"Where is she?"
Angel cursed silently. Leave it to Cordelia to leave without locking the door. She didn't understand what was at stake, but he had told her how careful she needed to be.
"I don't know who you mean."
"You do, Angel. Now tell me."
"Just who is it we're talking about?"
"Ah. I vaguely remember her. Pretty, blonde, a little young. Maybe she ran off. Cold feet or something."
"You helped her."
"It seems to me, if she wanted to be found she'd let you know. Whether I helped her or not."
He sat in the chair, Angel couldn't recall seeing the look of defeat in the man's eyes before now. He'd successfully avoided running into him for months now. He knew eventually his luck would run out. It had to. Of all the days to run into him, when he was scheduled to leave for England had to be it. The plane he had charted was scheduled to leave within two hours. He didn't have time for disgruntled ex-husband's.
"Is she all right?"
"That's assuming I know where she is."
"I know who she is."
"I should hope so. You married her."
"No, I married Anne Williams. Was she a plant from the beginning?"
"What are you talking about?"
"Buffy. That's her name, isn't it? Buffy Summers. The Slayer. I went to Sunnydale, but her house is empty. Not a speck of dust or a crumb to be found anywhere. No forwarding address either. Nothing."
"Like I said, if she wanted to be found you'd have found her."
"I bet they just love you right now."
He saw it in his eyes then. Lindsey's life the past few months had been a living hell. Angel knew what that was like. He'd lived it. First, not knowing where Buffy was, whether she was all right. And then, finding out she was not only all right but married to another man.
"You're divorced, Lindsey. You signed the papers. Let it go."
He stood, slamming his hands on Angel's desk. "I want to know if she was working with you from the beginning."
"You really want to know the answer?"
Angel leaned back in his chair, regarding Lindsey. He clasped his hands in his lap calmly, he was in control here. Lindsey was the one out of control, on the verge of losing it. Angel knew the feeling well. He would have moved heaven and earth to find Buffy while she was missing.
The man wanted answers. Angel could be a prick and tell him what he believed was the truth. Or he could be a nice guy and give him the truth. He was feeling nice today. That coupled with the fact, Buffy had really liked the man and he knew Lindsey had loved her. He decided to go easy on the man. Even if he was evil.
"No, she wasn't working with me from the beginning. There are a lot of things Buffy might do for the cause, sleeping with a man for over a year is not one of them. She's not a hired companion."
"So what then? I've read her file, yours."
"She thought I was dead. You were," Angel shrugged. "I guess her attempt at trying to move on. I came to LA, getting away from Sunnydale and being reminded of her every time I turned around. Who knew?"
"So it was an accident? A fluke? My world crashes down around me because of some random event? I don't buy that."
"That's the way life works, Lindsey."
"I was hoping you wouldn't make me do this."
Angel was at the ready. He had been since Lindsey walked through the door. He was surprised it had taken Lindsey this long to come here actually. He had figured a couple of weeks, a month tops. Maybe he'd tried to convince himself it didn't matter, he didn't care. Angel knew Lindsey had cared, though. Angel couldn't imagine someone spending every night for over a year with Buffy, next to Buffy, inside Buffy and not care.
Lindsey came at him with a stake, but Angel was faster. A benefit of his opponent being human. He caught him unaware. How did this man think he could beat him when Faith, a slayer, couldn't?
It had been some time since he'd hurt a human, but there was a time and a place for it. This was one of those times. He combated Lindsey's lunge with a swipe of his sword. He'd really intended just to dislodge the stake from Lindsey's hand. His aim was quite a bit off, as Lindsey's entire hand still holding the stake dropped onto Angel's desk.
The blood, the screams, it was too much. It was calling to him, beckoning him, tempting him. Oh God, it would be so easy to finish him off. He was distracted, in pain, focused on his injury. If he did it, killed this man, Buffy wouldn't have to worry about him finding her. He wouldn't have to worry about Lindsey finding out she was pregnant.
The blood was spurting, pumping from the stump where Lindsey's hand had been just moments ago. Angel could smell it, the coppery scent enticing him like nothing else ever could. Not even Buffy, except maybe for her blood.
Angel dropped the sword and fled. It was his only option if he wasn't going to do something he'd later regret. Or get staked by Buffy for. He was already prepared to leave, so he drove like a bat out of hell. Once he was a good distance from the office, he put a call in to 911 from his cell phone. He wasn't sure Lindsey would stick around his office, but he had to call it in.
He pulled off the road when he was close to the small airport he was taking off from. He had to collect himself. He couldn't board the plane with his hunger not sated. He had some packets of blood in a cooler he'd packed for the trip. He broke a couple of them out. It wasn't the same, but the hunger was tempered for now.
Once he was confident that he wasn't going to tear into the pilot's throat he eased back into the driver's seat. He took his cell phone out and contemplated calling Buffy. He couldn't risk it, not now. They were too close to finally being together. He ensured the phone was off and drove the rest of the way to the airport.
This flight was costing him a pretty penny, but it was the only way he could think of to ensure his needs for no sunshine were met. He didn't like flying, abhorred it, but he needed to get to Buffy quickly. He would not miss the birth of his child. Their child.
She was to the point now that delivery could be any day. He had pushed it waiting this long, but he had too many loose ends to tie up. He had to be sure Cordelia would be all right. He and Buffy would be back eventually, but until then he wouldn't have it on his conscious that Wolfram & Hart's goons went after her.
He spent most of the flight thinking, resting, sleeping, and plotting. If the pilot noticed the spots of blood on Angel's clothes when he boarded nothing was said. Angel changed clothes once he was onboard. The shirt was ruined, but the pants might be salvageable. He'd forgotten how much blood there was when an extremity was cut off.
The plane touched down, and Angel believed for the first time in months things were going to be all right. One good thing about Lindsey losing his hand, chances were he wouldn't be in a position to call out the dogs on Angel. He had plenty of time to get away, and the flight wasn't booked under Angel's name. So, bases were covered.
The sleek car with tinted windows rolled onto the tarmac pretty soon after the plan landed. Angel had his blanket at the ready and took the small jet's stairs quickly, making a beeline for the car. The back door opened when he was mere steps away, he was in, and away they went. It was like clockwork.
There sitting next to him in the back was Buffy. His woman, his love, his life. Now times two. She greeted him with a kiss that told him very well how much she'd missed him. He hoped the fervor with which he returned her kiss said the same thing in return.
"Hi," she whispered, rubbing her cheek against his when they broke the kiss.
It hadn't been that long since he'd seen her, he'd gone longer during her stint as Lindsey's wife. It seemed like forever, though. And she was a sight for sore eyes.
"God, I love you," he said, unable to censure his thoughts.
"I love you, too."
"How's the little one."
"Growing. Big. Uncomfortable. We're kicking like crazy, using my ribs as the football."
"You love it," he said, unable to miss the tone of her voice. Pride.
"Yes, I can't wait for you to feel him move."
"When did you find out?"
"I've known for a while, but the doctor warned me that it wasn't full proof at the time. But I had an ultrasound done last week. My doctor was afraid the baby is too big."
"Are you all right?"
"The doctor is concerned?"
"He's going to watch me closely. The ultrasound showed I'm just measuring big, but he seems about average. So, I don't know."
"Good," he said, relieved. "So, where did you get the car?"
"Giles knows someone who runs an agency. We told him we needed a car with the darkest tint possible." She wrapped her arms around him, which was a task at the moment given how large she was now. "The driver probably thinks we want to get frisky back here. Well, he probably thought that until he saw a nine-month pregnant woman get in the car."
Angel waggled his eyebrows. "I think we could still get frisky if you were of the mind."
"Mm, let's reserve that for another time when I'm a bit more limber."
"Okay," he said, with a faux pout.
"Yeah, that's me. I haven't seen you, touched you, kissed you, been in you in months." He took one off her hands from his neck and slid it to the front of his pants. "I missed you."
"I see that."
"Has the doctor said anything about sex?"
"Nope. I told him you were coming into town and it had been a few months since we'd been together. He just told me to exercise caution and if something is painful to stop. Which, well, sometimes pain can be of the good."
"Oh, God, Buffy," he whispered. "You're going to drive me nuts talking like that."
"You're not." He chuckled, kissing her. "So, what have you been doing with yourself?"
"Research. It's kind of, and please don't repeat this because I'll deny I ever said it, but it's kind of nice having all of the Council's resources at my fingertips."
"Well, yeah, I'm still not working for them, but they can't very well deny me the right to come look stuff up."
"Okay, they could if they really wanted to, but they haven't. I think they're hoping once I have the baby I'll come back to them."
"Do they know you're coming to LA with me?"
"I've told them, doesn't mean they understand it."
"I saw Lindsey today."
"And you waited until now to tell me? Angel."
"Sorry, talking about your ex-husband wasn't the first thing on my mind after not seeing you for so long."
"Okay, I guess I can forgive you. How is he?"
"I'm not sure."
"What do you mean?" Her eyes narrowed. "What did you do? Angel?"
"He came at me with a stake. He wanted to know if you were a plant from the beginning. I defended myself."
"I cut off his hand."
She didn't recoil from him at any rate, that was good.
"I didn't mean to. It's been a while since I've used a sword against someone I wasn't intent on killing, so I overestimated a little. And instead of blocking the stake, I took his hand off with it."
"Well, that's one way to take care of the problem."
"That's what I thought. I," he swallowed hard. "Buffy, you have no idea how hard it was for me."
She knelt on the seat, which caused him to laugh. She looked ridiculous with her protruding pregnancy. She put her hands on either side of his face and kissed him.
"You did what you had to do."
"No, the smell, the blood," he swallowed again. "I wanted to finish it."
"Of course you did. You're a vampire, the demon is still inside of you, Angel. I know that. Do you think I'm going to hate you because of that?"
"Well, it wasn't that long ago I was off doing it. I got a taste for it."
"No," she said quickly. "I don't believe that. You control what you do, Angel. The soul doesn't make you be a better man, you do. The man in you does."
"I wish I knew you were right."
"You walked away, didn't you?"
"Was he still alive when you left?"
"Did you bite him?"
"No, I even called the police once I was far enough away I knew I wouldn't go back."
"You're far too understanding about this."
"Well, his hand or you in a pile of dust and my not knowing what happened to you. I'll choose door number one."
He kissed her then, hugging her to him as best as he could.
"Door number one was the only choice."
"Got that right, our baby is going to know his father."
"We're going to raise it together."
"And Lindsey tried to prevent that from happening, Angel. You were thinking of me, our baby. You weren't thinking of killing him, or you would have."
He brushed aside her hair, sweeping it away from her face to kiss her.
"He loved you, you know."
"Maybe, when this is over, there's some way you can let him know that you really did care. You really were trying."
"Listen to you."
"I know how he feels. I saw the look in his eye, Buffy. He's lost. He thinks you betrayed him. He thinks you were a plant all along."
"I tried to tell him that, but I think his world is crumbling around him."
"So you want me to?"
"I don't want you to, no. I don't want you to ever see or talk to him again. But, he deserves to know at least that much. That you were sincere."
"You're a good man, Angel."
"I am not. If I was, I wouldn't have pushed you, I would have been able to keep my hands off you."
"You didn't push and though I don't remember that day, I don't think it was just you doing the hands on thing."
"Any man who wants to ease another's mind, make his pain a little less is a good man. And I love you for it."
The car drew to a stop and Buffy shifted back to her seat.
"Good, then you can show me not only how much you love me but how much you missed me."
"Let me pay the driver, horn dog, then we'll talk."
"Horn dog? Listen to you! Need I remind you?"
"That it's you who got me into this mess?"
"You're teasing me. That's sass, isn't it? Of all the women in the world, I have to fall in love with the sassiest one out there."
She took the hand he offered from under the blanket, letting him help her out of the car. Lord knew she needed all the help she could get these days. She led him to the house, planted a kiss on the palm of her hand and patted her butt with it.
"I'll show you sass," she said with a wink, closing the door behind them.
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com