December 25, 1998
She woke with a start, both aroused and frightened. She reached for him, found him there as he always was. She would never grow tired of waking up from one of her dreams knowing there was someone to seek comfort from. She never told him about her dreams and he didn't push. She assumed he thought they were nightmares.
These dreams lately, though, weren't nightmares. Well, they were sort of. She had been dreaming about Angel a lot lately. Vivid and real, she woke in various emotional states. Sometimes she was sad, sometimes she was ready for a fight, and sometimes, like now, she was turned on.
He was already awake and welcomed her without question when she moved on top of him. His hands at her hips, he let her set the pace as she needed to at times like this. She had to push the dreams away. She had to remind herself this was her reality now. Angel was gone. Buffy was gone. There was no Buffy without Angel. There was only Anne.
Anne's life wasn't so bad. She had gotten work at a diner and an okay apartment. She had existed, minding her own business and living the life of a recluse until he came along. She waited on him one day. He was cute and charming. He made her laugh. She'd gotten hit on many times, but for some reason when he asked her to a movie, she accepted.
That was six months ago, and they were getting married next month. As soon as she turned eighteen. He knew her age. She suspected he knew she was a runaway. He just had no idea what she was running from. He seemed concerned with his image, enough so that she was surprised their relationship had gotten this far.
A lawyer. Wouldn't her parents be excited at the prospect of having a successful lawyer for a son-in-law? Too bad they'd never know him. It was strange being this close to her father and not seeing him. She'd driven past her old house a couple of times, but it wasn't the same. He didn't live there anymore and the people who did had painted it a different color.
Nothing stayed the same. She had forced change in her life. Leaving Sunnydale was the smartest thing she could have done. It was too bad she hadn't thought of it before having to spear Angel with a sword. Of course, if she had done that she probably wouldn't be alive right now. No one would. She'd done what she had to do.
Lindsey's mouth on her breasts brought her out of her thoughts. He knew exactly what she liked, sometimes even before she did. If he realized he was only getting the shell of a woman he didn't complain. She put on a good act, and she did genuinely care for him. She was just fresh out of love.
She fell on top of him once they'd both reached their climax. One thing she didn't have to worry about with him was being unsatisfied. And, hey, he didn't turn evil on her. Bonus points for the lawyer. Her lawyer. She caressed his face with the palm of her hand. She'd do the best she could by him.
The dreams were getting worse. She wished she understood what they were about. There were times she'd reached for the phone to call Giles. Once or twice, she'd actually gone so far as to dial his number. He didn't have caller ID, but there was no saying he didn't get it once she'd disappeared. She couldn't risk being found. She just wanted the dreams to stop.
"It's okay. You're here, that's all that matters."
He smoothed his hand along her hair and she sighed like a content cat. Sex with him did that to her. Made her all cuddly-like. It had all happened so fast. She'd thought after her experience with Angel earlier that year that she'd never have sex again. She had sort of fallen into it with Lindsey. He had been patient and kind, not rushing her. She probably would have seemed like an easy mark to some, but she had been able to tell from the beginning he wanted more from her.
She'd made love to him for the first time just before Halloween. She'd had a terrible run in with her boss. He'd invited her over and had gone out of his way to make the day perfect. She had known then this guy was for real. She could grab a hold of him and do what she could not to lose him. Or she could push him away and remain alone. She'd chosen to go for it. She wanted to live. She wanted to feel. She wanted the hopelessness and despair to be a distant memory.
It hadn't happened yet, but she was working on it. She had the run of Lindsey's house. He was working on getting her a job. He had contacts and had no qualms about using them to help her. What was more, he wanted her to be successful. It would be a good reflection on him. She knew that was only part of it, though. He seemed to understand what it was like to have nothing.
Sleeping had gotten easier the past month or so, spending her nights here with him. She'd gone back to her apartment the day after Halloween to collect her meager belongings. Lindsey had pulled some legal strings to get her out of having to pay an extra month's rent. She wasn't sure how he'd managed it, but her pocketbook was as appreciative as she was.
Since sleeping with Lindsey, the dreams starring Angel had subsided to the point she'd thought she was done with them. These were different, though. She was seeing things, almost as if she was viewing them through Angel's eyes. But it was also like she was really there. It was intense and, as much as she hated to admit it, very intimate. She could taste his thirst for blood, feel his body prepare for the hunt. He was a ruthless killer and once he set his mind on something couldn't be stopped. But Willow had stopped him. She had restored his soul, a moment too late. And Buffy had sealed the deal by killing him.
"Hey, hey, honey. Are you okay?"
"Yeah," she said, wiping the tears from her eyes. She hadn't realized she was crying that hard.
"They're just dreams, Anne."
"Dreams can't hurt you."
"I know," she said again. Though she wasn't so sure that was true anymore.
It wasn't until later that day when they were watching television and saw a clip during a newsbreak about the freak snowstorm in Sunnydale. She tried not to show any interest. Snow? It never snowed this far south in California. She bit her lower lip, wondering what it meant. The pictures were from last night. Here in LA, they were experiencing a heat wave. It seemed strange. Too strange. Then again, life in Sunnydale was never normal.
"What's wrong with her?"
"I honestly can't say. There's nothing physically wrong that I can find."
"She's burning up."
"I know. If it continues we'll have to hospitalize her."
"No hospitals," she whimpered. She was not sure they could hear her. She couldn't open her eyes. It hurt too much. Everything hurt too much. She was going to die and it was the most painful thing she'd ever experienced. She felt like she was burning up from the inside out. Something was eating away at her. Her chest burned and it hurt to breathe.
"I'm afraid the baby is gone."
She felt a tear trickle down her cheek at that comment. They hadn't planned on getting pregnant so soon, but within two months of being married she'd missed her period. She had just been to the doctor last week. She knew when Lindsey had cried out at the sight of blood what had happened. She was just incapable of saying anything.
"Blood," she whispered. She shivered. How was it possible to feel so cold when she was burning up?
"Should I clean her up?"
"Yes. I'm afraid I'm at a loss. She could be in shock from losing the baby, but something brought this on before that."
"All right, Doctor, thank you for coming."
"It's my pleasure, Mr. McDonald. I'm sorry for your loss. I'll come back to check on her this evening. Despite her apparent aversion to hospitals, we may have no other recourse if she's not on the mend soon."
Buffy knew he was more concerned about her than the loss of a baby. They had barely adjusted to the fact they were going to have one. He had been happy, of course, so had she.
She felt the dip in the mattress as he joined her on the bed. He shifted her so she was sitting and ran a cool, damp cloth along her lips. She wasn't used to feeling so weak, helpless. God, she hated it. She was just glad she had someone there to take care of her.
"I know, baby."
"Yes, I'm sorry you saw the blood."
She whimpered, frustrated. He didn't understand. She didn't either. She just knew she had to get a hold of Giles. He needed to use her blood. She forced her eyes open. She reached for him, unsure which of him she saw was the real one. The room was fuzzy, his face was a blur.
She cried out, clutching her chest with her free hand. The burning, the pain. It was unbearable.
"Need you to go to a pay phone."
"You said anything."
"All right, all right."
She gave him Giles' phone number. "Tell him to use Buffy's blood."
"Can't explain. Just tell him. Please."
"I can't leave you, Annie."
"Going to die."
"You are not going to die!"
"Make the call."
"Are you saying if I don't make this call you're going to die?"
She whimpered, what energy she had was spent. She felt him lay her gently on the bed. Distantly, she heard him pick up the phone.
"Pay phone," she murmured.
"I'm going to have someone else do it."
"No names. No information on where we are."
"I get that." She could hear the confusion in his voice as he spoke to someone on the phone.
"Anything for you, Annie."
She smiled. She liked when he called her Annie. It was stupid. She drifted out again, whether she fell asleep or lost consciousness she couldn't be sure. It was like that on and off for what seemed like days. She had no idea how much time had actually passed. She was distantly aware of Lindsey telling her his friend had made the phone call.
"You have some explaining to do."
"Hmm?" she murmured. She was in one of her coherent moments. He was trying to get her to drink some water. Her lips and mouth were parched. She could feel his panic, Angel's not Lindsey's. He thought he was going to die. He thought he had failed her. Tears fell from her eyes, wondering if Giles would do it. Give him her blood.
It had seemed very gross and morbid to Buffy when someone had come to take her blood. It was in case of an emergency, though. The Council would not take the risk that a transfusion with non-slayer blood would dampen the slayer's abilities. So, they required blood to be taken and stored. If what she suspected was true about Angel, that he needed her blood, Giles should have enough to at least get him out of the woods.
She had no idea how she knew. Was he even alive? Was it possible? Everything pointed to that fact yet she knew she had killed him. Hadn't she? All she knew was that there was something very wrong, whatever it was affected her, too, and her blood was the answer. She knew it with every fiber of her being.
It was sometime during the night when she recovered. Just like that she was as good as new. Lindsey was shocked when she sat up in bed and got up to go the bathroom.
"You just broke that fever, you've got to be weak."
"No, I'm fine, really."
She took a moment to get her wits about her and nodded. "Yeah. I'm going to take a shower."
She paused at the bathroom door. "I lost the baby?"
"You're sorry? You didn't do anything, Annie. I'm the one who couldn't do anything to help you."
"It's not your fault."
"It's not yours either. We have plenty of time to have other babies." He walked to her, cupped her face with his hand. "You feel better."
"Get that shower. I'll be right here when you're done."
"Are you hungry?"
"I could eat."
"I thought as much. I'll get you some soup."
She shut the bathroom door and peeled her pajamas off. She didn't wear them often, couldn't remember even putting them on. She wasn't sure what had happened. She looked at her reflection in the mirror. She looked okay. A little pasty, like she had been through the ringer. There was a mark on her chest she didn't understand, though. It almost looked like it came from a crossbow bolt.
"Weird." It was already healing. She imagined by later in the day it would be gone. She tousled her hair and went about getting herself cleaned up. A shower was just what the doctor ordered as far as she was concerned.
"Wow, you look great."
"Is that your way of telling me I don't normally?"
"No, I've just never seen you dressed like this."
"Yeah, I haven't been to too many stuffy people parties."
"I'm not stuffy."
"No, but I'll place bets the rest are."
He smiled then and she found she liked his smile. It was one of the first things she'd noticed about him.
"I'll give you that. Help me with these?"
She walked to him, sliding in her earrings as she went and helped him with his cufflinks.
"Tell me what the deal is tonight?"
"Just closing a deal. A big client. My big client."
"Oh. So you need your wife to be brilliant socially?"
"I have no doubt she can do that."
He kissed her then. She was still getting used to kissing someone other than Angel. It had been over a year. When would it stop? The dreams had stopped anyway. Lindsey never asked her about Buffy or who the man was she'd had him call. She had to trust that she respected her enough not to try and find out.
"You're welcome. Oh, you're missing something."
"I can't possible fit anything more into this dress." It clung to her like a second skin. If she gained a pound, it would show. It was a good thing she wasn't pregnant anymore because this dress would have gone to waste. Not that she was happy about the miscarriage, but she didn't want kids. Yet. Hell, she was barely an adult.
"It'll be fun getting you out of it later. But, no, that's not what I meant."
He pulled a jewelry box out of his dresser and handed it to her. She cried out when she saw the diamond pendant necklace.
"Lindsey. It's too much."
"If you want to be successful you have to dress the part. That includes you now."
"All right." She turned her back to him so he could put the necklace on her. She looked in the mirror, running a fingertip over the three huge diamonds on the necklace. "It's beautiful."
"I know it is. And I thought of you when I saw it."
"You're so good to me."
"You deserve it. I just hope one day you'll let me in on those dreams of yours."
"One day. When I'm ready."
He lifted her hair away and kissed the nape of her neck. "I'm here."
"I know and that means more to me than you know."
"Now, let's go before I get stage fright."
"This isn't a play, Anne."
"I know, but I feel like I'm playing a part. A year ago I was working as a waitress in a diner one-step up from a dive." Before that she had killed the love of her life in a fight to the death to save the world.
"We were fated to meet, that's all."
She turned into his arms and kissed him. He always said the sweetest things. There were times she wondered if he really meant them, but she'd found nothing to indicate he didn't.
"Let's go Missus McDonald. Your chariot waits."
"Oh, I get a chariot, too?"
"Anything your heart desires."
"Hmm," she said thoughtfully.
She was nervous, rightfully so. She'd been to his office many times over the course of the year. She brought him lunch, they went out to lunch, or she brought him dinner when he was working late. This was her first gig as his wife, though. Like a real, formal, she could do something to affect a deal gig. If she was living life as Buffy it would be the stepping-stone to something going dreadfully wrong. She just hoped as Anne that all would be okay.
She felt it immediately upon entering the house. Evil. It was here. She clutched Lindsey's arm, wondering if he felt it. If he did, he gave no indication.
"Where are we?"
"His name is Russell. He'd be a really impressive client to get."
"I see," she said taking in the foyer once they were greeted at the door. She didn't really see. Every ounce of sense she possessed told her to get the hell out of there. Being here could ruin everything she'd strived so hard to escape from the past year. There was more than one. She'd never socialized with vamps or demons. Besides Angel anyway. But here they were in this man's house. She sat there while Mister Winters' servant poured drinks.
"Can I just have some water, please?" Buffy asked, when the servant presented her with a drink.
"Of course, madam."
"Thank you." She glanced at Lindsey, hoping she hadn't committed some faux pas already, but she wasn't a drinker. And if she was going to socialize with the things she used to hunt she needed to be sure she kept her wits about her.
He was good, she'd give him that. If it weren't for her uncanny ability to pick up on whatever vibe it was vamps set off she wouldn't know he wasn't human. She wondered if he sensed her, sensed she was different. If he did, he gave no outward sign of it. She relaxed when she felt Lindsey's hand on her knee. It grounded her. She laced her fingers through his and smiled.
"Thank you," she said to the servant when he brought her the requested water.
"So, Missus McDonald, your husband tells me you're newlyweds."
"Well, since January, but yes."
"And you're enjoying married life?"
"You hardly look old enough to be married."
"Looks can be deceiving I guess." Boy could they. She wondered what Lindsey would do or say if she turned to him right now and told him the man he was doing business with was a vampire. It was the first time since she'd accepted her calling that she'd experienced the desire to perform her duties and could not. Maybe he didn't kill people? Leaving Sunnydale and putting slaying and that life behind her had been a good plan. It had worked to this point. Other than a few weird things like the dreams at Christmas time and the feverish nightmare last month it had anyway. She hadn't expected to be having dinner with one.
The small talk continued from there. She almost felt like she was being interviewed for something. Maybe she was. Hopefully, she passed. She didn't want to disappoint Lindsey, she knew he was counting on this deal going through. She did have to wonder if he knew what, rather who, he was dealing with. She couldn't tell him, though, not without revealing things she wasn't ready to. She wasn't sure what exactly the point of the meeting had been. As far as she knew, no business had been discussed. Maybe that was part of it, though, being social.
"Where are we going?" She knew they were headed downtown.
"I thought we could go out for a while."
"Yes, we got all dressed up, let's make a night of it."
"Okay. You know I don't have an ID, right?" It was one disadvantage being under legal age.
"I've got it taken care of, Annie."
"Okay. Will there be dancing?"
"That could be arranged."
"Good, because I haven't been dancing in a long time."
"Well, we'll see if we can't rectify that tonight."
And, boy did he. It was close to four in the morning by the time they got home and fell into bed. They were both too exhausted to do much more than kiss good night. She took his taking her out as a sign that things had gone well at dinner. He would have been in a bad mood if things had gone wrong. Right?
When they woke in the morning, he more than made up for just a kiss good night. She didn't have much to compare him to, but he certainly had enough stamina to keep her happy. He never complained about her being overly needy in that department anyway. She remained in bed while he showered and got ready for the day. Her body still hummed from his attentions.
"So, did everything go well last night? Did I pass the wife test?"
"You did great." He stood in front of his closet, a towel wrapped around his waist with his hair still damp from the shower. She propped herself up on one elbow and looked at him. God, he was nice to look at. His back was to her, she knew he was deciding which suit to wear. He had an eye for fashion. Dress for the part. He wanted to be a successful lawyer. She still was trying to figure out just where she fit into his life's picture.
She was pretty enough that she imagined she could be counted as a trophy wife. But she had no skills. Not wife skills anyway. She was learning. He sent his shirts out, but she felt comfortable in a pinch ironing one if she needed to. She had taught herself to cook. She wasn't going to give Julia Childs competition any time soon, but she could bake chicken and stuff. It even came out edible and tasty without adding barbeque sauce. She wasn't overly smart. Had she been able to talk to Russell about vampires, she could have held an intelligent conversation for hours. Small talk, pretending to know about stuff wasn't her thing.
"What do you see in me?"
"You heard me."
"What kind of question is that?"
"I don't know. I just. You're a successful, good looking guy who started with nothing and built yourself up. So, why settle for me? A barely legal woman who you really don't know anything about."
"Maybe I ran a background check on you."
"No, but I could have and you wouldn't know it. Annie, I know you've got secrets. So do I. I hope that one day we can trust one another enough to confide in one another. I'd like that a lot."
"Really. I didn't ask you to marry me on a whim. I guess you're right, I'm sure I could have a lot of women. I want you, though, Anne. There's something about you. It drew me to you. Russell felt it last night."
"He did? How do you know?"
"He didn't have to. He was fascinated by you."
She swallowed hard, hoping the fascination wasn't because he realized she was a possible threat to him. Having to stake her husband's new client wouldn't exactly endear her to him.
He lost the towel, leaving him bare. God he was beautiful. Had she just thought that a minute ago? She watched as he dressed, systematically. He came to the bed to put his socks and shoes on.
"I don't know what's on your mind. I don't want another wife. I know it happened kind of fast, and I'll admit I was thinking of my career when I asked you. It goes over better if you fit the stereotype. But you're the first person I'd spent time with I actually thought about it. Waking up to someone every day for the rest of my life used to be the stuff nightmares were made of for me."
"I have to go, I'm going to be late."
"I know, I'm sorry."
"It's okay." He leaned over and kissed her. "Have a good morning. I'll call you."
He drew away, his eyes cloudy with desire. She loved that she could do that, make him want her just with a kiss.
She knelt on the bed, purposely letting the covers fall away. She tugged on his tie, drawing him close again. "I could come visit for lunch and take care of that look in your eyes."
"Sounds like a plan. A very good one."
"I'll see you later then," she murmured. She kissed him and let go of the tie. She chuckled softly as he stumbled a little. She'd forgotten herself and her strength for a minute.
She stood to get ready for the day. She wondered if he had run a background check on her. What had come up? He didn't ask many questions, but then neither did she really. Maybe that was one of the reasons he'd gone for her. If he was dealing with shady characters like that Russell, he probably didn't want a wife who would question how he made the money he brought home.
It was times like this she wished she had someone to talk to. She missed Willow a lot, more than a lot. There were days she didn't think about it, couldn't. There were times, though, she wanted her best friend. She was legally an adult now, but she had been thrust into the world of grown ups without an instruction manual. Staking vampires she could do, bolstering her husband's career she needed work on. How hard could it be, though? Lindsey encouraged her to accept invitations from the wives of other lawyers at his firm. Luncheons, baby showers, tennis, and things like that. These were things Buffy knew next to nothing about, but if she was going to make something of this life she had chosen maybe it was time she learned.
She didn't need Willow or Giles, their computer or books, for that. Well, okay, there might be some research involved. She got the feeling luncheons with these women wouldn't be held at McDonald's or Starbuck's. Lindsey had provided her with a more than generous wardrobe and accounts at various posh LA stores to expand it with things of her choosing. To this point, she hadn't taken advantage of his generosity. She'd bought something here or there, but usually it was something for him and their bedroom.
LA and Wolfram & Hart wouldn't know what hit them when Lindsey and Anne McDonald got done with them. She could get into this part. How difficult could it be? She'd watched her mom do it. Granted, her mom and dad had gotten divorced, but that was because of Buffy's problems. No slayer, no problems, no divorce. Or at least, Buffy liked to think that was how it would have worked.
She'd start by planning a party. How difficult could it be? She knew how to party. She knew how to have a good time. She just needed to adjust her tastes to a different scale. Like her friends at Hemry. She could be that girl again. She'd mention it to Lindsey at lunch.
Lindsey listened from his home office as Anne directed the caterers. He chuckled to himself as he composed a last minute email. Had she really believed she was out of her element being married to him?
To this day he didn't know how it had happened. He had gone into the diner to get out of a brief rain shower. His life had changed forever that afternoon. A sworn bachelor whose goal was to obtain as much success, money and power as he could manage he had been blindsided by her. Here he was married, about to have dinner with a houseful of his coworkers.
She had surprised him with the offer. And as he listened to her drone on about plans he knew she wouldn't embarrass him. Eventually, he had told her she didn't need to come to him with every detail unless it was something she really needed assistance with. As if he knew anything about planning dinner parties. He'd attended them, sure, but never been on this end of one before.
He had chosen well. He admittedly had his doubts at first. She wasn't well polished, wasn't the type to be molded into the type of wife most at the firm had. But he had come to find that she was loyal, and he hadn't heard a bad word about her around the office yet. And he tended to pay attention to things like that. Image was everything, after all.
Her secrecy bothered him. Not as much as the dreams, though. She had them often, more often than he thought she realized. He was a relatively light sleeper. Not the type to wake at any movement, but she became violent sometimes. It was hard to sleep through. She packed a pretty good punch, too. There'd been a time or two he thought she was going to crush his hand when he reached to shake her awake.
He didn't pry because he wasn't sure what he would find. Had she come from an abusive home? She had functioned on the LA streets by herself quite well. He wasn't sure how long she'd been working at the diner when they met, but he knew another survivor when he saw one.
His intentions at first were to befriend her. She was obviously a runaway, but she had beaten the odds and wasn't living on the street. Or working on them. He could identify with that and had thought maybe he could help her. Little did he know, she would be the one who helped him.
He could have done a background check on her, probably should have really. He handled things that were complicated. His clients were used to being above the law and were wiling to pay incredible amounts of money to have the best lawyers keep it that way. He had to respect someone who wanted their past to remain there, though. He felt much the same way and wouldn't want her digging up dirt on him either.
The time she'd fallen ill with a mysterious fever, losing their baby, had really unraveled him. They were both young and could try for children again. He honestly wasn't real sure he wanted kids, this soon anyway. What kind of father would he make anyway?
He had come close to losing her, though. He remembered vividly the nasty sore that had appeared on her chest. It was just as suddenly gone. He never mentioned seeing it and she never brought it up.
He had no idea who she'd had him call or why. All he knew was a miracle had kept her with him. If that was her contact's doing, he was indebted to someone. He'd seen enough to know not to ask questions he didn't already know the answer to.
He wasn't sure if what he felt for her could be labeled love. He felt affection for her. He was attracted to her. He had to assume love, if there was such a beast, would grow from that affection. He wondered if she, in turn, would ever grow to love him.
While inexperienced, he knew he had not been her first lover. He imagined she was hurt, which was the reason she had taken things as slow as she had when they were dating. That was fine with him. He had thought sex was overrated until he'd experienced it with her. She had more stamina than he knew what to do with some days. And their first time together, when she'd woken up in his arms the next day. She'd seemed so genuinely amazed that it had shaken him to the core.
He cupped his crystal snifter filled with the best brandy in the palm of his hand and walked to the doorway. He watched as she worked. She was frazzled, but one wouldn't be able to tell unless he or she knew her well. He could, he recognized the tone in her voice, a look in her eye. She was going through this trouble for him, wanting to please him and make a good impression for those he worked for.
Ultimately, he wasn't sure it really mattered, but he knew with her by his side he had one leg up on Lilah. Marriage meant children, which in turn meant private schools and college, all things a man wanted to provide his family. Those were things he could, and would provide, working at Wolfram & Hart. And the firm knew that, banked on it.
He didn't have to like who he represented. There were clients he couldn't stomach to look at. He wasn't paid to like them or find them easy to face. As someone who'd risen from the ashes of nothing, he did whatever it took to ensure he was paid. And paid well. Oddly, he didn't think Anne cared about his income. She had the last couple of weeks spent more, but it was on things like this party. In the long run, she was doing this for him not her own benefit.
It was like watching a ballet. She really did know what she was doing. Underneath her uncertainty lurked a very capable woman. The house looked perfect. They had gone over her lists the other night and she hadn't missed a thing. All they could do was sit back and let the night run its course.
They had a little over an hour to kill before guests began arriving. He planned to spend every minute of that hour in their room, watching her get ready. She made an art of something that should be mundane and boring for him to watch. He never tired of it, though. She didn't need makeup, but what she used always enhanced her natural beauty. She was shy about wearing the jewelry he'd given her beyond her wedding ring. Outwardly, she came across as being much more high maintenance than she was.
"Ready for a break?"
She spun around to face him, clearly not realizing he was there. She smiled then. A wide, sincere smile that would have melted the most hardened of hearts. There was something about her that radiated goodness. He dealt with all sorts of unsavory characters, it was always refreshing to come home and see her. To bask in the purity and innocence that was his wife. And when she visited him at work for lunch, it just made his day go that much better.
"A break. Are you kidding?"
"Well, you have to start getting ready. I thought I'd come with. You know, lend a hand if you need one."
"Oh," she said, blushing deeply as she tucked some hair behind her ear. "In that case."
He slid his arm around her when they met at the stairs. "Nervous?"
"A little. I've never done anything like this before."
"You're doing fine."
"Thanks, but you won't be saying that if there ends up being a fly in your boss' soup."
He chuckled. "You can't control that anyway."
"You say that now."
"I'll say it even then, in the unlikely event such a thing happens. Relax, Annie, no one's going to bite you."
He had no idea that she'd rather face a foe that could bite and even possibly kill her than a roomful of suits she didn't know how to converse with.
Buffy didn't know what was wrong. She didn't think it was her. At least she hoped not. She was learning to be happy here, getting into this corporate wife thing. Lindsey seemed to be happy, too. Until tonight. He'd come home late. She ignored the fact he hadn't called to tell her like he usually did. Conscientious to a fault, she could excuse him forgetting once.
He hadn't said more than a gruff ‘hello' and ‘thanks for dinner'. As soon as he was done, he'd pushed back his chair and excused himself to his office. He hadn't even cleared his plate, which he usually did. He usually helped her clean up the kitchen, too. He liked to tease her about knowing his kitchen better than he did. She got the impression cooking wasn't something he did when he lived alone.
Everyone was entitled to a bad day, she reminded herself. She wasn't working. She wasn't dealing with clients that were demanding. She was in the living room now. The TV was on, she'd settled on the couch with a can of soda and the most recent Vogue. She liked to keep on top of things, especially now that she could. He'd come talk to her when he was ready. Pushing him wasn't the answer, even if it was the most difficult thing she had to do.
It was times like this, that she wished she could talk to her mother. She'd been tempted more than once to call from a pay phone, but she didn't. She didn't want to risk anyone having any idea where she was. LA was a large city, but it would help narrow it down from everywhere that wasn't LA.
She heard the doorbell, knew that Lindsey would get it. Maybe that was why he was in a bad mood. Did he have a late night business meeting here at the house? Or had something gone wrong that they were coming here to chastise him?
All was quiet and she was growing restless sitting there. She debated about going into the kitchen. He hadn't eaten much, maybe she could heat up a plate for him. She'd have to pass his office if she did. Chances were if it was something important or bad he'd have the door closed anyway. She heard voices, which meant the door to his office was open. It didn't sound like arguing or anything, so she continued on to the kitchen.
"There's my wife now. Anne, come in here."
Busted! She wished she'd stayed in the living room. After meeting Russell, she really didn't want to know any more of his clients. She could give him the benefit of the doubt that he didn't know who, or what, Russell really was. If she saw that he did, though, that was an entirely different thing. She couldn't ask either, because she'd be telling him she knew things she shouldn't. She was getting real good at living life not being the slayer, she didn't really want to jeopardize it.
"Did you need something?" Her eyes darted from the man with his back toward her to Lindsey.
She smiled, she couldn't help it. He had a habit of saying the sweetest things at times she wasn't expecting them. Like now, after he'd been so distant at dinner. She was surprisingly relieved to know he wasn't upset with her for some reason.
"Well, that I can do easily."
"I'd like you to meet my wife, Anne. I'm sorry, I didn't get your last name."
The man in the chair stood and Buffy wasn't sure how, but she knew instantly who it was. Oh God. Surely he'd recognized her voice. She hadn't been paying attention to him to notice if he gave any signs of it.
"Just Angel." He turned to face her. She couldn't read anything in him. "A pleasure, Missus McDonald. I'm sorry to intrude on your time with your husband."
She took his offered hand, felt the effect of that simple touch down to her toes. He felt it, too, she saw something flash in his eyes before he masked it again.
"I, it's not a problem."
"You look familiar. Have we met?"
"I don't think so," she said with what she hoped Lindsey would see as a polite smile.
"Probably just a case of mistaken identity."
"I won't take up anymore of your time, Mister McDonald. Again, I'm sorry to call on you at your home."
Lindsey stood then, walked around his desk and joined them, placing his arm around Buffy's shoulders. She saw Angel's hand ball into a fist and wondered if they were going to go at it here and now. She had so many questions. Too many questions. What was he doing here? How did he get here? How did he know Lindsey? Was he still Angel? Or had he lost his soul again?
"I'll show you out. Annie, would you pour me a brandy and bring it to the living room? I'll be back in a minute."
Buffy nearly splashed the brandy all over Lindsey's mahogany credenza her hands were shaking so badly. Would Angel tell Giles or her mother where she was? Why was he willing to act as if he didn't know her? What was he doing here? What did he need Lindsey for? Was he the reason Lindsey was in a bad mood earlier?
"Get a hold of yourself," she muttered. She had to think. She managed to pour the brandy without spilling any and brought it to the living room. She didn't glance toward the entryway on her way. Seeing him was like a miracle. He was dead, and yet here he was in her house, invading her new life. It made her rethink the dreams she'd had last year. And the whole fever, chest wound episode. Had he been sick? How had she known? And how had she known what the answer was?
She sat in her favorite chair and rubbed her temples. She always enjoyed the view out the window from here, but right now she couldn't focus on anything. If she knew Angel at all, he'd be back. He'd come back when Lindsey wasn't here. Then what would she do?
Seeing him had ripped open the healing wound on her heart all over again. She'd wanted to throw herself into his arms, cry in relief that he was alive and well. He looked so good to her. She didn't miss the life she'd left behind. She didn't miss the death, her life constantly being in danger, but she'd missed Angel. If she'd known that he would come back might she have returned to Sunnydale? Just how different would things be now if she had?
"What's a matter, Anne?"
"Nothing, just a headache. Who was that?"
"Just someone I met earlier today."
"And you invited him to the house?"
"Yes, it was a delicate situation that I thought should be handled on my time not company time. What's this about?"
"Nothing. I was worried about you, that's all."
"Thank you, but I'm fine."
"Yes, now. I think things will be all right from now on."
"They weren't before?"
"A difference of opinion, that's all. Angel will stay out of my way."
She wanted to argue that point, but she couldn't. Not without admitting she knew him. Admitting she knew him would mean confessing who and what she really was.
"You really don't look good. Did he upset you somehow?"
"No, he just," she shrugged. "He reminds me of someone I used to know."
"He said you look familiar."
"It's not him, Lindsey. It's just the type."
"Ah. Why don't you go take one of those bubble baths you enjoy so much. Relax. I'll join you in bed after I finish up a few things in my office."
"Are you sure?"
"I'm positive." He knelt in front of her, placing his hands on her knees. "I wasn't very good company at dinner. Things didn't go the way I'd planned today. That always throws a wrench in things, but today was really out there. I wasn't sure I'd still have a job."
"Oh," she said simply. She suspected Angel had something to do with things not going well. She wondered what had happened. She ran her hand along his face. He was so good to her. He'd asked so little of her, and now seeing Angel for two minutes she had been thrown off balance. She wanted to go after him, but she couldn't. The world was a better place with her far, far away from Angel. Hadn't they already proven that?
"Is that why you sent me there?"
"I don't know what you're talking about."
"Did you know?"
"That she was there?"
"What is there an echo in here? You heard me. I went to visit Lindsey McDonald like you suggested. I still don't know why you wanted me to visit someone who represents scum like Russell, but I did it. You haven't steered me wrong. Yet."
"And? Didn't it go well?"
"It went just great. Until he introduced me to his wife."
"What does his wife have to do with anything?"
"Are you always this slow?"
"You haven't said anything!"
"His wife is Buffy."
"You heard me."
"Well, I didn't see that one coming at all. The slayer married to a lawyer that represents the things she hunts. But then she hasn't exactly been Johnny On the Spot lately, has she?"
"She's been missing for over a year and a half. Has she been here this whole time?"
"I don't know. Why don't you ask her?"
"That would mean seeing her again."
"That it would."
"I came to LA to get away from thoughts of Buffy."
"And how is not going to see her stop you from thinking about her?"
"You have a point."
Angel sat at his desk, picked up a pencil and tossed it across the room. "She's married."
"She's obviously moved on with her life. I need to do the same."
"If you think so."
"She's going by Anne now. Her middle name. I can't believe no one thought to check that."
"I'm sure her watcher has used every resource possible."
"Then how did an eighteen year old girl remain hidden in LA for this long? How did she get married? And why him? Doesn't she know what he is?"
"I imagine she doesn't."
"I can't go visit her. She's another man's wife."
"I would imagine he's not always at home."
"Yeah, during the day when I'm not exactly at my most mobile. I doubt his house has sewer access."
"How'd she look?"
"What kind of question is that?"
"Did she look like she was under duress or anything? Maybe she's not there willingly?"
"No, she seemed pretty happy. Actually, she seemed a lot happy. When I heard her voice, I thought I was dreaming at first. Hallucinating or something. And then I saw her. I couldn't believe it. I come all this way to forget about her. Only to find her."
"I know what you mean."
"You can't possible know. What are you? Twenty-five? Try ten times that and come talk to me."
Doyle held up his hands in mock surrender. "Don't bite my head off, Angel. I'm just listening. Isn't that what you want me to do?"
"No." He stood from his chair, not knowing what to do. Seeing her had been like getting sucker punched in the gut. He was still reeling from it. She had looked happy, but he'd seen something in her eyes. She didn't know he had come back. Yet, Giles had said he'd gotten a mysterious phone call when he had been poisoned by Faith. He had forgotten about the supply of Buffy's blood he kept on hand for emergencies. Without that phone call, Angel wouldn't be here anymore.
"Are you going to tell her mother? Her watcher?"
"You'd be interfering in her life."
"Well, it occurs to me that if she's stayed hidden this long, she obviously wants to."
"She shouldn't be playing house with someone. She's supposed to be saving the world. She should have been battling the Mayor with us. Her friends could have died."
"I doubt she's really thought that hard on how her disappearance is affecting anyone but herself."
"Who's side are you on, anyway?"
"I'm just saying. Angel, can you really blame her? She got her calling when she was what? Fourteen? Fifteen? She gets expelled from her school. She moves to Sunnydale, gets a boyfriend, things are going fine until she and the boyfriend hit the sheets. Then things get a little skewed."
"I know the story."
"Have you stopped to think what it did to her? Having to do what she did to you?"
"She seems to be over it now."
"And you know that from seeing her for a few minutes."
"She didn't look like she was yearning for me or anything."
"Well, of course not, she thought she'd killed you."
"She should have known better."
"Yes, because love is so logical."
"So, is he a cruel man?"
"Don't call him that."
"Well, is he?"
"Cruel? No, just incredibly naïve. He really thinks his clients deserve to be represented. I think he really believes he's doing the right thing. I don't think he knows the bigger picture. What's really going on."
"Does she look uncared for?"
"So, just why does it bother you?"
"Because, damn it, she's mine."
"What are you prepared to do about it?"
"I don't know."
"Are you going to tell her?"
"Tell her what?"
"That your soul's permanent."
"Because if she chooses me, I need to know it's me she wants."
"She's likely had a taste of married life now, all of it. It might be a difficult sell to convince her to run away with you never to experience that again."
"I don't want to think about it."
"How did this happen? She's the slayer, damn it. She should know what she's dealing with."
Angel glared at Doyle when he said nothing. "And don't look at me like that."
"Like I should already know the answer."
Doyle merely shrugged. "If that's all for the night, I think I'll be going home."
"Oh sure, send me out on a useless errand, turn my world upside down, and leave."
"I think you're world's been turned upside down for a while now."
He was right. It'd been that way since the moment he saw her. He wanted to punch Lindsey McDonald out when he saw him pawing Buffy. Okay, pawing was an exaggeration. She was his wife, he had the right to touch her.
He had sat on the street in his car for a few minutes looking at the house after he'd left. He tried to picture the Buffy he'd known before to this one. She was an adult now. Married. He was no longer her only one. That fact shouldn't have bothered him, but it did. He'd wanted something in his long existence that was just his. He'd thought Buffy was it.
When Angel said nothing else, Doyle turned and left. Angel cradled his head in his hands, searching his memory of the brief time he saw Buffy for any clues as to what she was doing. How had they met? These were all questions he could just ask her. He imagined she'd tell him. Maybe he was wrong, but he didn't think so.
It was moments like this he wished he had the stomach to hunt and kill, because he sure wanted to. Instead, he stepped into the elevator and went down to his apartment until tomorrow.
Buffy sat in her car on the street for close to ten minutes. She glanced at the piece of paper. She knew Angel's handwriting, and this wasn't it. It could be a trap. It was that thought that made her hesitate. Except no one knew that she knew him. That'd mean they knew who she was.
The note was straight and to the point, simply telling her she could find Angel at this address if she wanted to see him. Whoever wrote the note hadn't given a phone number, so evidently it was come see him or no contact at all.
She felt like she was being unfaithful. Lindsey didn't keep track of all of the things she did, especially now that she had immersed herself in keeping up appearances for his sake. For all he'd know, she went to the spa for the day or something.
Taking a deep breath, she got out of the car and walked to the building. It was pretty messy, it looked deserted even. She checked the piece of paper and saw she had the right address.
She closed her eyes, letting the sound of his voice wash over her. She'd heard it in her dreams for over a year now, but it wasn't the same. The real deal was definitely better, more potent. And with that thought, she realized she shouldn't have come. Potency and Angel in the same thought was bad. Bad for her, bad for her marriage, bad for the world.
"Did you get lost?" He appeared in the doorway, looking like he'd just stepped out of a boxing ring. He was dressed in a pair of black jeans that hugged him in all the right places and a wife beater. She hated that term, but she didn't know what else to call it.
"What are you doing here? How'd you find me?"
She walked toward him and handed him the note. "This was under my front door this morning. It's a good thing whoever left it did after Lindsey'd gotten the morning paper."
"So, that answers how you found me. What are you doing here?"
"I don't know. I guess I just had to see for myself that you're really here." She reached for him, her hands closing around his biceps. "You are real, aren't you?"
"As real as I can be."
"I dreamt about you. I, God." She placed her head against his chest. She hadn't expected him to hug her. She'd killed him after all. In her dreams, it always came back to her having killed him. He would never forgive her for that crime. She sobbed against his chest, clinging to him, taking heart in the fact he seemed to be clinging to her just as tightly. "I killed you."
"Angel, I was there. I remember."
"You saw what your mind could accept. Killing me."
"You didn't die?"
"I was sent to a hell dimension."
"When did you get back?"
"A year ago, just before Halloween."
"I don't know what or how it happened. Willow found me, got me help."
She had made love to Lindsey for the first time just before Halloween last year. Could that have brought him back? She remembered the day vividly. She'd had a crappy day at work. Her boss had ragged on her for a broken plate. She'd gone to Lindsey's and he'd welcomed her, made her feel better. One thing led to another. In his bathroom, she'd slid the ring Angel had given her out of her pocket and looked at it.
She kept it on her person always, never certain when she'd have to leave again. It was one of the only things she had refused to leave behind. She had said good-bye to him in her own way that night, putting him in the past. She had known at that moment that Lindsey was her future. She would always love Angel, but she'd realized that night she wouldn't be happy living her life out with the ghost of a man she'd loved when she was seventeen. She hadn't thought he'd want her to do that either. But now here he was. Hugging her. Looking and smelling better than she remembered. Clutching him to her, she drew away a little to look at him. She still couldn't believe he was real, that the man at her house last night had really been Angel.
"In fact, I think you saved my life."
He filled her in on Faith, the Mayor, and everything that had happened in her absence.
"I felt it, too."
"A fever and so much pain, primarily in my chest. I had Lindsey call Giles. I didn't know what was going on, but I knew my blood was the answer. The next thing I knew, I was fine. Right as rain, except this crossbow bolt-looking wound in my chest."
"That's where Faith shot me, injected me with the poison. That's how you knew."
"I don't know how I knew. I had dreams, too. Last Christmas. I was like in your memories, but they weren't memories. It was like we were really there together. When you didn't have your soul and you were killing."
"I remember. I tried to assure Giles you were all right. I knew you were."
She had missed so much. Another slayer. Graduation. Prom.
"They're worried about you, Buffy. All of them. I think you should at least call them."
"I can't. If I do, I'd be tempted to go back."
"Would that be so bad?"
"I lost a baby."
"When I ran that fever with you, for you, or whatever it was. I was pregnant."
He stepped away then. She felt his absence immediately. He had always been her calm in the storm. The one person she could say anything to. Apparently, that was no longer the case.
"I'm not sure I wanted to know that."
"I need you to know. I really have tried to build a life here. A good life."
"Do you have any idea what your husband does?"
"He's a lawyer."
"Angel. Everyone has the right to a lawyer. What would you say if someone judged you based on your time without a soul?"
He turned to face her again. "I look at you, and I'm not even sure what to call you. You're not Buffy anymore. Physically, you are, but the Buffy I know wouldn't need me to tell her that her husband is representing demons. Killers."
"That's what Wolfram & Hart does, Buffy. They cater to the worst of the worst."
"I don't believe you."
"Have you met any of his clients?"
She chewed on her lower lip. She could lie and pretend she hadn't seen or noticed anything, but she couldn't keep secrets from Angel. "I thought Lindsey just didn't know."
"He knows. That's what brought me to your house last night. I took out one of his clients yesterday."
"Russell something or other. Preyed on young girls and counted on Wolfram & Hart to keep him looking squeaky clean."
"I met him."
"You what? And you let him walk?"
"I didn't know he was hurting anyone!"
"He was a vamp, Buffy. Maybe I should call you Anne, because the Buffy I know wouldn't have left the room with a vamp still breathing."
"You don't breathe."
"You know what I mean."
"That's not fair. It was a business dinner, I couldn't stake him. Lindsey would have known. I would have blown my cover. My life."
"This isn't your life, Buffy."
"It is. I just want a normal life. I have a chance at it."
"At what cost, Buffy?"
"The hellmouth needs you. The world needs you."
"Don't lay that crap on me."
"It's not crap, and you know."
"Seems like you all did just fine without me."
"This time." He walked to her, she could feel the anger rolling off him. He grabbed a hold of her upper arms and lifted her up. Her toes barely grazed the floor as he brought her to the height their eyes met. He was furious. She didn't need enhanced abilities to know it. "You should have been there."
"And who's going to be there to pick up the pieces of Buffy the next time I have to drive a sword through you? Don't you get it? I left because of you. I left because I couldn't go back there. Everywhere I'd turn, everything I'd see would have reminded me of you. I couldn't go back. It hurt so much being here even. I dreamt of you every night. I'd wake up and it felt like my heart had been ripped out all over again. Some days I'd wake up and those last few months would be so fresh in my mind I was exhausted from reliving them in my dreams. I can't do it again, Angel. They've gotten all they're going to get from me."
"Don't you get it?"
"Damn it," he whispered and kissed her. He released her then, her feet were back in full contact with the floor. They may as well not have been because it felt like the floor just gave out from under her. It had been too long since their last kiss. If it was possible to combust from a kiss, she and Angel were on the verge of doing it. She clung to him as if her life depended on it. She whimpered when he broke the kiss. Her lips were sore from the almost violent way he'd taken her mouth. She licked her lower lip and he groaned.
"Don't do that."
"That, with your tongue."
"Because you're married. You didn't come here for this."
"Why did you come here?"
"I'm not sure. I needed to see you. To know it was really you. To know you hadn't called my mom or Giles."
"I haven't. I should. They really are worried about you. At least let your mom know you're alive."
"I'm not sure she cares."
"She told me not to come back!"
"In the heat of the moment, Buffy. You can't hold that against her. You'd laid a lot on her."
"You're defending my mother?"
"I'm saying you should let her know you're all right."
"What am I going to do?"
"That's a pretty broad question."
"You're here. You're alive. I thought I'd never see you again."
"Or you wouldn't have married the first guy that came along?"
"Sure he is."
"He is, Angel. He's been nothing but good to me. He has to know I have secrets, am hiding something of my past, but he's never asked. He's never pushed me. He's never asked anything of me, other than to be his wife. And I kissed you."
"Well, I kissed you."
"But I kissed you back! He wasn't convenient."
"And you really didn't know the type of clients he represents?"
"I met Russell, but I assumed Lindsey didn't know. I swear. And how could I approach it? If I asked him, he'd think I was nuts if he didn't know."
"And know you weren't telling him everything about you if he did know."
"He might know anyway."
"What do you mean?"
"It's possible he knows. It's possible he married you because you're the Slayer. Wolfram & Hart would love that. With you out of commission, they can pretty much assure their clients they're free to roam."
"But I wasn't even in LA until last year!"
"I don't know, Buffy."
"Do you know how long it's been since I've heard my name?"
"Too long. I was afraid yesterday you were going to say it."
"I was tempted, but I wasn't sure what was going on."
Her cell phone chirped from her purse. She walked into the outer office area to answer it.
"Hi, Annie, are you coming for lunch?"
"Lunch," she said, glancing at her watch. It was almost noon. There was no way she was going to make it to his office in enough time. Not and make him extremely late for lunch.
"Not today. Okay? I'm on the other side of town."
"Sure thing, I just wanted to check before leaving."
"Have a good afternoon, babe."
"Thanks, you too."
She hung up and turned, running into the brick wall that was Angel's chest.
"Yes, wanting to know if I was meeting him for lunch."
"No. I'd make him late."
"Are you hungry?"
"I can fix you something to eat."
"You have food?"
"Yeah, Doyle eats here sometimes. Come on." She watched, transfixed as he walked to the door, flipping the lock.
"Don't worry, I just don't want anyone walking in when I'm not up here."
"Okay," she said, following him to the elevator. "You live here?"
"It's not as nice as your place."
"You didn't see where I lived before this."
"Was it bad?"
"It was okay. I survived. I didn't have to do anything I'd regret."
"Yeah, positive. I waited tables, working double shifts whenever I could. Do you remember that girl from the vampire wannabe's?"
"Vaguely. Blonde, wasn't she?"
"Yeah. She kinda took my spot. My job, my apartment. My name, even though I stayed Anne."
"You aren't worried she'll tell anyone?"
"Who'd believe her? She's a nice girl, but she comes across as being a flake."
"I'll take your word for it."
He gestured toward the fridge. "I'm not sure what all is in there. Help yourself."
"And tell me about your life as Missus McDonald."
"He's not going to give up until I'm dead."
"Then why'd you come to our house?"
"Because I wanted him to know I could. That I'd find him. That I wasn't afraid of him."
"And he invited you in?"
Angel chuckled. "He did. I hadn't thought of that."
"Does he know what you are?"
"I'm pretty sure he does."
Buffy made herself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. She found some chips in the cupboard and a Diet Coke.
"You drink diet?"
"It's Doyle's I'm sure."
"Is he the one who left me the note?"
"Probably, I haven't seen him yet today. I may not either, if he thinks there's a chance you're here."
"Who is he?"
"He's helping me stay on the right path."
"Okay?" Cryptic much? That really didn't tell her much, but then why should he if he thought her husband was his enemy. "So, I probably shouldn't go home and tell Lindsey I saw you, huh?"
"I'd say that's a definite no."
"I really wasn't planning on it."
"I know, but I'd be careful. I mean it, Buffy. I killed his client. He's not going to take that sitting down."
"He was really in a bad mood when he got home last night. Didn't say more than five words to me at dinner. After you left, though, he was better."
"I think he believes he's convinced me I'm wrong about him and his firm."
"I'm going to wait. You know me, Buffy, I don't rush. If you learned anything about me while I didn't have my soul you know I like to plot, strategize. I will take them down. If you really think he's not in on it, I'll warn you before I do so you can get him out."
"You'd do that?"
"Do you love him?"
She lowered her eyes to her sandwich, clearing her throat softly. "You shouldn't be asking me that."
"You're right, I have no right to. I have to wonder why you're with him if you don't love him."
"Because he's a good man. He's nice. I've explained this to you. He's not evil, Angel."
"There are all types and degrees of evil, Buffy. I'm surprised you are that closed minded about it still."
"Spike helped you, didn't he?"
"How did you know that?"
He glanced at her, quirking an eyebrow. She guessed it was a stupid question.
"Oh right, you guys had like a year to talk about me."
"So, do you love him?"
"In a way."
"In a way? Buffy, you told me earlier you were pregnant. I should hope you love him more than in a way. Or is that why you got married?"
"No, it wasn't. I don't love him like I love you. I'm not sure that's possible."
"No," she held up her hand, still holding the sandwich so it wasn't very effective. "Just listen for a minute. I'm not going to leave him, Angel."
"I'm not asking you to."
"Gee, you know how to make a woman feel good."
"I didn't mean it like that. I need you in there."
"You heard me."
"You want me to spy on my husband?"
"I want you to keep your eyes open. I'm not sure how much slaying you've been doing."
"That's right. I keep a stake on me, but I haven't used one since," she shrugged taking a bite of a chip. "I don't even know when."
"You're going to meet me every day and train."
"We've got to get you in shape. Buffy, when they start researching me. And they will. They will find out who you are. That means you'll be in danger. Whether Lindsey will protect you or not, I don't know. I hope so, but I'm not taking any chances with your life. So, we'll start training. And I want you to keep your slayer senses focused on things going on. Anything out of the ordinary, let me know."
"I don't have your phone number."
He scribbled something on a sheet of paper quickly and handed it to her. It was a phone number. His she guessed.
"I don't think it's a good idea for me to be calling you from my house."
"Use your cell phone. Is it yours?"
"Yes, it's mine. Lindsey offered to pay for it, well, he does I guess anyway since I don't work, but it's mine. He just writes a check for me. When I was living here before I met him, I couldn't afford a phone."
"What? I'm just telling you how it was. I had to have something, though, because I needed to be able to work extra shifts. No phone, no extra shifts. I had no credit, so couldn't get a phone without a huge deposit, which I couldn't afford. I was able to get a cell phone, a girl at work's boyfriend helped me out."
"All right. Use that phone."
"I'm not going to see or hear anything."
"I hope you're right, but I think you're in danger. I guess I should apologize for causing it, because I don't think you would be if I hadn't made myself known to Wolfram & Hart. Do you have a computer?"
"Yes, there's one in the den. I never use it. Lindsey's got his own in his office."
"Use it. Research his firm. Do some legwork, Buffy. You're not working?"
"So, you've got plenty of time to kill. Use it to get information."
"And betray my husband."
"Would you stop calling him that!"
"It bugs you?"
"It's not your fault. I'm going to say something that's going to sound very cruel."
"You can hate me if you want to, but I'm glad you aren't having his baby."
"I," she looked at her sandwich again.
He shifted, looking very uncomfortable in his chair. "Don't tell me you are?"
"No, I'm not, but."
"No buts, I don't want to hear about it."
"No, I don't, Buffy. Marriage is something I could have given you, kids aren't. I don't want to hear about it."
"I don't care about kids, Angel. I told you that when I was doing that class project."
"So you weren't trying?"
"No, we weren't not trying, but no."
"I can't talk about this."
"You brought it up! It's not like I cheated on you. You have no idea how hard it was for me, Angel. Not just to move on and trust someone again. To want to be with him. But to risk making love to someone again. Do you have any idea what that cost me?"
"I can't even imagine." His voice was low, pained, raw.
"I'm sorry if it hurts you. The last thing I ever wanted to do was hurt you. Even when I knew I had to kill you to save the world I didn't want to hurt you. But I had to go on. I thought you were gone. I thought you were never coming back. I thought I'd be alone for the rest of my life doing nothing but slaying vampires and demons. Having to kill you took everything out of me. A piece of me died when I had to do that. There was a time, months it seemed like, where I thought it was my soul that you had taken with you. That Willow hadn't restored yours at all, that somehow by sheer willpower I'd given you mine, leaving me with nothing."
"It's not your fault."
"It is. I knew better. We should never have."
"Oh stop! It's not like you forced me or didn't say we shouldn't. I pushed. It's my fault."
"It's not your fault either. It was bound to happen, sooner or later. We're dangerous together."
"I'm not so sure we need to be together for that. Sharing dreams. Sharing poisonous fevers. What else?"
She pushed aside the bag of chips, having eaten her fill. "I should go."
"I shouldn't have come here."
"No, I'm glad you did. I would have found a way to get to you, talk to you if you hadn't. I had to know you weren't in trouble."
"It would seem I am. I just didn't know it."
He walked with her to the elevator.
"Just be careful, Buffy. I mean it. This law firm, they don't play games. I'm not sure what they'd do if they figured out who and what you are."
"I just can't picture Lindsey."
"Picture it. I'm telling you, Buffy, maybe he's not dirty, but he's on his way."
"But he's so nice to me."
"Yeah, women said that about Ted Bundy, too."
"Never mind. Just be careful. Call me if you need to."
"I will." She paused just outside of the elevator, not sure if he was going back downstairs. She leaned in and kissed him. She couldn't help it. She was drawn to him. She didn't think it would matter if she was married to Brad Pitt, she'd still be attracted to Angel over anyone else.
"I'm glad you're okay," she whispered against his cheek.
"Me, too. Don't forget, training."
She turned on her heels and left, not trusting herself to stay any longer. Her hands shook as she got her keys out of her purse to unlock her car door. Could Angel be right? Was Lindsey evil? Was she that intent on creating a life away from slaying that she'd missed all of the signs?
She'd dismissed Russell thinking it was a fluke. But if what Angel said was true, and he really had no reason to lie to her, Wolfram & Hart represented people like Russell all of the time. They were paid to allow killers to kill freely. And they knew what they were doing, who they were representing. God, she hated to admit it, but she couldn't stand by and let that happen.
And if she did what Angel asked her to do, came here tomorrow to train with him she was going to plant herself right back into the thick of things. She'd avoided it so well for a year and a half. She couldn't believe how easy it had been to do it either. Why did things have to start happening now? Could she just walk away from Lindsey? Her marriage? No, he would try to find her, which would lead to him probably doing that background check he said he hadn't done. That would lead to badness. She let her head fall against the steering wheel after starting the engine.
"There's just no escaping it, Buffy. You're the slayer. It's time you dealt with it." She thought it might just be easier to take on a corrupt and evil law firm than it would be facing down Giles, her mother, Willow, Oz, and Xander. Because if she jumped back into the game, she had to tell them. She'd have to go back.
She put the car into drive and pulled away from the curb, determined to think about it all later. For the time being, she just wanted to relish in having seen and kissed Angel again. She felt giddy like a school girl again. She found, oddly, she didn't mind the feeling one bit.
(Author's Note: This part is set post the events in I Will Remember You. They did happen, just differently, in that Buffy & Angel weren't arguing that day, just doing the usual training-in-secret they've been doing.)
"What is with you lately?"
"What do you mean?"
"You're off your game."
"I am not." He could tell she was a little put off that he'd noticed. It was hard not to. Her kicks lacked power, her thrusts were lame, and her body just didn't seem to be into it. "I'm just tired."
"Burning the candle at both ends?"
"Something like that. Lindsey…"
"I really wish you wouldn't mention him."
"Okay, the man that I'm married to. Is that better?"
"Well, then I think Lindsey is the better choice."
"Fine." He leaned against the makeshift ring they used for their sparring. They didn't talk much, mostly because he didn't want to hear about her life with Lindsey McDonald.
"Anyway, Lindsey's had a ton of parties to go to the past couple of weeks. You know, holidays, yadda yadda yadda."
"He's keeping you busy?"
"Well, yeah, I have to go to those things. Besides, you should talk."
"You've been anti-talky lately."
"You know, Doyle." He shrugged. It was a casual gesture, but Buffy knew him well enough to know there was more to it than that. He could never tell her. He could never tell anyone. It seemed he was destined to suffer with the memory of their day together alone. A day she had vowed she would leave Lindsey. A day that she had been his in every way possible. She had felt his heart beat.
"He's not the first person that's died. I mean, come on, two hundred plus years."
"He's the first human I've been close to since I was made vampire that's died. Besides you. Unlike you, I couldn't bring him back. Actually, I couldn't bring you back either. Xander had to do it."
"So you're moping because of that? It sounds like he did the right thing."
"He did it for me."
"I didn't know him, but I think he made the right choice. You're saving the world."
"With his help."
"You said Cordelia gets the visions now, which excuse me for saying still gives me the wiggins, but okay."
"I know. It's just not the same."
"Okay. Loss of a friend, usually you seek comfort from the people you're close to. That you love."
"Except when the person I'm close to and love is married to someone else. Don't you get it, Buffy? I can't seek comfort from you." He went to the punching bag, but hitting it wasn't the solution. There was no solution to his problem. Other than killing Lindsey McDonald, but he didn't kill humans.
"I'm sorry. I'm obviously not helping. Maybe we shouldn't do this anymore."
"You have to. You have to be ready, Buffy. If they don't know already, they will find out."
"I'm ready, Angel."
"Not judging by the past few days you aren't. You're sluggish."
"I'm tired! I've been going to these parties, decorating the house. It's hard work! Anyone who says being a housewife is easy hasn't done it. And I don't even have kids. Add them into the equation and I don't think I'd get any sleep."
"You sure that's all it is?" He regarded her, clutching the punching bag. She looked beautiful. She always did, though. Marriage agreed with her, it pained him to admit that. Lindsey took decent care of her from what Angel could tell. He was kind to her and she had nice clothes and things. The luxury SUV she drove could be a tank as much protection as it offered her. Angel hated thinking of someone else providing these things for his woman, but he was glad to know she was looked after properly. The way she deserved.
"Positive. Look, I know this isn't easy."
She had no idea.
"If you want me to stop coming just tell me."
"Okay then. If you need to talk, need a shoulder to lean on. I'm your girl."
"No, Buffy, you're not my girl. Not for that. It's a tempting offer, but we both know where it will lead." He had the images fresh in his mind, in living color. He would never forget the taste of her, her scent after their lovemaking, the look in her eyes when she had cried ‘uncle'. His first time truly making love as a human he had made the most of the opportunity.
"Well, you can still talk to me." He felt her behind him, flinched slightly when she placed her hand on his shoulder. "I'm sorry about Doyle. If there was something more I could do or say, I would."
"I know." He reached over his shoulder, taking her hand in his and squeezing it. God, he loved her. He loved her so much he gave up being human for her. He gave up the life they'd dreamt of because he knew as a human he wouldn't be any use to her. She needed his help. This fight, it was bigger than either one of them, but together they might be able to pull it off.
He turned to face her, sighed softly as her mouth found his. It was torture, getting a sample of the treasure that was Buffy.
"How can you kiss me like that?"
"What do you mean?" She looked genuinely confused, at a loss as to how he could ask her that question. She went home every day to another man. Slept with another man. Made love to another man. It should be him. Angel should have Lindsey's life.
"Kiss me like I'm the only one for you."
"Because it's the truth."
"Buffy, don't say that."
"It's the truth."
"You're the only one for me, but I have to share you. No, I don't even get the luxury of sharing you. You leave here after we spar and go home to him. His bed."
"I sleep with him."
"I don't need to hear that!"
"Yes, you do need to hear this, Angel, you aren't listening to me. I sleep with him. I won't deny that, I'm his wife, but I haven't wanted to since I saw you."
"I'm sure that goes over real well."
"He's been so busy, I'm not really sure he notices."
"He notices, Buffy. A man would have to be, well, I don't know what he would have to be not to notice you suddenly lost interest in that sense. I'd say dead, but I'd sure as hell notice."
"Well," she shrugged, clutching her arms. "I've sort of used the miscarriage as an excuse a few times."
"And he buys that?"
"Well, yeah. He's not a bad guy, Angel. At least not with me."
"So you believe me that he knows what Wolfram & Hart is really about?"
"Yes, I do."
"Why?" He was admittedly a little suspicious.
"What do you mean why?"
"Why do you believe me?"
"Because you wouldn't lie to me. It's as simple as that. I mean, I looked into some things, but you said he was at that meeting when you killed that vampire I'd met. He knows."
"Yes, he knows."
"So, I didn't marry a monster. Instead, I just got one who is in bed with them. In a manner of speaking. I sure know how to pick them."
"This isn't your fault, Buffy."
"The signs were there."
"No they weren't. I'm sure he was careful. I'm sure it was Russell who pushed for the meeting, you would have been to his liking."
"I don't even want to think about that."
Neither did he. He hated when she looked at him like he was it. Her world. Her life. Her salvation. He was nobody's salvation. If anyone was, it was her being his salvation. What kind of man did it make him that he wanted her so badly he was willing to forget she was married?
"The point is, not everything is your fault, Buffy. We'll get you out of this."
"Yeah, at what cost? Your life? Mine?"
"I'd give up my life for you."
"Me, too. So where does that leave us?"
"I'm not sure. We'll figure it out. I'll keep you safe. If it's the last thing I do, Buffy, you'll be safe and taken care of."
"I shouldn't let you or even want you to, but I'd be lying if I said I don't."
"I still think you should call home."
"I can't. Not yet. After the holidays maybe."
He glanced at the clock on the wall. Cordelia was due back anytime now. Buffy's gaze followed his and she sighed heavily, as if reading his thoughts.
"It's that time."
"If you told people where you were we wouldn't have to hide."
"We'd still have to hide, Angel. Until I figure out what I'm going to do I can't be seen with you."
"You're sure he doesn't know who you are?"
"He hasn't acted any different."
"And he buys the miscarriage thing?"
"It's not like he tries every ten minutes or anything. It's under control. I just can't. When you were dead it was different."
"I hope so. I still hate it. Knowing what I know about him, though, even without you I'd have a hard time being able to."
"Just don't do anything too drastic to arouse his suspicions. If you have to, if you think he's not buying your excuses anymore."
"I know. I've thought of that. I think with the stress of the holidays I can put him off a little longer, but after that."
He gave in to his base need to hold her one last time. He grazed a kiss along her forehead, taking in her scent before releasing her.
"See you tomorrow. Be careful."
It should bother her that he worried about her. That he had made no real effort to encourage her to get out of her marriage. He wanted her out of it, but because of who her husband was. He didn't want her out of it for the reasons she wished for. She wanted him to want her.
Every day was harder and harder. She did an errand or two, went to Angel's to train, and then went to the gym for a workout. She and Angel had agreed it was best if she did that. It didn't happen real often, but she did get bruised or cut once in a while. They fought hard when they sparred. Neither would have it any other way. It would be difficult to explain those things to Lindsey if she didn't have a plausible excuse.
Angel was right, though. She'd been off the last few weeks. She was lethargic. There were mornings she didn't want to get out of bed. It was crucial she did, especially now. She didn't always sit with Lindsey when he read the morning paper and had breakfast, but they always talked in their bedroom while he was getting ready.
She wasn't sure what it said about her that she liked Lindsey. She thought in time she could probably have grown to really love him. He was good to her. Everything she could want or need was at her fingertips. She realized that he was more generous than he might have been if she was one to take advantage of it. They would make beautiful babies together.
And, yet, she was married to and slept with a man who extended the lives of the monsters she was supposed to stop. Training with Angel these past few weeks had given her a taste for it again. He thought she wasn't ready, but she knew different. She was more than ready. She was primed for a fight. When the time came, she would be able to go into battle.
She continued driving past the gym, out of LA, and further south. Before it even registered what she was doing or where she was going she found herself in Sunnydale. Her eyes grew misty seeing the sign welcoming her. There was so much pain associated with her time here. But there were some good times, too. Her friends, she'd never really had friends like Willow or Xander in LA. Even Giles.
She parked down the street from her house, her mom's house, pulling out her cell phone. It didn't surprise her that nothing really had changed.
"Hi, honey, it's me. I took a little impromptu road trip." Her eyes scanned the street for signs of anyone out who would recognize her. "Just something I sort of needed I guess. I probably won't be home until late. I'll call when I'm on my way back. I hope you had a good day."
She ended the call, hoping she wouldn't get back to LA and have to endure a million questions. She very rarely did anything for herself, so she hoped he'd accept it. It wasn't like they had plans or anything that night.
She glanced at her watch, realized with the time that her mom was probably still at work. She put the trusty SUV in gear and after one final glance at the house she wasn't sure she considered home anymore drove in the direction of town.
She drove by Giles', Willow's, and even Xander's. She continued to the high school, only it wasn't there anymore. She sat for a good fifteen minutes, looking at the destruction that had been her high school. She'd heard Angel's version of things, had listened as he spoke, but she really hadn't understand the destruction that had happened as a result of Sunnydale Mayor's Ascension attempt.
She'd gone to LA and, despite the odds, made a life for herself. The only thing was, she realized now, that it wasn't her life. It couldn't be. Staring at the ruins that once had been her high school, she wondered how many kids had died. Those deaths were on her. She would have to carry that guilt with her to her own grave. And the weight of those deaths was far heavier now that she'd seen the aftermath.
Her last stop was the hospital. She wasn't sure how she knew where to find who she was looking for. She found her, though, and there was instant recognition. She'd dreamt of this girl lying in a coma. If she'd been here would things have turned out differently? Would this slayer, physically so opposite her, still have gone bad?
She slipped out before anyone spotted her and returned to her SUV. There was no way she could right the wrongs that had happened in her time away. She sobbed openly in the privacy of her vehicle. She hadn't known, hadn't realized how much her presence affected things. Slaying to her was about the killing of vampires, she so seldom was able to put faces to the victims she'd saved by performing her duties.
Composing herself, she drove past the house on Revello Drive one last time before heading out of town, north toward the life Anne had built. She pulled her cell phone out, knowing she was the last person who should be driving and talking at the same time.
"What's wrong? Did something happen?"
She smiled. Despite having his phone number memorized, she'd never called him. She didn't want to risk it in the event Lindsey got nosey about things.
"Nothing. I just," she shrugged as she set the cruise control to the highway speed limit. One less thing to focus on. "I went to Sunnydale today."
"God. I couldn't believe it. The high school is toast."
"I told you."
"I know, just seeing it, though."
"Did you see anyone?"
She took that to mean he wasn't alone. Cordelia was probably hovering, hoping she was a case or something.
"Yeah, from a distance. At her gallery. Don't say it, okay. This was all I could handle right now."
"I'll let you go, I just wanted you to know."
"Thank you." She wasn't sure what she was thanking him for.
"I'll talk to you later then, Anne."
He was definitely not alone, he never called her Anne.
"Bye," she said and quickly disconnected the call.
She opened the garage door when she got home and smiled seeing Lindsey's car. She believed Angel, she really did but it was hard for her to lump Lindsey her husband in with Lindsey the lawyer. Maybe there was some mistake, maybe he didn't really know what he was doing. She wished there was some way she could talk to him. Tonight wasn't the time to pursue that line of thinking, though. She was too raw from her hours spent in Sunnydale.
"You had a good day?"
"Yeah, sorry to just disappear."
"It's okay. Anything I need to know?"
"No, just something I needed to do." She was being vague, sadly he was used to that from her. His eyes met hers, searching for something. She was sure she must look a mess after the bout of crying she'd had outside the hospital.
"Okay. I heated up a pizza if you want some."
"Thanks. I think I might just go up to bed."
"Do you want company?"
"Yeah, I'd like that." She meant it, too. For the past year and a half or so, he'd been her life. He'd been everything to her. He'd comforted her when she'd woken up from nightmares. He'd cleaned her up after she'd lost their baby. He'd held her without needing an explanation when she needed the warmth of his arms.
She genuinely cared about him. She couldn't turn her feelings off as much as she wished she could. She hadn't been able to with Angel either. It just wasn't in her. She was raw right now. She had only caught a glimpse of her mom, but it was enough to know that Buffy's absence was taking a toll on more than the body count in Sunnydale.
"I'll be up in a few then."
She went upstairs and readied herself for bed, complete with one of Lindsey's favorite nightgowns. It didn't make her a bad person that she wanted this tonight. She needed it. They were married, she was allowed. She was human.
She took an extra minute in the bathroom to protect herself. She always felt guilty putting the diaphragm in. Lindsey didn't know about it. They had both agreed once they were married that while they were in no hurry for children they weren't going to try and prevent them. At the time Buffy had been fine with that. She'd been excited when she found out she was pregnant. Her new life, Anne's life, had taken fruit. It was one more step on the road away from being Buffy.
Once she'd seen Angel, knew he was alive, having a child with another man was out of the question. She wasn't sure what it said about her that she was still willing to have sex with him. And tonight, she didn't want to think too deeply on it. She needed it, the closeness, the comfort, the realness of it. She'd worry about how to close out Anne's life later.
Buffy stared at the wall, clutching the paper gown to her still shocked. She wasn't stupid, she understood that no form of birth control was perfect. The doctor was saying that she was further along than she thought she was, though. She tried to mentally calculate things in her head, but it still didn't add up. There'd been about a month or so there where she and Lindsey hadn't had sex. As far along as her doctor was saying she was put her during that dry spell.
Maybe she'd forgotten one time? Lindsey did have a habit of waking her up before taking his shower at times. Usually, she was able to get to the bathroom first, but maybe there'd been once or twice she hadn't and she'd forgotten? Or maybe she'd been so sleepy that she hadn't thought. What were the odds? She knew all it took was once.
"Do you have any questions, Mrs. McDonald?"
"I, no, I'm just surprised is all."
"I was under the impression you and your husband were trying again."
"I, yes," Buffy shrugged. She'd gone to a different doctor for the diaphragm out of guilt. "You're right."
"I can recommend a counselor if you're feeling apprehensive about it after your loss. I think that was caused by whatever virus your body was fighting off, though."
"No, I'm fine, really."
"Okay. Take the prenatal vitamins every day. I can't recall if you had problems, but some women find taking them at night with a meal works best to avoid nausea. And I'll see you in four weeks."
She dressed and left the exam room, stopping by the appointment desk before she walked to her vehicle. It was all done on autopilot. She was still in shock. She had been stupid. When did anything ever work out the way she wanted it to? Why would she think that sneaking a birth control device into her marriage would work? Had he found it and done something to it? She didn't think so. She was careful about keeping it hidden in with her other feminine supplies. As far as she knew, he didn't go near those.
It would certainly explain the fatigue and sore breasts she'd been experiencing for the past couple of months, though. Thankfully, she didn't suffer from morning sickness. She hadn't the first time either.
Lindsey was out of town for the next couple of weeks. There was a training session or something in Europe. She'd been invited to go, but she and Lindsey both agreed she'd probably get bored. He was going to be tied up in meetings most of the time. He promised her a trip to Europe as a vacation soon to make up for it.
It was a good thing, because Buffy didn't want to go home. There was only one place she wanted to be right now. It was late enough in the day that Cordelia should be gone. She took out her cell phone to call first just in case. Angel had shown her an access route to his apartment from the sewers, which she'd yet to have to use thankfully. She wasn't sure she wanted to start today.
She smiled. He always sounded so genuinely happy to hear from her. She called him so seldom. They didn't talk much either for that matter. If it wasn't about training they kept things pretty casual. She figured it was a defense mechanism for both of them. Until things started falling into place as far as Wolfram & Hart went, there wasn't much to say.
"Up for a visit?"
"No, the other blonde who visits you."
"Oh, I thought I was better at being discreet than that."
She smiled with a laugh. "No such luck, buddy."
"Sure, come on by. It's all clear."
"I was hoping you'd say that. See you in a few."
It didn't take that long to get there. She was much better at the whole driving thing than she used to be. Having an SUV that Attila the Hun could hit and she'd survive probably helped. She was always amazed to see him living so human-like when she visited him. She wished she'd been able to meet Doyle. She was pretty sure Angel wouldn't be in business for himself if it weren't for the demon with the visions.
"Hello," she called out when she entered.
"Hey. Lock up."
She did and followed him to the elevator.
"How are you?"
"Fine. Anything new going on?"
"No, happy to say. I could do without Cordelia getting pregnant again for a while."
She must have made a face or something, because it was obvious he knew he'd said something wrong.
"Nothing." Why did he have to mention pregnancy today of all days? He routinely filled her in on cases he'd worked and things that happened around the office. She still couldn't believe Wesley was in town.
"Buffy. Talk to me."
"I can see on your face it's not nothing. You know I wouldn't have any problem if Cordelia got pregnant by a human."
"What about me?"
"What about you?"
She put her hand to her head and rubbed her temple. It was like that sometimes, talking to him. They tried so hard not to invade one another's personal thoughts that they sounded stupid.
"What if I was pregnant?"
"Well, you said you're. Are you?"
"Oh, well, I guess there's no need for the what if game then."
"Not with me anyway."
"How are you? Here, sit down."
"Angel, I'm fine."
"You lost the last one."
"I think that was beyond my control. Somehow we're connected and when you were poisoned I suffered with you."
"Does Lindsey know?"
"No, I just came from the doctor. Lindsey's out of town for a couple of weeks."
"Is that why you came here?"
"Maybe. I don't know. I don't really have anyone else to talk to. I know that bothers you, but the women I've made friends with all know Lindsey. So, I have to watch what I say, you know? I know you hate it."
"It's hard and not very fun, but I don't hate it." He reached for her then, resting the palm of his hand over her stomach. "Are you sure?"
"I'm sure. I heard the heartbeat and everything."
"This sort of changes things."
"Not really, Angel."
"Angel. I'm confused about something."
"I guess this is what I came to talk to you about. I just need a sounding board. The doctor is someone one of the lawyers recommended to Lindsey, so again I don't feel comfortable being forthcoming girl."
"The doctor's saying I'm like ten weeks along."
"Angel, that puts it at about the time I saw you for the first time."
She blushed deeply. "I didn't. I mean," she ran her fingers through her hair and turned away from him. "It took me a while to have sex with him again after I saw you that night."
"And you're saying what?"
"That ten weeks ago is during that time we weren't."
"Maybe you forgot a time."
"I suppose it's possible. I just," she shrugged.
"You're worried after what happened with Cordelia?"
"A little. I mean, I used a diaphragm and spermicide. I'm not sure how much more protection I could have."
"Sorry, too much information. I'm just trying to sort this out. I guess it's my fault. That's what I get for going behind his back to try and avoid getting pregnant. I just wasn't ready again."
"You don't have to have it, Buffy."
"I do, Angel. It's a living thing. I heard it's heart. I can't get rid of that."
"All right. This kind of throws things off balance."
"Yeah, it does."
"You have to be even more careful."
"Don't tell him."
"Don't tell him about the baby. Not yet."
"Just don't tell him. Can you do that for me, Buffy? I can't answer a million questions. Just don't tell him."
"You should go. I have some things to do tonight."
"Are you mad at me?"
He laughed then. She saw his shoulders slump and she wondered what she'd done wrong.
"I'm not mad, Buffy. Go home."
She was admittedly disappointed he was dismissing her. She had hoped he'd let her hang out here for a while. Her house was so big and empty with Lindsey gone. There was no one she really considered her friend enough to call and invite them to do something fun. Not like Willow.
"Okay." She gave him a quick kiss, happy to note he did kiss her back. "Night, Angel."
It was one of the hardest things he'd ever had to do, sending Buffy away. What he'd really wanted to do was kiss her, hold her. Things he couldn't do. He did the only thing he could do when he had questions he needed answers to. He sought Wesley out. Wesley knew of his day as a human. He knew that Angel had some contact with Buffy, just not how extensive. Angel wasn't willing to divulge Buffy's secrets to the former watcher and betray her trust that way.
"Angel. Come in."
"What's wrong? You look irritable."
"That about sums up how I feel."
"So tell me."
"What about our missing slayer?"
"I want to know if it's mine."
"What do you mean yours?"
"She says the doctor told her she's further along than she thinks she should be. It fits in about the time I had my day as a human."
"Oh, I see. And you think that for some reason while the day was turned back, that somehow impregnation was overlooked."
"Is it possible?"
"Well, you were human. I assume you didn't use protection."
"No, Wesley, I wasn't thinking about anything but Buffy. I'm not at my most logical at those times."
"Yes, well. Is there someone else who could have fathered the child?"
"I can't tell you who, but yes. She claims they weren't together like that though for a while. Our time together fell in that I guess."
"Well, this is interesting. And she still insists on staying hidden?"
"I've tried, Wes. She did go to Sunnydale a while ago, but she has to make the decision to get back into the game on her own."
"I understand. You think she will?"
"I know she will."
"Are you planning on telling her?"
"That you might be the father?"
"No, I can't do that."
"I'd have to tell her everything."
"Yes, and what a shame that would be."
"You don't understand."
"I suppose I don't, but if it's your child she's carrying she has a right to know that. As does the other gentleman."
"You heard me."
"You slept with a married woman? Angel."
"I don't need lectures, Wesley. She was going to leave him. I was human. I thought we had a chance for the things we'd talked about in Sunnydale."
"So, you'd let another man raise your child?"
"I don't know that I have any other choice. If I tell her the truth, she'll hate me. And then I'd never see the kid. At least this way, I have a shot at seeing it. I'll just never know if it's mine for sure."
"I see your dilemma."
"I don't know that there's anything you can do, beyond telling her the truth. She might surprise you."
"I asked her to hold off telling him about the baby for a while. I think it's mine. As soon as she told me about the timing, I knew."
"Well, then, you'd better work at getting her out of the situation she's in."
"How do you know she's in a situation?"
"I'm not dumb. Nor am I blind. You're concerned about her welfare. I can see it. You don't need to tell me what you're thinking about when she's on your mind. It's written on your face."
"She's in deep. And I feel bad for her. She tried to get away from slaying, to have a normal life. I can't blame her. She didn't ask to be the slayer."
"Being the slayer is an honor."
"Wes, not now, okay?"
"It's okay. I know what she should be doing. I think she knows what she should be doing, but she's in deep. So, walking away isn't really an option."
"Well, you'll just have to find a way to get her out of it."
"I'm working on it."
"You'll have my help if you need it."
"I'm counting on it."
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."
He wasn't sure how Angel and Anne were connected. He wasn't even really sure that they were. For all he knew, Anne had gotten wise to things she shouldn't have and gone to Angel for help. What was more mystifying, though, was that she didn't exist.
He had signed the papers, assuming he'd be able to find her tonight or tomorrow and talk some sense into her. He hadn't realized Angel had a judge in his pocket to sign off on the papers while the ink was still wet. The thought of begging had even entered his mind briefly.
He poured himself a shot of whisky, not bothering to add water or soda to the glass. How could he have been such a fool? He'd actually loved her. Never until he'd met Annie had he believed in marriage. Hell, he'd even given some thought to leaving Wolfram & Hart.
So, where had he gone wrong? He went over the months of their marriage looking for some signs. He couldn't find any. She'd been somewhat distant after losing the baby. That was understandable. Or so he'd thought. No, there was more to it than that. If he didn't know better, he'd say it started when Angel came to visit at their house.
She'd been different since about that time. He didn't keep notes or write down specific dates or times. He didn't claim to understand women, and he knew some were more emotional than others. Especially during their different times of the month. But it seemed to coincide.
Were they having an affair? Had he been so blinded by her that he'd missed something so blatant? No. He had surveillance in the house. He would have known if Angel had set foot in the house. And he had a caller ID unit Annie didn't know about. Other than calls from him and friends she'd made through Wolfram & Hart, his wife got no phone calls.
She didn't make any either. He'd checked the bills and it was like she had nobody outside of the small circle of friends she'd made through him. It saddened him in a way. He knew she went to a gym to work out. Maybe he could start there.
She didn't go anywhere either. She had a gym she worked out at and did some shopping, but otherwise she was here at the house.
One thing he knew, Angel would regret the day he interfered with Lindsey's personal life. It was one thing to take him on through work, but poking his nose in his marriage was another story.
Damn it, a failed marriage would not look good to the Senior Partners. He was getting vibes that he was on the right path, a successful one at that. He should have known better than to marry someone so young, so inexperienced at life.
But, no, really, he couldn't complain about her in that regard. She'd never embarrassed him, she'd never said anything in front of anyone that could have been construed as non-supportive. She was, when it got down to it, the ideal wife. Maybe too ideal.
"Just who are you Anne Williams? And where are you now?"
A call to Angel's office got him a voice mail message. Not surprising since it was after hours. Just what kind of hours did a vampire keep anyway? If Angel had a private line, Lindsey didn't know about it. There was no record of one, but that didn't mean anything. Angel was over a couple centuries old, Lindsey was sure he'd learned to cut corners and fly under the radar during that time.
"So close," he hissed, taking a sip of the whiskey.
He'd been so close to having it all. To coming full circle from what he'd grown up with. He'd thought a time or two of going back home with Annie by his side. Showing them what he could do, what he'd done, rub their faces in what he had and they'd never get a piece of.
Instead, he was divorced. She didn't even have the courtesy to do it herself. She left him. As if she was afraid of him. He'd never hurt her, he'd never raised a hand to her. He thought he'd never been anything but nice to her. It was what made him realize she must have found out something disturbing. It was the only explanation he could come up with.
If he'd had the time and opportunity he could have refuted whatever she'd uncovered. No one believed in vampires anyway. Because they didn't want to. What would she think if she knew Angel was a vampire? The stuff myths were based on?
He ran a hand through his hair, emptying the glass of its contents. He lifted the bottle, prepared to pour another shot but stopped. He didn't need to get drunk. Really, she'd done him a favor. He no longer had to worry about splitting his time between home and the office. He didn't have to worry about not getting a case assigned to him because he wanted to be done earlier than Lilah Morgan did.
His days of living for a woman were over. He was his own man. He'd tried it, found out they weren't worth the trouble. She'd been handy to have around and he'd probably take her back if she asked the right way. He suspected that she wouldn't. He wondered what he really knew about her. Nothing. She'd told him nothing about herself. He had filled in some blanks on his own, but he wasn't sure how much of that was true or just his wishful thinking.
He'd been so sure he'd found a kindred soul. Someone like him. He'd embraced that. He'd thought fate had brought them together. Such rubbish. There was no such thing as fate. Love was for people who had nothing better to do. Revenge. There was something he could get his mind wrapped around. He'd get his, too. He'd make Angel pay for interfering with his life if it was the last thing he did.
"I was, yeah." Buffy answered Willow's question carefully, watching Xander as she did. "Until last night I guess."
"And you're really pregnant?"
"Yup. My second time around, actually. I lost the first one."
"What are you going to do?"
Leave it to Xander to be logical. Buffy knew this conversation had to be bothering him. And the fact that it was Angel who had helped her out of a potentially bad situation.
"Stay here I guess. Have the baby. I got my GED so I don't need to go back to high school. Lindsey helped me do that."
"I guess I could go to college. Lindsey would have sent me to college if I'd wanted to go, I just never did."
"And you're sure Angel's right? About him I mean?"
"Yes, Wil, I'm sure. I wouldn't have left him without proof. There was no question once I began researching the law firm they were corrupt. I wasn't sure he knew, or how long he'd known. But he knew Angel was a vampire when they first met."
"Wait, this guy met Angel?"
Buffy's eyes darted to Xander. "Yeah, not knowing he was married to me. He was getting rid of a vampire who preyed on young girls. Lindsey was his attorney."
"Well, that kind of seals the did he know or not question, doesn't it? I mean."
"Yes, but I wasn't sure he knew his client was a vampire. That was what I had to find out. That's all they represent, though, Wolfram & Hart. Oh, they have some regular, human clients sprinkled in to appear normal. They cater to demons, though, letting them do whatever they want. They get paid obscene amounts of money to get them out of any tight spots. Lindsey knew."
"I'm sorry, Buffy," Willow said, squeezing Buffy's hand.
"What are you apologizing to her for, Willow? She married the enemy."
"She didn't know, Xander."
"How could you not know? That's what you do!"
"I don't look for evil in humans, Xander."
"If he's even human."
"Xander, I slept with the man for over a year of my life. Yes, I'm sure he's human."
That not only shut him up, but turned his face beet red. It was kind of funny. Bad Buffy, taking pleasure in her friend's discomfort. She saw the warning glare Willow shot him and knew that Willow thought he was being hard on her, too.
"So, now you're on bed rest."
"Yup. No strenuous activity, no heavy lifting, no nothing."
"Well, that leaves slaying out."
"That leaves pretty much everything out that involves leaving this house. And Mom, she's freaking out. I'm sure she thought she'd never have a grandchild. The fact she already lost one. Protective is an understatement."
"Well, can you blame her?"
"So, did Angel go all, you know, grrr on him?"
"I don't know what he did. All I know is Lindsey signed the papers and Angel had a judge sign off on them last night. Someone who owed Angel a favor or something. I don't know."
"Are you okay?"
"Yeah. I feel a little stupid."
"Xander," Willow said, her voice low.
Buffy glanced at Xander. "All I wanted was a normal life. I hurt so bad after I thought I'd killed Angel. Knowing that's what you guys wanted me to do, I couldn't go back to you and pretend to be happy. Lindsey came along one day." She smiled, recalling the day. "He came in to get out of a sudden rainstorm. I don't think he planned on coming in there or anything. He was so nice. Charming. And he seemed so normal. I spent a lot of time with him. It's not like we got married two days after we met or anything. I never saw any clues. I met one of his clients. The one Angel killed. I knew he was a vamp, but I couldn't say anything."
"Not without Lindsey wondering how you knew about that stuff."
"Right. And I think I wanted to think he didn't know either. That he didn't know the guy was a vamp. He was so good to me. We were happy, Wil. I mean, I could see myself living with him. The forever Angel and I had talked about once. I saw it with Lindsey. He treated me like a queen."
"Too bad he was in bed with demons."
"Xander," Willow said again.
Willow hugged Buffy. They weren't real cuddly friends, but Buffy took the hug and hugged her friend back. Tears formed in her eyes and she began to sob. She heard her door open and close and without looking knew Xander had left. Willow drew away once Buffy's tears subsided.
"I'm so sorry, Buffy."
"I know. I just feel like an idiot. And I really liked him. I was on my way to loving him. I thought I'd done it. Put being the slayer behind me and grabbed a normal life."
"I can't blame you for wanting it."
"That first time you saw Angel. That must have been a huge shock."
"You're telling me. I think I knew, though. We had shared some dreams, and when Faith poisoned him."
"That's right. Giles said he got a phone call from someone. He'd completely forgotten about the blood of yours he had. There was no way we were going to deliver Faith to Angel."
"And you shouldn't have. He could have killed her."
"How did you know?"
"I was going through it, too. That's when I lost the baby the first time. Fever, poison, but I'm sure if they ran tests they would have found nothing."
"So, you're like connected somehow?"
"It would seem so."
"That's kind of cool. Or not, if you want to get over him. And you were dreaming about him while married to Lindsey?"
"Well, yeah, I dreamt about him all of the time. It was hard to tell which ones were real and which were just dreams at first. But, it was like he was dreaming and I was there with him as he went through his past bad deeds."
"That must have been pleasant."
"Not so much."
"So, now what happens?"
"I don't know. He went back to LA. He's determined to take on the law firm, especially now. He doesn't want them to find out who I am."
"Wil, are there any spells or anything that you could do to find out about my baby?"
"After I saw Angel at my house, Lindsey's house, I couldn't," she glanced at her hands on her bedspread. "Lindsey and I didn't, you know, for a while."
"Okay," Willow said. Buffy glanced at her and Willow's eyes widened. "Oh. Okay. I get it."
"I couldn't forever, I mean, we were married, and before Angel came we were good like that together. We were good every which way, to be honest. But there was never a problem there."
Buffy wondered if she was as red as Willow was right now.
"When I got pregnant, the doctor seemed to think I was further along than I thought I was. And the ultrasound they did at the hospital last night proves it. I'm like halfway along."
"I even went so far as to go behind Lindsey's back and get birth control. I was really careful, Wil, even when we did again. I'm not sure he would have been mad, but we both agreed when we got married that we weren't going to go out of our way to prevent kids. I'm sure he would have understood if I'd used the miscarriage as an excuse or something."
"You don't have to explain, Buffy. He sounds like a nice guy."
"He is. Was. I wish I knew for sure what he was."
"So, what about the baby?"
"Well, Angel thinks I probably forgot. And it's possible. Lindsey did have a habit of waking up early and sometimes that would be the way he'd start off his day."
"Sorry, is this too much for you?"
"No, it's just so strange. The last time I saw you."
"Yeah, I know. One time with Angel, ended badly, I'd sworn off it forever."
"I just don't know. I was pretty careful. I didn't want him to touch me knowing Angel was here. So, I don't think," she shrugged. "I just don't understand how I can be this far along."
"Well, I'm sure Angel's right. You probably forgot or something. I mean, if you guys were used to being frisky and making with the smoochies. Maybe you had a bad dream or one of your slayer dreams and he comforted you."
"It's possible." It was. She hadn't thought of that. There were times that waking up from her dreams she was a bit out of it. She always sought comfort from Lindsey after those dreams. "You're probably right."
"I mean, it can't be anyone else's."
"No. I just have this," she shrugged. "I have this weird feeling that something happened I should know about."
"I don't know. If I knew I wouldn't have the feeling."
"I mean, if Angel and I can star in one another's dreams. If I can feel and suffer the effects of him being poisoned. Could I get pregnant? I can't remember a dream like that with him, but is it possible?"
"I can research, ask Giles."
"Sure. So, did Giles tell you about the soul?"
"Being permanent? Yeah."
"I don't know. I'm pregnant with another man's baby. A man who was working for the other team. I'm not sure I'm exactly top of Angel's list right now."
"Oh, Buffy, he got you out of the marriage. He trained with you, right?"
"Yes, but that was because he was worried about me."
"That was because he loves you and was worried about you. You didn't see him and Giles last year. They were frantic to find you. I have a feeling Angel did some things that weren't exactly on the up and up to try and find you."
"I fell off pretty good."
"Yeah, you did."
"I'm so sorry, Wil. I wanted to call you. So many times. The women I had as friends. I couldn't talk to them."
"Did you have a best friend?"
"Only the one sitting right here."
"Oh, good. I mean, you know."
"Yeah. I had to be so careful, and they weren't the people I'd hang around with. I just couldn't hang out at the country club all day. Or shopping. Lindsey gave me money, set up accounts at stores and stuff. I very rarely used it, unless he had a dinner or party or something. The only thing I used was the gym membership he paid for."
"It sounds like he cared for you, Buffy. Even if he wasn't on the side you'd want him to be. I mean, maybe if things had happened differently he would have chosen you."
"I don't think that was an option, Wil. Angel and I think that the lawyers know full well what they're getting into at the time they're hired. And we don't think there's a way they can get out."
"He hired Faith to kill Angel."
"What? Wait, you know about Faith?"
"Yeah, I even visited her in prison before coming here yesterday. I had to see her."
"How'd she end up in prison?"
"Long story, but she put herself there. She had a change of heart I think."
"Good. I mean, she's a slayer, it was pretty scary having her be on the bad side. If she hadn't been in that coma at graduation, I'm not sure we would have won."
"I know. I'm sorry."
"Don't be sorry, Buffy. I understand, at least I want to. And think I do."
"You're great. The best friend a slayer could ask for."
"You're not just saying that because I'm here?"
"I'm not." She glanced at her door, wondering if Xander had left completely. "So, do you think Xander's going to forgive me anytime soon?"
"Eventually, I'm sure. He'll come around. It was hard on him, I think, because he was there with you when you died the first time. We thought you'd died. I mean, none of us could think of any other reason you'd be gone for so long with no word. So, I think he felt if he'd been with you."
"He did what I asked him to do. He got Giles out."
"I know that. You know that. He's a boy, who has feelings for you."
"I know. And it doesn't help that I'm married."
"You've moved on. You've grown up. He'll have to deal with that."
"So, tell me about you. Why isn't Oz with you?"
"Oh well," she started and filled Buffy in on the whole Oz and Veruca thing. And Tara. It would seem Buffy's life wasn't the only one that had changed.
It felt good to be sitting here catching up with Willow. Maybe things would work out after all.
"Good grief," Giles murmured as his phone rang. As if he wasn't busy enough. So few people actually phoned him that it couldn't be a good thing. Buffy wanted him to research immaculate conceptions. Willow was wanting books, too, probably for the same reason though she wouldn't say. Xander was stewing as only Xander knew how to do.
Of course, they were all relieved Buffy was not just alive but well. It was just a shock to find out his slayer, their friend, had taken the time away from them to establish roots. An attempt at permanent ones at that. He wondered if this Lindsey fellow hadn't worked for a corrupt law firm if they would have ever heard from Buffy again. He liked to hope she eventually would have contacted somebody, if only to let them know she was all right.
The night he'd gotten a phone call from a complete stranger telling him to use Buffy's blood he had been suspect at first. He wished to speak with Buffy about that at more length when she was feeling better. It seemed she and Angel had a deeper connection than he realized.
"It's Wesley Wyndam-Pryce. We met briefly in Sunnydale."
Giles rolled his eyes. "Yes, Wesley, I remember you." It hadn't been that long since Wesley had left Sunnydale behind when it was clear there was no slayer for him to work with. Giles suspected the realization that he was not suited to be a Watcher played a role in the younger Watcher's departure as well. "What can I do for you?"
"Well, I have some information for you. I've been working with Angel in LA and I think it's important, for the safety of Buffy, you know the truth about something."
"Please bear in mind, I don't violate the trust someone's placed in me easily. And I only just learned this recently myself."
"I understand, Wesley."
"You're going to find this hard to believe."
"After the things I've seen on the hellmouth, Wesley, I assure you I wouldn't be skeptical about much."
"The baby Buffy is carrying is Angel's."
"Now that I find hard to believe, merely because Buffy insists she and Angel have not been intimate. I may not trust Angel very much, but I trust my slayer would not violate her wedding vows."
"She doesn't remember it. Angel had the day reversed."
"What?" That piqued his interest. Buffy hadn't been too far off base then it would seem.
"I hate to disappoint you, but your slayer did in fact violate those vows. But from my understanding, she was going to leave her husband. She was planning to wait until after the holidays. Angel became human."
"I've seen him, Wesley. He's not human."
"That's what I'm trying to tell you. If you would listen instead of interrupting this would go much faster."
"Very well," he said with a sigh. He removed his glasses, setting them on his desk and poured himself a glass of scotch. He wasn't sure there was a quick version of things where Wesley Wyndam-Pryce was concerned. "You have my undivided attention."
"That was sarcasm, wasn't it?"
"No, Wesley. Just get on with it before Buffy has her baby or I die of old age."
"Apparently, Buffy and Angel have been meeting for a few months to train. Angel was aware that Buffy was married to Mister McDonald and was afraid her identity might be in danger through the law firm's interest in him. So, they trained together so that Buffy would be prepared in the event something unexpected happened. Are you with me?"
"Well, on this particular day, Cordelia was out for an extended lunch and a Mohra demon attacked them."
"Yes. They defeated it, but Angel exchanged blood with it, unwillingly of course, and it left Angel human. Apparently, Angel felt that he could not be of assistance to Buffy in the fight as human. So he appealed to the Oracles to reverse the gift he'd been granted. The Oracles did so at a price."
"Buffy wouldn't remember."
"No one remembers, but yes, you're exactly right. Evidently, her becoming pregnant did not enter their minds."
"Or it did."
"What do you mean?"
"His soul is bound, Wesley. You and I both know how they feel for one another. Perhaps they were hoping it would be the catalyst to get her to leave this McDonald fellow. They can't very well have wanted the slayer in bed, literally, with someone like him."
"My God. I hadn't thought of that. They're more deeply connected than I would have believed. They experience one another's dreams Angel told me. He's worried one day he'll dream about that day and she'll share the dream, finding out."
"That something isn't right. That the baby isn't her husband's."
"Yes. That was expedient of Angel to get it done so quickly."
"He called in a favor or two. He wants her safe, Rupert."
"She'll be safe here. As safe as she can be on the hellmouth at any rate."
"Will you tell her?"
"I think Angel wants her to come to him on her own, for her own reasons."
"Yes, I could see that, but this changes everything. If he finds her, the ex I mean, he could say anything to get her back. She's raw enough she might just fall for it."
"I don't think so. She knows there's no leaving the firm. I suspect that's the only way she'd consider it."
"I would hope so. She does seem to have cared for him."
"As he did for her from what Angel indicated. He was more worried about repercussions on her because of him. He's made it his personal mission to take the firm down. I'm surprised their research hasn't netted them information on Buffy to be honest."
"Let's hope that remains the case."
"She was using a different name, perhaps it will help."
"Thank you for calling, Wesley."
"You're welcome, Rupert. Like I said, I thought someone should know the truth. I understand Angel's feelings on the matter, but given a pregnant woman's emotional state I thought you should have all of the facts."
"I appreciate your candor. I will think on it and decide whether to tell her the truth. She's on bed rest for a while. And Angel has returned to LA?"
"Yes. He's talking of visiting Buffy in a few days. He needs to exercise caution, though, in the event someone follows him."
"I doubt that will happen. He's got the protective instincts of a vampire and his woman is pregnant. He's not going to stay away from her anymore than necessary."
"Yes, I fear that's the truth. I just hope he doesn't lead the danger right to your doorstep."
"We'll be prepared."
"Very well. Should you need anything further here's my number."
"Thank you, Wesley. Good night."
Giles hung up the phone, staring at it for a moment in disbelief. Angel had given up being human and with it a life with Buffy for the greater good. It was one of the noblest things he could think of someone doing. Very few people would have sacrificed such a thing. Love was a powerful emotion. And someone with Angel's lifespan knew how rare it was to find the truest form of that emotion. It had taken the vampire almost two and a half centuries.
He wasn't sure how Buffy would react to such news, though. It would devastate her. Wesley had indicated Buffy had come to the decision to leave her husband. He wondered what happened to alter her decision. She had left him, but not as soon as the holidays were over. Perhaps he should talk to Angel the next time he came for a visit. And Giles knew that would be very soon considering it was his child Buffy was carrying. If he knew anything about the vampire, he would not let any harm come to Buffy or his unborn child.
He took a sip of his scotch. He'd poured it initially for the diversion while Wesley rambled on. Now he found he needed it to take the edge off. Good lord, was nothing simple? He had to admit he envied Buffy a little. She had a chance at a normal life, she took it, apparently accepted it and welcomed it. He doubted she expected it to come tumbling down around her as it had.
The only thing left to discover was whether this hiatus would make his slayer a better one. He imagined Angel would have a strong influence on her and hoped the vampire planned to encourage his mate to throw her hat back into the ring. They'd lucked out with Mayor Wilkens. They'd had to involve civilians and the number of casualties still astounded Giles. It could have been far worse. At least those that survived were not being served as a true demon's meal. The Initiative blokes had turned out to be more bark than bite. They were fortunate in getting Spike's aid in defeating the Frankenstein like monster, Adam.
Giles doubted they'd get lucky a third time. In cases like this, the third time would not be the charm.
"I thought I might find you here."
"Your mom said you'd gone for a walk. She said you seemed kind of down."
"Yeah. So many died."
"You couldn't have stopped it."
"Some of them."
"Maybe, but not all of them."
"I just didn't even think."
He came up behind her, placed his hands on her shoulders, and gently tugged her against his chest. "You didn't do anything wrong, Buffy."
"I did. People died while I was off playing house with Lindsey."
"Don't try to make excuses for me, Angel. I was wrong."
"Okay. You were wrong. Does that undo it?"
"Did you learn from it?"
"Is it going to happen again?"
"Then we're good. The world's good. No one's perfect, Buffy. Not even you."
"It's Memorial Day tomorrow."
"I know. That's why I presumed you were here. I couldn't think of a bigger memorial than the high school's grounds."
"One big grave, isn't it?"
"I'm so sorry, Angel. I should have been here to help you. Then I wouldn't even be in this mess."
"You're not in a mess, Buffy."
"I am. I'm pregnant, divorced, and I can't tell the baby's father I'm pregnant so I'm not going to get any help. What am I supposed to do? I don't even have a high school diploma, I got my GED. I can't support a baby. I'm nineteen years old!"
"I know all that. Your mom will help."
"Angel, I can't expect my mom to give up her life because I screwed up."
"You didn't screw up."
"I did. I shouldn't have run away."
"You did what you had to do. No one knows what you went through that day at the mansion, not even me. I've killed the people who loved me, but I was so full of rage and hatred it didn't affect me. The demon wasn't their son, their brother."
She turned in his arms and he welcomed her into his embrace. She was starting to show a little bit. The skirt and shirt she was wearing tonight accentuated the mound taking shape. His child. He still couldn't believe it. Her arms went around his neck. She tugged him toward her, not that he needed much coaxing.
His mouth sought hers just as eagerly. He would never forget the taste of her as long as he walked the earth. She was his. Forever. Not even impaling him with the blade of a sword could lessen his love for her.
Their connection was one of the most mystifying things to him. He knew it puzzled Wesley and Giles, too. She had saved his life and suffered for it, losing a child. He was glad she had. It was selfish. If she had carried that child, she would not be pregnant now. This child was his. Theirs. The child that was meant to be. Who would have thought one day of lovemaking could change things so drastically?
She gasped into his kiss and he drew away, afraid something was wrong. He wasn't sure if she was still on bed rest, but presumed her mother wouldn't have let her go out if that was the case.
"Are you okay?"
"Yes, sorry. I'm just not used to kissing you like that anymore."
"Well, there's plenty more where that came from."
"Yes. I need you, Angel. I just need."
"Are you sure we won't hurt you or the baby?"
He shifted his gaze, scanning the perimeter to see if they were alone.
"What's a matter? Afraid of getting caught with your pants down?"
"I'm more worried about you."
"I think we can defend ourselves. Besides."
He watched as she knelt on the ground. Her hands rested at her thighs even with the hem of the skirt she wore. She began lifting the hem of the skirt. He was riveted as he watched more and more of her thighs become exposed.
"I don't have any pants to pull down."
She stopped raising the skirt just short of being indecent. She skimmed her hands up along her waist, her torso, lifting her shirt as she went exposing her pert breasts. He let out an audible groan at the sight of her. He tried to get jealous that another man had been privy to the delight that was Buffy acting as a seductress but he just couldn't right now. He was too pleased to be on the receiving end of her ministrations.
She licked her lips and then pursed them, crooking her finger for him to come hither. He obeyed. God, she was beautiful. His woman.
"You deserve better than this."
"This is what I need right now, Angel."
Some might have found it perverse or macabre, her need rearing its head here and now. He didn't, though. So much of her life's blood and sweat had been shed here that it seemed fitting facing the destruction of it, she'd need a physical reminder.
She patted the ground next to her and he sat. He couldn't help but chuckle at the fact he wasn't putting up a fight. He wasn't sure a monk would be able to resist her charms.
"You're beautiful," he whispered.
She placed her hands at his shoulders and pushed him to the ground. She practically tore his shirt from the waist of his pants, working the buttons at a frantic pace. She spread the shirt open, running her fingers along his chest and abdomen. She found the fly of his jeans, worked it down and pushed the jeans low along his hips. She was a woman on a mission and it seemed as she positioned herself above him so he could enter her that the mission was very personal in nature.
He slid his hands to her hips, wanting to let her set the pace as she sank her core over his length. There was no question she knew what to do. They had both been in awe by his being human back in November. They were almost hesitant with one another, as if they might wake and discover it was a dream. This, tonight, was real. There was no way either of them could doubt it.
He fought to keep his eyes open, wanting to take in everything about her, commit it to memory. The mother of his child. She settled on top of him, both sated. He could feel her heart racing, her lungs working hard as her body came down from her release. His hands roamed along her body. Every curve, every dip, every freckle was engrained in his mind. He had vowed never to forget, thinking their last time would be his only time with her. He should never have doubted the Powers That Be. He should have known that somehow he and Buffy would be together.
"I'm sorry. I just needed."
"Don't apologize, Buffy. Please don't ever apologize for wanting me."
She lifted her head to look at him and smiled. "Okay."
He kissed her forehead then leaned up and kissed her mouth. "Now that we have that settled."
"Mm. That's just what I needed too."
"Something good to do here."
"I'm happy to do what I can for the cause."
"Right." She kissed his jaw and sighed, running a finger over the spot she'd just kissed. "It doesn't solve my problems, but it helped distract me for a little while."
"We'll figure it out, Buffy."
"This shouldn't be your problem, Angel."
"Nothing to do with you is a problem."
"You say that now."
"I'll say it until the end of time, Buffy. And mean it each and every time."
She cupped his face with her hands and looked into his eyes.
"I love you so much."
"I love you, too."
"I wake up some mornings and think the last couple of years were nothing but a dream."
"As much as I don't like thinking about you marrying someone else, I think it was necessary."
"I don't think we could really be together if I was your only."
"Hmmph, and what makes you think you were my only to begin with?"
"Come on, Buffy."
"You're right, of course. I'd have a lot of necessarying to do to catch up with you."
"I didn't say anything about catching up with me. Besides, one woman in almost two hundred fifty years."
"Mm, who would that be?"
He ran his fingers through her hair. "This beautiful blonde who had me from the first moment I saw her."
"I can't wait to meet her."
"She's pretty shy. I can't take her anywhere."
She nuzzled his jaw as they laughed together.
"When did you get here?"
"Not too long ago. I went to your house, your mom said you weren't home and I came here."
"I'm glad you came looking for me."
"Me, too. If I didn't demonstrate that already well enough let me know."
"You demonstrated just fine." She kissed him and slid off him, moving so she was sitting beside him. "It's easier knowing you're with me."
"You know I am."
"I know now."
"I'm trying to be careful. I don't want him to find you. I don't want him to know he could find you through me."
"I can handle him."
"Normally, I'd agree with you, but not right now. Your condition is still delicate. You're still fragile. The baby is still fragile."
He watched as she placed her hands over her abdomen. She wasn't a delicate woman, but at times like this he realized how vulnerable she still was. He rolled onto his side, reaching to place his hand over hers.
"Making love to you is like coming home for me, Buffy."
"I can't stand the thought of you with him."
"I know. I'm not going to be ever again. Nobody but you."
"Are you sure that's what you want?"
"I'm positive, Angel."
"Then we'll make it work. Somehow. Maybe leave California entirely."
"Will that work?"
"I don't see why not. There are other hellmouth's."
"I'm sure we could set up there."
"You, me, our baby."
"Our baby. I like the sound of that."
"Too bad it won't happen."
"What if it could happen?"
"What do you mean?"
"I'd love it more than anything. Maybe even more than you."
"Hmm. That'd be pretty stiff competition for me then, especially if it was a girl and looked like you."
They stayed quiet for a minute. He could imagine what was going through her mind as she looked over the destruction. They were evidently going to do something with the site because he saw evidence of construction equipment.
"So, are you trying to tell me something?"
"Like it's yours."
"You wouldn't be wrong. I think you knew that already, though."
"Yeah, I think I've known since the first doctor appointment. Tell me how it happened? Because it wasn't a dream."
"No. I'm not sure how it happened." At her curious look he chuckled. "I mean, I know how it happened, just not the how you're pregnant part. I had a chance to reverse a day and I did."
"Because I realized I wouldn't be any good to you, to the cause, human."
"You were human?"
"Yup. As human as you. Heartbeat and all."
"Did we get to enjoy the sun?"
"We did. Among other things."
"Yeah, I'm guessing it's the other things that got me here today."
"I think so."
"Was it good?"
"Not that. I mean the day."
"It was the best day of my life. It always will be."
"And we'll never get it again, will we?"
"I doubt it."
"Why don't I remember it?"
"It was part of the deal, I guess. My punishment for wanting them to alter time, reality."
"You have to live with the memories knowing you're the only one."
"Yet, we're going to have a baby. What would have happened if I hadn't been married or in a situation where I could have been pregnant otherwise?"
"I don't know."
"Can they give me my memories back?"
"I'd rather make new ones."
"Well, me, too, but," she leaned toward him and placed her hand against his chest. "To feel your heartbeat."
"It's not that special, Buffy."
"I always wondered what happened."
"Well, I remember going there that day to tell you I was leaving Lindsey. I know I was going to tell you, but it never happened. And it just puzzled me why I never told you. I don't know."
"You did tell me. We were going to finally be together."
"And you gave that up for me?"
"Mostly for you, yes. You need all the help you can get, I'd be a hindrance to you as a human. You'd worry about me, fret over my getting hurt, which would lead to you being distracted. Distracted slayers end up dead."
"Being human is overrated."
"I kind of like it."
"You would. You were meant to be human."
She leaned her head against his chest, devoid of a heartbeat or even his lungs working to breathe. Her fingertip grazed his nipple, still exposed since he hadn't bothered to button his shirt again.
"Thank you. I wish you'd told me sooner."
"I didn't know how. I was afraid you'd be mad."
"Well, I admit it's tempting, but I don't want to be mad at you. You altered my memories, my life and didn't tell me. We finally have a chance, though. A real one. Your soul's permanent so we don't have that to worry about. Once this stuff with Wolfram & Hart is handled, we can move on. And we'll have a little Angel or Buffy with us."
"You realize it may never be handled?"
"Yeah, I know."
"Just making sure. This may be our life, fighting them. And even if we win, defeat them, there's always going to be another one."
"Another evil law firm?"
"Another entity to fight, whatever form it takes."
"I wonder what he'll do."
"When he finds out who you are, you mean?"
"Probably shit his pants that he was that close to the slayer and didn't know it. I imagine his prestigious position at the firm might get dropped down a notch or two as well."
"You think so?"
"Buffy, he was in a position to take you out of the game. Night after night he slept beside you for almost two years. He could have killed you, poisoned you, cast a spell on you, adjusted your memories, anything to keep you as Anne Williams."
"I hadn't thought of that."
"I have. Every day since I realized you were involved with him."
"It's not your fault. We can't pick and choose our enemies, I wouldn't be doing anything different."
"Well, then we come up with a plan."
"No matter where you go, I'll be there when the baby's born."
"I wouldn't miss it for the world."
"Would you say that if it wasn't yours?"
"Yes. We're going to raise it. We're going to teach it right from wrong. We're going to teach it to be strong both of mind and body. Whose sperm made it wouldn't matter to me."
"That means a lot."
"You mean a lot."
She leaned in and kissed him. He did his best to convey the fact he wasn't just spouting off random words without meaning them. He meant everything he'd just said. When she whimpered, a sound he had become familiar with he knew she understood.
"Let's get you back to your house. I'm not sure I want to go a second round with you out here."
"And my bedroom with my mom down the hall is much better?"
"You were married, you're pregnant. We'll leave the door open."
"Okay, we'll close it for a little while, then open it."
"Mm, I like that plan."
She stood, offering him her hand, which he took. He slid his arm around her waist as they made their way in the direction of her house for the rest of the night.
"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.
Word Count: 3,038
She gripped the steering wheel of her car, Angel's car, biting her lower lip. There was no evidence in the car that she was a mother. Her figure was somewhat of a giveaway, at least she thought it was and she imagined he would notice, too. He knew her that well and she doubted a few months away would change that.
She flipped open her phone and dialed.
"Hi. How's it going?"
"Fine," Angel said and she couldn't help but smile at the cautious tone in his voice.
"Are you sure?"
"What's he doing?"
"Buffy, he's sleeping! You can't put this off."
"I could. There's nothing saying I have to do this at all."
"Buffy, it pains me more than you know that I even suggested you do this, but he deserves this much."
She sighed heavily. "I know." And she did. She just hated doing this. "I'll see you later."
"I'll be here."
"Kiss Mikey for me."
"Only if you give one when you get home to make up for it."
"All right then, you have a deal."
She hung up then. Neither of them were real fond of saying goodbye. They'd had too many goodbyes over the years that were painful.
She got out of the car then, smoothing down her shirt as she made her way down the street. She'd debated about where to do this and decided this was the best option. Giles was familiar with a coven of witches in England and they had placed the best and strongest protective spells they could on Mikey. No one knew what Wolfram & Hart's limitations were, but Mikey going undetected at this point was a necessity.
One nice thing about being the Slayer and having access to the Council's contacts, there was no record of Mikey's birth anywhere. One day Willow would see to it that a record was done officially, but no one wanted to chance a search of Buffy's name netting results.
She rang the doorbell and stood her ground. It took him a few minutes to answer the door, some of the longest minutes she could remember. Her eyes rested instantly on his hand, unable to stop herself. She'd wondered what he would look like since Angel had told her what happened.
He didn't look overly pleased to see her. Not that she could blame him.
"Did you forget something when you cleaned the house out of your things? Because I haven't found anything if you did."
"No, I came to talk to you."
"And either very stupid or brave," he added as if she hadn't said anything.
"I know that, too."
He regarded her for a minute and then stepped aside, letting her open the door herself.
"Why'd you decide to let me in?"
"Well, I've done some research since you left."
"Slayers in general. I know, for instance, that I wouldn't really be able to prevent you from coming in so I may as well save the door from being damaged."
"I wouldn't break down the door, Lindsey."
"I didn't think you'd up and leave me either, but you did that."
"I didn't have a choice."
"Yeah, yeah, you did."
"Lindsey. You work…"
"I know who I work for, I know what I do, who I represent. But it's profitable. It kept you in a pretty decent way for over a year. You didn't have to work."
"You know and yet I'm evil, right?"
"I don't think you're evil, no, but I couldn't sit idly by either."
"You had to know from the first dinner meeting I took you to."
"I hoped you didn't know!"
They were in the living room by now. She noticed he'd changed the room around from the way it was. Her favorite spot to sit was now a table. She sighed softly and chose the uncomfortable chair she never willingly sat in while she lived here. She noticed he had picked the one room in the house they had never spent much time in together. It was one of her favorite rooms, but he had rarely ever taken the time to sit in it with her.
"What do you mean?"
"Well, I couldn't ask you if you knew he was a vampire because that would mean admitting I knew about vampires."
"Which would have led to questions."
"Right. And I was, you know, trying to hide. Trying to be Anne not Buffy."
He was quiet then and she didn't know exactly what to say. His eyes were filled with pain, hurt. Things she'd put there, unintentionally but still.
"Why are you here, Buffy?"
"To say I'm sorry."
"You could have sent an email or a card. I'm sure Hallmark makes one for just such occasion."
She grimaced. "I wanted you to know that it was real, that while I wasn't in love with you I did love you. You made it difficult for me not to."
"Not in love with me because of Angel."
"Did he come here for you?"
"That night. Was he here for you?"
"No, Lindsey, I'd completely fallen off the radar of my mom and my friends. He came to LA to get away from the idea of me."
"So, it's just my luck his path crossed with me and led him to you."
"Sort of, yeah."
"And you started sleeping with him right away?"
"No! Never! Lindsey, never once did we."
"But you saw him."
"Yes, to train. He was afraid by researching him your firm would find out who I was."
"The firm? Not me?"
"I didn't think you'd hurt me."
"You were right."
"I wasn't sure."
Silence again. She found a spot on the wall very interesting just then. She was sorry, she really had cared for him.
"Did you ever think you could have just talked to me? Told me who you were and why you had to leave?"
"No, it didn't enter my mind because I didn't think you'd let me leave. I know how important your job is to you, Lindsey. I don't think you'd hurt me, but I'm not sure you wouldn't turn me over to someone who would."
He looked away then and she realized she'd been right on that. She stood then. She'd said and done what she'd come for. She had to see he was all right with her own eyes despite what Angel had said. Not that she didn't trust him, but she'd spent a lot of time with Lindsey. She had to be sure. Closure, for both of them. And the hope that maybe her apology would stop him from seeking full-out vengeance on Angel for this. The hand was another story. She wasn't sure anything could get him to stop wanting revenge for that.
"Are you with him now?"
She was almost out of the living room when he asked. She didn't go back to the chair, just turned to face him. She'd thought it was going to be harder to be here, remember things. There were so many memories here, most of them good. Who was she kidding? All of them good.
"And you can live like that? Knowing he's a vampire? That you're going to die and he's not?"
"I love him too much not to try."
He didn't say anything, didn't even look at her as she said the last. She sighed softly.
"I'm sorry, Lindsey, I really am. It wasn't fair or right of me to do what I did, but the idea of a normal life. A real one was so appealing to me, and you gave it to me."
"And if I hadn't been working for Wolfram & Hart you'd still be here?"
"Probably. I don't know honestly. I liked being married to you, so all I can do is guess that we wouldn't be where we are today if you weren't working for them."
"You're welcome," she said, though it sounded odd to say it. She was hurting him. He showed no signs of saying more. "Good bye, Lindsey."
"I won't come after you, Buffy. I can't make any guarantees about your boyfriend," he said, holding up the hand Angel had taken. A fake one was there now.
"I understand, but you realize if you come after him you're coming after me."
"So, we're enemies now?"
"You made that choice when you left me."
"You could leave Wolfram & Hart."
"And what? Had you told me who and what you were at the beginning maybe. I don't know if I would have, but maybe. But now, I have nothing but the job, Buffy."
"There are other law firms. Ones that don't cater to demons."
"None that are quite so profitable, Buffy. And you can't deny you didn't enjoy the fruits of my labor while you lived here."
"No, you're right."
He turned to look at her then. She could have loved him. He had a good face, but she saw it now. The eyes, tainted with the knowledge he had and being immersed in evil too long. She wasn't sure how she'd missed it to begin with.
"Good bye, Buffy."
She turned then and while she didn't run for the front door she didn't exactly take her time either. She made her way down the street and around the block where she'd parked so he wouldn't see what she was driving now. She sat in the driver's seat for a few minutes, taking deep breaths, startled when her cell phone rang.
"Are you okay?"
"Yes," she said with a smile. "How did you know I was in my car?"
"I didn't. I figured I'd just try calling periodically until you answered."
"You were worried for me?"
"You're welcome. Now come home, Mikey needs his mother I think."
"I'll be right there."
Angel hadn't stopped pacing until he'd gotten her on the phone. He was more than worried for her really. It had been at his suggestion that she went to see him. He was hoping that maybe if she talked to Lindsey he would leave them alone. He didn't really think it would happen, but he was hoping the fact he'd loved her would make him see reason. Though he wasn't sure when love was ever reasonable.
He also had to admit there was a little bit of doubt in the back of his mind as to whether he would let her go. Or try to convince her to give him another chance. Buffy loved Angel, he knew that, but there were limitations to their relationship.
Mikey would be the only child he could give her. She'd told him after he was born that she wouldn't want another one anyway. She didn't seem to mind the being pregnant part of things, but the delivery had been particularly difficult for her. He wasn't sure if it was due to her small size or being the slayer, maybe a combination of both. A couple of years from now when Mikey was older and the memory of the labor process had faded some she might not feel that way.
And Lindsey had one advantage over Angel. He knew the intricacies that were Buffy from living with her for over a year. If there was anyone who could weasel his way in, it would be Lindsey. He knew he was being unreasonable and probably it was his jealousy making him think like that. Buffy loved him. They'd created a child out of that. If Buffy had wanted to be with Lindsey she would never have come to Angel the day Mikey was conceived to be with him. For good.
For good had a different meaning for the both of them. He knew that. There were times since he'd seen her again that he'd thought of letting her go, leaving LA and disappearing. He couldn't help but think she might be better off that way. He couldn't do it, though. He'd already lived over a year without her in his life, he knew he didn't want to do that again. And knowing she was out there but he was willingly staying away would be worse in a way.
And while he couldn't give her more children or ensure that she lived as long as he did, he could give her something not many others could. He was able to fight by her side, help her keep evil at bay and stop apocalypses. Because if he knew anything, more would be coming.
And if he knew anything, Wolfram & Hart would most likely be behind a few of them. They would not stop until he was destroyed, possibly Buffy, too. Slayers didn't take on humans usually so they might leave her alone thinking she was no threat to them. Their lives would be in constant danger, but that wasn't anything new - for her anyway. He'd lived so long as a recluse that he hadn't had much danger of being staked until he'd come to help her.
Gentle hands on his shoulders brought him from his thoughts. He placed a hand over hers and turned to face her. He cupped her cheek, tears in his eyes which surprised him. He really wasn't sure what would happen with this visit. If he'd lose her again one way or another.
"Are you okay?"
He smiled then, blinking away the tears. "I am now."
"You were really that worried?"
"It was on my mind, yes."
"I didn't have to go."
He didn't say anything and she looked down at their joined hands.
"Yeah, I did have to go. I needed to say goodbye, he deserved that."
"Are you all right?"
"Yeah. It was weird to see him, the house, but I'm okay. Is Mikey awake?"
"Not yet, but he's moving around so not too long now."
"Okay, I'll go get a bottle for him."
"And I'll go back to my research."
"They're not going to come after you today, Angel."
"Today, tomorrow, next year, I not only need to be ready but I'm not done taking the fight to them."
She squeezed his hand. "We're not done taking the fight to them."
It was hard for him to believe this part of things. That they were in this together. This wasn't him helping her come into her own as the slayer. This was vampire and slayer working side by side. Yes, they were lovers, but just the same working with her was like nothing else he'd experienced. Ever.
Cordelia came into the room. Normally they disengaged from kissing or hugging when that happened but neither pulled away today. He needed her close and she seemed to as well.
"Giles just called."
"The nanny is leaving on a flight tonight."
"Good," Buffy said, sounding relieved.
That had been the hardest thing for them to work around. Mikey. They couldn't both just up and leave, not with a baby around. And Cordelia couldn't be relied upon to babysit, particularly since she would be helping them a time or two he was sure. So, Giles had arranged for a potential slayer to come to the States and work with Buffy and Angel as a nanny. Familiar with slaying from her training to one day be the slayer, Buffy, Angel and Giles wouldn't have to worry about the girl questioning their activities. Or coming home bloody and bruised repeatedly.
"Thanks, Cordelia," Angel said.
"Let's go check on Mikey. The evil law firm can wait for a little while longer."
He followed her to Mikey's room. He'd follow her anywhere and he imagined it would be the same for Mikey. He watched as she got the changing table ready, a new diaper, wipes, and clean clothes in case he was wet straight through.
"What?" she asked softly.
"Just wondering when I'll come to terms with the idea that this is mine."
"I'm sure once the novelty wears off…"
"Two hundred forty years I never dreamed of having this. A woman who loves me, a child that's mine. I'm not sure the novelty will ever wear off."
"Well, that's okay, too. I don't think Mikey will mind being cherished by his father like that."
"You don't know boys very well."
"He won't mind, Angel. And neither will I."
He closed the distance between them, taking her into his arms. He gave her a quick kiss. "That's good, because I plan on letting you know quite frequently why it is you ended up with me."
"Why is that I wonder?"
"I think we're proof positive that you can run but can't hide from what the heart wants. At least when the powers that be are a part of your life."
"And your heart wanted me?"
"Even if I'd wanted to be Anne and not Buffy?"
"How long until he wakes up do you think?"
"I'm not sure. Why?"
"There are others parts of me that want you, too, and it seems to me you should be clear…"
She laughed and kissed him. "I don't think we'll have enough time."
"I was afraid of that."
She nuzzled his neck with her cheek, kissing him there. "I'll make it up to you later."
"I pinky swear."
"Wow, that's serious stuff."
"I don't mess around when it comes to pleasing my man."
He chuckled then. "You never have."
She pressed up against him and sighed, kissing him. "Good to know."
Just then Mikey chose to start to fuss and wake up. "That's my queue I guess."
"I'll go get his bottle."
"Thanks," she said. He watched from the doorway as she gently picked up the delicate bundle that was their son. Hard to believe she was capable of so much power watching her now. No one would think it was possible. This was his.
He realized then he was lucky his soul was permanent, because just this scene would be sufficient to make him happier than he could ever recall being. Buffy or Anne it wouldn't have matter, he would have taken her in any form she was willing to be with him.
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com