Balancing the Scales by Kantayra

ReviewsRating: NC-17

Summary: Elizabeth Summers is a rising star in the Boston District Attorney's Office. The only thorn in her side is her ex-boyfriend, William 'Spike' Albrook, P.I. But when Spike is accused of murder, Elizabeth alone rushes to his defense and, in the process, comes to rediscover the fire she left behind in her race to the top.

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Chapters 5 & 6

Chapter 5: First Steps

"And what did you find during your search?" ADA Robin Wood asked pointedly.

"There was a .35 under the driver's side seat," Detective Riley Finn answered properly.

"This gun?" Wood held up an evidence bag.

"That's the one," Riley agreed.

"Prosecution Exhibit A once more," Wood clarified.

"Let it be so noted," Judge Greenberg nodded.

Wood turned back to his witness. "What, if anything, led you to believe that this gun was the murder weapon?"

"I smelled the barrel, and it had been fired recently," Riley provided. "Two bullets were missing from the chamber. That, and we found Mister Albrook with the body after he had returned the gun to his car."

"Thank you," Wood said confidently. "No further questions for this witness."

Elizabeth took a deep breath to compose herself, smiled inwardly at the comforting squeeze she got on her knee, and rose. "Detective Finn," she began briskly. "Did you, personally, find my client hovering over Mister Worth's body?"

Riley frowned slightly. "No," he admitted, "but my partner, Detective Gates, did."

Elizabeth nodded and checked her notes. "What exactly happened just prior to Mister Albrook's arrest?" she demanded.

"We spotted Mister Albrook entering the building. He then came out with a gun and put it in his car before he went back up. We ran in and-"

Elizabeth cut him off. "You saw him put the gun in the car?" she demanded.

"No, but my partner-"

"Just tell me what you personally experienced that night," Elizabeth clarified. "Keep everything your partner told you out of it."

Riley shifted uncomfortably at that, obviously not liking the idea of breaking up the solidarity of his partnership with Detective Gates. "I went down to the corner coffee shop to buy us some sandwiches," he began. "While I was waiting, Detective Gates called me on my cell phone and reported that he'd seen someone suspicious enter the building with a gun. He said that he was going in with Officer Miller. I hurried back down to 59th street and heard shouting up from Mister Worth's room. I ran up the stairs and found that my partner and Officer Miller had cuffed and arrested Mister Albrook. They then told me that they'd seen him enter the building less than ten minutes before and then exit again with the weapon. When he returned to the scene of the crime, they arrested him. I helped Officer Miller hold the defendant while Detective Gates ran down to our car to call the ambulance."

"I see," Elizabeth agreed. "So, you can't actually testify that the defendant put that gun in his car, can you?"

"My partner-"

"From your personal observations that night, you cannot testify to this fact. Is that correct?" she repeated.

Narrowed eyes. "Yes," he admitted grudgingly.

"Your Honor," Elizabeth turned to Judge Greenberg, "the defense requests that all testimony regarding my client's handling of the murder weapon be stricken from the record."

"What?!" Wood exclaimed, rising up in objection.

Judge Greenberg sighed. "Approach," he requested.

"It's entirely hearsay, Your Honor," Elizabeth said calmly, leaning up against the judge's bench.

"From other law enforcement officers under the witness' supervision," Wood amended. "Primary detectives frequently testify as to the evidence discovered by those under their command."

"But not," Elizabeth countered, "in a case where the defense position rests upon the agency of individual officers suspected of rigging evidence."

"These claims are all speculative," Wood insisted.

"The defense is allowed to present any valid alternatives to the events surrounding the crime," Elizabeth countered, "including the doctoring of evidence. In which case, this witness is not qualified to testify to what actually occurred."

"There's no reason to believe-" Wood began.

"That's for the jury to determine," Elizabeth shot back.

"Counselors, please," Judge Greenberg said wearily. He turned to Wood. "Ms. Summers has a point. If you want Detective Gates or Officer Miller's statements on the record, call them in to testify."

A reluctant nod and Wood returned to his seat.

"The jury will disregard all this witness' testimony regarding the defendant's possession and disposal of the weapon," Judge Greenberg instructed the courtroom. "Ms. Summers?"

Elizabeth nodded and turned to question Riley once more. "You found the gun after Detective Gates had been back down to the your car. Is that correct?"

Another surly, "yes."

"So, to your knowledge, the gun might not even have been in my client's car when you arrested him?" she concluded.

"I know where you're going with this-" he began angrily.

"Is it possible that someone else planted the gun in my client's car while you were busy arresting him?" she insisted.

"It's possible," he grumbled. "But Detective-"

"You've answered the question," Elizabeth cut him off abruptly. "While you had the defendant under arrest, did you have occasion to examine his hands for gun powder residue?"

"It was the first thing I did," Riley assured her. "There was none."

"And what did that indicate to you?" she asked pointedly.

Riley sighed. "That the defendant couldn't have fired the murder weapon without wearing gloves or some other kind of protective covering over his hands," he answered matter-of-factly.

"And did you find gloves or any other item with powder marks on it?" she inquired.

"No," he admitted.

"Now, moving say that you found the gun under the driver's seat?"

"That's correct," Riley agreed.

"Where exactly?" Elizabeth demanded.

"Under the seat itself," Riley answered, "about halfway back."

"So, you couldn't see it from a cursory inspection?" she inquired.

"No," he agreed.

"It was pretty far back."

He nodded. "Like it had been hidden under the seat."

"And can you account for the fact that Detective Gates and Officer Miller didn't hear any shots fired?" she asked.

Riley sighed. "No," he admitted.

"No silencer of any type was found?" she demanded.

"No," Riley agreed. "I can't explain it."

Elizabeth nodded knowingly. "Just one more thing. You and your partner, Detective Gates, were in charge of arresting Mister Trick for the triple homicide back in June, is that right?"

"Yes," Riley nodded.

"And the defendant's testimony was the primary evidence that could have released Mister Trick?"

"That's right. He testified the day before the shooting," Riley provided.

"What did you and your partner think about his testimony?" she demanded.

Riley took a deep breath. "That the defendant had probably just gotten our collar off," he confessed.

"And how would that case stand if the defendant were convicted of this murder?" she pressed.

Some uncomfortable shifting. "It would throw all his other testimony into question," he conceded.

"Thank you, Detective Finn. The defense has no further questions for this witness."

"Detective Finn, you may step down," Judge Greenberg stated. "And, given the late hour, this court will adjourn until nine o'clock tomorrow morning. Dismissed." The gavel rang through the courtroom.

Elizabeth gave Spike a hopeful smile as he helped pack away all her reports. "That was good," she informed him.

"What's all this 'bout Gates?" he demanded.

"Riley's a clean cop," she explained. "Trying to make him out to be a liar is tenuous. But Gates has a bit of a record with-" She cut off at the tap on her shoulder.

"Notice to add Detective Forrest Gates to the prosecution witness list," Robin Wood informed her curtly, dropping the papers in her hands.

"This got drafted in a hurry," she commented skeptically.

"You honestly thought I wouldn't anticipate this move?" Wood countered before turning away from them coldly and exiting the courtroom.

"Ouch," Elizabeth winced slightly.

Spike snorted. "Don't need that git anyway, luv," he assured her. "Spends too much time leerin' at you."

Elizabeth gave him a wry smile. "And you don't?" she countered coyly, leading him out into the hallway.

"'S different when it's me," he answered cheekily, raising his sexy scarred eyebrow at her.

She laughed. "I just need to check this," she waved the witness notification, "so that I can sign my approval."

"And then we get our witness that we can rip to shreds," Spike agreed with an evil little grin. "And then I can finally fix my look again." He ran an unenthusiastic hand through his currently black hair.

"Never thought I'd see the day when you'd say that black doesn't suit you," she countered.

"Bloody lawyers," he grumbled under his breath, knowing that she had him there. "'ll be in the car."

"I'll just be a minute," she assured him, watching him go with a bit of a leer herself. God, she wanted him back. In any other circumstances.

"Quite a show you put on back there," a gruff voice interrupted her not-so-intellectual introspection.

Elizabeth turned and let out a weary sigh when she saw Riley. "Look," she began.

"You accused my partner of rigging this case," he insisted angrily. "What the hell was that?"

Elizabeth felt herself getting mildly irritated as well. "Even you've got to admit that the evidence doesn't quite work out," she retorted.

"Forrest doesn't lie to me," Riley repeated vehemently.

"And William doesn't lie to me," Elizabeth said just as confidently.

"I can't believe you're siding with him," Riley practically spat out. "You're making your office look bad, the police department, everything you've ever fought for."

"I've fought," Elizabeth corrected, "to keep criminals off the streets. I don't convict innocents."

"You can't possibly know that," Riley shot back. "If Albrook wasn't an old flame, do you honestly think you wouldn't be after his blood right now?"

"Maybe," Elizabeth conceded, "but if I ever found out he was innocent, I'd let him go."

"Yeah, well, except for you, the general consensus is that your client's guilty," Riley shot back.

"But I know differently," Elizabeth insisted. "If I wanted to indict Sam." she began.

"That's different," Riley said angrily. "Sam's my wife."

"It's not so different," Elizabeth concluded. "Not so different at all."

* * *

Buffy let out a hoarse scream as she came, panting desperately for breath as the world crashed around her. Above her, William was moving at an ever more frantic pace, close to his own release.

"God, Buffy," he moaned into her ear, "you're beautiful, luv, feel like heaven."

His body tensed above her then for an instant before his jaw clenched in that way that it always did right before he came and he lost complete control of himself, thrusting deep within her wildly.

Buffy clung on tight as the tip of his erection pounded sensuously against the soft pleasure center deep within her, and she gasped aloud in amazement as a second, unexpected orgasm overtook her.

William came with a roar as well, shooting his seed deep within her womb. He fell atop her in exhaustion for a second, lazy contentment overtaking his body, before he remembered that the woman beneath him needed to breathe. He slipped out of her, already shrinking and softening, and flopped down at her side wearily. A satisfied smile crossed his face as he stretched out his aching limbs and pulled her up against him for some quality snuggling time.

"That was how many times for you?" he asked cockily. "Five?"

"Yeah, but I faked them all," she teased.

He scowled at her. "Better give you five more, then," he concluded, moving to roll her back over onto her back.

"William!" she squealed, batting at him playfully with her hands. "Eek! Wet spot!"

"Then tell me you weren't fakin' it," he countered with an evil grin, holding her threateningly over the spoiled spot on the sheets.

A soft smile crossed her face. "You know I never have to fake with you," she assured him.

A wide grin lit up his face, and he caught her lips in a passionate kiss before he lay her back down against the warm of his chest.

Buffy rolled her eyes. Ever since she'd taught him how to pleasure her, he'd become a man obsessed, insisting that no matter how many times he made her come it could never possibly be as good as what she did to him. Hence, he'd declared a ground rule that he always had to make her come at least three times. Usually more. At least one of which had to be while he was inside her. She had the sneaking suspicion she'd created a monster, but at least she'd created a good, sexually-experienced one.

With a little grin, she hugged him tighter and burrowed her nose into the smooth muscles of his chest. God, he was wonderful. The things he did to her. He was unlike anyone else she'd ever been with, as if he alone could light the fire deep within her.

"My contented little minx," he whispered in that growly accent that had become more prevalent lately.

Over the past two years, he'd dropped the ultra-formal style, first only when they were alone and passionate together, but then more and more until he finally spoke naturally to everyone but his father, who had forced the precision on him in the first place.

Buffy liked the change. If at all possible, it made him sound even sexier. Plus, it had been fun to watch Cordelia drool all over the place when she first heard how the word "luv" rumbled through his lips.

"So, I take it classes today were stressful?" she asked lightly, tracing archaic patterns into the pale skin of his chest.

He chuckled. "How could you possibly 've guessed?" he teased.

"Well, let's see," she joked right back, "within five seconds of arriving home I was attacked by Pent Up Frustration made corporeal and was sexual assaulted for the next two hours."

"Yeah, that would be the stressful day," he agreed.

Buffy sighed. "Tell me about it?"

"Dad called," he said simply.

She arched up against him to place a gentle kiss on his brow. He didn't talk about his dad often, but she'd gathered enough to know that the Albrook family pressure had been one of the major factors that had caused him to draw back into himself. She considered it one of her crowning achievements that she'd finally pulled him out of his defensive shell, made him a man both literally and figuratively.

"What did he want?" Her head rested on the pillow next to his now, her lips just brushing his cheek as she spoke, offering him whatever comfort he wanted.

"Still wants me to go back to England after I graduate," he said dully. "Induct me into the Family Hall of Wankers and all that rot."

"You're sure you don't want me to tell him to fuck off?" she teased.

William snorted. "He hates you enough as it is. 'Unsophisticated Americans' trying to corrupt me."

She smiled and kissed him slowly on the lips, her tongue playing against them softly but persistently, demanding access. His lips parted at her request and joined in her passion, savoring touch, taste, scent.

"Do you think William's a wanker's name?" he asked abruptly, pulling away from her lips.

She raised a curious eyebrow. "Why do you ask?"

"Thinkin' I need a nickname," he provided. "Something less poncy."

"Well," she said with a sigh, hand snaking down between his legs, "I don't think William's a wanker's name at all." She gave him a slight squeeze and felt his length twitch within her grasp, still too worn out from their latest lovemaking to become fully erect but enjoying her attentions nonetheless. "If I've correctly translated Bizarre British Slang into Normal Human English correctly, then a wanker wouldn't have a beautiful girlfriend to get him off."

His eyes shut tight, and he let out an appreciative purr. "Point," he conceded.

"Besides," she concluded, "I like you just the way you are."

His eyelashes fluttered open, and he looked up at her with an expression of such abject love that she almost had to turn away from the intensity of it. "Marry me," he pleaded in a whisper.

Buffy's eyes widened in surprise. He'd always been a bit impulsive, but this. "Y-You're serious?" she stammered.

He shrugged. "Why not?" His arms slid up and down her bare back, sending little tingles down her spine. "I love you, you love me, and we both want to be together."

She blushed. "Yeah," she agreed softly, index finger playing gently with his full lower lip.

He opened his mouth to speak, but at that moment eighteen pounds of malicious black fur decided to leap onto his stomach. "Oh, bloody hell!" he exclaimed in annoyance, scowling evilly at his foe. "Know I locked you outside."

Angel's yellow eyes narrowed, and one by one he extended each of his twenty-eight claws.

Buffy yanked Angel up off of William before World War III could break out. "Don't be attacking my fiancé now," she chided the cat with good humor.

William's suspicious eyes left the feline for the first time. "That's a 'yes', then?" A delighted smile lit up the corners of his lips.

"After we graduate," she clarified before nodding eagerly.

"Luv." he practically purred, pressing his lips to hers.

"Rrowl!" Angel protested, striking out at William and completely breaking the mood.

Buffy giggled while William sulked, gingerly rubbing his arm where the massive feline had scratched him. "Don't s'pose we could ditch the monster?" he grumbled under his breath.

Buffy hugged Angel. "No way I'm giving my Angel up," she teased. "You want to marry me, then you'll have to accept my great first love, too."

William's eyes narrowed at that assessment. "You're sure you couldn't take the pleasant one, and leave this devil with Willow?" he asked in vain hope.

"Oz is Willow's, and Angel is mine," Buffy insisted, getting up out of bed and carrying the cat over to the door that it had somehow managed to get open. She set Angel down on the floor outside before shutting him out once more. "There," she concluded, turning back to face him.

William licked his lips at the sight of her naked body sauntering back over to the bed. "S'pose I could be.compensated for having to keep the cat," he commented with a sly smile.

"Oh, and how's that?" she teased, sitting on the end of the bed before slowly crawling up his body.

"Think consummating our engagement will do nicely enough for now," he concluded, pulling her down onto his hardness.

"Again?" she said in wide-eyed surprise, her mouth forming a perfect 'O'.

"Again," he agreed, rolling them over before his tongue began to do the most wonderful things to her body, playing her like a finely-tuned harp.

Buffy lay back and sighed. Yup, she'd certainly created a monster all right. A monster who had somehow developed the stamina of five men.

* * *

"So, how'd it go today?" were Xander's first words as Elizabeth and Spike stepped into the offices of Albrook, Harris, and Jenkins, Private Investigators.

"Not bad," Spike said with a shrug, plopping down into the corner chair. "We got anything here?"

"Still no luck with the real killer," Xander shrugged apologetically. "Frankly, I'm not sure we can get him."

"We should concentrate on the other side of things, then," Elizabeth suggested, sitting pointedly on the edge of the blonde secretary's desk and blocking the woman's scandalously revealing outfit from Spike's view. Elizabeth had little to no doubt that Harmony was trying to seduce her ex, and even the thought made her blood boil.

"And who put you in charge?" Harmony's nasal twang demanded. She didn't like Elizabeth any better than Elizabeth liked her. That lawyer bitch had the nerve to break up with her Blondie Bear and now thought that she could steal him right out from under her nose? Well, she'd show who Spike really loved. The fact that he'd never responded to her advances in any kind of way was just a technicality.

Elizabeth's eyes narrowed at the vapid blonde. "Aren't you supposed to be answering phones or something?" she snapped back.

Harmony gasped with wide-eyed outrage at the slight and moved to speak again, but she was cut off by the annoyed voice of the other woman in the room.

"If Spike ever decides he wants to have sex with either of you, I'm sure he'll inform you," Anya said in annoyance. "Now, can we cut out the bickering and cut back to work? I'll have you know this assignment is cutting severely into the paid overtime I could be getting for the Tomkins case."

Elizabeth, Harmony, and Spike all blushed at Anya's characteristic bluntness, and Xander chuckled, placing one hand in the small of his fiancée's back.

"Now, what do you need us to do?" Anya demanded, once she'd concluded that the petty in-fighting was over.

"I need background checks on Detective Forrest Gates and Officer Graham Miller," Elizabeth explained crisply. "It looks like we're going to have to crack one of them to get at the truth."

Xander nodded and took notes. "What else?"

"Wood's got his forensics experts on tomorrow," she reported. "What do we have on how William's prints could've gotten on that gun?"

A satisfied smile lit up Anya's face. "Xander and I were working on it last night," she began, removing an object from her desk drawer and dangling it proudly before her. "With these."

Elizabeth and Spike blinked at the handcuffs warily. This had all the makings of another of Anya's 'too much information' moments.

"Uh, 's nice, pet," Spike began uncomfortably, "but we don't really hafta hear about-"

"Yes, you do," she cut him off matter-of-factly, slapping one of the cuffs onto his wrist.

"Hey!" Elizabeth protested, a hint of jealousy sneaking up inside of her.

"I'm not playing bondage games with your man," Anya assured her briskly. "I'm just demonstrating how it was done."

Somewhere deep inside, Elizabeth logically knew that she should object to the assessment of Spike as 'her man'. But the words sounded so right in her head that she let it pass for the moment. "This had better be good," she concluded, arms crossed over her chest in irritation.

"It is," Anya assured her, gesturing for Spike to kneel down on the floor in front of her.

He eyed her suspiciously, but since Xander wasn't objecting, he figured this was on the up and up. Anya kneed him painfully in the center of the back and forced his face down to the floor.

"Oi!" he exclaimed in outrage. "That hurts!"

Elizabeth watched in fascination, though, as Anya used one hand to press Spike's hands together to put the second cuff on while the other slipped out the revolver from her holster gingerly and pressed the butt against his squirming fingers for an instant. Spike didn't even notice, mistaking the cold metal for the cuffs being put on him.

Anya handed Xander the gun after the prints had been doctored. "Show her," she demanded before uncuffing Spike once more.

"What was that all about?" he grumbled sullenly before Elizabeth gestured to where Xander was now taking prints from the gun.

"They turn out the way the forensics people got the prints," Xander explained, showing them the weapon. "Even the police report noted that the print placement was odd, not the way they'd look when someone had their finger on the trigger."

Spike blinked. "You did that while you cuffed me?" he demanded of Anya.

She nodded proudly. "It's actually a very simple way of doctoring prints. And then, after we'd proven my theory, we used the handcuffs for-"

"Uh, they really don't need to hear about that, Ahn," Xander nudged her pointedly.

Anya folded her arms across her chest and mumbled something under her breath that sounded a lot like an insult about how sexually repressed they all were.

Spike's eyes narrowed at the gun before he handed it back to Anya. "That connivin' git," he growled low in his chest. "He was settin' me up all along."

Elizabeth put a comforting hand on his forearm, thrilling slightly at the powerful muscles she felt tensing beneath. "We'll get them for this," she assured him. "The IAB will be all over Forrest and Graham over this."

The thought didn't seem to pacify Spike. "Let's just go home," he grumbled.

"Was that what you needed to show me?" Elizabeth inquired, grabbing hold of his sleeve and keeping him from going until they were done.

Anya nodded. "I'm back to the underworld," she agreed in a chipper voice.

"And I'll get everything we can on Gates and Miller," Xander promised. "You two just worry about the trial."

Elizabeth spared him a grateful smile before following Spike's persistent urges and heading back for the car. He was silent during the drive, jaw muscle ticking angrily, and the urge to hold him until he relaxed in her arms was nearly overwhelming. She managed to refrain, though; Spike hugging would probably fall very neatly on the list of Top Ten Driving Distractions.

And once they got home - and just when had she started thinking of it as their home, anyway? - Spike had trudged right upstairs to the guestroom, denying her the opportunity to offer him comfort. She bit her lip as she checked through her mail and refilled Angel's water dish. She could understand why he was upset, really she could. Even though he had known all along that he'd been framed, finding out how actively maliciously the evidence had been planted against him had to be rough.

She just wished that he wouldn't pull away from her and be all secretive about the stuff that was troubling him. After all, it had happened before and.

"Ahhh! Buffy, help!"

The sudden shout nearly gave her a heart attack. "What is it?" she demanded, approaching the bottom of the stairs.

"There's somethin' wrong with your cat!" he called back down in alarm.

Elizabeth felt a momentary pang of worry at that and rushed up the stairs and into his room before she breathed a sigh of relief. Angel was quite well and circling Spike's booted ankles incessantly, purring all the while.

"He's not tryin' to claw me or anythin'," Spike insisted, wide-eyed. "Think he might've hit his head or something. 'S the only explanation."

Elizabeth laughed at that and saved Spike from the suddenly amorous cat. "Maybe he's just finally decided he likes you," she countered.

"Yeah, and hell's frozen over," he shot back, sitting on the edge of the bed.

She sat down beside him, and Angel settled comfortably in her lap. "Maybe he missed you when you were gone," she suggested shyly.

He seemed to catch a double-meaning in her words and looked down at his hands. "Yeah," he commented non-commitally.

Elizabeth ventured to reach up and brush an ebony curl back from his forehead. "If you need to talk about anything." she began hesitantly.

"Yeah," he sighed, turning slightly into her touch. "I-I hate to sound pathetic." he began slowly.

"You won't," she assured him softly.

He nodded curtly. "Why me?" he finally demanded, looking at her with eyes so clear and blue they still took her breath away.

"I don't know," she replied honestly. "Maybe you were just the easiest target."

"Hate this," he grumbled, getting up and heading to the bathroom.

Elizabeth rose at that as well, taking her cue. "I know," she agreed. A pause. "I'm so sorry, William."

He froze in the doorway for a second as if the words had stunned him speechless for a second. Then, "'m sorry, too." He turned back to face her, eyes wide and vulnerable.and yawned.

Elizabeth smiled. "You need to get some rest," she concluded, hefting Angel over her shoulder and walking back out into the hallway.

"Yeah, I prob'ly do," he admitted, leaning against the frame casually and watching her every moment with undisguised want. "G'night."

"Good night," she agreed, giving his hand one final squeeze before she carried Angel back downstairs to his dinner, excited butterflies in her stomach and an extra spring in her step.

Chapter 6: Unspoken Words

"Am I gonna have to carry you in?" Spike only half-teased as he turned off the car outside Elizabeth's house.

In the passenger seat, Elizabeth yawned and stretched. "No, I'm good," she insisted, moving to get up. She fumbled with the seatbelt for a minute and by the time she'd finished, Spike had opened the door for her and already gathered up all her bags from the backseat. Mmm, gentleman nice when tired, she noted absentmindedly.

"Seemed to go well today," he commented casually, making small talk as they walked up the back porch steps. He pulled out the copy of the house key that she'd had made for him and held the door open wide, gesturing for her to precede him inside. "Got the bloke to admit that I might not've fired the bloody gun."

"That's what I love about forensic scientists," Elizabeth agreed. "They always just stick to the facts."

"Lucky that detective din't manage to find a way to get my prints on the trigger," Spike grumbled, setting down her briefcase in the entrance hallway and her purse on its shelf in the kitchen.

Elizabeth couldn't help but smile at the casual familiarity he had in her home now. Almost as if he belonged here. Like it was his, too.

A loud purr sounded throughout the corridor, and Elizabeth reached down to scratch Angel behind the ears. "Can you.?" she requested softly.

Spike let out a good-natured sigh. "Right, 'll feed the monster," he agreed in his most put-upon voice. "C'mon, you poof," he addressed the cat, heading into the kitchen.

Elizabeth laughed at the angry scowl Angel sent Spike's way at being bossed around. "Yeah, yeah, he's insufferable," she assured the cat, "but he'll catch on eventually."

Reluctantly, Angel padded into the kitchen in search of his meal.

Elizabeth flicked on the living room lights and found the red light on her answering machine blinking, three unread messages left there. She hit the talk button while kicking off her shoes to stretch her feet out.

*click, beep* "Buffy, it's Anya," came the crisp voice of the private detective. "It turns out Officer Miller's recently been transferred down to Baltimore. Xander's going to drive down this afternoon and follow up."

Elizabeth raised an eyebrow at that and pulled out a notebook to jot the information down.

*click, beep* "Ms. Summers, this is Valerie Carver from the Post. I would like to schedule an interview with you and your client, Mister Albrook, to-"

Elizabeth reached over and hit the delete button vehemently. The reporter requests had gone down since the press had lost track of William's location, but she always got at least one a day.

The machine cycled again.

*click, beep* "Buffy? Yeah, it's me, Xander?" a somewhat hassled-sounding voice began. "Spike's partner, remember?"

Elizabeth couldn't help but roll her eyes. One of these days she was going to have to convince Xander that, yes, she actually did remember who he was.

"Anyway," the message went on, "I'm down here in Baltimore. It turns out Graham Miller's got a patrol beat down here. He requested a transfer just a week after Spike was arrested, and I've never seen police bureaucracy process a request this fast. So, yeah, I found him, but he refuses to comment. Vehemently. Thought he might take my arm off for a second there when I mentioned that Gates was rigging the evidence. Got a few nasty threats, too, to add to my collection."

Elizabeth's pen began scrambling like mad, adding several question marks after Graham's name in regard to his relationship to the frame-up.

"I'm just keeping a casual eye on him for now," Xander went on. "I can give you more later, and you can let me know what you want to do. My cell's been dying, but I'll give Ahn my motel number once I check in. You can get everything from her. Good luck in court."

*beep* "PLAY MESSAGES AGAIN?" asked the computerized voice.

Elizabeth hit the stop button and sighed. Xander's subtle rambling suggested the same thing she was thinking. Graham had been present when Spike had been set up, and he'd probably seen the whole thing. He'd then been speedily reassigned out of state and wasn't talking. It felt like maybe Officer Miller didn't feel quite right about what had happened with this case. She certainly hoped so.

Elizabeth picked up the receiver and hit Spike's office on the speed-dial, leaving a quick message at Harmony's desk that she would be subpoenaing Graham for their defense. Since Anya wouldn't get the message until morning, she couldn't really deal with anything on the investigation end until then. That just left her with one subpoena to draft tonight. Wearily, she picked up her briefcase and headed into the kitchen to use the table there for her work.

"What's up, pet?" Spike asked curiously, pouring himself a glass of water from the sink while Angel munched merrily away at his dinner in the corner.

"It looks like we might have a witness against Forrest," she provided. "I've just got to drag him in and make him talk."

"This that other cop that was there to arrest me?" Spike inquired curiously, head tilted to one side. "Miller?"

Elizabeth nodded. "That's the one," she agreed, rubbing at her eyes and hunching down over the form before her.

He sipped from the glass in his hand for a minute, watching her work, her brow furrowed in concentration and her eyelids drooping slightly. Angel leapt up onto the countertop beside him and studied his pet human as well. Spike cast the cat a surprised look, thinking for one second that they were actually on the same wavelength, but then Angel promptly turned to grooming his fur. Honestly, the feline spent nearly every aching hour attending to its fur. Spike rolled his eyes and wound his way around the table so that he could watch Elizabeth's work over her shoulder.

She wasn't really paying enough attention to notice his closeness until she suddenly felt two strong hands drop to her shoulders, massaging the tight muscles there sensuously. She let out a little moan of approval as she felt the weary tension seep out of her spine, and for a minute she let her head rest back against the taut muscles of his stomach, savoring his scent, his touch.

"Buffy-luv?" he asked softly, finding a particularly nasty knot at the back of her skull. Her head lolled forward appreciatively in response, letting him work out the tight pain.

"Mmm?" she asked softly.

"Think maybe you should just rest up this evenin'," he suggested carefully, knowing how snippy she could get when she was exhausted.

* * *

With a groan, Buffy trudged up the stairs to her apartment, backpack full of library books weighing down one arm and all her notes and files from the latest Assignment From Hell Giles had given her in a large Xerox box, balanced on the other hand. A sigh of relief escaped her lips as she hit the last step, and she set the box and bag down on the floor to rest for a minute.

And that's when she saw him.

"William?" she asked curiously, spotting an unfamiliar platinum head on top of the oh-so-familiar body of her fiancé.

"There you are, luv," he looked up with a start, obviously having grown bored from waiting for so long a time. He stood up among the half dozen boxes that surrounded him.

Buffy blinked at them in surprise. "What's going on here?" she demanded, unlocking the door to her and Willow's apartment. She frowned. "And what on earth did you do to your hair?"

A nervous look crossed his face, and he reached up to brush back one recently-platinum curl. "You don't like it?" he asked, disappointed, before shaking his head and getting back on topic. "Need to hole up here for a few days," he provided.

Buffy blinked at that. "Um.okay. Just a thought, though. Maybe a week before we take the bar isn't the best time to move in together? And, frankly, your apartment's nicer, anyway."

He scowled at that and collapsed on the couch wearily. "Don't have an apartment," he countered, sulking. "Got evicted this morning."

Buffy's eyes widened. "What happened?" she demanded.

"Fought with da. He revoked the rent," he said simply, not offering any of the details.

"Doesn't your dad know about the test next week?" Buffy exclaimed in outrage. "How does he expect you to study when-"

"Not takin' the test," William cut her off, studying his hands intently, an unreadable expression on his face. "Sort of what the fight was about."

Buffy frowned at that. "What do you mean you're not taking it?" she asked anxiously.

He looked up at her, his blue gaze surprisingly steady. "Dropped out of this hellhole," he answered matter-of-factly. "I'm not putting up with daddy's whims anymore."

Buffy could've sworn that she felt her heart stop beating for a second. Dropped out? He couldn't really mean that. They had plans, a life, a wedding that was supposed to happen after they graduated together, and. "Wh-What?" she stuttered in disbelief.

"Told you this place was driving me up the wall," he retorted, steady eyes refusing to let her break his confidence. "You said I should be my own man, lead my own life."

"By dropping out?!" she exclaimed, dumbfounded. "What, are you crazy? This is your life we're talking about here! You're not supposed to let the dumb teenage rebellion screw your life up once you've got everything worked out!"

"'Dumb'?!" He repeated back in outrage, instantly on his feet.

"I-I just meant." she cut off, still baffled as to where all this rage was coming from. Yeah, they'd both been really busy over the past month what with graduation looming up on them and all, but they'd still spent at least one night a week together. She couldn't image how something could've gotten this far without her knowing about it, without him confiding in her.

"What?" he asked wearily. "What did you mean, Buffy? You tell me you want me to step out on my own, but then the instant I do something you don't like."

"I do," she insisted, "but not like this!"

"Like what, then?" he retorted.

She was getting annoyed now. "Like, maybe, thinking about something for a change, instead of just diving in impulsively and doing the stupid thing?"

"Stop calling me stupid!" he shouted back angrily. "And I've been thinking about this for years now," he insisted.

"Well, not very hard, obviously," she shot back, "since you're sitting out in my hallway, homeless, with nowhere else to turn to and no future whatsoever."

"Was just talking to Xander," he practically growled, hands balling into fists. "We're thinking-"

"Oh, please," Buffy rolled her eyes, cutting him off. She'd never exactly been sure where he'd met Xander, an ex-security guard who'd barely even graduated from high school, but the two of them had come up with the ridiculous ideas that they were going to be detectives together someday, like in one of those old movies. "It's time to grow up, William," she informed him tersely. "That's a cute dream you've got. Really, it is. But in the grown up world, you need an actual job, not just some game you play with your drinking buddy."

His eyes narrowed to slits, and his jaw ticked angrily. "That's all any of this is to you, isn't it?" he countered in a deadly whisper. "Just poor, geeky William and his delusions." A sound like a choked sob escaped his lips, but to his credit he managed not to cry. "I thought you supported me, cared about me, about what I wanted to do with my life." He pushed her angrily aside and stalked out the door. "Fine then, have it your way. I'll just get out of your way and stop ruining all your selfish plans."

Buffy seethed at that comment. "Go right ahead," she snapped back angrily, watching his back as he left. "I don't need you, anyway. Maybe when you finally grow up, if you're lucky, I'll take you back. But you're right, I don't have the time for your games right now." The top of his platinum head was vanishing down the bottom of the steps now. "I've got more important things to worry about!" she shouted out after him as the door slammed behind him.

And William managed to make it all the way to the corner before the tears finally overcame him, and shaking sobs began raking through his body. God, what had he done?

* * *

"I've got work to do," Elizabeth whispered softly, savoring the feel of his hands on her back, not realizing until now just how much she'd ached for his touch over those long, lonely years.

"Not on a Friday night," he countered. "Got plenty of time this weekend to worry about all that."

"But-" she began, turning to face him.

His cut her off with a fingertip to her lips. Inwardly, he felt like his blood was burning at even so casual a touch. Her lips were just as soft and tender as he'd remembered, and he wanted nothing more at that moment than to. He shook himself and forced his mind to remain on topic. "I'll even help you with it," he offered.

Elizabeth bit her lip. "I thought you hated all that 'lawyer stuff'," she countered cautiously.

"Do," he agreed, "but we're in this together, right?"

A soft smile curved up the edges of her lips, and she could feel her pulse racing at their nearness. "Right," she agreed, rising to her feet. "I mean, I guess it wouldn't hurt to take a break just for tonight."

He nodded. "Won't have my-" He halted, wincing at the word that had been about to slip out. He'd foolishly given up the right to call her his girl years ago. "-My attorney killin' herself over this case," he amended slightly.

Elizabeth nodded almost shyly, all too aware of the few scant inches that separating their bodies now as they stood facing each other. She had been so certain for an instant there that he'd been about to say something else. There was just something in the depths of his eyes. "I'll just see to dinner, and-"

"I'll take care of dinner," he insisted, fingers reaching up to push back one lock of her golden hair that had escaped her bun. "You just find something comfy to wear and settle down in the den for a relaxin' evening."

"Thanks," she agreed, reaching up to plant an affectionate kiss on his cheek before she'd even had time to think about the consequences.

His eyes widened in response, and they stood there for a minute, just staring into each other's eyes and blushing slightly.

The sound of a deep purr eventually snapped Elizabeth from her trance, and she glanced down to see that Angel was making figure-eights around their ankles, as if encouraging their closeness.

Spike noticed at the same time and took a reluctant step back away from her. "Your cat is bloody weird," he informed her, teasing lightly. "Now, up." He swatted her butt lightly. "You've had a difficult day. Need to veg a bit, 'll bet."

She managed the necessary mock-scowl at the blatant ass grab, but smiled as she climbed the stairs, a feeling of strong contentment overcoming her. This all felt so nice, so domestic, coming home with Spike, planning dinner together, their evening. God, this was what she'd wanted all along. Ever since.

* * *

Buffy had been mad - furious - when William had left her apartment. And she had held on to that anger as long as she could, insisting in her head that she was right and he was being unreasonable and.

And no matter how hard she tried, the anger couldn't last more than an hour before she just needed to see him again, make everything all right once more.

She'd been in a bit of a panic at first. She had no idea how to get a hold of him, now that he no longer needed to report his address to the school and he'd been kicked out of his apartment. But then she'd remembered about his comments that Xander was helping him out. She'd gone into a wild search for Xander's phone number after that, until she finally found the note on the back of one of her notebooks.

Nervous, tense, and forlorn, she'd dialed the number, hearing the phone ring one time. Two, three, four, five.

*click, beep* "This is Xander Harris and William Albrook's place. We're not here at the moment, but leave a message after the beep and we'll promptly ignore it." Xander chuckled.

Buffy's eyes widened. He'd already moved in with Xander to the point where his name was on the machine message? The beep sounded. "William," she exclaimed in exasperation, "what on earth are you thinking?! I mean-"

She shook her head and took a deep breath to calm herself.

"I'm sorry, baby," she said more softly this time. "It's just that I've had a really rough day - I guess you have, too - and I was just shocked and all and. I just reacted badly, William. B-But I'm really sorry, and I still love you more than anything. Can we please.?" She had to trail off to wipe away the tears in her eyes before she could continue. "Can we just talk about it?" she pleaded again. "I-I want to see you, help make this all work out for us. We'll figure this all out together. OK, baby? Just come over tonight, and don't worry about disturbing my studying for that silly test. We're more important than that." She trailed off with a slight sigh. "See you tonight," she whispered affectionately. "Love you."

With a relieved smile, she hung up the phone. She always found apologizing so hard, but it would be worth it just to feel his arms around her again. They'd had their fights before, of course. Every couple did. But they always made up right away and worked things out as best they could, and she had no doubt that this time would be exactly like all the others.

With a sigh, she put her books in the corner - she had little hope that she'd manage to get any studying done before she saw him again - and turned on the TV, finding some mindless old movie. They always loved to watch these together, and it would help her from dwelling on his absence too much while she waited.

And waited.

And waited.

And, three days later when she still hadn't heard back from him, the anger finally began to build in her again, and she turned to burying herself in her work with an almost feverish intensity in a desperate effort to hold back her tears.

* * *

Elizabeth came down the stairs, golden hair hung loose about her shoulders wearing a baggy Harvard t-shirt, a pair of black leggings she used for pajama bottoms, and thick, fuzzy socks on her feet. Already she was beginning to feel more relaxed, and the smell of hot food just warmed her heart further.

"Whadja make?" she asked casually, gliding into the den with a dancer's grace and plopping down beside Spike on the plush couch. "Oh, cheesy!"

Spike grinned at her comment but gulped when he looked up at her for the first time. Her pants clung to the lean lines of her thighs and calves, and the faint outline of her nipples could be seen through the t-shirt. He'd managed to change out of the monkey-suit he had to wear to court while she was doing those endless, mysterious things that made a woman take so long to change, and now he was regretting the jeans because he was hardening uncomfortably against them.

Elizabeth, oblivious to her couch companion's dilemma, blew on her cup of tomato soup before taking a bite out of her grilled (well, technically, microwaved) cheese sandwich. "And you even remembered how I like them," she said in delight, giving him a fond smile and a squeeze on the knee.

He ducked his head shyly at the compliment, his entire body feeling more excited than it had in years at just her casual touches. There hadn't been much contact between them in this last month living together. He'd ached to reach out for her so often, but he'd always held back out of fear that she would reject him again. But now.

"How could I possibly forget the only nutty bird in the world who wants grilled cheese with Swiss?" he teased back lightly. "Crazy Americans." He scootched up next to her on the couch and wiped away a droplet of the soup that had escaped her mouth, savoring his brief contact with her skin.

Elizabeth's cheeks flushed. "Crazy Brits who want American cheese, of all bizarre things," she shot right back, eyes dancing with merriment.

"No cultural rule on cheese preferences," he countered, sitting back on the sofa and letting his free arm drift to seat back behind her.

She merely grinned and flicked on the TV, scanning right by all the news channels for once. "I'm thinking I need a break from the depressing world," she commented, putting her soupspoon down for a minute as she searched for something good on. The sounds of a gunfight and a dust-filled desert flashed across the screen, and she sat back against the curve of Spike's arm contentedly, eating her dinner. "Ah, westerns. The best way to kill brain cells."

Spike chuckled at that as well, and they continued to eat in silence, bodies barely touching. God, he'd missed this. For so long he'd dreamed of being this close to her again, and now. Why, oh why, couldn't they have worked it out before?

* * *

William saw the blinking light on the answering machine and cautiously played the message.

"William," Buffy's exasperated voice began, "what on earth are you thinking?! I-"

Angrily, he hit the stop button. His day had been lousy enough already without hearing her yell at him again. In a fit of rage, he hit the delete button, and Buffy's passionate plea was lost forever, never even to be heard.

"Okay," Xander said with a sigh, watching his friend kick the couch angrily, "I think maybe you need to calm down and-"

"Calm down?!" William exclaimed in outrage. "I open up to that woman, thinking she understands, and." He trailed off helplessly.

Xander watched, shifting uncomfortably. He wasn't good at this touchy-feely stuff. That had always been what William went to Buffy for. The two of them, they just talked about starting up an agency and cars and.all that guy stuff. "Maybe you should call her," Xander suggested, "try to explain-"

"She owes me an apology," William insisted vehemently, arms crossed over his chest. "Not calling 'til I get one."

Xander rolled his eyes. Great, the stubbornness was kicking in now. Why did he suddenly have the dread feeling that this was going to take a long time to resolve? "All right, sure," he agreed, playing the role of amiable friend. "Just sleep on it. See what you think in the morning."

And William did sleep on it, but all he could think about was how much he missed waking up by her side. The phone had looked mighty tempting all that day, but he'd held off every time, silently hoping that she'd at least try to understand.

By the third day, he finally couldn't take it anymore and dialed her up.


God, how he'd missed the sound of her voice. What on earth had he been thinking, waiting this long to call her? "Buffy-luv," he said softly, the words sounding like music to his ears.

A moment of silence on the other end. Then, "Oh. It's you. I suppose you'll want those boxes you left outside my door."

He blinked, stunned by her coldness. Surely she hadn't really decided to drop him just because he'd quit law school? "I don't care about the boxes," he shook his head, trying to fight against the tears. "W-We need to talk."

A sigh. "I think you've already made yourself pretty clear, William," she replied tersely. "All your stuff is stacked outside my door. And I'd appreciate it if you didn't bother me again. Some of us are actually still taking the bar exam on Friday."

A click.

And he felt his world crashing down around him. This just couldn't be happening. She'd encouraged him to try new things, to explore himself. God, she'd made him the man he had always been meant to be. And now that she saw what he really was, she didn't love him anymore?

Wet, round tears spilled from the corners of his eyes, and he finally completely broke down. Of course, she hadn't really loved him. After all, no one did.

And,  absorbed in his own misery, he didn't leave his room for a week.

* * *

The burn of her rejection still stung him, even now, and he didn't venture to move closer, no matter how much his body screamed for the contact. However, at that moment, Angel decided to make his dark, hulking presence known and leapt right up into Spike's lap.

Spike froze for a minute, wide-eyed. The cat's sharp claws were only a quick extension away from the most sensitive portion of his anatomy. He held his breath, flinching inwardly at the thought of just one of those claws reaching out and snagging him through the material of his jeans.

Elizabeth, entirely unconcerned by this turn of events, reached over to pet Angel. She set her empty soup bowl down on the coffee table and curled up against Spike's side, savoring a bit of quality time with her two favorite men in the world.

Spike looked down in surprise to see the golden head that now rested on his shoulder. Unbidden, a smile started to sneak up on his face as he dropped his arm down from the couch back until his hand rested comfortably in the small of her back.

Elizabeth purred almost as loudly as Angel in response, kissing the fabric of Spike's t-shirt affectionately. Her hand continued to stroke the cat.

Spike felt himself growing uncomfortable for a different reason as he watched Elizabeth stroke the creature in his lap. He was pretty confident now that Angel had no malicious intent toward his bits, but if those bits started moving.

Abruptly, Angel got up, lifted one paw to lick it clean and show Spike the claws that could've just made his life excruciatingly painful, and leapt down to the floor.

Absentmindedly, Elizabeth's hand came to rest against Spike's inner thigh as she continued to cuddle against his warmth. She shut her eyes for a second, committing this moment to memory. She'd missed him so much, and to have him close like this again. It was what she had wanted all along.

His heart skipped a beat when the cat left, but Elizabeth stayed curled against him. She felt so warm and alive, and he felt the overwhelming urge to keep her safe and close. God, he'd missed her so much, and to be with her this like again. He had wanted this all along.

* * *

"Oh," Buffy felt her heart sink when she stepped from her apartment to find William lifting one of the boxes stacked there, "it's you." God, he looked even better than she'd remembered. She was beginning to think that maybe she'd been hasty in her judgment of the hair. It gave him a kind of sexy edge that had been absent before, and the long leather coat and black clothes he was wearing just made the effect more striking. She didn't think she'd ever seen him so.edible.

"Uh yeah," William looked nervously down at the box in front of him. Despite all his treasured memories and every photo he had, he'd never imagined she could look this beautiful. It seemed like there was a light glowing from within her, and it drew him like a moth to a flame, all the more now because he knew that if he got too close he'd be burned.

"So, you moved in with Xander?" Buffy inquired, nodding to the other man as he carried one of the boxes down the stairs.

Xander nodded back and inwardly rolled his eyes at stubborn people.

"Yeah, sure," he countered defensively. "Why not?"

She bit her lip, trying to force herself not to plead with him to come back to her, to keep whatever little dignity she had left. Guess now that he's picked up a cool new look and all, he doesn't need me anymore, a hurt voice in the back of her mind whispered. "No reason," she countered out loud. "Just making small talk."

"Right." he trailed off, disappointed at how distant she was acting. Somewhere deep inside, he'd hoped this would all just work itself out when they saw each other again.

"Yeah," she shrugged. God, she'd half hoped that all he'd have to do was see how miserable she was without him, and he'd forget everything, and they could be together again.

"If you're ever lookin' for a bit of fun at a bachelor pad." he practically purred out the innuendo. He didn't know where it had come from. It was just that his desire for her had slipped out, while his emotions had remained locked up tight behind the defensive barrier he'd put up. Almost instantly an apology came to his lips.

"You wish," Buffy retorted coldly. Inwardly, she was shattered, however. It had never been like this between them before. Sex, desire, lust, yes, but always with their genuine love for each other behind it. God, how could this have happened?

The apology froze on his lips at her harsh words. "Right, then," he picked up the last box. "So long, Buffy."

"Bye, William," she tried to sound unconcerned.

"'S Spike now," he corrected before leaving her building for good.

Buffy shut the door behind her and felt the tears slip down her cheeks.

Willow instantly offered her a friendly hug, the silent thought in her head, Oh my god, they're both complete idiots.

Spike broke down in the passenger seat of the car as Xander drove them back to his apartment. With a weary sigh, he also came to the same conclusion, Both complete, stubborn idiots. No wonder they're so right for each other.

* * *

"Spike?" Elizabeth whispered softly, snuggling deeper into the strong arms that surrounded her.

"Yes, luv?" he inquired, venturing to place a soft kiss on the crown of her head. "And you can call me William. Don't mind, y'know."

"William." she smiled. "Do you think maybe we could lie down?"

He nodded and settled himself down along the length of the couch while Elizabeth snatched up a blanket from the armchair. He'd meant to turn on his side so that she could lie in front of him, but she defeated that purpose by lying down right on his chest, her head tucked beneath his chin.

For a minute, they just lay together like that, both thinking that this was the best they'd ever felt since they last made love.

"This okay?" Elizabeth inquired nervously.

"Yeah," he agreed. "I mean, no. I mean. 'S better'n 'okay', luv."

She smiled up at his nervous babbling. She hadn't heard him do that since before she'd first kissed him. In fact, she became increasingly aware now that their lips were actually only millimeters apart. All she'd have to do is lean down and.

He beat her to it. One hand twined through her hair, bringing her down to him, and their lips met in a soft, innocent kiss. Both their eyes shut instinctively, bodies collectively crying out, "At last!" Their mouths lingered on each other, never opening wide enough to deepen their kiss, but just savoring this most basic of contacts.

When they finally did break apart, they each found themselves as breathless as even the most strenuous of exercises had always left them.

"Mmm," Elizabeth managed to whisper lazily, "why haven't we done this before?"

"Because you broke up with me?" Spike sighed, admitting the hard truth.

Elizabeth frowned and froze for a second. "No, I didn't," she insisted. "You broke up with me."

"I bloody well did not!" he retorted vehemently. "Made the begging phone call for us to get back together and everything!"

"I made the begging phone call!" Elizabeth insisted.

"This isn't funny," he countered. "Not like the 'which one of us first asked the other out' argument."

"I'm serious," she exclaimed. "I-I called you to tell you how much I loved you and." She fought back the sniffle. ".You never called back."

"I never got the call," he insisted defensively. "And I called you to tell you much I love you, and you just hung up on me."

"I didn't know you were going to tell me you loved me," she countered. "I-I thought." She trailed off, teary eyed.

"I thought." he retorted at the same time, getting choked up as well.

They froze, looking into each other's eyes, a meeting of passionate hazel and deep blue.

"You loved me all along?" Spike finally managed to ask in a quiet voice, sounding almost scared to expose himself to her again.

"How could I ever stop loving you?" she whispered back rhetorically, placing a reassuring kiss on his brow. "Y-You always loved me?"

"With every breath I take," he assured her vehemently.

"Then why did we.?"

"Xander said we were being-"

"-Idiots," she filled in. "That's what Willow said."

A moment of silence as they each contemplated what this meant to them. Neither had gone unloved, rejected. They'd both misunderstood, misinterpreted, and.

"William?" Elizabeth whispered softly.

"Yes, luv," he murmured contentedly, arms holding her close.

"Kiss me again?"

"Got a lot of lost time to make up for," he agreed before their lips joined in passionate union once more, bodies intertwining as their tongues found each other and explored, making love to each other the way they'd both secretly dreamed of doing for all these years.

Angel sat back quietly on his haunches, watching contentedly as his two pet humans finally fell asleep in each other's arms. He'd become aware quite some time ago that his female was lonely for a mate, and even though this male had absolutely no respect for his proper role as domesticated house-pet, Angel had decided to keep him around this time for the female's happiness. After all, happy pets meant lots of food and treats for him.

Satisfied that he'd finally managed to acquire a suitable companion for his favorite human, he slipped out into the night. It was a relief that he'd finally managed to draw the two of them together now. Really, they were the most thick-skulled creatures on the face of the earth.

Ah well, now they could have strong, healthy, thick-skulled kittens together, and he wouldn't have to worry about them anymore. After all, he didn't have time to try to nudge foolish humans in the right direction all the time. All sorts of dangers lurking about in the darkness that he had to hunt down and take care of. Set on his proper mission once more, Angel vanished silently into the darkness.


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