When she looked back on it later, she wondered what would have happened if she had not walked in when she did, or if she had decided not to even go there at all. It was too icky to think about. The images still rose up sometimes when she looked at him, and even though there was no blame to place on his head, she couldn't help but feel betrayed and kind of yucky about the whole thing...

It was yet another sleepless night. There had been many of them lately, she realized, as she lay in bed and stared at the ceiling. Thoughts of dark serious eyes and a lazy half-smile flitted through her mind. Angel, with his handsome features and lean body, teased her while she slept and kept her hungering when she was awake. The handholding and light kisses they had been exchanging as of late were tender and sweet, but she always left him at night with an unexplainable ache, like she wanted more. Their one night together, well over a year ago now, had started a want in her that would not go away, and would not lessen. It grew every time she saw him, every time she watched his eyes light up when she came to him, and the knowledge that it was not something that she could ever experience again was extremely painful. She did not want to share it with someone else. In fact, the idea of him having done so before her was a bitter pill to swallow. It was not the physicality of the act. It was instead the emotional ribbon that had wound around them during those passion-filled hours together, the tenderness and the soft whispers and the love that had bound Buffy to him forever. The physical desire had only added to the emotional attachment, but the desire was what followed her home after she left him. The ache was persistent and hot, and kept her up at night. Like now.

Sighing, she turned her head to see the soft blue-green glow of the digital clock. 4:30 a.m. The sun would be creeping over the horizon soon and she knew Angel would have already returned from hunting. She pictured him prowling around the mansion alone, and an idea started to form. Should she pay him a visit? She wasn't sleeping anyway. They could sit together and talk, the way they usually did, and then she could go off to school and pretend that school mattered. Definitely an idea. She turned it over in her head for a minute more, and that was all she needed.

Thirty minutes later, she was padding up to his front door, her backpack heavy with schoolbooks flung over one shoulder. The morning mist was all around her as the sun tried valiantly to break through, but it was only managing to make everything appear hazy. She pushed open the door. It was unlocked, as usual, and she knew it was for her. He always left it open in the hope she would come.

"Hey," she called softly, but got no answer, and thought he must be in the bedroom. The bedroom, she thought. Where there's a bed. She squelched it quickly. She shrugged off her backpack and left it by the door, going in search of him. She knew he was home because his hunting stakes were in a pile in a corner, and they were dusty from fresh kills. Further proof was his leather jacket, discarded over the arm of the couch. Buffy let her fingers trail over it as she passed, and went to the doorway of the bedroom.

He was sprawled on his back on the bed, one leg bent, the other straight. He had an arm flung over his eyes and the other lay across his stomach. Buffy could not help smiling at the sight of him there, relaxed and off guard, and her ache for him grew stronger. She was about to say his name so as not to startle him, when there was a slight movement from the shadows of the room. Her eyes flicked to it instantly, and what she saw emerge from the darkness was enough to freeze her tongue.

Faith. The darkly beautiful renegade Slayer was here, in Buffy's world.She was in Angel's bedroom with him. Even though Buffy could see her clearly, her mind rebelled. She could not be seeing this. Faith did not belong here. Faith and Angel in the same room was a contrast that should have sent the earth spinning off its axis. Buffy found herself helpless to do a thing except stare at her in disbelief as Faith crossed the room to the bed and knelt down near Angel's head, licking her full lips as she did. In frozen horror, Buffy watched Faith as she began to nuzzle Angel's cheek and ear, stroking the hair back from his forehead. Angel did not move, and Buffy blinked. Oh, my God, she thought. He's letting her do it.

The sickest feeling she'd ever had washed over her like a tidal wave, and she thought for a moment she might be sick on the floor. Then she shook her head and covered her mouth with her hand, watching more of the horrible show play out. Faith rose from her knees to a low crouch, leaning over Angel and brushing his lips with her own, as her hand strayed to the open collar of his shirt and rested inside on the bare skin of his neck. Angel still had not moved except to shift slightly and murmur something, and Buffy again felt the nausea rise.

No wonder he had seemed so content to just kiss her good night, and let her go off to bed. It seemed he was satisfying his own urges without her. Buffy mentally cringed when she thought of all the times that she had been so careful not to let things get too out of hand when they kissed, thinking that Angel must have been in as much frustration as she was. You stupid, innocent, little girl, she berated herself. How could you have been so blind? And Faith had known of their plight, because Buffy had confided in her. Buffy had told Faith much of Angel, and Faith had listened eagerly, obviously storing away the knowledge. And now she was here, using that knowledge to her advantage, much like she had used Buffy's trust and Giles's wisdom to turn against them all.

But what of Angel? Were his desires so strong that he could not turn away from her, and instead took what she offered so he did not have to suffer? Had Buffy underestimated him that much? Well, he IS male, her mind whispered. Old he may be, and a vampire to boot, but males are males are males.

No, she whispered fiercely back in her head. Angel is--was--different. I know it.

Yup, sure. Look how different he's acting.

Be quiet, she told herself, her eyes still locked on the couple.

By now Faith had gingerly put one knee on the bed next to Angel and had bent over him even further, so her breasts were brushing his chest and she was pressing light kisses to his forehead. Every so often she would lightly pass her tongue over his mouth, licking at it with tiny, feather-like strokes before returning her attention to his neck or ears. Buffy continued to watch in utter confusion as Faith whispered into his ear and began to press herself onto him, lowering her weight gently onto his body. His head was still turned away from the door, but when Faith began to rub smoothly against him, Buffy watched sickeningly as he repositioned himself and shifted so that Buffy could now see his face clearly. It was then that she got her second shock.

Angel was fast asleep.

Sleeping was not something he did often. He didn't really need to, but Buffy knew it helped pass the time and relieve boredom. The few times she had seen him asleep, though, taught her that Angel did not sleep lightly. She had had to shake him hard and call his name several times to wake him, and even then he came around groggily and had to give himself time to fully awaken. He was a heavy sleeper, and you could send a brass band in as an alarm clock and still have to give him a wake up call. Buffy assumed that was one of the reasons he chose not to sleep. It had the potential of being dangerous for him.