Always There
By Pink Rabbit Productions

She leaned on one hand, carefully studying graceful curves. A fine boned hand reached out, artist's fingers sifting through pale blond hair. Angel silently watched Sam in sleep, noting the way her back rose and fell with her slow breathing. She couldn't quite believe she was here, in her friend's bed. She was under no illusions. She knew Sam wasn't in love with her. It had been a lark, the need to satisfy physical urges, curiosity, a dozen different things, but it wasn't love.

No, that wasn't true. Love was a part of it. Sam loved Angel, there was no question about that in Angel's mind. She just wasn't in love with her.

Angel continued slipping her fingers through Sam's hair, playing with the delicate strands, enjoying the silky texture.

She'd never thought this would happen. Never thought they'd make love. After all, there was Tom, and more recently Coop. She flinched as she thought of the good looking bomb tech. Despite the gnawing jealousy, she'd liked Coop. He'd been a decent man, one who genuinely loved Sam, and certainly hadn't deserved the end Jack had arranged for him. He was the only one who'd ever figured out how she felt about her friend and roommate.

It happened late one night. Sam was asleep--passed out really--after an end to a late date. Angel had been in the kitchen, slowly drinking a beer, and avoiding her room, where she could hear just enough of the faint sounds of their lovemaking to remind her that she'd never had a chance. Coop stepped in, barefoot, his shirt open to the waist. They'd made small talk for a few moments, Angel stiff and uncomfortable, Coop uncertain. Then he'd suddenly looked at her, his expression sad.

"I'm sorry, Angel," Coop had said, his voice low and understanding. "If it's any comfort, I don't think she's in love with me either."

She'd tensed, but caught by surprise, hadn't made the grade to deny the softly uttered implication. It was the only acknowledgement either of them had ever made of their situation. After that, she'd started seeing John--now there was a mistake--and Angel and Sam floated in and out of each other's lives.

Angel stroked Sam's back very lightly, enjoying the velvet texture, and the contrast in their skin colors. She'd fallen into the relationship with John, nearly left because of Jack, and struggled with the reality of being one of the serial killer's likely targets. If she was sane, she'd have run like hell years ago, but she'd been in love with Sam for so damn long that sanity was no longer an option. Like it or not, she was in for the long haul.

"Mmm, Angel?" Sam mumbled suddenly, muscles bunching under the gently stroking fingers.

"Shhh," the artist soothed. "It's still late. You don't have to get up for hours yet."

Sam rolled onto her side, leaning her head on her hand as she peered up at Angel. A sensual smile played about her lips, and she reached out with her other hand to gently stroke Angel's thigh. "I…uh…don't know what to say," she admitted blearily.

Angel continued playing with silky blonde strands. "Then don't say anything," she suggested, her voice low and husky with emotion.

Sam stared up at her long-time friend. With Chloe visiting her mother-in-law, Sam and Angel had opted for a girl's night out, indulging in a movie, then pizza and a couple of beers. A couple more beers at the house had led to a lot of laughs and teasing…and then that moment. They'd been sitting on the couch, thighs touching, laughing about something, and Sam had glanced over. She'd known that Angel had had female lovers over the years, but never really asked about them. Angel tended to keep those aspects her life very private, so Sam never pushed. In that instant, curiosity washed over her as it hit her just how striking her old friend was. The words had been out before she really thought about them. "You're beautiful."

They'd stared at each other for a long moment, eyes locked, suddenly breathing in sync. The first kiss had flowed naturally, then led into the next and the next. It was as though they couldn't get enough of each other, as hands flowed over warm curves, touching, caressing, loosening clothes in the search for bare flesh.

Just the thought of it brought a flush to Sam's skin. She reached up, twining her fingers with Angel's to draw her hand down, pressing a tender kiss across the knuckles. It was tempting to attribute it all to the alcohol, but she knew that didn't have much to do with anything, except maybe to lower a few inhibitions. She'd wondered about Angel from the moment some years before, when she first realized the red haired woman who was her partner on an installation piece a, was a lot more than her partner on the project. She remembered passing by the barn, ears perking and a blush crawling over her skin as she heard the sounds of their lovemaking. She'd stood startled in the open doorway as she caught a look at the women, their naked bodies twined in the hay. They'd both looked up, startled by the intrusion, and Sam had made a fast apology as she backed out. The redhead had disappeared, never to return, and Angel never mentioned the incident.

She looked up at Angel, who was watching her carefully, her dark eyes shuttered. "You cried out," Sam whispered impulsively, as she remembered that perfect moment when she'd felt Angel peak. She laughed a little self-consciously. "I…uh…guess it's a good thing Chloe's out for the night…she'd have heard."

A faint smile tugged at Angel's lips. She'd been so aroused, so agonizingly in need, she couldn't think or see straight. After loving and wanting Sam for so long, her body had become one giant sensual ache in the moments during their first kiss and by the time Sam touched her, her first caresses hesitant and curious, Angel had been ready to explode. She'd whimpered mindlessly, touching and stroking as Sam's hands and lips explored her body. She had screamed when her orgasm struck, crying out as her spine drew into a tortured arch. Afterward, she'd made love to Sam, taking her time, tasting every inch of her body. She knew there was a chance this would never happen again, and she wanted to drink in every moment of it possible, drink it in so she could always hold it close and remember it for all posterity.

"I…uh…didn't exactly know what I was doing," Sam admitted, her husky voice sounding embarrassed.

"You did okay," Angel assured her, then grinned despite herself. "A lot more than okay, actually," she exhaled.

"I've never, I mean…" Sam trailed off uncertainly.

"I know," Angel finished for her and gave her hand a gentle squeeze.

They sat in companionable silence for a long moment. "Why?" Angel questioned at last, wondering if the question came out of insanity, or a deep seated sense of masochism.

Sam couldn't really give a coherent answer. She'd thought about it before, but there'd always been other things on her mind, other things in the way, her grief for Tom, Bailey's reappearance, joining the VCTF, Coop, Jack…a myriad of things all demanding her attention, until sometimes, it seemed like Angel and Chloe both had no choice but to take the back burner. "I don't really know. We were there, laughing, enjoying each other's company and it just struck me how beautiful you are. Does that make sense?"

Angel only shrugged and continued holding her hand.

"I suddenly wanted to kiss you." She kissed her knuckles again, then smiled wryly. "And then I wanted to do a whole lot more than kiss you," she admitted, remembering the hungry passion they'd shared. "I wanted to touch every inch of you…taste and feel you…."

Angel could feel her body reacting to the softly uttered words.

Sam released her hand to reach out and stroke her lover's upper arm, marveling at the texture of her skin. "But it isn't just about me…" she exhaled, trailing off uncertainly. "What did you want…why?"

Angel brushed her fingers along Sam's cheek, unable to hold back at least some of the truth, as she admitted, "I've always wanted you…." She leaned forward, kissing full lips. "Like this, but it was never…" she trailed off uncertainly.

"Time," Sam finished for her.

Angel nodded.

"What about John?"

That question caught the artist by surprise. She shook her head, vaguely embarrassed by the entire affair. It had started as a friendship, moved into rebound territory, and left her feeling used for little more than his rather cheap sexual gratification. "It's over," she answered without elaborating.

"He doesn't seem to think so," Sam pointed out, as she recalled his rather mocking comment, one day about how they'd broken up, but he didn't expect it to last. She hadn't liked the overconfident tone even then but hadn't said much. After all, it wasn't really her business.

Angel shrugged. "It's over," she repeated flatly, making it clear she had no intention of pursuing that avenue again.

Sam let out a soft sigh of relief, without taking the time to wonder why she'd been so tense as she waited for that denial. Angel leaned closer, and Sam impulsively crossed the final distance between them, her lips eager as they tasted each other's mouths. Kisses blended one into another, while their hands wandered, stroking, touching, exploring. When the kiss finally broke, they lay facing each other, their bodies still pressed close.

Sam reached out with a pale hand, playing with dark curls, slipping delicate fingers through cool silk. She watched Angel carefully, studying the expressions tracering over her features, the emotions in her eyes, the faint catch of her breath. "I don't want this to be a one time affair," she admitted to the woman lying so intimately close. She needed someone, and Angel had always been there for her, a haven when she'd needed a place to hide after Tom's death, a comfort when she'd gone back to work for Bailey and needed the confidence of knowing Chloe was being looked after emotionally as well as physically, and a friend when Coop was murdered so soon after she'd decided to put things on hold.

The artist felt her breath catch. She'd wanted this for so long, waited and dreamed. More than once she'd tried to convince herself it was hopeless, tried to walk away, and always walked back. "Are you sure?" she exhaled, unable to quite believe the softly spoken words.

Sam hooked her leg over Angel's calf, drawing her closer. "Yes," she exhaled, and leaned forward, reclaiming soft lips.

Angel wrapped her arms around her friend and lover as she felt the passion rise anew. Gentle hands slid over warm curves, touching, caressing, while their bodies moved in age old erotic rhythms, coming together, moving apart, then coming together again. Moisture dotted their skin, making it glow in a way that enhanced the contrasts of hair and flesh. Mouths meshed, drinking hungrily, as desire burned hot and heady.

Sam could hear her own breath coming in ragged pants. She kissed her way along Angel's jaw, holding tight as they moved together, her hands splaying over the artist's narrow back. "I never knew," she gasped, her head snapping back into the pillow as she neared her orgasm.

"I love you," Angel whispered near her ear, unable to hold the truth back, as she felt her lover's orgasm draw her muscles taut. Her own body was right on the edge as she heard Sam's cry, tasted it through a meeting of their mouths. Angel felt hot pleasure shudder and flare outward from her groin, rippling through her, as she moved with her lover. Every inch of her body was sensitized by the hot waves of pleasure, until it was though her orgasm was everywhere. They rode the waves together, until finally, both lovers collapsed into the mattress, their bodies twined in the aftermath of passion.

"Angel," Sam whispered, nuzzling into the curve of her friend's shoulder. "Did you really mean it…that you love me?" she whispered.

Angel briefly considered trying to deny the hastily uttered admission, but the words wouldn't come. "Yes," she exhaled, reaching up to pet silky blond strands, as she pressed a kiss to Sam's forehead. "I have for a long time."

Sam tipped her head up, staring at her friend with something akin to awe. She reached up, brushing her fingers along a smooth jawline. Her mouth worked silently for a moment, opening as though she intended to say something, then closing again. Finally, she arched up to press a soft kiss to full lips, then rested her cheek on Angel's chest, listening to the steady beat of her heart. "You've always been there for me." She stroked Sam's hip lightly.

"And I always will be," Angel promised. "I always will be…."

The End

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