Buffy was a little disappointed to find Angelus gone when she returned to her bedroom. She was not surprised, but for some reason she had expected him to be waiting no matter how long she had remained downstairs. Willow had left a while ago and Buffy had procrastinated going back upstairs by volunteering to help her mom with the laundry and lunch dishes.
Joyce Summers was trying to be patient with Buffy, but Buffy could see the look of disappointment in her mother's eyes whenever her mother thought Buffy was not looking or not paying attention. It was one of the reasons that Buffy stayed in her room most of the time now when she did not have any friends over, she could not stand to see that look on her mother's face any more than she had to.
How was Buffy to know that she and Angel would do the impossible? Having a vampire as a lover should have been safer than safe. She had hoped that Giles would find something on his own without having to consult the Council about this happening in the past. So far, though, Giles had come up with nothing.
She spotted a piece of paper on her pillow and picked it up. She would recognize his handwriting anywhere. It was funny, really, there were times that she thought of Angel and Angelus as being two separate, independent beings who just happened to occupy the same body. But times like this when she was staring at evidence - this time it was a note written by the man she loved - that she knew they were one in the same.
He had merely written the name, address and telephone number of the doctor he had mentioned on the piece of paper. Giles had not uncovered doctors that specialized in babies from situations like hers. But she imagined Willow and Oz would need a doctor like this if they were to ever have kids.
She placed the note underneath the bottle of prenatal vitamins her mother's doctor had prescribed for her, determined to make an appointment with the LA doctor tomorrow. Hopefully, Giles or Willow would be willing and able to take her.
Buffy would be glad to have a doctor that did not know her mother, someone Buffy could feel comfortable confiding the truth in. She certainly could not tell her mom's doctor about vampires and slayers, at least without the doctor thinking Buffy was crazy.
She sat on the edge of her bed and felt her cheeks grow warm as images and feelings from that morning came back to her in a rush. She had let Angelus feed off of her, she had sex with him. She did not like admitting that he aroused her by feeding off of her. She could understand how he could find willing donors now. She was embarrassed that she did not mind having sex for sex's sake.
Willow had looked at Buffy strangely when she finally came downstairs. Her best friend knew what had taken Buffy so long and she had seen the puncture marks on her neck, too. Her mother, thankfully, had not. Willow seemed to understand that her friend did not want to talk about it and had helped Buffy cover her neck.
She walked to her dresser and started to tear away the bandage Willow had placed at her neck when someone knocked on her door. "Come in," she said, quickly fixing her hair so it covered the bandage. "Hi Mom," Buffy said.
"How are you feeling, Buffy?"
"I'm okay, really, a little tired."
"I know, but you're still getting your strength back." Buffy rolled her eyes, her mother had no idea how strong Buffy truly was or she would not be worrying about her daughter's bout with pregnancy sickness. It was not merely morning sickness as up until yesterday she had been sick around the clock. The baby did not seem to be able to tell time or know that it was not supposed to make it's mother miserable all day, every day.
Giles had scolded her repeatedly the past few weeks afraid that she was not providing proper nourishment to the fetus. She tried explaining to the man that what she did manage to eat probably did the baby no good anyway since she just proceeded to throw it up right away. She had made it through the entire day yesterday and so far today without getting sick, so she could hope that she was past that.
"What do you want, Mom?"
"Willow, Oz, Xander and Cordelia are here, they want to come up."
Buffy frowned, Willow had left not too long ago and had said nothing about coming back, and since Buffy was boyfriendless at the moment she had been set to spend the night alone. Maybe her friends were taking pity on her and were coming to spend the night with her.
"Send them up."
"Are you sure you're up to company? You already spent all day with Willow and you did more today than you have lately."
That's an understatement considering what she had done in her bedroom that morning, Buffy mentally added. Her mom did not need to know that Angel had spent the night and she certainly did not need to know what had happened between them this morning. "I'm fine," she said, not meaning to sound frustrated but she was tired of her mother's drastic changes in how she treated Buffy. There were times her mother seemed fine and treated Buffy normally or at least without the pity she seemed to give her the rest of the time.
"Okay, I'll send them up." Buffy straightened up her room, which really only amounted to having to make up the bed still mussed from having sex with Angelus that morning, so it did not take long. And it was not like her friends were going to pass judgment based on the condition of her room when she was not feeling well anyway.
A light knock at her door came followed by her four friends entering, none looking too happy. If Angelus had gone off and done something to get back at Buffy for what had happened between them that morning or to ensure she did not think anything had changed between them she would personally hunt him down tonight, baby or not.
"Hey guys, what's with the long faces?" she asked as she looked at their solemn faces. Giles, she thought, Angelus went after Giles. "Is Giles okay?" she asked, her voice barely audible from the bile that threatened to rise at the thought of Angelus harming the one person who was being understanding about this mess. If Angelus had one person on his side right now, one person in favor of keeping the vampire alive, it was Giles.
"He's fine," Cordelia offered. "He and Miss Calendar are on a date."
Buffy was glad to hear that Giles and Miss Calendar were both okay. There was no one else for her to worry about since everyone else she might worry about was with her. She had been waiting for the day that Angelus stepped up his harassment and actually did something to someone Buffy knew and cared about.
"Okay," she said and took a seat on her bed Indian style. She wondered how much longer she would be able to sit this way knowing that sooner or later she would be too big to do much of anything. In truth, as glad as she was to see her friends, the day had taken a lot out of her. The doctor had assured her that she could continue to have sex, not that until today she believed that was going to happen. But that combined with Angelus feeding off of her, the hours she spent studying with Willow so that she could take and pass two tests on Monday, and the laundry and kitchen cleanup she had helped her mom with had exhausted her.
"Do you have something to tell us, Buffster?" Xander asked and Buffy frowned.
"Not really, no. Why?" Was she missing something? Had she forgotten something? Giles had removed her from patrolling until further notice, so she did not think that had anything to do with this.
"Well, you might want to have a little talk with your undead ex-boyfriend the next time you see him then," Xander said with contempt.
"Willow says you seemed pretty chummy with him this morning here in your room," Cordelia added with distaste. Great, just what she needed Cordelia Chase and Xander Harris ganging up on her about Angel.
"Having a vampire for a boyfriend wasn't good enough for you, you have to let the evil soulless thing that replaced him when you got with the happy feed off you, too?" Xander added, overlapping Cordelia's statement.
Buffy looked at Willow, surprised and hurt that Willow would tell anyone. Willow whimpered softly and looked away, though Buffy did not miss the flustered look her friend had on her face. "Guys, that's not what we came here about," she said.
"Why did you even tell them?" Buffy asked, curious why her best friend would reveal something like that to anyone, especially Xander. Willow knew how distraught Buffy had been in the morning.
"Buffy, I wouldn't have normally, but when Oz came to talk to me about Angel I had to tell him what I saw."
"Why did you have to tell Oz something that's none of his business?"
"I'd say it is our business when we're patrolling for you, picking up the slack for you because you're sick." Xander said.
"And I appreciate it, guys, all of you, I really do. And I've told you that, maybe not as often as I think it or should but I thank you. You know I'd be out there with you if Giles would let me."
"See, that's the thing," Xander continued. "None of us mind doing it, but when we find out that you're not really sick we got a little upset."
"But I have been sick," Buffy replied defensively. She and Giles had talked at length when she first found out she was pregnant about telling her friends, both had decided that until she knew that she was out of the woods as far as miscarriages and other complications went she would not tell them. She still had weeks to go before she was out of that gray area, particularly considering this was not a normal baby. "All of you have been with me and seen me."
"Yeah, but Buffy, we thought you had the flu or something. Why didn't you tell us you were pregnant?"
She clutched her pillow to her lap, wishing now she had never let them come up. The fact the pillow smelled strongly like Angelus made her rethink why she had grabbed for that pillow. She closed her eyes to try to push aside the memories of that morning that came rushing back to her, wanting nothing more than to push them out of her mind but found she was unable to. It was like he was there in her head, planting the images there, wanting her to see them, wanting her to remember. Did he know she was having this conversation right now? And why did the idea that he did, that he was somehow there with her, even if it was mentally, relieve her of some of the stress she had felt a moment ago. And she did feel it leaving her, stress was of the bad for pregnant women she knew that but still could not help it sometimes. "How did you find out?" she asked quietly. Giles would not have told them, he had agreed it was better not to let them get emotionally involved in the situation or too attached to the baby.
"Oz ran into Angelus outside of The Bronze and thought that you were with him."
"What?" Buffy asked incredulously.
"I smelled you," Oz added for clarification. "I didn't realize it was him until he turned around."
"Was he? Did he?" Buffy could not finish either question.
"Yes, he had just fed and no he did not kill the girl," Oz offered, seeming to know what she was asking even if she could not ask the questions outright.
A girl, Buffy thought and wondered why that bothered her so much right then. It was not the first time he had fed off a woman, she had seen some of Angelus' victims herself. There were a few that bore a startling resemblance to Buffy, just as he had chosen Tom Parks the night he had seen her at The Bronze with Jeff.
Somehow she felt betrayed that he would feed off another woman after he had fed from her just that morning. She kept that to herself, knowing her friends would not understand it anymore than she did. In her head, though, she thought she could feel him embrace her. There were some things that even if she did understand them with regard to her relationship and connection with Angel-us that she was just better off keeping from her friends. If Angelus was there in her mind, even more reason not to tell them much. She was not sure how she could explain this even to Giles. Oddly, though the feeling that she was getting was that Angel not Angelus was with her.
"So it's true?" Xander asked, his voice indicating the idea was sending him into a state of panic.
"Yes," she said softly. "We didn't tell you for a reason, guys."
"We? You mean you and Dead Boy got together and decided not to tell us?"
"No, Angelus had nothing to do with the decision. He did not even know about it until a few days ago, and he found out by accident. It was Giles and I who decided."
"Yes, we both thought it was better you not know until we knew for sure just what this means."
"I'll tell you what it means," Xander said. "It means that you are going to give birth to a vampire, Buffy. You're the Slayer, how can you even contemplate having that evil thing's baby?"
"It's not going to be a vampire," Buffy countered, though she had no proof to offer him. She had no idea what this baby was going to be, but still could not stomach the idea of ridding herself of it.
"And I suppose the two of you are going to set up house together and raise it." Xander said with disdain.
"No, he knows about it, but no, I wouldn't do that."
"Right," Cordelia interjected. "And if he walked up to you right now and professed his undying love and devotion to you you'd throw him out."
"Well, no, I wouldn't do that either. He is the baby's father, guys. I don't know what you want me to do. If he did come up to me and say that, I'd listen to him, sure. You know I love him, you know how much I love him. And I do love him, soul or not, he's the same person, but I won't be with him if he continues killing."
"Is that why you had sex with him today?" Oz asked.
"What?" Buffy asked, shocked that Oz knew about that. Had Angelus told him? This was one aspect of the split personalities that were Angel and Angelus that she was still getting used to. Where Angel was hesitant to offer much information to anyone, even to Buffy, Angelus seemed all too willing to tell everyone everything.
"I smelled you, Buffy. I mean, normally I wouldn't care or even say anything in front of everyone else, but which is it? Are you with him or aren't you?"
"No, it just happened, all right?"
"See, that's where I have a problem," Xander said his tone condescending. "I don't think it's all right for you to be having sex with him and I don't think Giles would like knowing you let Dead Boy get a taste of you either."
"At least Giles seems to understand my feelings better than any of you do. Do you have any idea what the past two months have been like for me?"
"But Buffy, you have to get past it," Cordelia said.
"Right, Cordelia, and I'm supposed to get past it how exactly?"
"Don't have the baby," Xander offered, as if the answer was so obvious.
"And if this is the only chance I ever get to have a baby? Are you God now, Xander, that you get to make my decisions for me? I've already died once, you were there."
"All the more reason for you not to have it. What happens if you die again, Buffy? Who's going to take care of the baby when you're gone? Your mom? I don't think so."
"She would," Buffy said with conviction. She had no doubt in her mind that her mother would take care of Buffy's child if it came to that. They might have their problems, Buffy might hate the way her mother was treating her right now, but Joyce Summers would not turn her back on her flesh and blood.
"Were you ever going to tell us, Buffy," Willow said, her voice calm as if trying to reel the conversation back to the fact that she had kept her pregnancy a secret. Buffy knew, too, though that Willow was upset that Buffy had not confided in her.
"Yes, I was, when Giles and I thought it was safe. I mean, Slayers having babies is not common, so I have no idea if I'm even really going to have this baby. Anything could happen, and I didn't want to worry you guys. We didn't want to risk you getting as attached to the baby as I already am only to have me lose it."
"So you would rather lose it and suffer alone, Buffy?" Willow asked, her tone betraying the hurt Buffy knew she felt and Buffy all of the sudden felt bad for withholding the information from Willow.
"No, of course not, but I already have my mom looking at me with pity, I don't want it from you guys, too. Mom has no idea what the truth is as far as what happened, she just thinks Angel abandoned me. You guys know the truth, and it hurts a little more, I don't want you all feeling sorry for me."
"Oh," Willow said softly and glanced at the three others in the room with them. "Are you okay? Have you been to a doctor? Can I do anything? Is Angel going to help?"
"I'm okay, better the last couple of days, I've been to a doctor. I'm hoping you can help me, Will. And Oz," she added glancing at Oz. "Angelus gave me the name and number for a doctor in Los Angeles who specializes in children of non-human parents, so I think I should go to him but I need a ride. I can't ask my mom to bring me, she'll want to know why the local doctor isn't good enough."
"Yeah, sure, we can come up with some story I'm sure," Willow said.
"Like the Dingo's having a gig or something."
"I don't know that I like the idea of you going to a doctor Dead Boy recommends, Buff."
"Well, I have to find one other than the one my mom goes to," Buffy said, frustrated. "I won't take anything he gives me to take until I have Giles or Willow check out what they are. I've thought of that, too, believe me. It would be real easy for him to send me to some doctor and have him prescribe something to cause me to abort the baby, but guys," she said looking pointedly at each of them. "You haven't seen him when it comes to this. He's very possessive of me and the baby right now."
"I saw it," Willow said softly. "This morning, I had no idea why he was acting like that, but it makes sense now. He really was concerned about you, Buffy. At least we know one thing, Angel or Angelus, they both think about you all of the time and they're both inclined to protect you no matter what."
"That would make me feel better if I didn't think he'd go from protecting me against you or someone else to killing me himself if I made him mad."
"So what we're supposed to be happy for you? Will, Buff, you're crazy," Xander said.
"Xander," Buffy said, clutching the pillow against her chest. She was practically hugging it, wanting Angel with her. She'd take Angelus right now if it would make her stronger and enable her to get through this confrontation with her friends. And just like that she felt him again. If she wasn't the Slayer and if she and Angel-us did not share some sort of mental connection that enabled them to experience and star in one another's dreams she would be scared instead of soothed by it. She was sure it was Angel, though, not Angelus, she could feel the concern and comfort he was trying to offer her. How was this possible? Better not to dwell on it, ask Giles later how Angel could still communicate with her even though Angelus was in control. Giles knew about the dream Buffy had when Angel-us practically told her outright that Jenny Calendar had the answers to Buffy's questions. "The last thing I need right now is for you to pass judgment on me. I'm stressed enough because I need to pass these tests that Willow is tutoring me for. I don't need you being difficult about this. Believe me, it's difficult enough. Say whatever you want to Cordelia or to Willow and Oz when I'm not around, but please keep your remarks to yourself when I'm around."
"I can try."
"Please. This is part of the reason Giles and I figured it would be best if we didn't tell you, there was no sense in getting you all upset about it when we don't know what's going to happen."
"Don't the people you and Giles work for have some information?" Oz asked.
"We haven't told them either," Buffy admitted softly. "I don't want them coming here doing tests on me and I don't want them capturing Angelus."
"Capturing the undead bloodsucking fiend who has gone on a killing spree since you gave him his happy moment would be bad because?"
Buffy tossed the pillow aside and stood in a fluid movement, grateful that she had not been sick all day and that sudden movement no longer made her dizzy. She grabbed a hold of Xander by the front of his shirt and looked him in the eye as best as she could given their height difference. "Because I love him, Xander. Soul or not, I love him. I'm not saying that I couldn't drive a stake through his heart if I had to, but I love him and he's my baby's father. I'm not going to let the Council get their hands on him." She released him and stepped away. "And I honestly don't know what would happen to me if he died."
"What?" all four of them asked in unison.
"Just what I said. We have this connection, you know we've shared dreams. I don't know what would happen to me if he died."
"That's a better reason than the first one you gave us. I can't believe you can stand here and tell us you still love him, Buffy. He's a vampire, he's what you've been killing for a couple of years now, and from what Giles has told us he's one of the worst ones out there."
"I know all of that, Xander, but I can't change the way I feel. I could ask you how you could go from hating Cordelia to being her boyfriend."
"No, it's not, Xander. It's your heart, it's my heart. I can't turn my feelings off anymore than you can."
"Xander, we're here to talk to Buffy, not make her feel bad or patronize her. She's right, feelings don't just go away. We have to trust that she knows what she's doing."
"She's pregnant, women who are pregnant are not exactly known for being rational."
"And Giles is irrational?"
"She has a point, Xander. If Giles knows about this, then we really have nothing much to say."
"But how do we know Giles really knows?"
"Like I'd lie to you about it, but call him and ask him if you don't believe me."
"We believe you, Buffy," Willow offered, though Buffy was not overly convinced Xander believed her.
"I'm tired, guys, is there anything else?"
"Is he coming back?"
"Angelus?" It surprised her how easily his name was rolling off her tongue now. In her mind sometimes she had a hard time calling him Angelus because in her mind he would always be her Angel. "I don't know, I couldn't tell you. He was gone when I came back up here, so I have no idea." Had her not coming back up to her bedroom sent him off on the hunt? She hoped not and if it had been the reason, she was glad that Oz had come across him when he had. Angelus had said he had not killed in the past week, but Buffy had no reason to believe he was doing that for her or for any reason other than because he wanted to for now.
"You're going to let him in?" Xander asked.
"Xander," Willow said softly. "It's really not our place to tell her she can't see him. It's his baby, and if you saw him this morning you'd have seen that hurting her was the furthest thing from his mind."
"Then why did he bite her?" Cordelia asked.
"It wasn't a violence thing," Buffy said sheepishly, feeling her face grow warm again from the color creeping into it.
"What do you mean?" Xander asked and then apparently understanding got him. "Oh," he said and blushed himself.
"I'm sorry, guys, really. Giles and I just thought it was for the best if we kept it between ourselves for the time being. It was nothing more than that."
"I believe you, Buffy," Willow said, but Buffy could tell her friend was still feeling hurt. Buffy would make it up to her later, right now she was exhausted and just wanted to crawl into bed and sleep for days. Her mother would probably let her do it she was so concerned about Buffy and her health right now.
"Thanks, Will," she said giving her best friend a hug. She did not bother to offer Cordelia or Oz a hug and she was still mad at Xander to bother giving him one. "I'll see you guys Monday, I guess."
"You're coming to school?"
"Well, I have those makeup tests to take and if I keep feeling as good as I've felt yesterday and today, yeah I think I might be back to school."
"Cool," Oz said with a simple nod of his head.
"Thanks. Night guys."
"Night Buff," Xander said overlapping with Cordelia's, "good night, Buffy." Buffy heard Cordelia say to Xander, "I don't know why I needed to come with you."
"Because you're part of the club, too."
Buffy did not bother saying anything to that, and did not need to as her bedroom door was shut behind her friends once they had left the room. Peace at last, she thought to herself as she went to lie on her bed. It still smelled like him, like them, and Buffy quickly fell asleep hoping the feeling of safety she had experienced earlier would last all night long.
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com