Late April 1998
"So, that's it?" Willow asked. Buffy could hear the wariness in her best friend's voice.
"Yeah, as soon as the sun finished setting for the day I left."
"And he saw it, too?"
"Yes, Will, I don't know how else to explain it. I felt him come awake and I felt him inside of me, knew he was seeing what I was seeing."
"That's just creepy."
"You don't think I find it creepy that the vampire wearing my boyfriend's face can enter my mind? That he can see through my eyes if he wants to? I've never been a big fan of sunsets before now, I always reacted to sunrises more because that was what took Angel away from me. I've always been able to sense the sunset, not like Angel can, I just know when it's close even if I'm in a room with no windows. But since that day I have this compulsion to watch the sun go down. And every day, I feel him watching it set with me."
"But you haven't seen him since that night?"
"Haven't seen him exactly, no." Buffy knew she should be happy that she had not seen Angelus in a month. She should feel safer knowing he was staying away, but she missed him. He had cared for her in a way that surprised her during that week with him. She knew that he felt foolish for doting over her as he had and that he had genuinely been concerned for her welfare. She guessed that was why he was staying away. During that week with him she knew without a doubt for the first time since he found out about her pregnancy that his concern was solely for her. He did not care if the baby survived as long as she did, and considering how egocentric Angelus was it was surprising to believe her well being ranked above a potential child.
"And you're sure he hasn't left town?"
"He hasn't left town," Buffy said with conviction. "I can see what he sees, too," she added softly.
"Yeah, I try not to, because I'm always afraid." She paused and shrugged, looking away. "I'm always afraid I'll catch him doing something I know I should kill him for doing. But I know he's still local."
"What does he do when you do it?"
What could Buffy say to that? Sometimes Buffy felt like Angelus welcomed her intrusions. It seemed occasionally like he was waiting for her, almost as if he had willed her to seek him out. There were times Buffy wondered if Angelus truly did have so much control over her that he could will her to seek him out and let her believe it was her idea. "Usually nothing. I've seen Drusilla and Spike a couple of times, but he shuts me out immediately when they're around."
"You mean, it's like he closes a door?"
"Something like that, yeah, closes it."
"He's protecting you then, if he doesn't want you in his head when Drusilla and Spike are around."
"I wouldn't go that far, Will. I think he's protecting himself, he doesn't want Drusilla to see me and get a vision about the baby."
"So everything he can do, you can do?"
"Yeah," she said with a slight shrug. It was sort of disturbing, but she did not want to tell Willow that. Willow had been the most supportive person she knew of her dating Angel, but Buffy suspected even that support would have its limits.
"It's too bad he couldn't get sick when you were getting sick all of the time."
"What?" Buffy asked.
"I mean, in your place, you know. I mean, maybe he would have left you alone or something if he knew how rotten you were feeling."
"Will, he protected me. He comes by the house every night before the sun comes up."
"I thought you haven't seen him."
"I haven't, but that doesn't mean I don't know when he's been here."
"This is just too confusing, Buffy. I'm sorry. I don't know what to do for you."
"You're doing it, Will," Buffy said, turning onto her side. She rested her hand on her slightly swollen abdomen and could not help but look at it before going on. "You're helping me get through school, you and Oz are going to be driving me to the doctor, and you promised to eat ice cream with me so I don't feel like I'm pigging out alone all of the time."
"As long as there aren't pickles involved with the ice cream, I'm with you. When is your next doctor appointment?"
"Next week," Buffy said with a frown. "He wanted to see me twice this month because of the whole bleeding thing."
"So does he know you're the Slayer?"
"Yes, I had to tell him, Will. I know it's supposed to be a secret, but I didn't think he'd be able to treat me. You know?"
"Have you talked to Giles?"
"I asked him to see what he could find out about the doctor, but he hasn't found out anything, or at least nothing he's told me about."
"And you still don't want the Council to know?"
"No, which may be why he hasn't been able to find anything out. I don't want them to take it away from me, Will." She lowered her gaze to her abdomen again, pushing back tears. "It's the only chance I'll get."
"You don't know that."
"Willow, I still love Angel more than anything even without the soul. I'm never going to trust someone again enough to," she trailed off and looked away as the tears she had been trying to stop began leaving wet paths along her cheeks.
"Oh, hey," Willow said, apparently feeling embarrassed. "I didn't mean. I agree with what you're doing, Buffy. I can't say I understand it or even like it." Wordlessly, she handed Buffy a tissue.
"What's not to like?"
"Well, what about college, Buffy? I mean, what about your future? A baby will change all that."
"I was destined to be different, Wills. I don't think college is in the cards for Buffy Summers and I don't know how much of a future I have. That's why I'm having it. Why can't anyone understand that?"
"I guess it's hard for me to really understand it, Buffy, I'm sorry. I try, really I do, and I know I should being your best friend and all. But maybe because I wasn't there when Angel and Xander found you - you know that night - I just have a hard time realizing your life may not be as long as mine is."
"Maybe, but that should just make you realize all the more that this may be the only chance I get."
"Okay, maybe I can understand that. But, Buffy, he's a vampire, I mean, what kind of baby can the two of you produce? How are you going to explain to the child who his father is?"
"I don't know, Will, I'll tell him the truth, that I loved his father very much."
"Say the baby is normal, Buffy, human with no side effects from being the product of vampire and Slayer. Do you want to have a daily reminder of Angel?"
"If that's all I get to have of Angel, is his baby, Will, I'll take it. It's better than the nothing I've got now."
"You don't have nothing, Buffy. You have us, and you still have Angel whether he wants to admit it or not. He loves you. He took you from the hospital to protect you, even I know that."
"It doesn't matter, Will. He's going to leave as soon as the baby is born and he believes we're both safe."
"How do you know that?"
"That's what he says, Will, and I don't think there's anything I can do to convince him he should stay. He's probably right."
"I'm the Slayer, he's going to continue to feed off humans, Will. I can give him a pass for the next five or so months as long as he doesn't kill anyone."
"Does Giles know you feel that way?"
"Yes, Giles knows," Buffy confessed. "But he's not going to go forever without killing, I know that. And I don't really want to have to choose to kill my baby's father. A part of me would rather he be away from Sunnydale, too."
"Maybe he'll change his mind, you know, once the baby is here."
"I don't know, Will. It's weird, Angel wants him to stay."
"Well, the soul, I guess, I don't know how to explain it. But I've had dreams and I've felt him, Angel not Angelus. It's like his soul is still communicating with me, and it communicates with Angelus, too."
"Yeah, I can hear him when he talks to Angelus, too. It's sort of weird. He only appears to me in dreams or with feelings, he's never talked to me."
"Have you tried?"
"No, I thought about it, but I think it would hurt too much."
"Maybe you're right."
"What?" Buffy asked when her friend seemed almost too quiet.
"Nothing," Willow said cheerily. "I was just thinking I guess as your best friend I need to plan your shower. I've never planned a baby shower before, do you think your mom would let us have it here? I'm pretty sure Mom would freak out if I had a baby shower for one of my friends at our house."
Buffy knew something was up, but she was not going to press Willow tonight. She had not exactly been completely honest to Willow about everything either. She would never admit to anyone that she had liked Angelus feeding off of her. Willow might suspect, but that was the most she would be able to do on that subject. "I'm sure Mom would even offer to help, Will. She's been better since she got back from her buying spree in Atlanta."
"Good, can we invite boys? I mean, Xander I think would be kind of hurt if we didn't invite him?"
"I don't know if he'd be hurt or not, Will, but you can invite whoever you want. It's not like it was in LA, I don't have too many friends."
"Do you miss it?"
"Sometimes. But I do know that none of them would have supported me like you are. When everything started, my being called and everything, they just sort of disappeared like I had a disease or something."
"I would never do that."
"I know you wouldn't, Will."
"Good," her friend said simply. Buffy was not sure what it was they had just accomplished, but she knew that she felt better whatever it was. For a few minutes she had almost stopped thinking about the fact that Angelus had been avoiding her for weeks.
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com