***Part Twelve***

That went surprisingly well, Angel mused to himself. Buffy had been quiet for some time now. They were in the backyard. He was seated in a chair, Buffy was laying in the grass studying the stars one arm supporting her head, acting as a pillow. She had asked a few questions, but when she realized he really had told her everything he knew she had stopped. There was so many variables, so many unknowns but they both understood that they could finally be together. That they were meant to be together.

"Are we staying here then?" He was no longer left to wonder what she was thinking about. That was the worst part, not knowing where her mind was. She didn't seem upset but her mood had changed from excited to see him to pensive once he'd begun divulging what he had found out.

"Where? Sunnydale? Yes. They want you here obviously, so this is where we'll be."

"No. I mean, do we keep my house or the mansion. Or do we get something new altogether?"

"Would you prefer your house?" he asked, preferring a cautious approach.

She turned onto her side, resting her head against her hand propped up by her elbow. "Well, I admit the house was small for Mom and me. Add Dawn into the mix and it was positively tiny. I assume Connor's staying?"

"Unless it's just a passing fancy to come here with me, yes."

"Four adults, one bathroom screams lots of fights to me."

"Okay," he said, eyeing her trying to decipher what she was thinking. "So, that leaves here at the mansion or someplace different."

"I like it here. It has definite possibilities and if we sold the house we'd have some money to fix things up."

"I have money, Buffy. Whatever you get to sell the house should go to college expenses for both you and Dawn."

"I don't think I'm going to finish."

"Of course you are. Things are going to be good from now on, Buffy. I feel it. There won't be anymore bad surprises. You don't have to worry about things by yourself anymore."

"I still can't get over that concept," she said, her eyes following the path of a late night airplane flying overhead.

"You'll get used to it. We both will."

"Is anyone from LA coming here?"

"I don't think so. Wesley and Gunn will stay there. I don't think Cordelia would come back here so I'll go out on a limb and say no."

"I like the mansion, but there are some bad memories here for us."

"There are some incredibly good ones, too," he said. Images flashed through his mind of their time together after he came back from the hell dimension. The time they were happy, before he allowed the seeds of doubt the Mayor and Joyce Summers planted to spring to life and take hold of him. Training together, talking together in front of the fire, kissing, waking up with her in his arms. "Is that going to pose a problem for you?"

"No," she said adamantly. Almost too convincingly in fact. "We'll need the room especially if we're going to have all these nieces and nephews to watch over." Her eyes widened and she sat up quickly, looking ready to do battle. "Do you think it's Connor?"

"What?" he asked, having lost her train of thought.

"The nieces and nephews. Are they Dawn and Connor's?"

"I don't know. I only saw Dawn. Only time will tell."

"Who would have thought, you'd get a child and I wouldn't?"

"Buffy," he said softly.

"No, I'm not being sarcastic or anything. It's just funny, isn't it?"

"We can adopt if having a child is what you want. But do you really want to bring a child into this world? Had I known the chance existed I wouldn't have," he shrugged, not wanting to continue. It was probably best he not talk about his time with Darla.

"You're right, I know. It's just funny and ironic, isn't it?"

"I suppose it is. But don't forget I didn't get to raise him either. So, I'm no more his father than you are Dawn's mother when it gets down to it."

She picked up a blade of grass and ran it up and down her fingertips. "So the mansion it is. How many rooms are there anyway?"

"Too many. It seemed like too many when I was here by myself anyway. And when I was here with Spike and Dru, I didn't really pay much attention to things like spaciousness."

"I suppose not," she said wryly. Their eyes met and he saw the pain of that time in their lives reflected in her eyes. She was unable to bury it completely though she put on a good show overall. At least he knew he had years to make up for the months he tormented her and her friends. Not that she would ever suggest he had anything to make up for. She had forgiven him long ago, just as he had her for driving the sword through him. But forgiveness did not always erase and ease the pain events caused. It was the reason he fought so hard, he wanted to defeat the pain he had caused for years.

He stood gracefully from the chair, offering her a hand. "Shall we take a tour of our home then, mademoiselle?"

She took his offered hand and stood. She fell into the role, batting her lashes at him in a coquettish manner. She smiled widely and fanned herself with her free hand. "I'd love to, kind sir; I was beginning to think you'd never ask."

He slid an arm around her waist, gathering her against him where she fit so perfectly in the crook of his arm. "I think we've fooled your chaperone into allowing us to roam freely for a spell. Perhaps we should take advantage of that misplaced trust."

She glanced up at him, her eyes instantly alive with a fire and passion he recognized well. He believed it mirrored his own, though he had no way of knowing for certain. He knew that while neither could claim to be their only loves, they were their last loves. He looked forward to seeing that fire and passion in her eyes for all time. Devotion it was underrated. It made him feel like he could walk on water or fly through the sky like a bird.

He had no idea when the mansion had been built. It was old but he doubted it pre-dated the turn of the century. When he had taken over the mansion four years ago he hadn't paid much attention to the furnishings and décor he had inherited. He didn't have use for pretty things or finery when he had been out to end the world.

The first floor they knew by heart and they agreed most of the furnishings could stay for the time being anyway. Giles would be ecstatic when Buffy asked for various volumes to permanently be housed in the library. There was some damage from when he lived here as well as basic every day filth as a result of standing unoccupied for three years.

His favorite room was what he imagined had been considered the parlor. The fireplace he and Buffy had sat in front of, the gardens he could only enjoy during the night hours when the flowers could be appreciated only so much in the light of the moon. The master suite was next on his list of favorite rooms because he had taken the time to decorate it and design it to his tastes when he had returned from the hell dimension.

Some rooms, like a summer dining area he'd never set foot in. Vampires didn't enjoy too many meals in a sunny room.

The second floor was as he expected: four bedrooms each with their own full bathroom. Two of the bedrooms looked to be furnished in a style he recognized as belonging to girls or young women. Daughters perhaps. The other two rooms looked more formal, less lived in and Angel imagined they'd been guest rooms. There was a balcony overlooking the great room. They both paused to take in the view.

"I'd forgotten this was here." She turned to him, regarding him through lowered lashes and smiled flirtatiously. "And all of this can be mine?"

He realized what she was doing then, playing out the fictitious scene they had set up before their tour. "That is if you're willing to be mine."

"It is tempting."

He arched a brow, regarding her. "I can live with tempting. In time you'll grow to love me. At least that's what my father says."

She turned from him, a girlish giggle escaping her lips as she did. She probably thought it was a joke of sorts, but those very words had been said to him on more than one occasion about the various women paraded in front of him. No one saw him, they saw his father's land and money. He suspected if he told Buffy they needed to live in a shack in the middle of nowhere, cut off from society that she would do it.

He took her into his arms, holding her against his chest as they looked. He kissed the top of her head, nuzzling her neck with his chin. God, he loved her. "Me, too. I didn't come up here very often, no need to. I guess I must have when we first took possession of the house because I wasn't surprised by the condition of the bedrooms."

"We'll certainly have plenty of room for Dawn and Connor."

"And plenty of nieces and nephews. Beds can be replaced with bunk beds. And I'm sure something could be done upstairs and in the basement."

"I'm not sure how many kids you saw Dawn having, but I'm sure four extra bedrooms is more than enough."

"I suppose you're right."

The third floor was not as spacious as the first two floors and the basement. He imagined the larger room had once been a ballroom but had been transformed into a recreation room. Off this larger room was a sitting room, probably used by women primping in between dances once upon a time. He smiled at the thought. Though he had never fit into society or cared for the women high society bred he had some fond memories of balls and barbeques as a boy. They had lost their value once he came of age and realized these functions were little more than stepping stones for the women to land well-to-do husbands.

The basement led to the garage but there was plenty of space for a kick ass entertainment area. The crawl space led to tunnel access, something Angel had only just now discovered. He wasn't sure he liked the idea of creatures of the night being able to get in here. At the stairwell on their way back up to the first floor, Buffy paused. "Does it work?"


"The elevator?"

"I think so, but I wouldn't use it until I got it checked out."

She snorted then. "We're kind of unkillable aren't we?"

"I don't care to take any chances and I don't want Dawn or Connor, or the others, thinking they can use it. I'll have someone come check out everything. Pipes, termites, the whole thing."

"You're really taking this seriously."

"I've never had a home before. I lived here for those months, that year but it wasn't a home. I survived. I'm not sure I saw much more than the three rooms I lived in. If we're going to live here, I mean if we're going to put down roots here I want to do it right. Maybe we'll stay or just use it as a place to come back to when we're sick of traveling."

"We can make our home here, Angel. That's fine. I don't expect I'll be going too far from Sunnydale."

"I want to get some dogs."

"What?" she asked, understandably thrown off by the change in conversation.

"Dogs. I don't want curious onlookers thinking they can climb the fence and look inside our house. I don't need some rebellious kid hearing stories about the odd people who live here spying on us and see me drinking blood."

"What kind of dogs? And how many?"

"Two. Even three. One could be inside with you when I am indisposed. We can pick them out together. Something you'll be comfortable with. German Shepherds or Rottweilers."

She hugged herself and he wondered if he'd gone too far too fast. "I don't know, Angel. You're suggesting guard dogs, not Benji."

"I have to know everyone living here is going to be safe when I'm at my weakest. Dogs would let you known of an intruder. We don't have to get them tomorrow, but think about it."

"Is there something you're not telling me? Something more you were told or saw?"

"No. Is it wrong of me to want you, your sister and my son safe?"

"No," she said softly, rubbing her arms as if trying to comfort herself. Or let the information she'd obtained sink in. "I'll think about it. Okay? Maybe start with one and see how it works."

"We can do that. No hurry, just think about it."

Hand in hand they ascended the steps leading from the basement to the first floor. Without words they both walked to the master suite. Their bedroom. They had been apart for too long and neither needed to say what was on their mind. It wasn't about sex, though sex with Buffy was worthy of front page headlines. The idea of holding her all night long, knowing he never had to give her up again was enough to satisfy him.

"We can move whatever you want from your house here. We can put things here in storage or sell them if you don't want them."

"Xander or Willow might want some things."

"Yes, of course, whatever you want. I just have to request your bedroom set not go in here."

Her lips quivered, a hint of smile was there and then disappeared. "Not manly enough for you?"

"That and it kind of clashes with the gothic vampire theme I have going on."

"Poor baby," she whispered, leaning up to kiss him. "Is the big bad vampire getting defanged by the slayer? It would be poetic if it wasn't so twisted."

He dropped his head, claiming her mouth in a hungry kiss. Their lips parted, tongues met and danced intimately, hungrily. His hands slid the length of her back to her ass, drawing her against him. "Kissing you is poetry," he murmured as he lifted her with ease and carried her to the bed. His good intentions flew out the window as soon as their lips met.

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