. I mean his corporate lawyers.”

“Yeah but we already know he kidnapped the girls, doesn’t that sort of nullify their position?” Willow asked.

“Yes and no. They’re not disputing his role just that the company assets shouldn’t be seized. See the kidnappings took place on his private
property and with his personal assets so there’s no obstacle in seizing those or anything else that he owns solely. Even the plane he used
wasn’t a corporate jet but his personal one. However, much of what he owns in this country is shared with several partners and other
companies and that’s where the resistance is coming from. Of course, I suspect that his ‘partners’ are purely fictitious and he really owns these
companies outright but the trouble is proving it.”

“But even so, this is the FBI. Surely they can’t stop the investigation?” Giles wondered.

“No but they can slow us down. They can file motion after motion and drag this thing out. Maybe that’s all Rayne needs.”

“Needs for what?” Willow asked.

“I don’t know. To stay a step ahead of us until he … I don’t know. But the thing is, I don’t think his holdings in the US will be much help anyway.
He is too intelligent to leave a trail we can follow. The feds never found Ethan’s assets and they looked for decades, I’m sure his son will be no
different so that means most of what he owns his probably foreign and hidden. Anyway, while the Bureau wrestles with his legal defense,
we’re also contacting Interpol. We’re focusing on his global empire and basically trying to find his damn plane.” Gunn replied rather frustrated.

“Do you have any ideas of where to start?” Giles asked.

“Not really. I’m guessing Europe and the Caribbean, Asia, maybe South America.”

“Pretty much the world then?” Spike responded, obviously noting the enormity of the task.

“Do you think Cordelia might be of some help?” Giles asked.

“Perhaps, if she ever wakes up, sure.”

“If she wakes up?” Willow asked worriedly.

“I-I mean when she wakes up.” Gunn corrected.

“So did you find anything at the ranch?” Spike asked.

“A lot of files and documents were in his office. We’ve taken those. The forensics team went through the entire place but they’re focusing
mostly on the rooms where Buffy and Dawn were kept. Everything is going to the lab and I requested that Fred handle the analysis personally.
She is reporting directly to me.”

“Good. That should help control any leaks.”

“Yeah. Um, we also found several videotapes. Apparently, Angelus recorded Buffy and Dawn in their rooms. The psycho even labeled them.
We brought the tapes here.”

“You didn’t send them to the lab?” Giles asked surprised.

“Not yet. We don’t really need to test them right away since we already know he has Buffy. Right now these tapes are most useful in
determining his state of mind. I figured they might help with your analysis.”

“Ah, yes. You’re quite right. Well, I think we should all take a break and start fresh in the morning.”

“That’s just what I was thinking. We need to take Dawn and her parents home and then I need to update my superiors on this mess. And then
there is the press. So I’ll meet you in the morning and go through the tapes then.”

“Sounds like a plan.”

A while later Gunn and Harris were on their way to the Summers home with Hank, Joyce and Dawn.
***
Pulling up to the gates, a throng of reporters surrounded the vehicle carrying Gunn, Agent Harris, Hank, Joyce and Dawn. The crowd was so
thick the car could barely move. Despite the heavily tinted windows, every camera was flashing as the reporters rapidly fired their questions.
From their inquires they obviously knew something was up. Somehow they must have caught wind of what happened. Gunn knew the media
was going to be a nightmare to deal with and now even more so since they had yet to rescue Buffy. He was bracing for the public relations
nightmare he was about to face but he needed to stay focused. They had to find Buffy.

Dawn sat between her parents in the rear seats of the vehicle. She was awestruck by the media presence. After being isolated at Angel’s ranch
for so long she had no idea what was going on in the world. Joyce and Hank tried to prepare her while they were still at Giles’ office but
nothing could have really prepared her for the overwhelming media onslaught. She tightly clung to her mother. Joyce held on to her just as
tightly, hoping to shield her from the media’s scrutiny. Eventually the car made its way through the crowd and onto the Summers estate.
Everyone was glad the press wasn’t allowed beyond the gates. When they finally pulled up to the house, they all let out a deep sigh of relief
and hurried inside.

Once indoors, Gunn called his superiors while Harris gathered the remaining FBI agents at the house. Agent Meirs and Agent Walker had
already returned. Once Gunn was done with the phone he was going to relieve the agents of their duties and have them report to
headquarters for reassignment. He also planned to hold a press conference early the next morning.

At the same time, Joyce and Dawn went straight upstairs to her room. Although she looked fine, Hank and Joyce were taking Giles’ advice and
having her seen by a doctor the following day just to have her checked out. They had already contacted a therapist that Giles recommended
for this type of thing. But for now, they were just trying to make things as comfortable and normal for her as possible. However, some things
were certain to change. As Dawn showered, Joyce stood guard in her bedroom. She knew she was being somewhat overprotective but she
refused to let Dawn out of her sight. She would never leave her daughters unattended again.

While Joyce stayed with Dawn, Hank went into the kitchen and started dinner. It had been ages since he cooked for his family and although it
was a bit late he wanted to give Dawn a nice welcome home meal. Not to mention that cooking would help keep him from going mad over
what he imagined Angelus Rayne was probably doing to Buffy right that moment.
***
Hours later Buffy lay in bed with Angel. She was as far on the other side of the bed as she could get, her back facing him. She delayed getting
into bed with him for as long as she could but after changing her clothes, meticulously flossing and brushing her teeth and then brushing her
hair for almost ten minutes she had little excuse when he finally called her to bed. Once she was in bed with him though, as agreed he only put
his arms around her and gently caressed her. Soon he was kissing her arms and working his way up to her neck and all over her face. Before he
reached her mouth, she gently pushed him away and turned from him. She knew he wanted to kiss her more but he didn’t push the issue.
Again part of their agreement. And eventually, he did let her migrate to the very edge of the bed. She was still in the bed so technically she
wasn’t exactly running away from him.

Now as Angel lay reading some papers, Buffy remained wide awake, contemplating her situation. Angel was in love with her or perhaps more
precisely, obsessed with her. But more importantly and certainly more unsettling was that he wanted her to return the feeling. This realization
scared her but also gave her hope. However small or temporary, thanks to their agreement she now had some level of control over the
relationship. She didn’t know how but if she played her cards right perhaps she might regain some of her freedom. Perhaps enough to escape.
As she adjusted the pillows behind her, the glimmer of hope deepened her resolve to survive.

Angel never noticed the start of a small smile on her face as she drifted to sleep.
***
The following morning Buffy woke to find herself lying partly on top of Angel, her head pillowed on his bare chest, his arms wrapped tightly
around her. He was wide-awake with a smug little grin on his face. Granted, she knew that at times she could be a terrible sleeper but Angel
was clearly behind the cozy little arrangements she often woke up in. Embarrassed by their intimate position, she immediately rolled away
from him.

“Good morning, Lover.”

“Would you please stop calling me that?” She mumbled grumpily.

“You don’t like the name?” He feigned innocence. She glared at him. “Ok fine, good morning … Beautiful.” Her glare lessened only slightly.
“Would you like a Belgian waffle for breakfast?”

“Uh, sure.” She answered while getting up. “I’m going to take a shower first though.”

“Would you like some company?” He asked mischievously.

As expected, he was shot down. “No thank you!” She then went into the bathroom and locked the door behind her.

Hearing the door lock he smiled to himself. As much as he hoped that she would eventually give in, he was also glad to see some of her spirit
returning. He had hoped that she wasn’t too traumatized by the situation. In fact, he was beginning to regret forcing her to watch Cordelia’s
punishment. Clearly it was too much and it freaked her out. He’d have to be careful how he handled her from now on. And that was part of the
reason he wasn’t forcing her anymore. He wanted her to be his but he still wanted her to be Buffy. If he broke her, the fire that captivated him
would be lost. So he was willing to give her the time and space she needed. At least for now anyway.

While she showered and dressed, he prepared for the day.
***
A while later, both were showered and dressed and on the balcony having breakfast.

“I’ve made an appointment for you to get your hair done this afternoon. And there are a few boutiques that I plan to take you to as well. We’ll
head out as soon as you’re ready.”

She simply nodded in response.

“After that we can do some sightseeing if you wish.” Another nod. Then, “Buff?” When she finally looked at him he asked, “Is there anything
you’d particularly like to do?”

“Besides going home?” At his look she went on, “No. Shopping and hair is fine.” She then continued eating.
Slowly he reached across the table and took her hand. When she met his eyes again, he held her gaze as he lifted it to his mouth and gently
kissed it. The unbridled desire burning in his eyes as he kissed her hand sent a bolt of electricity through her. Feeling herself flush she abruptly
pulled her hand from his as if she’d been burnt. Totally flustered and shocked by her response, she broke eye contact and refused to look at
him for the rest of the meal.

Angel was also surprised by her response but pleasantly so. Seeing her flush only further ignited his passion for her but he wasn’t going to push
it. Clearly she was still very responsive to him. That was good. Now he only had to be patient and bide his time. Then when she least expected
it, he’d make his move.
***
Willow, Spike, Gunn and Giles had been watching the tapes for a few hours now. During the viewing they discovered that unlike the first tape
they saw, these tapes had sound. They now knew what Angelus said to Buffy during their first meeting, which explained her subsequent
actions. As they watched, they also realized that Buffy didn’t know who he really was and that Angelus pointedly kept his father’s connection
to Hank and the true motive behind the kidnappings away from her. He used his anonymity to further his advantage.

As the screening progressed, each made notes and tried to maintain their professionalism. But inside each quietly wrestled with their
emotions. Tears silently slipped down Willow’s face when Buffy began crying the first time Rayne had sex with her. And despite his analytical
fascination even Giles had tears in his eyes. When Rayne made Buffy blow him they all felt a bit nauseated and the intense sexual onslaught
following it had them all flushing deeply. They cringed when Angelus tortured her with the vibrator and then again used Dawn to further
manipulate her. Their hearts went out to her as she hid what was really happening from Dawn and tried to reassure her as much as she could.
Giles was particularly intrigued when Rayne had Buffy declare that she was his. They continued watching until they got to where Buffy told
Angelus that she needed a break because the sex was too painful. They were all shocked that he seemed willing to give her a rest. Of course
some time after he took her into what they assumed was the bathroom, the motive behind his apparent benevolence was clear. They could
hear water splashing and what they were certain were the noises of some sexual assault.

Assuming the encounter was more of the same, Giles decided to fast forward the tape. But before he did they saw Buffy run out of the
bathroom, pull on a shirt and throw herself into the bed sobbing uncontrollably. A short while later Angelus followed and watched her before
telling her that Dawn would be there later. But what caught Giles’ attention was the brief and almost imperceptible moment when Rayne
looked almost remorseful. He couldn’t quite put his finger on it but something about the expression that momentarily crossed his face made
Giles rewind the tape instead. Reviewing it, they zoomed in and played it in slow motion. Although brief, it was clear as day. They had no idea
what exactly occurred in the bathroom to upset Buffy so much but whatever happened Rayne looked a little unsettled by her crying, which
was in marked contrast to the supremely smug grin on his face when she cried the first time he slept with her.

Increasingly intrigued by the emerging dynamic between Buffy and Angelus, they moved onto the following tapes. By the time Angelus recited
the poem, Giles was certain that he was smitten with her and the way he made love to her afterward was heartbreaking. What occurred later
deepened his conviction. While Buffy slept, Angelus seemed captivated by her, holding her tenderly, almost adoringly. But what particularly
struck Giles was how pensive Angelus seemed. He was clearly thinking about something. Watching further, the tape then moved on to when
Angelus interrupted Buffy’s visit with Dawn. At this point, Giles decided to take a break. From Dawn’s interview he knew this was where things
turned violent and he wanted to contemplate what he just saw before seeing anymore.

As they dispersed, Giles noticed how quiet Spike was. He knew he felt guilty for not getting there soon enough to stop Rayne from taking Buffy
and seeing this certainly wasn’t helping. He just hoped he wouldn’t make it personal.

When they reconvened, they immediately continued the tape. Watching the assault, they saw the dilemma Rayne placed Buffy in and realized
that the entire thing was a set up. For some reason he was forcing Buffy’s hand. Puzzled by the sudden change in him, Giles paused the tape.
“Why is he doing that?”

“Maybe because he’s a sick animal who likes to kidnap and rape young girls.” Spike volunteered. His voice was full of contempt.

Giles’ stern look silenced him.

Seeing the exchange, Gunn spoke up. “What do you mean?”

“Well why is he suddenly so different? All along he was gentle with her, the night before he was even reciting poetry. Now he’s got her cuffed
to the bed and is practically raping her. And he made sure Dawn was there to see it. I mean look, he’s going out of his way to be obnoxious, to
humiliate her. Why?”

“Maybe he was just in a bad mood. He looked angry that she fought back.” Willow suggested.

“No, I don’t think it’s that simple. Angelus strikes me as very smooth, very calm and calculating. He’s the kind of guy who rarely shows his true
feelings or loses control. Even if things were chaotic, you’d never know just by looking at him. And I mean, just watching this we can tell he set
this up. Why the head games? Why do this?”

“Well, why do this at all?” Spike asked.

Giles gave him another stern fatherly look but Spike continued, “No I’m serious. I mean, why go after Buffy and Dawn when he could have just
attacked Hank directly?”

“This is deeply personal. Nothing could grieve a parent more than going after their children. As far as he’s concerned Hank took his father away
so he took Hank’s children. He’s doing what he feels was done to him. It’s payback”
“Yeah but he got his father back. Sure he was sick but he took care of Ethan until he died. What is he going to do, keep Buffy until she gets
some terminal disease and then give her back to Hank?” Spike replied somewhat flippantly.

They all stopped and looked at him.

“How sick was Ethan when Angelus collected him?” Giles asked.

Regretting his insensitive outburst, Spike pulled out the file on Ethan. “He was pretty bad. The cancer was rather advanced by then and he
needed constant care. He died about six weeks after he was released.”

“What are you thinking?” Gunn asked at Giles’ pensive look.

“He’s doing what was done to him.” Giles echoed his earlier statement more to himself than the others.

“But Buffy’s not sick. How can he …” Willow asked before realizing the answer.

Seeing the realization in her eyes Giles confirmed what she was thinking. Looking at Spike he responded, “You’re right. He got his father back
but there wasn’t much left. Ethan was a shell, a ghost of his former self. But as Willow said, Buffy’s not sick, at least not physically. But
emotionally and psychologically she’s quite vulnerable. And what better way to … destroy her than to do … this. Then there’s the tape he
released to the press.”

“So you’re saying he was going to mess around with her until she went nuts and then give her back to Hank?” Gunn asked incredulously.

“Perhaps.”

“But he must have changed his mind. He took her with him.” Willow added.

“That or he’s not done.” Spike countered.

“Hmm, wait a minute, this would be the day before we tried to rescue them correct?”

“Yes.” Willow answered.

“Which was the day before Faith came to us.”

“Um, yeah.” Willow answered again.

“What are you thinking?” Spike asked.

“I’m just wondering when he found out about Cordelia. I mean, she told Faith that she was being followed, so when did that start? How long
was he watching her?”

“Do you think he knew about Cordelia from then?” Gunn asked.

“Perhaps.”

“So he suspected that Cordelia might betray him and he knew his time was running out, so he … did this?”

“Perhaps.”

As they considered what Giles said he continued the tape. As they watched, their hearts broke when they saw the disillusionment in Buffy’s
eyes as Dawn tried to comfort her. And then when Angelus returned, Dawn’s determination to protect Buffy brought them to tears. As the
tape continued, they noted that later that day Buffy seemed to come to some realization. Their suspicions were confirmed when they put in
the last tape and watched as Buffy confronted Angel. Somehow she figured out who he was. The sheer violence that followed stunned them.
But the sight of him nursing her wounds and tenderly caring for her in the aftermath stunned them further. He seemed genuinely sorry for
hitting her but of course his remorse didn’t stop him from having sex with her right then. And as they listened to his words and her cries, their
suspicions were confirmed.

Sometime afterward, they saw Buffy retreat into the bathroom and heard what they could only guess was her lashing out. Things were
crashing, she was screaming and after a long time when she finally emerged, her hair was much shorter, she looked extremely subdued. From
there they watched as she attacked his men and managed to escape.

Once the tape was done, Giles sat silently mulling over his thoughts. Then after taking another break they all reconvened and Giles took the
floor.

“I suspect that the night he recited the poem to Buffy, Angelus decided to speed up his agenda because Cordelia was unpredictable. That is
why we had that orchestrated piece of violence with Dawn. Which was very different from the violence with Buffy. When he beat Dawn it
looked very controlled on his part, like he was doing just enough to force Buffy’s hand. But beating Buffy was unexpected, even for him. Her
discovery exposed him in some way and he lashed out. But despite the violence, I think that moment was perhaps the most honest between
them. He was clearly remorseful. From the night with the poem till then he seemed to be somewhat at a crossroads. He wanted to punish
Hank but then he found that he really liked Buffy. If he didn’t he wouldn’t have bothered to care for her afterward. I imagine that was his way
of apologizing. Then add that to what Dawn observed and I think that taking Buffy with him was a last minute decision but he did it because he
wants her. He no longer seems interested in simply punishing Hank. Now he simply wants Buffy. That keeping her is a grievance to Hank is just
a bonus. That also explains why he left Dawn behind.”

“So what does this mean? Does it really change anything?” Willow asked.

“Not particularly but it certainly gives us a better understanding of him. But what I’m curious about is his background. What exactly do we
know of him?”

“You mean besides his net worth?” Spike wondered.

“Yes, what happened after Ethan went to prison? Why did he fixate on Hank and no one else from the trial?”

“Do we really need to know this?” Gunn asked a little puzzled.

“It may help in the rescue but consider this, if he manages to escape again we’ll need to know exactly who we’re dealing with.”
***
Buffy sat in the salon chair looking at her new haircut in the mirror. The short bob cut hung a few inches above her shoulders and the blond
highlights nicely framed her face. She was surprised at how well it suited her. She was also surprised that Angel let her decide how to cut it. It
made her look more mature and sophisticated than her longer style. She rather liked it. As she admired her new look, Angel came up behind
her and gently grasped her shoulders.

“It’s adorable and you are simply gorgeous.” He then lightly kissed her cheek. “Are you ready?”

“Just about, my nails aren’t dry yet.” She answered as she assessed her manicure and pedicure.

“Oh, well by all means, take your time. I’d hate for them to get smudged.” He then returned to his seat. Watching him sit, Buffy slightly shook
her head. The man just baffled her.

About twenty minutes later she and Angel left the salon.

As they drove home, Buffy reflected on the day. After breakfast Angel gave her the grand tour and introduced her to everyone. She finally
learned that the silent duo who she attacked were Forrest and Graham. The men who raped Cordelia were Luke and Adam, the pilot was Lorne
and although he wasn’t there, the old man who met them at the airport was Quentin Travers, an old friend of Ethan’s. She was particularly
surprised to learn that Lindsey was Angel’s cousin. She never would have guessed that they were even related. Once the introductions were
done, they then prepared to go shopping.

Unfortunately, as they were leaving the villa she discovered that she and Angel wouldn’t be alone. Luke was accompanying them. She was
rather unsettled by this not because she wanted to be alone with Angel but because she was hoping to attract attention to herself and perhaps
get help. Not to mention that after seeing what Luke and Adam did to Cordelia, she was rather terrified of them. In fact, she was more afraid
of Adam and Luke than of Angel. And to her dismay, Angel and Luke kept a very close eye on her throughout the day and she never got a
moment to try anything. Even when she tried on clothes in the boutiques they visited, Angel was right there, ensuring the attendants were
never alone with her. Her every move was watched. She found the constant monitoring extremely frustrating. In the end her only satisfaction
was the obscene amount of money Angel spent on the clothes she wanted. He gave her free rein and she took advantage of it, not because of
any vanity on her part but simply because that was her only means of striking back. Of course, he had the final word on each outfit but she
found that their tastes were quite similar so she got all she wanted anyway, and then some. There were a few rather extravagant pieces that
Angel selected for her and he also had her measured for a few tailored pieces as well. She couldn’t believe how much clothes they bought. And
that didn’t even include all the accessories. She found the entire experience rather overwhelming.

As they made their way back to the villa, she nervously wondered what Angel expected in return for his generosity.
******
Part 13
******
Upon arriving at the villa, Angel escorted Buffy into the house while several servants came out to help Luke carry the packages. A while later,
she and Angel were in the walk-in closet putting the clothes away. Throughout their task Buffy tried to keep as much distance between them
as possible but he kept crowding her and invading her personal space. Wherever she went he was right there, his large muscular body pressing
against her. He purposefully cornered her like a lamb to be slaughtered; their bodies uncomfortably close. For a while she tried to ignore it but
he kept getting closer and closer, his wandering hands bolder.

“I told you I can’t do this.” She stated when he moved even closer.

“I’m not asking for more than you agreed to.” When she just looked at him, he added, “Just a kiss.”

“What? Is this payment for the clothes?” She gestured to the bathrobe she was holding.

“It’s not payment for anything. It’s just you holding up your end of the bargain.” When she again said nothing, he took another step toward
her. “I’m only going to kiss you.” When she didn’t respond, he took the robe from her and rested it on a nearby shelf, then putting his arms
around her, gently pulled her to him. Standing stiffly in his embrace, she didn’t fight but she didn’t look too eager about it either. He knew she
would only do the minimum that was required but he had other plans. He wanted to kiss her, really kiss her. And he wanted her to kiss him
back. Leaning down, he quickly lifted her to his eye level before she could stop him.

“What are you doing? Put me down!” She protested, her hands pushing firmly against his chest.

“It’s easier to kiss you when I’m not breaking my back.” He replied. The height difference between them was rather comical.

Somewhat indignant she offered, “Well, you can save yourself the trouble and not kiss me at all then.” She knew being left alone was too
much to ask.

“Oh believe me, it’s entirely my pleasure.” His penetrating gaze silenced her.

Slowly moving in he lightly brushed his lips over hers, softly nipping at her mouth. When she refused, he carefully pressed her against the wall
and moved his hands to her face, gently cupping it.

Now with her full attention he softly spoke, “I am offering you the world. With few exceptions, I would deny you nothing. Endless possibilities
are right at your fingertips. Don’t fight it.”

“I can’t do this.” She whispered.

“I’m not asking for everything at once. We’ll take it slow. We’ll start over and take it slow.”

“We can’t start over!” Her voice now shrill, “You can’t make this ok. You can’t take me on a shopping spree and expect me to forget.”

“I don’t expect you to forget.”

“Then what? I’ll get over it? Is that it? I’ll just accept everything you did and still be your whore?”

“I don’t want you for my whore. I want you as my partner.”

“There’s a difference?” She challenged.

“There’s a big difference,” His voice now menacing. “For instance, unlike you, my whore would know better than to use that tone with me.
And if she didn’t, she’d never make that mistake again. And again unlike you, my whore wouldn’t have the privilege of refusing me. And I
would never offer to make my whore mistress of this house or of anything else I own. Believe me, you are far from being my whore.”

“I don’t care if you want me as your wife. I, I just can’t …” She trailed off, her hands still pushing against him.

“So you’d rather I hold you down and take what I want?” He asked somewhat exasperated, his anger rising.

“Of course not!” She snapped.

“Well you’re in a bit of a problem. But I’ll give you some advice. Right now I’m giving you time to adjust but regardless of how repugnant you
find the idea of sleeping with me, know that one way or another I will be buried deep within you. Our little deal wasn’t about whether or not
we’d have sex, but when and how. That’s all you have control over; how it happens. You can give a little at a time while you still have some
control over the situation and you may even find that you enjoy some of it, or you can waste my benevolence, as well as my patience, until I
finally take what I want. But know that if I have to work for it, no part of you will go untouched. Those divine thighs and that tight little virgin
derrière of yours will be mine for the taking. And the sharing. Haven’t you noticed that you’re the only female in a house full of men? There
will be no mercy. I’ll take everything with little regard to your pleasure or your pain. And you’ll truly know what it means to be my whore.”
Then pointedly holding her gaze, he slowly lowered her to the floor and left the closet.

For several long moments Buffy stood in stunned silence, his words reverberating in her mind. She couldn’t believe the predicament she was
in. Why was her life this nightmare? What did she do to deserve this? She knew their compromise was just an illusion, that she didn’t have any
real power and she was angry with herself for clinging to that hope. But she couldn’t help it, if she didn’t she’d go mad. And now she was faced
with the prospect of being the household concubine. Could this nightmare get any worse?

As the seconds passed, the closet walls seemed to close in around her, she felt increasingly dizzy and trapped. Feeling faint and shaking
terribly, she slumped against the wall and slowly slid to the floor, hoping the room would stop spinning. After a few minutes, when her
equilibrium finally returned, she tried getting up but found she simply didn’t have the energy. Unlike the night before, she now felt so
completely dejected that she couldn’t even muster the energy to stand. She was so tired of his games, of being manipulated. Feeling totally
lost and hopeless, she curled up and started to cry.

After some time, she finally found the strength to stand and slowly made her way out the closet. Walking out the door, she was startled to find
Angel standing there expectantly. He was waiting for her. Looking at her momentarily, he took in her red eyes and tear-streaked cheeks, then,
reaching out, he caressed her. When she didn’t flinch or try to stop him, he tenderly grasped her shoulders and guided her into his embrace.
Not wanting to anger him further and unsure of what to do, she buried her face in his chest as he held her. Enveloped in his embrace, she
couldn’t help feeling relieved; it was strangely reassuring. She was so confused but she wasn’t sure which confused her more, his behavior or
her own. He was her captor and rapist and she could hardly believe, let alone understand, that she took the comfort he offered. But in that
moment, all she knew was that she was alone and he was in control. So she let him hold her, hoping to appease his anger. After his threat, she
needed to know that he would not share her with anyone. Dealing with him alone was hard enough.
For some time he stood with her, caressing her soothingly. He knew she was terrified that he would punish her as he did Cordelia, he saw how
she acted around Luke earlier that day. Picking her up, he moved onto the balcony and sat with her in his lap, there he caressed her hair as
they sat in silence.

Then after a few moments, “I don’t like making you cry. I want to be gentle with you. I want you to enjoy our time together.” He wasn’t sure
what else to say but he wanted to reassure her. He didn’t want to threaten her like that but after their compromise he had to reassert his
control over her. But as he held her, despite his threats he knew he would never give her to anyone else. Fortunately, after his dealings with
Cordelia, she had every reason to believe he would.

“And what I want doesn’t matter.” She whispered softly.

Looking into her eyes he answered, “Of course it matters but … you know I won’t let you go. I can’t.” Then after a moment, “I can only hope
that you’ll spare us both and accept my offer.” At her silence, he cupped her face and added, “I’ll give you time but you must at least try.”

Locking gazes he slowly moved in and lightly kissed her, again softly coaxing her to respond. Initially she didn’t but then slowly, hesitantly she
reciprocated, allowing him access. As they kissed, she closed her eyes, forcibly giving herself over to the sensations despite the impulse to
recoil. Being in his arms was so disorienting, his cruel tenderness so disarming, so seductive. Not wanting to push her further, he kept it simple
and for several long moments their mouths lingered, barely touching until eventually she pulled away and hid her face in the crook of his neck.
Holding her close, he settled back in the chair and watched the sun setting on the horizon.
***
Gunn sat in the library of the Summers home discussing the case with Harris. He was so exhausted. This was possibly the longest day of his life.
After going through the tapes with Giles, Spike and Willow, he then met with his superiors and endured a seemingly endless interrogation into
how Rayne managed to escape with Buffy. Leaving a few dots unconnected, he discussed the bare details of the rescue attempt and the events
at the hangar. During his account, he avoided discussing his suspicions, he didn’t know how far up the corruption went but he needed to give
them a plausible explanation for relieving the agents of their duties while the case was still active. So without rousing suspicions, he merely
stated that since Rayne left the country, fewer people were needed for security and with Interpol now on the case, the team could be trimmed
down to its essential members. Somehow the excuse seemed to satisfy them.

Unfortunately, he knew the press wouldn’t be so easy to pacify. As much as he hated to admit it, he knew he’d have to address the situation
publicly. Ever since the press corps discovered Dawn’s rescue, they were in a feeding frenzy for any crumb of information regarding her
condition, Buffy’s whereabouts and Rayne’s fate. He had planned to hold a press conference earlier that morning but decided to postpone it
until after he saw Giles and his superiors. But now he knew he couldn’t put it off much longer. It was only a matter of time before it all came
out. He got a headache just thinking about it.

However, before facing the firing squad he decided to brief Harris and find out how things went with Dawn and her parents.

“How was the doctor’s visit?”

“Fine. She had a few bruises and scrapes that the doctor took care of but otherwise she’s fine. She and Joyce are in her bedroom resting right
now, they were exhausted when we got back.”

“Where’s Hank?”

“In his office. I think he wanted to be alone.”

“How’s he holding up?”

“I couldn’t say. I think he feels guilty about what’s happened but he can’t really talk about it yet. And he can’t do anything about it so he feels
worse.”

“Have they made an appointment with the therapist?”

“I think Dawn goes tomorrow.”

“I mean all of them, the whole family will need some level of help.”

“I don’t think they’ve thought that far ahead, all along they’ve only been focused on the girls.”

“Well I’ll suggest it because when Buffy comes home they’ll need all the help they can get.”

“Any progress with the search?”

“Uh, we’ve tracked Rayne’s plane to where he left American airspace. After that, the information is really sketchy. So far no one’s reported
anything.”

“What about the mole?”

“So far I’ve narrowed it down to Agents Meirs and Walker. They were the only two besides you, Giles’ staff and I that knew about Cordelia. I
sent them to guard her. No one else could have known early enough to warn Rayne.”
“What about Finn?”

“Hmm, I don’t think so. The guy is a Boy Scout. I just don’t see him working for Rayne. Meirs and Walker now, I can see either of them doing so
but I can’t prove it yet.”

“Well at least they’re off the case.”

“That’s a relief. And they weren’t the only ones so hopefully they don’t suspect anything. I don’t want them covering their tracks and slipping
away.”

“I’m sure we’ll catch whoever it is. But, um, what about security?”

“Well in addition to you and I, tomorrow Spike will be installing several devices to improve the security system here and he will be assisting
us.”

“Sounds good. When are you holding the press conference?”

”As soon as I’m done here.” Just then his cell phone rang, “Gunn here.” Then after a few moments, “Yes, how about first thing in the morning,
around 9?” Then, “Thank you for calling.” When he hung up Harris looked at him questioningly, “It’s Cordelia, she’s awake.”
***
That night Buffy lay closely wrapped in Angel’s arms, her head pillowed on his chest. He had fallen asleep some time ago but she remained
wide-awake, reflecting on what happened between them. Ever since their encounter in the closet, she anxiously expected him to have sex
with her or at least try to. But to her surprise and relief, he didn’t. They shared a few more kisses throughout dinner and the rest of the
evening but generally he kept his hands to himself. He never even brought it up. And honestly she had no idea what she would have done if he
had. His restraint was a great relief but it also worried her. She had no idea how long it would last and she knew it wouldn’t be long before he
demanded more. But at least for now he wasn’t. Instead they kissed and they touched and although his idea of a certain level of intimacy was
clearly more than she had in mind, he didn’t go much beyond the boundaries of their agreement. In fact, other than the kissing, their
compromise was intact. But there was definitely a time limit and that’s what was keeping her awake. What was she going to do? Lying in his
arms, she knew she couldn’t challenge him directly, that would only anger him and work against her. And he certainly would never just let her
go; she’d have to escape. But with his men and the servants constantly around, that was no easy task. She needed time to find holes in the
security, to find a way out. And as much as it might kill her, she had no choice; she had to play Angel’s game in the meantime. Sighing slightly,
she prayed for the strength to live with herself when this was all said and done.

Shifting slightly away from him, she tried to get some sleep.
***
Waking late the next morning, Buffy rolled over to discover she was alone; Angel was gone. Seeing that he didn’t leave a note, she figured he
was somewhere in the room. Listening carefully, she tried to discern if he was in the bathroom or on the balcony. What she heard was two
voices coming from the sitting area. Carefully climbing out of the bed, she moved over to the slightly ajar door and listened intently.

Angel and Lindsey were talking.

“So how’s she holding up?”

“I’m not sure. I think she may be coming around but it’s really too early to tell. I think she’s trying to figure me out.”

Chuckling slightly Lindsey responded, “I wish her luck. She’ll be one of the few if she succeeds.” Then after a moment, he asked, “So, is she,
um, cooperating?”

“Generally. I’m not … asking for anything right now. This has been a lot for her so I’m giving her time.”

Laughing even harder Lindsey exclaimed, “Oh, this is priceless! I can’t believe it. She has you waiting! Have YOU ever waited for any woman?
My how the mighty have fallen. You must really want her.”

“I do.” He answered slightly smiling. Then at Lindsey’s look he added, “Hey, I’m not saying it’s easy, especially with her right there in the bed,
tempting me. It would be so easy to just reach out and take her … but that’s not what I want.”

“I admire your restraint but do you really think she’ll ever give herself to you? That she’ll care for you the way you want?”

“No. But a man has to try. Anyway, right now I’m just giving her some space but I also need to keep an eye on her.”

“You expect her to run?”

”Of course I do. I’d be surprised if she didn’t at least try. But that’s not the only reason I need to watch her. Actually, I was wondering if you’d
spend some time with her when I work during the day.”

“Sure, I can do that. Are you concerned about anything in particular?”

”Hmm, not really, I just don’t want her to be alone for long periods of time yet.”

“That’s understandable. When are you going back to work?”
“Well, I’m taking some time off to show her around and … help her adjust but in a few days I guess, by next week for sure.”

“Fine, just let me know when and I’ll be here.”

“Great, thanks for helping. Anyway, I’d better go and check on her.”

“Yeah, you should.” Angel then stood and escorted Lindsey to the main door.

As he was leaving Angel asked, “By the way, have you heard anything about the case?”

“Oh, well, Dawn’s with her parents. Your lawyers are stonewalling the feds. That’s really about it. I’m sure they’re looking for us.”

“Yes, I’m sure they are. Anyway, will you be joining us for dinner in the dining hall this evening?”

“I’d be glad to. I’ll see you then.” Lindsey then left the room.

Returning to the bedroom Angel saw that Buffy was no longer in bed. Walking further into the room he heard water running in the bathroom,
she was in the shower.

Knowing she had locked him out, he decided to order their breakfast.
***
In the bathroom, Buffy stood fully dressed. She had listened to Angel’s conversation until he said that he was going to check on her. She then
quickly ducked into the bathroom and immediately turned on the shower. Now, as she undressed, her mind was busily mulling over what she
just heard. She was a little miffed that Angel was discussing their sex life with his cousin but she wasn’t all that surprised by it. She doubted
there was much his men didn’t know. Neither was she surprised that Angel expected her to run, she’d just have to make sure not to get caught
again. But what did surprise her was that Angel was going back to work in a few days and Lindsey would be her babysitter. During the tour,
Angel pointed out his office as one of the rooms off limits to her so she knew that when he worked he would still be in the house. But his office
was on the opposite side of the house from their room, far, far away. At least she would be free of him for a few hours. Granted, she had no
idea what Lindsey was like but she assumed he was probably just as ruthless as Angel. She couldn’t afford to underestimate him. But maybe
this was just the opportunity she needed.

A while later, Buffy stepped out of the shower and wrapped herself in a large towel. It was only then that she realized that her new bathrobe
was still in the closet. She had intended to put it in the bathroom the previous day but that was before she and Angel had their little encounter
and she was so upset afterward that she forgot. And of course, after eavesdropping on Angel and Lindsey she didn’t even think to grab some
clothes in her mad dash to the bathroom. Cursing herself, she pulled the towel tightly around her, she dreaded leaving the relative safety of
the bathroom with so little on. She didn’t want Angel to think this was some kind of invitation.

Taking a deep breath, she prepared to leave when she spotted Angel’s large crimson robe hanging on the door. Without hesitation she quickly
slipped it on over the towel and tied the belt. Looking at herself in the mirror, she laughed at the sight. The arms were far too long and it
dragged on the floor; she was practically swimming in it. But soon her amusement was silenced by the intimacy suggested by wearing his robe.
Although it gave her the cover she wanted, being in his robe made her feel uncomfortably naked and exposed. Perhaps this wasn’t such a good
idea. Rolling her eyes at her predicament, she vowed that the next time she spied on Angel she’d have a better escape plan. As she debated
whether wearing it was worse than wearing only the towel, she heard a soft knock on the door. It could only be one person. Pulling the robe
tightly around her she cautiously opened the door, her head peeking from behind it.

“I thought you might need this.” He was holding the dark blue terrycloth robe they had bought for her the day before. “I guess you left it in the
closet yesterday.”

“Uh, yeah, I did. Thanks.” She answered nervously.

As she reached for it, a small smile crossed his lips when he noticed her push back a familiar crimson sleeve. She was wearing his robe.
Seeing his sly smile, she flushed with embarrassment. How was it that she always managed to humiliate herself in front of him?

Deciding not to rub her nose in it, he went on, “I’ve ordered breakfast. It’ll be here shortly.” He then handed her the robe and quietly left

Sighing with relief, Buffy quickly replaced his robe with hers and hung his back on the door. Then mustering as much dignity as she could, she
left the bathroom and quickly went into the closet to get something to wear.
***
Special Agent Gunn and Giles sat in Cordelia’s hospital room listening to her account. She was surprisingly alert for how she looked. A leg and
an arm were in casts and her torso was bandaged around her surgical incision. Her skin was marred with purple, black and blue scars as her
injuries began to heal and her face was swollen, slightly impairing her speech. She hardly looked like the beauty in her photograph. She was
clearly on pain medication. Upon seeing her, Gunn decided to keep their visit brief, he didn’t want to stress her too much. So far she had
already covered when she first saw Angel with Buffy and was now where she was leaving the Bronze.

“So after you left the Bronze, what happened?”

“Adam, one of his men, he grabbed me. I didn’t even see him. He took me to the hangar, to see Angel.”

Seeing her grimace at his name, Gunn gently asked, “Can you tell us what happened next?”
Tears now in her eyes she went on, “He was furious. He knew what I had done and … he had this look in his eyes, I, I’d never seen him like that
… he set them on me.”

“Them?” Giles asked.

“Adam and Luke. They …” She stopped, unable to go on.

Realizing what happened Gunn gave her a few moments then asked, “Where was Angel during the attack?”

“He was there, watching. Him and Lindsey … and Buffy.”

“Buffy was in the room when they attacked you?” Giles asked.

“He made her watch. She tried to escape but he … stopped her. I-I don’t remember much after that, after a while … I think I passed out.”

Giving her a few moments, Gunn continued, “I just have a few more questions, can you continue?”

When she nodded, “Angelus left the country and took Buffy with him. Do you have any idea where he might have gone?”

“He took her with him?” She asked alarmed. “I, I thought you only wanted to find him, I had no idea.”

”We were too late to stop him and he took her.” Gunn replied regretfully.

“Oh God! That poor girl.”

“You see the urgency.” When she nodded Giles added, “Please, take your time.”

Thinking a few moments, she replied, “I’ve been to his homes in Rio, Tuscany, London and Athens but he owns property all over the world. He
has mentioned a few other places from time to time but I can’t recall where right now. I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be. You’ve helped us immensely already. We’ll contact our associates in those cities to see if they can help. In the meantime, if you can
think of anything … anything at all, please contact us. Here’s my card.” Gunn then placed his business card on the stand next to her bed. Then
just as he and Giles were leaving he added, “Thank you again and please take care.”
***
Walking to their cars Gunn said, “I can’t believe that animal made her watch it.”

Thinking briefly Giles responded, “I’m sure he did it to scare her. But what I find interesting is that he didn’t do it himself. Something like this I
would have expected him to handle personally but he completely separated himself from Cordelia during the time he had Buffy at the ranch,
effectively severing their relationship. And when she betrayed him, he showed her just how little she meant to him by letting his men have
her, he had moved on and, well, for lack of a better term, they got the leftovers. Of course another reason he may have had them do it is that
he’s in love with Buffy, that it was rape is even worse but quite frankly, he simply may not have wanted her to see him with another woman.”
***
That afternoon Buffy and Angel sat in the gazebo having lunch. They had spent the morning walking through the gardens, sharing kisses and
making small talk. At least Angel was, Buffy was memorizing the layout of his property and looking for escape routes. Now she was sitting
across from him having a slice of strawberry cheesecake and trying to keep up her end of the conversation.

“Do you play tennis?”

Pausing mid-bite she looked at him, “A little.”

“We have courts. It might be fun. Not to mention that since you’re going to be eating all these rich foods you’ll need some exercise.”

Furrowing her brow in indignation, she pictured what she would like to do to his head with a tennis racket. She settled for glaring at him.

“I didn’t say you were fat. You’re far from it. I’m just saying you need to stay physically active and we have lots here to help with that. I showed
you the gym, you can swim laps in the pool, we can go hiking, and well, there are the tennis courts. We can even go horseback riding.”

“You have horses?” She asked eagerly. Maybe she could use one to escape. It would be faster than being on foot.

“I own a few but Quentin keeps them at his stable for me. I’m hardly ever here so it just made sense to put them where they can be ridden
often and well taken care of. But we can ride whenever you like.” Well, that’s what his mouth said. His eyes said, “Don’t even think about it.”

She got the message.

Attempting to change the subject he added, “Of course, there are other activities that can help you stay fit, both of us in fact.” The gleam in his
eyes spoke volumes.

The silence that followed was deafening.

Then, “By the way, I will be returning to work soon so I asked Lindsey to keep your company when I’m gone.”
“You don’t think I can manage a few hours on my own?”

“On the contrary but I would hate to leave you unattended for so long.”

“How thoughtful of you.” She replied sarcastically.

Ignoring her sarcasm he responded, “Well, I’m nothing if not an attentive lover.”

Their eyes locked and for several moments the two gazed intently at each other.

Then, leaning across the table, he took a fresh strawberry off her plate and brought it to her mouth, smiling mischievously.

“Ah, none of that.” He playfully admonished when she tried to take it.

Taking a deep breath, she hesitantly took a small bite from it.

Then, never once breaking eye contact, he brought it to his mouth and in what was probably the most sensual thing she’d ever seen, he
pointedly swirled his tongue over where she bit before devouring the ripe, succulent fruit.

Buffy’s mouth went dry.
******
Part 14
******
For several long moments Buffy gazed, captivated by the display before her. His mouth, the strawberry, and the look in his eyes; he’d turned
the seemingly innocent act into a blatant sexual overture. And she couldn’t ignore the uncomfortable tingling emanating from her core. She’d
never look at strawberries the same way again. And long after he’d devoured the fruit, hazel and mocha held each other, neither daring to look
away. Time stood still during the silent battle of wills.

Then stealthily reaching over, he took her hand, gently bringing it to his mouth. Refusing to break the spell, he held her gaze as he tenderly
kissed her palm.

He wanted her.

But as his lips journeyed past her wrist, she seemed to suddenly come aware of what was happening.

The spell was broken.

Grasping her wrist when she tried to pull away, he met her eyes challengingly. He wasn’t letting her off that easily.

“Please don’t…”

“Don’t what?”

“Don’t play with me like this.”

“I’m not playing with you at all, in fact, I’m quite serious.”

“You know exactly what I mean. You’re trying to seduce me. To make me want you, but it won’t work.”

Chuckling, he held her hand even tighter, gently massaging it. “Oh Buff, you are adorable.”

She hated the condescension in his voice.

“I can’t make you want me. No one can. But that doesn’t matter because even if I could, I don’t have to. You already want me.”

“I could never want someone like …”

“Like me? You mean someone wealthy, powerful and absolutely irresistible?” He asked playfully. When she refused to answer he added,
smiling mischievously “Or is what I do for a living not up to your standards? Am I not moral enough for you?” After a moment, “Perhaps you
can reform me … I imagine that would be mutually pleasurable.” At her glare, he chuckled again, “Oh come on, Buff, why not? Tell me, what’s
wrong with someone like me?”

“Sorry but I think you need a professional to answer that.” She countered.

Surprised by her response, he paused momentarily. That wasn’t exactly the point he intended to make.

But nonetheless, he opened the door.

He laughed. A hesitant chuckle that soon erupted into a roar. A righteous tirade he was certainly prepared for but that was the last thing he
expected her to say and he couldn’t believe he walked straight into it. And the more he thought about it, the more he laughed.
Across from him, Buffy stared in disbelief at his uncontrollable laughter. She just insulted him and he was practically rolling in his seat. Her
response wasn’t meant to be funny and when he paused she thought he was angry. So she was startled when the first chuckle escaped his lips.
And once he got started it was like a damn broke and he was awash in chuckles, his eyes gleaming brightly. That his amusement wasn’t
sarcastic or condescending but genuine stunned her. She never imagined that he actually had a sense of humor and could laugh at himself.

But she had to admit it felt good to catch him off guard for once. And as his fit of laughter continued, Buffy was hard pressed to stifle her own.
Seeing him so overcome was truly comical.

Eventually as the laughter subsided, he again brought her hand to his mouth and kissed it. Then smiling, “Touché my love.”

His love? She could hardly believe her ears.

Then standing, he held out his arm expectantly.

Hesitating briefly, she looked at his arm then met his eyes. They were bright and full of emotion. She’d never seen such unguarded joy in his
eyes before, in fact, she’d never seen this side of him at all. Clearly Angel in a good mood was a much easier beast to tame than when he was
angry.

Deciding to test the waters, she took his arm.
***
That afternoon Spike walked through the Summers home showing Hank, Joyce and Dawn the new security equipment. The controls and
monitors were located in the library with a second console in the master suite. Now they could monitor the entire house and estate from
either console and control admittance to the property. It was far better than the small intercom they were using previously. The cameras and
motion detectors were already programmed and he was now entering the security codes for the alarms. The new system was state of the art
with direct links to the local police, ambulance and fire departments. It was also very expensive but neither cost nor inconvenience was an
issue, their safety was.

Walking through the house, Spike tried to be as confident and reassuring as possible. It was obvious that despite the relief the new system
provided, it was also a blatant reminder that Buffy was gone. Not that they needed reminding. Even he, a stranger, felt the void, especially
when he’d gone into her room to install a security camera. As he watched Hank and Joyce with Dawn, he could picture Buffy in the middle of
them all, smiling and laughing. From what he knew, she was a very bright and vivacious young woman. She seemed to be the heart of the
family and without her Hank, Joyce and Dawn seemed lost and bewildered.

Casually observing them, he couldn’t help but notice the growing tension between Hank and Joyce. Just the other day they appeared perfectly
united but now they hardly seemed to talk to each other and when they did it was always about Buffy and Dawn. Hank was visibly tense while
Joyce seemed completely focused on Dawn. In fact, from what Harris had mentioned, Joyce had practically moved into Dawn’s room where
she spent almost every hour with her younger daughter. Granted, her fierce protectiveness and perhaps near paranoia were completely
understandable and even expected. But there seemed to be an underlying tension between the senator and his wife that went far beyond the
new sleeping arrangements. Watching them, he hoped when Buffy returned that she wouldn’t be forever changed. He hoped none of them
would.

Sighing in regret, he continued the demonstration.
***
Sometime later, Spike joined Gunn and Harris in the library.

“How’s the search going?”

“It’s not. We have Rayne’s phone records but he seems to have been making the rounds, he made calls to over two dozen different countries
on the day he left so that doesn’t really narrow it down much. As for his plane, we figure if he had a full tank of fuel he could have made it to
South America or the Caribbean. But that’s assuming he stayed on the same course once he left our airspace.”

“And of course he could have refueled in any one of those countries and then gone someplace else entirely.” Spike added.

“Exactly.”

“Bollocks! I can’t believe we let that bastard get away.”

“We did all we could with what we knew at the time. If it weren’t for Ms. Chase helping us …”

“You’re right, I know we did. At the time it seemed like we were doing everything humanly possible but now, I can’t help but wonder…” He
paused, unsure what to say. Then, “How’s Ms. Chase?”

“As well as can be expected I guess. She has a long road ahead of her but her family is there to help. Her doctors expect to discharge her within
a week or two.”

“Will we provide security for her?” Harris wondered.

“Hmm, I’m not sure we need to. I doubt Rayne will come after her again.”

“But she’s helping us. He must know that she’ll talk.” Harris pressed.
“I’m sure he does. I’m also sure he knew that when he left her alive. And yes, according to her doctors and Giles, from her injuries it seems she
was left alive on purpose. If Angelus wanted to silence her he would have killed her. Giles and I are fairly confident that she is no longer in
danger.”

“Hmm, and what do you make of that?” Spike asked, knowing there was more to it.

“Well, I’m not sure. I guess if Rayne doesn’t see her as a threat then he probably assumes she doesn’t know anything useful.”

“He assumes or he is certain?”

Looking at Spike thoughtfully for a moment Gunn concluded rather deflated, “She has no clue where he is.”

“That’s exactly what I think.” Spike confirmed, then “Rayne isn’t going to take the chance that she might know where he is. He barely got out
of here and he took an enormous risk by taking Buffy along. He won’t be so stupid to go somewhere he normally would, let alone some place
he took his ex.”

“But maybe he expects us to think that so he’ll do exactly what we think he’s unlikely to, sort of reverse psychology.” Harris suggested.

“Perhaps but I doubt it. Giles thinks that taking Buffy along was a last minute decision. I think Rayne was more concerned with simply going
somewhere he wouldn’t be traced.”

“… which means he’s some place Ms. Chase has either never been to or perhaps doesn’t even know about.” Gunn added.

“Exactly.”

“OH GOD!!! This case is going to kill me.” Gunn yelled in frustration. He was so exhausted that he could barely sit up.

Deciding to change the subject, if only slightly, he asked, “Did the installation go well?”

“Yeah, I just finished showing them how to use it.”

“Uh, how do you think they’re holding up?” Gunn asked. He too saw the signs of tension between the parents.

“Barely. They just look so lost. I think they’re trying their best not to think about it but it’s all they can think about. Hell everywhere they go
there’s a bloody reminder, her pictures, the press, us. They’re getting help, right?”

“Dawn saw someone earlier today. Joyce and Hank are considering it.”

“They’ll need it.” Then pausing briefly he added, “Um, considering what’s happened, I’ve asked a few contacts to do some … digging for us.
They’re not FBI but they’re honest and discreet, I trust them with my life.”

“Who are they?”

“A couple of guys I met through my work with the LAPD. They usually have their ears to the ground. I tried contacting them when this first
happened but they were on another assignment. They called me this morning … they might find something.”

“Right now I’ll take whatever help we can get.”

“What are their names?” Harris asked somewhat relieved that they were getting more help.

“Oz and Clem.”
***
Upstairs, Joyce lay resting on the spare bed in Dawn’s room. She was so exhausted. And she was angry. But she wasn’t entirely sure with
whom. Surprisingly she wasn’t angry with Angelus Rayne; she simply hated him. Granted, all she could think about was what he did to Dawn
and what she was certain he was doing to Buffy. But the invasion didn’t end there. He not only stole and abused her children but he also
violated their sense of safety, their sense of home. She and Hank had always tried to give their daughters as normal a life as possible, despite
who they were. But now that was over. This was happening because of who they were. And now Buffy was gone, Dawn was perhaps
permanently traumatized and to make matters worse, they had a new, high tech, state of the art and highly intrusive security system that
symbolized all they’d lost. They’d never be completely safe again. None of them would. Fear now dictated her life and she resented her
powerlessness. She was terrified of leaving Dawn for any length of time and she was seriously considering moving her to a closer school. Or
rather, she and Hank were arguing over whether to move her or not. She wanted Dawn’s belongings to be packed and shipped home
immediately whereas Hank felt that once Dawn was ready to return to school, that taking her away from her friends and the familiar
environment would be a mistake in the long run. The therapist seemed to agree with both of them. That only made her angry with Hank, the
therapist and with herself. Certainly the familiar environment would be a comfort to Dawn but how could he even suggest sending her so far
away from home after everything she’d been through? And what of Buffy? Would he have her return to the apartment where she was so
viciously attacked and abducted? Surely not!

She wanted her family there, where she could see them and touch them and know they were safe. She needed that. But she knew she couldn’t
keep them hidden from the world forever. Buffy and Dawn would need to move on and live their own lives and she would have to let them go.
But for now she simply couldn’t.
***
After returning to the house, Angel sat in his armchair and read while Buffy alternated between reading and watching television. He knew she
was nervous that he would take things further but for now he decided to behave. Instead he settled for stealing glances of her from behind his
book.

Across the room, Buffy tried to distract herself. She could feel his eyes on her, greedily roaming her body and caressing her skin but she
refused to let him see how nervous it made her. She had to stay calm. But no matter how she tried to ignore it, each time she felt his gaze her
stomach tightened into knots and her pulse raced. And what made it worse was her inability to get the image of his tongue laving the tender
strawberry out of her mind and the tingling that surged through her in response. She was terribly uncomfortable and despite her efforts, it
showed as she nervously fidgeted with the pages of her book and aimlessly flipped through the television channels.

Noticing her restless behavior, Angel calmly asked, “Would you like to do something? Go somewhere perhaps?”

Looking like a deer caught in the headlights she nervously replied, “Um, no, not really, I’m fine.”

“You don’t look fine. You look nervous.”

“I’m fine, really.” She insisted. In truth she wouldn’t have minded getting out but she was in no mood to have Luke or Adam watching her too.

After a brief pause, he tried a new tactic, “Come here Buff.”

That deer look again. He nearly laughed aloud.

For a moment she hesitated, then when he patiently waited, she mustered the courage to deal with him and quietly crossed the room.

Taking her hands as she stood before him, he gently massaged them, hoping to calm her. She was shaking terribly and wouldn’t meet his eyes.
She was scared of him.

Sighing regretfully, he had no idea how to help her past it.

He couldn’t be forceful with her but no matter how gentle he was she always looked at him in fear. She probably always would.

He was at a complete loss.

But he wasn’t going to give up.

Deciding not to intimidate her further by standing, he remained seated and simply cupped her chin.

“You’re shaking.”

When she finally met his eyes, he spoke as gently as he could, “It won’t be like before.”

Surprised by his comment, she asked, “I’m still your prisoner, how is this any different?”

In response, he guided her into his lap.

Once she was settled, he again took her hand and kissed it, then “Give me a chance and I’ll show you.”

Meeting his eyes, she saw the passion burning in their depths and her mind instantly flashed back to image of him and the strawberry. And
what he intended to do to her. Feeling her body respond, she pulled back slightly and looked away, trying to hide how flushed she was.

When she finally found her voice, she answered, “You say that as if I have any real choice.”

Still nuzzling her hand he replied, “You have more choices than you realize.” After a moment, “This house doesn’t have to be your prison.”

When she didn’t respond, he again massaged her hand then went on to recite the poem she liked.

Recognizing the words, she looked at him again both in sadness and anger. She chose to focus on her anger, “How dare you!”

Puzzled by her sudden anger, “Buff … what’s wrong?”

“What’s wrong?” She yelled as she abruptly stood, yanking her hand from his. “What isn’t wrong? From the moment we met you’ve used your
power to take everything from me … everyone and everything I’ve ever cared about … you just stripped it all away. You made me your sex
slave and God knows what else you’ve done to me and now you want to talk to me about freedom. I have no choice … you took that along
with everything else. So please, don’t insult me by using that poem to get into my pants again. In fact, why don’t you just skip this entire
seduction thing and be the bastard that you really are and just do it. Just rape me and get it over with because I swear if you think for a second
that I am going to … to give in to you then you might as well kill me now because I’d die first.”

She then spun and stormed into the bedroom, slamming the door behind her.
Stunned by her outburst, Angel remained silently seated for several long moments. It wasn’t his intention to use the poem to get her in bed,
well, not entirely. They had been getting along so well that he thought it might help her to relax around him, he never expected that she’d take
it that way. If it were possible he’d gone and made an already delicate situation even more trying.

Massaging his temples, he was at an even greater loss for what to do now. How was it that when it came to Buffy Summers that he, Angelus
Rayne, could be so inept?

Taking a few deep breaths he decided to let her be for a while, he needed to take a walk.
***
Walking through the gardens, he recalled the kisses they shared just that morning. He remembered the nights they shared at his ranch and
how wonderful she felt under him, surrounding him. As the memories flooded back, he shook his head regretfully. How did they get there?
How did his brilliant plan for revenge turn into such a debacle? He knew how all too well. He had planned for every contingency except this
one, falling for her. He never expected to want her this badly, to need her so deeply. It hurt just to be away from her and it crushed him to be
so thoroughly rejected.

As he continued to walk, he recalled her words and forced himself to face the unthinkable possibility that she might never accept him as her
lover. If she continued to refuse him, what was he going to do? Force her? Threaten her? He didn’t want to do that anymore, that would just
prove her right about him. And as much as he hated to admit it, he didn’t want to be the animal she believed him to be. Her words stung him.
In fact, he was more disturbed by what she said than he was comfortable with. What was happening to him? He had never let a woman get to
him like this before. It was always they who made the sacrifices and settled for what he would give, not the other way around. For heaven’s
sake, he called her his love. He never used that word but now it came so easily to him. Too easily. The entire situation had him off balance and
acting completely out of character. He was clearly losing his mind.

Questioning his motives, he wondered why he was so determined to make her his? Certainly the pleasure of knowing that he seduced Hank’s
daughter was part of it, it was even part of his initial motivation but now it was no longer about flaunting his conquest in Hank’s face. In fact,
since his decision to bring her with him, he hadn’t even thought of Hank Summers. No, this was no longer about taking revenge. This was
entirely about the young woman in his bedroom who he had come to desire more than anything. He wanted to have sex with her; he needed
to. Celibacy wasn’t something that came naturally to him and now he craved the warmth of her core. He longed to be cradled between her
thighs as they drove each other to ecstasy. He’d do almost anything to be buried within her again. But it wasn’t just about sex. He wanted to
see her smile. She hadn’t smiled since her last visit with Dawn and he missed it. He missed seeing her light up inside as she did when he told
her that she could see Dawn. He wanted that back. Perhaps leaving Dawn behind wasn’t such a good idea. But he didn’t want to hold Dawn’s
welfare over her head either. Thinking about his situation, he regretted kidnapping her. He just as easily could have met her at a party and
dated her or simply seduced her. But he was so hell bent on getting back at Hank that he never saw this coming. And now he didn’t know what
else to do. He wanted to give her time but he honestly didn’t think he could last another night next to her without some kind of relief.

Walking back to the house, he decided to do something about it.
***
On the balcony, Buffy watched his approach. She had been watching him for a while and now as he neared the house, she dreaded what he
might do. Actually she was surprised that he didn’t come after her immediately after her outburst and she was immensely relieved when she
heard him leave. In the time since she recalled her words again and again, his stunned expression etched in her mind. She was still very angry
but she also felt a little bad for yelling at him. She hadn’t meant to explode the way she did, in fact, she had been trying to play nice all day. But
when he recited that poem, it just set her off. Now however, she wasn’t entirely comfortable with the reasons it upset her in the first place.
Certainly most of it was for the reasons she gave, she resented his trying to manipulate her. But that wasn’t what disturbed her. In truth some
of her anger was in response to her own guilt. She felt incredibly guilty because with his every touch, his every kiss, she was tempted to give in,
to give up and get it over with. She was tempted to stop fighting, to betray her family and everything she ever believed in and just surrender to
him. Surrender the way she had the night he first recited the poem to her. Closing her eyes, she remembered the power of his touch and the
fire he ignited within her. She was tormented by the guilt and shame of her desire. Her body craved him and she resented his power over her.
And now she had probably angered him so much that he was going to punish her in the worst possible way.

Opening her eyes again to fight back the memories, she wondered if she would ever escape. So far she hadn’t seen anything promising and she
was getting frustrated. That only added to her irritability. She was just so tired of constantly being on guard and being scared. She wanted
nothing more than to go to sleep and not worry about being molested … or worse. The temptation to simply give in was growing.

But watching his approach, she took in his determined stride and wondered if giving in was even an option any more. Fearing the worst, she
moved from the balcony and into the bedroom when she saw him climb the steps to the terrace. He was on his way.

Moving to the bed, she lied on top of the covers, awaiting his arrival. As the seconds passed, she nervously wondered what he was planning,
how bad it would be. Forcing her mind from it, she focused on relaxing. Perhaps if she didn’t fight he’d make it quick and not hurt her too
much.

Closing her eyes, she waited for him.

And waited and waited.

Watching the nearby clock, she gazed as the seconds turned to minutes, the minutes into hours. She wanted to move but she was frozen with
uncertainty. Was this waiting part of the torture he had cooked up for her? Stopping herself from imagining all the possible sadistic cruelties
he was sure to subject her to, she tried to think of other things. Her friends, her colleagues, and her parents. Dawn. Thinking of her sister
helped her relax. Granted, she still didn’t know for certain whether Dawn was ok or not but she was fairly confident that she was probably
home with her parents by now. She could hardly believe how little time had actually passed since she was kidnapped. It was just over a week
since Angel barged into her life and she could hardly believe how radically her world had changed. She was so far removed from her normal
life that it felt like months since she’d seen anything familiar. She was living in Angel’s world now but at least Dawn was spared. Recalling the
last time she saw her sister, she wondered why Angel left her behind. Granted, she was happy that he did but why did he? He’d used Dawn to
get to her before so it wasn’t as though he was above doing such a thing. Sighing, she gave up on trying to figure him out and simply took
comfort in knowing that whatever he did to her that night at least her sacrifice wasn’t in vain.

But knowing that didn’t calm her fear of what she certain was to come.

Feeling her stomach tighten into knots, she pulled a pillow over her head and closed her eyes, trying not to think at all.

Eventually she fell asleep.
***
A while later Buffy awoke to gentle knocking on the bedroom door. Puzzled as to who would be knocking, she cautiously opened the door,
peering from behind it. On the other side was a fully liveried man smiling shyly at her.

“Good Evening Miss, may I come in?”

Unsure what he was there for and dreading the worst, she looked at him suspiciously.

Seeing her puzzled look, the man continued. “I have your dinner, Miss.”

Only when his words registered did she notice the cart he was pushing. Not to mention the incredibly enticing aroma coming from it. He was
delivering her dinner.

Smiling briefly in realization, she replied, “Oh yes, I’m sorry. I think I’m still half asleep.” She then moved away from the door and opened it
further to allow him in.

“Oh, did I wake you?” He asked slightly alarmed.

“Well yes but that’s fine. Thank you for waking me.” She smiled again hoping to reassure him that it was indeed fine. She hadn’t intended to
fall asleep.

Smiling back, he silently entered and took the cart onto the balcony. There he proceeded to arrange an elaborate setting for one. That didn’t
go unnoticed.

Within minutes, the table was impeccably set and her dinner was laid out and presented.

Then her server said, “Mr. Rayne sends his apologies for not joining you tonight. He would like me to ask whether you wish for me to stay and
serve you or would you prefer to dismiss me?”

Hesitating briefly, she decided to dismiss him. Granted she really would have preferred the company but looking at him, somehow she
doubted he would contribute much to the dinner conversation. He’d probably just stand there as she ate, silently waiting to fulfill her ever
wish. And as fun as being waited on hand and foot might sound, she was never brought up that way. Sure her family had a housekeeper but
she only cleaned a few days a week, she never actually waited on them. This was entirely different and she wouldn’t be comfortable with him
just standing there as she ate.

Before leaving, he showed her the call button on Angel’s side of the bed, “In case you need anything, Miss.” Then shortly after she thanked
him, he was gone.

After his departure, Buffy made her way back onto the balcony. Looking across at the empty seat, she sighed worriedly. This was the last thing
she expected. Was he that angry with her? She didn’t know what to think. The longer he stayed away the more worried she got but at the
same time his absence was somewhat a relief. Shutting out the conflicting thoughts, she sat and watched the sunset as she ate. She had no
idea if it would be her last.

Once she was finished, she called for the cart to be collected. Then as the servant cleared the table, she moved into the sitting area and looked
for something on the television to distract herself with.
***
In the formal dining room, Angel and Lindsey sat across from each other quietly eating. When Angel showed up without Buffy, he simply said,
“She won’t be joining us tonight.”

Lindsey chose to leave it there. He knew if Angel wanted to talk he would.

But as the meal progressed, he couldn’t ignore how dejected Angel looked. So as they ate dessert, he decided to take the plunge. “What
happened?”

Slightly caught off guard by Lindsey’s question, he took a few moments to think before answering. “We had an argument. I’m not entirely sure
what happened but I’m certain it’s my fault.”

“What did you do?”
“I was trying to help her relax so I began reciting a poem she liked and well, I offended her instead. She just blew up and … I don’t know …
maybe we’ve been spending too much time together so I’m giving her some space for a while.” He didn’t want to go into the details of just
what she said.

Knowing that Angel wouldn’t disclose any more, Lindsey asked, “Where are you sleeping?”

“In the guest room down the hall. I figure I should stay fairly close by just in case she needs something.”

“Does she know that you’re only a few doors down?”

“Not at the moment. But to be honest, right now I don’t think she could care less about where I am.”

Hearing the hurt in his voice, Lindsey offered, “Would you like me to try?” At Angel’s uncertain look he added, “Maybe you have been
spending too much time with her. She might be more open to someone less … hands on.” He hoped Angel got what he was saying.

“Well if you don’t mind, sure, go ahead cause honestly, I have no idea what else to do.”

“Well Angel how could you? As much as you want this girl, you must realize how little you really know her.”

“I know that I love her.” There was that word again but it came so naturally now that he barely noticed.

Stunned by Angel’s admission, Lindsey considered his words before responding. “I suppose you do but your regard for her isn’t the issue. She
doesn’t know you or at least not the side you want her to. You’ve got to find a way to show her how you feel … but it’s got to mean something
to her. And remember, she’s not Cordelia, the usual stuff probably won’t work with her.”

“No she is not.” Then, “It’s funny, I think I got so used to making up by using my wallet that I really have no idea where to start.”

“Perhaps. Buffy and Dawn stand to inherit much of their family’s wealth. Money probably doesn’t have quite the same … persuasive qualities
as it did with your other girlfriends.” Then after a moment, “Angel, take my advice. You’ve got to take a step back and get to know her or you’ll
forever be grasping in the dark where she’s concerned.”

“I’ve been trying … but she won’t even let me close enough to get to know her. She’s being unreasonable.”

“Unreasonable?” Lindsey asked incredulously, “Angel, do you even remember what you did to her? She has no reason to let you in.” At Angel’s
grimace he softened, “Look, she has a lot of pent up anger, anger I might add that she is entitled to. You can’t expect her to just get past that.
If you are to have any chance with her then you need to be prepared to take the heat.” He hated being so stern with his cousin, especially
knowing how hurt he was but there was no other way around it. Angel made this mess and now he had to deal with it.

Taking in Lindsey’s words Angel nodded, “You’re right, you’re right. I did this to her and now I have to face the music. If she is to ever give me a
chance, at the very least I owe her that.” Then after a moment, “If I’d thought for a second that this was going to happen … I, I just wish I could
take her pain away.”

Nodding in understanding, Lindsey added, “I know.” Then “Look, you did a lot of research on her. Use it to find some common ground. There
must be something that can bring you two together. It’ll work out … eventually. Just be there when she needs you.” He then cracked a little
smile.

Seeing Lindsey smile, Angel shook his head at his predicament. Then he started laughing. At Lindsey’s questioningly look, he proceeded to
share how he walked straight into Buffy’s insult that afternoon.

The two cousins then broke out into uncontrollable fits of laughter at the hilarity of the entire situation.
***
Several hours later the cousins took their leave of each other and Angel headed upstairs. Pausing at his room door, he decided to check on
Buffy. Granted it was very late and he was intoxicated but he felt guilty for not having dinner with her.

So dragging himself down the hall, he entered their suite. He was surprised to find Buffy fast asleep on the sofa, the television still on. She was
wearing a blue set of silk pajamas, the remote held loosely in her hand. Glancing at the clock, he saw that it was after 3am. Deciding not to
wake her, he turned the TV off then carefully picked her up and took her to the bedroom. Placing her on the bed, he smiled to himself when
she began muttering softly in her sleep as he covered her with a blanket. Then quietly moving around the room he gathered a few items to
take with him into the guest room.

On his way out, he paused, briefly watching her slumber. She looked so peaceful curled up on the bed that he couldn’t resist holding her just
once more. So carefully he climbed into the bed with her and shifted her into his arms. He loved holding her and at that moment, he
surrendered to his need for her. He would no longer fight it and let his pride get in the way. He knew without a doubt that they were made for
each other and he would do anything to make her truly his. Holding her, he swore that he would not give up. That no matter what happened
he would not let her push him away. He loved her and with all his being, refused to let her go.

Kissing her gently on the forehead, he held her closer, closing his eyes as he drank in her essence.

It wasn’t long before he too fell asleep.
***
Sometime later, Angel suddenly awoke. He was still in bed with Buffy and she was snuggled closely to him, the blanket now covering both of
them. Looking towards the balcony, he could see the early morning sun streaming through the French doors. The dawn was beautiful and for a
few moments he took in the sight. Initially he was tempted to share the moment with Buffy but recalling the previous day, wisely decided
against it. In fact, he chose to leave before she woke. But he didn’t want her to think he was angry with her. So gently he left the bed and went
into the sitting area. There he quickly scribbled a note then returning, placed it on the pillow next to her.

He then grabbed the clothes and other items he had collected earlier and quietly left.
***
A short while later Buffy gradually woke. Shifting on the bed she burrowed further into the covers, pulling them closer. Waking slowly, she
furrowed her brow, recognizing a scent on the blanket that she had come to know as purely Angel. It was a unique combination of aftershave,
whatever cologne he wore and something she couldn’t quite place but would probably describe as … sweet. She would forever associate it
with him. As her eyes fluttered open, she realized that she was no longer in the sitting room. And having no memory of going into the
bedroom let alone getting a blanket she assumed that Angel must have moved her. Rubbing her eyes, she looked over to where he usually
slept expectantly. The only thing she found was a note with the words,

I’m sorry

A

After reading the brief note, she fell back against the pillows, pulling the blanket even closer as she closed her eyes. After every horrific thing
she imagined he would to do her, his note was immensely comforting. And knowing that he had put her in bed and stayed at least long enough
to get his scent on the blanket furthered her reassurance. He wasn’t going to punish her. His absence was no longer a sign of foreboding. She
was so relieved she could feel the tension instantly draining from her body. Admittedly she hadn’t realized just how tense she was and was
rather surprised by the effect those few words had on her. Breathing deeply, she surrounded herself with his essence. Feeling his presence
reinforced the words of his note and strangely, helped to calm her.

Burrowing further into the covers, she pulled the blankets even closer as she drifted back to sleep.
***
A while later Buffy awoke and took a shower. She had no idea if Angel had made plans for them that day but she wanted to go out into the
gardens without him breathing down her neck. There had to be a way out. But as she dressed she heard a soft knock on the closet door.

“Buff?” She would recognize that voice anywhere. Damn him!

Suddenly nervous she answered, “Y-Yes?”

“May I come in?”

“Um, wait a minute!” She answered frantically as she quickly zipped her pants and pulled on a blouse. She was so nervous that her hands were
trembling, her stomach all tied up in knots. She knew it was ridiculous since he’d seen her completely nude several times already but for some
reason he still had that effect on her. So after taking several deep breaths, she slowly moved to the door and opened it. “Yes?”

“Ah, I see you’re dressed. I was hoping to get an early start today. Lindsey and I wish to take you out this afternoon but we need to collect your
dresses from the boutique first.”

“My dresses?”

“The ones we had tailored, they’re ready but it’s best to have a final fitting and I’d rather do it at the store than have them come out here. It’s
more convenient that way.”

“Yeah I bet.” She replied knowing full well the real reason why he didn’t want the seamstress to come to the villa.

Ignoring her comment he continued, “And there are a few other places I’d like to take you.” When she didn’t respond he added, “that is, if you
don’t mind.”

She wanted to say that she did mind so he’d leave her alone and she could get on with planning her escape but she knew if she declined that
he wouldn’t leave her alone for any length of time and she’d never get a chance to go out on her own. If it weren’t him watching her it would
be one of his men.

And speaking of his men, “Um Angel, who’s coming with us?”

Looking at her skeptically he responded, “Lindsey.”

“And?” She prodded.

“And … no one. It’ll just be you, Linds and I.”

“What about Luke … or Adam, won’t they be there too?”

“Would you like them to accompany us?”
At her glare he smirked at her knowingly, then moving closer, lightly stroked her arms. “No, it’ll just be the three of us. Adam and Luke have
their uses but I know being around them upsets you.” Then hooking a finger under her chin and lifting her face, “and that is simply
unacceptable.”

“And you don’t think I can escape you?” She challenged.

“Oh I’m certain you can. But I’m just as certain that I will find you.” He then moved to the door. Then calling over his shoulder added, “Your
breakfast is ready my love.”
******
Part 15
******
Buffy glared at his retreating form indignantly, her anger rising by the moment. He was intolerable. His pompous, unapologetic attitude and his
damn little nicknames irked her so much that she could barely restrain the urge to slap him. She was so angry she could almost taste the
satisfaction from it. That arrogant asshole! Now she had to spend the entire day with him and Lindsey. Damn!!!

Growing increasingly frustrated, she took several deep breaths to calm herself. She couldn’t afford to let her anger get the better of her.
Somehow she’d managed to escape his wrath the day before and now she really didn’t want press her luck. After seeing him at his worst, she
would do almost anything to avoid that cold fury in his eyes. Besides, perhaps going out was a good idea after all. It could be just the chance
she needed. After a few moments, she composed herself and left the closet.

However, as she made her way to the balcony she saw Angel sitting at the table, busily reading a newspaper. She paused, silently fuming.
Something about seeing him sitting there made playing nice near impossible.

Noticing her hesitation, he put aside his newspaper, “Please, sit.”

When she came only a bit closer, he continued, “I took the liberty of ordering your breakfast. I think you’ll like what I selected.” He gestured to
the setting across from him.

Following his gesture she looked over to the covered dishes, his presumptuousness kicking her ire up a notch.

“You sure are full of yourself aren’t you?”

Hearing the taunt in her voice, he grimaced. Things were getting off to a great start. “Buff, please. I know you’re still angry about yesterday but
I don’t wish to argue with you. Let’s at least try to have a pleasant day.” He then gestured to her seat again.

Considering his words briefly she remembered her little pep talk in the closet and decided to concede. Given her disadvantage, instigating
trouble wouldn’t be wise.

Quietly taking her seat across from him, she pointedly sat and paused dramatically before removing the cover from her plate. There she
proceeded to carefully inspect the meal before her. On the larger plate was a scrumptious looking omelette and next to it were two smaller
dishes, one with papaya and cherries, the contents of the other were unfamiliar.

At her questioning look he responded, “I thought I’d introduce you to some of the local cuisine.”

Smiling when she raised her eyebrows skeptically, he added, “Don’t worry, it’s not poison.” Then taking a fork, he pointed out the new items,
“This is roasted breadfruit and this is cocoa bread and cheese. I figured I wouldn’t overwhelm your taste buds if I mixed it with something
familiar, hence the omelette and fruit.” At her still apprehensive expression, “Try it, I think you’ll like them.”

Cautiously she took a small bite of the breadfruit. It was very tender and surprisingly rather sweet. It was nothing like what she would have
expected something named breadfruit to taste like. She then took a bite from the cocoa bread and cheese. The bread was only slightly sweet
and the cheese was sharper than she was used to but overall both were quite pleasing. Granted she was tempted to spit it out and refuse to
eat but admittedly she was rather hungry. And since she was planning to escape then it would be a good idea to eat something first. So at his
expectant look, she grudgingly nodded her approval and in resignation, began unraveling her napkin.

That’s when she saw it.

A single Sterling Silver rose hidden within the white folds of the cloth napkin. Struck by the vibrant lavender petals and silver undertones, she
lightly caressed the rose then after a moment, brought it to her nose and deeply inhaled its fragrance. They were her favorite.

Letting the rose linger, she remembered the last time she received a bouquet of Sterling roses. Her birthday.

Observing her contemplative expression, Angel uneasily wondered if he made the same mistake as he had with the poem. And the longer she
remained silent the more uncertain he got.

Then suddenly she smiled. It was so small and so brief that only the flush of her cheeks gave it away. Then just as quickly as it appeared, it was
gone. Despite his relief at her smile, he doubted that it was for him.

Placing the rose on the table, she looked directly at him. “Where are we going?”

Furrowing his brow curiously as to why she smiled, he vaguely answered, “After we collect your clothes, we’re taking a tour of the island.”
“Of the entire island?” She asked skeptically.

“Hmm, much of it.”

“Won’t that take hours?”

Looking at her speculatively “Do you have plans that I’m unaware of?”

“Oh yes, I’m hosting a little tea party.”

Smirking at her sarcasm he amended, “I just mean does it matter if it takes all day?”

Shrugging, “What do you care anyway? As long as I’m your little obedient prisoner, you don’t really give a damn.”

“Look Buffy, I thought getting out and doing something different would help ease the tension between us but we can stay home if you don’t
want to go.”

She reveled in the frustrated edge in his voice. She was definitely pushing his buttons. However, as fun as pissing him off might be, pushing
him too far would probably cost her the chance to leave the villa.

Thinking better of it, she conceded. “No. It’s fine. Getting out is probably a good idea, being cooped up too long tends to make me cranky.”
Then ignoring the temptation to aggravate him further, she wisely began eating her breakfast.

Although suspicious, he accepted her concession and poured them both a glass of orange juice. Then uncovering his own dish, he proceeded
with breakfast.

They had a long day ahead of them.
***
About half an hour later, when Buffy was finally ready, the three left the villa. As Lindsey drove, she and Angel sat in the rear. The silence was
uncomfortable. Attempting to ease the awkwardness, Angel began pointing out a few landmarks. He told her that they lived in Runaway Bay,
which was about half an hour from Ocho Rios.

As he talked, Buffy noticed that he appeared to be gauging her reactions. He kept his voice low and gentle and although his arm was draped
around her on the back of the seat, he consciously avoided touching her. He was clearly trying to figure out how to handle her. Noting his
behavior, Buffy wondered what the status of their compromise was. Was he backing off entirely or would he still demand that she allow him to
kiss her? Deciding not to bring it up, she focused on the scenery.

As if reading her mind, Angel gently touched her hand, startling her.

Reluctantly she met his eyes then he murmured, “We’ll talk later.”

Relieved that he wouldn’t push it for now, she nodded. But of course she had no intentions of ever having that conversation.

The rest of the journey was made in silence.
***
A short while later, they arrived at the boutique and quickly entered the store. She and Angel were then escorted to the fitting area where
several dresses and formal gowns awaited her. Initially, she was annoyed that Angel essentially wanted her to model for him but knowing that
he would probably take her back to the villa if she acted up, she decided to oblige him. Swallowing her pride, she knew she had a better
chance of escape or at least of being seen if she kept her cool. So at Angel’s suggestion, she tried on the gowns first.

The first was a strapless, floor-length emerald green velvet gown with a corset bodice and a slightly flaring full skirt. It was something out of a
fairytale. The color nicely accentuated her creamy skin and the deep green really brought out her eyes. Not surprisingly it was one that Angel
picked. As she dressed, she noticed the tag on the garment bag read “Mrs. Rayne.” She bristled.

Nearly hyperventilating at the mere suggestion, she angrily ripped the tag off the bag and for several long moments, forced herself to calm.
She had to keep her head. It was then that she saw the index card on the floor. Looking at the remnant of the tag in her hand, she saw that it
was simply a plastic tag in which the index card was placed. Her ripping it off broke the snaps securing it in place.

Just then Angel softly knocked on the door. “Buff, do you need any help?”

“No, j-just give me a second.”

Thinking quickly, she snatched the card up and pushed it into the garment bag.

Then after taking a few deep breaths, she opened the door.

Angel audibly gasped at her appearance. Even with the minimal makeup she was wearing and no jewelry, she was absolutely stunning.
Using all of his restraint not to ravage her on the spot, he wordlessly held up the shoes he’d selected to go with the gown.

As she reached for them, he whispered, “No, please sit. I’ll do it.” After seeing her, he didn’t quite trust his voice.
Hesitating briefly, she decided to play along. She didn’t want to make him suspicious. So sighing in exasperation, she sat on the small bench
and slightly pulled up her skirt to expose her feet. There she waited expectantly. Once she was seated, Angel moved closer and kneeling before
her, slipped the strappy heels on her feet. As he fastened them, he couldn’t help noticing how tightly she was grasping the skirt of the dress.
Clearly she intended to thwart any attempt he might make to raise it higher. As if she could stop him.

Locking gazes, he saw the defiance burning in her eyes, daring him to try something. Facetiously meeting her challenge, he drew out his task,
lightly caressing her feet as he gazed intently into her eyes.

Completely aware of his wandering hands, Buffy returned his gaze. She knew he was flirting with her and in some way she was flirting back but
she refused to let him intimidate her. No matter what, she was not going to retreat.

The seconds crawled by.

Angel was impressed when she didn’t back down and shyly look away as he expected but rather seemed to up the stakes. It was a challenge he
couldn’t refuse.

Tempted to see how far he could go, he stealthily moved his hands along her feet, gradually advancing to her ankle and slowly up her leg,
never once breaking eye contact. When his hand got midway up her calf she snarled through gritted teeth, “Clearly in your attempt to feel me
up, you’ve neglected to see how close my heels are to your crotch. Unless you want to lose something valuable I suggest you back off.” She
then smiled sweetly at him.

Only then did he notice the proximity of her rather impressive heels to his groin. Smirking, he promptly returned his hands to her shoes to
finish his task. Then, “I see you’re determined to make this difficult, which ordinarily might bother me. But I have to say, you are so damn cute
when you’re angry.”

When she glared at him, he added, “Come my love, can’t we call a truce so we can at least get through this? Afterwards I promise you can
inveigh me all you want.”

“Stop patronizing me and I am NOT your love!” She then crossed her arms over her chest petulantly.

Angel nearly laughed aloud. How could she expect him not to patronize her when she was pouting so adorably? But he knew she was angry
and laughing would only irritate her further. So suppressing his amusement, “Buff, I don’t mean to patronize you but why are you trying to
anger me?”

“I’m not.” She murmured.

“Really? Cause to the naked eye, it looks like you’re trying to pick a fight.”

“I’m not! Believe me, the last thing I want is to make YOU angry again. I’m just … cranky I guess.”

“You’re a hell of a lot more than cranky, Buff.”

“Well, it’s not my fault that you inspire nothing but fear and loathing in me.”

“No, I suppose not. And you have every right to feel that way. But Baby, let’s get this done quickly. Then we can get on with our day.” After a
moment, “I think you’ll like the tour.”

“And what makes you think that?” She asked irritated by yet another endearment.

Smiling mischievously he replied, “Nothing in particular, I just think you will.”

“Oh well then, it MUST be so.”

Meeting his annoyed glare defiantly, she still refused to back down although now she really was quite nervous that perhaps she had crossed
the line.

But Angel saw through her bravado.

“Well perhaps I’m mistaken … so tell you what, afterward you can tell me whether you enjoyed it or not. After all, I only want to … please you.”
The sexual innuendo came across loud and clear.

She looked away. Angel smiled smugly at his victory.

When she remained silent, he asked, “Are you ready to do this then or would you prefer to reschedule this appointment?”

Heeding his warning, she hastily replied, “No … don’t reschedule, I-I’m ready.”

He then assisted her to her feet.

The shoes matched perfectly.
***
They then left the changing room and entered the fitting area where the seamstress awaited to make adjustments. Once she determined that
the gown fit perfectly, Buffy returned to the changing room to try the next one.

The next was a knee-length, shimmering light blue sheath dress that fit like a glove. When Angel slipped the clear, silver trimmed heels on her
feet she could feel his barely restrained ferocity. She knew he was mere steps from taking her right there in the changing room. This time
when he met her eyes, she quickly looked away. She didn’t want to see his hunger for her.

Seeing her retreat, Angel decided not to push it and kept his hands on her shoes.

That dress too was deemed a perfect fit and Buffy quickly moved on to the next.

And so it continued.

She tried on the dresses and Angel spared no expense in lavishly adorning her. Eventually she worked her way through the remaining formal
gowns then moved onto the casual dresses.

Throughout it all, Buffy wasn’t the least surprised that again Angel never allowed the attendants to be alone with her. She expected it. But now
she was prepared. Unbeknownst to Angel and Lindsey, she had slipped her eyeliner pencil into her pocket before leaving the villa and now she
had the perfect plan for that confounded nametag. Relieved that every time she changed Angel waited outside the changing room until she
was fully dressed, she used each opportunity to write on the blank side of the card. Using simple phrases, she identified herself, where she was
from, whom her father was and most importantly, that she was kidnapped, that Angel was keeping her in Runaway Bay and she needed help.

When all was done and the last dress was given the final approval, Buffy sighed in relief that it was finally over. She could hardly wait to leave
her note behind.

As she anxiously returned to the changing room, Angel quietly called her aside.

“Would you please wear this for our outing?” He gestured to the dress she was wearing.

“Why?”

“It’s probably more appropriate for where we’re going … and I’d like to see you wear it.” Buffy was about to protest further but recalling his
earlier warning and not wanting to ruin her chances, reconsidered. She didn’t want to return to the villa for the rest of the day just yet.
Suppressing the impulse to argue, she nodded and quietly returned to the changing room. She needed to choose her battles wisely.

Standing in the changing room, Buffy assessed the dress she was wearing in the mirror. It was a soft sky blue halter sundress. It fit her quite
well, the light material stopping just above her knees and thanks to the soft padding, you couldn’t even tell she wasn’t wearing a bra. Unsure
of what Angel’s plans were, she took her final free moments to ask whoever read her note to please contact the US FBI immediately. Sighing,
she then placed the card on the small bench and slowly gathered her clothes and prepared to leave.

While Buffy got her things, Angel paid for their purchases. When the sales lady quoted the tally, Angel was slightly taken aback. He wasn’t
exactly in the habit of paying attention to prices. Not that money was an issue as such but after his conversation with Lindsey the night before,
he didn’t want to risk insulting Buffy by appearing to be attempting to buy her. Relieved that she hadn’t come out of the changing room yet, he
quickly took care of it while Lindsey loaded the bags into the vehicle. Shrugging, he shook his head. He was a hopeless case.

Moments later, Angel escorted Buffy to their vehicle while Lindsey got the last of their bags then a short while later the three were on their
way to the villa.

On the journey back, all Buffy could think of was her note.
***
Once they arrived, the servants promptly came out to help carry the shopping bags into the house. Following Angel’s instructions, they carried
everything into the master suite and unpacked the items while Buffy and Angel arranged them appropriately. Granted it was a bit of a
nuisance but Angel wanted Buffy to arrange her side of the closet and dressing area however she chose. He doubted she would appreciate the
servants arranging her personal items. So for about twenty minutes, the two worked quickly, quietly and without incident. Then once all the
clothes were put away, they prepared for their tour.

Before leaving Buffy quickly used the bathroom while Angel selected a light sweater for her. Unbeknownst to Buffy, he also pulled out a pair of
handcuffs.

Then without further delay, she, Angel and Lindsey again headed out.
***
For quite some time they drove along the winding hillside, stopping occasionally to explore various sights. The countryside was beautiful and
peaceful.

Unfortunately Buffy never got a moment’s peace from Angel.

When they pulled up to the first stop along their journey, Angel revealed the handcuffs.

Rather unsettled by their appearance Buffy nervously asked, “W-Why do you have those?”
Smirking, “I intend to keep you as close to me as possible … I’d hate for you to … lose your way.”

“I-I won’t run … I promise.” She replied, smiling innocently.

“No need to make promises you don’t intend to keep, my dear. I know you won’t run … you won’t be able to.” He then locked the cuff around
her wrist.

Frowning, Buffy stubbornly refused to move when Angel opened the door. He wanted to be cuffed to her? Well fine, but she wasn’t going
anywhere.

Not even bothering to argue, Angel moved over her then quickly scooped her out of the car before she could stop him.

Struggling in his arms, her protests got louder and louder.

Grateful that no one was around, he asked sternly, “Do you want to go back to the house?”

That halted all protests. “No.”

“I didn’t think so. Now shall I put you down or would you rather I carry you?”

Taking a deep breath, she conceded, “Please put me down.”

“And you’ll cooperate?”

“Yes … I’ll cooperate.”

“Well then, I knew we’d reach a compromise.” He then carefully placed her on her feet.

And so it continued. He handcuffed her to him whenever they left the car, which ordinarily might have drawn attention to them had he not
selected only the most remote and sparsely populated places to visit. He made sure no one was around and that she had no chance to make a
run for it.

Each time she was cuffed to him, Buffy’s frustration increased exponentially that soon she was imagining strangling him with it. She could
almost feel his neck snap under the pressure, the satisfying crunch nearly bringing a smile to her face. If only she could get it around his neck.
Tempting as that was, somehow she doubted Lindsey would just sit there while she attacked Angel.

Granted she could try to get the key but she noticed that Lindsey was safekeeping it in the locked glove compartment. When they drove, Angel
kept his arms around her. When they stopped, Lindsey would turn around and cuff her to Angel before exiting the vehicle. When they got back
into the car, Lindsey only freed her once he was back in the driver’s seat. The entire procedure was a pain in the ass but it was effective. They
were tag teaming her; ensuring one of them was always in a position to restrain her if necessary. And thwarting any attempts to jump from the
moving vehicle, Buffy was rather dismayed to discover the child locks were on.

She had to give them credit; they really thought this through.

Only by some miracle could she hurl herself into the front passenger seat and jump from there before Angel and Lindsey managed to stop her.
Even then, assuming she survived the jump, she would probably injure herself severely enough to make running near impossible. And even if
she could manage to run, it was highly unlikely that she’d get very far on foot with both of them pursuing her.

Once the scenario played out in her head she abandoned the idea. There was no way she could pull it off and she certainly wasn’t about to
nearly kill herself just to get recaptured. No. Better to wait for something more promising.

Sighing, she leaned back against her seat. The fantasy was fun while it lasted.

For the rest of the journey, Buffy tried to keep her composure. Suppressing her homicidal instincts, she tried to focus on the big picture. If she
didn’t get to escape at least her note was out there. She prayed that someone would find it.
***
About an hour later they pulled up to a small nondescript building located in what looked to be an open field. Exiting the vehicle, Buffy noticed
that Angel did not handcuff her. That was no oversight. She was now extremely curious as to what he had planned.

Upon entering the building, a man greeted them.

“Good day, Mr. Rayne.”

Angel nodded and shook the man’s hand in greeting then, “Caleb, I’m sure you remember my cousin Lindsey McDonald.”

“Yes, yes I do. I believe we met a few years ago.”

“Yes, we did.” Lindsey replied as Caleb also shook his hand.

After their greeting, Caleb’s gaze then shifted to Buffy who had wondered a few steps away.
Briefly Angel observed his wanton scrutiny of her, knowing that when it came to women, Caleb couldn’t be trusted. But he had his uses.
Interrupting his carnal fantasy, Angel called over to her.

Upon hearing her name, Buffy was tempted to dawdle in retaliation for the handcuffs but something in the edge of his voice made her respond
promptly. Angel wasn’t playing.

As she stood next to him, she noticed the pointed manner with which he took her hand. Only then did she notice the man ogling her.

Suddenly, Buffy felt incredibly uncomfortable. His blatant assessment of her and his entire demeanor sent chills down her spine. The look in his
eyes scared her in ways that Angel never had. The term serial killer instantly came to mind. Subconsciously, she squeezed Angel’s hand a little
tighter.

Feeling her response, Angel deftly drew her into his arms.

“My dear, this is Caleb. Caleb, this is my girlfriend, Buffy.” His cordial words notwithstanding, the overt warning in Angel’s eyes left no question
as to the fate of any man who dared touch what was his.

Unaware that she had squeezed his hand, Buffy was so intently focused on the stranger among them that she hardly seemed to notice Angel’s
declaration. She did notice however that his fiercely possessive embrace effectively prevented Caleb from trying to shake her hand. Not that
she wanted to shake his hand anyway. Buffy could hardly believe it was possible for someone to be scarier than Angel and his men. Her
resentment of the claim Angel felt he had on her aside, at that moment Buffy was relieved for his protective shield.

Noting Angel’s rather impressive alpha male behavior, Caleb knew this one wasn’t to be touched and wisely backed off.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you.” He replied, then immediately getting down to business, Caleb again looked at Angel, “It’s great to do business
with you again. Your pilot got here a while ago so the chopper should be ready shortly.”

His pilot? A chopper? Rather unsettled by this news, Buffy wondered where Angel was taking her.

As the small group exited the rear of the building, Buffy saw Lorne busily preparing a rather impressive looking helicopter. Just then Caleb and
Lindsey left them and approached the chopper to speak with Lorne.

Buffy looked at Angel uncertainly.

Answering her unasked question, “I told you, we’re taking a tour of the island. We’re doing the rest by helicopter.”

“I figured that much on my own, it’s just … I’d rather keep my feet on the ground.”

“What’s this? You can’t be afraid of flying … you were fine on the plane.”

“Yes but a plane is not a helicopter and anyway, just because I don’t have a paralyzing fear of flying doesn’t mean I don’t have a very healthy
respect for the laws of gravity.”

Chuckling, “Is my baby scared?” Angel asked in a sickeningly sweet, cooing tone as he tightened his arms around her, then whispering in her
ear, “Don’t worry, I won’t let anything happen to you.”

“Oh, I feel so much better. What was I thinking? After all your hard work kidnapping me and all, I should know you wouldn’t let anything like a
little helicopter crash stop you from having your way with me.” Then pointedly extricating herself from his arms, she added, “And for the
record, I’m NOT your love, your baby or your girlfriend. And I sure as hell am NOT Mrs. Rayne. My name is Buffy … use it!” She hissed before
purposefully striding toward the helicopter.
***
Watching her walk away from him, Angel took several deep breaths as he counted to ten. And then to twenty. He was torn. Part of him was
impressed when she challenged him. It was in some way a sign that she was adjusting to him, that her fear was slowly giving way to her anger
and he wanted her to feel free to vent it, to express herself however she needed. But at the same time part of him refused to grant her that
freedom but rather still wanted to dominate her completely, to force her to submit to him. But he knew all too well that that way wouldn’t win
her heart. Was there a balance? Could he set her free while keeping her in line?

Strolling toward to chopper, Angel pondered his peculiar situation.

Standing at the cabin door, he saw that Buffy was already seated in one of the rear passenger seats. She was staring out the window with her
arms again crossed over her chest. Looking at her he saw that she was sulking in very much the same way she had at the boutique. Did she
have any idea how tempting she looked? God! He wanted to kiss those pouting lips.

Grabbing two pairs of headphones, he climbed into the back and handed her a set. When she looked at him questioningly, he explained, “The
helicopter is very loud, these will protect your hearing. Also, Lindsey and I will be pointing out various landmarks so you’ll need these to hear
us.”

She nodded and held them in her lap as she again looked out the window.

After a few moments she asked, “He’s not coming with us, is he?”
“You mean Caleb?” When she nodded, “No, part of his job is to maintain the hangar.”

After a moment, “Who is he?”

“He works primarily for Quentin but occasionally I use his services.”

“His services?” When Angel pointedly looked at her, “Never mind, I don’t want to know.” She then quickly looked away.

Sensing her contempt, Angel was suddenly quite ashamed of himself, of what he did and the kind of people he worked with. The feeling was
strange and somewhat overwhelming. Then softly he replied, “Not everything I do is illegal. Despite what you may think, the majority of my
work is legitimate.”

Surprised by his comment, she looked at him curiously. Why was he telling her this? Did he think it made one damn difference?

Looking away she said, “I don’t like him.”

Noticing her avoidance he let it go, “I noticed. But then I didn’t expect you to particularly like any of us … given the circumstances.”

“And I don’t like any of you … but he’s different.”

“Different how?”

“I don’t know … the way he looked at me.”

“Ah yes, Caleb is always going after the ladies, which is weird since I don’t think he actually likes women very much but he seems to get a thrill
out of stalking them.”

“Is that why you introduced me as your girlfriend?”

“Not entirely, someday I hope it’ll be true.” When she didn’t react he added, “But for the moment yes, unless he has a death wish he won’t be
so foolish as to bother you now that he knows that you’re mine.” The words were out of his mouth before he realized what he said. Knowing
there was no way to take it back, he cautiously looked at her, waiting for her response.

“Marking your territory I see … how very barbaric of you,” was her calm reply but the anger in her eyes said it all. She then slipped the
headphones on, a clear sign that the conversation was over.

Seeing that he’d stepped on yet another landmine, Angel let it go and prepared for their flight.

Moments later, the helicopter took off.

As they took flight, Buffy tightly grabbed her seat. The sensation was very peculiar and rather sudden. It was nothing like a plane. She felt as
though she would fall out of the sky at any moment.

Seeing how obviously unsettled she was, Angel murmured, “It takes a little getting used to.” Then hoping to calm her, he draped his arm
around her and began pointing out different landmarks. Grateful for the distraction, Buffy didn’t care to argue any more. She just wanted to
get back on the ground.

Fortunately, after a while she seemed to adjust to the movement of the helicopter and began to relax somewhat. Seeing her calm, Angel
pointed out the villa and Quentin’s house. Over the next half hour they flew over Chukka Cove where a polo match was in progress, then over
Dunn’s River Falls and Fern Gully, and a few hills, valleys and rivers. It was some of the most breathtaking scenery she’d even seen. They then
headed southeast towards the capital, Kingston. As they flew into the Blue Mountains, they showed her the areas of coffee production. Once
they flew over the small settlement called Irish Town, the helicopter began its descent. At the rather jerky movements, Buffy again gripped her
seat to steady herself. She didn’t think she’d ever get used to the feeling. She simply couldn’t wait for the trip to be over.

Moments later they had landed on a helipad at a small resort called Strawberry Hill where several attendants greeted them. Relieved that it
was finally over, Buffy eagerly disembarked. As far as she was concerned, the flight couldn’t have ended soon enough.

However, the moment she stepped onto the platform, Buffy was awestruck by its beauty. Strawberry Hill was a small, exclusive resort hidden
within the mountains. Its perch offered the most captivating views. Buffy was speechless.

Seeing her awed expression, Angel smiled. He hoped she’d like it.

The attendants then escorted them to a reception area where a young woman greeted them.

Smiling she extended her hand, “Hello Mr. Rayne. It’s a pleasure to have you at Strawberry Hill again.”

“Hello Nikki, it’s good to be back. I believe you know my cousin.” She then shook hands with Lindsey, “And this is my very special guest, Buffy.”

Shaking Buffy’s hand she asked, “May I offer you some refreshments before we embark on the tour?”
“I’m fine, thank you. Lindsey?” Angel gestured. When Lindsey declined Angel then looked at Buffy.

With all eyes focused on her she responded, “Some water, please.”

“Certainly.” Nikki then led them to a nearby bar where she seated them and then poured Buffy a drink.
***
Shortly afterward, the small group toured the resort while Lorne remained at the bar.

Nikki led them around the 19th century style resort. They toured the garden paths and viewed the unoccupied cottages and recreational areas
such as the negative edge swimming pool and spa. The resort proved to be incredibly beautiful and scenic.

As they walked, Buffy contemplated the young woman in their company. She was young, perhaps only a few years older than herself and from
her accent, she seemed to be Jamaican. But what she noticed more than anything was the apparent familiarity between her and Angel.
Granted, Nikki always referred to him by Mr. Rayne but their rapport certainly suggested something more. Could she be a former lover?
Although it was possible, somehow Buffy doubted it. They seemed friendly but not intimate or even formerly so. Besides, having an old
girlfriend as their tour guide just didn’t seem Angel’s style.

However, regardless of the nature of their relationship, they obviously knew each other. In Buffy’s mind, that meant Nikki couldn’t be trusted.
For that matter, no one at Strawberry Hill could. Buffy was dismayed by this realization. Granted, she never expected that Angel would take
her among people he couldn’t trust but she had hoped to at least see other tourists. But this place was so isolated and exclusive that there was
hardly anyone else around. And even if there were, throughout the tour Angel kept her practically glued to his side. No matter what she did or
where she tried to go, he was always next to her, watching her like a hawk. Even without the handcuffs, there was no way she’d be able to slip
away without getting caught.

Eventually the tour ended at the restaurant where Angel had arranged to have lunch. As they entered, Buffy noticed that they were the only
patrons in the restaurant save a couple dining on the terrace at the other end. Upon seeing them she was tempted to scream for help. It took
all her will power to suppress it. But she had to. She knew the moment she tried anything Angel and Lindsey would intervene and perhaps hurt
anyone who might try to help. She didn’t want to endanger anyone else. And given the isolation of the resort it wouldn’t be worth the risk.

Once they were seated, Nikki handed them the menus and gave them a moment alone. As she examined the menu, Buffy felt his gaze on her.
Meeting his eyes she saw the warning. He knew exactly what she was thinking.

Attempting to ignore his penetrating gaze, she focused on the menu before her.
***
A while later, Nikki returned and took their order.

The following silence was suffocating, the tension rising by the second.

Fortunately it didn’t take long for the food to arrive.

As they dined, Buffy took in her surroundings while Lindsey and Angel casually discussed other sights of the island they planned to visit and
how Lindsey might occupy her when Angel returned to work. They were talking about her as if she weren’t even there. Granted, it didn’t start
out that way, they had actually tried to include her in the conversation but when she refused to participate, they went on without her. But one
thing Angel refused to ignore was that she barely nibbled on her food.

Pausing mid-conversation, “Buff, you’re not eating.”

“I’m not hungry.”

“Well then why did you order so much if you didn’t want it?” He asked condescendingly.

“Because I felt like wasting your money.” She then crossed her arms daringly.

Angel calmly rested his wine glass on the table, frustration clearly etched on his face.

Lindsey curiously looked between the two, fascinated by the power struggle.

After a few brief moments, “Fine, waste my money and this wonderful food. I couldn’t care less about the money. But I know you’re hungry so
don’t think I’m going to let you starve yourself in protest. Eventually you will eat something.”

“You can’t make me.”

“Maybe not right here and now but I’ll do whatever it takes to keep you healthy, even if that means strapping you to a bed and feeding you
through an IV.”

“You wouldn’t dare!” She countered although the hesitation in her voice betrayed her uncertainty.

“Oh this is no idle threat, my love. I would and you know it so don’t test me.” His low menacing voice sending chills down her spine. How was it
that he always knew just how to scare her?
Defeated, she grudgingly began eating. She had no idea whether he’d make good on his threat but the last thing she wanted was to be
strapped to a bed and at his mercy. Just the thought was too much.

Watching her, Angel immediately regretted losing his temper. He knew she was testing how far she could push him and his reaction reinforced
every horrible thing she believed about him. Now he was angry with himself.

Just as he was considering taking another walk, Buffy asked, “May I go to the bathroom please?” Her voice was so small and childlike he almost
didn’t hear her. She was obviously on the verge of tears.

Now he felt even worse. All he wanted to do was kneel before her and beg forgiveness. But he didn’t. Instead he replied, “Go on, I believe it’s
down the hall on the right.”

Silently she left the table.

Moments afterward, Angel and Lindsey exchanged knowing looks.

Wordlessly, Lindsey also left the table.

Exiting the dining room, Lindsey approached the ladies room. For a moment he wondered that she might have gone elsewhere but as he
approached he could hear her sniffing through the door. He sighed. What was Angel doing to this girl?

Unsure what to do, he patiently lingered outside the door, waiting for her. But after a while he realized that loitering near the ladies room
made him look like a pervert.

So taking a deep breath, Lindsey cautiously entered the bathroom. He was relieved to find that excepting Buffy, the bathroom was empty.
Easily, he found the stall she was hiding in.

He knocked, startling her.

Then he saw her peep through the small space between the door and the walls of the stall.

“What do you want?” She asked angrily.

“I’m just checking on you, in case you’d like to talk.”

“Talk? Why would I talk to you?”

“Buffy, you don’t have to talk to me if you don’t wish but you’re upset. It might help to talk about it.”

“Talk about what? What it’s like to be kidnapped? How it feels to be handcuffed to such a monster? Would you like to hear what he did to me
… how he …” she stopped, nearly choking on her tears.

“I know what he did Buffy and I’m sorry I can’t change that. This entire situation is just crazy but you can’t hide in here indefinitely.”

“Why not? Am I causing too much commotion, drawing unwanted attention to you and your cousin?” She asked tauntingly.

Keeping his voice low, “As a matter of fact yes. But that’s not the point. Even if you make people suspicious, they probably won’t make the
connection. Not many people here get news from the US. And even if they do figure it out, Angel will smuggle you out of this country just as
easily as he smuggled you in. Don’t underestimate him.”

“Oh lovely, more threats from yet another Rayne.”

“I’m not threatening you Buffy. I’m trying to help you.”

“Yeah right and I’m here because I enjoy his company.”

Smiling at her sarcasm, he replied. “I don’t expect you to believe me. But I am. I’m helping you by warning you but I hope you heed my warning
more than Cordelia did.”

That got her attention. “What do you mean? Y-You warned her?”

“Yes I did, on more than one occasion in fact. I knew her long before Angel did and when she met him, I warned her not to get involved. She
didn’t listen. That seemed to be the pattern with us. Finally, I warned her not to betray him and again she didn’t listen. Granted, I know why
she did it and I’m not blaming her for what happened but … I don’t want to see the same happen to you. This is no vague threat to keep you
quiet. This is to keep you safe.” They were almost the very same words he’d said to Cordelia. In fact those were his last words to her. His
failure to do so agonized him.

When Buffy didn’t respond, he took the plunge and pulled something out of his pocket. Then taking a deep breath, he held it under the door.
Buffy gasped.
In his hand was the note she’d left in the changing room at the boutique.

At her silence he went on, “When I went back into the store I checked the changing room to make sure nothing was accidentally left behind.
You can imagine my surprise when I found this.”

Tentatively, Buffy took the note from him and stared at it disbelievingly. Her note. Fresh tears came to her eyes.

“I haven’t showed it to him and I don’t plan to.”

Initially his words didn’t register but as they penetrated her daze, she cynically asked. “And what do you want from me in exchange for that
favor?”

“That you come out of that stall and destroy it. That you pull yourself together, smile and join us in the dining room. And finally, that you never
try anything like that again.”

“That’s a lot to ask.”

“Well in exchange I’ll ignore my responsibility and loyalty to him. I think that’s a fair trade.”

After a few moments she opened the stall.

Then pointedly, she held up the card and walked over to the sink. There she ran water over it, smearing the eyeliner and then standing over
the waste bin tore it into tiny pieces. She then washed her face to reduce the redness in her face and the puffiness around her eyes. Once she
was presentable, she then smiled at him.

When he turned to leave she nervously asked, “Why didn’t you tell him?”

Smiling he replied, “Simple. You make him happier than anyone I’ve ever known and that’s important to me. Granted, you also stress him out
more than anyone I’ve ever known but I imagine that’s part of the appeal.” Then touching her shoulder, “Believe it or not, he wants to be a
better man for you but he’s unsure of how to do that. This is new territory for him and he’s getting frustrated, which is why he reverts to
what’s familiar. But he’s trying, he really is. I didn’t show him your note because it would crush him and even though I know him better than
anyone, I have no idea what that would do to him or how he’d react. I won’t do that if I can help it.”

Buffy was stunned by this revelation. She made Angel happy? Not that she cared but still, actually hearing it was quite a bit of a shock.

At her expression, he commented, “You really have no idea how much power you have over him do you?”

Unsure what to think, she shook her head dumbly. She had power over Angel?

Seeing her puzzlement, Lindsey took her arm and guided her out of the bathroom, “Come, we’ll talk about this later.”
***
Returning to their seats, Lindsey and Angel again exchanged knowing looks but this time Angel’s was full of gratitude. He didn’t know what
he’d do if Buffy tried to run away. Once they sat, Buffy focused on her plate and tried finishing her lunch. Admittedly, Angel was right, she was
hungry.

Watching her, Angel felt incredibly remorseful. He didn’t like threatening her.

Once the meal was over, Angel rose from his seat and stood before her expectantly. Looking into his eyes, she knew he wanted to talk. When
he held out his hand to her, she briefly looked at Lindsey. At his small smile, she took Angel’s hand and left the dining room with him.

For a short while they walked in silence as Angel led her to one of the more private gardens. Once he found an ideal spot, he guided her to a
nearby stone bench and gestured for her to sit.

Buffy had no idea what to expect. Was he going to assault her? Would anyone hear her scream?

Determined to keep her cool, she sat on the bench and looked up at him, waiting.

What he did next was the last thing she expected.

Reaching out, he caressed her cheek and for several long moments just silently stood before her, gazing into her eyes. Then suddenly he knelt
at her feet, kissing her hand adoringly.

“I’m sorry I threatened you. I’d never …” He stopped, unable to articulate his feelings. Then burying his head in her lap, tightly wrapped his
arms around her.

Buffy was so taken aback that at first she thought he was attempting something kinky but as his muttered apologies became more discernible
she realized that he only wanted to hold her. In fact, he was holding her so tightly that she could barely move.

Dumbstruck, she could hardly believe what was happening. Was this what Lindsey was talking about? Was this her power over him?
Hoping to appeal to him, she soothingly ran her hand along his shoulder. When he looked at her, she gently cupped his face and for several
long moments held him there.

Looking into his eyes, she softly spoke, “Angel, please …this has to end.”

Gazing back at her, he cupped her face in response. Then softly, “I know … Buffy, I know. But I can’t lose you. I won’t.” Then tightening his grip
even more, he tenderly kissed her hand as he gently rocked against her.

As the moments stretched out, Buffy found herself increasingly tormented by his raw need for her. The sheer intensity of it reverberated
within her, bringing fresh tears to her eyes. She didn’t know what to say, what to do. It was all too surreal.

Surrounded by roses, lavender and jasmine, Buffy gazed up at the clear azure sky.

What was she going to do?
******
Part 16
******
For quite some time Buffy sat with Angel’s head in her lap. She had no idea how long she’d been sitting there but it had been a while since he
last spoke. He hadn’t moved since. In fact, he was so quiet that for a moment she thought perhaps he had dozed off. But given the way he was
crouched before her, there was no way he could be sleeping. Given his height, there was no way he could be comfortable either. But he
obviously didn’t mind. She, on the other hand, was having a hard time fighting the numbness that was slowly creeping its way along her leg.
Between the stone bench and his weight, her entire lower body was beginning to protest. But she was reluctant to rouse him. Trying to
distract herself, she focused on the flora surrounding them.

Noticing the various flowers and shrubs, she realized that they were in what looked to be a maze. She really hadn’t noticed it before as Angel
led her in but as she took in the thick hedges that lined the winding paths and obstructed all view to the other side she was suddenly reminded
of the movie Labyrinth. Suddenly images of Jennifer Connelly and David Bowie invaded her mind along with all the other strange characters
from the film. Rolling her eyes, she nearly groaned at the painful memory of how many times Dawn made her watch it when they were
younger; the younger sister harboring some inexplicable fascination with the eccentric Bowie. But the thing was, Dawn never showed any
interest in his music, she just thought his role in Labyrinth was the coolest thing. And what was worse, it wasn’t even an obsession that Dawn
privately indulged in. No, it was one she insisted on torturing Buffy with. She deeply regretted allowing Dawn to accompany her to a friend’s
party where both girls first saw the movie. Immediately after which Dawn begged Joyce to purchase a copy. If only her mother knew that
satisfying Dawn’s Bowie-fix meant condemning Buffy to seemingly endless viewings as well as blackmail whenever Dawn caught her doing
something she shouldn’t. Of course, now that Dawn was older and much more sensible, the tables had turned and now her crush on Bowie
provided Buffy with endless blackmail fodder.

A small smile crept along her mouth as she recalled the many laughs she’d had at Dawn’s expense. But her smile soon disappeared as reality
quickly came rushing back when she felt Angel shift against her. Shaking the memory away, she looked down at the dark brown head resting in
her lap. Angel.

Looking down at him now he seemed so lost and uncertain, so vulnerable. Yet despite his humble position, she couldn’t see past his double
standard. He was begging her forgiveness yet still denying her the one thing she needed most. Her freedom. She marveled at his narcissism.
How could someone appear so humble and so arrogant at the same time? Then Lindsey’s words came back to her, ‘He wants to be a better
man for you but he’s unsure of how to do that.’ ‘You really have no idea how much power you have over him, do you?’ She wondered if it
were true. If so, was this where her power lay? Granted, she was still very suspicious of Lindsey’s motives but she didn’t think he was lying, at
least not about this. Everything she knew about Angel confirmed it. But how could she tap into that power? Angel wanted her to be his. More
importantly, he wanted her to be his willingly. For the moment that was working in her favor but was it really power? It couldn’t possibly be
that simple. His desire for her aside, there was no way Angel would just give her the upper hand. No, it wasn’t that easy. She’d have to gain his
trust first. Refusing to even entertain the thoughts of where that would lead, she forced her mind from it. There had to be another way.
Instead she focused on a more immediate problem.

She needed to move.

Hesitantly she caressed his shoulder, drawing his attention.

When he squeezed her hand in response, she said, “Angel, I think we should return to the restaurant.”

When he didn’t respond right away she added, “We’ve been out here for a long time, Lindsey might be worried.”

Shifting his weight, he looked at her curiously for a moment then nodded. Standing, he then took her hands to help her up. But when she
attempted to stand, the extent of her numbness made itself known when she nearly collapsed onto him.

“Are you ok?” he asked alarmed when she suddenly clutched onto him to break her fall.

“Not at the moment apparently.” She answered rather annoyed.

“What’s wrong? Are you hurt?”

Glaring at the irony of his concern, “No, I’m not hurt. My leg just seems to have fallen asleep is all. Sitting on that bench for so long wasn’t such
a great idea.” She then pulled away from him and again sat on the stone bench as she tried to work the feeling back into her lower extremities.
This was so embarrassing.

Briefly watching her massage her leg, he again knelt before her, “May I help?”

“NO!” The force behind her response startled both of them. At his surprise she added, “I-I, can do it myself.”

“I know you can do it yourself. I only offered to help.”

“Well can’t you see I don’t want your help?”

“Yes, I can see that.” Then standing, “Pardon my interference.” He then backed a few steps away.

His dejected expression angered her, “Oh no. You don’t get to look all defeated.”

“Pardon me?” he asked puzzled.

“That look on your face. Like I’m the meanest person in the world because I won’t let you touch me. You’re not allowed that look.”

“Excuse me? I just threw myself at your feet, begging your forgiveness, totally exposing myself to you. This isn’t exactly the response I was
hoping for.”

“Excuse me? You’re still holding me prisoner and you raped me. Exactly what other response were you expecting?” At his look, “What? You
thought a few apologies would make it all better? That seeing the great Angelus Rayne humbly on his knees would make me care for you?”

“Buffy that’s not …”

“Bullshit!” She interrupted. Then ignoring the remaining numbness she stood angrily, “That’s exactly what that little performance was. There
was no humility, no remorse, NOTHING!!! It was all about you, it’s always about you isn’t it? What you want; what you need. Do you ever think
of anyone else? If you did then you’d probably know that it’s too late to be concerned about losing me … YOU NEVER HAD ME!” She yelled.

Fueled by her anger she then stormed away from him.

For a moment Angel stood stunned, then spurred by his own frustration, went after her.

Quickly he caught up to her and forcibly grabbed her arm, spinning her around. Startled, she let out a small yelp. She hadn’t realized that he
came after her. At her small cry he abruptly released her.

“Did I hurt you?”

Slightly backing away, “No, you just surprised me.”

When she inched even further away he asked, “Please don’t walk away from me like that. If we’re to talk this out then let’s do so.”

“What’s to talk about? It seems pretty straightforward to me. You’re a kidnapper and a rapist. That’s all I need to know.”

“You’re right, I am a kidnapper and a rapist. I am also incredibly selfish. I rarely think of others because, quite frankly, I’ve never had to before.
I’ve done unconscionable things in my life and I have no right to seek forgiveness.” Then after a moment, “I don’t expect you to forgive me. I
know there’s nothing I can do to make it better but we can’t go on like this forever.”

“It’s funny you should bring that up since you’re the one with the power to end it.”

“Buffy, I won’t let you go so don’t ask it … but perhaps we can find some compromise.”

“Meaning?”

“I’m not making any promises but should you decide to cooperate perhaps we can work something out. Some alternative that would be
acceptable to you.”

“The only thing I will ever accept is going home.”

“Well then I’m sorry but you will be sorely disappointed.”

“No, you will be. You’re the one who wants me to sleep with you … willingly.”

“True. But it’s not just sex, I want to share my life with you. I want you be my partner.”

“Well I can promise THAT’S never going to happen.”

“You say that now but I’m sure that eventually I’ll find the right … incentive to motivate you.”
“What? More threats? Oh wait, let me guess, another shopping spree? Is that what it takes to get women to stay with you? You buy them or
scare them so they can’t see what you really are.”

“And what am I?”

“A rapist! And a sick narcissistic bastard.”

“I’m also the man who’s fallen completely in love with you. The man who would do almost anything for you.”

Momentarily thrown by his declaration she replied more to herself, “Lucky me.”

Ignoring her remark, he stepped toward her, “I know you don’t see it now but things are changing between us. It won’t be as it was before.”

“So you keep saying.”

“Buffy …” Something in the way he said her name made her look at him. “I love you.”

There it was.

The fire in his eyes held her, the pent up longing and desire almost hypnotic. And as much as she tried, she couldn’t seem to tear her eyes
away. She knew she should move, that she should run yet her feet remained anchored in place. Panicking, her head was suddenly swimming,
she could hardly breathe. She suddenly felt claustrophobic and faint, a wave of dizziness washing over her. Only when he took another step
towards her did her brain finally manage to make contact with her feet. Backing away she quickly found herself pressed against a large hedge.
Seeing her way blocked, she frantically searched for an escape but having now lost her orientation, she had no idea which way led back to the
safety of the restaurant. And Angel was closing in.

Trying not to appear intimidated, she desperately clutched onto her rapidly diminishing confidence and held her ground. In fact, she took a
step, granted a very small step that was really meant to regain her equilibrium, toward him. She refused to let on just how deeply he affected
her. She met his gaze defiantly.

He was now right up against her. Their bodies barely touching.

She could feel the heat radiating from him and it took all her strength not to run and hide.

Speaking softly as he caressed her cheek, “You’ve no need to be afraid of me.”

Ok, so maybe he caught that terrified look in her eyes. But she would not retreat further.

When she didn’t respond or try to escape, he slowly moved in closer, cautious not to rush it. Lowering his head, he lightly brushed his lips
against hers.

The touch was so soft and brief that Buffy wasn’t sure that he had kissed her.

When he tried kissing her again however, she firmly placed her hands against his chest and eased him back.

Directly meeting his gaze, she said “No.” Her voice was strong and firm. Then after a moment, “I would like to return to the restaurant now.”

Deciding not to push her further, he backed off. “Certainly.” Then moving aside, he allowed her to pass.

When he saw the rather uncertain expression on her face he added, “It’s through there.”

Somewhat embarrassed, she simply nodded and wordlessly left the garden.

Strolling a short distance behind, he calmly followed her back to the restaurant where Lindsey anxiously awaited them.

As they approached the dining room Buffy sighed in relief. She was still very much ruffled by their encounter but what bothered her more was
the paralyzing fear that rooted her in place when he declared his love for her. Was that some kind of weird panic attack? Surely his words
weren’t that surprising. It’s not like she didn’t see that one coming. So then what happened back there? She had hoped to control her fear of
him but it only seemed to be getting worse and taking hold of her at the worst possible moments. She felt like a baby gazelle about to be
brought down by a ferocious cheetah. Nearing the restaurant, she only hoped that when the time came her fear wouldn’t rear its ugly head
and paralyze her.
***
Lindsey watched as the two made their way back to the dining room. From Buffy’s expression, something had happened. When they returned
to their seats, Lindsey asked,

“Would anyone care for another glass of champagne?”

“No thank you.” Angel responded

Realizing they were waiting for her response, Buffy looked directly at Angel and said, “I’d rather stay sober, thank you very much.”
Angel looked at her, slightly offended by her inference.

Lindsey could barely suppress his chuckle. Whatever happened outside, it couldn’t have been good. Deciding to salvage whatever was left of
the day, he suggested that they continue their tour.

Grateful for the bail, Angel called for the bill.

Shortly afterward they were airborne.

Over the next hour, they flew over some of the southeastern part of the island before heading north and back to the hangar. Throughout the
flight, Buffy wedged herself as far away from Angel as she could get. She was clearly uncomfortable but she seemed willing to do almost
anything to keep Angel from getting anywhere near her.

Sighing, Lindsey was fairly certain Angel would be sleeping in the guest room again that night.

When they finally arrived, she quickly unfastened her seatbelt and bolted out the cabin as soon as the door opened and the way was clear.

Angel didn’t even try to stop her.

However before he, Lindsey and Lorne could make their way into the hangar she was back.

Seeing the coy manner with which she dawdled near the helicopter, Angel curiously asked, “Did you need something?”

“No, I’d just rather wait.”

Although suspicious, he accepted her answer without question. He was far too exasperated to pry further.

His suspicions were confirmed however when Caleb emerged from the hangar. Angel smirked when Buffy subtly inched closer to him. She
must truly detest Caleb if she were practically running to him for protection.

Taking pity on her, he casually moved even closer. Careful not to crowd her, he remained close enough to remind Caleb of his earlier warning.
No matter how much she might refuse his advances, she was still his and he certainly wasn’t going to allow Caleb to intimidate her. And
despite her disgust with him, the look in her eyes conveyed her gratitude, albeit grudgingly.

Once Caleb moved on, Angel gradually backed away, giving her space.

Shortly after the helicopter was secured, Angel, Lindsey, Buffy and Lorne were on their way to the villa.
***
A few hours later the four entered the house. It was early in the evening and the sun was hovering just above the horizon. Once they were
settled, Buffy asked to be dismissed and quickly made her way to her room. She wanted to be alone for a while. Lying on the bed, she again
thought of what happened at Strawberry Hill, her kiss with Angel and her conversation with Lindsey. She had mixed feelings toward Angel. She
hated him; that was certain. And she knew she’d kill him if given half a chance. But he scared her so much she felt almost helpless. And it
wasn’t just his threats. His desire, his very need for her was rather overwhelming and to be honest, also rather frightening. The intensity and
rawness of it pierced her soul, leaving a dull ache in her chest. She felt unduly burdened by it and in some ways, sad. In truth she felt a small
measure of pity for the man who had clung to her that afternoon as if she were a life preserver. As if she were his only hope. But the burden of
it was physically and emotionally exhausting.

And then there was Lindsey. She wasn’t entirely sure what to make of him. He seemed fairly personable and was perhaps the least threatening
of Angel’s men. But that was just it; he wasn’t simply one of Angel’s men. They were cousins. Recalling their camaraderie and the dynamic
between them, they were obviously very close. In fact, Lindsey seemed more like a brother. If anyone knew how to deal with Angel it would be
him. And he seemed willing to help her, even though he was on Angel’s side. She didn’t know if he’d be much help otherwise but it was worth
a try. But she’d have to be careful. He was Angel’s cousin after all.
***
Spike walked into the club and was immediately assaulted by a heavy cloud of cigarette smoke and blaring music. Standing at the entrance, it
took a moment for his eyes to adjust to the dim lighting and smoke. The dark room felt like another world compared to the outdoors. After a
few moments, he moved further in and took in the sights and sounds of the establishment. It was rather early so the usual crowds hadn’t
arrived yet but already there was a fairly large group surrounding the bar, the large screen TV and pool tables. Clearly business was still very
good. Stepping up to the bar, he nodded a greeting to the bartender who then nodded toward the rear.

Wordlessly making his way to the back, Spike inhaled sharply, this was as close to a smoke as he dared get since quitting some years back. He
missed it.

Opening the rear door, Spike climbed a flight of stairs and then knocked on the only unmarked door.

Clem opened it, smiling, “Spike!” He had to restrain the hug he felt coming on, ensuring to keep his distance.

“Clem.” Spike nodded in greeting while giving him a withering look. He too saw that hug coming. As much as he liked Clem, the guy was far too
tactile for his comfort.

His eyes then drifted to the young man seated behind the desk. “Oz?”
“Spike?” The two men had an unspoken understanding. They were friends but above all, they were professionals.

“I see the business is still lucrative.”

“Yeah, it’s a lot of work but it’s worth the profits … and the contacts.” A conspiratorial smile gracing his lips.

“I imagine it is.”

“You know the offer to join us still stands?” Clem added.

Oz nodded his agreement.

“Thanks. Maybe someday I’ll take you up on it but for now I think I’ll stay where I am.”

Oz smirked at Spike’s standard response. This kind of business was perfect for Spike but he seemed reluctant to get involved. He never pushed
to know why.

“Hey it’s your loss man. So, what exactly is going on in your neck of the woods?” Clem asked.

“Yes, what was the emergency?” Oz asked getting down to business.

“This” Spike then placed a copy of the Summers’ file on the desk.

Oz immediately opened it and scanned the first page. “Summers? As in the senator’s missing daughter?” Spike nodded.

Oz then picked up the photo of Buffy and wolf whistled as he showed it to Clem who whistled in response. Then smirking mischievously Clem
added, “I can see your interest in this, no wonder you won’t leave and join us, too busy rescuing damsels in distress.” He then wagged his
eyebrows at him.

Snorting, Spike responded, “Hardly.”

“Right, are you telling me you haven’t noticed what a hottie she is?”

“Sure I’ve noticed; I am a man after all. But after all she’s been through, I can’t even imagine looking at her that way.”

“Really?” Oz asked genuinely curious.

Spike then filled them in on all the details not disclosed to the public, including the content of the videotapes.

After about twenty minutes, both men were silently shocked, a deep sense of respect now descending over them. Buffy Summers was no
longer an object to howl at.

When he found his voice, Oz asked, “And who are we looking for exactly?”

“Flip to page six.”

After a moment, Oz’s eyes bulged. “Are you insane?”

“Who is it?”

“No one other than Angelus Rayne, the organized crime lord and mobster.”

Clem’s face marked his shock. When he too found his voice, “You certainly are ambitious!”

“Or suicidal!” Oz countered. “Hell man, when you said some digging I thought you wanted info.”

“I do want info.”

“That’s what you say now but if I know you … and I do, your part in this is to rescue the girl isn’t it?” Spike nodded, “And you’d be wanting our
help in that, right?” Again Spike nodded.

“Spike, I hear ya about the girl but this isn’t like anything we’ve done before. You know we mostly deal with small operations, low key stuff.”

“This will be small.”

“And how do you figure that with all the media coverage and the damn FBI?”

“Trust me, this will be small. When we go in it will be a very small task force, four people at most. Anything larger than that will alert Rayne to
our presence.”
“When are you going in?”

“Not sure, we haven’t located Rayne yet.” At Oz’s surprise he added, “That’s what the digging is for.”

“I see.” Then in a pensive voice, “This is bigger than anything we’ve handled before.”

“That’s not true. I know you’ve handled more difficult cases before. You’ve got the expertise.” Spike countered.

“Difficulty isn’t my concern … it’s just … Rayne is bigger than anyone we’ve ever taken down. It’s a bit much to take in.”

“Don’t tell me your intimidated.”

Narrowing his eyes at Spike’s offense, Oz countered, “I’m not intimidated, I just have a healthy respect for the man’s capabilities.”

“Well that’s good, then at least you have some idea of what to expect. But to be honest, I’m a little surprised you even know of him, before
this he wasn’t exactly on the radar.”

”Well you probably wouldn’t unless you were heavy into narcotics. I only know of him through my contacts in the unit at the department.
Otherwise he is fairly low profile.”

Then after a moment, Oz added, “It makes sense though, that he would go after the senator’s daughter. Honestly, I’m surprised he didn’t try
anything like this sooner.”

“Well his father recently died, we think that was the catalyst.”

Oz’s eyes lit up as he nodded in realization. He then exchanged looks with Clem.

At his partner’s nod, “Ok, Spike. We’re in.”
***
Some hours later Buffy sat on the balcony reading a magazine when Angel knocked on the door and called to her. She refused to answer,
hoping he’d take the hint. She rolled her eyes in annoyance when she heard the door opening, no such luck.

Finding her on the balcony, “Would you mind if I joined you for dinner this evening?” At her glare, “Never mind. Perhaps it’s best I leave you
alone for the night.”

“Yes, perhaps.” She replied coolly.

As he turned away, “I’m not sure you’ll be hungry but would you like a small salad later?”

When it seemed she wasn’t going to answer, he began to leave when her voice stopped him. “What kind of salad?”

Turning back, “Any kind you’d like … garden, Caesar, Greek … whatever. If you want anything special I can send out for it.”

“No. A simple garden salad is fine, a small one. I don’t think I could eat much more today.”

“Any particular dressing?”

“Do you have red wine vinaigrette?”

“Freshly made, always.” He then smiled at her.

Looking away, “Shall I call down for it?”

“No, I’ll have it sent up in about an hour or so. Is that fine?”

She nodded her agreement then refocused her attention on the magazine.

Now acting on the hint, Angel quietly left.
***
Later that evening, Buffy sat in front of the television. Her salad had arrived some time ago but she wasn’t ready to eat. She was just trying to
enjoy her solitude.

Knowing she would be alone for the evening since Angel was dining with Lindsey again, she scanned the menu for any American news
channels. She wanted to know what was being reported on her kidnapping, how much the public knew. Actually, she’d wanted to do that for
some time now but she was never sure how much time she had to herself. And although he hadn’t expressly prohibited her, she doubted
Angel would allow her to watch the news in his presence.

It didn’t take long for her to find CNN.
For about fifteen minutes she watched story after story, the national weather forecast and the stock market outlook. Then they went back to
the headlines.

It was the third story.

Buffy moved closer to the screen.

They showed highlights of the various press conferences and reported on the latest developments.

When a clip of her parents came on, she rushed forward, tentatively touching the screen as if she could reach out to them. It felt like ages
since she’d seen them. She was so happy and sad to see their faces. They both looked so tired. Her mother was clearly distraught and her dad,
she’d never seen her dad look so haggard. But despite her concern, she was exhilarated to at least see them and hear their voices. She wanted
to laugh and cry at the same time.

When the clip ended Buffy remained seated in front of the TV, her hand pressed to the screen as if she could somehow will her parents’ image
back. God, she wanted to go home and curl up with her mom. Right then she would have given anything for one of Joyce’s embarrassing
mother/daughter bonding sessions or even one of her early morning wakeup calls.

As her mind drifted back to the present, she became increasingly aware of the anchorwoman’s words. They were still discussing her
kidnapping and now some expert was discussing the progress of the investigation. But what nagged at Buffy throughout the segment were
their constant references to the tabloid The Star and the existence of videotapes. A sick feeling settled over her and she grew increasingly
frustrated each time they neglected to discuss the tapes in detail. What tapes were they talking about?

Unable to take it anymore, she searched out other news stations, hoping someone would shed light on the subject. After a fruitless search, she
eventually made her way back to CNN.

Then finally another news program came on and during the introduction they promised new details on the Summers kidnapping and the
scandal surrounding the investigation.

Buffy watched spellbound, rooted in place.

And to her horror, they delivered what they promised. They discussed in gory detail the alleged content of the tape and letter held by The Star,
her parents’ threat of a lawsuit and the recent court ruling against the tabloid.

Buffy was shaking. The entire country knew about her sexual interlude with Angel. Granted, she’d been aware of the cameras in the room she
was held in but she just assumed they were there to monitor her, to ensure she didn’t escape. She never dreamt that what happened between
them was being recorded and worse, distributed to trashy magazines for the world to gossip about. And then to imply that she was behind it,
that she could be so callous, so malicious? No wonder her parents looked so exhausted. God, what must they be thinking? Her relatives? Her
friends? How could she show her face anywhere ever again?

She was beyond mortified. Angel had managed to turn her sacrifice into a humiliation of epic proportions. The disappointment, the disgrace.
She felt so dirty, so used. Her life was ruined.

She was too numb with shock to feel anything. The room seemed to be spinning and suddenly she was having difficulty breathing. Her clothes
were too tight and confining, she needed air. Tugging frantically at the dress she pulled it off and crawled over to the open balcony doors,
gulping deep breaths of air. As her pulse slowed and the dizziness passed, it all came crashing down on her like a ton of bricks.

And Buffy was awash in tears.
***
Hours later Buffy finally pulled herself up and walked into the bedroom. She felt so drained after the emotional roller coaster she’d
experienced that day. Why were all these horrible things happening to her? A blind fury had now come over her but her marked exhaustion
left her oddly calm. Not to mention that she had a pounding headache. Head lowered, she stepped into the bathroom and took a long hot
shower. Futile as it was, she felt compelled to cleanse herself and hoped it would relieve some of the tension. After searing her skin with the
hot water she wrapped herself in her fluffy robe and then crawled into bed. She just wanted to block out the world and try to get some sleep.

It was just before dawn when her eyes opened. She was still wrapped in her robe and snuggled under the covers. Making her way into the
closet, she changed into a pair of sweats and a tank. As she brushed out her hair, the loud rumbling of her stomach drew her attention; she
was hungry. Astonished that she actually had an appetite, she checked out the salad that was still sitting on the balcony table. Frowning at it,
she decided that she wanted something more substantial and recovered the dish. But she was reluctant to call down to the servants at such an
early hour. It wasn’t 6am yet, would anyone even answer? Knowing she couldn’t wait till later to eat, she put on some slippers and headed to
the kitchen.

Peering out the main door, she checked that the coast was clear before she scampered down the hall. Walking quickly but quietly, she was
soon in the main foyer and nearing the kitchen when suddenly she heard voices. Pausing, she cocked her head to the side to decipher where
the voices were coming from. Her search led her to a window near the main entrance where she saw several of the servants going in and out
of the gate.

From her vantage point, the large rod iron gates were closed but she could clearly see that the smaller side gate was wide open as the servants
came and went with various packages.
She could hardly believe her eyes. The gate was open.

Looking down at herself, she wasn’t exactly in escape attire but she didn’t want to risk rousing suspicions by returning to her room for proper
shoes and a T-shirt. No. Better to just make a run for it as she was. Thinking quickly, she moved into the kitchen and tried to clear her mind.
This could be her chance to escape if only she could somehow get the servants away from the gate while it was still open. Obviously they
wouldn’t just leave and they certainly wouldn’t stand aside while she made a run for it. No, she definitely had to get rid of them. She needed a
diversion. Moving through the kitchen, she searched the draws and cupboards until she finally found what she was looking for. Matches.
Grabbing a carving knife at the same time, she quickly headed towards Angel’s office. Her plan taking form.
***
Reaching the forbidden zone, Buffy quickly snuck into the library across from Angel’s office. She was surprised that she hadn’t encountered
any of his men yet but then maybe they were waiting for her to do something before revealing themselves. Moving quickly she pulled a bunch
of papers from one of the shelves and threw them into the dustbin. Then she lit a match and only when it began to go out did she drop into
the bin. She didn’t want Angel, his men or the servants to put out the fire before she had a chance to escape. When the bin began to smoke,
she slightly opened a nearby window and then quickly moved away.

Standing near the side door of the kitchen she waited some minutes before she heard one of the servants shout that smoke was coming from
the library. Instantly, the others remaining by the gate moved into action to try to contain the blaze. Seizing her moment, she bolted for the
still open gate, clutching the carving knife in her hand.

It was too easy.

The instant she ran through the gate she heard a soft beeping, like a clock counting down.

Not sparing a second to think what she triggered, she took off full speed down the street.
***
Angel bolted upright in his bed at the loud knocking on his door. Finding Luke on the other side he instantly knew it was bad.

“Luke?”

“Sir, there’s a fire in the library.”

“A fire in the library?”

“Yes sir, the staff seems to have it under control but we will need to have it inspected, to be sure it’s completely extinguished.”

“Um, of course, I’ll call in the authorities but first I want to check on …” He stopped short when suddenly he heard the gate alarm start blaring.
“BUFFY!”

Suddenly wide-awake, he dashed down the hall and stairs.

Entering the garage he grabbed the first set of keys he saw and bolted to the jeep. Recklessly backing out, he pressed the gate remote, cursing
under his breath at the painfully slow mechanism.

Finally unobstructed, he sped out of the driveway and down the road in the only possible direction she could have gone, towards his closest
neighbor.
***
Buffy was running as fast as her legs would carry her. She heard the shrill, ear-piercing alarm go off mere seconds after she exited the gate. So
that was what she triggered. Damn!! They would soon be on her trail. Eyes fixed on the large home in the distance she cursed Angel. Why the
hell was his estate so damn extensive! From their trips to and from the villa the day before she was aware that the nearest house was a
considerable distance away. But she knew she could make it if only fate smiled down on her just this once.

But fate chose to be cruel.

In the distance behind her, she heard the roar of an engine and soon felt warm tears streaming down her cheeks. This could not be happening.
But she kept running, her feet pounding on the asphalt. She wouldn’t go down without a fight.

Angel saw her running in the distance and floored the gas, he couldn’t risk letting her get much closer to the neighboring house.

Passing her, he pulled to a stop and then jumped out of the vehicle, blocking her path.

“GET OUT OF MY WAY!!!” She growled. That’s when he saw the knife she was wielding. The desperation in her eyes and defensive stance
startled him. She was on the edge. He had to proceed with caution.

Taking a step towards her, “Buffy …”

“DON’T COME NEAR ME!!”

Pausing, “Buffy, let’s talk about this …”

“NO! WE HAVE NOTHING TO TALK ABOUT!! GET AWAY FROM ME!!!”
“Buffy, you know I won’t do that. Please give me the knife.”

“Oh I’m gonna give it to you alright.”

Daring to take another step, “Buffy, I don’t want to hurt you … but I won’t let you hurt me.” He had to keep her talking.

“One of us is going to get hurt.”

“Are you really prepared for that?”

“I’m prepared for anything.”

“Aren’t you concerned that it might be you?”

“Well if I’m lucky I’ll bleed to death.”

“Is that what you want?”

“At least I’ll be away from you.” Then seeing him move even closer, “I SAID STAY AWAY FROM ME!!”

Still closing in, albeit gradually, “I don’t think you’d really attack me.”

“You’re an idiot if you don’t.”

”No Buff, you’re all talk. I know you wouldn’t.”

He was now mere inches from her, standing before her almost daringly.

She lunged.

Grabbing her knife-wielding wrist and twisting out of her path, he used her momentum to turn her around and pin her to his chest with his
arms.

Once she was pinned he continued twisting her wrist, using his steel grip until she dropped the knife. He then kicked it further away.

Disarmed, Buffy began screaming hysterically.

Instinctively covering her mouth, Angel cursed when she bit down on his hand, drawing blood.

When he momentarily released her, she stomped down on his foot and then kicked him in the shin as she again charged down the road.

She got only a few steps further before he tackled her to the ground, sending their struggling bodies rolling over and over into the tall, stinging
grass along the roadside.

For several long moments the two fought bitterly, or rather Buffy fought while Angel struggled to restrain her. He could hardly believe that
someone so little could be such a handful.

Then matching her limb for limb, Angel finally managed to get the upper hand and retrain her. Covering her mouth yet again, he held her still
while he caught his breath.

Calmer, he finally spoke. “Buffy, I am going to uncover your mouth. If you scream I will have to cover it again. I know you don’t like that so
please don’t force me to. Are you going to scream?”

She shook her head.

Slowly removing his hand, he waited for her to scream. When all she did was take deep breaths to slow her heavy breathing, he slightly eased
his weight off her.

“Did I hurt you just now?”

Glaring at him momentarily, she shook her head again. “Please get off me.”

“Not until I know this little revolt of yours is over.”

“You made sure it was over before I even left the house.”

She then looked over when another vehicle approached. It was Lindsey.

When Angel looked at him, “Luke said you might need some … assistance.”
“Thanks Linds, don’t know what I’d do without you.” He then gripped Buffy’s wrists and pulled her up as he stood. “I think it’s time we got this
one back to the house.”
******
Part 17
******
Back at the house, Angel paced the length of the guestroom, his mind racing over what to do next. He was incredibly frustrated with Buffy.
Why did she insist on trying his patience? Recalling the rules he had set just days before, he was now in an impossible position. Given his
feelings for her he was loath to enforce them, let alone go through with his threatened punishments. But she was forcing his hand and he
couldn’t ignore her behavior any longer. She attacked him and endangered his staff. He had to deal with her.

In truth, he did expect her to at least try to escape but he never expected to be quite so shaken by it. And the fire? What if someone had
gotten hurt? What if she had gotten hurt? His mind was plagued by the desperation and pain he saw in her eyes. He knew she was angry and
hurt but she didn’t seem particularly upset the evening before. Why was she suddenly so devastated? Racking his brain, he regretted leaving
her alone. He should have been there for whatever she was going through. Cursing his selfishness, he wished he hadn’t declared his feelings
for her so soon. Clearly she was deeply disturbed by it, so much so that she was nearly suicidal. He should have thought better of it. But now it
was too late. Now he needed to decide what to do.
***
Buffy sat on the bed clutching a pillow and staring absently at the wall as she waited for whatever punishment Angel was going to give her.
Once she was caught she knew that all bets were off. She’d broken at least two of Angel’s rules and if his thundering silence on the way back in
the car was any indication, he was going to make sure she felt it.

Lindsey sat on the armchair across from her. He was charged with keeping an eye on her until Angel was ready. He couldn’t believe what she
tried to do. And after his warning! Was he speaking Greek?

Glancing at him, Buffy wiped her tear-streaked cheeks, “What do you think he’s going to do?”

“Pardon?”

“Angel … how bad do you think it’ll be?”

“I don’t know Buffy. He’s very angry right now.”

“I know. Are you angry with me too?”

“Now why would you think that?”

“The way you’re looking at me for starters.”

“And how am I looking at you?”

”Like you’re ready to strangle me.”

”Well Buffy, I am. What the hell were you thinking?”

“That I could get away.” At his look she continued, “I saw the gate open and I thought …”

“Ah, you saw the gate open … well the funny thing about that gate is if you don’t have a magnetic bracelet to allow you free passage then you
have ten seconds to enter the security code.” After a moment, “I don’t suppose you had a bracelet …” When she lowered her eyes he added,
“And I doubt you know the code.”

When a lone tear fell from her eye he looked away, “I warned you. I said to never underestimate him. Did you even hear a word I said?
Between you and Cordelia, I don’t know why I even bother.”

“You could have told me about the gate.”

“For what? So you could figure a way around it. No, I won’t do that. I’m not here to help you escape. And so you know, you did yourself no
favor just now since the staff will certainly guard their passes with their lives from now on.”

“Well what did you expect me to do? Just sit here waiting for Angel to rape me again?”

“I expected you to read between the lines and use that pretty little head of yours. Do you think that gate is the only measure Angel has taken
to ensure you never escape? And even if you could, do you really think he won’t come after you again? The way may look wide open but I
promise you it’s all an illusion; this is a gilded cage. Perhaps now when I say never underestimate him you’ll actually listen.”

“I did listen … and I was going to … I was taking your advice … but then …” she trailed off, reluctant to reveal what she knew.

“But then what?”

“Nothing.”
”No, it’s not nothing. Obviously it was worth all the trouble you’re now in so tell me, what?”

“I was taking your advice and I was trying but then …” Then looking away, “I know about the tapes of he and I... together.”

Struck, Lindsey sat up in his chair, “How? I-I mean, where did you? …”

“On the news. I watched the news last night and I saw them talking about me like I was some cheap whore. I gave him everything he wanted
and he turned around and … I don’t even know why I’m so shocked, I should have known he would do something like that … it’s just …” Then
after a moment she whispered, “How could he do that to me?”

Speechless, Lindsey lowered his eyes. He had no idea what to say. But he knew he had to talk with Angel.

When he stood to leave she asked, “Are you going to tell him?”

“Tell him what?”

“About my note yesterday, the note you found.”

Taking a deep breath, “I don’t know. Perhaps if I had he wouldn’t be taking your latest stunt so badly.” At her grave expression he conceded,
“But I don’t think I will, right now you’re in enough trouble as it is.”

When he saw the relief cross her face he hastened to add. “Don’t think you’re off the hook about that just because he doesn’t know. I know
what you did and I will be watching you very closely.”

As he left the room he added, “I’ll be back with an ice pack for your wrist.”
***
Angel was still pacing when he heard a soft knock on his door. Annoyed by the intrusion, he pulled it open.

“Lindsey, I really would like to be alone right now.”

“I know Angel but there’s something you need to know. It’s about Buffy.”

Opening the door further to allow his cousin in, “What about her?”

“She knows about the tape you sent to The Star.”

“WHAT?”

“She watched the news last night.”

As realization dawned, Angel closed his eyes in frustration, his fists clenching. That explained the desperate fury in her eyes. How could he
have been so blind! Of course she found out about the tapes. But knowing what happened didn’t make his situation easier. If anything, it
complicated matters even more.

He’d done such a thorough job of disgracing Hank that he ruined all hope he had at winning Buffy’s heart. As the tension and frustration
mounted within him, he felt himself ready to explode. He was nearly at the end of his tether. And in a moment of sheer release he lifted the
small coffee table and threw it across the room, “FUCK!” He bellowed.

“Angel, don’t blame her, we should have expected her to do that.”

“I’m not blaming her and I’m not surprised that she watched the news, I’m surprised that I forgot to block those channels out when I moved
out of the room. But of course, I had expected to be with her to prevent this from happening.”

“But surely you didn’t think you could hide it from her forever?”

“No, I was going to tell her once things were better between us and I could explain …”

“Explain? Good luck with that.” At Angel’s glare he added, “Look, what’s done is done. My point is I think that’s what drove her to …”

“Set my house on fire and try to gut me like a fish.” Angel gestured with his hand as he finished for him.

That’s when Lindsey saw his still bleeding hand.

“My God, you said she didn’t cut you.”

”She didn’t. That’s a bite.”

“She bit you?” Lindsey asked disbelievingly. At Angel’s shrug he rolled his eyes.
Instructing him to sit, Lindsey then went into the bathroom to fetch a few supplies from the medicine cabinet. As he cleaned and bandaged the
wound he asked, “So how exactly did this happen?”

“She was screaming and I covered her mouth. I should have seen it coming.”

“That’s not all you should have seen coming.” Lindsey added dryly.

At Angel’s look he amended, “I didn’t mean that the way it came out. It’s just, after everything that’s happened, I’m not sure she’s worth all
this trouble.”

Considering his words, Angel replied, “I know you have your doubts but I am certain about her. She’s more than worth it. She’s everything.”
***
About twenty minutes later Lindsey again sat across from Buffy as he watched her hold the ice pack to her wrist. As he waited, he recalled
Angel’s words in the guestroom. He hoped Angel remembered them when he decided what to do with her.

Once she was done, he proceeded to wrap her wrist when he heard the door open. Pausing, he looked up to see Angel standing in the
doorway.

“Thank you Lindsey, I’ll take it from here.”

Lindsey and Buffy exchanged grave glances before he stood and walked over to Angel. Pausing momentarily he whispered, “I’ll be just down
the hall if you need me.”

When Angel nodded, he left.

Angel waited until the door closed behind him before walking over to Buffy. Silently, he sat next to her and finished the job of wrapping her
wrist. As he worked, Buffy tried to read what she was seeing in his eyes but he purposely avoided meeting hers.

When he was done, he gently lifted her wrist and kissed the inside along her vein. Then standing, “I won’t even pretend that I’m going to
punish you the way I threatened. You should know by now that I won’t.” Then looking directly at her, “From the beginning I’ve gone about this
the wrong way and you’ve only gotten hurt as a result. So from right now things have to change. But I’m not yet sure what that means or what
I’m going to do with you. Until I work that out however, I cannot have you endangering my staff or attacking my men. So until further notice
you will be confined to this room. There will be no more shopping sprees, tours or anything. You will continue to have all your meals here and
you will only be allowed to leave if escorted by Lindsey or myself. I will not lock you in but Luke or Adam will be posted outside this door day
and night to ensure you comply. I will have the staff remove my personal items as well as any items you can hurt yourself with.” He then
briefly strolled around the room before continuing, “About the tapes.” He then turned to her again, “I have no excuse for that. I wanted to
hurt your father the worst possible way I could and I gave no thought to what that might do to you. I released two tapes. I sent one of our first
meeting to your father. The other, of the second time we were intimate, I sent with a letter to the Star. However all of our encounters were
recorded, I assume those tapes have been confiscated by the FBI.” Then moving closer to her, “I won’t insult you by even trying to apologize
for publicly disgracing you. But I do apologize for the way you found out, I should have told you.”

Stopping a few feet from her, he waited for her response.

Buffy sat there quietly taking it all in, her mind reeling.

She had too many conflicting emotions that she felt her head was about to explode. She was furious at him yet she was relieved that he
seemed to be overlooking her recent actions. But she kept coming back to the tapes as she recalled what happened during their first meeting
and the night he tortured her with the vibrator. Knowing that people watched the tapes and saw what Angel did with her, knowing that her
father saw it too made her cringe inwardly. Would she ever be able to pick up the pieces of her shattered life?

Slowly looking up at him she gradually became aware that he had stopped speaking, his expression a mixture of concern, regret and hope.
Obviously he was waiting for her to react. That he dared hope sent her anger rising.

Standing, she calmly approached.

Briefly, she stood before him then suddenly her hand whipped out, slapping him hard across the face.

“I hate you.” She spat the words at him with every bit of contempt in her being. In that moment, she no longer cared what he might do to her.
Lowering his head, he accepted her contempt. He deserved nothing more.

When she showed no sign of retreating he asked, “When would you like the servants to remove my belongings?”

“The sooner the better.”

Nodding, he moved to the door and instructed some of the waiting servants to remove his personal items. He instructed the others which
items to remove from the bedroom and bathroom for Buffy’s safety.

Once Buffy and Angel were alone again, he said, “You’re now in charge of your meals, when you’re ready feel free to call down to the kitchen.”

And with that, he left.
***
For several long moments Buffy sat quietly, unsure of what to do next. To be honest, she was a little taken aback by her boldness. She had no
idea where she got the courage to slap him but it felt good. In fact, her entire escape made her feel wonderfully elated, her capture and fear of
punishment notwithstanding. The entire experience made her feel alive again. But clearly it didn’t improve her situation. And although she was
grateful that Angel had now completely moved out she was sobered by the fact that she was now restricted to the room, which made any
future escape attempts all but impossible.

Looking around the room, she wondered how long Angel was going to keep her in there. Despite the generous size of the suite, she knew
eventually the walls would feel like they were closing in on her. But she wasn’t worried, that wouldn’t be for some time to come. And besides,
she could go on the balcony for air.

Speaking of, she moved to the French doors and stepped onto the sunbathed balcony. Closing her eyes, she relished the warmth on her skin.
After everything that happened in the past 24 hours, she needed to relax and clear her mind. Glancing down to the terrace below, she quickly
concluded that scaling the wall was out of the question. No, when she got out of that room it would only be with Angel’s permission.

Sighing, she looked out at the expanse of lush gardens stretching out before her.

Until then, what was she going to do?
***
Hank sat across from his lawyer discussing the court ruling against The Star. It was only a temporary injunction but at least for the next few
weeks it provided some measure of damage control. In the meantime, Richard Wilkins and much of his firm were working nonstop to
permanently resolve the matter.

“So how long before the final decision?”

“Hmm, we’re scheduled to appear in about three weeks. As you know, the temporary injunction will remain in effect until the Court makes its
decision.”

“And what are our chances?”

“Very good. We have a strong argument, the partners and I are confident they’ll find in our favor.”

“Thank you. I can’t tell you what a relief this is.”

“I’m glad I can help. With everything going on, the last thing you and Joyce need is to worry about this.” Then after a moment, “So, how are
you, really?”

“We’re … holding up. It helps having Dawn back, gives us hope.”

“I’m sure it does … how is she?”

“Surprisingly she seems fine. I know she’s far from it but other than the occasional moments of anxiety and trouble sleeping she seems to be
functioning normally. Her therapist is confident she’ll do fine.”

“Ah yes, you mentioned she was seeing a professional.”

“Yes, that’s where she and Joyce are right now actually. She goes a few times a week.”

“Good, I was so glad to hear that she was found safe and sound. You two needed some good news in all this … but what of Buffy, has there
been any progress?”

“No. Rayne seems to have disappeared with her. Heaven knows what he’s doing to her.”

“You know, I could hardly believe that Ethan’s son was behind this … I didn’t even remember he had a son.”

“Yes, a 37 year old time bomb who clearly blames me for his father’s demise.”

Something in Hank’s voice made Richard take a moment to consider his friend, “Hank, I hope you’re not blaming yourself for this, you had no
way of knowing …”

“Didn’t I? I was a prosecutor for the District Attorney; I tried numerous murderers, rapists and other violent criminals. Any one of them could
have come after the girls. I should have taken better care to protect my family.”

“Hank, what could you have done differently? Buffy is an adult, she lives alone and Dawn will soon be in college, you can’t keep them under
lock and key.”

“Maybe I couldn’t prevent this … but I can’t help but feel I could have done better.” Then he added softly, “And I’m not the only one.”

“Who else blames you? … Joyce?” At Hank’s pointed look, “Joyce blames you for this?”
“I don’t know … she hasn’t said so exactly, it’s just that things are really tense between us right now … the strained silences, she can barely
look at me and when she does, there’s just such anger and disappointment in her eyes …”

Listening to the sadness and guilt in his friend’s words, Richard responded, “Hank, I’ve known you most of your life, you, Joyce and the girls are
like family to me and I know you love your children more than anything. Perhaps there was something you could have done but torturing
yourself about it isn’t going to help. I don’t know what to say about this thing with Joyce but I know she loves you. She may be angry and
perhaps she harbors some resentment but I imagine she feels as helpless as you do, and perhaps just as guilty. This kind of thing can destroy a
family so please, talk to her before the tension gets worse. I know that will be difficult but Hank, Dawn needs you, she needs both of you and
when Buffy returns she will as well. You have to hold together.”

“But that’s just it. When Buffy returns, I’m terrified just thinking that she won’t be ‘Buffy’ anymore. I can see it in Dawn’s eyes; the sparkle is all
but gone. What if Buffy comes back … different? I don’t know if I can watch her go through that. What if she never …”

“I know she will. Buffy may be going through hell right now but you and Joyce raised her well, she’s a strong young woman. She will survive
this.”

Nodding, Hank fought back the tears he’d been suppressing since Dawn was found. He wanted so badly to believe that Buffy would be ok, that
she was strong enough to survive this but his mind was tortured by the graphic details of the tabloid tape and Dawn’s account. Buffy was his
little girl and Rayne had indulged in every imaginable pleasure with her. How could he fail so utterly to protect his children?

Seeing Hank was still barely holding on, Richard reached across his desk and took his hand, “Buffy will survive this.”

When Hank finally looked at him, “And so will you.”
***
Buffy sat on the floor assembling a rather elaborate puzzle when Lindsey knocked. When he entered, he smiled when he saw what she was
doing, “Where on earth did you find that?”

“Angel brought it up from the library last night … along with a few other things that weren’t damaged in the fire.” She responded guiltily.

“I haven’t seen that in years, I think the last time Angel and I tried putting that thing together it conquered us both. In fact, I don’t think I’ve
ever seen it completed.”

He then paused at her odd expression, “What is it?”

Raising an eyebrow, “You and Angel did puzzles?”

Smirking, “Hard to believe, I know but yeah, we’ve tackled a few in our time. But this puzzle is actually for adults. It’s quite challenging.”

“So I’m discovering.”

“So besides the puzzle, what have you been up to in here all morning?”

“The usual … shower, breakfast with Angel, TV and now this.”

“And how was breakfast with Angel?”

“As fine as breakfast with Angel can be, I guess. He still hasn’t said when he’s letting me out of here.”

“Are you really that keen on getting out? You hardly left the room before this.”

“Yeah I know but somehow knowing that I could leave made staying in here tolerable. Now, if I don’t go on the balcony every so often I feel
like I’m suffocating.”

“Doesn’t Angel take you out?”

“He does, every afternoon he frees me from my cage and takes me for a walk in the gardens. And if I’m really good, he will even let me have
lunch out in the gazebo. God, I feel like an indoor pet.”

“Well have you brought it up?”

“I’m not sure I want to.”

“Well Buffy that would be one way to find out.”

“I-I, just have trouble talking to him.”

“It might help if you actually talked to him.”

“I do talk to him … I say ‘good morning,’ ‘good afternoon’ and ‘good night’ and I respond when he asks me something.”
“Fine be stubborn, but I can guarantee you won’t get your answers that way.”

“But … couldn’t you ask him for me?”

“Buffy, I am trying to help both of you but I will not pass notes between you. If you want to know, ask him. He’ll probably tell you.”

“Then why hasn’t he already? It’s his punishment, he should be the one to bring it up.”

“Yes but you’re the one dying to know.”

“It’s been two weeks Lindsey! Two weeks! Shouldn’t he have decided by now? This is torture. Every day I wake up wondering if this is it, will
this be the day. And then nothing happens.”

“Exactly my point. But then, perhaps you should be grateful.”

“Lindsey … please?” She infused her voice with the child-like tone that always worked on her father.

“Fine, I’ll tell him you have some concerns you’d like to discuss with him.”

“LINDSEY!”

“Buffy … you have to do this, you cannot continue avoiding him.”

Pouting, “Never mind then.” Then she decided to change tactics, “What if you took me out sometime?” She felt like a small child begging to go
out and play.

“After what you tried? No thank you. I’ve agreed to keep an eye on you when Angel is working but I don’t want to be responsible for you trying
to run again.”

“Lindsey, I won’t run again. I haven’t tried anything since he confined me here, I won’t do that again.”

“Buffy, you’ve only not tried anything because you haven’t had the opportunity but I know you. I can see the wheels turning in your mind, I
know you’re only biding your time so Angel and I will let our guard down so don’t try to act innocent with me. If you go anywhere outside of
this room, it will be with Angel.”

Defeated, “I don’t like you.”

“And I am so heartbroken.”

Frowning at his sarcasm, Buffy returned to her puzzle.

Seeing she’d finally given up, at least for the moment, Lindsey picked up his book and read.
***
When Angel first restricted Buffy to her room, she was glad for the solitude. The suite was large and very accommodating and she had it all to
herself. For several days Angel stayed away, the servants and Lindsey her only visitors. During this time, Buffy was determined to show that
being confined didn’t bother her and that she could stay in that room indefinitely. Well, in truth, late one night she did try to leave but when
she opened the door she immediately came face to face with Adam. She never tried leaving again. So in the meantime, she tried to keep her
mind occupied. She spent hours watching the news for any updates on her kidnapping and when she tired of that, she read or exercised. But
despite all her efforts she was bored to tears and quickly going stir crazy within the confines of the room. Fortunately, Lindsey’s visits broke
the monotony of her routine and helped take the edge off. She was grateful for them. He usually arrived shortly after breakfast and although
they didn’t always talk, his presence alone offered support. Unfortunately though, no matter how friendly he was to her, he remained deeply
loyal to his cousin.

When Angel did return she refused to speak with him. For days she stubbornly refused to even grace him with a single word. But as always he
persisted. To Buffy’s dismay he arranged to have his meals with her. Whenever she called down for something the staff alerted him at which
time he would also order and have both meals sent to her room. In fact, unbeknownst to Buffy, he had been monitoring when and what she
ate during his entire absence, ensuring she didn’t starve herself. The first time he showed up at her door Buffy was so irritated by his
presumptuousness that she completely ignored him. But Angel was not to be discouraged. He continued to share each meal with her and as
they ate he constantly tried to get her to talk. When she wouldn’t, he filled the void by talking incessantly about his day, his life and what plans
he had for them. Buffy truly marveled at his ability to conduct such elaborate conversations by himself. She really didn’t need to be there. Not
that she was listening. Well, honestly, she was listening to every word despite her every attempt to appear otherwise. But finally the day came
when she could take no more and had to respond, if only to shut him up. He was ecstatic at the few words she uttered. Now whenever they
ate together, Buffy forced herself to make random comments on the weather and the cuisine; anything to keep him from talking her ears off.
Their light exchanges had now become routine. Angel appreciated her effort since he too was getting tired of hearing his own voice and didn’t
insist their conversations take on a less superficial nature. Finally, she was talking to him again.

It was during these mealtime chats that Angel began taking her for long walks in the gardens or to the library to collect reading material from
among the books salvaged from the fire. He kept his hands to himself and seemed satisfied just to be with her. And as much as Buffy hated to
admit it, she was bored to tears in her room and found herself looking forward to whatever outing he had planned. Of course, they usually
walked in silence, having very limited conversation, neither willing to mention the tapes or her punishment.
***
After some hours of intense concentration, Buffy proudly slipped the last piece of the puzzle into place and smiled smugly at Lindsey. When he
didn’t notice her display, she pointedly cleared her throat.

“Are you trying to get my attention?” He asked without even looking up from his book.

When she didn’t respond he finally looked up at the supreme smirk on her face.

Leaning over, he saw that the puzzle was complete.

When he looked at her in surprise, her smile spread even wider.

His glare was priceless.
***
A while later Angel entered the suite to find Buffy proudly displaying the completed puzzle. For a few brief moments he took in the smile on
her face and the free manner with which she spoke with Lindsey. He felt a little jealous that she was more comfortable with Lindsey than with
him and he was beginning to suspect that she was befriending Lindsey partly to spite him but he refused to let that bother him. He trusted
Lindsey completely.

Stepping further into the room, Angel finally spoke, “I see you’ve succeeded where Lindsey and I have failed miserably.”

Her smile disappeared instantly.

Attempting to alleviate the now awkward silence, Lindsey asked, “Lunch time already?”

“Um, not really. I was wondering if Buffy would like to get in some tennis before lunch, we can get in a few sets before we eat and then have
lunch out in the gazebo.”

“Oh that sounds like a great idea!” Lindsey replied before Buffy could get a word in. Then smiling slyly and pointedly ignoring the glare of death
Buffy was giving him, he added “Buffy was just saying how much she wanted to get out and here you come, perfect timing.”

Seeing Lindsey was paying her no mind, she turned to Angel, fully intending to turn him down. But then something Lindsey said earlier came
back to her; she had to do this. She couldn’t avoid talking with Angel forever. So instead, when she opened her mouth, she agreed.
***
Ten minutes later the two headed out to the courts. When they got there, Angel unlocked the supply room and took out all of the equipment
they’d need then he proceeded to warm up.

Watching him stretch, Buffy briefly wondered how athletic he was. If his sexual prowess were any indication, this was going to be a tough
match.

She decided she’d better warm up too just to avoid injuring herself.

Then after agreeing to play the best of three, Angel prepared to take his first serve.

Bouncing the ball a few times to get his rhythm, he glanced across the court to the tiny young woman clad all in white opposite him. Deciding
to take it easy on her this time, he held back and sent the ball almost right to her at a nice easy pace.

She returned it with ease.

He sent it back and she again returned it easily.

Deciding to give her something more challenging, he sent the ball crosscourt at a gentle angle.

And she sent it back.

Seeing that she really could play, he decided to turn up the pressure and within moments, they were engaged in a heated battle.

Of course, he had underestimated just how well she could play.

Angel was quickly learning how fast and agile Buffy really was. She moved gracefully, almost effortlessly across the court, changing directions,
running down balls, lobbing and volleying with ease. She outplayed his groundstrokes and nearly broke his serve numerous times. Their games
were long and arduous, their rallies heated. They argued fiercely over calls. Soon each had a set, both breathing heavily. But in the end, it was
only his powerful serve that saved his pride. When she managed to get to breakpoint in the decisive game of the final set of the match, he
served his way out of trouble with two aces back to back. Buffy was furious. She didn’t have the upper body strength to challenge him. In the
end she lost, but only by a few games overall.

Seeing how angry she was Angel humbly offered, “Maybe we should replay that last point, I think my ball went wide.”

Recognizing his offer for what it was, she softened, “No, you won fair and square.”
Seeing that wouldn’t appease her, “Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea. I shouldn’t have been so competitive.”

“What?” She asked incredulously, “If you had let me win I’d be even angrier.”

“Oh.” He wasn’t sure what to make of that.

Seeing his puzzlement, she offered, “I’ll just have to be content with finishing the puzzle first.”

Caught off guard he burst out laughing, “Yes Buff, that is one victory you can certainly claim.” His eyes gleaming brightly in amusement.

When his laughter finally subsided he asked, “Are you ready for lunch then?”

Quietly Buffy and Angel put away the tennis equipment then walked over to the gazebo where their lunch awaited them. Pulling out her seat,
Angel handed her a warm towel to wipe her hands on before eating. After wiping his own hands, he then served her a generous helping of the
chicken Caesar salad she had requested. He then filled his own plate with an equally generous helping of lightly breaded chicken breast, red
potatoes and string beans.

Sitting across from her, Angel tried to ignore how see through her white blouse had become from her exertions during their match. Her skin
was deeply flushed and he could clearly see her hardened nipples straining against the satin and lace of her bra. He was also keenly aware of
just how short her tennis skirt was. Clearly she was oblivious to her appearance. Keeping his eyes averted, he focused on his meal. And hoped
she wouldn’t notice the increasingly uncomfortable bulge in his pants.
***
Lunch couldn’t have ended soon enough for Angel. One moment longer and he would have given in to temptation and kissed her. But he didn’t
want to scare her off when she finally seemed to be opening up to him so he restrained himself. Fortunately, much to his relief and
disappointment, her blouse had dried somewhat during lunch so he could no longer see through it. Of course that did little to relieve his
pressing erection.

Escorting her back to the villa, he tried to hide his discomfort. He didn’t want to offend her.

Unfortunately, that’s when Buffy decided she wanted to talk.

“Angel … are you going to keep me in my room much longer?”

Pausing, he finally built up the courage to look at her.

He wished he hadn’t.

Her wide-eyed curiosity was going to kill him.

“To be honest Buffy, I’m not sure what to do with you. Beyond keeping you in your room I can’t think of anything that will satisfy both of us.
You’ve made your feelings abundantly clear and I refuse to force you, so we’re at an impasse. Right now confining you to the room is the
easiest solution and probably the safest for us both.”

“You could let me go.”

“No, I couldn’t bear to.”

Looking away she continued walking in silence. She was tired of this conversation.

Seeing her withdraw he instinctively touched her shoulder, turning her to him.

When she refused to meet his eyes, he offered, “Buff, I’d rather not have you roaming freely but perhaps we can arrange for you to have a bit
more freedom.”

When she finally looked at him he added, “Is there anything you’d particularly like to do?”

“No. I’m fine in my room.” She then turned and continued to the house. It was too late.
***
Angel sat in his office reading a report when a soft knock broke into his thoughts. Opening the door, he was surprised to find Buffy on the
other side.

“Is something wrong?” He asked curious of her presence. She wasn’t allowed in his office.

“Nothing is wrong. I just wanted to speak with you. Can you spare a few minutes?”

“I’d spare a lifetime for you.” He then lifted her hand and gently kissed it before guiding her into his office.

Leading her to a chair, he waited until she was seated before returning to his.

“What did you wish to discuss, my dear?”
”Your offer.”

“My offer?”

“Yes, you said there were few things you would deny me. You offered to make me your partner, the mistress of this house.”

“Of all my houses.” He eagerly corrected.

“Yes.”

“Are you considering it?”

“Perhaps … if the offer is right.”

“Well, what exactly did you want to know?”

“The details, what exactly are you offering? And what exactly is expected of me in return?”

“Hmmm, well, there’s the obvious. I will provide you with almost anything your heart desires.”

“Well see that’s just it, the ‘almost anything.’ What are the exceptions?”

“Well clearly you would not be allowed to go home. Perhaps eventually I can arrange for you to contact your family, to let them know that
you’re well. But otherwise, there would be no contact with them. In addition, you’d be free to come and go as you like but only with an armed
escort. That encompasses the ‘almost anything.’” Then, “As to my expectations, well, obviously you would willingly engage in a sexual
relationship with me. You would have social responsibilities, various parties, galas and receptions to host and attend. But foremost, you would
be my partner.” Then after pausing dramatically he added, “And if you find that you could be happy with me then I am certainly eager to make
it legal. Perhaps one day we’ll have our own family.”

Buffy remained silent, taking it all in. Could she walk away from her former life and family to be his mistress? Could she bear his children?

At her silence he added, “But that’s just the bare details.” Then kneeling before her, “Imagine all the wonderful things we could do together.
You are the most precious thing to me, I want nothing more than to spend the rest of my life showing you just how much.”

Looking into his eyes, “But …”

“But what?” He encouraged.

“But what if I cannot be happy with you?”

“If you make an honest effort and still find that you are unhappy then I’ll give you what you want. I’ll let you go, free and clear. But it has to be
an honest effort Buff, please, just give us a chance.”

“How long will that take?”

“I don’t think it’s something we should put a time limit on but we can see how you feel six months from now, a year from now and gauge
things from there.”

“How do I know you’ll keep your word?”

“You can get it in writing if you wish.” Then after a moment, “So, what do you think of the offer?”

When she didn’t answer, “Tell you what, go and take some time. Think about it.” Then after a moment, “But first, may I remind you of the
depth of my love?”

Before she could answer he was on her mouth, kissing her deeply.

Buffy was so taken aback that at first she didn’t respond to his kiss. But when she felt him pulling away her hands grasped his shoulders as she
began kissing him in return. Their kiss was deep and passionate, leaving both breathless.

Finally breaking from each other, Angel began standing when Buffy took his hand. When he looked at her, “I’ve thought about it.”

“And?”

“And, I think I can try.” She then smiled slightly at him.

It took a moment for her words to penetrate his brain but when they did, he immediately pulled her from her seat and into his arms. Kissing
her again, his hands eagerly roamed her body, he needed to feel her and know that she was really there. Feeling her warmth, his kisses
became more frantic, more demanding. His urgency and his desire to make it last warred with each other. He didn’t want their first time as a
couple to be a fuck. But Buffy had other ideas. She had forgotten how skillful a lover he was, that he could have her trembling in need with the
slightest touch. Desperate to sate her own desire, she roughly undid his pants, freeing him. Sliding her hand along his shaft, she stroked his
already hardened length till he was gasping uncontrollably. She felt an odd sense of power holding him by the balls. But that was not to last.
Seeing the unbridled passion in her eyes, Angel quickly unbuttoned her blouse. Lifting her, he pushed down her bra and latched onto her
breast, suckling hungrily. Soon her gasps of pleasure filled the room, fueling his own desire. But he was not done with her yet. Gently pressing
her against the wall, he worked his hand into her underwear, his finger penetrating her. At her sharp gasp, he eased his finger in, gently
massaging her inner walls till she was slick with moisture. Only then did he rub her clit in the same circular motion, eliciting loud moans in
response. Staring into her eyes, he watched her every response to his ministrations. She was an open book to him and he held her exposed
until he knew she was close to her crisis. Only then did he lower his mouth to suckle her breast again. Buffy was on fire. Angel was quickly
propelling her to orgasm and the instant he felt the pulsing of her core, he doubled his efforts, sending her into a frenzy. But this time, instead
of drawing out her pleasure he abandoned her quaking sheath and quickly replaced his moist fingers with his manhood. Buffy shrieked when
he penetrated her, his rock hard length stretching her to capacity. But she was too numb with orgasm to feel any discomfort beyond the
rippling aftershocks his length triggered within her. Stilling momentarily for her to fully accommodate him, Angel lightly pinched her nipples
and kissed her ardently. Then as she began moving against him, he partly withdrew before thrusting into her again. Together they set an easy
pace, each thrust slow and deep, then as their urgency built, his thrusts became, faster, harder and more frantic. Angel knew she was close but
he was ready to burst. So deftly his hand slipped between them, fondling her till yet again he felt the initial clenching of her orgasm. Then
suddenly he grasped her hips and ploughed into her, sending them both spiraling into oblivion, their names spilling from each other’s lips.

And suddenly Angel awoke.

It had been a few hours since he took Buffy back to her room. Afterward, he showered and decided to take a nap; he hadn’t been sleeping well
lately. And this was the very reason why. He was constantly dreaming of Buffy, more often than not, dreaming of having sex with her. This
time they were in his office. Last time it was the formal dining room, on the terrace before that. And the odd thing was that he always knew it
was a dream while he was dreaming it. The real Buffy would never be so forgiving yet he couldn’t stop himself.

Collapsing against the pillows, Angel sighed. He was beyond frustrated. His muscles were incredibly tense and he was having trouble
concentrating on anything other than Buffy. Her hair, her skin, her eyes. Trying to get any work done was a complete waste of time. Day and
night he was tormented by her smile, her laughter. He constantly wanted to be around her but when he was, he felt obscene and compelled to
leave her presence. He’d never felt such shame in his life; shame for his actions and for his continued desire for her. The guilt and agony were
slowly driving him crazy.

Once the dreams began in earnest he had tried to relieve the tension himself but he was never able to fully sate his desire, partly because he
fantasized about her while doing so. If anything it made it all worse. So he resorted to cold showers and working out constantly in his gym. But
eventually the showers had no effect. His only recourse now was to train so rigorously that he’d collapse from exhaustion the minute he
entered his room. But that too was quickly losing its effect. Granted, it had occurred to him that he could seek comfort elsewhere. There was
never a shortage of women at the local hotels who wouldn’t mind spending an evening with him but just the thought of touching anyone but
Buffy made him cringe. She was the object of his desire and he needed her. Only her.

Rolling over, Angel wondered how much longer he could go on like this.
***
In her room, Buffy lie in bed thinking of Angel. He had left her some time ago and she had showered and changed into some shorts and a tank.
Now she was alone with her thoughts. And as much as she hated to admit it, she actually thought of him a lot. Not for the first time she
wondered how he could live with himself knowing all the things he’d done. How could a person be so malicious and cruel? But what drew her
curiosity was how different he and Lindsey were. Granted there were many similarities between them but she couldn’t help but notice the
differences. Physically, Angel was bigger and much darker and intense whereas Lindsey’s more casual demeanor and boyish looks made him
appear much less threatening. That made talking with Lindsey fairly easy for her but despite her apparent rapport with him, she was still very
skeptical. Clearly he was complicit in Angel’s criminal dealings so how was it that someone so nice and friendly could be involved in such
things? That made her question his genuineness. Was it possible that Lindsey was better at disguising his true nature than Angel? Well, Lindsey
was a lawyer and if Buffy learnt anything from her father and his colleagues it was that they never showed their hand. Granted, she didn’t
think Lindsey was trying to get her in bed, well, at least not his anyway but she found it odd that he was so determined to get her into Angel’s.
He obviously knew she was using him to avoid Angel and that’s really why he wouldn’t take her anywhere. And that brought her back to Angel.
Her mind kept replaying their tennis match and the lunch they shared afterward. But what plagued her thoughts more than anything was their
brief conversation. It wasn’t simply what he said but also how he said it.

Was he no longer going to punish her? Well, her confinement seemed to have become her punishment instead but clearly he was using it as a
way to give them both what they wanted, or at least partly so. Was he giving up? If so, what did that mean for her?
***
That evening Angel dined alone on the balcony of the guest room. He was in no state, mental or physical, to see Buffy again so soon. But he
was miserable without her. Even the usually delectable entrée tasted bland. Granted, she certainly never attempted to make him feel
welcomed but now he couldn’t even see her glare at him. God, he was pathetic.

Sighing, Angel set aside his dinner, he had no appetite. Walking the length of the balcony, he gazed out in the distance. It was nearly sun set
and he wished he could share its beauty with her.

Finally, he had had enough of this brooding. He was a man of action and he was about to act.

Pulling himself together he quickly made a phone call, showered again, shaved and got dressed. Satisfied with his appearance, he took a deep
breath and headed to Buffy’s room.
***
Buffy was just finishing her dinner when she heard the knock on her door. She knew who it was. Taking her time, she slowly went over and
opened the door.
“Angel?”

“Buffy, I apologize for not joining you this evening. How was your dinner?” He asked as he nervously shifted from leg to leg.

“Fine, as always.” She answered curious at his odd behavior.

“Buffy, I’d like to take you out this evening, someplace other than my gardens. That’s if you don’t mind.”

Buffy was stunned. Was Angel asking her out on a date? Thrown, she didn’t know whether to laugh in his face or slap him again. She went with
neither. Going out was good, it was another chance to be seen and perhaps get help.

Smiling coyly but not too eagerly, she accepted his invitation.

A while later, Buffy had changed and the two left the villa on what was to be their unofficial first date.
***
About forty-five minutes later, they arrived at a pier. Taking her hand, Angel guided her past several large yachts along the pier. The entire
place was quiet and Buffy had yet to see anyone she might appeal to. It was only then that it occurred to her that he might be taking her out to
sea to kill her and dispose of her body.

She began to pull back.

Feeling her try to pull from him, he tightened his grasp and turned to her, “Buffy, please do not try to run again. This pier is wet and slippery
and you may fall and hurt yourself. I do not wish for our evening to turn ugly.”

“Then where are you taking me?”

“I-I hoped to surprise you.” When she looked totally unconvinced, he added, “It’s the yacht at the end. I’d like to take you sailing around the
bay.”

“And you can’t do that early in the day when there’s lots of people around?”

“What are you talking about? It’s most peaceful out here when there aren’t dozens of other people making noise to disturb you.”

“Or to be witnesses you mean.”

“What?” It was only then that he realized what she was thinking. “Buffy, I didn’t bring you out here to do anything to you.” When she still
looked doubtful, he added, “Buff, think about it. If I planned to harm you in any way then why would I bring you out here where someone
might actually see us together when I could have carried out whatever you think I’m planning in the privacy of my own home?”

She had to admit, he had a point. But she wasn’t about to admit it to him. “Well, perhaps you plan to dump my body when you’re done.”

Taking a deep breath, “Buffy, I am not planning to kill you. Why would you think that?”

“Well you said you weren’t sure what you were going to do with me. Then you bring me to this dark, isolated pier … what else would I think?”

“That I’m trying to find ways to give you more freedom as I suggested earlier.”

She wanted to believe him.

When she still looked skeptical, he conceded, “Fine, how about we go back to the car and just watch the boats go by? You don’t have to get
anywhere near the water.”

She considered it briefly then nodded.

Turning back, Angel tried to hide his disappointment. What did he expect? She didn’t trust him and for good reason.

Back in the car, Angel put in a CD to lighten the mood. Avoiding all love songs, he picked something neutral. And the two of them just stared
out at the few boats in the bay, each in their own world. That is until Angel recalled something she brought up.

“Buffy, when I said I didn’t know what to do with you I meant that I am at a loss of how to give you freedom without endangering my staff. I
was not happy that you set my house on fire and tried to stab me but after what I did to you I deserve much worse. I will not punish you any
more than you already have been.”

“Why’d you do it?”

“Do what?”

“The tapes.”

When he didn’t answer right away she got angry, “Tell me damn it!”
“I can’t.”

“Oh don’t give me that bullshit.”

When he still didn’t answer she snapped.

Suddenly opening the car door in disgust, she bolted, intent on getting as far away from him as possible.

It took a moment before Angel realized that she was escaping. Again.

Cursing, he jumped out of the car in pursuit. He ran like a madman desperately clutching to his last shred of sanity.

And by some miracle he caught her.

Holding her tightly in his grasp, he pulled her to the ground, bracing himself against her pounding fists as she vented her fury. She was striking
out wildly against him, her cries increasingly desperate.

But despite her struggles he held her close, murmuring his apologies soothingly in her ear.

As her struggles died down, he turned her to him and holding her more firmly, began speaking more clearly, finally answering her question. “I
did it because I wanted Hank to feel what I felt, the pain and disgrace that my mother felt. Ethan might have been a criminal but he was my
father and I loved him. And while my father wasted away in prison, my poor mother and I were forced to live with an animal. He used her
every way imaginable and every day of my life I lived with her shame and watched it destroy her. I hated your father and I wanted to take
everything he cared for away from him. But all I’ve done is allow my anger and hatred to consume me and I’ve destroyed everything I’ve ever
cared for, even you.”

Then caressing her hair, “I know that’s no excuse and I can’t even begin to make this better but I love you Buffy and I hate all that I’ve done to
you, all that I’ve become.” His voice was now ragged with unshed tears.

Buffy was trembling. This wasn’t exactly what she expected. There was just such anguish in his eyes. She felt like someone had thrown a
bucket of cold water all over her. She didn’t know what to say to him.
******
Part 18
******
For several long moments Buffy remained motionless, she still didn’t know what to say to him. All she could do was gaze at the raw emotion in
his eyes. She’d forgotten how expressive his eyes were. They haunted her.

Angel silently watched Buffy struggle with her uncertainty. He knew she wanted to say something but had no idea where to start. He wanted
to help but he was also at a loss. He too was thrown by his confession, he’d never planned to share so much about his life after the trial. It was
something he rarely spoke of. And when he did, it was certainly with no one other than Lindsey. Now he felt strangely naked and vulnerable.
The same way he felt the morning she confronted him about Ethan. The morning he beat her.

Closing his eyes, he visibly flinched at the memory. The violence made him cringe. He had truly become a monster. And suddenly he couldn’t
look at her anymore.

Buffy instantly sensed the change in him. For a fleeting moment, he was an open book and she glimpsed the turmoil within. And then it was
gone. Something made him shut down.

Hoping to prevent him from withdrawing further, she grasped his shirt, encouraging him to look at her.

But he wouldn’t.

“Angel, please … what is it?” She had no idea why but she felt this was important.

Her plea nearly broke his resolve before he remembered where they were. Ignoring her question he firmly gripped her wrists and stood with
her. He couldn’t afford to draw more attention to them and two people sitting on the ground staring at each other in the middle of a parking
lot would do just that.

Returning to the car, he placed her in the backseat with the child locks on and then got into the driver’s seat.

Without a word he pulled out of the parking space and onto the road.

The drive back was uncomfortably silent.

Buffy wanted to press him to answer her question but she also vividly recalled the morning she confronted him about Ethan. Sensing this was
dangerous territory she backed off. She didn’t care to repeat the experience.

From the driver’s seat, Angel watched her in the rearview mirror. He knew she wanted to pursue the issue but he hoped she’d let it go. He
didn’t want to talk about it.
But he didn’t want to push her away either.

Pulling to the side of the road he finally gave her something, “I’m sorry I ignored your question but where we were was too out in the open.”
Then taking a deep breath he turned to her, “As to what I said about my family and my life, I’d rather not get into it. It’s in the past and I’d
rather you let it stay that way.”

Infuriated she replied, “Isn’t that convenient … when it’s uncomfortable for you then it should remain in the past yet your entire reason for
everything you’ve done to me is because of the past. A past that neither you nor I had anything to do with.”

She couldn’t simply let it go, could she?

No, she had to push his buttons until he was ready to explode.

But rather than hurt her again he simply pulled onto the road and continued the drive to the villa. This time, he would not allow his anger to
get the better of him.

But as he drove he couldn’t help but feel her eyes on him and when he glanced back at her through the mirror, she met his reflected gaze
challengingly. She was not backing down. Angel sighed.

His plans for the evening clearly weren’t going well.

But one thing that stood out in his mind was their encounter in the parking lot. For a brief moment there was something gentle in her eyes, in
her voice. And when she gripped his shirt, he couldn’t help but feel her sincerity. She was open to him. But then he withdrew and so did she. It
was a moment he should have seized. But he didn’t want her sympathy. He wanted her.

Pulling into the garage, Angel looked back at her one last time and made a decision. He was going to do something that he knew would scare
her; something he’d probably regret but hoped would force them past this impasse.

Moving to the rear door, he opened it and patiently waited to assist her. When she took his proffered hand, he suddenly pulled her into his
arms, turning her to him.

Before she could react he was on her, his mouth hungrily devouring hers, muffling her protests. Her hands came up, pushing against his chest
as she felt him move between her thighs. Keeping the door blocked, he used his weight to push her onto her back before climbing in with her
and closing the door. Pinning her with his body, he plundered her mouth; cautious she might bite him again while his hands eagerly explored
her.

Buffy was panicking. She was still fuming over his arrogant dismissal of her question and hadn’t expected it. He hadn’t tried anything in two
weeks. So here she was about to be raped again and her limbs felt like lead. She knew her crippling fear would rear its head at the worst
possible moment.

Then suddenly he stopped.

And she felt his weight move from her.

Hesitantly she opened her eyes only to meet his warm dark ones hovering just above her.

She closed hers again. Waiting.

Then she heard the car door open again and felt herself being lifted.

Where was he taking her?

Daring to open her eyes again she looked at him questioningly.

Offering no explanation, he continued carrying her through the house.

“Please … I can walk.” She hated the sensation of being carried, especially by him.

“I know you can.” And he continued carrying her as if his response were the final word on the matter.

Well, it was. After the incident in the car Buffy really was in no mood to push him further. He might actually finish what he started.

Seeing their approach, Luke opened the door to the suite for Angel to pass through with his quarry.

Angel then passed through the sitting room and straight into the bedroom where he gently deposited his load onto the bed.

Scrambling away from him, Buffy moved to the far side of the bed, anticipating his next move.

For a few moments he strolled the room, considering what he was to say.
Then turning to her, he announced, “I’ve come to a decision. You and I will never deal with the issues between us if we continue avoiding each
other. So I will be moving back into this room with you.”

Buffy felt the color drain from her face, her mouth agape.

Seeing her stricken expression he hastened to add, “I will not force you to have sex but I will not allow you to run from me either.”

“You expect me to believe that after what you just did in the car?”

“You have no other choice.”

At her stunned silence, he added, “We’ll talk more about this in the morning. For now, I think we should both rest.”

Then he started removing his shirt.

“What are you doing?” She asked alarmed.

“Preparing for bed.” Her eyes widened in realization.

“You’re staying in here … with me … tonight?” Her voice was near hysterical.

“Yes.”

If it were possible, she got even paler.

“Angel please … don’t … I just need more time.”

“More time? I think you’ve had just about enough time.”

“It’s only been two weeks, two weeks is nothing … after everything … how can you expect that to be enough time?”

“That’s just it Buff, two weeks or two years, it doesn’t matter. You’ll never get over it and I was foolish to think you could.”

“So you think forcing yourself back in here is going to make it any better?”

“Probably not … but I don’t see how it can make it any worse.” He then moved to the bathroom and continued removing his shirt.

Following, Buffy grasped his hand, pulling him back, “Angel, I’ll try harder … I’ll spend more time with you, we can play tennis whenever you
want, just … please give me more time … just a few more days.” He forced himself not to look at her; if he did he was certain she’d see through
his ruse.

When he deliberately took another step into the bathroom, she moved ahead of him, clutching his hand in earnest.

Then she did the most unexpected thing. She wrapped her arms around him and buried her face in his chest, stroking him gently.

Struck by her actions, he closed his eyes at the feel of her against him. Her touch was so tentative and gentle.

Keeping his voice stern, “What exactly do you mean by trying harder?”

She stiffened.

“Would you allow me to kiss you?” He offered when she remained silent.

After a moment, she nodded against him.

When he seemed to be considering it she dared to nestle even closer to him.

“Please …” She squeaked as she nuzzled against his chest.

That did it. He knew he couldn’t keep up the pretense much longer.

Taking a deep breath, “How much longer do you need?”

“Another two weeks?” She asked eagerly gazing up at him.

“You just said a few days.”

“Please … another two weeks …” This time her plea broke him.

And it took all his will power to pry her off him.
Then lifting her chin, he looked into eyes, her unshed tears glistening in the light.

“Do you really think this extra time is going to make a difference?”

“Yes, it’ll help …that’s all I’m asking for … please.”

“Are you sure about this? I’ll give you two more weeks and in that time you promise to try harder and we can spend more time together?”

She nodded firmly

“And what happens at the end of those two weeks? I won’t allow you to change your mind.” At her reluctance to reply he offered, “Perhaps
that’s something we’ll discuss in more detail when the time comes?”

Again she nodded, relieved that at least for now she was safe.

“Well then I guess the only thing left is to seal the deal.”

He felt her stiffen even more.

Lowering his head, he lightly brushed his lips against her forehead. Then holding her gaze gently lifted her hand to his mouth, lightly kissing it.
Before changing his mind and ravishing her there on the bathroom floor, he stepped back, holding onto his last shred of control. “I shall see
you in the morning then?”

She nodded

Without another word he left.
***
When she heard the outer door close, Buffy sighed in relief. Those last moments with him were incredibly tense and she sensed how close he
came to taking it much further. Taking deep breaths to calm her racing pulse, she slumped against the wall to support herself. What did this
mean? Even she hadn’t exactly thought through what she meant by trying harder but at that moment she would have agreed to almost
anything to stop him from moving back in. She didn’t want him that close to her. And now she had two weeks, two weeks to find a way to put
as much distance between them as possible.
***
In the guestroom, Angel sighed. Buffy bought his bluff hook, line and sinker. He was pretty sure the moves he put on her in the car helped
convince her that he was serious. Admittedly he felt somewhat guilty for deceiving her, let alone attacking her, but he needed to do
something. It was a gamble he had to take. And thankfully he now had more time before he really had intended to move back in with her. Of
course, he knew she was just buying time and as vague as ‘trying harder’ was, at least now she had to be more receptive to him. He also knew
he’d have to watch her like a hawk since she obviously had no intentions of actually sharing a bed with him again. She’d probably try to run
again. But he wasn’t worried about that. If things went as he hoped, she’d never run from him again.
***
The following morning Lindsey knocked lightly as he entered Buffy’s door, announcing his arrival. When he didn’t see her waiting for him in the
sitting room, he took out his book and sat patiently, assuming she was still getting dressed.

Some moments later he heard her voice and just below hers was a distinctly familiar, masculine one. Angel.

Angel was still with her? By now he was usually gone.

Unsure what he might be interrupting Lindsey stood preparing to come back later when he heard Angel call to him.

Turning around, his eyes nearly popped from his head when he saw Angel standing behind Buffy, his arms wrapped securely around her.

“Angel. Buffy.” He greeted them curiously after recovering his voice. After days on end of listening to Buffy proclaim her abhorrence for the
man behind her, this was quite a shock.

They both nodded in return.

Then Angel slowly released her, “I’ll see you for lunch.” He then kissed her forehead.

Lindsey nearly choked. Their evening together must have been fairly successful since Buffy wasn’t climbing the wall to get away from him. In
fact, she was holding his hand.

“I can come back another time …” Lindsey ventured.

“No, no, I must see to some things today … take care of her for me.”

“I always do.”
***
When they were alone Lindsey looked at her curiously, then sitting, “Well you two certainly are friendly all of a sudden … I’ll hang here till you
get out of the shower.”
“Excuse me?”

“The shower … that is where you’re headed right?”

“I’ve already showered this morning.”

“Well I assume so but after that little performance I figured you’d be eager to wash every trace of him from you.”

“Hmm, well after being with both of you for so long I think I’m developing some tolerance … unfortunately.”

“Unfortunate for you perhaps but I’m sure Angel is glad for it. So, how long do you plan to keep this up?”

“Keep what up?”

“The smiling, the touching … is this your new strategy?”

“Strategy … what are you talking about?”

“You can give it up now Buffy, there wasn’t an ounce of sincerity behind those coy smiles of yours so come on … share.”

“Lindsey, it’s not what you …”

“Come on Buffy, you can’t seriously think I bought that.”

“I don’t care what you think.”

“Perhaps … but more importantly, do you really think he bought it?”

When she didn’t answer he added, “Let’s be honest, just yesterday you didn’t want to even be in the same room with him and now you’re
acting like newlyweds.”

“First of all, I was hardly acting like a newlywed. And you’re right, I don’t want to be in the same room with him, which is why I had to … do
that.”

At Lindsey’s obvious confusion she elaborated, explaining their compromise.

“So you’re telling me to stop him from moving back in here last night you basically decided to give him some touch in exchange for more
time?”

“If you must put it like that, yes.”

“Interesting logic …”

“Well it’s better than being around him 24-7 and wondering each time I go to sleep if he’s going to force himself on me.”

“Fine, I get that … so what happens when your time’s up?”

“I don’t know … I guess he’ll move back in … we haven’t discussed that yet.”

“I see.” Then looking at her suspiciously, he added, “But you don’t plan to find out, do you?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” She replied indignantly.

But her eyes gave her away.

“Buffy …”

“Leave me alone, Lindsey … I don’t want to talk today.”

When she turned to go back into the bedroom, Lindsey shot up out of his seat, grabbing her shoulders and forcing her to face him.

“Don’t play that game with me little girl. You know damn straight what I’m talking about but I’ll spell it out for you, just to be clear. I know
you’re planning to run away again. And trust me, so does he. Don’t think just because he’s all kisses and tenderness with you now that he
won’t hurt you. Everyone has a breaking point and if you keep pushing him the way you have been, you’ll be sure to find his. And I can
guarantee it won’t be pretty. You make another wrong move and I promise you will regret it and I’m not just talking about Angel. There are
people around him who will not let you ruin him, myself included. So don’t you dare think I’m joking. I hate to be cruel but you don’t seem to
understand any other way. I am saying this for your own good so if I were you, I’d take this time getting used to the idea of sleeping with him
again.” Then releasing his steel grip on her, he returned to his seat.

Buffy stood shocked by the sudden change in him.
She’d never seen Lindsey like that before. He was always so kind and patient with her. For a moment she really thought he was going to hit
her.

For a few long moments she just stood there, silently stunned.

Then suddenly, the tears she was fighting ran down her flushed cheeks and she closed her eyes as they came forth. But refusing to let him see
her cry, she fled into the bedroom, slamming the door behind her as she flung herself back into the bed.
***
Hours later Angel returned to the suite to find Lindsey sitting alone reading his book.

“Where’s Buffy?”

“I believe she’s in the room resting.”

“Resting … is she sick?”

“Hmm, I don’t think so, she’s rather upset.”

“About what?”

“I think you should ask her.”

Furrowing his brow at Lindsey’s evasiveness, he cautiously entered the bedroom, unsure what to expect.

Buffy was prone, her face buried in the pillows.

Moving closer, he listened to her deep steady breathing, she was asleep.

Crouching next to the bed, he lightly caressed her back, rousing her.

When she stirred, he softly called to her.

Then suddenly she woke and jumped away from him, startled.

He pulled back, hands raised in surrender.

“It’s ok Baby, I’m just checking on you.”

It took a moment for her to fully wake and realize what he said.

Rubbing her eyes, she sat up and moved further away from him.

“Are you sick?”

“I’m just tired.” She mumbled, unsure what Lindsey might have told him.

“I see.” He answered, choosing not to comment on her tear-stained cheeks. She’d obviously been crying.

“Would you care to have your lunch later then?”

“Um, no, I’m ready … I’ll just go and freshen up.”

She then climbed from the bed and moved into the bathroom.

When she was gone, Angel returned to the sitting room.

When Lindsey looked up, “Why was she crying?”

“I told you, she was upset.”

“About what?”

“She didn’t tell you?”

“I am asking you.”

“Well then, I simply reminded her that any future escape attempts would be … a grave mistake on her part.”

“I see … and how exactly did you remind her?”
“I didn’t touch her Angel … I’ll leave that to you.”

“I didn’t mean it like that … I know you wouldn’t do that … but what did you say to her?”

“Just that the compromise you two came to last night doesn’t mean we’re not watching her.”

“She told you about that?”

“Yes.”

“And what do you think?”

“That you’d better keep a very close eye on her.”

“Yes but besides that?”

“Nothing … I guess you’re doing what you have to but it seems like you’re back to step one to me.”

“That’s true in some ways but it’s different now.”

“Perhaps … of course I’m surprised you’ve waited this long. Ordinarily you’d have had your way with her by now.”

“I know … this is unchartered territory for me Linds but I need to do something. She’ll never come to me otherwise.”

“I get that … so she’s been cooperating?”

“Pretty much … you saw her this morning, she’s been fairly receptive.”

“Fairly?”

“Well she’s not overly eager for me to touch her but she doesn’t resist. Anyway, I have to be careful how far I push her, my moving back in will
only intimidate her so much.”

“So you really plan to do it … to move back in here?”

“Oh yes … eventually. It was a mistake to leave in the first place, she has to get used to being with me and staying in the guestroom isn’t
helping.”

“Well I hope you can sleep with one eye open, she may try to attack you again.”

“Perhaps but I’m prepared for her.”

“I hope so.” Then standing, “Well you two lovebirds have a nice lunch, I’ll be in my office if you need me.”

“Sure.”

When Angel moved to return to the bedroom, Lindsey touched his shoulder, “Listen, I’m sorry I upset her.”

Nodding, “I know … it’s just … this has been difficult for her … for us all.”

Both cousins nodded in understanding before Lindsey took his leave.
***
In the bathroom Buffy splashed her face with cool water. She was stalling. She really didn’t want to deal with Angel right then. But it was this
or share a bed with him again.

Sighing she turned off the water and examined her face in the mirror. Her eyes were slightly red and puffy, her face drawn. She looked tired.
Well, she was.

She hadn’t slept well at all after Angel left her the night before. She was awake most of the night half expecting him to change his mind and
ravage her. When it wasn’t that she worried incessantly that she had made the worst mistake of her life by agreeing to this. When she did
finally get to sleep she tossed and turned constantly. By morning she was exhausted.

She still wasn’t sure about this. Being this close to Angel unnerved her. It made her feel vulnerable and not just for the obvious reasons. She’d
finally managed to suppress the affinity she had for him and letting him this close again set her on edge. She didn’t like this arrangement one
bit. And now with Lindsey.

Suddenly a knock on the door broke through her thoughts. It was Angel of course, being the concerned rapist she knew him to be.

Taking a deep breath, she collected herself and went out to meet him for lunch.
***
Later that afternoon Buffy sat watching television when there was knock on the door.

Assuming it was Angel she simply called out for him to enter.

She was surprised to see Lindsey instead. She immediately tensed.

Remaining near the door, he took a moment to really look at her, “I’m sorry for my behavior earlier. I shouldn’t have been so rough with you.”

When she merely looked at him, he continued, “I didn’t mean to frighten you … well, I did but I didn’t mean to be so physical with it … it’s just
… I am very protective of him … and I know this may be hard for you to accept given the circumstances but … he has gone through a lot.”

“You’re right, given my position in this, that is hard for me to accept.”

“Accept it or not, I am very loyal to him … we’ve been through everything together. I don’t want to see him hurt.”

“You think I can hurt him?”

“I know you can … and so do you.”

At her surprise he added, “Oh don’t pretend you don’t know … he’d do almost anything for you.”

“Yes but the one thing I want he refuses to give me.”

“Perhaps.”

Curious at his insinuation, she prodded, “What do you mean?”

“Nothing, just perhaps he would if you asked him the right way.”

Looking at him coldly, “You mean if I sleep with him.”

“Well I’m sure it’ll take more than a romp in the sack but yes, that would be part of it.” At her incredulous expression he replied, “Hey, I’m not
saying it’s a guarantee but he’d probably be more amenable if you were.”

“You’re sick, both of you are. I am not about to barter with my body.”

“You did it for your sister, why not for yourself?”

“Get out!” She hissed.

When he turned to leave she jumped from her seat angrily, “You know what I don’t understand?”

“What?” He asked turning back to her.

“How you can just sit there and watch him do this … you just sat there and watched what he did to Cordelia, you knew what he was doing to
me and you just sat there and let it happen. I know you’re loyal to him but if you really cared about him you wouldn’t let him destroy himself.
But that’s exactly what’s happening. You say you won’t let me ruin him but what about yourself? Angel hates what he’s become and you’re
just as responsible for letting it happen as he is.”

Stung, Lindsey stormed back into the room, “What do you know about it? You think I don’t see what’s happening? That I haven’t tried? But
Angel was destroyed a long time ago, long before you came along. He isn’t going to change overnight and I will not leave him to go through it
alone. He and I are the only ones who understand.”

“What? You mean what happened to him and his mom after the trial?”

Lindsey whipped around to her, shocked, “How do you … he told you?”

“He started to tell me last night but then he just … stopped.”

Sinking onto the sofa, Lindsey looked at her curiously; shocked that Angel actually spoke to her about it. Speaking calmly, “What exactly did he
tell you?” He wasn’t sure how much to divulge.

“Not much … just that after the trial he and his mother had to live with an animal, that this person pretty much made life really bad for them
and that it destroyed her. He didn’t go into details.”

Taking a few moments considering what to say, Lindsey calmly walked around the room in very much the same way Angel often did when he
was thinking. Buffy couldn’t help but notice the similarities.

Eventually he turned to her, “I will not share the uglier details with you, if Angel wants you to know then he’ll have to tell you. But I will tell you
this much, Angel was seven years old when Ethan was sent to prison. For a while, his mother, Darla, tried to start a new life but between the
authorities and Ethan’s enemies, she had no choice but to seek refuge with Ethan’s brother, my father. He was the animal to which Angel
referred. And to use Angel’s words, for nearly eleven years he used her and tormented Angel shamelessly. Finally, with my mother’s help she
and Angel were able to get away from that bastard. Sometime after that Darla died in a car accident and Angel was alone. By then I didn’t see
him very often, we were in separate colleges and my mother had also moved as far away from Holtz as she could get. I went with her of course
but Angel and I stayed in touch although we didn’t really see each other much until after my father died. But after everything, Angel just
wasn’t the same. Looking back, I think Darla’s death is what did him in. As long as she was alive he still had a trace of the Angel I knew before
but when she died, it just broke something within him.”

Seeing Buffy’s grave expression, “I stay with him because I remember the ten year old boy who stood up to the bullies in the schoolyard when
they taunted me. I remember the boy who had the biggest crush on Bo Derek and I remember the boy who cried himself to sleep every night
asking for his father after my own father just…” He stopped, a lump forming in his throat.

Walking to the door, he added, “I may not know how to help him but I will not abandon him.”

Buffy stood there silently for several long moments after he left. Somehow the image of a seven-year old Angel was stuck in her head and her
heart ached for the loss of his innocence. This new insight conflicted with everything she thought she knew about him. Was this why he was so
cruel? Was he the result of all those years of pain and abuse? Could what happened then explain everything that was happening now? Did it
make a difference? She felt so confused and overwhelmed by her strong conflicting emotions. She wanted to lie down again but she felt too
wired to sleep. Pulling herself together, she wiped the tears from her eyes and called down to the kitchen for some Advil and water. While she
waited, she ran a hot bubble bath.

She needed to think.

Buffy soaked in the luxurious bath for nearly an hour. She hadn’t realized how tense she was until she sat in the steaming water. Leaning back,
she basked in the thick bubbles, their soft fragrance permeating the room.

Glancing at the clock she saw that it was nearing dinnertime. Knowing that Angel would arrive soon she got out of the bath and slipped into
her fluffy robe and slippers. It was time to get dressed.
***
Gunn walked through the winding pathways of the gardens surrounding the Summers estate. He was worried. It had been weeks since they
had any promising leads and the more time that passed, the less likely they were to find Buffy. Even the forensics from Rayne’s ranch provided
no immediate assistance. They were running out of time and given that Buffy was a senator’s daughter, everyone was feeling the pressure. His
superiors were now taking a more active role in overseeing the investigation so needless to say, his life was a living hell. He was certain he was
developing a stomach ulcer.

Entering the eerily quiet house, he passed the small study where Giles was interviewing Dawn yet again. This was their third attempt trying to
glean any information the girl might have forgotten to mention. But they all knew it was hopeless, she’d given them all she had. But they had
to persist, and thankfully, Dawn seemed to understand and patiently endured the tiring sessions. She wanted her sister back as much as
everyone else. Not disturbing them, he continued into the library where Spike sat.

“How’d it go with Cordelia?”

“Fine, the press was there in droves but we got her home in one piece.”

“Home? You mean Sunnydale, right?”

“Oh yeah, she’s at her parents’ house, I think she mentioned something about selling her apartment.”

“Good, and Harris is all set?”

“Yeah, he’ll stay with her for about a week, just to be safe.”

“Good. How is she?”

“Well physically, she’s looking much better. Her bruises are healing well but of course she’s using a wheelchair until her leg is fully healed. Her
doctors are very optimistic.”

“That’s good news … and otherwise?”

“Hmm … let’s just say she has a very long road ahead of her. But her family is there for her and her friend Faith was also at the house when we
arrived. She’s in good hands.”

“How are her parents handling it?”

“Well, they’re angry, partly because Cordelia was involved with him against their wishes but mostly because we can’t seem to do anything to
bring him to justice.”

“We’ll find them … it’s taking bloody longer than any of us imagined but we’ll find them, we’ll bring Buffy home.”

“Oh yes, and then the madness of the trial can begin.” Gunn slumped into his seat, exhausted just from thinking about it.
“Well mate, we’ll leave that to the lawyers.”

“Right … so what are you doing?”

“Going through some info Oz picked up for us but nothing’s screaming at me yet …”

“Hmm, want some help?”

“Sure.”

Spike then pulled out another thick folder of papers and handed them to Gunn. Sighing, he took the folder and dove in. It was going to be a
long night.
***
Buffy sat across from Angel playing Risk. The irony was not lost on her. But unfortunately, she was losing. Not that she was bad at the game, in
fact, she was pretty damn good but she kept losing her concentration. Her mind kept drifting back to her conversation with Lindsey and her
game was reflecting it.

Thankfully, dinner had passed without incident and for about ten minutes they actually found something to talk about. Turns out they were
both avid golfers and they discussed the pros and cons of using some of the newer, more advanced equipment. It was odd talking with him so
casually. But eventually their discussion slowed so once they finished dining Angel took her out for her daily walk. When they returned to her
room he pulled out the game. They’d been playing ever since.

“Buuuffyy?” Angel drew out her name, waving his hand in front of her.

“Huh?” She answered when he interrupted her musings.

“It’s your turn.”

“Oh … um.” She mumbled as she examined the board before her and tried to figure out what to do next.

“Is something wrong?”

“No … what would be wrong?”

“Hmm, you just seem distracted … like you’re not really here with me.”

“Nope, I’m here …”

Finally she made a move.

Mulling over her decision, Angel leaned back, rubbing his chin thoughtfully. She was good, even when she wasn’t paying attention.

Then he looked up and met her intense gaze.

She’d been doing that all evening, watching him.

He was tempted to be facetious but something in the way she was looking at him kept him silent. He wasn’t sure what to think.

Then suddenly she seemed to realize that he’d caught her staring.

“Do you mind if we continue this tomorrow? It’s getting late and I’m a bit tired.”

“Certainly … we can just leave this here and tomorrow we’ll pick up with my move.”

“Sure.”

Awkwardly they both rose from their seats and stood before each other, unsure what to do next. Leaning forward, he caressed the side of her
face and lifted her chin. Slowly moving in, he softly kissed her cheek.

“Good night.” And then he was gone.
***
It was a sunny California day and the city streets were bustling with activity. The holidays were fast approaching and everyone was frantically
finishing their shopping. Stepping out onto the sidewalk was a young petite blonde woman. She looked around nervously, carefully watching
the strangers around her as she made her way along the strip of stores. She could never be too careful. Blending with the crowd, she walked
the few blocks to the garage where she was parked.

Taking the elevator to the fifth floor, she caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror. She sighed when her eyes automatically went to the faded
scar marring her cheek. It wasn’t visible, having been covered with makeup but she knew it was there and could see it clearly. Since her hair
had grown back it was the only outward reminder of the nightmare she’d endured years before. A nightmare she feared wasn’t over.
When the lift doors opened, she cautiously looked around again, taking in her surroundings and spotting her car. Looking over her shoulder
had become a way of life for her. Usually she parked as close to the elevators or stairwell as she could get but with the holiday shopping
crowds she was a bit further than she was used to. Taking a deep breath, she quickly moved towards her car, her keyless entry remote at the
ready. Just then a car came speeding around the corner and she had to jump out of the way, her pulse racing. Frowning at the reckless driver,
she quickened her steps just as a van pulled to a stop in front of her, blocking her car. Attempting to return to the elevator, she collided with a
tall strange man, his eyes cold and empty. Backing away from him, she tried to scream when a hand covered her mouth from behind while he
opened the rear door of the van. Within seconds, she was tossed inside, bound, gagged and blindfolded. Moments later, the van pulled off and
drove out of the garage, her fallen keys and shopping bags the only sign of her abduction.

She had no idea how long they drove for but eventually the van came to an abrupt stop. She’d been crying nonstop since they grabbed her,
immense fear taking hold. She didn’t want to believe this was happening. Hearing the rear door open, she felt someone climb in over her,
gently caressing her. She shuddered at the touch. Then the gag was removed and she was being kissed as her clothes were ripped away. She
cried out, begging the person to have mercy. The mouth kissed down her body while strong hands pried her thighs open. She cried out in
horror when the mouth kissed her sex then devoured her. She denied the familiarity of the touch; she wouldn’t allow herself to accept what
was happening.

“Please, whoever you are … please let me go.”

“Forgotten me so soon, Lover?”

“Angel?” She asked in horror, still denying what she knew.

“Yes Baby, I told you I’d find you, that I’d never let you go. Now I’m back to reclaim what is mine.”

Then suddenly his length invaded her. He ploughed into her mercilessly, driving her to the edge and just as she felt her climax erupting, his
strong hand clamped down on her throat, squeezing hard. She tried screaming but it was futile, she couldn’t breathe. She was running out of
air. Struggling against her bonds, she gasped for mercy as he laughed maniacally in her ear. Gradually, her limbs felt heavier and her struggles
slowed. She felt herself slipping into a deeper darkness. She was passing out. No, she was dying.

Buffy woke with a start from her nightmare, her sheets tangled around her. Her face was clammy and her hair and clothes clung to her with
sweat. Clutching her chest, she felt her racing heart and took deep breaths to calm herself. She was still alive. Looking around, she saw that she
was still in the room she had shared with Angel. She was still in Jamaica. The dream felt so real. Kicking the sheets aside, she got up shakily and
went into the bathroom. Splashing her face a little, she looked at herself in the mirror, her eyes immediately going to the thin scar on her
cheek. The one Angel’s ring made when he beat her. She vividly recalled what he said to her then, that he would never let her go, Lindsey’s
words also coming back to her. Closing her eyes, she began shaking violently, her eyes welling up with tears. Covering her mouth to muffle her
cries, she sank to the floor, coming to a horrific realization. Simply running away wasn’t enough. And as terrified as she was of never escaping
him, what frightened her even more was what Angel would do if she ever succeeded.
******
Part 19
******
Buffy sat quietly on the balcony as dawn approached, her knees pulled up to her chest. She couldn’t get back to sleep, not after that dream. It
felt so real, too real. She could still hear her cries for mercy and his sadistic laughter echoing in her ear. Her desperation and terror in the
dream were palpable, shaking her to her core. She’d never felt anything like it. Gazing out at the coming sunrise, she was forced to see the
truth revealed in her dream. If she ran now, she’d never stop. Her life would never be the same; never be hers. But what saddened her more
was that Angel was right; he was inside, in her mind. She thought of him constantly; what he was doing, what he was planning. She knew that
no matter what happened, for the rest of her life he’d always be at the back of her mind, an invisible shadow following her every move.
Through fear, he would always control her. It wasn’t simply what he did to her body; her soul was shattered. But she couldn’t give up. It would
crush her family to know they failed her. She had to hold on, if only for them.

Reflecting, she thought of her life, her ambitions and dreams. She remembered how happy she was when she got her job after graduating. She
enjoyed her work. And living alone, paying her bills and really making it on her own for the first time. Having been born to privilege she felt a
great sense of pride and accomplishment upon receiving her first paycheck. It seemed so long ago, like another lifetime. Thinking of her family,
she remembered the warmth of Joyce’s smile and the comfort of her father’s arms. No matter how old she got, she was always his little girl.
That always made her feel safe. But could they protect her from Angel?

Sighing, she looked out at the sun just coming over the horizon, the dawn of a new day. But she was tired, her eyes heavy from lack of sleep.
She’d been under such incredible stress since Angel came into her life that sometimes she felt completely drained. The emotional strain was
taking its toll and she was feeling it, mentally and physically.

Standing, she walked along the balcony and listened to the soothing sounds of the fountains. This place was really beautiful and so peaceful in
the early morning hours. Scanning the landscape, she saw Forrest and Graham patrolling the grounds in the distance. Seems they were back in
commission. She grimaced, yet more people watching her. Was this what life with Angel would be like? Forcing her mind from it, she moved
into the sitting room. There had to be another way.
***
Later that morning Angel knocked on the door. When no answer came he slowly opened it to find Buffy fast asleep on the couch. He smiled;
she looked so adorable curled up like a little kitten. Choosing not to wake her, he lifted her as he’d done before and carried her into the
bedroom.

When he placed her in the bed and pulled the covers around her, his weight shifting on the bed woke her. Slowly opening her eyes Buffy froze,
he was now closing the balcony doors and drawing the shades, blocking out the bright morning light.
Remaining still, she listened to his movements around the room for a few minutes until he quietly left.

When she was certain he was gone, she sat up and glanced at the clock, it was after 8am. He must have come to see why she hadn’t ordered
breakfast yet. Lying back, she pulled the covers around her and tried to sleep. She hoped there wouldn’t be any more nightmares.
***
That afternoon Angel and Buffy sat having lunch. He was happy to see her up and about but he noticed that she was unusually quiet; she
wasn’t ignoring him but she just seemed nervous and extremely tired.

Buffy sat across from him in somewhat of a daze. She still hadn’t slept much at all since he put her in the bed, she just couldn’t get her mind off
her dream so eventually she gave up. The recent lack of sleep only compounded that from the night before.

Attempting to get her to open up, he asked, “Would you like to go riding?”

“Huh?”

“Horseback riding? I’ll take the rest of the day off and we can go if you like.”

“Um, I don’t really feel up to it. I didn’t sleep well last night.”

“Really? You do look a bit tired … are you sure you’re feeling well?”

“Yes, I’m just a bit …” She saw the concern on his face but all she could think of was his insane mocking laughter in her dream, “Nothing … I’m
fine.”

Looking at her momentarily he could very well see that she was anything but fine. She seemed rattled, more so than usual.

Still he persisted, “Well how about a drive? There’s some beautiful country out there you still haven’t seen … I’d love to show you, maybe we
can take some dessert for a small picnic, I think the fresh air would do you good.”

“Angel, I’d just rather stay in today … maybe tomorrow.”

“Sure, that’s fine … whatever you want.” He then went back to his lunch, getting her to talk was akin to pulling teeth.

Looking across at him she recalled with frightening clarity the horror of her dream, the hopelessness she felt making her eyes tear up. Looking
away, she abruptly stood and left the table.

Angel caught the look of utter despair on her face as she walked away. Something was terribly wrong.

For a moment he remained seated, unsure what to do, then suddenly he stood and followed her. He refused to let her shut him out.

Entering the room, he saw that she had sought refuge in the bathroom. Not allowing her to escape, he listened at the door until he heard her
telltale sniffling, then slowly opening it a crack he peered in to see her sitting on the floor by the vanity, her face held in her hands. Quietly
closing it again, he took a deep breath and waited a few moments. Since that day in the bathtub, seeing her cry simply unnerved him.

When he felt ready, he knocked on the door.

He heard her quickly moving about before she answered, “Just a minute.” Then he heard water running. She was probably washing her face to
hide the evidence.

A few minutes later she opened the door and looked at him questioningly.

“What’s wrong?” He kept his voice firm but gentle.

Attempting to quickly move past him, “Nothing … I told you I was tired.”

For a moment he watched her pretending that she hadn’t been bawling her eyes out just moments before. “Buffy, I know you were crying just
now. Whatever’s going on it’s not because you’re tired so if you’re going to lie to me at least try to be more creative. Now I do realize that I am
the last person you want to talk to but right now I’m all you’ve got. I am not going anywhere until you start to be straight with me.” He then
pointedly sat on the bed.

“I told you I didn’t sleep well.”

“Go on.”

“And I’m just ti …” She stopped when he raised an eyebrow at her. “Angel please …”

“Buffy is this because of your argument with Lindsey yesterday?”

“Yes.” She answered too quickly. He knew she was still lying.
“Buff?”

“I don’t want to talk about it, why won’t you just let me be?”

“Because seeing the woman I love in tears and not being able to help her is unacceptable to me.”

His declaration was simply too much, “Don’t you understand? You’re the reason I’m upset, YOU are. I can’t stand being around you and it
doesn’t matter where I go or how much I try because you’ll never leave me alone. NEVER. Be it today, tomorrow or ten years from now, I’ll
never escape you. So congratulations Angelus, mission accomplished; you’ve ruined my life!”

Hearing the fear and pain in her voice made his stomach tighten in knots. If he could, he would change everything. He would exonerate her in
the court of public opinion. He knew what was being reported, the rampant speculation tainting her. Unfortunately, once his plan to ruin Hank
got rolling it barreled down the tracks like a locomotive, he had no control over it now. He wanted so much to comfort her but he had no idea
what to say that wouldn’t sound empty or pretentious. So he did the only thing that came to mind. He beckoned to her.

Holding out his hand, he watched as she regarded it with scorn.

“Buffy?”

She looked him straight in the eye, a mixture of fear and defiance crossing her face.

Standing, he walked over and briefly stood before her. Then he caressed her.

”Don’t touch me.” She stepped back and pushed his hand away.

He advanced and reached for her again, “DON’T TOUCH ME!”

But he wasn’t going to let her push him away.

When she tried to move around him, he put his arms around her, holding her in place. She screamed and pushed away, her mind instantly
flashing to her nightmare.

Careful not to injure her, he held on firmly against her struggles, repeatedly murmuring “Talk to me.”

When she kept fighting, he picked her up, carrying her to the bed. She shrieked hysterically, dreading the worst.

Sitting with her, he lied back and held her close, placing his large leg over both of hers as he murmured soothingly in her ear.

For nearly ten minutes she struggled against him, her voice hoarse from screaming. She was rambling nonsensically about not giving up even if
he killed her.

Throughout her tirade, Angel calmly held her to him, his voice never above a gentle whisper as he tried to calm her. Finally, she wore herself
out and collapsed against him in tears. She simply couldn’t fight anymore; she was so tired.

When she quieted down, he loosened his hold and soothingly caressed her hair. Feeling her tremble against him, he pulled her onto him and
lightly rubbed her arms to warm her. For a few moments they remained in silence until he finally spoke, “I can’t give you what you want but I
promise I won’t hurt you, not today, tomorrow or ten years from now. I will never hurt you again.”

For a moment their eyes met and she just knew. There was no way out of this; she was trapped.

Cupping her face, Angel nuzzled her, “I am not the man you met three weeks ago. I barely even know who that man was. All I know is that
you’re everything to me and even if you never love me, I just want to be with you, to share my life with you.” He then lightly kissed her
forehead.

Buffy looked at him sadly, emotional exhaustion finally taking over. She just didn’t have the energy to argue. Closing her eyes, she rested her
head on his chest. She just needed a break.

When she rested against him, he gently stroked her back until she fell asleep.
***
Some hours later Buffy slowly opened her eyes. Shifting, she froze at the feel of a hard body beneath her. Lifting her head, she nearly gasped.
The room was fairly dark but she could easily make out Angel’s face in the low light. She was lying on top of him and his arm was still around
her, the other under his head. He was fast asleep. She could hardly believe that she fell asleep with him, let alone on him. She must really be
losing her marbles. Moving against him, she tried to sit up when she felt his arm tighten around her waist. She stopped, unsure how to
extricate herself without waking him. Deciding not to chance it, she settled onto him again. Looking around the room, she wondered how long
she’d been sleeping. All things considered, it was beyond belief that she was able to sleep at all. That in and of itself probably showed the
extent of her exhaustion. But now she felt somewhat rested and less overwhelmed.

Just then she felt him stroking her back again. Alarmed, she looked down to find he was still asleep. For a few moments he continued, his hand
gently massaging her lower back but not once did he actually wake. When he eventually stopped, she let out a sigh of relief. She needed to get
out of there.
Moving ever so carefully, she twisted until she could reach his hand and gently tried to ease it off. As she worked on prying his fingers off, she
jumped when his other arm suddenly came around and clamped down on hers. Abruptly twisting back she looked straight into his warm eyes,
a mischievous little smirk on his face.

“Going somewhere?” He asked playfully.

“I-I want to use the bathroom.” She replied shakily.

“Ah … and here I thought you were just trying to get away.” His smile widened when she looked away guiltily.

Flipping them suddenly, she yelped when he settled over her and nestled between her thighs before she could stop him.

“Angel! Please … don’t.” She pleaded, pushing against the wall of his chest.

“Shhh … I’m not doing anything more, I just want to talk.”

“Fine but do we have to talk with me on my back and you … being so close to me.” She blushed at the intimacy of their position.

“Well we don’t have to but I think this is more fun … and it’s not like we haven’t … been this close before. In fact, we’ve been much closer.” He
smiled wolfishly.

Buffy rolled her eyes; he was being far too flirtatious for her comfort. Propping herself up on her elbows, she pushed him back and from
between her thighs, which she then firmly clamped shut.

Angel smirked.

“You want to talk, well talk.”

“Are you going to tell me why you were so upset?”

“Are you going to tell me more about what happened to you and your mother after the trial?”

He glared. She smiled innocently.

“Will you let me kiss you?”

“Will you let me walk out of here free and clear?”

Studying her closely, he conceded, “I knew there was a reason I loved you.”

Lunging, he planted a quick peck on her lips before pulling back and standing. Then moving to the nightstand he turned on a light.

“I know this will sound odd given everything but I am serious Buff, whatever you’re feeling, don’t keep it bottled up, tell me, scream at me …
hit me, whatever … just please don’t shut me out. I have caused your pain; let me be here for you. ” When she remained silent, “I’m not going
to insist further that you tell me what upset you but I hope that you will eventually. I want to make this as comfortable for you as possible so
please Buffy, promise me you’ll take care.” When it seemed she wasn’t going to argue he waited patiently till she nodded in response.

“Good, I’m going to hold you to that.”

Walking to the balcony to collect his keys he noticed the remnants of their lunch. “Are you hungry? You didn’t finish eating earlier.”

“Um, not really, I didn’t have much of an appetite today.”

“Ok, well I will give you some space so I will dine in my suite tonight.” Then as he was leaving, “Should you need anything …”

“I won’t hesitate to ask.” She finished for him.
***
When he left Buffy slumped back in the bed. Absently running her hands through her hair she took a deep calming breath. Every day her
ordeal got stranger and stranger and more and more taxing, she just never knew what to expect from Angel. One minute he was scary and
threatening, the next he was so gentle and playful. He was so unpredictable; she didn’t know what to make of him, let alone how to deal with
him. And what was going on today? What the hell was she thinking falling asleep with him? Clearly she wasn’t.

But what was she to do now? Fighting him was obviously pointless and from Lindsey’s warnings, not to mention her nightmare, she was
certain that running away would only unleash an even more dangerous Angelus. She refused to spend the rest of her life looking over her
shoulder and being scared of her own shadow.

Sighing, she rolled over into the exact spot where he had lain, his warmth still clinging to the sheets. Running her hand over the soft linen, she
recalled his words to her earlier. She was everything to him. Somehow she didn’t doubt that, in some twisted way she knew it was true. His
regard for her was probably the only thing stopping him from taking advantage of her while she slept. Not that she was singing his praises but
in all honesty, he could have held her down and taken what he wanted. In fact, he could have done so at any time over the past few weeks.
But he didn’t, because she had power over him. He was waiting for her consent.

She snorted at the irony, now he was concerned about it being consensual. It was almost laughable. Where was this concern when he held
Dawn’s welfare over her head?

She cringed as she remembered Lindsey’s words, that she had bartered her body for her sister. As crude as he was, she couldn’t deny it. But it
kept Dawn safe and now she was home so as far as Buffy was concerned it was well worth it.

Well that was the gist wasn’t it? Lindsey was telling her exactly what she needed to do but she felt it would cheapen her. That giving Angel
what he wanted was the same as selling out. But was it really? Couldn’t she use it to further her own agenda? It wasn’t anything she hadn’t
done before. Would it injure her further? Her reputation was already sullied, would it be any worse than what she had already endured? She
did it for Dawn, why not her own benefit? Then she remembered the promise she made to herself the day Angel beat her. She was no longer
simply trying to survive him; she had to prevail. That was even truer now. She couldn’t continue being a victim. But what did that mean
exactly? Was it possible that the key to her freedom was down the one path she refused to consider? By giving Angel what he wanted, could
she turn the tables on him? It would take some planning and extreme caution but it wasn’t impossible. But could she actually do that, be with
him again? Just imagining his hands on her made her stomach turn but if it led to her freedom, was it also worth it? Was she really prepared to
do anything to get home?

She was shaking just thinking about it, there was no way she could have sex with him again without freaking out. The last time they were
together she had to stop and now she was too afraid to open that Pandora’s box again. No, this was a bad idea.

Forcing her mind from it, she turned on the television and tried to watch a movie. There had to be another way.
***
But as the hours passed her mind kept returning to it, nagging at her. She knew very well there was no other way and if she didn’t act soon,
Angel would move back in and she would have little bargaining power, at least this way she could do it on her terms. She had to shift the odds
more in her favor. Considering it again, she stood and paced the room, wondering what good it would achieve, what great plan was she going
to come up with?

Then it occurred to her. A phone.

Prior to her confinement she had noticed the lack of telephones throughout the house but there were phone lines, just no actual telephones.
That was beyond strange, particularly in a house that size. She assumed Angel must have instructed the staff to remove the phones before
they arrived. But there had to be at least one somewhere in the house. Deciding the most likely place was Angel’s office; she wondered what
else was in there. Perhaps a computer with Internet access? Of course, his office was off limits to her and she was restricted to her room but if
she could somehow get his keys, maybe she could pull it off. All she had to do was call home and before Angel and the others figured out what
happened, the cavalry would be on its way. It wasn’t a guarantee but if Angel and his men were incarcerated that would definitely help put her
at ease. The more she thought about it the more she knew she couldn’t go on like this. She had to do it. The plan was risky but it was also very
simple and something she could pull off. It would take precise timing and perhaps more than one attempt but if she succeeded, it would
definitely be worth it. This time she wasn’t going to make the same mistake as she did with the gate, she was going to take her time and
watch; she needed to study Angel and his men. It would be hard but if she bided her time, she knew the perfect opportunity would eventually
present itself. Trouble was she had to get out of her room first and get Angel to trust her somewhat. That was a challenge in itself and would
require more than she ever wanted to give. She felt ill just thinking about it. But the lure of a telephone was too much to resist. She had to at
least try. She’d just have to take it one day at a time, one step at a time. And the first step was getting out of that room.

Standing at the bedroom door, she paused, her stomach doing flip-flops. What if she went in there and things got out of control? What if she
wanted to back out and he wouldn’t let her? She felt herself start to hyperventilate.

Backing away from the door, she forced herself to take deep calming breaths. She could do this. She did it for Dawn; she could do it for herself.
She just needed Angel to lift her confinement and remove the guard from her door. It might take some time but that was it. Simple. This was a
means to an end, that’s all. Then she thought back to what Angel said, she was everything to him. That’s why he hadn’t forced her in the past
few weeks and that’s why he wouldn’t now. She just needed to keep her cool.

Glancing at the clock she saw that it just after midnight. She had better do it before she changed her mind. So taking a deep breath she opened
her door and came face to face with Adam. Keeping her fear hidden, she stood straight and tall, her head high.

“I want to see Angel.”

“Mr. Rayne has retired for the night.”

“He wouldn’t mind if I disturbed him.”

“I cannot let you leave this room.”

Indignant, “Perhaps but Angel will not be happy when I tell him that you stopped me from seeing him.”

When he looked at her curiously she added, “I know for a fact that he would want to see me.”

Adam was a little taken aback by her authoritative stance and tone. She barely resembled the terrified young woman Angel carried in two
nights before. Granted he was aware that Angel was trying to woo her but he had strict instructions not to let her leave. But her self-assured
air made him wonder exactly where things stood between them. “I will escort you to his suite then he can decide.” Adam then stepped aside
and escorted her down the hall.

Buffy was surprised to find that all this time Angel was only a few doors away from her. Standing outside his door, she suddenly didn’t feel
quite as confident as she appeared just moments before. What if he turned her away? Nah, that was ridiculous, he’d never be so stupid. So
mustering her courage, she knocked.

She knocked three times before Angel came to the door.

“Yes …” He answered groggily as he rubbed his eyes. His hair was sticking up in every possible direction and he was wearing nothing more than
a pair of low-slung pajama bottoms. But despite his disheveled appearance, he still managed to look incredibly sexy. Buffy swallowed hard.

Then suddenly he saw her, “Buffy?”

Before she responded Adam jumped in, “I’m sorry Sir, she insisted on seeing you.”

“Uh, is there a problem Buff?”

“N-No, I-I want to speak with you.” She stammered, all of her earlier bravado gone.

Furrowing his brow in suspicion, he stepped aside, allowing her entry. He then looked at Adam, “It’s ok. If there’s a problem I’ll call you.” Adam
then retreated to one of the adjacent rooms.

Closing the door, Angel uneasily ran his hands through his hair. He had no idea why she was there but now that she was he didn’t want to
scare her off. Slowly walking back into the room, he found her staring out a window. Careful not to startle her, he pointedly cleared his throat
as he came up behind her and gently touched her shoulder.

“You wanted to talk?”

“Yes.” Her voice broke with the tension.

Seeing how nervous she was, he asked, “Would you care for some water first?”

“Uh, yes please.”

“Please make yourself comfortable.” He gestured to the armchair as he walked over to his nightstand and poured two glasses of water from a
small pitcher.

Handing her one, he sat on the bed and slowly sipped his while he watched her ponder her next move.

Both glasses were empty again before she said anything.

Finally summoning her strength, “I want to talk about your offer.”

“Pardon me?” He thought he might be hallucinating.

“Your offer, it’s still on the table isn’t it?”

“Oh yes, very much so … are you accepting it?”

“Maybe … I just have two conditions.”

“Go on.”

“If I accept your offer I want two guarantees … in writing.” When he waited patiently, “I want you to give up your vendetta against my father. If
I’m to stay with you then you must call off your FBI spies and leave my family alone.”

“And the other?”

“I insist on using contraception.”

“That’s all?”

“Yes.” She wanted to ask that he also remove the prison guards from her door but she didn’t want to make him any more suspicious than he
already was. She’d ask for that later.

“Your requests are more than reasonable, I’m sure I can meet those conditions.”

“Fine.” she then remained seated, unsure how to proceed.
“Is there anything else?”

“Um, no.” This wasn’t going how she’d expected. Surely she wouldn’t have to make the first move.

As if reading her mind, Angel slowly reached into his nightstand and pulled out a condom, deliberately placing it in her line of sight. He then
held out his hand to her, the gesture exactly the same as before. She looked at the condom, his hand and then at him before she stood.
Standing before him, Buffy forced herself not to see the man from her nightmare, not the man who had hurt her but the man to whom she
was everything. She needed to see the man that Lindsey had known from childhood. For a few moments they simply took in the other’s
presence, adjusting to the closeness. As the seconds crawled by, Buffy was acutely aware of her heart pounding in her chest. The blood rushing
through her veins sounded like a wind tunnel in her head. She was certain she would faint.

Placing his hands on her waist, Angel brought her even closer. Looking into her eyes, he saw her fear and uncertainty as he slowly moved his
hands up her trembling body. He had to take this slow.

Desperate to get it over with Buffy suddenly brought her hands up and shakily began unbuttoning her pajama top but he rested his hands on
hers, halting her. When their eyes met, he lowered his mouth to her hands and kissed them lightly then he shook his head. He wouldn’t take
her like that. This was not going to be a fuck.

Running his hands through her hair, he held the back of her head and gradually brought her mouth to his. For several long moments their
mouths lingered, their lips barely touching as they reacquainted themselves. It was familiar and strange all at the same time.

Buffy wanted to bolt, the intimacy was too much and her entire body was screaming retreat but she stayed rooted in place, allowing him to
touch her. She was desperately trying to get back to that place in her mind she often escaped to whenever she was intimate with him. But that
wasn’t happening. She was very much there in the moment and it was unnerving.

Fully kissing her, Angel playfully nipped at her, encouraging her to participate but he knew she was holding back. Taking the initiative, he
wrapped his arms around her and hoisted her into the bed. Pausing momentarily, he waited for her to protest but when she didn’t he
continued exploring her mouth, gently coaxing her along.

Within moments their tentative kisses had become heated and frantic but Angel could tell it wasn’t passion that was driving her, she was just
eager to get it over with.

Hoping to rekindle her passion, he slowed things down and kissed along her neck, making his way to where she had stopped unbuttoning her
top. The exposed valley of her breasts beckoned to him like a siren and he lavished the creamy skin with small ardent kisses. But he could feel
the tension coiled tightly within her. She was clutching the pillow so tightly and her eyes were squeezed shut so tight that he thought she’d
give herself a headache. And her ragged breathing sounded more like an impending panic attack. She clearly was not enjoying it. Gradually his
kisses abated and for a few moments he simply nuzzled her, then prying her hands from the pillows he kissed them adoringly.

“Let’s just sleep tonight.” Her eyes flew open at his words and he saw the immense relief in their depths, her unshed tears glistening in the
moonlight and instantly knew he was making the right decision. She was trembling with anxiety, not need. Although it had been a while, he
was attuned to her body enough to know that she simply wasn’t ready for this.

Refastening the rest of her buttons, he gently pulled her into his arms. Despite his throbbing erection, he was satisfied just to have her next to
him again. He could wait. Wordlessly, he began stroking her arms to comfort her.

Resting her head on his bare chest, Buffy snuggled into his embrace, her pulse still racing. What had she gotten herself into? Once she decided
to go ahead with her plan, she thought she could go through with it, that she could use sex to regain the power he had taken away from her.
She knew it would be difficult but she never expected it to be so overwhelming. She had rushed in too quickly and hadn’t anticipated the
intensity of her emotions. She didn’t want to think what might have happened had he not stopped. But he did and she was grateful for it. It
was the reassurance she needed.

For quite some time both remained wide awake, neither speaking, each in their own world but as the hours passed eventually they drifted to
sleep.
***
Some hours later Angel slowly woke, his face buried in a mountain of silky jasmine-scented golden strands. Inhaling deeply, he wrapped his
arms closely around the young woman curled up next to him and nuzzled her. If only every morning could begin like this. Watching her sleep,
he wondered why she changed her mind, what made her come to his bed? He might be smitten but he wasn’t stupid, she was up to
something. Whatever was going on in her little head he had to hand it to her; this was certainly a curve ball he hadn’t expected. Granted, it
wasn’t quite the fireworks he had hoped for but at least she was there and more importantly, not fighting him off. Now he just had to be
patient and let it happen. Recalling her conditions, he wondered what Warren and Parker were up to anyway. It had been weeks since they
contacted Lindsey but then again once they left the country he hadn’t expected them to. It’s not like they knew how to reach him or even
where he was. Sighing, he made a mental note to sever all ties with them. He didn’t like having loose ends.

Her other condition was interesting. Contraception. Well he had an ample supply of condoms in the nightstand so that was definitely not an
issue. Fortunately once he decided to keep Buffy he asked Lindsey to pick up some shortly after their arrival to Jamaica. Question was would
he ever get to use them? Smiling, he snuggled closer to his love, in due time.

Eventually Buffy also woke. She slowly drifted awake to the aroma of blueberry pancakes. Opening her eyes she saw Angel sitting in his
bathrobe on the balcony reading a newspaper. When she sat up, he called to her, “Ah, you’re awake.”
She nodded.

Then he picked up a breakfast tray and brought it to the bed. The large platter was laden with blueberry pancakes, syrup, whipped cream,
toast, fresh fruit and juice. It was a small feast. But it was a feast for two. Unraveling the cloth napkins, he placed one in her lap and then
proceeded to share the sumptuous delights. He poured a generous helping of syrup on the stack of pancakes then added a dollop of whipped
cream. Then playfully swirling his finger through it, he tasted the sweet fluffy mixture, his eyes gleaming with desire.

Buffy tried to ignore his antics, not to mention the flash of heat that streaked through her core, she didn’t want to remember the naughty
things that mouth was capable of.

Not fooled in the least Angel smirked, the more she tried to appear unaffected the more he knew she was. But he would behave, for the most
part anyway.

Keeping to himself, he proceeded to eat and forewent the idea of feeding her. That was probably too much too soon. So the two ate quickly
and without incident.

Afterwards, Angel removed the tray and placed it on the floor then turned back to her just as she was getting up. Tugging her back against the
pillows, he hovered over her briefly, “Thank you.”

Puzzled, she asked, “For what?”

Snuggling against her, “For trying.”
***
It was another hour of soft kisses and touches before Buffy managed to untangle herself from Angel. She still felt nauseated being so close to
him but she had to keep focused on her goal. She was going to get home or die trying. As he escorted her to her room, she couldn’t help
noticing the goofy smile on his face. He was almost giddy. She never imagined that she could have that kind of effect on a man. It was perfect.

Standing by her door, he asked, “Would you care for that horse ride today?”

“Uh, sure … I think that would be fun.”

“Great, I’ll make the arrangements and then meet you here just before noon.”

She nodded.

Then as she turned to leave, “By the way, I am lifting your confinement but Luke and Adam will still be posted out here … when you leave they
will escort you whenever Lindsey or I can’t.”

Her heart sank; she was still stuck with Luke and Adam.

But that was ok, at least her confinement was lifted. Given time she’d get rid of those goons as well. She nodded.

Leaning in, Angel then kissed her forehead. “I’ll see you in a bit.”
***
Walking to his office, Angel pondered what Buffy might be up to. He knew lifting her confinement was risky but if he was ever to have a chance
with her then she needed to at least feel free to come to him. Having to go through Luke or Adam each time would probably discourage her.
And he didn’t want that. So he would give a little but he wasn’t about to let her roam unsupervised.
***
Standing in the shower, Buffy let the hot spray ease the tension from her body. She tried not to think of what she was doing. She needed to
stay focused. She’d deal with the consequences later. As she scrubbed, she paid no heed to the tears blurring her vision.
***
A few hours later Buffy stood in front of the mirror in the closet dressed in her equestrian gear. The sleek boots and breeches, her riding shirt,
gloves and helmet made her look very sharp. All she needed now was a whip and she was ready to go.

On his word, Angel arrived in his own riding attire a few minutes before noon. From his stifled groan, she knew exactly how much he
appreciated her sleek outfit.

Walking together, they made their way to the car and within minutes were on their way.
***
Pulling up to Quentin’s estate Buffy and Angel went directly to the stables. Heading into the tack room, Angel pulled out his gear. As he
prepared the saddle he asked, “How much riding experience do you have?”

“Um, I took classes for a few years but I gave it up after high school. I haven’t since.”

“So that would be 5 or 6 years now right?”

She nodded.

“Well you should still be pretty comfortable on a horse, there are some things you never forget but would you mind if we shared one today?”
Gesturing to the horses, “These guys can be a bit temperamental so I’d rather not take the chance.”
“Fine, if you think it’s necessary but won’t we be a bit heavy?”

“Hardly, you weigh little more than a feather. I’m sure he can handle it. Besides, better safe than sorry.”

“Hmm and this is not all some elaborate scheme to be close to me?”

“Well, it might be.” He smiled devilishly.

Buffy shook her head; he was absolutely incorrigible.

Angel then led a very tall black thoroughbred out of its stall and tethered him. As he saddled the horse, Buffy cautiously approached with a few
carrots in hand. She smiled when the horse’s soft muzzle brushed against her palms as he accepted her offering. She then gently stroked its
sleek coat.

“Is this one of yours?”

“Yes, he is the last one I got.”

“What’s his name?”

“Ares.”

“As in the god of war?”

Angel smiled.

“I guess that’s fitting considering his owner.”

“Very cute my dear but no, the name has nothing to do with me. The breeder had intended to keep him so she named him Ares and believe
me, he lives up to it; at his best he’s a fierce thing and well, at his worst he is an absolute beast.”

“Hmm, I’m certain some of that is your influence.”

Smirking, “Well we definitely have one thing in common … very few can tame us.”

Buffy ignored his pointed remark.

“Anyway, after much negotiation I finally managed to persuade her to sell him to me.”

“Negotiation?” She asked skeptically, “What did you do, bust her knee caps?”

Angel’s roar of laughter made Ares start.

“Oh Buffy, you are adorable. Seen a few too many Godfather movies have you?”

Resting her hands on her hips she challenged, “You think I don’t know what you do? Why else would you have those Frankenstein zombies and
that freak Caleb working for you?”

“Frankenstein zombies?” After a beat, “Do you mean Luke and Adam?”

At her shameless challenge Angel clutched his stomach in laughter. He had never heard anyone describe his men so. He was turning red in the
face, he could hardly breathe. She had him in stitches.

When he seemed to regain his composure she asked, “Are you denying it?”

Turning serious he looked at her, “No, I’m not denying it but Buff, that’s not all I do. About 90% of my work is legitimate. I deal mostly in
international trade and banking. I employ hundreds of people around the world and I pay taxes like everyone else. Like the majority of my
work, procuring Ares was a normal, non-violent transaction”

“And the rest?”

“The rest is an ugly business. It’s illegal and often dangerous. It’s nothing I’d wish to expose you to further.”

“You don’t want me to ask about it?”

“Uh, no. You can ask but I will do everything in my power to shield you from it.”

“If it’s so ugly why not just walk away?”
“It’s not as easy as that. Once you’re in this business you tend to make friends as well as enemies. Pulling out would take me out of the circuit
and definitely leave me blind. It’s almost impossible to get out while at the same time keep tabs on everyone.”

“So you do this because you’re afraid of what might happen if you leave?”

“Well I’m not afraid for myself but I am worried for those I love. Of course until now that wasn’t a concern of mine.”

She nervously looked away.

Continuing, “It was easy enough for me to find you.”

She looked up curiously then, “And how exactly did you find me?”

“Easy. I looked.”

At her unsatisfied expression, “Buffy, I’m not some common citizen without family, education or connections. My business affairs often require
that I rub elbows with politicians, celebrities and other wealthy individuals. Oddly enough, you and I move in many of the same circles. To be
honest, I’m surprised we never met before this.”

“So you asked around and then what?”

“I went to your apartment building and for weeks on end I parked outside and watched you come and go. I knew when you went to work and
when you got home. I saw you go for your morning jogs and stop at the corner newsstand to buy a bottled water and newspaper on your way
back.”

“You were stalking me?”

“I was watching you.”

“Is there a difference?” She had no idea why she was so surprised. He was a kidnapping rapist; his being a stalker too was hardly a stretch of
the imagination.

“Perhaps not but my point is, it didn’t take much for me to learn your routine and find the perfect opportunity to strike. I won’t have you so
vulnerable.”

Buffy wasn’t sure if he was trying to frighten or reassure her.

Sensing that his admission was having the opposite effect than he intended, Angel amended, “I’m not proud of it. I’m just saying that you were
an open target.”

After a moment she nodded thoughtfully. Having this conversation was beyond weird but it certainly opened her eyes to how Angel operated.
Focusing on the horse again, she tried to change the subject. “He’s an impressive animal.”

“Yes he is and he seems to like you. Would you like to lead him out?”

“Sure.” Buffy then took the reins and led the horse out.

After a short distance they came to a step and Angel helped her mount the horse. He quickly followed, settling in behind her and the two then
set out.

Having learned this new information Buffy felt extremely uncomfortable with him so close to her. How could she have been so oblivious to his
presence? Granted, before he took her she had no idea who he was or what he looked like but knowing that he was able to watch her
undetected for so long sent chills down her spine. Recalling her nightmare, she was now convinced more than ever that she had to end this
herself. She had to stay focused.

Guiding the horse along the path, Angel showed Buffy the many breathtaking views on Quentin’s property. As they rode he could tell that she
was still rather unsettled by what he told her. He hoped it wouldn’t push her away again. Continuing, they rode through lush pastures and
idyllic hillsides until they came to an open field.

Angel then pulled Ares to a halt, taking a few moments to enjoy their surroundings. That’s when she saw it, a picnic basket sitting on a large
blanket spread under a tall shady tree.

“I thought you might enjoy lunching out here.” He whispered in her ear.

Feeling her shiver, he wrapped his arms more closely around her, “Are you cold?”

“No. I’m fine.”

“Are you really?”
“Yes.”

“Ah, so my little confession back there didn’t bother you? Not even a little bit?”

“Everything about you bothers me Angel but somehow I’m managing to deal with it.”

“Hmm, well I’m glad you feel free to be so honest with me.”

“That is what you want isn’t it?”

“Certainly but that’s not all I want.”

“Oh I don’t doubt that.”

Smirking mischievously, “Well I want that too but that’s not where I was going with it.”

Curious, she turned slightly to face him.

“I’m hoping that eventually you won’t only see me as a monster.”

Their eyes met and for a brief moment they gazed at each other. As she began to look away, he tenderly held her chin, his eyes boring into
hers. Moving in, he softly brushed his lips against hers, entreating her to reciprocate. Initially she didn’t, her every instinct to recoil making her
hesitate but she held firm and allowed his kiss. It was awkward with him seated behind her but as their mouths mingled Angel infused every
bit of his urgency and emotion into it. Within moments they were engaged in a searing kiss.

That was until Ares took an impatient step forward, startling them.

Instantly they pulled apart, the moment broken.

Embarrassed by his horse’s poor manners, Angel offered, “Well, I said he was temperamental.”

“That you did.” Buffy agreed still blushing slightly. She was rather glad for Ares’ impertinence.

Tightening the reins, Angel moved Ares along. Then “Would you tell me something?”

“Maybe.”

“Why did you come to me last night?”

She froze, her mind frantically thinking of some response. “I-I don’t know. I know I can’t fight you anymore, it’s just too much.” She knew how
lame it sounded.

Angel knew that wasn’t everything. She had to have a very compelling reason for going to him. Sighing, he’d have to find another way to get
her to come clean.

Making their way over, Angel dismounted and led Ares to a nearby fence, tethering him. He then held Buffy’s waist and helped her down.
Settling down to their picnic, Angel pulled out a bottle of chardonnay and several dishes.

“I hope you like stuffed chicken and pasta salad.”

“What’s it stuffed with?”

“Um, I think chopped vegetables, rice and mushrooms … you like?”

She shrugged indifferently.

Serving them, he placed a generous portion on her plate along with some of the garden salad. “Red wine vinaigrette for milady.” He smiled as
he poured the dressing. He then placed the dish on a tray and set it in her lap before tending to his own.

As they ate, Angel could feel the tension building from their earlier conversation. He tried to strike up some small talk.

“So, tell me what you do at work.”

She looked at him somewhat surprised then answered, “Well, I, I mainly do research on human rights in different countries. I help prepare
situation analysis reports and progress reports … things like that.”

“Do you enjoy it?”
“Yeah, the documentation can be a bit of a pain but the work we do is great. My supervisor, Robin, and I were working on the issue of street
children in Brazil. We were supposed to do a presentation a few weeks ago … but that was … before.” She stopped, looking down at her food,
her appetite suddenly gone.

“Before me?” He asked gently.

When she didn’t answer, he set aside his lunch and moved over to her. When she stiffened at his closeness, he pulled her into his arms,
caressing her. For a brief moment she seemed to withdraw from him again but eventually she allowed herself to meld to his embrace.

“Were you excited about this project?” He prodded gently.

She nodded.

“Would you mind telling me about the street children?”

She looked at him, somewhat reluctant to share more of her life.

“You don’t have to but I’m sure you worked hard on it, you should get to tell someone.”

“It would only bore you.”

“I’m sure it won’t. Nothing that you do could possibly bore me.”

She pulled back and really looked at him, “Why do you want to be with me? You hardly even know me.”

“I’ve known you longer than you know. All I know is you.”
******
Part 20
******
For a few moments Buffy was caught in his eyes, their passion almost hypnotic. She could never quite get used to the way he looked at her,
the depth of his obsession captivating. She was spellbound.

Seeing how struck she was, Angel moved in, capturing her mouth in a fierce kiss. Buffy hadn’t even realized he had moved when she felt his
kiss, she instinctively pulled back. At her hesitation he withdrew, giving her a moment.

When she refused to meet his eyes again, he offered, “Don’t be afraid to back out, I won’t be angry. It’ll take time.”

Standing, she moved away and turned from him, “Are you really willing to wait, no matter how long it takes?”

Following, he came up behind her, wrapping his arms around her, “Buff, I will not force you to have sex, I will not rape you again. That’s not
what I want for us and certainly not what I want for you. I don’t expect it to be easy, after everything it’s natural for you to hesitate, to have
mixed emotions. Believe it or not, I know you didn’t suddenly fall in love with me. But last night was an important first step; I know we’ll make
it through this.”

Buffy allowed herself to lean back into his embrace as she took in his words; she wasn’t sure if she would ever believe him but she wanted to.
She needed that constant reassurance. Suddenly her thoughts were interrupted when Ares neighed, drawing their attention.

In the distance they heard the roar of an engine and soon afterward, a jeep carrying Quentin came along the path. As the jeep slowed, Angel
walked over.

“Quentin, I thought you’d be away.”

“I was, just got back. Hope I’m not intruding …” He gestured to Buffy who had remained a distance away.

“Oh no, not at all …” Angel then turned to Buffy and motioned for her to come over. When she did he proudly wrapped his arms around her
again, “Buff, you remember Quentin don’t you?”

“Uh yes, from the airport.”

“Yes, my dear.” Quentin then extended his hand and shook hers in greeting, “I hope Angel’s showing you a good time here on our island.”

Buffy smiled awkwardly, suspicious of the double entendre.

Sensing her uneasiness, Angel jumped in, “We’ve done some sightseeing but I’m easing her into this new lifestyle. Don’t want to overwhelm
her, you know.”

“Quite right, I’m sure you’re doing what you can to keep your lady happy.” He then smiled conspiratorially. “By the way, are you planning to
attend my little soirée next week?”

“Uh, I’ll have to get back to you on that.”
“I see, well, enjoy the rest of your outing, I must be off.”

“I’ll call you later.” Angel then stepped back with Buffy as Quentin pulled away.

Alone again, Angel squeezed her closer, “Now where were we?” He asked mischievously before turning her in his arms. Cupping her face, he
held her gaze “We’ll take it slow.”

Moving in, he waited for her to pull back but Buffy held firm this time, allowing his kiss. When their lips finally met, he focused entirely on her,
letting the tension in her body guide him. It was tender yet demanding, building and abating as Buffy responded to him.

When they pulled away, Angel kissed her forehead, “Do you want to have lunch now?”

She nodded against his chest, happy for the reprieve.

Walking over to their picnic, they quickly resumed their meal

Once they were done, Angel quickly packed away the dishes in the basket and folded the blanket for the staff to collect later. He and Buffy
then mounted Ares and proceeded with their ride. Giving her the reins, Angel wrapped his arms around her and sighed contentedly. At that
moment he knew this was what he was searching for all his life, the peace that he could only find with Buffy. He savored every moment of it.
***
Sometime later they got back into the car and headed back to Angel’s villa. As they drove, Buffy could no longer resist her curiosity.

“Um, Angel, what was Quentin talking about?”

“Hmm, what do you mean?”

“He asked if you would be at his soirée.”

“Oh, that. He’s having a small gathering at his house next week; we’re both invited but I doubt we’ll go.”

“Why?”

Giving her a sidelong glance, “It’s probably not the best idea.”

“What’s not the best idea?”

“Taking you around other people.”

“You took me around other people before.”

“Yes but this is different. These aren’t just store clerks and resort hostesses, these are some of Quentin’s closest friends and associates. The
situation is too unpredictable.”

“You make it sound like I’m not house trained or something.”

Smirking, “Well it’s not the carpet or the furniture I’m concerned about.”

“So you’re afraid I’ll make a scene and start screaming for help.”

“The thought has occurred to me.” He answered wryly.

“I know better than to do that Angel. You’ve showed me time and time again that you can do anything you want to me. And you’ve only just
lifted my confinement, do you think I want to be locked away in that room again?” Ok, so maybe that was exactly what she was hoping to do
but she had to at least try to convince him that she would be on her best behavior.

Pulling to the side of the road, “Are you saying you want to go?”

“Well what’s the choice, it’s either that or be left behind with Lindsey.”

”That’s not entirely true. You’ve agreed to be my partner Buff; I wouldn’t leave you behind. I simply wouldn’t go … why do you care anyway?”

“I don’t … never mind, let’s just drive.” Hmm, better to back off.

“No, you’re obviously upset about this.”

“I’m not upset, I’m just annoyed that you think I’d be so stupid.”

“Buffy, it’s not that I think you’d be stupid but you have to realize, some of these people dislike your father just as much, perhaps even more
than I did. Quentin wasn’t the only person connected to Ethan who got burned by his prosecution. So, it’s not that I’m worried that you’ll make
a scene or that people will recognize you and betray me; none of them is foolish or moral enough for that. But I am worried that people will
recognize you and react … badly. You have been protected all of your life so you have no idea how much resentment there is out there for
Hank. The minute they find out that you’re Hank’s daughter the daggers will fly. Some may merely send loathsome glances your way, others
may actually see you the way I did. I’ve known these people long enough to know what they’re capable of. It wouldn’t be a big deal if it were
only one or two of them but we’re talking about a room full of people who really don’t think very highly of Hank Summers. That is what I mean
by the situation being too unpredictable. I refuse to subject you to that.”

Suddenly deflated Buffy paused; she really hadn’t looked at it that way. Thinking over his words, she asked, “Won’t they still find out?”

“Actually, I suspect some already have and I can guarantee they are dying from curiosity, although none of them would dare ask me point
blank about it. Other than Quentin none of them is entirely aware of where things stand between us, they’re probably waiting to see what I do
next.”

“Do you mean if they find out that you’re not torturing me night and day then they may see you as a threat?”

“Hmm, I suppose that’s one way of looking at it, that’s always a possibility but if anything they’d probably applaud my boldness in the entire
matter. To be honest, I’m not exactly hiding who you are from them; I’m just not advertising it. Those who know probably expect me to bring
you to this thing to put you on display like some trophy so they can all take a good look and enjoy themselves at your expense. I really don’t
want to deal with that right now. Although I do business with most of them, Quentin is the only one I truly respect so regarding the rest of
them, my relationship with you is none of their business. And as for me being a threat to them, well, that’s nothing new. I’ve always been a
threat to them and they know crossing me would be suicide. I know enough about their dirty dealings to keep them in line so I seriously doubt
they’d come after me directly … you on the other hand … let’s just say they can be cruel.”

“So why did Quentin invite me?”

“Not sure, like the rest of them I think he’s curious about you but for different reasons, he wants to know more about the young lady who took
me off the market. I think that’s why he just ‘happened’ to be passing by while we were on our ride. See, although he really does dislike your
father very much I think much of his hatred was directed towards my uncle, Holtz. While most of my father’s associates were trying to salvage
what they could of their fortunes and squabbling over power, Quentin was one of the few people aware of what really happened to my
mother and I after the trial. So in the grand scheme of things, Hank wasn’t the biggest villain in his book. That’s why he and Lindsey are a bit
twitchy around each other; they’re not openly hostile but Quentin’s hatred for Holtz colors his opinion of Lindsey somewhat and well, Lindsey
is very much aware of it. They do try to get along for my sake but I wouldn’t leave them alone for very long. Anyway, as for this dinner,
Quentin probably figures that as long as you’re with me it won’t get out of hand and for the most part that’s true, but I’d just rather avoid an
uncomfortable situation. I’ll invite him over for dinner some other time.”

At the still concerned look on her face, “Look at me Buff.” When she reluctantly met his eyes he held her chin, “You are precious to me, I won’t
let anyone hurt you.” When she still seemed uncertain, he took her hand and softly pressed it to his lips before maneuvering the car back onto
the road.
***
Arriving at the villa, Angel opened the car door for her and escorted her to her room. She’d been quiet ever since their conversation. When
they got to her door, they looked at each other awkwardly, neither sure how to proceed.

“May I come in, perhaps we can rest for a while?”

Her stomach instantly tightened into knots. “I-I don’t know … after last night, I’m not sure I can.”

“We don’t have to do anything Buff. We can just rest, same as last night … it doesn’t have to go further.”

Considering it briefly, “Ok we can rest but give me twenty minutes, I want to freshen up a bit.”

“Tell you what, I’ll come back in thirty minutes.”

She nodded then entered the room, closing the door behind her.

Entering her bedroom, Buffy quickly went to the closet and pulled out some clean clothes, taking them into the bathroom with her. As much as
she enjoyed being around horses, she didn’t relish smelling like them. And she didn’t trust Angel enough not to try anything while she was in
the shower. Stepping into the spray, she quickly washed her hair and conditioned it while she washed up. Minutes later, she emerged from the
steamy bathroom in her fluffy robe after deciding it was far too hot to get dressed in there. Seeing that Angel had yet to appear, she returned
to the closet and quickly dressed. By the time he arrived, she was lying in the bed scanning a magazine.

When he knocked, she simply called out to him from her position. She was too nervous to move.

He entered carrying a small kit and a book. At her questioning look, he offered, “I thought you might like this.”

“And what is that?” She asked skeptically.

“This is a massage kit. It’s just a few soothing body oils and candles to help you relax.” When she raised an eyebrow at his presumptuousness,
he amended, “Only if you feel up to it of course.” He then rested it on a nearby nightstand as she eyed it warily.

“And the book? That better not be a guide to the Kama Sutra.”
Angel nearly choked on his laughter, “No, it’s not but I do have one if you’re interested.” When she glared, “Baby, this is just a novel, it’s called
The Maltese Falcon. I thought I’d read while we rest.”

When she voiced no further opposition, he eased himself into the bed next to her. Lying back, he propped up the pillows under his head
before stretching his hand out to her. Moving into his embrace, she lied back onto his chest as his arms enveloped her. Settling into
comfortable positions, they soon turned to their reading.

Eventually Buffy tired of her magazine and began shifting against him to get more comfortable. Noticing how restless she was, he asked,
“Would you like me to get you something else to read?”

“Um, no, I’m tired.”

“Hmm, you seem to be tired a lot lately.”

Glaring at him, “Well excuse me, I didn’t know the Sleep Patrol was monitoring my every wink.”

Smiling, “I’m not, I’m sorry if I’m being overbearing. You’ve been under a lot of stress, that’s probably why you feel so drained.”

“True … and I’m sure that glass of chardonnay during lunch isn’t helping.”

Smirking, “Baby, you had less than half a glass before I had to take it from you because you were giggling so hysterically. I made sure you had
nothing but water after that.”

“Well you insisted that I try it after I told you I don’t drink.”

“More like you shouldn’t drink.”

When she rested her head on his chest, he gently ran her hands through her slightly damp hair. “Would you mind if I read to you?”

“As long as it’s not that poem.” She warned.

Chuckling softly, “No need to worry about that; I won’t go anywhere near that poem.”

He then began giving her a quick summary of what he had read so far. During his narration, she interrupted, “Um, the title sounds familiar, is
this also a movie?”

“Uh, yes. Have you seen it?”

“No, I think my mother has it though for when she’s in her TCM mood.”

“TCM?”

“Turner Classic Movies.” She clarified.

“Ah, well the film was actually very good. Humphrey Bogart was an exceptional Sam Spade. But there is just something about reading it... I
think you’ll really enjoy it.”

“Ok, well I’m listening.”

“Good.” He snuggled against her as he continued reading.
***
An hour later, Buffy was still awake and listening intently to Angel’s surprisingly animated narration. When he reached the end of the chapter,
he slipped a bookmark in place. “If I recall someone wanted to sleep a while ago, are you still tired?”

“Yes but the story is interesting.”

“We can read more later, I promise.” He smiled as he rested book on the nightstand. Then leaning over, he lightly pecked the tip of her nose.
Briefly their eyes met and for a moment they were lost in each other.

Then he felt her tense.

“You should rest, it’ll be dinner time in a few hours.”

She nodded, suddenly self conscious and very much aware of his closeness.

Caressing her hair, he made a quick decision, “You sleep. I’ll be back in a while ok.”

“Ok.” She whispered as he kissed her forehead then quietly left the room.
Pausing just outside the bedroom, Angel took several deep breaths. God! How he wanted her. But it was still too soon; she wasn’t ready. He
knew if he touched her now, he wouldn’t be able to stop. Instead he needed to work his ass off in his gym and then take an ice cold shower.
Hell, he’d masturbate if he had to, anything to take the edge off.
***
Hours later when he returned, Buffy was still fast asleep. Not waking her, he slid in, slipping his arms around her. Thankfully, he no longer felt
like he was about to explode and could handle being this close to her without losing control.

As dinnertime approached, he gently began massaging her lower back, rousing her. Slowly drifting awake, Buffy gradually became aware of the
hand caressing her. The touch was all too familiar. Angel.

Turning to him, she kept her eyes closed as she spoke, “I see you never give up.”

“No … I never do … are you hungry?”

“Hmmm, not really. Maybe I’ll have something later.”

“Ok.” He murmured as he continued massaging her.

When she didn’t protest his ministrations, he continued stroking her back, slowly making his way up to her shoulders.

Buffy was keenly aware of what he was doing but she didn’t resist. She knew this moment would come eventually. Granted, she doubted it
would happen that night, especially if she froze up again but she knew that at some point she would have to sleep with him. No matter what
he said about being patient and waiting for her, there was no getting around that. And the sooner she did it, the sooner she could try to get
home. Maybe a massage, and a few more glasses of very strong wine, might actually help her relax. Heaven knew if she was going to do this
she definitely needed to relax.

Suddenly the scent of lavender permeated the room when Angel opened one of his oil bottles. Holding it in front of her he waited for her
nodded consent before he rolled up the back of her blouse, unhooked her bra and poured a small amount in his hands. Rubbing the fragrant
oil into her skin, he massaged from her shoulders down to the small of her back and back again, taking care to work out every knot he could
find. She was incredibly tense. As he touched her, Buffy concentrated on breathing deeply and staying calm. Forcing her mind from whom was
massaging her, she focused instead on the almost hypnotic rhythm of his technique as he hands glided along her back, her mind drifting. For
twenty-five minutes his hands danced across her skin until she felt like jelly beneath him.

His task done, he put away his oils before gently pulling her blouse back in place.

Surprised that he hadn’t tried anything, Buffy rolled over curiously.

“How did that feel?”

“Like you magically removed my spine and now I am completely boneless.”

Smiling, “Well, that’s what I was going for.”

Lying next to her, he smiled when she rested her head on his chest. They just seemed to fit together so perfectly.

Then Angel reached for her hand and tenderly began kissing her fingertips, slowly advancing upward. Reaching her wrist, he gently rolled them
until he was on his side and partly hovering over her. Capturing her gaze, his finger lightly traced her cheekbones, down her neck and along her
collarbone.

Lost in the warm chocolate depths of his eyes, Buffy never knew when their mouths met. She was only vaguely aware of his weight on her as
his luscious mouth explored hers. Their kiss started slow and gentle but quickly escalated to an incredibly torrid fusion. Their mouths mated
frantically, their frenzied pace increasing by the moment, fueled by desperation and unfulfilled longing. They couldn’t kiss hard enough, long
enough. Having to breathe was becoming a nuisance. Buffy felt like she was drifting on a wave of feeling, somehow she was transported away
from it all and all she could do was feel. The effects were somewhat delayed but the soothing oils had made her skin ultra sensitive and
wherever he touched her she felt small ripples of tingling sensation. There was a hell of a lot more than lavender in that oil. As he kissed her,
Buffy ignored the impulse to pull away. She was determined to make it through this. Following his lead, she abandoned herself to it; giving
herself over to the intoxicating pleasure he was giving her.

Pulling her blouse over her head, Angel fervently kissed her bare neck and shoulders, lavishing her with adoration. Inching his way down her
body, he pushed her bra aside, latching onto her nipple and suckling voraciously while fondling the other. Buffy cried out when he latched onto
her, her senses on overload as the rapidly swelling waves of sensation surged to her core. Angel had barely touched her and she could already
feel herself getting wet. She felt beyond boneless; her entire body alight with sensation. She was breathing so heavily she was certain the
entire house could hear her.

Closely watching her responses and listening to her soft moans, Angel slowed down, taking his time to pleasure her. He hadn’t expected her to
respond quite so enthusiastically to the effects of the oil but then again, she couldn’t handle alcohol either. But despite her rather exuberant
response, he didn’t want to rush this and was glad he had taken the edge off his needs. Fortunately, he now had enough control that he could
spend the entire evening concentrating completely on her. Granted, he felt a tad guilty for not exactly warning her about the effects of the oil
but it wasn’t impairing her judgment, just heightening and intensifying her sensitivity, something she seemed to be thoroughly enjoying.
Now, he was ready to blow her mind.
Carefully freeing her arms from her bra, he eased himself down next to her and gently rubbed her nipples, ensuring to massage the remaining
oil on his fingers into her supple flesh. Softly blowing on the erect peaks, he listened as she gasped in surprise. Slowly kissing his way up to her
neck, he paused momentarily until she opened her eyes. Then taking her hand, he kissed each finger before murmuring, “You only have to say
no.”

When she said nothing, he pulled his shirt off and placed her hand on his chest. Then holding her gaze, guided it along his torso. He wanted her
to feel as in control as possible. Following his lead, Buffy closed her eyes and allowed herself to touch him, her hand soon moving on its own
accord. Despite all the times they’d been together, she had never really touched him like this before.

Rolling them, he pulled her on top and remained still while she hesitantly explored him. Eyes still closed, she straddled him while lightly
caressing his shoulders down to his pelvis and back again. Feeling the muscles of his lean body rippling under her touch, she vividly recalled his
sexual prowess and intensity. Concentrating on the moment, she slowly surrendered to his passion and for the first time sensed the power she
could wield with it. Continuing her tactile exploration, she finally opened her eyes and looked at him.

Gazing up at his golden goddess, he saw the look in her eye and could no longer resist her. Sitting up he wrapped his arms around her and
kissed her hungrily, engaging her tongue in a fierce battle. Their kisses were long and wet and heated. Running his hands along her back, he
deepened the kiss when he felt her shiver in response. They had no idea how long they stayed like that, each kiss melding with another until
finally Angel pulled her down with him and rolled them. Settling between her thighs, he positioned his length at her core and holding her gaze,
gently thrust against her. Buffy gasped at how much she could feel him through the layers of clothes between them. She briefly wondered if he
knew just how wet she was.

Watching the emotions play across her face, he lowered his head and again suckled her breasts, licking and teasing each peak relentlessly.
Propelling her higher, he continued suckling while slipping his hand into her sweats, gently fondling her sex through her panties. Pressing the
heel of his palm to her clit, he shifted his fingers in a deep circular motion against her core, the dual stimulation making her cry out. Feeling
how wet she was, he concentrated intently on making her come. Doubling his efforts, he continued suckling and stroking her until Buffy was
writhing beneath him, her hands clutching his hair in earnest. Quickening his pace, he positioned himself so he could gently grind his length
against her while still stroking her sex. It wasn’t the most comfortable position for him but it was well worth it when she groaned and
tightened her grip in his hair. Feeling her hips rising instinctively to meet his thrusts, Angel began rubbing her clit harder with his thumb,
making her wetter. Buffy bucked wildly against him, her response encouraging him to continue. Intensifying the stimulation, he suckled
ravenously as he stroked her; he knew she was close.

Buffy was getting too hot, her breathing too erratic when suddenly a wave of moist heat flooded through her as she cried her release, her
entire body shaking. Drawing out her crisis, he continued sucking her nipples and flicking her clit through her damp underwear, triggering wave
after wave of orgasmic pleasure. Slowly bringing her down, Angel left her breast and pressed soft kisses to her lips as he eased the pressure on
her sex. As the aftershocks of her climax diminished and her breathing slowed, he pulled her into his arms and quietly pulled the covers over
them. That was as far as he would take her for now.
***
Sometime later Buffy stirred. She was on her stomach, lying partly under Angel, the sheets loosely draped over them. They were both still
topless and she could feel the taut muscles of his chest flex against her back as he gently kissed the back of her neck and shoulders. Remaining
still, she was unsure what to do or what to say. This was possibly the most awkward moment of her life.

Sensing she was awake, Angel grasped her hand, gently entwining their fingers then whispered, “Feel like raiding the kitchen?”

Surprised by his suggestion, she turned and rolled from under him, covering her bare chest with part of the sheet.

At her raised eyebrow, “Well, do you?”

“Sure … but … I need to …” She stopped, not sure how to say that she was uncomfortable with their nudity, which was absolutely silly
considering what they just did.

Noting the close grip she had on the sheet, he realized what the problem was. Taking the hint, he pecked her on the forehead before leaning
over and locating both their tops. Placing hers next to her, he pulled his over his head then moved from the bed into the bathroom where he
began washing his face. Speaking to her, he continued their polite conversation, ensuring she knew exactly where he was by his voice while
giving her several moments to put on her blouse and compose herself.

When she came to the bathroom door awkwardly holding another pair of sweats and what he thought might be clean underwear, he politely
gave her the privacy she needed. A few minutes later, they left the room for the kitchen.

Walking into the large kitchen, Angel turned on the lights and patted a stool at the center island, gesturing for her to sit. Opening the large
stainless steel fridge, he called off the various items that were ready to eat. After a little back and forth, Angel pulled out the honey-roasted
ham, provolone, oatmeal bread and a few salad ingredients while Buffy raided the cupboards. Snacking on whole-wheat crackers and a few
baby carrots, Buffy watched as he whipped up two yummy-looking sandwiches and a small garden salad. Their small feast prepared, Angel
cleaned up and placed everything onto a serving tray to carry upstairs to her room. Buffy carried the drinks. Settling on the floor of the sitting
area in her room, they dove in while watching some television.
****
Joyce sat on the balcony of Dawn’s bedroom, a blanket thrown over her shoulders. It was getting late but she wasn’t ready to turn in. Gazing
out at the night’s sky, she couldn’t stop her mind from wondering. Somewhere out there was her little girl.

Recalling their last conversation, she hoped that one day soon she and the girls would have that picnic on the beach. But all signs pointed
against it. Earlier that day the FBI completed its forensic investigation of Buffy’s apartment and removed the yellow crime scene tape. Joyce
and Dawn had then gone to collect some clothes, the mail, and a few valuables and sentimental items that Buffy would most likely want
secured. Afterwards, they covered all of her furniture to protect it and closed up her apartment, locking it until Buffy came home and decided
what to do with it. After spending weeks searching for the perfect apartment and delving into her trust fund to purchase it, Joyce doubted
she’d want to sell it.

When they got back to the house, placing Buffy’s belongings back in her room was probably the hardest thing Joyce had done since this entire
nightmare began. Being surrounded by her childhood photos and possessions reminded her of just how young Buffy was. She’d been so grown
up and independent since graduating from college that it was hard to believe that only a few short years ago she was running around the
house fighting with Dawn over clothes or anxiously waiting for a boy to call. But no matter how grown up she appeared, in many ways Buffy
was still little more than a girl. That she still slept with Mr. Gordo testified to that. Thinking of Angelus Rayne, as much as she hated him Joyce
hoped he too realized how young Buffy was; that he was treating her decently. Granted, she knew the terrible things he had done but she also
knew that he had developed some kind of feeling for Buffy. Whatever he felt she prayed it was enough to appease his hatred and still his hand.
The situation was hard enough; she needed to believe that Buffy wasn’t being brutalized.

Pulling the blanket closer, she curled up in her chair. Buffy would be home soon.
***
The following morning, Buffy slowly woke. The last thing she remembered was falling asleep on the couch while watching The Insider but now
she was warmly tucked in bed next to a familiar male body. They were both still fully dressed.

Shifting, she faced the man who until some hours ago had been kissing her senseless after their late night snack. Angel. Wasn’t he a piece of
work? Thinking back over their heavy make out session, she wondered why he stopped. Not that she was complaining but she had expected
him to take her fully but he didn’t, choosing to get her off instead. She flushed uncomfortably at the streak of heat that laced through her at
the vivid memory, she’d never get used to the illicit things he did to her. Well that was probably a good thing. But now that they were intimate
again, she wondered if anything would really change between them, what exactly was her standing in the house? She knew Angel was
suspicious of her, not to mention Lindsey and the others. She’d have to postpone her agenda at least until her movement around the house
wasn’t being so closely monitored. She absolutely could not afford to get caught. Thinking over her plans, she ignored the small pang of guilt
over what she was doing. As sick as he was, Angel really seemed to feel something for her and although she could never return the feeling,
toying with him just felt wrong. Not to mention dangerous. No matter what he had done to her, sinking to his level made her feel truly
uncomfortable. This was not how she was raised. But she needed to do something and she needed an ally. She had thought at first that
Lindsey would help her but now she had no idea where she stood with him and to be honest, she wasn’t very comfortable with him anymore.
At least she knew how Angel felt about her and what he wanted. She could bargain with that. And truthfully, of all the people in that house,
Angel was the one with the power to do the most for her. In the end, everything came back to him anyway. She didn’t need the middleman. So
in the meantime, what was she going to do? Taking it slow, she decided to get up and take a shower.

Standing under the hot spray, Buffy slowly washed up and cleansed her hair, taking her time to soak in all the luxuriating warmth of the steam
shower. After about thirty minutes, she finally pulled herself away and pulled on her robe. Walking out of the bathroom, she heard Angel
talking to someone on the balcony. Standing on the side, she saw that he was freshly shaven, his hair was still very wet and he was dressed in
his bathrobe, sitting at the table with Lindsey. He must have showered in the other room while she was in the bathroom. Listening to their
conversation briefly, she realized that they were just casually talking about cricket of all things. Apparently a game was on last night and
Lindsey was filling him in. Rolling her eyes, she continued going about her business before she got caught. She needed to get dressed.

Standing before her extensive wardrobe in her robe and underwear, Buffy looked at the various skirts and blouses before settling on a pair of
jeans and a tank; she couldn’t bring herself to wear a skirt just yet. That was far too easy access for Angel.

Then suddenly there was a knock on the closet door. Speak of the devil.

Not even bothering to ask who it was, she adjusted the belt on her robe and then opened the door questioningly.

The intense look in Angel’s eyes sent an instant chill down her spine; the chill of anticipation. Stepping back, she felt herself flushing instantly,
an anxious tightening in the pit of her stomach. She knew exactly what was on his mind and so did her body as evidenced by the moisture she
could already feel pooling between her thighs.

When he closed the closet door behind him and moved towards her, she swallowed hard. “Um, where’s Lindsey?” She asked her voice so
husky that she had to clear her throat and repeat herself.

“He’s gone.” Angel on the other hand didn’t even try to cover his intent as his eyes raked over her.

Buffy felt like shrinking into the wall. She knew what he wanted and God help her because she knew she would not stop him. Something about
the way he looked at her took her breath away. He moved so gracefully and fluidly, stalking her like a predator. She felt like a deer caught in
the headlights.

Leading her over to a wall in the dressing area, he held her gaze, wordlessly seeking her consent before kneeling before her and untying her
robe. He inhaled sharply at the sight of her body in her bra and panties. “You are absolutely delectable, I can’t wait to taste you.”

“WHAT?” She exclaimed as her heart skipped a beat. She knew what he intended and it certainly wouldn’t be the first time but somehow
hearing him say the words still shocked her.

“Don’t be shy Buff. I know you love it when I go down on you. The way you moan and scream, and how hard you come, I know you want it.”
She flushed scarlet, her knees almost buckling. Did he have to be so damn explicit?
“T-That’s not true. I don’t like … when you do that.” Her voice was weak and nervous, lacking all conviction.

“Really? I don’t satisfy you?” Not buying that for a second he decided to humor her, “Well, I guess I’ll just have to stay down there until I get it
right.” He smiled evilly as his hands slid into her robe.

Gripping the waist of her panties, he held her gaze as he effortlessly slid them down her legs. Holding her hand, he held her steady as she
stepped out of them. Casting them aside, he kneeled up and unhooked her bra, freeing her breasts. Kneeling before her, he took a moment to
take in all she was before nursing greedily at her breast. Listening intently to her responses, her every gasp and moan told him exactly where
to touch her, how to touch her. He loved feeling her shiver and flinch in response to his ministrations, her soft whimpers echoing her pleasure.
Before long she was squeezing her thighs so tightly that he knew she was losing control. Taunting her, he prolonged his suckling, concentrating
intently on each nipple, teasing it until her soft moans grew to breathy cries. Kissing along the valley of her breasts and down to her navel,
Angel lightly traced along her inner thigh with his finger, slowly gliding up to her sex. Gently brushing against her, he watched for her to pull
away before lightly stroking her clit. When she didn’t pull away but simply inhaled sharply, he eagerly placed her thighs onto his shoulders as
he gently spread her before him. Flicking his tongue over her nub, he listened to her sharp gasp as he swirled his tongue along her sex. Then
pulling the skin of her clit back, he sucked hard. Buffy cried out as she reflexively bucked against him. Holding her hips in place, he sucked
relentlessly, licking and tickling her clit until she was keening loudly. Grasping the wall behind her for support, Buffy closed her eyes as a wave
of moisture flooded from her. As the copious moisture poured from her, he slowly eased a finger into her core. Buffy groaned loudly. Nearly
groaning himself at how tight she was, Angel knew he had to take his time before fucking her. He didn’t want the sex to hurt. Withdrawing, he
slowly thrust his finger deep within her again and again as he languorously licked the tip of her clit. From her loud shrieks, he knew he was
driving her wild. Penetrating her as deeply as possible with his finger, he slowly withdrew it and as promised, licked away her essence, tasting
her before plunging his tongue into her depths. Devouring her, his thumb stroked her clit circularly, each time caressing the tip and sending a
bolt of sensation ripping through her. Ravenously feasting on her sex, his tongue delved deeper and deeper as he spread her increasingly
wider. Buffy was writhing wildly against the wall, her hands tightly grasping his hair, her shrieks getting louder and more desperate as he ate
her mercilessly.

Then suddenly he withdrew his tongue and slowly plunged his finger into her again, then withdrawing it, replaced it with two. Thrusting into
her depths, he renewed his onslaught on her clit, his tongue worrying the sensitive pearl till Buffy was babbling mindlessly. Her cries only
spurred him on and soon he was pumping into her vigorously, the dual stimulation rapidly driving her to orgasm. She was so close he could
feel the initial clenching of her impending crisis. Then finally, he released her hips and with his free hand, slowly reached up to her breasts and
simultaneously squeezed her nipple while sucking her clit and fingering her. Opening her eyes at the new sensation, Buffy caught a glimpse of
them in the full-length mirror on the opposite wall. The reflected image of Angel’s head planted firmly between her spread thighs sent her
over the edge. Instantly, her orgasm ignited, blazing through her like wild fire as she screamed his name. Feeling her orgasmic clenching
around his fingers, he held her in place and continued sucking her nub, prolonging her pleasure until she started trembling uncontrollably.
Gradually easing the pressure, he eventually moved up her body and gathered her in his arms as she slumped against the wall. Picking her up,
he carried her out of the closet, resting her on the bed, giving her a short break before starting again. After all, he had a young lady to please.
******
Part 21
******
Lying next to her, Angel pulled her robe around her still trembling body and held her hand, entwining their fingers as she recovered. As eager
as he was to continue, he didn’t want to be too aggressive with her. For several long moments she remained silent, her eyes closed as her
breathing and pulse returned to normal. Once she seemed less overwhelmed, he slowly began nuzzling her cheek, lightly kissing her.

“God I wanted to do that for so long,” He whispered between kisses, “I couldn’t get rid of Lindsey fast enough.”

As he kissed along her neck Buffy slowly recalled his intent to, as he put it, get it right. She began to panic.

“Wait.” Her voice was so soft that Angel wasn’t sure she had spoken.

Pausing, he looked at her, encouraging her to continue.

Realizing he didn’t quite hear her and was waiting for her to speak, Buffy cupped his face, her voice more confident, “No more, please.”

Nodding, Angel lightly kissed her hand before helping her sit up.

Pulling her robe even closer, Buffy nervously ran her hands through her hair, as she looked at him, her mind flashing back to their image in the
mirror. She needed to get out of there. Excusing herself, she stood from the bed and went into the bathroom, locking the door behind her.

Hearing the door lock, Angel suddenly regretted his spontaneity. Tightening his robe, he moved to the edge of the bed, awaiting her return.
Clearly there would be no second act to the closet.
***
Pacing the length of the bathroom, Buffy turned the taps on high before slumping against the wall. What in the world was she doing? Last
night she thought she had a handle on things; she felt in control after finally finding the escape she needed to be with him again but now that
she had, she wasn’t so sure about it anymore. Quite frankly, she hadn’t expected it to go so far so fast, especially just now; she wasn’t
prepared for it, neither for his advance nor her response. And how exactly did one prepare for a guy to go down on you anyway? She thought
she had buried the inexplicable connection between them but if anything it seemed more powerful than ever. The way he looked at her in the
closet was simply mesmerizing. It shook her to the core that after everything he could still affect her that way. It was sick! And it was cruelly
ironic that the escape, the one thing she needed to get through it was fueled by their explosive chemistry, one of the many things that scared
her. She wasn’t as in control as she had thought. So what now? How was she to handle this? No matter how she tried to rationalize it, this was
entirely different from the situation with Dawn. She was not giving herself to him to save her sister but to make a damn phone call. Somehow
in her desperation she hadn’t allowed herself to see it that way before, all she could see was a way home. But looking at it now, she regretted
being so rash. She really hadn’t thought this through. So what was she to do now? Back out completely? No, that was out of the question.
Looking at her situation, she refused to go back to how things were before. She was tired of being the victim. She had to help herself and as
reprehensible as this was, her chances of escape or rescue were much higher as long as she and Angel remained on friendly terms. She would
have to work from there. But as she stood and began washing up, she couldn’t silence her doubts. Was she really prepared to do this? Was it
really worth it? Looking at herself in the mirror, she couldn’t escape the accusation in her eyes. She had to do something.

After a while she managed to compose herself and quietly left the bathroom. She still wasn’t certain what her next move would be but she
couldn’t hide in there anymore. But one thing was certain; she had to take more control of the situation. Walking into the bedroom she saw
that Angel was still anxiously seated on the bed but he was no longer in his robe, clad instead in a casual shirt and trousers. Next to him was
the pair of jeans and tank she had taken down to wear, along with another set of underwear. Well, at least he knew the taste test was over.
That at least took some of the pressure off. Seeing his contrite expression, she took several deep breaths to collect her thoughts. Choosing her
words carefully, she finally turned to him. “Angel, I know we’ve been trying to overcome everything that’s happened between us and I get that
you want me to …have a good time with this and all.”

“But?” He prodded, his voice gentle.

“But we’re moving too fast. Clearly there is something very intense going on here but I need more time before this goes further.”

Looking at her, he cautiously asked, “Are you saying you want to go back to sleeping apart?”

She was surprised by the disappointment in his voice. Cautiously thinking over her response, “No, that’s not what I mean … I’m saying that
we’re just getting close again and I still have mixed feelings. We both know where this is headed; I don’t want this to go further until I know
what I want.” When he remained silent, she added, “If you want to stay with me that’s fine but let’s just take the other stuff slow.”

Pensive, Angel ran his hands through his hair, taking in her words.

When it seemed like an eternity had passed, she nervously whispered, “Are you mad at me?”

Taken aback by her question and the uncertainty in her voice, he looked up suddenly and hastily replied, “No, I’m not mad. Why would you
think that?”

“You look upset … “

“Oh Buffy, no … I was just thinking that I should have known this was moving too quickly. Cornering you like that was … well, I just wasn’t
thinking.” He felt like smacking himself. Just because she wasn’t overtly refusing him didn’t mean she was ready for oral sex. The power
dynamic was still too much in his favor for her to really feel free to say no.

“So you’re not mad?”

“No, a little disappointed perhaps but I’m definitely not mad. Buff never be afraid to back out. I meant what I said yesterday, I still do.” He
wasn’t sure how else to reassure her and obviously if she was still this afraid of angering him then they definitely had to slow down. Reaching
out to her, “Buff.”

He smiled with relief when she didn’t appear to hesitate but immediately came to him, perching on his lap. Caressing her, “Buff, I need you to
speak up when you’re uncomfortable about anything. Sometimes, I try to initiate things that I think you will like but I don’t know whether
you’re shy and simply prefer to be passive, whether you’re just not ready to make the first move or just not ready at all. Now some things I can
gather on my own but for others, only you can tell me how you feel. That must always come first; remember I want you to enjoy our time
together. So I am glad that you felt comfortable enough to say something. I don’t want to do anything you’re not ready for.”

When she looked at him, he lightly pecked her lips then, “Are you ready for breakfast?”

“Yeah, I am.”

“Good, what would you like?” He asked as he turned and leaned over to press the call button but before he could Buffy pulled him back. When
he looked at her curiously, she held his chin and to his utter shock kissed him back. It was quick and chaste but at that moment it was
everything. At his surprise, she awkwardly smiled, “For trying.”

Once he placed their order, Buffy sighed with relief and immediately went back into the bathroom to get dressed, locking the door behind her.
***
The rest of the day passed without incident. Although for a while things were somewhat awkward, Buffy and Angel managed to get through it.
Establishing clear boundaries, they spent much of the day reading more of Angel’s novel and cuddling. Buffy was still very conflicted over what
she was doing but she was relieved that she managed to rein in their level of intimacy while not setting back her agenda. She was pretty sure
the kiss she spontaneously threw in at the end helped to solidify her position.

As the day progressed, Angel also found himself somewhat conflicted. On the one hand, he knew she was up to something. Buffy would never
have come to him otherwise. But what was it? Why was she making nice? What was she planning? A part of him was truly frustrated that she
was trying to play him, using her body no less to manipulate his affection for her but then again, what did he expect? He had forced her into an
impossible position and to be honest, her tactics aside; he couldn’t help but find her endless determination truly admirable. But whatever her
motive, he worried that she was allowing it to go too far too fast. And by her reaction so was she, which he also admired. In addition to what
she said, she seemed so rattled afterward that it was obvious that she was having a hard time going through with it, which brought him to the
other side of his conflict. As glad as he was that she felt confident enough to express her feelings, her reaction was a blunt reminder of what he
had done. He couldn’t help but notice that she still tensed up whenever he touched her; that her responses were feeling increasingly forced
and empty. And as much as he hoped otherwise, he feared that she would never see beyond their violent past. That’s why she was reluctant to
back out before. She thought he would be angry, that he would react as he had before. That deeply saddened him. No matter what she was
trying to do or how she was manipulating him, she was his partner and he never wanted her to fear backing out. But there was little to nothing
he could do to convince her otherwise. He could only back off and let her come to him as she wanted. But would she?

That night, after watching some television and finally resuming their game of Risk, they settled in together. Again it was awkward at first but
eventually they found a level of closeness that both could handle. Holding her in his arms, Angel’s mind searched for ways to assist her in this
transition. Their history notwithstanding, he had to find a way to get her to trust him. Compelled to open himself to her as he never had, Angel
decided to take a huge risk. If she was to ever see past the monster, he had to be as transparent as possible, he had to share everything with
her.
***
The following morning Buffy woke to Angel gently caressing her hair. “Wake up sleepy head.” He encouraged as he playfully nudged her.

“It’s too early.” She mumbled grumpily as she turned away from him.

“It’s not that early, it’s after 8.”

“Too early.” She whined. Angel smirked at her; she looked so adorable when she was sleepy.

“Come on, Baby, you need to get up.”

“Why?”

“Because I am going to work soon and I’d like to take you with me.”

“WHAT?” Buffy looked at him as if he’d sprung another head. “Are you serious?” She had to be dreaming, this was too good to be true.

“Yes I am serious that is why I want you to get up so we can get dressed and have breakfast.”

Controlling her excitement, “Why do you want to take me with you?”

“Hmm, because I’d like to show you the other side of my world. You seemed a bit curious about it yesterday and well, you’re my partner; you
should know what I do. Would you like to come?”

“So you can teach me how to deal drugs and how to put a hit out on somebody?” She couldn’t let on just how much she wanted to go with
him.

“For now I’ll just introduce you to the basic variety of narcotics, maybe a crash course in their street value. Then we’ll move onto the more
hard core stuff.”

When she looked at him aghast, he chuckled.

“I’m kidding. When I said my work I meant along the lines of my shipping company. One of my executives is giving me a quarterly report.”

“Oh …” She replied, her relief evident. “Will it take long?”

“I doubt it, I’ve already received the preliminary figures so this is more of a formality, just to make sure we’re all on the same page. But you
don’t have to stay the entire time I’m there, it might be a bit dull for you.”

“I don’t mind; I’ll bring something to read.” She then got out of bed and headed for the shower.
***
Entering the forbidden zone hand in hand, Buffy surreptitiously watched as Angel unlocked his office. She practically drooled when he pulled
out his keys. She was so anxious she had to remind herself to breathe on occasion. As Angel guided her in, she took several moments to take in
her new surroundings. The entry was a fairly large foyer with several oversized leather chairs and a fireplace. Along one of the walls was a
credenza on which several bottles of liqueur were placed. But what especially drew her attention were the many portraits displayed on the
walls. Gazing up, she walked closer as her interest grew. She had no idea who the couple was but she was struck by how closely the woman
resembled her. Although there were some differences, it was eerie how similar they looked. Seeing which portrait had captivated her, Angel
answered her unspoken question. “Those were my parents. The artist presented it to them as a wedding gift.” Ok, eerie was an
understatement.

Choosing not to comment on her resemblance to his mother, Buffy studied the other person in the portrait. This was the first time she ever
saw an image of Ethan Rayne, the man with whom it all began. Curiously looking back and forth between Angel and the portrait, she decided
that Angel looked more like his father. Moving along, she saw several other portraits the subjects of which Angel informed her were various
extended relatives, including Lindsey’s mother. Finally she came to one with two little boys in it. There was a distinct familiarity about them
both and Angel’s silence spoke volumes. Looking at him, she ventured, “You and Lindsey?”

He nodded.
The last few portraits were of Angel with his parents, the last of which was only of him dressed in a suit and necktie, sitting in a huge armchair
with his feet dangling over the edge. Seeing this young and innocent version of him was truly odd. When she looked at him he offered, “That
was done for my 7th birthday.”

Then the oddest thing occurred to her, “How old are you?” The question sounded odd to her ears, after all this time, after all they’d done and
she never knew his age.

“Older than you.”

“That I know but my dad stopped practicing law a long time ago and if you were a little boy at the time then you’ve got to be … well, much
older.”

“How very diplomatic of you … I’m 37.” He watched, as she seemed unaffected by the age difference.

When she said nothing more, he offered, “Onto to my office?”

She nodded.

Passing through another locked door at the other end of the foyer, they finally entered Angel’s office. The room was decorated in very much
the same way as the foyer, in dark-toned woods, leather and oversized furniture. The entire place was distinctly masculine. But there was also
an abundance of natural light streaming through the large bay windows, which looked out to the pool and the gardens in the distance. It was
not an entirely unpleasant space to be in. Offering her a seat, Angel moved behind his desk and opened his laptop. As he waited for it to boot
up, he scanned some papers as he casually talked to her about his schedule for that day. But Buffy’s mind was elsewhere, her eyes glued to the
telephone sitting so temptingly on his desk. In the distance she could hear him speaking to her but she was enthralled, utterly incapable of
pulling her attention from it. But somehow she eventually managed to break its spell and at least pretend to be listening; she didn’t want him
to catch her ogling the phone.
***
As the hours passed, Buffy tried to maintain the charade that she was reading although in truth she was intently listening to his conversations
while stealing furtive glances of the telephone. But so far he hadn’t said anything of major interest or given her the slightest moment alone
with the phone. It took all of her self-control not to jump onto his desk and wrest it from his grasp. But as tempting as that was, she knew the
moment she made a move for it he would easily overpower her and probably drag her back to the bedroom. No, it was better to appear
nonchalant. But not too aloof, don’t want to seem to be trying too hard. Needless to say that achieving the right combination was exhausting.

Eventually, Angel finished his phone calls and brought Buffy around to sit with him. Holding her in his lap, he used a chart on his computer to
explain the basic organization of his empire. He told her of the businesses he inherited, those he built on his own and his plans for the future.
Listening, Buffy was surprised to discover how enterprising he was. He seemed to know every aspect of his work from the boardroom down to
the mailroom, his zeal reflected in his eyes and his voice. He was clearly as passionate about his work as he was about … well, other things.
Once his impromptu tutorial was done, he answered the few questions Buffy asked about his ability to conduct business from anywhere in the
world, omitting a few crucial details of course. Ok, so maybe he wasn’t quite ready to be completely transparent. As he talked the ringing
phone suddenly interrupted their conversation. Answering, Angel immediately sat up with her as he spoke, “Yes, this line is secure.”

For quite some time he continued talking, his responses terse, giving no indication as to what the caller was saying. Then as he talked, he
reached over for a pen, inadvertently touching his mouse. For a moment Buffy nearly burst into tears when a dialogue box requesting his
password instantly appeared over the screensaver that had come on. A password! A damn password! It took all of her will power not to
scream in frustration.

Over the next few moments, Buffy took several deep breaths to calm herself. It wasn’t over, this was just a setback; she had to stay focused.
She couldn’t afford to let on that anything was wrong. Fortunately by the time his call ended, she had finally managed to get a handle on her
emotions again.

“Something wrong?” She managed to ask as casually as she could.

“Um, no, nothing … just a few unexpected developments but no disasters.” Eventually, they resumed their discussion as Angel finished up his
tasks for the day and secured his documents. As they left his office, the sound of the bolts locking into place seemed to echo in Buffy’s mind.
But she refused to cry; this wasn’t over.
***
That evening Buffy sat between Angel and Lindsey in the formal dining room. She was still rather disappointed that she was unable to use the
phone but at least her time in Angel’s office wasn’t a complete bust; now she knew about the password on the computer. No wonder he
wasn’t too concerned about taking her to his office. And given her glitch with the gate, she now suspected there may be some code for the
phone as well. Despite her relief of not actually being caught doing anything, she had to admit that this wasn’t going to be as simple as she had
hoped. She was no hacker and really had no idea where she might even start trying to decipher it. Her playing nice aside, there was no way
Angel would just give it to her. She would have to find some other way around it. That would take time. Thankfully Angel didn’t seem to be
onto her yet. She had to tread carefully.

At one end of the table, Lindsey casually observed her. Throughout dinner, he and Angel kept the conversation casual and light, both ensuring
to include her in the exchange but her mind was obviously elsewhere. He wondered what she was planning. Although he had been keeping his
distance, he was well aware of the developments between her and Angel. The house was certainly large but it was also very quiet and since
the master suite was not exactly soundproof, noise traveled down the marble halls. It didn’t take a genius to know what all the moaning was
about not to mention the supremely satisfied grin on Angel’s face while they were talking about cricket had absolutely nothing to do with their
team winning. Hell, Angel couldn’t get him out of the room fast enough after she left the shower. He was elated to see his cousin finally so
happy. He only hoped that Buffy had enough sense not to try anything stupid. But somehow he knew she hadn’t given up; there was obviously
something stirring below the surface of her submissive façade.

Once dinner was over, the three spent a few hours on the terrace, casually talking and enjoying the scenery. Despite Buffy’s reticence, her
companions deliberately centered the discussion on her, both asking about her interests and social life. Eventually, she slowly began sharing
small details about her time in college, stopping short, however, of discussing her family. Noticing her avoidance, Angel decided not to push;
he knew she missed them terribly and didn’t want to upset her unnecessarily. As the evening wore on, Buffy found herself witnessing Angel
perhaps at his most unguarded and relaxed as he and Lindsey laughed and told amusing stories from their childhood. He was completely at
ease. It was extraordinary, almost surreal, they seemed so normal; not at all like the dangerous men she knew them to be. Their jokes and the
stories of pranks they played as little boys made her remember their portrait in the foyer of Angel’s office. It was a glimpse into the past at
what those two little boys were really like before life corrupted their innocence.
***
Later that night, the cousins finally took their leave of each other and Buffy and Angel headed upstairs. Walking her to her door, Angel went
into his room to prepare for bed. He would join her shortly. Although they were now sleeping together, they had yet to address the issue of
him moving back in with her. And knowing that she still needed space, Angel didn’t want to push it.

Changing quickly, Buffy was brushing her teeth when she heard him return.

Slowly entering the bedroom, she found him already in bed, sitting up waiting for her. For a few moments Angel looked at her as she
approached the bed clad in white silk pajamas before holding his hand out to her. Momentarily she paused before taking his hand and
climbing in next to him. Lying together, they turned out the lights and tried to sleep but somehow rest eluded both of them that night. Hours
passed yet they remained lying quietly together, both wide awake neither speaking until finally Buffy asked, “Why did you let Dawn go?”

The question caught him off guard and for a moment Buffy thought he wasn’t going to answer. Then she felt him prop himself up on his elbow.

When he spoke his voice was soft and mellow. “I didn’t want to use her to control you anymore. That was the reason I took her, to get to you. I
knew you wouldn’t give in to my demands otherwise.”

“Well you were right about that one.”

“And now?” He asked lightly caressing her. When she didn’t respond he continued, “I was to release both of you that day but somewhere in
the midst of all that anger I fell in love with you and I couldn’t do it, I couldn’t let you go. But I never wanted to hurt you that way again so I left
her behind.”

For several moments she remained silent as the weight of his words sank in. She could have been home with her family all this time; somehow
with that realization everything came crashing down, overwhelming her. Unsure what her silence meant, he lightly caressed her. Gently
cupping her face, he was startled when he felt tears streaming down her cheeks.

“Buffy …” He whispered when she inhaled deeply, her tears coming harder. Pulling her closer, he held her to him, caressing her soothingly as
she broke down. He had no idea whether these were tears of anger, sorrow or both but he continued touching her, letting her cry. A long time
passed before she seemed to calm again but the two remained silent, just letting it happen. They didn’t talk about it, they didn’t have to and
as the hours passed Angel realized that she wasn’t pushing him away but rather seemed to accept the comfort he offered. In that moment he
felt closer to her than he had to anyone in his life and as their mouths found each other in the darkness, he knew he was home. She was his
center. Touching her gently, his freely caressed her body but he held back, not wanting to push her. She needed time.
***
The following morning Buffy woke to find Angel sitting in the armchair across from the bed, a sketchpad and drawing pencil in hand.

“What are you doing?”

“Drawing you.”

“Why?”

“Because you’re beautiful.”

His bluntness left her speechless and it took a moment to recover her voice, “Well, can I get up?”

“Sure … feel free to move.” He replied as he continued his drawing.

Unsure what to say Buffy slowly made her way into the shower. Being drawn made her feel extremely self-conscious. By the time she was
dressed, the sketch was done and Angel had placed it on the bed for her approval. Raising an eyebrow, she had to admit, he had talent.

“You’re really good.” She offered.

“Well it helps when my subject is absolute perfection.”

Feeling very uncomfortable, “I’m not perfect.”
“I beg to differ.” He then walked up to her and for a moment, they locked gazes. Then suddenly his mouth descended upon hers and a torrent
of passion washed over them. Picking her up, Angel pressed her to the wall as their kiss deepened, his hands groping her. They kissed
frantically, the intensity rapidly escalating as they touched each other until Angel finally pulled back, his breathing heavy.

Cupping her face, “You only have to say yes.”

She looked at him stunned. He was no longer accepting her silence as consent. If they went any further, she would have to say it. But she
couldn’t, she couldn’t actually bring herself to utter it. That would be like saying she wanted to have sex with him. When it was clear that she
could not or would not, he kissed her on the forehead as he slowly lowered her to the floor. Then wordlessly he moved away from her,
preparing to go to his office alone. He already knew she couldn’t say it; it wasn’t time.
***
Buffy spent much of the rest of the day unsure what to make of Angel’s new approach. She knew she would never be able to say yes to him. So
what did that mean for her? She was well aware that at some point their make out sessions would escalate to where even oral sex would not
suffice and she would have to face the music. Just the thought of what might happen made her queasy. No, it was imperative that she be out
of there before that happened. She needed a backup, some alternative to using the phone in Angel’s office. Maybe she could get him to take
her out again and she could use a pay phone or try to leave another note somewhere. There had to be something. But as the day wore on,
everything she thought of was just as risky as what she was already doing and held no greater promise of success. She was nearing her wits
end.

By the time evening came, she managed to reaffirm her resolve and was staying the course. She couldn’t lose hope now. But as she sat across
from Angel having dinner in the gazebo, she couldn’t ignore the intensity of his gaze. He wanted her. And no matter how patient he tried to be,
the ball was in her court and she felt the pressure as well as the guilt. She dreaded what might happen in bed that night.

Then suddenly lightning flashed across the dreary overcast sky unleashing a torrential downpour. Startled, Buffy pulled her sweater closer as
the cool winds picked up. Noticing, Angel gestured for her sit in his lap. Her hesitation spoke volumes but eventually she went to him. Holding
her in his lap, he wrapped his arms around her, shielding her from the windblown rain and keeping her warm as the heavy mist descended
from the nearby mountains. Once the brief storm passed the thick mist enveloped them, creating an eerie, almost otherworldly escape. It was
so surreal, sitting in his lap, surrounded by his warmth, unable to see beyond each other.

Feeling his intense gaze, she knew she had to say something; she had to stall. Refusing to meet his eyes she murmured, “I-I’ve agreed to be
your partner but I can’t give you what you want … I can’t love you.”

Momentarily digesting her words, he replied softly, “I don’t expect you to … just being with you is more than I could ever hope for.”

“And if I can’t … ever … say yes to you?”

“I can love you in other ways … we’ll survive this.”

Resting against him, Buffy closed her eyes; taking what little comfort she could from it. It wasn’t what she wanted but it was something.

Eventually, the mist cleared and huddled together, the two made their way to the house. That night, Angel held her as they simply lied
together in a comfortable silence; sleep eluding them both.
***
Over the following days, neither spoke of their encounter in the gazebo but they both seemed to accept it. They still slept together and
although they still touched and kissed their truce of sorts remained intact. And eventually at some point having intercourse no longer
mattered. Each night they lied in the darkness sharing something more, something deeper. They talked about their lives and their dreams and
oddly enough, they eventually came to know each other. Angel continued to draw her. He spent endless hours staring at her and sketching her
likeness no matter what she was doing but he seemed to particularly relish capturing her in slumber. Although she wasn’t keen on it, she
wasn’t particularly bothered either since he never demanded that she remain still until he finished. But the intimacy behind the act still made
her uncomfortable. And watching him sketch her, the smooth lines and curves, the fluidity with which his hand glided across the page was
enrapturing. It was incredibly sensual, like a velvety caress, as if he were making love to her with every stroke.

Throughout it all Buffy refused to think about it. She never looked at his work again. She wouldn’t allow herself to. If she did she’d never make
it. Sticking to her plan, she went to work with him as often as she could, gleaning as much information as possible without rousing too many
suspicions. But unfortunately she had made little progress. She was beyond frustrated but nonetheless she was determined to find a way. She
went from day to day, seeking opportunities to exploit and with each disappointment she simply took the comfort he offered. She didn’t
question it and she never gave up. It was only a matter of time.

That is until one morning she sat across from him having breakfast when she noticed the date on the newspaper he was reading. Initially it
meant nothing to her but then she realized that it marked one month since she was kidnapped. Only a month? It felt much longer. Thinking
back over the recent weeks, she could hardly believe all that had happened to her in such a short time. Then something occurred to her that
made her stomach lurch painfully. Abruptly excusing herself, she went into the bathroom to think. Counting back the weeks, she began
shaking with realization, her mind reeling. She crouched over the toilet just as a violent spasm brought up her partially digested breakfast.

As the wave of nausea passed, she gently eased herself onto the floor, feeling faint from the horror. She didn’t want to believe it but she had
been with Angel for an entire month and she had yet to get her period. She was late.
******
Part 22
******
Buffy sat motionless for several long moments, her mind seemingly stuck on one thought. She was late. She was never late. Never. But she
was. Her period should have shown up over two weeks ago but it didn’t. Not even a cramp. She couldn’t seem to move passed it, her mind
frozen. She couldn’t even begin to fathom why she was late. If she even dared to venture down that line of thinking she would die. But all she
could think about was the unprotected sex they had and how tired and drained she felt lately. Of course all along she had just attributed it to
the stress of the situation but what if it wasn’t? What if? No. She couldn’t go there. She was just late; maybe it was just the stress, perhaps it
was affecting her cycle. Stress could sometimes do that right? She had to believe that was all it was. Stress.

Just then she heard Angel moving around the bedroom, his presence kicking her mind into gear. Alarmed, she quickly wiped around the toilet
and then washed up. She had to act as if nothing was amiss.

But as she brushed her teeth, her mind flooded with memories of each and every time he entered her, his every thrust, his every climax filling
her with his seed. He deliberately chose not to use a condom. She couldn’t help but wonder if this was part of his plan all along. Was he trying
to get her pregnant? Had he always intended to knock her up? The possibility was maddening. Sickened by her suspicions, she quickly washed
up before she threw up again and took a deep breath, preparing to leave the bathroom.

The sight of him as she stepped out of the bathroom made her seethe with anger and hatred. She wanted to kill him. Attempting to slip by
him, she pulled away when he tried to pull her into his lap.

Puzzled, “Buff?” When she didn’t respond, “Buffy?”

At the tone of his voice, she turned to him, her hands resting on her hips “WHAT?”

Taken aback by her sudden change in attitude, he stood and walked to her, towering over her until she took a small step back. “Talk.”

“There’s nothing to talk about.”

“Really? So you didn’t just run into the bathroom with barely a word, I didn’t just hear you throwing up and you aren’t pale as a ghost?”

“Angel why do you have to be so overbearing? I’m not two years old; I don’t need to be monitored.”

“Oh I see, well I’ll stop monitoring you when you stop hiding things from me.”

“I’m not hiding …” She stopped at his look, “Angel, I wasn’t feeling well, I threw up, that’s all. It’s nothing to be concerned about.”

“You expect me not to be concerned when you’re not well?”

“I am well, I just had a little upset stomach … but it’s passed now, I feel fine.”

Looking at her briefly, he knew she was still holding something back but arguing with her would only make her less cooperative. He’d have to
find some other way to get her to share.

Pulling her to him, he paused when she stiffened in his arms, she could barely look at him. Something was up. Scooping her up, he tossed her
onto the bed and climbed over her, deliberately trapping her under him. But the look of utter terror on her face stopped him from touching
her further, her panicked breathing unnerving him. Backing off, he rolled onto his side next to her and took her hand, kissing it.

After a few tense moments, “I wasn’t going to do anything to you.”

“I didn’t say you were.” She replied softly, her back to him.

“You didn’t have to.”

The heavy silence hung in the air before Angel tried again, “Tell me what’s wrong.”

“I can’t … not yet, please don’t make me.”

“Buff, I want to respect your privacy but you have to promise me …”

“Angel, don’t.”

“Buffy, I am serious. I need to know that if something is wrong, if you are ill or anything, that you will tell me the truth. I don’t want anything to
happen to you.”

”I know Angel.”

“No, I don’t think you do.” When she looked at him, he added, “I couldn’t bear to lose you.”
She knew it was true. If she knew nothing else, she knew that. All that she discovered about him confirmed it. It was a heavy burden to bear.
And now she was probably carrying his child. His child. Their baby. She knew she should tell him, she certainly was tempted but she couldn’t
bring herself to. Somehow saying it would make the possibility even more real in her mind and she just wasn’t ready for that. She needed to
stay in denial just a little longer. If she were pregnant she had the rest of her term to deal with it.

Snuggling next to him, she hid her face in his chest so he would not see her eyes. He could always tell she was lying by her eyes. Then, “If
something’s wrong, I’ll tell you.”
***
Several days passed and Buffy still had not gotten her period. Each day she eagerly anticipated its arrival and each day she was greatly
disappointed. She was now more than three weeks late, closing in on a month. Her excuses and rationalizations for its delay were coming
apart at the seams. And so was she. She had managed to get hold of a calendar and counted the days repeatedly, convinced there was some
mistake. But each time she arrived at the same conclusion. She was late and getting later. She was so tense and anxious that she could hardly
eat or sleep, her near obsessive-compulsive trips to the bathroom attracting more and more unwanted attention from Angel. She knew he was
aware that something was desperately wrong. She could feel him watching her. Yes, her anxiety was making her somewhat paranoid as well
but she knew Angel was paying close attention despite all attempts to appear indifferent. She knew he didn’t buy her lie. He was just waiting
for the right time to catch her.

Then finally the day came marking a month since she was to get her period. She sat across from Angel on the balcony barely nibbling on the
meal in front of her. She was a month late. She was devastated.

Sitting across from her Angel tried to engage her in conversation but her responses were terse and devoid of emotion. He had noticed the
drastic change in her behavior and had tried on numerous occasions to get her to talk but she fought him relentlessly. She wasn’t eating
properly and she wasn’t sleeping, her unnaturally pale skin and the dark circles under her eyes making her look gaunt. He had even insisted on
taking her to a doctor but she nearly had a conniption. He was at a loss for what to do. He could only let her come to him when she was ready.
He only hoped that she wouldn’t wait until it was too late. Frustrated, Angel decided to leave her alone for a while and went to the gym for a
few hours.
***
At the Summers home, Giles, Willow, Spike, and Gunn sat around the large table in the library discussing the case.

“Where exactly does the investigation stand?” Giles opened.

“Officially, we’re following various leads and making progress.” Gunn answered.

“And unofficially?”

“Unofficially … the investigation has stalled. We’ve got intelligence suggesting that Rayne may be in several different places, which makes no
sense whatsoever. The man can’t possibly be in Russia and Colombia at the same time.”

“So what are you thinking?”

“That he’s deliberately planting ‘evidence’ to throw us off his trail. He obviously knows how we work and is using that against us. We had a few
promising leads but this entire thing is becoming a wild goose chase.”

“Hmm, Spike what about your sources?”

“Oz and Clem have ruffled a few feathers but no one’s spilling. And the information they do have is vague and inconsistent. No one has a
bloody clue.”

“Any luck with his spies?” Willow piped in.

“I’ve been investigating Agents Meirs and Walker secretly since I wasn’t certain how far up this went but from what I’ve discovered I think we
can risk launching an official investigation. But quietly, we cannot afford the press catching wind of it.”

“Have you approached your superiors?”

“In a manner of speaking, they know I have concerns about the integrity of the investigation.”

“Do you think they might know where Rayne is?”

“Honestly, no. From what we’ve seen of how Rayne works, they probably only know enough to incriminate themselves. But every little bit
helps.”

“So when will you bring in your supervisors?”

“Later this week when I meet with them, we’ll map out a strategy and go from there.”
***
Several hours had passed and yet Buffy remained rooted in place on the balcony, staring unseeingly out over the scenery, seemingly stuck in
the moment, her mind grappling with her uncertain future as the gravity of her predicament crashed down on her. But she couldn’t cry. She
was just too numb. Her body felt foreign and heavy, distant, her skin too confining. She’d been strong through it all but this was too much. She
simply couldn’t handle it. Having a baby was one thing but she knew Angel would use the child to keep her there; she’d never escape. Cursing
the day she was born, she wished she had the strength to end it. As she sat watching the clouds drift by she saw a small flock of birds in the
distance. How she wished she were one of them, able to escape, to be free, to go somewhere he could never find her, never reach her.
Growing increasingly despondent, she just stared, blocking out the world, retreating to a safe warm place in her mind; somewhere familiar.
Embracing it, she slipped farther and farther away, the escape giving her troubled mind peace. She needed peace. As the day wore on, she
never noticed the menacing clouds moving in across the sky. She never felt the winds pick up or the rain begin to fall.
***
Sometime later Angel and Lindsey approached the master suite while discussing Buffy’s unusual behavior. Angel was at his wit’s end but he
was anxious to get back to her, especially since after leaving the gym he made an impromptu stop at his office to make a few calls and missed
having lunch with her. Now it wasn’t particularly late in the afternoon but something about the way she looked that morning was really
starting to bother him. He was going to try again to convince her to see a doctor.

Entering, Angel paused, momentarily surprised at how dark the room was. No lights were on, the room only slightly illuminated by the dim
light from the stormy sky. Alarmed, he frantically moved through the room, flipping on lights as he went, dreading Buffy was hurt … or worse.
With Lindsey following, he searched the entire room, calling her name, his panic increasing each moment until finally he found her, sitting on
the balcony in the pouring rain. Pausing, Angel looked at her as he slowly approached, his brief relief at finding her quickly morphing into
something unfamiliar and crippling. She was soaked to the bone but what chilled him was the blank expression on her face, the distant stare in
her eyes. It was the most frightening thing he’d ever seen.

Suddenly Lindsey’s voice coming from behind him brought him back to the present, “What happened to her?”

Calling softly to her again, Angel slowly moved closer, not wanting to startle her. But she seemed completely unaware of his presence. When
he lightly touched her arm, he felt how cold she was, she must have been out there for hours, cold, wet and obviously unwell. He had no idea
if moving her in her state was wise but he wouldn’t let her stay out there a moment longer. Instantly snapping into motion, he gently lifted her
out of the chair and carried her into the room, resting her in the armchair. Instructing Lindsey to get some towels from the bathroom, he held
her to him, trying to warm her body with his. When Lindsey returned he wrapped her in them, carefully drying her off and rubbing her arms
but she had yet to respond to the stimulation. Realizing it wasn’t working, he asked Lindsey to go to the kitchen and send up some tea and a
hot water bottle, he needed some privacy. Taking the hint, Lindsey quickly left the room, allowing him a few moments. Once Lindsey left Angel
spread the towels out on the bed and laid her on them. Quickly stripping her, he paused momentarily waiting for her to protest but it never
came. She just lied there, limp and seemingly lifeless, as if she no longer cared. This was beyond worrying. Returning to his task, he removed
the rest of her soaked clothes and dried her more thoroughly. Satisfied that she was at least dry, he grabbed a nearby blanket and wrapped
her in it as he lied next to her, again using his warmth as he held her.

By the time Lindsey returned carrying a tray with the hot water bottle, a teapot, cups and some sugar, Angel had changed his wet clothes and
gotten Buffy dressed in a pair of sweats, t-shirt and socks. He was now sitting on the bed with her wrapped in the blanket in his lap. Standing
across from them, Lindsey noted Angel was murmuring softly to her but she still wasn’t responding. He had never seen Angel so shaken.

Resting down the tray he wrapped the already filled hot water bottle in a towel and handed it to Angel, who then rested it against Buffy’s
abdomen, giving her additional warmth.

For several hours the two sat silently as Angel ministered to her, rocking her gently in his lap. Finally breaking the heavy silence, Lindsey asked,
“Do you have any idea what brought this on?”

Only taking his eyes from her momentarily, “No … at least I don’t think so. She’s been acting weird for a while now, ever since she threw up
she hasn’t been the same.”

“She threw up?”

“Yeah, a while back, maybe a week or two ago but of course she said she was fine.”

“Do you think this is related?”

“I have no idea, I don’t even know what this is …”

“Well it certainly doesn’t seem to be … physical. She doesn’t seem to be in pain, she’s just staring and unresponsive.”

“I never should have left her … I knew something was wrong but I never imagined … she needed me and I wasn’t here for her.”

“Are you sure that would have made a difference?” When Angel looked at him again, “You said it yourself, something has been wrong for a
while but she refuses to tell you. Could you really have prevented her from retreating into herself?”

“Perhaps not but at least she wouldn’t have been sitting out there for God knows how long in the pouring rain.” Hearing the tone in Angel’s
voice he decided to back off slightly, this was a delicate situation.

“Do you want to call a doctor?”

“I don’t know, I would but she was adamant about not seeing one, she’s scared of doctors. Allowing a stranger to examine her might
traumatize her more, I won’t subject her to that … at least not unless I have to.”

“So what are you going to do?”
“For now, this. I’m going to stay with her, maybe by morning she’ll come out of it.”

“And if she doesn’t?” He pressed gently.

“Then I’ll get a doctor, but for now I think I should just let her be, give her some time.”

Although he seriously doubted Buffy would just recover on her own Lindsey decided to let it go. “Fine, perhaps that will work … do you need
me to do anything?”

“Yes, I am expecting a phone call from my CFO tomorrow, would you take that call for me? Cancel my other meetings for the rest of this week,
I’m not leaving her side until she’s herself again.”

“Sure.” As Lindsey stood he asked, “Would you like me to send up some food? You haven’t eaten for much of the day.”

Caressing Buffy’s hair, “Right now I really have no appetite …”

“Angel, you should eat something … you won’t be any good to her if you collapse from hunger and exhaustion.”

Sighing, Angel relented, “Fine, but something light and simple, maybe a bowl of soup or something.”

“I’ll send it right up.”

As Lindsey walked to the door, “Linds … thanks.”
***
For the rest of the night Angel remained at Buffy’s side. After managing to eat some of the soup, he covered them, snuggling as close as he
could get. Carefully touching her, he knew she was in there … somewhere. Holding her, he tried to ignore the tightening in his gut, the
haunting feeling creeping up his spine that he had succeeded in doing what he originally intended … to destroy her. He broke her.
Remembering all that he had done to her, he recalled the bright, happy young lady he surreptitiously watched from his car. He had taken her
and killed her, leaving little more than a shadow of her former self … just as Ethan was. He succeeded; he won. But it was a hollow victory
indeed, a cruel irony as he watched the woman he loved slowly disappear from his grasp. He did this to her.

Moments before drifting to sleep he lightly caressed her hair, whispering, “Please come back to me.”
***
Sunlight crept through the balcony doors, inching its way to the couple lying in bed. Angel was partly awake, his body exhausted from lack of
sleep and worry. Throughout the night he held her, sleeping only for brief periods before suddenly waking to find her unchanged. He had
hoped that being next to her would bring her round but still, nothing. He had no idea what to do, what brought this on. Obviously there was
more to her upset stomach than she had let on. Should he get her a doctor? He wasn’t often in Jamaica and didn’t keep a physician on hand
there, he’d have to ask Quentin for the names of a few reputable physicians who were discreet and didn’t ask too many questions. He had to
do something for her.

Sitting up, Angel was about to leave the bed when he heard a soft sigh. Turning back, he looked at her unsure whether she actually made a
noise or if he was just imagining it. After waiting a moment, he heard it again, the softest little sigh but it definitely came from her. He wasn’t
sure if she was trying to communicate or not but he immediately lied down, wrapping his arms around her again as he softly called her name,
gently coaxing her out of her unresponsive state. For several long moments she didn’t respond to his voice and he began to think she was
withdrawing again but eventually she looked at him, really looked at him and he knew she was back, albeit still quite distraught. Not wanting
to overwhelm her, he held back the millions of questions he wanted to ask and simply smiled at her as he lightly caressed her hair. There was
no rush; there’d be time for questions later. Instead, he held her closely and when she burrowed into his embrace, finally closed his eyes in
relief. Now he could sleep.
***
For most of the day Buffy and Angel stayed in bed resting but eventually they got up, showered and dressed. She still hadn’t said anything to
shed light on her unusual behavior and Angel was reluctant to press her. But he was growing increasingly concerned, especially after the
previous night. He was not going to lose her. That evening as they sat having an early dinner he watched as she again, shifted her dinner
around the plate, barely nibbling a mouthful throughout the entire meal. He had been quiet long enough.

“Buffy, I hate to do this but you are forcing my hand. If you insist on keeping your secrets then fine, I can’t force you to tell me but if you don’t
start eating and sleeping normally again then I will take you to a doctor.”

“No Angel, don’t … I hate doctors.”

“Sorry my love but this is an ultimatum, whether you want to tell me or not, either you start dealing with whatever is bothering you or I will.”
And with that he stood and called down to the staff quarters, requesting someone to ask Lindsey to come to the master suite.

By the time Lindsey arrived Buffy was still at the balcony table trying to eat more than a mouthful. After speaking with Angel briefly, he agreed
to keep an eye on her while Angel met with Quentin. He wanted to at least make some arrangements to get medical attention for Buffy, even
if in the end he decided against it. Kissing her goodbye, Angel left for his office after welcoming her to join him if she felt up to it.
***
Sometime later Buffy emerged from the balcony after managing to work through most of her dinner. Sitting across from Lindsey, she turned
on the television and tried to distract herself. She dreaded what would happen if Angel made her see a doctor.

“Is he going to make me go?” She asked unable to ignore her concerns any longer.
“I’m not sure, I think he’s just getting some information.”

“I don’t want to see a doctor.”

“Well Buffy you’re clearly not well and if you can’t recover on your own then he will get help for you.”

“There’s nothing wrong with me.”

“You could have fooled me last night.”

“Well why didn’t he get help for me then?”

“Because he didn’t want to force you to let someone examine you … but if it happens again, he won’t hesitate.”

“Lindsey, can’t you just explain to him that I’m ok, that I won’t flip out again?”

”I probably could but I’m not sure that’s true.”

“What does he want from me? What do I have to do to convince him that I’m fine?”

“For starters you could begin by acting normal again, like eating and sleeping. Then if you really want to impress him, tell him what’s wrong,
what’s got you in this condition.”

“Fine, I’ll eat and sleep like a good little girl but I can’t tell him, I just can’t … not yet.”

“Why not?” When she looked away he moved closer, pressing her “Why not Buffy? From what I understand you and Angel have gotten rather
close lately, you’re sharing things. You know how he feels about you, why wouldn’t you?”

“Because I’m scared.” She whispered.

“Scared?” He repeated, “Angel isn’t going to be angry with you, I’m sure it’s not your fault.”

“That’s definitely true.” She muttered to herself.

Catching her mumbled response, Lindsey looked at her suspiciously and when she obviously realized he had heard her, she looked away
nervously, refusing to meet his eyes.

Standing, “Buffy, are you pregnant?” When she refused to answer or look at him again, he sat next to her, turning her to him, “Buffy, are you
pregnant?”

When she still refused to answer he stood in frustration and headed for the door.

Realizing what he was about to do, she jumped from her seat and grabbed his arm, pulling him back. “Lindsey, please don’t tell him … I’ll talk
to you, I’ll tell you everything, just please … don’t.”

Pausing, the plea in her voice made him soften. She was clearly distraught and needed someone to talk to. She needed a confidante and he
had promised Angel he would help her. Taking a deep breath he walked back into the room with her and closed the door. Then sitting, he
waited patiently for her story.

When she was done he sat across from her pondering the situation. “So you’re not sure you’re pregnant, only that you’re late.”

“Very late. And add that to everything else, the tiredness, the moodiness, I really think I am.”

“But you could just be late, this could simply be stress making you late.”

“Maybe.”

“Well, I mean, what are the chances? You and Angel have been using contraception right?”

When she didn’t answer he looked at her alarmed, “Right?”

“No.”

“NO? What do you mean no? Angel has more than an adequate supply of condoms.”

“Now he does … and maybe he did before too but he never used them with me.”

Standing, “WHAT?”

“I take it you didn’t know, well, yes, the entire time we were in California, Angel never so much as mentioned the word protection.”
“Wait, are you telling me that for nearly a week Angel was having close to nonstop sex with you and he NEVER wore a condom?”

The tears welling in her eyes were answer enough.

Shaking his head in disbelief, “I have to talk to him Buffy, you could very well be pregnant.”

When she started to cry he sat next to her, trying to comfort her, “Buffy, we need to know if you are or not and get you checked out. If you
aren’t then you have nothing to worry about and we can put this whole thing behind us. But if you are then we have to think of you and the
baby. What if there’s a problem? What if there are complications? We want to make sure that you and any future Rayne’s are healthy. This
isn’t a punishment.”

“But …”

“There’s nothing to be afraid of, just let me handle it.”

Uncertain but also relieved for his help, she nodded, “Ok.”

“Ok. And first things first, I need to tell Angel.”
***
Quentin sat across from Angel discussing Buffy’s unusual behavior and the doctors best suited to her situation. After leaving Buffy, Angel had
invited Quentin over since he didn’t want to get into it over the phone and he also didn’t want to be too far away from her should she need
him. He was so concerned that he had even left his office door ajar so she would feel free to enter should she come down from their room.

“So where is she now?”

“Upstairs with Lindsey.”

“With Lindsey?”

“Yes with Lindsey, I don’t want to leave her alone so soon.”

“Are you sure that’s a good idea, leaving them alone together … I mean if she’s as vulnerable as you say.”

“Quentin, you could never be more wrong about Lindsey … he would never do something like that.”

“Never say never my boy.”

“Look just stop, I know you don’t like him but he’s my right arm in this operation, I know I can trust him.”

“And that is exactly my point, you trust him too much.”

“Quentin …”

“Listen to me Angelus, I’ve been around a long time and I’ve survived enough betrayals to know … why do you think I carry my revolver
everywhere I go, friend or foe, those words are interchangeable … take my word on this.”

“Fine but first tell me something, what besides being Holtz’s son irks you so about him?”

“Isn’t that enough?”

“Quentin, he’s my cousin, he would never hurt me.”

“And Holtz was Ethan’s brother and that didn’t stop him.”

“Holtz was an animal.”

“Lindsey is his son. And like his father, should he ever hurt you I will see to it that he never draws breath again.”

“Quentin, I appreciate your loyalty and protection but Lindsey is not a threat to me … but if he ever became one, I will handle it. I wouldn’t ask
you to do that for me again.”

“You disappoint me Angelus, would you actually deny me the pleasure of disposing of the son as well?”

At Angel’s hard look Quentin amended, “Fine, fine, my boy, if you insist then Lindsey is yours.”
***
Lindsey stood in shock just outside the office in the foyer. He could hardly believe his ears. He had come down to tell Angel of Buffy’s possible
pregnancy, not to mention to blast him for being so reckless with her. But alas, he was the one in for a cruel surprise. Angel had Travers kill
Holtz? It didn’t make sense. His mind suddenly muddled, he wasn’t sure what he knew from what he didn’t. Holtz died of a heart attack; a
sudden massive heart attack. Didn’t he? But they killed him; they admitted it. They had something to do with it. Angel had something to do
with it. And all these years he lied to him, had him running around like a lackey, doing all his dirty work all the while playing him for a fool.
Angel knew how much he regretted not seeing Holtz at the end, how he wished he had some closure on that relationship yet he never said a
word, his apologies and sympathies nothing but a mockery. As he stood staring up at the portrait of he and Angel, he remembered the little
boys they once were. But they were no longer those little boys, he no longer knew who either of them was. All he could see was Angel’s young
face, the face he trusted, the face he sacrificed everything for … the face that betrayed him. Slipping out quietly, he headed back upstairs to
Buffy. He needed time to think.
******
Part 23
******
Gradually Lindsey climbed the stairs to the master suite, his mind slowly digesting his shocking discovery. He didn’t know what to think. He was
angry and frustrated but mostly he was hurt. Somehow learning that Angel had Holtz killed was no surprise. If anything the surprise really was
that he never suspected his cousin was behind Holtz’s sudden demise. But the knife through the heart was that Angel lied to him all this time.
Even worse that he had that weasel Travers do it. He felt such a fool.

Shaking his head at the mess their lives had become, he slowly walked back to Buffy, considering his options. What was he going to do?

Approaching the master suite, Lindsey barely knocked once before Buffy eagerly pulled the door open.

“Lindsey?” She asked in surprise. At his questioning look she amended, “Sorry, I thought it might be Angel.”

Taking a brief moment to find his voice after she nearly pounced on him, he responded, “Um, no, it’s just me.”

Her fears of how Angel might react deepening, she nervously asked, “W-What did he say?”

“Um, he didn’t.”

“He didn’t?”

“Well, I mean I didn’t … tell him, I decided to wait.”

“Wait? You don’t think we should tell him anymore?”

“No, we should tell him, and we will, but not right now.” Seeing her puzzlement he added, “I think we should know for sure before telling him
… no need to make a big deal if it’s a false alarm.”

Although somewhat uncertain, she agreed skeptically, “If you think that’s best.”

“I do.”

“Ok, so what now?”

“Tomorrow I will go out and pick up a few home pregnancy tests for you. We’ll decide what to do after we get the results, ok?”

“Ok.”

“Until then, try to relax. I know that’s easier said than done but try to take your mind off it, we’ll deal with it tomorrow.”

“Well what about Angel and the doctor? What if he decides to take me before you get back?”

“Don’t you worry about Angel, I’ll take care of him.”
***
A short while later Angel returned to find Buffy alone watching television.

“Where’s Lindsey?”

“He left a few minutes ago.”

“He did?”

“Yeah, he said he needed to take care of something that couldn’t wait but he thought you’d be back soon.”

“What could have possibly been so important that he would leave you alone when I asked him explicitly to stay with you until I returned?”

“Don’t be angry with him Angel, I’ve been fine all evening, a few minutes alone isn’t going to harm me. See, I’m still here.”

Softening, he sat next to her “Well I would have preferred he let it wait, after last night I really don’t want you left alone.”

“Again with the overbearing …”

Touching her, “I care about you is all.”
Looking at him for a moment she nodded, “I know.” Then cautiously she asked, “How was your meeting?”

Seeing the worry in her eyes, “I still wish you would see a doctor but forcing you to would only be counterproductive. But I do have some
information that you should at least consider. We can talk about it tomorrow, ok?”

“Ok.”

Snuggling against him when he pulled her into his arms, she closed her eyes, trying not to think of her situation.
***
In his suite, Lindsey stared at the picture of he and his mother at his law school graduation. His memories of that day clear. Kate was so proud
of him. She had hoped that he would turn from the life his father and uncle lived, that he would find a nice young woman to settle down with,
have a few kids and pursue something decent and honest. That was partly why she encouraged him to change his last name. She didn’t want
his future smeared by their transgressions. And for a while it wasn’t. He had a promising career and he was beyond thrilled when he and his
classmate Lilah eventually started their own law firm. It was tough in the beginning but eventually they had some success and were doing well.
Of course they did even better after Angel began throwing work their way. After that much of their practice was devoted to providing legal
services to Angel, although the books didn’t show it. Nonetheless, despite Kate’s words of caution, it wasn’t long before his life and career
were deeply entwined with Angel’s.

As for the nice young woman, well, he found her but she preferred Angel. But he didn’t blame Angel for that. All along he had considered her
only a friend and before he realized his true feelings she and Angel were an item. In fact, it was seeing her on Angel’s arm one night that made
his feelings clear to him. But he was not bitter about it. Over the years he had come to accept losing Cordy and was content with being fairly
good friends. To be honest, in remaining platonic he was closer to her than Angel was in some ways. He was the one she called whenever she
and Angel had a problem; it was his shoulder she cried upon. But he never considered crossing that line with her as Holtz did with Darla. He
had his opportunity with Cordelia and he let it slip away. But she still meant a lot to him and he would never forgive himself for not standing up
for her that night at the hangar. That’s partly why he tried to befriend Buffy. As hard as it was for him to watch Angel replace Cordy with Buffy,
he knew she had tried to help her and he didn’t want her sacrifice to be in vain. But still he couldn’t bring himself to betray Angel. They were
cousins, best friends, they’d been through it all together and they told each other everything. At least he thought they did. But here Angel had
hidden his role in Holtz’s death for nearly fifteen years now. Clearly he didn’t know Angel as well as he thought and he began to question what
else Angel might be hiding from him. Maybe Buffy was right all along. Perhaps he was living in the past and the Angel he knew no longer
existed. Was he that blind? Could he have been that wrong about him? He wasn’t sure what to do but one thing was certain, this thing with
Buffy had gone too far. What he first thought was an idle threat had escalated into a complete disaster that could ruin them all. He had to do
something. Considering his options he made a mental note to pick up the pregnancy tests for Buffy. Everything depended on her.
***
The next day after breakfast Buffy and Angel sat discussing the doctors Quentin had recommended while playing another game of Risk when
Lindsey knocked. Upon seeing him, Angel remarked, “Is everything in order?”

Briefly puzzled, “In order?”

“Yes, the crisis that needed tending to so urgently that you left Buffy alone last night, were you able to take care of it?”

Seeing what Angel was really getting at, he gritted his teeth in restraint, “I do apologize for that. Buffy was doing much better and there were a
few things I needed to follow-up on.” Then opening his briefcase, he pulled out a few documents for Angel to read.

Standing patiently as Angel scanned the papers, Lindsey focused on controlling his anger. He had expected this and thankfully was prepared
for it. Informing Angel that the feds were investigating Warren was the perfect thing to compel him to leave Buffy long enough for her to take
the pregnancy tests. As he waited his eyes momentarily met hers. She seemed uncomfortable with the sudden tension between he and Angel
but thankfully chose to remain silent during their exchange.

After a few moments, Angel looked up curiously, “Did he bring this up when he called?”

“He did but I needed to look into a few things first.” Then, “I was to mention this earlier but after … everything, I got a bit sidetracked.”

Briefly pensive, Angel looked across to Buffy, “I’m sorry my dear, would you mind continuing when I return?” He gestured to the game.

Purposely keeping her voice level, “No, that’s fine.”

“Lindsey … would you mind?”

“Not at all … and this time I’ll stay no matter what.”

A few minutes later Angel was prepared to head out. He would have preferred taking Buffy with him but this was one of his unsavory business
dealings and he didn’t want to expose her to it. Kissing her goodbye, “I’ll try to keep this brief my love.”

Shortly after Angel left Lindsey opened his briefcase again and pulled out a brown paper bag, which he wordlessly passed to Buffy. Inside were
four home pregnancy tests.

Seeing what was inside, she quietly left the table for the bathroom.
***
Some minutes later all four tests were positive. Buffy sat, staring as they confirmed what she had denied for so long. She was pregnant.
Standing on the other side of the room, Lindsey watched her worriedly, hoping she wouldn’t withdraw again. After a few moments he asked
gently “How do you feel about this?”

“I’m not sure. I’m still stuck on the ‘I’m pregnant’ part.”

“That’s understandable. Do you need a few moments alone?”

“No, not really. I don’t think it’ll get much better, or worse.”

“I realize this is painful and you may not be ready to think about this but since you shouldn’t be too far along you do have some time to decide
if you want this child.”

Stunned, “W-What do you mean?”

“You know exactly what I mean … do you want this child?”

After a moment, “I-I don’t know.”

“Well I don’t want to rush you but you do need to think about this …”

“But does it matter? How could I? I mean, smuggling pregnancy tests in to me is one thing, but sneaking me out, especially for something like
that, is a different matter altogether. Angel will find out and it’s not like he is going to give me the choice, he would never agree to …”

“But if you had the choice?”

Looking up at him briefly, “I honestly don’t know. I don’t think I’m in the best place to make that decision.”

“So you would consider keeping it?”

“Yes, I would consider it. I may not be ready to be a mother … but I’m not sure I can choose not to be.”

“I get that.” For a few moments he paced the room, then “You know I never imagined Angel fathering a child. Cordelia always wanted kids but
Angel was always careful about using protection. As you can tell, he’s not exactly a family man. But in this case I think you’re right, he would
want this child.”

“Cordelia wanted kids with him?”

“Yes, she wanted to marry him and have a family, of course that was before …” His voice trailed off, then at her stunned expression, “It’s not
that surprising.”

“Well to me it is … why would she want anything to do with him?”

“Ah, but surely you know that Angel didn’t pursue her the way he went after you. He wasn’t after revenge when he lured her into his bed.
Granted, she knew who he was but she only saw the charming and tender side of him, at least for the most part. And even when things got
rough between them, he was never violent with her. Not until …” Then pointedly looking at her, “Don’t act so shocked, I’m sure you’ve gotten
a taste of the man she fell in love with.”

When she looked away nervously, he pressed, “Come on Buffy, you’ve been sharing your bed with him for a while now, I’m sure it hasn’t been
entirely horrible.”

Indignant, “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“Well, perhaps it’s my imagination but you don’t seem to be resisting him the way you used to.”

“Well that could be because Angel isn’t doing anything for me to resist.”

“Perhaps but I know not too long ago he wouldn’t have been able to kiss you, let alone … do anything else.”

Glaring at him momentarily, “He told you I see …”

“Actually he didn’t, which is surprising because he usually does, but it doesn’t take a genius to know what’s going on.”

“Yeah well desperate times call for desperate measures.”

“Is that what this is?” When she shifted uncomfortably he pressed her, “Buffy, I know you didn’t suddenly fall for him but I’ve seen the way
you two are with each other, the way you look at him when you think no one’s watching. I don’t believe that was all an act.”

“Believe what you want, it doesn’t matter.”

Watching her closely, “Can you honestly say you feel nothing for him?”
Standing, she walked across the room briefly then folding her arms, looked him in the eye “Not too long ago I hated him so much I could
scream, I was ready to kill him.”

“And now?”

“Now … after everything … I don’t know.”

Taking a deep breath, “I do feel something for him … I’m not sure what it is, it’s not hatred, not anymore … but it’s certainly not love either.
The only way I can think to describe it is that I’m gradually coming to … understand him.”

“You don’t think you could ever love him?”

“No.” At his questioning look she elaborated, “It’s not that I don’t get that he’s sorry. I know he is. I may never fully understand what drove
him to it but there is no doubt in my mind he would take it all back if he could. But the fact is he can’t.”

Then before he could interrupt, “Look, I’m not blind. I know how he feels about me: his efforts haven’t been completely lost on me. Maybe
that’s why I can manage to be close to him. But no matter how gentle and patient he is, no matter how tempting it is to see only this softer
side of him, the truth is I know his darker side will always be there. Each time he touches me I can’t help but wonder how long it’ll be before he
turns violent again or if he’ll stop if I ask him to. Even if he never hurts me again, those doubts will always be there.”

“But don’t you think he can change?”

“Change? That’s just it. He has changed so much that the more I get to know him the harder it is to reconcile this nice Angel with the mean
one. I keep wondering if he’s being honest with me or just concealing his true face until I let my guard down.”

Then, “Cordelia may not have known what he was really like but I do and I cannot pretend it doesn’t exist. Someday I may be able to forgive
him but I can’t forget all that happened, the violence, the threats, the sick joy in his eyes when he raped me. How can I love someone even
capable of that? And no matter what he does, he can’t make that side of him disappear; it’s part of his nature. I don’t trust him … or my
feelings for him.”

“Have you told him this?”

“I’ve tried but he’s convinced that if he holds onto me long enough then one day I’ll wake up and see how much he really loves me and how
perfect we are for each other and change my mind. But really all it means is that he’d rather I live in this prison without love or happiness as
long as I’m his. And that’s what angers me so much, he is still so incredibly selfish that he refuses to see that I simply can’t live like this … and
now with a baby …”

“If you feel this way then why were you doing this?” He gestured to the bed.

When she looked away he asked, “You were going to run again weren’t you?”

“I wasn’t going to run.” She answered honestly.

“But you were going to do something?”

She looked away again.

Taking a deep breath, “Buffy, listen to me please. I will do what I can but please, I cannot stress this enough, please do not do anything that
would anger Angel. You’re right, he will find out that you’re carrying his child and although I doubt he would ever hurt you again please don’t
give him reason to. Do you understand me?”

Hearing the desperate plea in his voice, she looked at him curiously. What exactly did he mean by doing what he could? Would he help her
terminate the pregnancy if she chose to or did he mean something else? As much as she wanted to believe that he would really help her
escape, she refused to let her guard down with him. At this point she couldn’t bear another disappointment.

“Do you?” He asked again.

Ignoring the temptation to probe, she answered honestly “I won’t do anything.”

“Good, I will hold you to that. Anyway, in the meantime, just relax and behave normally. I need a few days to figure some things out first but I
will get back to you. I’m sure you can use that time to do some thinking as well.” She shifted uncomfortably when he pointedly glanced at her
abdomen. “But for now let’s clean up in here before Angel returns.” The two then gathered the pregnancy tests and put them in the paper bag
for Lindsey to dispose of.
***
Later that evening Lindsey sat in his suite mulling over his conversation with Buffy. He had already decided that he would do something about
the situation but after speaking with her his next move was now clear. He needed to know her true feelings before he acted. If there was a
chance that she could love Angel he would consider another path, but her feelings were rational and without malice. And she was honest;
whether she rejected Angel or not, she would remain his prisoner. It was enough. He had allowed Angel to destroy too many lives but now
with a baby on the way, he wasn’t going to let him ruin another. But he needed time to pull it off and more importantly he needed Buffy to
distract Angel.
***
That night Buffy lay in bed with Angel, her mind racing. What was going on with Lindsey? Something didn’t seem right but she wasn’t sure
what to make of it. Was he helping her now or was he still playing matchmaker? She was so confused. She could almost feel her luck was
about to change but she was also scared to death that it might be yet another false promise. Whatever might be happening, she needed to
stay calm so as not to rouse suspicions. If Lindsey really was trying to help her, she wasn’t about to blow it.
***
A few days passed without incident as Lindsey set his plan in motion. It was easier than he thought it would be thanks to Buffy. Not that he
wished her harm but her fragile emotional state was the perfect distraction for Angel, albeit unwittingly so, and gave him complete access to
Angel’s office. And since he had been standing in for Angel so much lately, no one even questioned it when he accessed certain documents. He
couldn’t have planned it better himself.
***
It was a Sunday morning when Gunn’s cell phone rang. From the display he knew it was his boss. Excusing himself from the meeting with Giles
and Spike, he stepped out onto the nearby terrace. Somehow he knew this would be an intense conversation.

During his absence, Giles and Spike continued the discussion.

”So it looks like Agent Walker is in the clear but Agent Meirs has some tough questions to answer. The man gambles more than he could
possibly make as an agent and he has left a rather sloppy trail of fixed cases in his wake. No doubt his career is over but he better start singing
if he wants to get out of prison before he qualifies for Social Security.”

“That would be wise. Of course now the FBI is pulling some political strings to access the name on the account where the wire transfers
originated from but everything certainly points to Rayne.”

“You know Meirs was always a ponce but I had no idea he was a bloody traitor. And all this time, he was here, watching us, informing Rayne
about everything.”

“So it appears. Gunn also suspects that he was the one who told Rayne about Ms. Chase.”

“Bloody hell … we led the bastard right to her. If we hadn’t sent Meirs to ‘protect’ her Rayne might never have known …”

“Precisely … she might never have been assaulted and Rayne might not have had enough time to escape with Buffy.”

“God, that makes me feel like shit.”

“Well it certainly does nothing for morale but how could we have known? It was truly unfortunate that Ms. Chase’s involvement …” Giles’
voice trailed off when Gunn returned, a look of utter shock on his face. “Gunn, what is it? Is there a problem?”

Looking up, “Not a problem … a fucking godsend! We just got the lead of a lifetime.”
******
Part 24
******
“A lead?” Spike echoed.

“Is it credible?” Giles followed.

Walking closer Gunn smiled, “Leads don’t get much better than this.” Then as he began collecting his belongings, “It seems that someone in
Rayne’s camp has had a change of heart.”

“Someone? You don’t have a name?” Giles asked skeptically as he and Spike also began gathering their things.

“We don’t but it’s got to be someone pretty high up. My supervisors have already confirmed it with other sources … the information is
credible. It gave specifics on events only someone very close to Rayne would know. It details various criminal dealings and also gave the names
of the two spies Rayne had working for him.”

“Two?”

“Yes, it corroborates our allegations against Meirs but it also named another … apparently, Finn’s partner, Parker Abrams is neck deep in this
as well. My supervisors are already in contact with Internal Affairs.”

“Good Lord, Finn wasn’t involved was he?”

“It doesn’t appear so but who knows what Abrams was able to get out of him. Rayne’s been playing us for fools since day one.”

“So do we know where they are?”

“Yes … they’re in Jamaica.”

“Jamaica?”

“It’s the perfect spot when you think about it. He hid right under own noses.”
“Don’t we have associates there? I’m surprised they didn’t track this.”

“Well we think he’s using an alias, perhaps that’s why making the connection was difficult.”

“So what name is he using?”

“We don’t know yet, we don’t even have an address, just the country but that’s a hell of a lot better than what we had before.”

“Oh most definitely.” Giles agreed.

“So what’s the plan?”

“Well my supervisors are sending a small contingent to keep things secure here, if Rayne figures out what’s happening we don’t want to give
him the opportunity to send anyone after the senator while we rescue Buffy. Harris will remain with Ms. Chase and her family. Spike and I will
lead a small team to Jamaica for the mission. The authorities there will be under our command and are not to do anything but monitor the
ports to prevent them from leaving and try to find their address until we arrive, we can’t afford to bungle this. They’ve asked that you remain
with the family Mr. Giles until Buffy’s secured. They will then fly them to Florida to be reunited.”

“Certainly.”

“Great! So we’ll meet with you again once Buffy is in our custody.”

“I look forward to it.”

Giles then went in search of Hank and Joyce to inform them of the new developments while Spike and Gunn headed out.
***
Lindsey sat in his suite. Not too long ago he did the unthinkable. He betrayed Angel. It took a moment for the reality of it to sink in. But he had
no regrets, not as of yet anyway. He was finally doing something right and it felt good. He knew Kate would be proud, well, somewhat. The
truth was he had no intention of turning Angel over to the authorities. He wasn’t about to ruin them entirely. Granted, he did send some
rather damning information to the FBI but he only disclosed enough to convince them that this was a real lead and not one of Angel’s decoys.
Instead he was going to take, or rather, force Angel out of the country and leave Buffy behind at the villa for the feds to find. Hours before
contacting the feds he had sent Lorne, Forrest and Graham ahead on the jet under the pretense that Angel wanted them to take care of some
unsavory business in Europe and would contact them later with further instruction. He didn’t think the authorities would have arranged
surveillance of the airports in time to stop Lorne’s departure but if they had and managed to track the plane then Lorne, Forrest and Graham
would be apprehended. They were the perfect red herring. And since they had no idea where he would take Angel or even that he was
planning this coup, they would be useless to the feds since he and Angel would no longer be at the villa. If the plane were not tracked, he
would contact them once things cooled down and arrange a rendezvous point. With Lorne, Forrest and Graham gone, Lindsey also arranged
for the staff to either have the day off or be off the property running errands. Again, once breakfast was over it was easy since Angel was
preoccupied. Taking a deep breath, Lindsey went over the plan again. Using aliases he hired a small private plane to take them to Cuba where
their associates would readily accommodate them. There they would stay until safe passage to Europe could be arranged. If everything went
as he hoped, he and Angel would be long gone before the feds knew what happened. This was the only way he knew to save Angel from
himself.

Slowly moving around the room, he packed a few essential items before pulling out a gun and loading it. He would need it to force Angel to
leave Buffy but before confronting his cousin he had to take care of Luke and Adam. He would never be able to pull it off with them around
and besides, it was the least he could do for Cordelia.

Taking his time, Lindsey left his suite in search of his quarry. As he approached, he slowly positioned the silencer on the gun hidden in his
jacket. Quietly opening the door, he slipped into the dimly lit security room. He came upon Adam first who briefly acknowledged his presence
before turning his attention back to the monitors. Without blinking an eye Lindsey withdrew the gun and immediately fired two bullets into
the back of Adam’s head. It was over within seconds but seemed to last an eternity as he watched Adam slump over the monitor, blooding
oozing from his shattered skull. Not wasting a moment, Lindsey hid in the shadows until Luke returned to the room. The instant Luke was
within range, Lindsey unloaded three bullets into his chest, sending him crashing into the wall next to the door before he stumbled onto the
floor. Throughout it all Lindsey barely flinched, hardly noticing the droplets of blood that sprayed onto him. He felt nothing as he executed
them. It was quick, cold and devoid of emotion, just as he was taught.

His targets down, he calmly wiped the blood from his face then locked the security room behind him.

Now it was time to deal with Angel.
***
Buffy and Angel sat lounging on the couch watching television. In the days since her breakdown, Angel had insisted on spending even more
time with her. In truth, she was a little annoyed at first but she stopped protesting when it became obvious that it was either his company or a
doctor’s visit. She settled for his company. During that time he had completely handed the reins over to Lindsey and taken an impromptu
vacation. He was nothing but determined to ensure she was getting better. And in some ways she was. Granted, she wasn’t quite herself but
she wasn’t nearly as despondent as she was a few days ago. Her talk with Lindsey really helped to lighten her burden, if only in making her feel
less alone. She hadn’t spoken to him about it since but from the occasional glances they exchanged she knew he hadn’t abandoned her,
although she still had no idea what he was planning. Nonetheless, simply knowing she could talk to him was a great comfort.

But to be honest, it wasn’t just Lindsey aiding her recovery. Granted Angel was still unaware of her condition but she had to admit that he
always went out of his way to make sure she was comfortable, well, as much as she could be given the circumstances. Despite the deeply
unsettling implications, she couldn’t deny that since their arrival in Jamaica she had slowly come to depend on him. And not just for her
survival. As much as she tried to shield herself emotionally, she was all too aware of how easily Angel affected her. When he was playful and
tender she wasn’t as tense and could relax somewhat around him but when he had that intense look in his eyes, which was often, she could
feel his desire for her emanating off him in waves and that always made her tense and nervous since she never knew if he would act on his
impulses.

Of course the extent to which his moods influenced hers varied daily but it did nonetheless. At times the influence also worked in the reverse
she imagined. But in truth the dynamic between them went far beyond setting the mood for the day. In some cruelly ironic way he offered a
sense of solace. Whenever her emotions overwhelmed her, no matter what he was doing she could always crawl into his arms for support. He
never denied her that or used it against her. In fact, he never spoke of it, neither of them did. She had no idea when it began but if she had to
guess it probably started the first time she cried in his arms when she refused to have sex with him. She only became conscious of it after the
night he told her his reasons for releasing Dawn. Like the many things they shared but never spoke of, it was an unlikely bond too delicate for
words. She was beyond conflicted and riddled with guilt about it. She couldn’t comprehend how she could find any sense of solace with him. It
was selfish and dangerous and felt wrong on so many levels. And in doing so was she leading him on? Their emotional relationship was too
complex and exhausting to examine. She just couldn’t think about it anymore.

But now she was carrying his child. As much as she knew it was true, she didn’t actually think she’d fully believe it until she felt it move or
started to show. Despite her doubts and anxiety, whenever she thought of it she always pictured herself holding a small baby or being very
pregnant. In some way she already knew she would keep it but of course the devil was in the details. Recalling her conversation with Lindsey,
there was no doubt in her mind that Angel would want the child also. It was for that very reason that she still could not bring herself to tell
him, despite their closeness. She didn’t want to give him any more control over her life. But time was not on her side. She could only hide it for
so long before Angel discovered her secret. Then it would all be over. He would never let her out of his sight again. Realizing this she really
hoped Lindsey would help her escape. If he didn’t it would take a miracle for her to do it alone. Otherwise she would have to resign herself to
raising the child with Angel and share a life with him. But could she do that? She could not love him but she did feel something for him. Was it
enough? Could they find some middle ground? What would they be to each other? What if he wanted another child in the future? Imagining
the possibilities of what a life with Angel would entail was deeply disturbing and quickly driving her mad. She had to believe fate would
intervene.

As if reading her mind, Angel suddenly reached for her, his hand gently resting on her abdomen. Buffy nearly jumped at his touch.

Feeling her flinch slightly, “How are you doing over here?”

“Um, I’m ok. I was just thinking about things …”

“Care to share?”

“Hmm, not really … it’s nothing important.”

Shifting to face her, Angel looked at her for several long moments.

Holding his gaze, Buffy smiled slightly and tried to act normal. She didn’t want him to see how nervous she was.

Caressing her, “You are so beautiful.” Then holding her gaze, he slowly moved in and softly kissed her. Grateful for the opportunity to distract
him from pushing her to talk, she responded, engaging him. Encouraged by her response, Angel deepened the kiss, taking his time to savor it.
It was the first time in weeks that she had returned his kiss and he didn’t want the moment to end. But unfortunately they had to breathe.

Reluctantly pulling away, he gently stroked her stomach, “Would you like to go sailing?”

“Sailing?” She asked skeptically, trying to ignore her rising anxiety over where his hand was.

“Yes, we never went that night. I think it might be fun and the fresh air will do you good, perhaps we can have lunch out there.” At her silence
he added, “Unless you’d rather stay in …”

“Um, no, let’s go. It would be a nice change of pace.”

“Great. Why don’t you get ready, I’ll go and make the arrangements.”
***
Making his way down to his office, Angel couldn’t help but notice how oddly quiet the house was. Not that it was particularly noisy to begin
with but no one seemed to be around, not even the staff. Not thinking much of it however, he assumed they were probably tending the
grounds or running errands.

Entering his office, he quickly made his way over to the phone to make a few calls.

At the same time Lindsey quietly opened the main door to the master suite. Keeping the gun hidden in his jacket, he silently approached the
bedroom door in search of Angel. Instead he found Buffy changing her clothes. Knocking on the slightly ajar door, he announced his presence
and waited for her permission to enter.

When he received it, he pushed the door open and asked, “Where’s Angel?”

“Uh, he went to his office to make a phone call. We’re going sailing.” She replied as she pulled on her sneakers.
“I see. Well, it’s important that I talk to him alone first.” He then turned to leave.

But before he could she moved towards him, “Lindsey, um … are you sure everything’s fine?” She asked hesitantly. She wanted to know what
he was up to; if he was helping her but he seemed reluctant to discuss it and she feared he might back out if she pried.

“Everything is fine Buffy.” Then before he left, he turned to her again, “But I strongly suggest that you stay in this room until I come back and
talk to you. Do you understand? No matter what you might hear, please stay in this room.”

“I’ll stay here.” She assured him, the warning in his voice sending a chill through her. Whatever he was doing was about to go down and she
had no intentions of getting in the way.

Looking at her momentarily, Lindsey felt a slight twinge of guilt for not telling her the truth. He had no intentions of coming back to her. He
was going to get Angel away from the villa as quickly as possible and leave the country. It wouldn’t be too long before the authorities found
the house soon after which they would certainly find her. But it would be better if she didn’t know. He didn’t want to risk her jeopardizing his
plan by making her aware that she could simply walk out of the house.

After one last reassuring nod Lindsey left for Angel’s office.
***
“That sounds wonderful, I’m sure she’ll love it.” Angel remarked as he and the captain of the yacht discussed the arrangements for that
afternoon. He wanted everything to be perfect when they arrived at the harbor. “Great, we’ll be there in about two hours, see you then.” He
then hung up, eagerly anticipating Buffy’s reaction to the romantic excursion he had planned.

Just then he heard someone enter his office behind him. Turning around to face the entry, “Linds, you’re here?”

“You thought I wasn’t?”

“Well the house was so quiet for a moment I thought Buffy and I were the only ones here.”

“Oh, no, I’m here.”

Angel then smiled and proceeded to inform Lindsey of his plans for that afternoon. But before he could finish, Lindsey interrupted, “Um Angel,
sorry to break it to you but that’s not going to work.”

“You don’t think she’ll like it?”

“Oh, I’m sure Buffy will be impressed but that’s not what I mean, I don’t think going sailing right now is a good idea.”

“Why not?”

“Because we need to be on our way.”

“On our way? Where?”

“Out of the country.” At Angel’s puzzlement, he clarified “In the next few minutes you and I are leaving the villa. I’ve arranged for us to leave
the country immediately.”

Tensing somewhat, “And why would you do that?”

“The feds are on their way.”

“Shit!! This is the last thing I need.” Then standing, “Thanks for arranging our escape. I’ll be back in a few minutes with Buffy.”

But when Angel went to leave, Lindsey blocked his path. “Uh, I don’t think you’re getting me.” At Angel’s puzzlement, “Buffy’s not coming with
us.”

Tensing further, “What do you mean she’s not coming?”

“I would think it was quite obvious but I will oblige you. Angel, since you refuse to stop this insanity then I must. I have alerted the authorities
to our location and they are on their way as we speak to rescue Buffy. I am taking you out of the country because I do not wish to see you go
to prison. I’ve already sent Lorne, Forrest and Graham ahead of us.”

Angel stared at him in disbelief. “You cannot be serious.”

“I am very serious.”

“You cannot possibly, do you think I would simply walk away from Buffy? I love her, I would never abandon her like that.”

Lindsey laughed sardonically.

Struggling to keep his anger in check, “I’m glad you find this so amusing.”
Curbing his laughter, he retorted, “Oh come on, you love her? Angel, if you had any real sense of what love truly was then you would see the
humor in this.”

Countering, “Laugh all you want, I don’t care. She is my everything and I won’t leave her.”

“I’m sorry Angel but you have to.”

“Why? Tell me Lindsey, why the hell should I leave the one person in this world that I love more than anything?”

“Because if you really loved her you would see what you’re doing to her … how you’re destroying her!”

“What do you know about this? Buffy and I have been managing well enough given the circumstances …”

“Managing well enough?” He asked incredulously, “Do you honestly consider finding her catatonic in the rain managing well enough? Have you
even looked at her recently? She is barely hanging on!”

“I didn’t say we don’t have our problems …”

“Problems? You make it sound like this is some mere lovers’ quarrel. Do you have any idea what you’ve done? You took her from her family,
from the only life she has ever known, you raped her, beat her … disgraced her and now you think you deserve to have a life with her? Will it
take finding her lifeless body hanging from the balcony for you to get it?”

Stung by Lindsey’s words, “How dare you? You have no idea how I feel about her.”

“You’re right, I don’t know what you could possibly feel for her because a man truly in love would see this with his own eyes. He wouldn’t need
me to tell him this, he wouldn’t need me to do this.”

“I see, so since you can see this so clearly, am I to take it that you are truly in love with her? Is that the motive behind this apparent chivalry?”

“Don’t twist this into something perverse. I have no interest in Buffy other than to help her get home safely.”

“Really? You never seemed very interested in helping her before, why are you suddenly so concerned about her welfare?”

“Because someone needs to be. I can’t stand by and let this continue, I can’t let you do this anymore, not to her, not to yourself.”

Now it was Angel’s turn to laugh, “If I didn’t know better I would think you went and found yourself a conscience.”

“Unlike you I’ve always had a conscience Angel but I was too blind by loyalty to act on it.”

“Obviously now you aren’t”

“Not anymore. Not when my loyalty is so obviously misplaced.”

“Ah, so when exactly did you come to this interesting conclusion?”

“The moment I learned that you had Travers kill Holtz and that all these years you’ve been lying to me. That’s when I realized that I had no idea
who you really were.”

Angel froze at Lindsey’s words. So this is where this was coming from. He didn’t know what to say or how to even begin apologizing for
deceiving him. He should have told him.

Watching Angel closely, Lindsey continued, “And you know, it’s so funny. If you had asked I probably would have been glad to help you get rid
of the bastard but no, you had to give Travers the satisfaction. And to make it worse, you didn’t even have the guts to admit it to my face but
then I suppose that would mean you were actually taking responsibility for something. So tell me, how exactly did Travers make his murder
look like a heart attack?”

At Angel’s reluctance to answer, Lindsey yelled, “TELL ME YOU BASTARD!! I DESERVE TO KNOW!!!”

Speaking softly, reluctantly, “It was an injection of potassium chloride.”

Shaking in anger Lindsey nodded in realization. Of course, with Holtz’s diabetes the heart attack would seem natural, as would the needle
mark. “I still can’t believe I never suspected this.”

“Lindsey I’m sorry …”

“Save it Angel. You’re only sorry that I found out.” Then chuckling manically, “You know what I find so ironic about this? You’ve spent most of
your life vilifying Hank Summers because, as you claim, he took Ethan from you yet you had no problems taking my father from me. And sure
Holtz was an animal but let’s face it, Ethan was no saint either. I mean, you can’t really believe he was innocent of all those charges? But then
again maybe you do. You’ve managed to delude yourself into thinking you have a chance with Buffy so maybe you really do think that Ethan
was falsely accused. Well, I am a lawyer and I’ve seen the trial transcripts and the evidence that convicted him and for the record, Ethan was
guilty of every charge against him and many more besides. I think it’s about time you wake up and stop blaming everyone other than Ethan for
the decisions he made. He chose to live the life that led to his ruin. You need to accept the fact that Ethan didn’t love you and Darla enough to
walk away from it all. He didn’t even love you enough to stop Holtz from making your life a living hell. Ethan had his priorities and you and
Darla weren’t one of them.”

Lindsey’s words shook Angel to the core, ripping open past wounds Angel had thought long healed. But he refused to let on how deeply
Lindsey’s words rattled him. “So that’s what this is really about … this isn’t about saving Buffy. This is just your way of getting back at me.”

“In some ways yes but my motives are irrelevant. In the end it still boils down to the fact that you need to let Buffy go. She needs to be home
with her family, especially now.”

Curious as to what Lindsey was alluding to, Angel rose to the bait, “I know you want me to ask so I will, why especially now?”

Satisfied that he had Angel’s rapt attention, Lindsey slipped his hand into his pocket and pulled out one of the pregnancy tests that Buffy had
taken, placing it on Angel’s desk.

Picking it up, Angel peered at it curiously, unsure at first what it was. Then realization struck like lightning, his eyes widening.

Answering Angel’s unspoken question, “That’s why she’s been acting so strangely.”

Still staring at the test stick, Angel was at a total loss for words. How could he be so blind as to miss all the signs? Her lethargy, loss of appetite
and overall behavior change, it was all pointing to it, telling him that they had conceived a child. And given the circumstances, no wonder she
was so distraught.

No longer listening to Lindsey, Angel again tried to move past his cousin. He needed to see Buffy immediately.

But Lindsey blocked his path again. “No Angel, you’ve hurt her enough. I won’t have you going up there to make this worse for her. She
doesn’t need you forcing her into this.”

“Forcing her into this? What do you mean? Is she going to …” He stopped, unable to fathom the idea that Buffy might not want their child.

“She hasn’t decided and that’s why you must let her go.”

“Let her go? Now? Are you insane?”

“Angel, stop and think! Buffy has suspected for some time now that she is pregnant, why do you think she still refuses to tell you? If you go in
there and start making demands you’re only going to push her away from you, perhaps make her do something desperate. Do you want that?
Stop being selfish and think of her for once, give her the freedom to decide, to make this choice on her own.”

Pulling back “I can’t just leave her, not like this.”

“Yes Angel, just walk away. I’m not giving you a choice here.” It was only then that Angel saw the gun Lindsey was wielding. Lindsey had a gun
on him.

Staring incredulously at his cousin, Angel took a step back.

Seeing how struck Angel was, Lindsey murmured, “Come Angel, make this easier on her. Just walk away.”

Angel just stared, rooted in place. How could Lindsey think he would leave without at least saying something to her? She was the love of his
life and she was carrying his child, just the thought of never seeing her again was too much.

“You wouldn’t.”

“I wouldn’t kill you but I am not above wounding you enough that you couldn’t stop me from taking you out of here.” Lindsey knew he was
being a bit unreasonable by insisting that Angel leave without seeing Buffy once more but he didn’t want to give him the opportunity to get
the upper hand in the situation, especially since he was not inclined to brandish his firearm in Buffy’s presence. Besides, they really didn’t have
time for it. The authorities could show up at any minute. It was better they leave immediately. Emphasizing his point, Lindsey cocked the
hammer. He was serious.

Looking at the gun directed at him, Angel weighed his chances of getting past Lindsey before he could fire the weapon. Since he was larger
than Lindsey and outweighed his cousin by a good twenty pounds or more, trying to overpower him had potential but he doubted he could do
it and avoid getting shot. He knew Lindsey was an expert marksman, as was he, so there was little chance he would miss. But Angel had to get
to Buffy, or die trying.

Taking another step back Angel braced himself, preparing to tackle Lindsey to the floor when suddenly a shot rang out.

Flinching reflexively, Angel clutched his abdomen, futilely trying to shield himself from the fatal wound, even as he felt a warm spray of blood
shower over him.
Paralyzed with shock, Angel braced for the instant the pain registered in his brain but as the seconds crawled by he felt nothing. Was this what
being shot felt like? His mind still reeling, Angel gradually became aware of the loud gasping and wheezing that seemed to suddenly fill his
eerily silent office.

It took a moment to realize that it was not coming from him.

Daring to open his eyes, he was startled to find the gun that moments before was aimed at his chest was now lying on the floor at his feet and
Lindsey was slumped over his desk, lying in a rapidly expanding pool of blood. The gasping and wheezing was slowly fading.

Absently touching himself to confirm that he was indeed still alive, he took in his blood-stained clothing and as the shock gradually subsided it
dawned on him that the blood he felt was not his but Lindsey’s. Someone shot Lindsey from behind.

Finally looking to the doorway, he watched as Travers quietly lowered his revolver before moving toward him.
******
Part 25
******
Instinctively, Angel moved to Lindsey’s fallen body and gently lowered him to the floor, turning him over while trying to stem the blood flow.
But he had lost so much already, so quickly, the bullet having gone right through him. He knew his cousin was fading rapidly. Holding his hand,
Angel called to him repeatedly, hoping to keep him conscious. For a brief moment Lindsey didn’t respond and Angel thought it was too late but
after several long tense moments, Lindsey managed to open his eyes slightly.

Their eyes met and in that instant Angel saw the anguish in Lindsey’s eyes. Not simply his physical pain but the years of anguish he caused him.
Lindsey had dedicated his life to protecting their interests and that’s exactly why he was dying. His anger momentarily forgotten, Angel was
suddenly overcome with guilt. Feeling Lindsey squeeze his hand, albeit weakly, Angel gazed at his dying cousin, speechless.

Smiling grimly at the remorse in Angel’s eyes, Lindsey murmured, “Love her, show her.” His remaining strength slipping away, Lindsey’s weak
grip on Angel’s hand slackened, his entire body going limp.

The gravity of what just occurred still hadn’t sunk in. Lindsey was dead. The words seemed hollow, their meaning obscure. Even as he closed
Lindsey’s eyes and gently lowered his head to the floor, it was as if he was functioning on autopilot, his senses muted and dulled and he had no
real sense of what was happening.

Crouching on the floor, Angel took in all the blood, his mind still grappling with what just happened. It was several long moments before he
found his voice, “H-How did you know?”

Taking in the sight before him, “I didn’t. I came by as you asked me to. Of course this was the last thing I expected to come upon but as you
know I always carry my revolver and good thing too. It seems I got here just in time.”

In all the shock Angel had forgotten that he called Quentin first, asking him to stop by to collect some documents before he took Buffy sailing.
“He wasn’t going to kill me.”

“That’s not how it looked from where I stood. He had a gun on you. Surely you didn’t expect me not to intervene.”

“There was no need to kill him. Wounding him in the leg would have been sufficient.” Angel’s voice was weary and heavy with regret.

“Yes I imagine it would have been but then I am not one for leaving a job undone.” Quentin’s unapologetic tone did not go unnoticed. It was
obvious the old man used Lindsey’s revolt as an excuse to do what he always wanted.

Getting to his feet, Angel looked at Travers coldly but said nothing. If he did he was certain he would kill him and Travers was still holding his
gun. Instead he wiped his hands then moved over to the safe behind his desk and began removing several documents and small boxes from it.
Once the safe was empty he passed two files to Quentin.

Carefully watching him Travers asked, “Why was he threatening you?”

Sighing in exasperation “He was trying to get me to leave the country … to leave Buffy.”

“Why?”

“He thought it was best.” Angel answered softly. “Nonetheless I have to take her away from here. Lindsey alerted the feds to our location so I
imagine they could burst in here at any moment.”

Taking it all in, Quentin offered, “Angelus I know you’re angry with me but let me help you. You don’t know what has been compromised, how
vulnerable Lindsey has left you. Let me get you out of here. I can give you safe passage until you can assess how much damage has been
done.”

Considering Quentin’s offer, he glanced at Lindsey’s body once more before nodding numbly. Despite Lindsey’s plea he couldn’t bring himself
to part with Buffy.

At Angel’s nod, Quentin continued, “I’ll be waiting in the car after I check the rest of the house. Go and get your lady.”
***
Making his way upstairs Angel wondered briefly if Buffy knew that Lindsey was going to betray him. There was obviously some level of trust
between them since Lindsey knew she was pregnant but then again Buffy didn’t really have anyone else to talk to. Lindsey on the other hand
had other options. It was unlikely that he would have confided in her. Not that it mattered. He would certainly never harm her even if she did.
He had no expectation of loyalty from her. But he needed to know just the same.

Cautiously entering the suite Angel slowly opened the bedroom door to find Buffy sitting on the balcony as she patiently waited to go sailing.
She didn’t look like someone expecting to be rescued. Before alerting her to his presence, he took a moment to look at her, his mind drifting to
the fact that she was carrying his child. However the pleasant family image was quickly marred by the fact that she refused to tell him and was
probably planning to abort it. He couldn’t let that happen. He had lost Ethan and now Lindsey. Buffy and their child were all he had left.

Entering the room, he slowly approached her, unsure what to expect.

Hearing someone approach, Buffy turned to see Angel standing a few feet away from her. Glancing at him, she couldn’t hide her
disappointment; she had been expecting Lindsey. But then suddenly her eyes widened in alarm as she took in his blood-soaked clothes.

“Oh my God! What happened?” She asked worriedly as she sprang from her seat towards him. “Are you bleeding?”

“It’s not my blood.” He assured her, the inference clear.

Fear taking hold, she asked hesitantly, her eyes welling up “L-Lindsey?”

So she did know.

“You knew what he was planning?” He asked as calmly as possible although he couldn’t help the break in his voice or the accusation in his
eyes.

Sensing the tension in him she backed away slightly, her fear escalating. Obviously something had gone terribly wrong. “W-What he was
planning? I-I only knew he wanted to speak with you alone. He told me to wait here.”

Looking at her warily, Angel moved closer, holding her firmly to him. Searching her eyes in earnest, he saw that she wasn’t lying, at least not
about this. He always knew by her eyes.

Gently releasing her, he spoke sternly, “We need to leave right away. Pack enough clothes for about a week.” When she just stared at him,
“Now Buff!”

The tension in his voice spurred her into action and she quickly ran into the closet, frantically pulling out clothes and throwing them into a
small suitcase, her tears falling unheeded. Clearly Lindsey would not be coming back for her. She was too scared to think what happened to
him. There was just so much blood. And in the back of her mind she was certain that her chance of ever going home was now lost. She was on
her own.

Then suddenly strong arms wrapped around her, holding her close. Startled, she turned to find Angel had changed his clothes. She hadn’t even
realized he was behind her.

“Are you ready?” He asked gently.

She nodded, not trusting her voice.

Tenderly wiping the tears from her cheeks, he held her closer murmuring, “I didn’t kill him. I wouldn’t have killed him.”

She clung to him, her tears coming harder. Lindsey was dead.

“He confronted me and we argued. He threatened me … that’s when Quentin intervened.” He wasn’t sure why he was telling her this but he
knew that Lindsey was possibly the closest thing she had to a friend. She needed to know.

“Quentin killed him?” She asked shakily.

“Quentin’s always wanted to kill him.” Angel replied, his voice empty.

They stood, holding each other for several moments before Angel added, “We need to leave now.” Wordlessly he picked up his overnight bag
and her small suitcase then taking her hand, led her out to the car.
***
A short while later Buffy and Angel sat together in the rear of Quentin’s jeep. They had left the villa some time ago but neither had spoken
since. Angel was a mass of conflicted emotion. He was torn between grieving for Lindsey and being angry at his betrayal. He was furious with
Quentin and resented the fact that he needed him to escape the FBI. And then there was Buffy. What was he going to do with her? His delight
over her pregnancy was overshadowed by his exhaustion and grief. Part of him wanted to celebrate, to make love to her, that is if she’d let
him. Unfortunately, all celebrations would have to wait until he knew just how badly Lindsey screwed him over.

Silently sitting next to him, Buffy closely watched Angel. Although he was silent and appeared calm, she was keenly aware of the tension
rolling off him. She knew anything could set him off. Quentin seemed aware of it too as he hadn’t said a word to Angel since they got into the
vehicle except to inform him that Luke and Adam were dead and that Lorne and the others had in fact departed some hours before. They all
seemed to be holding their breath, waiting for the explosion. But it never came.

They pulled up to the hangar where Quentin’s helicopter awaited them. Having called ahead Quentin told Caleb to prepare for takeoff
immediately.

Exiting the vehicle, Quentin’s driver loaded their few belongings onto the helicopter while Angel and Quentin briefly spoke.

Remaining in the vehicle at Angel’s request, Buffy couldn’t hear their conversation. She had no idea what was going on or why they needed to
leave so urgently. She assumed Lindsey must have gotten help or rather she hoped so. That was the only explanation she could think of for
Angel’s behavior. But now he was taking her away to heaven knew where. Would he manage to outrun the FBI again?

Within minutes Buffy, Angel and Caleb were airborne. Unbeknownst to Buffy, Quentin and Angel had agreed that while Quentin went ahead in
his car and arranged safe passage, Angel and Caleb would keep Buffy at a secluded location until he got word to them.

As they flew Buffy again noticed how tense Angel was, his hands now trembling slightly. She couldn’t recall if they were trembling before but
for some reason it bothered her. She knew Angel didn’t take loss well. From what he shared with her those many nights when they spoke in
the darkness, she knew he still felt Ethan’s loss very deeply. And now Lindsey. Considering how Angel reacted after Ethan died, she was
becoming increasingly worried that Lindsey’s death would set him off again. Would he take it out on her? Thinking over what Angel told her in
the closet, she wondered if Lindsey told him about the baby during their confrontation. He hadn’t mentioned it yet but maybe he wasn’t ready
to. Or maybe Lindsey hadn’t. She didn’t know how she felt about it either way. Trying not to think about it, she looked out over the lush
greenery whizzing past.

A while later the helicopter landed at Strawberry Hill. Buffy immediately recognized it when they began their descent in the misty mountains.
This is where they would stay until Quentin contacted them.

Disembarking, Nikki met them on the platform and quickly escorted them to one of the more secluded cottages. Once they were settled, she
and Caleb left them and returned to the main guest area.

For a few moments they stood around awkwardly, neither really sure what to say or do. Finally breaking the silence, “We’ll probably be here
until morning so feel free to order whatever you wish. If you need anything else, let me know.” And with that he sat out on the balcony.
***
Giles sat with Hank, Joyce and Dawn as they waited anxiously for word on Buffy. It had been several hours since Gunn and Spike left and they
knew it would be at least several more hours before they heard anything. This was possibly the longest day of their lives, excepting the day the
girls were abducted. As they waited they tried filling the time to distract themselves but it was useless. Their minds were all on Buffy.

Attempting to allay their concerns, Giles tried to be as reassuring as possible but they all knew there were no guarantees. As promising a lead
as this was, there was always the chance, however remote, that it was false or even worse, that Rayne may escape with Buffy again. But they
clung to the hope that sometime soon their daughter would be safely home.

Sitting next to Giles as he and Dawn played a game of Chess, Joyce asked, “Rupert … who exactly is in charge of the rescue?”

“The FBI. The Jamaican authorities are acting primarily in a support role. They are monitoring the air and sea ports to ensure Rayne doesn’t
escape. Once Gunn and Spike arrive they will assess the situation and attempt a rescue.”

“Attempt?” Hank asked worriedly.

“Unfortunately yes. I hate to use such an uncertain word but since I really don’t have any more specifics on the situation I must err on the side
of caution.”

At their discouraged expressions Giles added, “I realize this is difficult and I wish I could predict the outcome with absolute certainty,
unfortunately I can’t. But one thing I am certain of is Spike. If there’s a chance, and I believe there is, he, Gunn, Oz and Clem will do everything
in their power to bring her home.”

Nodding in understanding, Joyce moved closer to Hank. Their differences aside, she knew they had to hold onto each other. If Giles was right
and there was a chance of success, Buffy would be home by the following day. But for now that hope was all they had.
***
Much of the day passed without incident. Buffy ate lunch, read, watched some television and then ate dinner, trying to keep her mind
occupied. The entire time Angel remained on the balcony, speaking to no one. He hadn’t eaten, he rarely even moved. Despite her efforts to
distract herself, Buffy was getting more and more worried about him. And about her safety. Somehow Lindsey’s death made her realize just
how much she wanted to live and recalling his warning, she was not about to jeopardize her life.

As night approached, she took a shower and got ready for bed. Although she was worried she couldn’t bring herself to approach him, at least
not yet. He was too unpredictable. But she did order something for him to eat when she ordered her dinner. At least it was there if he wanted
it. Turning out the light she hoped things would be better in the morning.

Sitting on the balcony, Angel reflected on his life. Never did he think he would ever feel this kind of pain again. Lindsey was dead. And as angry
as he was over his betrayal, somehow he felt responsible for it all. Lindsey died because of him. If he hadn’t been so selfish, if he hadn’t been
so blind, his cousin might be alive. Remembering the portrait of them as boys, his soul mourned the loss. Nothing would ever be the same.
Just then he noticed Buffy had turned off the main light, leaving on only the softer light from the bathroom. He assumed she was going to bed.
Thinking of the baby she was carrying, he smiled gravely, a new life, a new generation. Buffy and their child were now his everything.

Finally getting up Angel quietly slipped into the cottage, making his way to the bathroom when he noticed the covered dish. Uncovering it he
saw the chicken Caesar salad and a small bowl of soup. Smiling at her thoughtfulness he glanced at her sleeping form as he covered the dish
again, he would eat shortly. Absently running his hands through his hair as he moved to the bathroom, he cringed when his fingers
encountered a sticky substance. Knowing immediately that it was dried blood, he decided to take a shower first.
***
Gunn and Spike stood with Oz, Clem and several FBI and Jamaican officials in the main hall of Angel’s villa in Runaway Bay. Once they arrived in
Jamaica it took several hours to locate the home but now it seemed they were too late again. This couldn’t be happening.

“We found two other bodies in what looks like a security room. They were shot to death.” The head of the Jamaican contingent informed
them.

“Lindsey McDonald was also shot.” Gunn added.

“Do you think he was the one to contact us?”

“Probably but I guess Rayne figured out what he was up to.”

“Bollocks!!!! This can’t be happening again. The man can’t have that much bloody power to just waltz out of here with the FBI, Interpol and
Jamaica’s finest searching for him.”

“Actually sir, I just received word that Rayne’s plane departed early this morning before we were informed of the situation. But we think he is
still in the country. The servicemen at the hangar claim that only three men boarded the flight, none of them matched Mr. Rayne’s
description.”

“He wasn’t on the plane?” Gunn asked skeptically.

“No sir, neither he nor the young lady.”

“Why would he do that?”

“Red herring.” Oz replied. “He probably figures while we’re chasing after the plane he’ll be able to escape undetected.”

“Bloody wanker.”

“Hmm, is there any way your people can discover his whereabouts?” Gunn asked.

“We can search all the local airstrips, hotels and tourist areas where they’re likely to blend in but it’ll take time.”

“Well let’s not waste any more of it.”
***
Sometime later Angel emerged from the hot steamy shower, a towel wrapped around his waist. Standing before the sink, he wiped across the
mirror and looked at himself. His life had changed so much in the past months. Losing Ethan so quickly after finally getting him back, finding
Buffy and discovering his love for her and now this. He barely recognized the man looking back at him.

Then as his gaze shifted to the reflected bathroom door. “Did I wake you?”

“Not really, I had trouble sleeping.”

He nodded in understanding then, “Thank you for ordering the food. I’ll get to it shortly.”

She nodded in return, relieved that he was at least talking again.

But soon an awkward silence descended upon them as both stood watching the other. It was the elephant in the room that neither dared
mention but both desperately wanted the other to.

Becoming increasingly uncomfortable, Buffy decided she had to know if Lindsey told him.

Cautiously stepping forward, “Where are we going?” She asked as casually as possible.

Waiting a beat, “Um, I haven’t decided yet. I need to assess a few things first.”

Not satisfied with that she pressed, coming even closer “Do you need me to do anything?” She knew she was being unusually helpful and was
probably tipping her hand but she had to do this.

Looking at her momentarily, “Unfortunately there’s nothing you can do about this.”

Now mere inches from him, she hesitantly reached out and caressed his bare chest.
When he simply looked at her she wrapped her arms around him tightly, burying her face against him whispering, “I’m so sorry.”

He wasn’t sure what she was apologizing for. Lindsey? Not telling him about the baby? Both? But as she started lightly kissing his chest he
knew exactly what she was trying to do and he was in no mood for it.

Firmly grasping her arms, he unwrapped them from his waist and gently moved her away from him. At her shocked expression, he warned,
“Don’t start what you aren’t prepared to finish.”

Stunned by his rejection she countered, “I’m not toying with you. I just don’t want to be scared of you.” At his dubious look she added, “Yes
Angel, you’re scaring me. You told me how bad things got after your father died …” She stopped, not wanting to push him too far. Taking a
deep breath, “I can’t go through that again Angel. I need to know if you blame me for this, if you hate me now … if you’re going to …”

Her words were cut off when his lips descended upon hers, his arms holding her close. Immediately responding to his ardor, she returned his
kiss, their mouths mating hungrily. Deepening the kiss, Angel suddenly lifted her, making his way to the bed.

In a whirlwind of passion, grief and desperation they held each other, kissing passionately, their hands touching and groping, stroking each
other to a frenzied pace.

Knowing exactly where this was headed, Angel pulled back, grasping onto his last shred of control as he hovered over her. Taking a deep
calming breath, he panted, “Are you sure?”

Bringing his hand to her breast she nodded then finally opening her eyes, answered, “Yes.”

It was all he needed.

Rolling them he lifted her blouse, latching onto her as she straddled him. Crying out as he suckled her, her fingers tangling in his damp hair
Buffy held on as ripples of pleasure coursed through her, enflaming her desire. Lightly kissing the top of his head as he nursed from her, she
became increasingly aware of the moisture pooling between her thighs as he ground his erection against her, her body’s response to his
ministrations beyond words. She refused to think about where this was going or that she was losing hope of ever going home. All she knew
was that Angel’s grief went deep and at that moment he could still go either way. She had to keep him grounded, if only for her own sake.

Rolling them again, Angel kissed along her neck and down her body, freeing her of her clothing. Reaching her hips, he trailed his tongue along
her pelvis, lavishing her with adoration as he removed her pajamas. Then suddenly his mouth was upon her, gently sucking her clit as he lightly
caressed her core. Encouraging her to spread her legs further for him, his fingers delved into her depths sending a shudder through her.
Plunging deeper and deeper, he licked her clit mercilessly, tickling her until she was keening and writhing wildly. Holding her in position, he
spread her wider, his tongue now plunging into her as he fondled her with his thumb.

Buffy could no longer think. Her hands were entangled in his hair, holding him to her, her body on fire. She could come at any moment.
Listening to her breathy cries and moans almost sent him over the edge but he needed to come with her, to see her eyes as they pleasured
each other. Freeing himself, he stroked his length until he felt the telltale fluttering of her impending climax. She was ready for him.

Denying her for the moment, he pulled away and kissed up her body, his thumb still fondling her clit. Positioning himself at her core, he
continued fondling her as he slowly thrust into her. Entering inch by agonizing inch, he kissed her deeply, distracting her from the slight
discomfort she was sure to feel.

Feeling his length within her, Buffy broke the kiss, grasping his forearms as he thrust deeper. Gazes locked, Angel groaned as he sheathed
himself fully in her depths, pausing briefly as she accommodated him.

Slowly pulling back, Angel withdrew almost completely before fully sheathing himself again, eliciting a loud gasp from her. Feeling her wrap
her legs around him, he began a slow and steady rhythm, each thrust penetrating deeper, getting progressively harder, his thumb still worrying
her clit.

Buffy had never felt anything like it. This was not merely a physical release but something else entirely. She was caught in his eyes, the
escalating pace of their fusion setting her aflame. She grasped onto him, her nails digging into his back at the force of his thrusts. She could
hear their dual cries of passion but they seemed distant, removed. All she knew was his eyes and the immense feeling surging through her.
And then she was falling, her blinding orgasm igniting seemingly endless waves of incredible sensation as she spiraled to oblivion, taking Angel
with her.

Buffy and Angel remained entwined in each other’s arms for some time, their passion sated. Basking in post-coital repose, Angel absently
stroked her stomach, relishing her warmth as his mind drifted to the child growing inside her. Buffy was pregnant. Smiling to himself, he again
pictured them as a family, him, Buffy and their child. A boy, a girl, it didn’t matter, his heart already overflowing with love for it. The baby was
a part of them, the result of their … love?

Deep down he knew that was not true. If it were wouldn’t she have told him? Wouldn’t she have been so happy to know they had created life?
But she wasn’t. She was devastated; in fact it nearly destroyed her. Suddenly a deep sadness washed over him, their baby was not the result of
love and tenderness. The child was the result of rape, anger and hatred. Conception could only have occurred during that darker time at the
ranch. No wonder she was so distraught. Remembering the night of her catatonia, he grimaced as he recalled the vacant stare in her eyes, her
utter breakdown. She seemed to have just given up. Even now, although she was with him and seemed to be improving he knew she wasn’t
the same. A part of her was lost that night, never to be recovered. And the truth was she wasn’t improving, she was accepting it, her will to
fight slipping away. He could feel it. What Lindsey said was true, she was barely holding on. And if he really loved her he would see it. But he
did see it. He knew deep down as he held her that night that he had caused it, that he was killing her but he didn’t know how to make it better.
Or rather he refused to see how to make it better so he did nothing. He thought if he were gentle and patient enough his love would be all she
needed. And he did love her. He loved her as much as he could, as much as he knew how. He would give anything for her; do anything for her.
And as realization dawned, a lone tear fell from his eye.

It wasn’t enough.

She was giving up and losing herself in the process. That was probably why she gave in to him just now. She had lost her only ally and was
ensuring her safety.

She did not love him and probably never would. Only fear drove her to share his bed. Would he accept a life built on that? Did he want his
child to see the fear in Buffy’s eyes as he saw in Darla’s? Was he going to stand by and let the woman he loved fall?

Grappling with the implications, he shifted against her, looking into her eyes, “Buffy my love, I,” He paused, searching for the right words, “I
can hardly believe he’s gone, I keep thinking I’m going to wake up from this nightmare.”

Hearing the anguish in his voice she touched him, cupping the side of his face.

At her gentle touch Angel caressed her hair, knowing he would never deserve her tenderness, let alone her love. “I could never blame you for
this, not for any of it. You’ve no need to fear me; I am not that man anymore. How can I possibly be after loving you?” Then stroking her
stomach, “What we have together is precious to me. You are so precious to me. No matter what happens, always remember that I will never
abandon you … or our family.”

Buffy’s breath hitched at his words, their gazes locked. He knew about the baby.

Eyes glistening, she tried to explain, “Angel please, I-”

“Shhh.” He quieted her with a kiss, stroking her soothingly.

Unsure how to read him she returned his kiss, thoughts of them as a family filling her mind. The prospect was terrifying but she would not fight
him. If she cooperated perhaps her future would be bearable.

Feeling their earlier passion quickly returning, Angel pulled back, not willing to take her again. Not through fear.

Trembling slightly, he lowered himself to her abdomen, gently kissing her firm stomach. Caressing her, his heart ached as he imagined what
might have been had they met differently, had he not been consumed with hatred. Imagining her body expanding with child, he wondered if
she would keep it or would she …

He dared not continue.

He loved Buffy; of that he was certain. The fate of their child he would leave to her.

Resting his head on her abdomen, he whispered, “I’ll never leave you.”

Then holding her close, he enjoyed their last moments as a family.
***
Sunlight streamed through the windows as Buffy gradually woke, her body aching slightly from her exertions the night before. Discovering she
was alone, she got up and went into the shower. She assumed Angel was busy making arrangements with Quentin and Caleb. As she dressed,
she ordered breakfast, waiting patiently for Angel to return. He still hadn’t returned by the time Nikki brought her order and when she asked
her about him, the young woman simply said that he was with Caleb. Thinking nothing of it, she ate and prepared to leave.

Sometime later, Nikki returned to collect her tray, a small envelope in her hands. Puzzled when the young woman handed the envelope to her,
she saw that it indeed had her name on it.

Her heart lurched, a deep uncertainty settling over her. Sinking onto the bed she took a deep breath and slowly opened it.

The note written in Angel’s unique penmanship simply said,

Remember,

A

Remember what? Just then her eye caught a glimmer of gold hidden within the envelope. It was a simple gold ring with the inscription
“Always.”

Buffy choked as she dropped the ring, her eyes welling up as reality hit. Then she recalled his promise to never abandon her or their family.
She hadn’t realized what he meant.

Rushing to her side, Nikki picked up the ring, placing it and the note securely in the envelope. Then she took Buffy’s hand, “He called the US
Embassy before he left and told them where to find you. The FBI will be here any minute.”
Shaking as tears ran down her cheeks, Buffy was a mix of joy and sadness, relief and disbelief.

Angel let her go.
***
Just then a helicopter landed and within minutes they heard voices of men shouting as they fanned out, securing the area.

Completely out of sorts, Buffy nearly fainted when two men, a tall black man and a slightly shorter white man with startling white hair entered
the door to the cottage, both in FBI uniforms.

“Ms. Summers?” Gunn asked. He was fairly certain it was Buffy but she looked somewhat different from her photograph.

When she just stared, awestruck, Spike tried, “Buffy?”

Realizing they were waiting for her to speak, she quickly wiped her tears, responding, “Y-Yes, I’m Buffy Summers.”

“I’m Special Agent Charles Gunn, this is my partner William Armstrong. We’re here to take you home.”
***
Miles away Angel sat in the crew quarters on one of Travers’ ships watching television. Quentin had managed to smuggle him in with the crew
and he was using a spare sleeping room until the ship got to Japan. It certainly wasn’t the best accommodations he’d ever had but it was
decent and comfortable enough. But his mind wasn’t on his present surroundings anyway. He was too preoccupied with the sight on the news,
a major development in the abduction of Senator Summers’ daughter. He watched transfixed as CNN’s correspondent in Jamaica reported on
her rescue, the unknown whereabouts of her kidnapper, the ongoing effort to bring him to justice and the anticipated arrival of the senator,
his wife and their other child in Miami, Florida.

Angel remained rooted in place, watching for hours until he saw the plane reportedly carrying Buffy and her FBI escorts land safely in the US
where her parents eagerly awaited her.
******
Epilogue
******
Some months later …
Buffy and Joyce sat in the obstetrician’s examination room waiting for the doctor to give Buffy an ultrasound. She was six months pregnant.

Since her return Buffy tried her best to reclaim as much normalcy as possible but she quickly came to the rather rude realization that she was
now a celebrity of sorts. Everyone seemed to know who she was and of her ordeal. Large containers full of cards and flowers from well-wishers
were delivered to their home daily. It got so bad that Wesley and several others from her father’s now defunct presidential campaign had
become her unofficial secretaries to handle the mass of incoming mail.

But it didn’t end there. Despite her family’s pleas for privacy, Buffy’s pregnancy was leaked to the public and now she and her unborn child
were the topic of endless speculation ranging from the daily gossip shows to legal debates on the current rape shield laws. She’d been
approached for an exclusive interview several times already by CNN, FOX, 60 Minutes, Dateline, the list went on and on. The national attention
was so overwhelming and humiliating that Buffy no longer watched television, read the newspaper, went online or listened to the radio. She
could no longer leave the house without being mobbed and when she had to leave, such as for her doctor visits, Hank insisted she have a
bodyguard. For that reason her therapy sessions and interviews with the FBI were conducted at the house. Buffy had hoped it would subside
after a time but now she was beginning to think she would never be able to live on her own again, not that she was in a rush to. She was glad
for the refuge her parents’ home provided. The estate was large enough to allow her to take walks and enjoy some solitude without being
harassed. She had even agreed to her mother’s suggestion of renting out her apartment and moving into one of the guesthouses on their
estate once the baby was sleeping through the night. The idea had appeal since she would have her own space but still be close enough to
Joyce and Hank if there was ever a problem. It seemed the perfect solution to everyone’s concerns.

“So have you thought of any names yet?” Joyce asked.

“Hmm, a few but I haven’t settled on anything yet … nothing’s really grabbed me.”

“I know that feeling but you’ll know when it feels right.”

After a few moments of silence Buffy finally asked, “Do you think I’m doing the right thing?”

Weighing her response, Joyce replied, “I can’t say, only you can know that.”

“But Dad …”

“Buffy, I know how Hank feels but that doesn’t matter. The circumstances aside, only you understand what really went on between you and
Angelus Rayne, only you know what you can handle. The rest of us cannot begin to speak on your behalf or tell you what you should or should
not do. Don’t get me wrong, raising this child will be very difficult and I don’t mean just providing a home and love for it. There is a permanent
public record out there of your abduction and you’re going to have to find a way to share it. How are you going to explain who the father is or
how you met? These are questions your child will ask some day.” Then holding her hand, “But I know you’ve considered all of this and you’ve
decided that the alternatives come at a much higher cost to you as a person. We can’t ask anything more than that from you and honey, no
matter how Hank feels, he has agreed to respect your decision. Trust me, you’re not alone in this.” Joyce smiled encouragingly.

Squeezing her mother’s hand in return, Buffy took a deep breath, calming her thoughts.
Sensing her daughter’s contemplative mood, Joyce ventured, “Do you think he’ll come back?”

“I honestly don’t know … probably not. He knew I was pregnant when he released me and I have no doubts that he wanted the three of us to
be together. He chose to let me go. I don’t think he’s a threat anymore.”

“Why would he do that?” Joyce watched as Buff’s eyes welled up slightly, her discomfort with this topic obvious. She didn’t expect Buffy to
answer; no one did anymore. This was the one and only area where Buffy was less than fully cooperative with the FBI. She told them
everything and answered their questions to the best of her ability. She was in no way obstructing the investigation. But she was reluctant to
discuss the level of intimacy she had with Angel and what exactly happened between them during those last hours before she was rescued.

Deciding to let it go for now, Joyce asked, “Do you forgive him?”

“Part of me wants to. I just want to put this all behind me and move on. But other times, I just get so angry and depressed and I spend so much
time and energy thinking about it, which only makes me angrier because it’s like he’s right here, watching me, controlling me.”

“Do you think he is, watching you I mean?”

“I know he is. But we’ll never see his people or know who they are. That’s how he works.”

“But doesn’t that scare you?”

“Oddly enough it doesn’t.”

“Because you know why he let you go?”

Looking at the concern in her mother’s eyes, Buffy finally let a single tear fall. “I’m sorry … I just can’t …”

Pulling her in for a hug, “It’s ok, sweetie, you’re not ready. It’ll take time dear. You’re doing all you can, you’re getting counseling, you’re slowly
taking steps to regain your independence. Everything will be fine.”

Mother and daughter embraced each other until the doctor knocked announcing her return. Pulling apart, they each wiped their tears as Buffy
called to the doctor telling her she was ready.
***
Angel sat in the darkened study nursing a tall bourbon, the heavy drapery of his penthouse office blocking out the coming dawn. He had
worked late into the night but he wasn’t ready to retire. He was eagerly awaiting Lilah’s update.

In the time since he escaped Jamaica, he discovered that Lindsey had left his legitimate businesses intact and did not disclose his many
contacts. His cousin really hadn’t intended to ruin him, just straighten him out. That made Quentin’s actions all the more intolerable but Angel
refused to avenge Lindsey’s death. If his experience with Buffy taught him anything, he would only end up ruining himself. Instead he severed
all ties with Travers and pulled out of the narcotics trade. He knew it was risky but he didn’t need the profits or the headaches. He couldn’t
justify his involvement anymore.

Of course his actions did nothing to erase the numerous crimes he had committed in the past. He was certain if they could convict him of half
the offenses they suspected he was involved in he would never be a free man again. He was also aware of the charges being brought against
him for Buffy and Dawn’s abductions and Buffy’s subsequent rape but from his sources he gathered Buffy was a rather reluctant participant.
That he could understand. Not that he thought this was some twisted attempt on her part to protect him but from the media circus he
witnessed over the past months, it was no wonder she didn’t want the additional attention a trial was sure to bring. Apparently they were
attempting to try him in absentia, a course his team of lawyers was working nonstop to prevent.

But none of that mattered. Buffy was home and safe and although he wished he could do more to shield her from the public’s scrutiny, in this
his hands were tied. But he knew she would survive it, she was a fighter.

Just then his phone rang, startling him out of his reverie. Picking up on the second ring, he listened as Lilah recited her passwords, ensuring
their communication was secure.

“How is she?” His voice was filled with concern.

“She’s improving, sir. She’s eating more and seems to be sleeping more as well. She still lapses into depression but from our sources her
therapist feels she’s making progress, albeit slowly. There’s talk of remodeling one of the guesthouses for her to live in with the baby.” Angel
sighed in relief that Buffy and his child would at least live in a secure home.

“How’s the pregnancy progressing?”

“The baby is fine sir. She just had a doctor’s visit earlier today and everything is normal and healthy.”

“Good. Is there anything else?”

“Just one last thing sir.”

“What is it?”
“Her doctor was able to see the sex of the child today. Would you like to know what she’s having?”

Angel’s breath caught, his heart skipping a beat. “Go on.”

“It’s a boy. You’re having a son Mr. Rayne.” He could hear the smile in her voice as she shared the news.

“Thank you Lilah.”

“Good day Mr. Rayne.”

Angel sat silently for several moments as he pondered his conversation with Lilah. A son. He was going to have a son. It all seemed so surreal.
He wished he could share the moment with Lindsey. He wished he could share it with Buffy. The two most important people in his life. But
now there were three.

Smiling to himself he lovingly caressed one of the many sketches he made of Buffy in slumber. It was among the things he took from his safe at
the villa. That and the ring he had planned to give Buffy that evening during their sailing trip. It was originally meant as a sign of his intentions
towards her but it ended up being something else entirely. He had no idea if she kept it or not but he knew she remembered and that was
enough.

Taking a deep breath, he made a short list of things he needed to do before his son was born. The first being to change his will.

His thoughts down, he cleared his desk and prepared to rest.

Entering the adjoining suite, he pulled the heavy drapery aside, unveiling a breathtaking view of Bangkok in the distance. Thailand was indeed
a beautiful country.

Stepping out onto the balcony, he watched the early morning sun shining brightly in the distance. The dawn of a new day.

Angel smiled.

The end

								
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