***Part Eight***

Willow opened the door and stared. She couldn't help it. Buffy had told her. She'd seen pictures. It wasn't the same as seeing him up close and personal. It wasn't even that they looked alike. They were the same height, the same build, the same smile. It was definitely investigation-worthy.

"Uh hi, Seeley, right?"

"Yes. I'd ask how you know, but you're Willow, right?"

"Yup. And I guessed, because, well, daylight and all. You couldn't be Angel."

"Good deduction."

"It's. Wow. I might, I thought it was like a fluke thing."

"It's not."

"No, it's not. It's really not."

"Uh, is Buffy home?"

"No, she's not."

"Where is she?"

"She just went to the store. She figured it'd be faster if she just went herself because well, you know, I don't know where anything is."

"Can I come in?"

"Oh, yeah, sure, sorry." Could she act any more stupid? It's not like this was the first weird thing she'd encountered. In fact, compared to some things she'd seen and done this was fairly tame.

"Thanks. Buffy didn't tell me you were coming."

"She didn't? Maybe she forgot. Finals and all, she's been kind of distracted."

"Yeah, she has."

"That was nice what you did. Thanksgiving. I worry about her being here by herself. She wanted to come back to the States, though."

"I'm glad it worked out."

"Can I get you something to drink? She should back any minute. She left a while ago."

"Sure. A Coke would be great. When did you get in?"


"You're where again?"

"London, but I travel a lot."

"Buffy mentioned that."

She came into the living room with a Coke and handed it to him. "Have a seat."


"I know this is weird. I'm sorry if I'm staring. It's really amazing. It's like someone took a picture of him and had you made the same way."

"Have you been able to find anything out? Buffy said you and Giles is it were working on something?"

"We've been researching. I haven't found anything. But if someone did a spell. Well, it's a good one first of all. With Dawn, it was only those close to Buffy that were affected. And not everyone knew about Connor so it was sort of the same thing. But this. This is like huge. You have a son that's older than when Angel disappeared. And yet, they left our memories intact. Unless it was an oversight. If someone knew Angel from Los Angeles they might not realize he'd spent time with us in Sunnydale."

"Do you think that's likely?"

"I don't know. We have a whole coven working on it, but so far if there's a spell we can't find any evidence of it. That doesn't mean anything. Whoever did this could just be that good that we can't find anything."

"That's not really reassuring."

"No, I suppose it's not. I'm sorry."

"It's okay, Willow, it's not your fault."

"Well, it's just spells and magic, they're supposed to be my thing. Buffy doesn't come to me very often looking for magical answers."

"You're not letting her down. Or me."

"Are you sure?"

He smiled then and Willow thought for a minute she was back in high school. Back when she and Angel had conspired to find out information on Buffy's friend Ford.

"I'm positive. I don't know any different any way."

"Sorry I took so long," Buffy called from the kitchen. "Everyone must be restocking after Christmas or something. The store was packed."

"Buffy, you're home."

"I am, and I see you two have met."

"We have."


Willow watched as Buffy walked to where Seeley sat on the couch.


Buffy kissed him. Willow watched, not to be a voyeur but she needed to see for herself Buffy was happy. It would be easy to transfer feelings from Angel to Seeley given the resemblance. She didn't think Buffy was doing that. Too much time had passed, and Willow really did think Buffy had moved on. Not that she didn't love Angel, the same as Willow still loved Oz.

"I'm glad you made it."

"Me, too."

"Did your son get everything he wanted from Santa?"

"And then some, yes."


"He liked the shirt you sent for him. That was nice of you."

"Will his mom mind?"

"I'll keep it at my place. What she doesn't know won't hurt her."

"I didn't want to overstep my boundaries, but I saw it in the bookstore and it was so cute. I've never had a reason to buy little kid clothes before."


"No. No one I know has kids."


"Just you."

"I'll be damned."

"Well, I'm only twenty-six."

"Oh, I know, but you'd think someone would have kids."

"Normally, I guess you're right. My life has been anything but normal."

"Right, you have a point I forget sometimes. So, what did you go shopping for?"

"Oh, food. I didn't want to go before Christmas and meant to get an earlier start this morning. I was feeling kind of lazy, though."

"You're entitled."

"I'll go put the groceries away."

"Thanks, Will."


"She doesn't have to leave."

Buffy sat next to him on the couch, tucking some hair behind her ear. "Well, there's something I need to say."


"No, nothing bad. It's just I sort of forgot when we made plans that Willow was coming, too. I get scatter brained sometimes. And that's without finals on my mind. You'd think I wouldn't forget my best friend flying in from London, but I did."


She leaned against him, running a fingertip along his thigh. "Well, she's here until Saturday, and you're here until next Sunday."


"I only have one spare bedroom."

"I can stay at a hotel for a couple of nights. It's not a problem."

"Well, that wasn't what I was getting at."


She shifted on the couch, turning to face him. "I have two options."

"All right."

She laughed lightly and looked away. "Willow can sleep with me and you can take the spare bedroom. Or Willow can keep the spare bedroom and you can sleep with me."

"You don't really expect me to be the one to make that decision."

"Well, no, I have no problem with it either way. It's been a few years since Willow and I did the slumber party thing, but it wouldn't be the first time we've shared a bed. On the other hand, as long as we're on the same wavelength as far as, you know, being intimate goes, I have no problem with you being there instead."

"So, you do expect me to make a decision."

"Well, can you just sleep with me?"

"I don't know. I haven't tried. I've been successful in not jumping you being under the same roof as you for days on end. So I think we should be safe."

"And on Saturday if you want to switch rooms that'd be okay."



He placed his hand at her cheek, using enough pressure so she had to turn and look at him.

"I can assure you once you've gotten me into your bed you're not going to get me out of it."

Her heart raced at his words and she smiled. She couldn't deny she wasn't disappointed to hear him say that. "Oh," she said simply.

"So, I'll leave it up to you. If you feel comfortable then that's fine with me."

"You're sure?"

"Positive. I'm a grown man, not a kid. I won't deny it'll be tempting, but I get the feeling you'll be worth the wait."

"Yeah, I get that feeling, too."

He kissed her then. It started out light but grew more intense until they broke away at Willow's soft shriek.

"It's going to take some getting used to having a third person with us."

"Yeah, it will. Sorry."

"So, what's for dinner?"

"Are you hungry?"

"I could eat, yeah."

"Well, tonight's your lucky night because we have food and stuff."

"Stuff is good."

"I thought we'd make our own pizza."


"Yeah, Willow and I already did the crusts. So we can make our own. I bought some wine. Or there's beer. I figured it's cold, you've been traveling so we could stay in tonight. And you're here for a while, we can't go out all the time. And you cooked Thanksgiving dinner for me. I realize pizza isn't the same."

"You amaze me sometimes."

"Only sometimes?"

"Well, most of the time, and homemade pizza sounds good. And fun."

"I thought so. It was Willow's idea, though."

"I'll thank her, too."

She stood from the couch, giving him her hand when he did the same and walked with him into the kitchen where Willow was putting the plastic bags away.

"All put away."

"Great, let's get started on pizza."


New Year's Eve 2007

He was in love or at least seriously on his way. And with the most unlikely woman. She really wasn't his type. To be sitting home with her on New Year's Eve instead of out somewhere should have been a hardship. It wasn't. He liked it. And what was more he didn't want to go back on Sunday. They had champagne chilling and were set to watch the ball drop from the comfort and warmth of her living room. He couldn't recall the last New Year's Eve he'd been inside and warm.

They'd spent a portion of the evening outside building a snowman of all things. He hadn't even done that with Parker. The snowman completed things had turned from fun into a rather heated snowball fight. There was nothing like fresh air to get the juices flowing, even if it was damn cold out there. The snowman looked pretty good, too.

He was in the kitchen getting the few odds and ends they had bought to snack on for the evening. It was like a party, just a much smaller scaled one. Intimate. He could do that and then some if Buffy Summers was with him.

He opened a container of cheese and arranged some crackers on a plate around it. He wondered how it was he'd gotten here. His life had been pretty well mapped out. Or so he'd thought. Rebecca and Parker were blips on the road, bullets he'd dodged. Not that he didn't love Parker. He was glad to have him, but he hadn't been planned.

Buffy was the first thing he could remember wanting that he actively pursued. She had he supposed fallen into his lap by way of the case that had brought him to Columbus and the resemblance to her ex. It would have been easy to walk away and never see her again. To chalk up the attraction to her still holding a torch for a high school sweetheart.

He knew differently now, knew that the relationship was far more intense than it should have been for a sixteen and seventeen year old. And yet she'd yet to say an unkind word about him. He'd left her, breaking her heart and she forgave him. And actually felt guilty for taking a year for herself after giving so much of herself for years before that.

He found some glasses in the cupboard and brought things into the living room. The water upstairs was no longer running so she had finished her shower. She'd looked fine when they'd come in from the snow. Her nose was red, her eyes were watering and her cheeks were flushed. Her smile was wide and sincere. And her eyes sparkled with happiness. For and because of him. She'd insisted, despite his protests to the contrary, that she needed a shower.

Sleeping in the same bed as her the past few nights had been a true test of his willpower. His ability to actually do it, sleep beside her without turning on the full court press, made him realize all the more that he was gone. He didn't think she'd resist if he were to give a gentle push in that direction.

"Whatcha doing in here?"

He realized he was standing in the dark. He was rarely caught doing nothing or looking confused. "I was getting things ready."

"Thanks," she said.

He set the glasses down and looked at her then, glad he'd put them down. She wore what he presumed was a man's dress shirt that fell about mid thigh. If she wore anything under it, he couldn't tell. And suddenly watching the ball drop was the furthest thing from his mind. The shirt was unbuttoned enough for him to see she wasn't wearing a bra. She had a nice figure. An outstanding pair of legs. He'd seen her in dresses and she'd been pressed up against him in bed the past few nights. So he knew how good she felt against him. It was the first time he'd actually seen her, though. And the shirt didn't hide much from his perusal.

"I feel better."

"You look very good."

"That's what I was going for."

"It worked."

Her eyes drifted past him to the table. She turned out the light as he lit the large candle that would serve as their light source for the rest of the evening. "I see you've got everything all set."

"I managed."

"You did great. Thanks."

"I'm learning my way around your kitchen."

"Mm, among other things."

"What's that?"


"In your arms."

"Oh, I brought a blanket down. I thought cuddling on the couch was in order."

"Sounds like a plan."

"I thought so," she said softly as she draped the still folded blanket over the arm of the couch.

The TV was on, but he was so focused on her that he couldn't have told anyone what was going on in Times Square at that moment. The ball could have dropped and he would have missed it. She was so beautiful when she walked. There was an air about her. Confident, regal, and comfortable. She was all of those things.

"I'll open the champagne if you're ready."

She grabbed a grape and slid it into her mouth. "Sure, it's almost midnight anyway."

He popped the cork almost flawlessly and poured them each a glass. "So," he said as he sat next to her on the couch. "Should I be concerned that you have a man's shirt in your wardrobe?"

"I suppose that depends. I bought it myself. It's comfortable. Roomy."


"Yeah," she said and he saw the hint of a blush on her face.

"It looks nice on you."


She picked up her glass and sipped the champagne. He found it a little difficult to concentrate. Now that he was sitting next to her he noticed how delicious she smelled. That on top of looking great. He was doomed. The tails of the shirt had shifted along her thighs giving him a nice view. A view that seemed to suggest all she wore was that shirt.

She picked up a strawberry and he watched, entranced as she dipped it into her glass of champagne. She held it to his lips then, parted her lips in a silent request for him to do the same. He did and she slid the strawberry past his lips into his mouth. He bit down and she moved her hand away. She replaced her hand with her mouth. She kissed his lips, using her tongue to lick the strawberry juice from the corner of his mouth before dipping it into his mouth.


"Was it?" His voice cracked and she smiled.

"You ate it, I just got the residuals. You must need another one." She leaned away and grabbed another strawberry, repeating the process.

He was quick this time, captured her fingers with his teeth before she could slide them away from his mouth. Her eyes fluttered closed as he kissed each fingertip. He could barely make her out in the candlelight, but he didn't need to see her to know she liked what he was doing. Her soft catlike mewls told him more anyway.

"Very tasty."

"Good," she whispered and sounded breathless. Good, he liked the idea of throwing her off her game a little bit. He'd begun to wonder if anything threw her. She was always so together even frazzled when dealing with finals in some tough classes.

The TV became a distant murmur as their kissing turned more intense. He tried not to let his mind get too far ahead of where they actually were. His body was at full attention and that made it difficult not to think of more.

They broke their kiss for a minute, taking a minute to drink more champagne and check out what the celebrants in Time Square were doing. He took advantage of the lull in kissing to use the bathroom.

When he came back the first thing he noticed was that she'd moved from the couch. He thought for a minute she'd gone up to use the bathroom, too. He noticed her after a minute, though. She had spread the blanket out on the floor and was lying on top of it. She clutched the shirt in front of her, but he noticed by the way it sat that she'd unbuttoned it.

"Hi." She sounded so shy. Ordinarily, Seeley would have found that quality ridiculous and a turn off. He liked confident women. With her he found it endearing and in a baffling, possessive sort of way, a turn on. She wanted him and she didn't want just anyone. He knew that.

Even if he hadn't studied her he'd know that about her. She wasn't the type to hop in and out of bed with anyone. He gathered from everything she'd told him that it had been since college that she'd had sex with anyone. He might have interpreted wrong and it didn't really matter, but he knew sex wasn't something she entered into casually.

She released the shirt front, letting it fall and he instinctively licked his lips at the arousing picture she presented.

"God, you're beautiful."

"Thank you. You are, too."

It was an odd compliment, but he accepted it graciously because he knew she was sincere. He joined her on the blanket, lying next to her.

"You know I don't expect." She silenced him with a kiss. Her arms went around him and he was gone. He'd started to say it, she stopped him. He was in the clear.

Within minutes he'd shed his clothes and joined her in being virtually naked on her living room floor. He was partially right in his guess that she wore nothing under the shirt. She had a pair of panties on, but they were so lacey and sheer they were virtually non-existent.

He wasn't sure who wanted to touch who more. They were all hands and mouths, touching and kissing everywhere they could reach. She reached between them, sliding her hand inside his briefs to cup him. He moaned against her breast, taking a nipple into his mouth as she touched and stroked him.

He was dying to be inside of her, but he needed to be sure she was ready for him. He slid lower along her body, bringing her panties with him until he was by her feet. He started with her foot then, touching and kissing her as he made the ascent along those fabulous legs. She parted them without his having to prompt her. He caught her scent then and felt his body react as if she was calling to him. He dipped his tongue between her lips.

Her hands at his head were holding him in place. She murmured his name softly, arching into him. He obliged by sliding his tongue inside of her deeper, grazing her nub with his thumb. She cried out, lifting her hips off the floor.

"Seeley. Now," she whispered. He didn't need to be asked twice. He took a minute to sheath himself so they were protected before he slid on top of her. His mouth found hers as he slid into her. In the background he heard the countdown to the ball dropping in Time's Square begin. He couldn't think of a better way to start the New Year off than making love to Buffy.

They eventually moved up to the bedroom. It was dawn before they drifted off to sleep. He held Buffy protectively in his arms. That was when the dreams started. He dreamt of him. Angel. Vivid and real images played through his mind spanning centuries. He knew that from the styles of dress and speech.

He woke up with a scream, his body coated in sweat. The last thing he remembered was being on the receiving end of a dragon's fireball. He knew he was about to die and the last thing he'd seen before turning to dust had been his slayer's face in his mind. He'd taken down the Senior Partners but at what cost? And then he was here in Buffy's bedroom. Only she wasn't lying next to him.

"You're awake."


"I was beginning to worry about you."


"You've been out for two days."

"What?" He rubbed his eyes certain he hadn't heard her correctly.

"I called Willow. I could tell you were dreaming and I wasn't sure what to do. She told me just to let you sleep. Your subconscious was trying to tell you something."

"Boy was it."

"Want to talk about it?"

"I think I remembered."



Her eyes widened and he saw that she understood. "Oh."

It hit him then. The reason for her sadness. She thought he'd leave again. Angel left her. Not this time. "I'm not going anywhere, Buffy."


"I don't know what's going on. I don't understand any of it. I have a chance with you and I don't intend on letting it go. This time we will make it work."

"Oh, God, Seeley, are you sure?"

It made his heart soar to hear her use his name, the name he knew and was comfortable with. He cupped her cheek with the palm of his hand. He saw the concern for him written clearly in her eyes, but he also saw hope there and he smiled. His mind was fuzzy. The dream was just that, a dream fading away. He tried to pull up memories that he was aware of but he could not. The image of his fiery death, though, would forever be etched into his mind.

"I'm sure. We've been given a chance. A real one. I don't think it was chance that our paths crossed in October. I think it was time. Our time. I'm human."

Tears formed in her eyes and he felt the stinging in his, too. "I love you, Seeley."

"I love you, too, Buffy."

He tugged her and she came willingly onto the bed with him, straddling him. "I do want to know one thing, though."

"What's that?"

"Will we ever be able to have sex without something weird happening?"

"Mm," he said leaning up to capture her mouth with his. "We can test that theory now."

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