Everything's Changed

Angel looked at Buffy with dark eyes, unable to believe the pure selfishness of all that she was saying and doing. She only thought of herself, what Faith had done to her and not of the fact that Faith was trying to get better, that she had voluntarily given herself over to the police. Buffy didn't consider any of that; she was far too hung up on her own problems with the other slayer to care.

"I have someone in my life now," Buffy said suddenly, throwing the conversation for a whole new turn. But it wasn't anything new for him to hear, Faith had already let slip that she had moved on earlier that night. He wasn't surprised to hear that Buffy had found another man, nor was he as hurt as he had thought he would be. "That I love. It's not what you and I had, it's very new. You know what makes it new?"

Angel refused to look at her as she stepped up toward him, feeling the heat that radiated off her warm skin. He always missed the warmth; it was one of the things that he craved the most from the brief contact that she shared with the humans in his life. Warmth.

"I trust him," she sneered, the look making her face look gruesome. "I know him."

"That's great," Angel scoffed finally, looking over to her. He felt the need to get back at her, get revenge for the pain that she was deliberately causing him in that moment. She knew that his love, his happiness, could turn him into a monster and she didn't care. She was rubbing her happiness in his face. His eyes moved over to the stairs that led down to the main floor when he heard someone coming up them, the familiar light footfalls catching his attention. A head of bright red blonde hair appeared a moment later, eyes turning in his direction. "It's nice you moved on. So have I."

Buffy flinched back at his words, not having expected to hear them. Angel didn't know whether it was right to feel glad that he had received that reaction from her. The redhead that was coming up the stairs clearly heard their conversation, her blue eyes softening as she looked into Angel's dark brown ones. Buffy noticed that he was looking off at something and turned around, immediately taking note of the woman standing at the top of the stairs.

Her hair reached near mid back in natural large curls, her large blue eyes surrounded by dark makeup that made the colour stand out more. She wasn't wearing lip gloss as most women were these days, but instead a neutral lipstick that made her pale skin stand out more. She was tall, probably only an inch shorter than Angel was, and was wearing a pair of black jeans with a red halter top and leather jacket with the sleeves pushed up to her elbows. She looked unreal. Unearthly.

It took Buffy a moment to recognize her as the woman from the roof.

"You found someone new, so have I," Angel continued, seeing the look that came to the red haired woman's face. She did not enjoy being in the slayers presence.

And it was not because she was a demon.

"I think it's time you left, Buffy," Wesley said as he approached the group. Buffy couldn't draw her eyes away from the woman at the top of the stairs, trying to comprehend just what was so special about her that she was able to be with Angel. If Angel loved her, how was he still Angel, not Angelus?

"I want answers," she said firmly, looking over to Angel again.

"You can't just come down here with your great new life and expect me to do things your way!" Angel yelled suddenly, causing the woman to step forward but stopped when Wesley held up a hand to signal her to stay where she was. She looked worried about Angel, her strange blue eyes watching him and Buffy carefully. "Go home."

Without another word Buffy moved around Angel to collect her coat, finally taking her shocked, hurt eyes off of him. Angel moved passed her to face the stairs, leaning on the railing. The woman stayed where she was, her eyes on Buffy. The blonde didn't look happy when she met those blue eyes, she wanted her answers and she was deprived of them.

"See?" she finally asked quietly, "Faith wins again."

Turning to move down the stairs, she gasped and jumped when the woman was suddenly standing before her, on the first step down. She was still slightly taller than Buffy even with the lower level. Her blue eyes were set in a glare, irritation swirling in their depths.

"Faith didn't win anything. She's locked away in a cell right now, unsure of the fate that she will be forced to live out. She didn't win. You just lost." Her voice was like music, soft in tone but strong and powerful, hypnotizing to the senses. She stepped around Buffy before the blonde had time to react, moving over to where Angel was.

"Go, Buffy."

The blonde glared at them all for a moment, looking to all the world like she was about to throw a tantrum. However, she wisely turned on heel and marched down the remainder of the steps. Desiree didn't even look back at her, but Angel watched her until she had disappeared passed the railing of the stairs. "Are you alright?" Desiree asked carefully when she had reached him, placing a hand on his shoulder. Surprisingly, he wasn't tense.

Letting out a long sigh, Angel finally looked up to meet Desiree's striking eyes. "I will be. I'm just worried about Faith."

Smiling softly, Desiree squeezed his shoulder. "She wanted to come here. I was trying to get her away from the area, so she could hide, but she told me she didn't want to—she was tired of running and hiding."

"She made the right choice, in the end," Wesley admitted. She couldn't feel the anger that had wafted off of him before, and for that she was thankful. In his own way, Wesley seemed to have come to terms with what happened between him and Faith. "Come on, there's nothing more we can do here."

Grabbing his jacket, Wesley slipped passed the two demons. Desiree turned to watch him leave, her blue eyes shimmering with her concern. "He'll be okay," Angel promised. With the distractions of the other two gone, Angel finally realized that there was a sweet, familiar smell wafting off of Desiree in waves. Pushing himself to his full height abruptly, Desiree blinked in surprise when he reached out for her, his hand slipping into her jacket for a moment before drawing out again.

The tips of his fingers were stained with her blood. It was thick and beginning to clot, but running around with Faith had delayed her healing.

"Why haven't you-" Angel began in surprise, having expected the wound to have at least stopped bleeding by now. Reaching out again, he made sure there was no one around to see as he tipped her jacket to the side, exposing the clean wound Faith had caused when she stabbed her. It probably reached all the way through, leaving a smaller wound on her back as well.

Now that he thought about it, Desiree hadn't even moved her arm since she entered the police station.

"Just haven't had the relaxed time to focus on it," she answered, rolling her shoulder gently and flinching in the process. Angel could smell the strong waft of blood that the motion instigated, causing him to frown as his brooding face intensified. "Don't worry about it, Angel. I've survived this long, hadn't been killed off yet—this is barely a flesh wound in comparison to some of the trouble I've gotten into before."

"That does not make me feel any better," he pointed out, but Desiree just smiled in assurance and took his hand with her good one, her other arm remaining at her side.

"Come on, the smell of guns is making my head hurt."

Angel nodded reluctantly, turning to walk with her to the stairs. He felt, in some small way, that he had failed Faith. She may have done the right thing in the end and turned herself in, but he still wasn't able to actually save her. It was better than knowing she was dead or held somewhere completely against her will. Her final act as a free woman had been her own choice, even if it condemned her.

"Everything will work out, Angel. This was her first step to something better because it was her choice," Desiree assured, leaning against him slightly as they exited the building. The cooler, fresher air was soothing after being stuck inside the cramped station. For supernatural beings like a Vampire and a Siren, the voices, the smells, the phones, everything, was louder and more disruptive for them. Even if they were still in the city, it was still a step up from being in that cramped station.

Angel had expected Wesley to be waiting at the car, but when he didn't spot him anywhere he realized that the man had more than likely decided to walk. It wasn't all that surprisingly, since he more than likely wanted some time to think. He'd given up a chance to return to the council, even though it turned out to be a lie, and had instead tried to help save Faith from them. He could understand the man wanting some time away from everyone else, giving him the chance to sort out his own thoughts.

Instead of immediately jumping into the car, Angel and Desiree leaned against the front bumper as they relaxed, finally. "Are you sure you'll be alright?" Angel asked quietly, eyeing the few people that were still hanging around. Most of them were cops heading home of coming in for work, but some pedestrians were still lingering with the curiosity of what had happened when Angel was brought in in cuffs.

"Fine, Angel," Desiree assured again, offering him a tired smile. "Like I said before, I've had a lot worse over the years. First time I've been stabbed by a slayer, though," she muttered the last part, glancing down at her collar as she pulled her jacket aside. Angel could see the wound perfectly in the dark, the red blood slightly crusted at the edges, but still warm and fresh near the wound itself.

Angel's jaw tensed as the movement wafted the scent of her blood toward him. Instinctively, his mouth flooded with saliva in preparation of a meal, but he swallowed it quickly and turned his head away. Desiree caught the motion and quickly covered the injury again, pushing off from the bumper.

"Maybe I should make my way home," she began quickly, putting herself downwind of Angel so he wasn't forced to smell her blood.

"What? No! You're hurt!" he protested immediately, pushing away from the car and moving after her.

Desiree continued to walk backwards, rounding the car to keep space between them, but Angel only followed. "I know that my blood calls to you, Angel. Angelus already spilled the beans on that one. I don't want you to have to be put through discomfort because of me-"

"You got stabbed because of me," Angel interrupted, suddenly lunging forward to snatch her arms, careful not to jostle her injured shoulder, and pull her toward him. "Please, Desiree." He didn't elaborate further, only gave the quiet, barely audible plea, and waited. Desiree looked into the soft brown of his eyes, shocked at the tone he had used, before she slouched abruptly and gave in. What Angel had been through…she couldn't say she entirely understood. However, she wasn't going to deny him company if that's really what he wanted right now.

Wesley may have wanted to be alone, but it seemed Angel was getting tired of turning everyone away when he needed them.

Angel guided her back around to the passenger side of the car, opening the door for her to get in. Desiree was careful to keep her blood from the car interior, not wanting to torture the guy. Thankfully, the night was clear and let them keep the top down so the smell of her blood wasn't enclosed in the car. However, finally sitting down and no longer having to keep up some kind of pretense, Desiree leaned back in the seat and groaned low. It hurt to press her shoulder back against the leather, but it was better than sitting stiff like before.

"Do you…are you…" Angel stuttered out suddenly, stumbling over the words. Desiree wasn't sure what he was asking at first, but the fact that he had trouble asking helped her to decide that he wasn't asking 'are you okay?' like before.

"Hungry?" she supplied cautiously. When his hand gripped the wheel abruptly, she knew that she'd hit the nail on the head. "I guess, yeah. Mostly because of the energy my body's using on the wound. I'll worry about that later," she mumbled without concern, leaning her head back on the top of the seat, unintentionally exposing her throat to the vampire that was discretely looking at her from the corner of his eye. She was starting to feel more tired as she relaxed, letting her mind drift away from the present situation.

Angel didn't like the thought of her going off somewhere to feed on other demons, like that night in the club. Knowing she had done so after she had healed Wesley already seemed to upset him on a deep level. He knew what it felt like to have her feed from him; it was a rush, and made him feel like there was a connection between them that he had never had with anyone before. It was almost better than the experience of feeding on fresh blood, without the guilt of hurting someone.

He forced himself to keep his eyes fixed on the road, relieved that there wasn't more traffic—if the car was forced to stop, there was a chance the wind would direct the scent of her blood at him and his control was wearing thin. They would be back at his apartment in only a few minutes, already fairly close to the police station as it was. Knowing that he was going to be alone with Desiree in the enclosed space of his apartment sent a bit of a thrill through him that he tried to repress. It was similar to the rush of saliva before; his instincts knew what they wanted.

Pulling up in the underground parking for his building, Angel noticed Desiree jerk slightly as she woke herself up from where she had begun to drift to sleep beside him. "You gunna be okay?" he asked cautiously, watching her as she drowsily popped open the door.

"You offering to carry me?" she asked with a teasing lilt to her voice, a coy smile beginning to play on her lips. Angel opened his mouth to answer, but he found the words stuttering on his tongue. Her forwardness caught him somewhat off guard, thought he probably shouldn't have been at this point. Her expression softened at his hesitation, the shyness somewhat apparent. "Relax, I can walk just fine."

To prove her point, she headed for the entrance to the building, also leading to the underground hall she had been running through earlier when trying to get around the council members that had come for Faith. Angel hurried to follow her, not having to move too quickly since her pace was slow already.

Desiree was thankful for how cool it was in the basement level of the building, her skin feverish as it fought against the flesh wound. Her shoulder was burning more than anything else, but she knew that her entire body was reacting to being injured. The door to his apartment was still open, letting them step right in with Angel closing the heavy metal behind him. Carefully, Desiree peeled the jacket from her shoulders.

The knife had gone through to the back of her shoulder, just as he had thought. Faith had driven the knife in much further than he remembered, but it made sense considering the length of the slice at the front of her shoulder, shaped to the same width at the base of the kitchen knife she had used. The damage at the back wasn't nearly as bad, the faintest wound at the exit site. Draping the jacket over one of his kitchen chairs, Desiree carefully tried to glance back over her shoulder to see the damage there. Angel's lack of mirrors was now a problem.

Before she could twist her torso enough to hurt herself more, Angel's gentle touch at her back caused her to stop. She was wearing her halter top, the same one that she wore when Angelus had bitten into her, and without her jacket her shoulders were entirely exposed. Along with the tattoo that ran down the entirety of her spine. It was ancient, in runes that she knew Angel couldn't read. It was a language similar to that of her and her sisters, though with a few differences from the change in region.

Angel's fingertips were barely a caress on her spine as they trailed down along the curving, swirling markings. She was relieved when he didn't ask her anything, such as what it said—it was personal, between her and her haunting past from the death of her sisters. Angel seemed to sense the need for that privacy and left the silence to hang between them. At the same time, the presence of someone to feed from, touching her exposed skin, caused her body to give a full shudder. The urge to try and feed from him was almost overwhelming.

"Angel," she began softly, tempted to ask him to move back, to remove his hand from her back, but she really didn't want to. She couldn't form the words.

And then his lips fell to the top notch of her spine, caressing her flesh with the softest kiss. It took her by surprise, not having expected the action. Her breath hitched before she could stop herself, back arching in natural reaction to the intimate touch. Angel's hands moved to her waist, taking hold of her sides as he pressed closer to her, his nose buried in her hair. She wondered briefly if it was the smell of her blood that was drawing him to her like this, but there was no true way to tell without asking him and she dared not put him on the spot like that.

He was always so weary about when he was being intimate with her in even the most basic ways; she would take what she could get.

But as abruptly as his touch as appeared, it was gone again. Desiree felt suddenly alone as Angel took a large step back from her. Quickly glancing back at him, he had already turned his back to her and had his hands carding through the spikes of his hair. Instantly, she knew he was hating himself for what he had done.

"Angel-"

"I'm sorry," he interrupted suddenly, still standing with his back to her. "I'm sorry. Your blood just…I couldn't-"

Desiree silently walked up behind him and took one hand in hers, feeling his already tense muscles jump at the contact, and pulled him around to face her again. "You're not the only one who struggles here, Angel," she began calmly, intense blue eyes affixed to his. "When you touch me, I can feel your energy. Your soul. It draws me in and makes me hungry. Just like blood does to you—whether my blood or someone else's." Looking down at the hand she held, Desiree turned it over softly and traced the tips of her fingers over the creases in his palm. "Even the faintest skin contact…"

Lifting his hand, the Siren leaned down caress the center of his palm with her lips, repeating the soft kiss he had given to the top of her spine a moment ago.

Even when she was the one initiating the contact, she dearly wanted to feed from his soul.

"Do it," Angel commanded suddenly. The abruptness caused Desiree to straighten in surprise, shocked blue eyes meeting his again. The intensity she found there had her frozen, unsure how to answer the sudden demand.

"Angel-"

"If you ever need to feed, Desiree, feed from me. Take my energy, it's yours."

"I will not treat you like a free meal!" she denied vehemently, dropping his hand so their skin contact was cut off. It was for not, however, because Angel reached for her before she could put distance between them again and drew her forward, against his chest, and pressed his lips against hers the instant she was close enough. The contact had Desiree's tense posture melting immediately, the hunger intensifying from the kiss.

For a large portion of her life, a kiss was her means of feeding. She hadn't cared for intimacy or love in the way that a kiss was meant to be shared, so her body reacted instinctively and she began taking in the warmth and energy of his soul. Now, it was…different. Everything had changed.

Angel groaned at the familiar feeling of her power, holding her closer as he inhaled the smell of her—her natural scent, her breath, her blood.