Early May 2000
Buffy hung up the phone and met Faith's eyes for a moment before getting up to leave. Her visit to the other slayer in prison had not gone well. She wasn't sure what she'd expected. A connection of some sort. A kinship with another slayer. She and Kendra had hit it off okay once Kendra got over being so uptight. She doubted Angel would have told her what happened to him, but she'd come by unexpectedly and seen that he was hurt. She still couldn't explain how she knew he was in trouble.
She hoped she was making the right decision. Angel had assured her he believed it was. Wolfram & Hart was out to kill him, they knew he was a big player. So far it seemed they hadn't figured out who Buffy was or that one of their lawyers was married to the slayer. She had left for the day, packing as much as she could in her SUV. She had driven to Angel's, trading her SUV for another one. It was the only way they knew of she could get away.
When she got to Sunnydale she had a moment of panic. She had to force herself not to turn back. Angel had told her no matter what she couldn't come back until he'd told her it was okay. Now that she was here, she wasn't sure where to go. She'd been gone for just about two years. Her gut told her to visit her mom first and she drove there, unsure if it was the right decision.
She sat outside in the car for a while, running her fingertips along the keypad of her cell phone. Should she call first? What was the right thing to do in this situation? She keyed in Angel's number. He answered after the third ring.
"Hey. You make it yet?"
"Yeah. I'm sitting on the street outside my house."
Buffy shrugged, realizing too late he couldn't see her. "I don't know. Am I supposed to like her?"
Angel laughed and Buffy felt a warm feeling wash through her. "She takes a little getting used to."
"I guess. How'd it go?"
"Haven't done it yet. I'll call you and let you know. Between Wes and me, Buffy, we'll be sure the papers are signed."
"Okay. Nineteen and divorced. Not just divorced, pregnant, too."
"We'll get you through it."
"I know. I just needed to hear your voice."
"I'm sorry I can't be there for you."
"Me, too, but this is something I have to do on my own anyway."
"Yes, it is."
"I'll talk to you soon."
She slid the phone into her purse and got out of the car. It took her a minute to actually move her feet and walk the short distance to her house. It wasn't her house anymore. She wasn't really sure where she belonged. She'd lived with Lindsey for over a year, had considered that her home. Now, she was leaving that behind without even telling him why. He didn't deserve any explanations, not if he was the one who'd tried to get Faith to kill Angel.
She rang the bell, not sure what else to do. Her mom's car was on the driveway, so unless she was out with someone else she was home. Buffy wasn't sure what she would have done if her mother's car wasn't there.
Tears welled up in her eyes when her mom answered the door. She stared in disbelief at Buffy, not saying anything. For a minute, Buffy was afraid she was going to faint or something.
"Buffy, is it really you?"
"Yeah, Mom, it is."
Joyce wrapped Buffy into a big hug. Both women started to cry.
"I was so worried. I tried not to think the worst, but as more time went by I couldn't help it."
"Let me look at you."
Her mother stepped back and regarded Buffy closely.
"You look good."
"So do you."
"Where have you been?"
"I," Buffy shrugged. "Around."
"Have you been by to see Mister Giles?"
"Uh, no, I figured I should start here."
"Right. Well, come in. I assume you're here to stay. I was making some chicken and pasta for dinner. There's enough for two I'm sure."
Buffy followed her mother to the kitchen. Nothing had changed. She wondered if she went upstairs to her room if that would be the same, too.
"It smells good."
"Oh, it's nothing fancy."
"Can I help with anything?"
Her mother's eyes shot up in surprise. "Well, I'll go call Mister Giles and ask him to come over if you want to put the pasta in the pot."
"Sure," Buffy said lamely. "You know, that sauce is really good if you add some fresh mushrooms and green peppers to it."
"Do you have any?"
"I think so, let me check."
"I'll do it," Buffy said walking to the fridge. She found what she was looking for. "Jarred sauce is good and everything, but I really just use it as a base and add things to it. Someone like you who works, though, might not have time."
Buffy still knew her way around her mother's kitchen. In fact, now that she was here she realized that she'd set up her own kitchen in much the same way. She hadn't noticed until now.
"You don't work?"
"No," Buffy said with a shrug. "I did for a while as a waitress, but not now."
"What have you been doing?"
Buffy bit her lower lip as she chopped up the mushrooms and green pepper.
"Well, I'm married to someone I thought was great, but it turns out no matter what I do I can't escape being the slayer or the weirdness that is my life."
"Yeah. Since my birthday last year."
"Where is he?"
"Back home. He doesn't know where I am. I'm not even sure he knows I've left yet. He works crazy hours."
"Are you all right?"
"I'm okay, Mom, I just feel kind of dumb. I wanted so badly to have a normal life." She slumped her shoulders. "I really wanted that. I thought I could have it. I did for a while. Until Angel showed up."
"Angel? But he went to LA."
"Yeah, he did."
"You've been in LA this whole time?"
"Angel's known where you've been all this time and didn't tell any of us?"
"He did it for me, Mom."
The doorbell rang, Buffy didn't need to guess who it was. She let her mom get the door, though. It seemed like she needed to. Buffy found herself wishing for something more to do in the kitchen. There wasn't anything, though, other than the dishes. So, she set about starting on them. She needed to be busy.
Buffy had just finished putting the dishes into the sudsy water. She braced herself and turned to face her mother and Giles when she heard footsteps coming into the room.
"It smells wonderful, Joyce, but I've already…Buffy?"
"Oh God, it's really you."
"Sorry to worry you."
"Sorry!? Do you have any idea what we've been through?"
"No, I sure don't. I didn't come back to get lectured, though."
"Well, Buffy, you can."
"No, Giles. Mom. Both of you. I can turn around and go. I can go somewhere Angel won't find me. Is that what you want?"
"Of course not, Buffy. But Mister Giles was maybe even more worried than I was. We weren't even sure until Angel came back that you made it out alive."
"Just don't lecture me, all right?"
"No, Giles, I can't take it right now."
"I'm sorry to inconvenience you, Buffy. Do you have any idea how many times I've flown off in the middle of the night on some vague police report?"
"I didn't ask you to do that. I didn't ask for any of this. Don't you get it? That's why I left! I don't want it. Any of it. To save the world I had to give up the one thing I loved more than anything. I would have given my life for him, but my life wasn't the answer."
"This isn't about Angel."
"Yes, Giles, it is. It's about Angel. It's about me not being able to be the slayer."
"You haven't a choice."
"You've gotten through the past couple of years all right."
"But you've managed."
"You're being entirely too flippant and dismissive about this. We aren't the ones who did something wrong. We didn't leave you wondering if we were dead."
"Oh my God. Do you think my plan was to worry you? Do you think I was thinking about anything or anyone but myself?"
She cried out, clutching her abdomen as pain shot through her. She'd felt this before. She remembered now. The pain. The blood. The fever spreading through her body like wildfire.
"I need to get to the hospital."
"Just get me to the hospital."
"I'll take you, Buffy. Let's get you to the car."
She handed him her cell phone. "Speed dial 2 is Angel. Call him, tell him please."
"Angel. You've seen and talked with Angel?"
"Yes. Call him, he needs to know, it changes things he's doing. If I lose this baby I don't have to hide, I can help him."
"All right, of course. I'll be right behind your mother."
"Can you turn dinner off?"
"Yes, yes, of course."
The pain wasn't as bad now. Buffy didn't feel any different. Maybe there was nothing wrong? If she hadn't lost one baby already, she wouldn't worry.
Her mother got her to the hospital in record time. Everything happened in a blur. The only thing she knew for certain was that there was an active heartbeat being monitored. The baby was okay.
"I'm going to be a grandmother."
"Why didn't you say something?"
"I don't know. I was about this far along when I lost the first one."
"You were pregnant before?"
"The doctor says you're fine. The baby's fine. I just talked to him."
"Do you want to know what it is?"
"What what is?"
"I didn't ask, but he said he could tell us if you wanted to know. They saw when they did the ultrasound."
"Oh. I was supposed to have one done next week. Do you want to know?"
"It'd be nice."
"Next time he comes in then, we'll ask."
"You know, I can't get over how much you've changed. How grown up you are acting. You always acted that way, I never knew why of course until you told me. But you're married. I saw your ring. It's beautiful."
"Thanks," Buffy said, holding up her hand and looking at the set. She wasn't sure why she still wore it. She should have left it behind, but she couldn't bring herself to do it for some reason.
"And you're sure he's not a good guy?"
"I wish I was wrong, Mom, more than you know. You'd have liked him I think. He's a lawyer. Just for the wrong side."
"They want to keep you over night, to observe you and the baby, make sure it was just a false alarm. Do you want me to stay with you?"
"Yeah, please. You know me and hospitals."
"Yes, I do. I'll go talk to the doctor then. I think Mister Giles wants to see you."
Joyce stood from the chair beside Buffy and kissed Buffy's head. Just like a mom. Buffy couldn't help but smile. Until Giles came in the room.
"You're all right?"
"I guess. That little monitor says both Mommy and baby are fine."
"I didn't realize. Had I known, I would have taken better care not to upset you."
"No you wouldn't have. You were mad. You have every right to be, but you have to look at it from my point."
"I do, I tried, but you have no idea."
"I do. Angel told me all of it. At least you were able to save him."
"Yes, how did you know?"
"I don't know. Whatever was going on with him was happening to me. I felt it, all of it, and somehow I just knew. I was pregnant then, too, lost it because of the fever. I never asked them to do any tests on me, because I didn't know until later that Angel had been poisoned, but I wonder if I wasn't too."
"Extraordinary. I've never heard of such a thing."
"Well, we star in one another's dreams so I'm not sure much surprises me."
"There's something I should tell you, because I don't believe he would."
"He really believes you're better off without him."
"I, however, am not so sure. If you are as connected as you claim to be, I can't help but think otherwise. Anyway, his soul, Buffy, it's bound to him. He can't lose it again."
"How do you know that?"
"I have a friend, a shaman, when we were trying to get information from Faith, I needed to make sure his soul would remain intact."
"Oh. Why didn't he tell me?"
"I imagine because you are married."
"Great choice I made there."
"Buffy, I'm sure he was very nice to you."
"I don't think the baby is his."
"I," she shook her head, lifting her hand to her head to wipe some hair from her face. "I've done the math. I've checked my calendar. After I first saw Angel in LA, I couldn't, didn't."
"Yes, I get it."
"I thought the doctor at my first visit back in February was wrong, goofed up somehow when he told me I was as far along as he did. But tonight, the person who did the ultrasound said I'm like twenty-two weeks along. That's about inline with what the first doctor said my due date was. I didn't have sex with Lindsey during that time."
"Was there someone else?"
"No! That's what I don't understand. Angel says he thinks I forgot somehow. It's possible, I suppose. Lindsey did wake me up sometimes, but I was very careful. Because after I saw Angel again, I knew I couldn't have someone else's baby."
"There must be some mistake."
"Maybe, there could be, but I don't think so. I don't know. I just, I was really careful, Giles."
"I believe you, Buffy. There's no sense worrying about it now, though."
"I just wish I knew for sure."
Her eyes widened as the door opened and Angel came into the room.
"I got here as fast as I could. Hi Giles."
"I saw your mom in the hall, she didn't say you weren't alone. I can leave if I'm interrupting."
"No, I think we're done here." Giles leaned over and placed a kiss on Buffy's forehead in much the same way her mother did. "If I neglected to mention it earlier, I'm very relieved to know you're all right."
"Hi," she said as soon as Giles left the room. It was odd how much just having him in the same room calmed her.
"Hi yourself. Another scare, huh?"
"Yeah. It seems I'm okay, though. So is the little guy."
"I'm not sure, I just say guy. It's easier."
"Oh. I guess your homecoming kind of got interrupted."
"Yeah, kind of. Mom wanted to call Willow and Xander, but I told her to wait until tomorrow when I'm home. I don't want them to see me here like this."
He sat beside her, taking her hand in his. She stared at him, mulling Giles' words over in her head. Why hadn't he told her about his soul? Didn't he want her? No, that wasn't right. She knew he did. So, why? She wanted to ask, but there were other questions on her mind.
"Is there something you're not telling me."
"What do you mean?"
"Well, we share dreams, we share near death experiences. There isn't something we shared I should know about. Is there?"
"Like conceiving a child?"
"Why would you ask me that?"
"Because, I've gone over it and I just don't think it's possible it's Lindsey's. I don't know what else to think."
"We'll talk about it later. After things are taken care of."
"You do know something!"
"I didn't say that."
"I can tell. You have a look in your eyes."
"I do not."
"How would you know? You haven't seen your eyes in over two hundred years."
"What? It's true."
"Buffy. You should be resting right now."
"I'll rest. I'm resting. I'm in a hospital, aren't I?"
"Yes. And, clearly the doctor thinks you need to be here over night."
"Did you see him?"
"Did he sign the papers?"
"Yes, he didn't like it."
"Well, I didn't think he would."
"I had a cop friend call in some favors. A judge signed off on them tonight."
"It cost you money."
"It's only money. Buffy, I can't do what I have to knowing you're with him. I had to get you out of there."
"I know. If he finds out I'm pregnant."
"He's not just going to give up, Angel. He did care about me."
"I know he did. I think he loved you, which is why he'll leave you alone."
"What? That doesn't make sense."
"Just trust me. You don't need to know the details. He's going to leave you alone."
"I hope you're right."
"You married him as Anne Williams. Where'd you get Williams?"
"My mom's maiden name. Pretty lame. I'm surprised no one found me."
"Can I get you anything?"
"No, I'm betting Mom will be back pretty soon."
"I'll bet she's glad to have you back."
"Once the shock wore off, yeah. I'm sure she's still pretty mad more than anything."
"She has every right to be."
"I told you to call her."
"I know. You were right, I was wrong. Feel better?"
"Yeah, yeah." She glanced at the monitor and sighed softly. "I wish it was yours."
"Maybe that's why I'm having problems. I wish it was yours. There were a few days around Thanksgiving, I thought we were," she shrugged. "I guess it's impossible."
"I just, I don't know. I mean, nothing happened, right? So, I was wrong in thinking we were getting to that point. It's just for a while there, I had thoughts of being with you. Leaving Lindsey. That maybe we could be together. Really together."
"Yeah. I've had those thoughts, too."
"So, it's not just me." She was glad, happier than she should have been.
"No, it's not just you."
"When this is all over."
"Okay." She squeezed his hand and laced her fingers through his. "I love you, Angel."
"I love you, too, Buffy."
"I should feel guilty for saying that, shouldn't I?"
"No. You should never feel guilty for what you feel. We have every right to feel for one another what we do."
"I never said it to him. I felt something for him, more than just liking him, but it wasn't this."
"I'm glad you do, because I don't."
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com