(some dialogue taking from episode FOREVER)
She shouldn't have been out. She had stopped slaying weeks ago, but when Angel had appeared at her doorstep she knew she had to go. Giles seemed to understand. For that she was grateful.
All was quiet at the moment. It was as if even the bad guys were taking time off because the slayer's mom was dead. She sat in Angel's arms. She had to laugh at the possessive way his hands rested against her now very pregnant belly. If it bothered him, he said nothing.
"The funeral was... it was brutal. But it's tomorrow that I'm worried about."
"That's exactly what I don't know. Up until now I've had a roadmap. Things to do every minute, having to do with Mom."
"Tomorrow the stuff of everyday living resumes."
"And everybody expects me to know how to do it because I'm so strong."
"You just need some time. I'm sure everybody understands that."
"Time's not the issue. I can stick wood in vampires. But Mom was the strong one in real life. She always knew how to make things better. Just what to say."
"You'll find your way. I mean not all at once, but..."
"I don't know. I keep thinking about it. When I found her. If I'd just gotten there 10 minutes earlier..."
"You said they told you it wouldn't have made a difference."
"They said probably it wouldn't have made a difference. The exact thing they said was "probably". I haven't told that to anyone."
"Doesn't make it your fault. You couldn't have done anything different."
"I didn't even start CPR until they told me. I fell apart. That's how good I am at being a grown up."
"It would be okay if it was just me I had to worry about. But Dawn..."
"Look it's okay. I know you don't feel like it right now, but you are strong, Buffy. You're gonna figure this out. And you have people to help you. You don't have to do this alone."
"And you have Giles and the baby to look forward to."
"I know. I wish she could have held on for another month so she could have seen her."
"She will see her, Buffy. You have to believe that. Hold on to that. For Dawn's sake, for your sake. Once the baby's born, it sounds like you're going to have your hands full with Glory. You can't let grief cloud your mind."
"That's easy for you to say."
"No, no, it's not, Buffy. I know how hard it is. You don't think I've grieved for you. That I've missed you. It's not like the loss of your mom. The two don't compare, but the world rests in your hands. I'm just a helper of the cause. You are the cause."
"Nothing like a little pressure added to the mix."
"Well, Buffy, what do you want me to say? You're the slayer. It's not just what you do it's who you are."
"I know. I'm sorry I didn't tell you about Giles myself."
"It's okay. I get it. I admit I was a little surprised when you answered the door looking like you do. I wondered if Cordelia hadn't told me intentionally, but realized when she saw you that you probably weren't far enough along for her to notice."
"No, I wasn't."
"Are you happy?"
"Yeah. I don't know why it happened or how. It just did. You were gone. I had a bad experience with this guy right after school started. I just realized that he'd never left me."
"And your mom was okay with it?"
"I guess. She didn't say anything. I didn't tell her until Thanksgiving, I needed her to know before her surgery. Just in case."
"That's all I wanted for you, Buffy. A chance at real happiness, normal happiness. I know you said at the time things like kids didn't matter to you. I think you'll find once you have this one you'll realize you were wrong."
"Oh, I know, I already know it just feeling it move around."
"And I'll always be there for you, Buffy. Always. Don't ever think you can't call me, count on me."
"I know. Thanks."
"It's gonna be light soon."
"I can stay in town as long as you want me."
"How's forever? Does forever work for you? That's a bad idea. I'm seriously needy right now."
"Let me worry about the neediness. I can handle it."
They looked at each other and Buffy leaned in and kissed him. They kissed softly for a moment. It turned a little more heated and they pulled away, both breathing harder.
"I told you. You better go."
"No. I'm so grateful that you came, Angel. I didn't think I was gonna be able to make it through the night."
Angel looked up at the sky "Well, we still have a few more minutes until I have to go."
She put her head on his chest and leaned against him. He put his arm around her shoulders.
"I love him."
"I just thought I should say it. No secrets, no misunderstandings."
"It was just a kiss, Buffy. I don't think he'd fault you for that right now."
"I made it sound like I couldn't count on him."
"No, you made it sound like you needed a friend. Someone who wasn't so personally involved in what's going on right now. Someone who hasn't sat with you through all of this. Giles knows how much you mean to me."
"I've got to go."
"Thanks for coming, Angel. Really."
"Anytime, Buffy. Good luck with the baby," he said lifting his hand from her abdomen.
He stood, offered her a hand which she took gratefully. She wasn't exactly coordinated at the moment. She watched as he walked in the direction of the mansion where he could spend the day safely. Once she could no longer see him she took one last look at her mother's grave and left the cemetery headed for Revello Drive.
It was strange having him in her bed. She crawled in to join him glad that without being asked he had spent the night at her house since her mother's death.
"Good morning," he murmured.
"Did you have a nice talk with Angel?"
"Yeah. It was nice. Thanks for understanding."
"He was an important person in your life. I wouldn't begrudge you time with him under these circumstances. Feeling better?"
"Good. How's the baby?"
"Oh God, fine. Feels like I'm carrying around a set of weights."
"I imagine so. You don't have much longer."
"And then the fun begins."
His arm went around her and he ran his fingers through her hair. "Are you worried?"
"A little. Angel says I can't let this or the baby distract me from Glory."
"He's right. As much as I hate to say it. You know that we'll all help, but Glory needs to be your focus once you're able."
"That's so unfair."
"You're right it is. No one said this is going to be easy, Buffy."
"I wish I knew what to do now."
"Well, I've given that some thought over the last few days."
"First, you need to at least finish the quarter out. That's the easy part. As for the other. We could live here."
"I don't have the space to accommodate you, a baby and Dawn. And as I've been suggesting for the past eight months or so I want to be with you."
"I know it's soon, but think about it. Dawn's routine wouldn't be entirely disrupted. There'd be plenty of room for the baby."
"What about your place?"
"I'm renting and have been on a month to month lease for quite some time now."
"Of course I am. It makes the most sense, doesn't it?"
"Buffy, you don't have to decide now. But you can't leave Dawn here alone, you're due pretty much any day now."
"No, you're right. I'm just tired."
"Rightfully so. Get some rest. We can talk about it when you've thought it over some."
She curled against him as she normally did. She yawned and slid her arm around his stomach.
"I kissed him." She blurted it out before she'd really thought about what it would mean to tell him.
"Angel. I kissed him."
She felt his hand at her hair still. "And you expect me to what? Yell? Scream? Leave you?"
"Well, I wouldn't blame you."
"Buffy." He sat up then, leaned over her and looked her in the eyes. "I appreciate your honesty, but I'm not leaving you. You're at a very vulnerable point in your life right now. Your hormones are out of control. That in itself would be an excuse. Add to that your mother's illness, her death, schooling, Spike's developed crush on you."
"Oh, God, can we not talk about that please."
His lips twitched into a hint of a smile. "My point is, Buffy. I understand. You have feelings for Angel, you probably always will. If you want me to tell you you're a horrible person for turning to someone you care for for comfort I'll tell you. Is it going to happen again?"
"What? No, of course not."
"Well then. I won't deny it bothers me, I wouldn't be human if it didn't. But I know you didn't do it to be heartless or cruel."
"You're too good for me."
He stroked her cheek with the back of his hand. "I'm not leaving you, Buffy. I'm not going anywhere. It's not because you're pregnant. It's because you're you and I love you. If you went around kissing Angel every day I might have a problem with such behavior."
"Why don't you want to marry me?"
"You heard me."
"I, is that why you've hesitated to agree to move in with me? You think I don't want to marry you?"
"Well, it's all you've suggested."
"Because you're young yet, barely twenty years old. I wanted you to finish college, get a job," he shrugged. "Your heart is still a little raw from Angel and the other young man. I just assumed you'd prefer the option that required less of a commitment. That seems to have scared you enough. I'm not sure how you'd react to the suggestion we get married."
"Does that ease your mind?"
"I want whatever you feel comfortable with, Buffy. You've experienced a lot of changes in the past year. I think for now we should keep things as normal as we can, but that includes Dawn now. And you'll need to be with her."
"Just think on it. You do need to make a decision soon, though. The baby is going to be here within a month one way or another."
"Yeah. Are you getting up?" She asked when he slid off the bed.
"Just using the washroom. Is that all right?"
She draped her arm over her eyes while she waited for him to come back. It was so strange, foreign to her. She thought for sure telling him she kissed Angel would send him in the opposite direction. Maybe that was why she'd kissed Angel to begin with. Self-destructing. How was she supposed to know? She should have paid more attention in Professor Walsh's class.
She heard the door open and close again. She felt the extra weight on the bed when he joined her. She took a deep breath and turned her head to look at him.
"Let's do it."
"Live here. Us. You're right. It's the only thing that makes sense."
"Finally, she sees reason."
"We should clear it with Dawn first."
"Well, I'm not sure she has much choice. She doesn't want to live with Dad. Not to mention she can't."
"You should still make her think she has some say in things."
He set his hand over her abdomen. She was always amazed at how gentle he was with her now. Protective. She linked her hand with his, both laughed when the baby kicked.
"Active this morning."
"Yes, I'm surprised she has enough room to move. I don't think I have any room left to grow."
"You look beautiful, Buffy."
"You do. I've never paid much attention to women who were with child prior to this, but I can't recall seeing a prettier one."
"I feel huge. I can't walk right, I can barely see my feet, and I have to go to the bathroom all of the time. If we do this again we have to invest in a second bathroom."
"Another one? My, you are ambitious."
"I said if."
"Duly noted. Now, get some rest. We'll talk to Dawn later."
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com