***Part Eighteen***

Buffy walked through the cemetery near the mansion Angelus had taken her to twirling her stake nervously. She had been patrolling alone for the past two nights after accompanying the gang for the five nights prior to that. Giles insisted she wait until her doctor said she was okay. Not that she would have gone out slaying the day after Ryan was born, but within a few days after having him she felt fine.

Her hand instinctively went to her abdomen where Ryan was still supposed to be. Her doctor had indicated that sex was more than likely the cause for her going into labor early, particularly since it had not been too long after she had been hospitalized with bleeding and contractions. She was just thankful that Ryan was all right, even if it had taken over twenty hours of labor for him to get here.

He was just over seven weeks old now. Being a premie he was tiny for his age, which served to remind Buffy how fragile he was. She was responsible for him. Her mother was helping and would continue to help until Buffy finished school and was able to get a job, but Buffy was not going to shirk her responsibility onto her mom.

Thinking of school reminded her of the fact school started in a couple of days, her senior year. Buffy believed that Willow's little pep talk at lunchtime was Willow's way of telling Buffy she needed to find Angelus. She twirled the stake again, reacquainting herself with the feel of the wood against the palm of her hand. "And get it done," she said simply. She was not exactly sure what that meant, she imagined it would depend on Angelus a great deal.

Buffy was impressed Giles had gone along with the lie she had told her mother. Joyce Summers had no idea Angel was still around, had no idea that Buffy had spent those weeks with Angel, and she certainly did not know that Angel was a vampire. Buffy had told her mother that she would be out on an all-night patrol tonight and Giles had gone along with it. He must have sensed what Buffy's intentions were, which made Buffy wonder if Giles had not sent Willow to talk to her.

She did not even bother to go through the motions of patrolling at Restfield. It was close enough to sunset that Angelus might be awake, but he would not have been able to leave the mansion, if he was there. That was a big if. For all Buffy knew he went right back to Spike and Drusilla the night she was in the hospital giving birth to their child. She did not want to believe that, but when it got right down to it, Angelus was a mystery to her.

She paused outside the door and did not want to go any farther despite having come this far. She liked it better in some way, not knowing, at least the chance was there that he might show up one day. If she went in there and he was gone, then what? It was a big world and she was stuck in Sunnydale guarding the hellmouth. She would never find him if he did not want to be found. The large door swung open, surprising her. "Are you going to stand there all night?" He was a sight for sore eyes, looking evil and sinful, representing everything that Buffy knew she was supposed to stay far, far away from. He looked totally gorgeous, too, with no shirt and a pair of extremely faded low rider blue jeans that looked as if they would be as soft as a feather to the touch they were so well worn. "Well?"


Angelus stood there waiting for her to make her decision. He was growing impatient, but he did his best not to let her know that. It had taken her far too long to come back to him and he had almost given up on her.

"You look good," was what she finally said.

"Likewise, Lover," he said, one side of his mouth curling up to form a sneer.

He was telling the truth, she had recovered extremely well and quick from having a baby. He imagined there was not a stretch mark to be found on his mate's body, it would be a pleasure to find out whether he was right.

"I'm surprised you're still here," she said as she took the few steps that brought her inside the house. The house was cool, he had been expecting her so he turned the air conditioning on knowing that she was more susceptible to the varying temperatures than he was.

"Why wouldn't I be?"

"You were going to leave as soon as I had the baby, remember?"

"My plans have been delayed some. It's not as easy as you might think to get passage on a ship that will me to bring a coffin on board."

"Oh," she said. "Do you really travel like that?" she asked.

He chuckled with a shake of his head. "I have to travel by ship, yes, but I do not require a coffin. It's a safety precaution, though, so I don't get dusted accidentally."

"We wouldn't want that," she quipped.

"What a thing to say about the father of your child."

"Like you care about our child," she said, following him into the living room.

He shrugged as he sat on the couch in one fluid motion. "Ryan Patrick Summers, born July 6 at just after three o'clock in the morning."

"You came to see him, didn't you?" she asked as she sat beside him on the couch. It was the only piece of furniture in the room, so she had little choice but to sit next to him.

His game face fell into place at her question. "Is there someone else who would be leaving you roses? I'll bet even Harris considers you used goods now that you've had my baby."

"No reason to get all game facey on me, Angelus, I was just asking the question. What did you think?"

"He was pretty scrawny looking, but I guess that's to be expected given you were early and all. I've never seen a newborn before, not that fresh anyway."

"You should see him now," she said, unable to keep the pride out of her voice.

"Why didn't you bring him?"

"Bring him patrolling? Are you nuts?"

"You're patrolling already? That's pretty fast. What does Giles think?" Her watcher would not let any harm come to his mate, Angelus was confident of that.

"The doctor cleared me, Xander, Willow, Giles, Cordelia and Oz have been doing my work for long enough."

"If you say so." That was not exactly the answer he had been looking for, but if she felt well enough to do it he really could not stop her. She had a point, too, civilians could only do the Slayer's job for so long.

"I do."

They sat in uncomfortable silence for a few minutes. Angelus had no idea what to say now that she was here. He had been overwhelmed by the need he felt in her when he opened his half of their connection that he had been so careful to keep closed off for the past few weeks.

He had been by to see Ryan at the hospital every night until he was released to go home. He recalled vividly the first time he had held Ryan in his arms. The nurse had been hesitant to let him, but Angelus had given her a sob story about just getting back into town and wanting to see that his son was truly okay. His story worked and he was able to hold living proof of the impossible in his arms. Ryan had been so tiny, his skin reddened and splotchy with a few downy soft tufts of dark hair on his head. Despite the boy being premature, he had opened his eyes that night and Angelus was quite sure he would ever be the same.

He had fed on babies, had thought nothing of draining a newborn in front of its mother before he turned his attentions to her. By then they were ready to die, to join their son or daughter, but Angelus dished out torture that could last for hours if not days when he was of the mind to. The idea of making a parent watch the light go out of his or her son or daughter's eyes made Angelus wretch now.

"I start school Monday."

School was a good topic one that would stop him from thinking about what he was becoming. He was not sure if it was the connection he shared with Buffy who just so happened to be the Slayer causing it, but something had changed over the past few months. He no longer craved the mayhem, merely the blood. He did not like thinking that he and Soul Boy really were not that different after all. "You're going to pass, right?"

"I plan on it, yeah."

"You need to pass, Buff."

{Tell her you want to see her and the babe together, you idiot.}

"Do you?" she asked quietly.

"The fact that we managed to hide it from Spike and Drusilla is pretty amazing, I don't think we should push it."

"Oh," she said, sounding disappointed. That part of him that Ryan's gaze had touched did not want to see the look of disappointment on her face. He touched her face lightly, his fingertips grazing her lips and her breath caught. "What are you doing?"

"I've stayed away to keep you and Ryan safe, Buff, no other reason. Soul Boy and I are in agreement on that point, no one can suspect I'm the father."

"You're ashamed."

The idea was blasphemous. "I'd love to say yes to that, I'd love to tell you that it tears me up inside that of all people I was able to create a baby with it was you, the Slayer, my mortal enemy. But I'm not ashamed. I can't begin to understand how it happened, but you got Ryan out of Soul Boy's love for you."

"Does that mean you will come see him?" she asked.

"Maybe you can bring him here."

"And that wouldn't draw attention to me or the baby?"

"You have a point," he said, dropping his hand so it touched her shoulder. It had been weeks since he had touched her. He searched for the reason behind his missing her, but could not blame it on Soul Boy. He missed seeing the sun rising and setting through her eyes. He had never admitted how much that meant to him, she gave him a little piece of humanity. "I don't want to be human," he growled, his lips curling up as he dropped into his game face once more.

"I don't think I have the power to do that, Angelus," she said. She was scared now, he could smell the fear on her, but it made him feel sick instead of exhilarated.

"Would you do it if you could?"

"Make you human?"

"Yes," he said his voice a whisper, for some reason her answer was very important to him.

"No," she said after a moment's pause.

"Why not?" he asked, surprised but not disappointed at her answer.

"I don't want to think of you dying, of losing you. I want to die knowing you're still here, that you'll always be here."

"I think you have me confused with Soul Boy who would continue working in your name after you were gone. He would probably adorn your burial site with pretty roses and what nots as well."

"Angelus, I'm no fool, I don't plan on living for very long, Slayer here. I know in your own way you'd look out for our son, even if it was from a distance."

She had a point and he felt a moment of panic at the thought of her being gone. "I could still turn you," he said, though the idea no longer held the appeal to him it did months ago.

"We both know that wouldn't work, Angelus. I'm light, you're dark, it's the way it has to be. I wouldn't work as a vampire."

"You could try it."

"And what? If I don't like it, you promise to stake me? No thanks."

He had no response to that, he would not turn her unless she was willing.

"We need to talk, Angelus."

"About what?"

"Ryan. Me. You. What we're doing."

"There's not much to say."

"We've had sex since you lost your soul and claim you're no longer my boyfriend, more than once. You won't let me near another guy. School starts and I want to know what's going on. I want to go to Prom and do all of the things girls my age do."

"I'm not your boyfriend."

"Fine, then what are you? I mean, either we're together in some way or we're not and I'm free to go out with other guys."

"You'll never be free to go out with others, Lover. Going to Prom I could give you, but our son will have no other father but me."

"But you're not going to be here. What type of father is that? Am I supposed to show him a picture, let him wear your leather jacket and hope that he gets whatever it is he's supposed to get that way?"

He stood from the couch and walked to the fireplace, leaning an arm against the mantle. He should go, it would be the best thing for all three of them. But a part of him did not want to go, the part of him that had not bothered to feed off anyone in the past six weeks who was not a willing donor. Things had been different ever since Soul Boy took over his body and he had felt the baby move in his mate's belly. Angelus had felt it, and it had changed him somehow. He had spent the past seven months trying to undo the rights Soul Boy had done. He had not stopped to realize that he was in essence trying to deny that he himself had changed, soul or not. How could he stay in Sunnydale without admitting that to his mate, to her friends, and not look like the pussy whipped boyfriend Soul Boy was?

"What if I told you I might not go anywhere?"

"You mean stay here?" she asked softly.

"I might, but you'd have to let me see him."

"You know I'd let you see him."


"I don't know how safe that's going to be Angelus."

"I don't think your mom is going to like my coming to see him."

"No, Mom thinks you need to marry me and be all responsible man."

He scoffed. "I haven't been responsible a day in my life."

"You were with me," she said softly. She must have stood from the couch at some point, but Angelus had missed the movement. Her hand at his back took him by surprise. "You were always responsible with me."

"If that were true you wouldn't have lost your boyfriend, Buff."

"That wasn't your fault, it was mine. You told me we shouldn't and I didn't listen."

"God, it was good, though," he whispered.


He turned to face her then, saw the need in her eyes. He had spent the last seven months insulting, berating and trying to bring her down a notch that the spirited look in her eyes Soul Boy had found so appealing was rarely seen any longer. "Really," he said gruffly.

"But you said," she started and he placed a finger over her lips.

"I know what I said, Buff."

"So you're staying?"

"I'm thinking about it, I haven't decided yet. Do I still have the freedom to feed?"

Her eyes narrowed and she took a deep breath. "Yes," she said after a moment's hesitation.

"No more offers to let me feed from you?"

"No," she said softly.

"Why not?"

"It feels too good," she said softly. He started to say something but she placed her finger over his lips this time. "I love you, I will always love you, and I know it's just Slayer blood to you nothing more. It hurts too much when you're done and I know that we're back to being Slayer and vampire."

"You are the Slayer, Buff, and I am a vampire."

"But you're staying? I don't get it."

"Nothing to get, if I do decide to stay."

She stepped away from him, walked toward the doorway as if she was ready to go. Angelus really did not want her to go yet. He had always been a loner, preferring his own company over that of others, but there were things about her being here he missed. "You can feed, but if I find out you're killing I will come after you, Angelus. No more free rides."

"You'd do it?"

"If you made me, yes. I would rather Ryan grow up not knowing you than grow up knowing, suspecting you are a monster. You can come tonight at midnight. He usually takes a bottle about that time, which I always do because Mom does it while I'm out patrolling. I'll be waiting up, but if you start coming now Angelus there's no turning back."

"I don't walk away from something once I decide to do it."

"You walked away from me."

"Maybe I never decided."

She laughed with a shake of her head. "Go ahead and convince yourself of that Angelus, but I know better. And so do you," she said before he left the room.

Seconds later, Angelus heard the front door close and knew she was gone. He had all night to think about her ultimatum. She could stand his coming in and out of her life, she was stronger than she thought. She was right about his involvement with Ryan. He would like to believe he did not care if their child turned out messed up, but he did. He imagined it was paternal pride rearing its head and he would probably live to regret the decision, but he had to know how this turned out. If he left Sunnydale and never came back a part of him would always wonder how his mate and their child were doing.

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