Word Count: 2,818
He woke the next morning with her pressed against him firmly. His hand was resting possessively over her abdomen. She was awake, something he knew only because her fingers were stroking his hand.
"Morning," he whispered.
"Morning," she said.
"You better get used to early bed times."
"You can't possibly think you can go on patrols or hunting in your condition."
"No plans to, no."
She turned to face him. "You're taking this news way better than I thought you would."
"If I thought there was a chance you'd done it deliberately I would be. I know you didn't, so what else can I do?"
"I'm glad, and thank you."
He brushed her hair away from her face, watching her quietly for a few minutes.
"Move in, Buffy."
"Mike. I don't want to make that kind of decision or change because of a baby."
"I understand you may move, leave New York, but I hope you'll stay until the baby is born at least. I'm not asking for a commitment or a promise. I'm just offering something more stable than a hotel room. A kitchen of your own so you can buy unlimited quantities of fruits and vegetables. I have a spare room. If we're not suitable as a full-on couple you can still stay here. If we are compatible, you can help me decorate it for a baby. Even if you're not here afterward, I'm going to be involved."
"You make it sound so logical, calculated."
"Well, I like you. You know that. More than that? We'll have to see."
"She sees reason."
"I've got to get to work. You've got someone at the hotel that can carry your stuff down to my car?"
"Take my car, check out, and then bring my car to the precinct. I'll get my spare keys from Lennie and you can catch a cab back here. I'll bring your stuff in when I come home."
"I can carry my luggage."
"I know you can, but you won't."
"All right," she said.
He slid lower along the bed, resting his head against her belly.
"Seven months you're going to take care of yourself and let me help ensure you do."
"I'm used to taking care of myself."
He slid lower, kissing her inner thigh.
"You can't do this for yourself," he quipped before doing some terrific things with his mouth. Waking up to this every morning could be worth the loss of privacy.
It was another month before she had her first doctor appointment. True to his word, despite working he made it to the appointment. He got there last minute and had to leave before she did, but he did hear the heartbeat and meet the doctor.
Living together? It was proving taxing at times, but overall was working. Giles wasn't too thrilled with her current situation despite the fact she hadn't planned it.
Dawn, on the other hand, was super excited about becoming an aunt. So was Willow.
Xander? He was still kind of quiet on the subject. He'd come around and make a great uncle.
The sickness grew less and less every day. It seemed to help, too, that she had complete control over what exactly she ate. And when she ate it.
Today she was running late. She rode with Mike to his precinct each morning and took the subway from there. She assumed she'd be on her own this morning because she still had to eat. He had a bad habit of letting her sleep until the very last minute.
A plate of eggs and sausage with toast was waiting for her at her place along with a glass of milk when she walked into the kitchen.
"Thank you," she said, taking a sip of the milk.
"Happy to do it, you know that," he said, adjusting his tie. He folded his collar down over it and slid his suit coat on. He took a seat at the table then. "Busy day ahead of you today?"
"Yes, I'll probably be home later than you tonight."
"All right," he said, finishing his coffee. "I'll figure out something for dinner then that will keep for you."
"I wish you'd rethink getting your own car."
"No, absolutely not. I've driven your car a few times, but I was so scared! I could hardly drive in Sunnydale."
"We'll work on lessons."
"I had Driver's Ed."
"Not from a New York City cop you haven't."
"Good point," she said with a smirk. "I'll think about it."
"That's an improvement over the flat out no you initially gave me."
"People take the subway."
"People get mugged on the subway."
"I can defend myself."
"Not when you're seven-eight months pregnant."
"I'll still be strong."
"You'll also do whatever you can to protect the baby, including not defending yourself and potentially getting hit or kicked in the abdomen."
"I said I'll think about it."
"By the way," he said, clearing her plate for her. "Claire asked me if you'd like to go to the gym sometime."
"Tell her sure. You can give her my number."
"She didn't want to just call you out of the blue."
"Yeah, an ADA randomly calling me would be a little freaky."
"She likes you."
"Well, good, because I like her, too. I wasn't sure what she thought of me at first, but she's nice."
"Good, I don't want you to think I'm pushing her on you, but I know you like to work out and she mentioned she can bring a guest with her."
"Well, we were talking. We do that sometimes. She knows you're not from here. I said you might be feeling a little cooped up after your hotel having a fitness area for you to use anytime you wanted."
"That's sweet of you."
He smoothed down and straightened his tie as she finished her milk.
"Yeah, that's me. Sweet."
"You are to me, but don't worry I won't tell a soul."
"Let's go before Lennie thinks I'm not coming in."
She was seven months along when she realized that she'd actually established a life here. She wasn't sure how it had happened, really, this long-term business trip because New York was such a large city with so many precincts for her to train. Mike's cop friends treated her decently. There were a couple of women officers she'd become friendly with and a few of the wives and girlfriends of detectives Mike worked with. Nothing super exciting, and nothing close to rivaling her friendship with Willow. Lunch here and there. The occasional girls' night out, not that she drank but it was still nice to get out.
Claire, on the other hand, was someone Buffy quickly became friends with once Mike mentioned it. She was busy, but they had the occasional lunch together or caught a movie in the evening a time or two. Claire was smart, Buffy sometimes wondered why she was interested in her as a friend. Then Willow was smart, too, and had friended Buffy so she supposed she couldn't judge.
She was feeling great. Better than great, actually. Her doctor was happy with her weight gain. The baby was kicking and active. She and Mike were getting along. Never once in the past five months had she contemplated using the spare bedroom.
Things in the preternatural part of her life started going a little crazy. Faith, Robin, and others had reported a pick-up in vamp activity in a particular area. Faith was able to winnow them out to a point, but the actual nest – and its leader – was impossible to pin down.
Buffy was stuck on the sideline for the first time ever. She'd never been research girl, and it was immensely frustrating to be delegated to that role.
"I'll get it," she said when the doorbell rang.
"You just don't want to look at the computer anymore," Mike said.
"I don't know how secretaries do it every day."
She looked through the peep hole, certain she was seeing things. She almost didn't open the door. What was he doing here? Not opening the door was futile as he'd hear heartbeats, know she – or someone – was inside.
"Angel, hi," she said, opening the door.
"Hi," he said, eyes drifting to her protruding belly immediately. "How are you feeling?"
"I'm good. You know, feeling kind of uncomfortable."
"I hear that happens."
"Yeah, me, too. What are you doing here?"
"I ran into Willow believe it or not. She mentioned you were having some increased activity here. I figured you could use some help."
"Help is always of the good,"
"I saw Robin and he said you were trying to pin down a location."
"Yes, but sadly I don't have Willow's computer skills."
"I'm not so bad with them. Let me try."
"Oh right, I guess, Mr. Adapt."
"That's me," he said wryly. "So, are you going to let me in?" He had to feel pretty foolish just standing there, she was still kind of processing the fact he was here.
"Uh, yeah, sorry. Come in, Angel."
He stepped across the threshold then and she offered to take his coat. He glanced at her with surprise, but took it off so she could hang it up.
"Um, Mike, this is my friend from LA, Angel. Angel, Mike, my boyfriend."
Mike set his beer down and stood. There was a Knicks game on that he was watching. He wasn't a huge fan to where being interrupted upset him. She'd actually gotten to like watching football with him. Basketball, however, was a little too boring.
The two men shook hands. Both said, "nice to meet you," but there was an underlying … guy thing behind the words. Sizing one another up.
She realized then that Angel wasn't here to help exclusively. He was checking up on her and her situation, making sure she was okay. That Mike was good to her, providing for her. Willow had just given him an in, and perhaps her friend had done that intentionally. Buffy would never really know.
"Would you like a beer," Mike offered.
"Uh no, thanks," Angel replied.
"I'll take the maps and laptop into the kitchen," Buffy said.
"Okay, Babe. You going to be up late?"
"Not sure, Angel wants to see what I've found so far."
She got them each a glass of water once they were in the kitchen.
"Sorry I don't have anything else to give you."
"It's okay, Buffy. So, show me your Watcher skills."
"I'm not sure I'm doing a very good job."
"Giles had a bit of a learning curve at the beginning, too, if I recall."
"You're going to be a mom, Buffy, and you have a chance to be a mom and not a slayer first. Hone your research skills. You can still do the conferences and consultations, but why slay when Faith can do it? Not to mention the one thousand other slayers out there."
"You don't get it. I can't just turn it off. I have to hunt, Angel. I have to slay. I will, literally, go crazy if I don't."
"I understand, Buffy," Angel said. "I do, but you can do it when you need to. You're not going to be patrolling cemeteries. There's no manual for this after a slayer's reached your age. You know that. I'm sure it's uncomfortable."
"Then you have to find another way to meet that need, Buffy."
"I can't go beat up drug dealers or rapists. Mike would have to arrest me."
"Find someone to spar with. Find a gym with someone you can fight equally. It may take a while to build up a repoire and get them to want to spar with you."
"It'd be so much easier if I could just spar with you. I wouldn't have to worry about hurting someone. Or someone wondering why I'm strong when I'm forty."
"I can while I'm here. Maybe we can find a gym for you together."
"Not like this!"
"After the baby comes, Buffy."
"You're going to be here that long?"
"I can always come back."
"Because I left you for a reason, Buffy. Finn, he was all right, but God it was too soon to see you'd moved on. Now, though. We've had our own lives for years now. You ending up in LA was a nice thought, but I never held out much hope it would actually happen. I can't honestly say I really wanted it to happen. You have a chance for the things I can't give you. A family, Buffy. I can't do that no matter how hard I try."
"My God, Buffy. A life away from all of this with no strings. Talk to Giles about one of the younger slayers who's thriving, find someone to take the helm. The doubles you have in place around the world should keep the bad guys away from you for the most part. Especially if you're not hunting anymore."
"Think about it," he said, sliding the laptop in front of him.
"What are you doing?"
"Emailing this information to myself. It's late; I'm here with no notice. I'll check this stuff out later."
"You'll do fine, Buffy. This isn't like the time you lost your abilities. You'll still have them, you're just moving on. The first slayer in history to be able to do that."
He stood, kissing the top of her head. "Get some rest, you'll need it."
"So everyone keeps telling me."
She stood, too, walking him to the door.
"Night," she said as he left.
She brought her laptop back to the living room, sitting next to Mike on the couch.
He was quiet. Too quiet. Usually, he reacted to a bad pass or block, or a score by either team. She closed her laptop and slid a little so she could face him.
He took a sip from his beer and glanced at her.
"Obviously still on good terms."
"And he's here to help you?"
"Yes, Faith could use the help."
"Why? I mean, we have cops trained to deal with this stuff. You've seen to that."
She sighed heavily.
"He's a vampire. He can get close enough to find out where the nest is if we can't find it through regular means."
"You dated a vampire?"
She sighed again.
"I sure wish I could drink a beer."
She stood, walking to a chair so she could see him while she told him that part of her story she'd left out initially. It was a lot to digest.
"So, how do you know that there aren't other vampires with souls out there?"
"There aren't. I mean, I suppose the same clan may have cursed other vamps, but no one's ever heard about it. And soul or not, if they're killing people, they're evil. Angel could have kept right on going. I know he stayed with his sire, Darla, for a while after the curse. He couldn't do it, though, live that way. So, eventually he left."
"Were you in love with him?"
"When I was sixteen-seventeen, yes."
"But he left?"
"You heard that?"
"Some of it. I'm a cop. I'm curious." He shrugged, taking a pull off his beer. "A guy from your past shows up at my doorstep who clearly knows you well. I may have eavesdropped a bit."
"Yes, he wanted me to have a shot at all of the things a vampire couldn't give me. Family. Doing things in the day. And well, I guess ultimately get out of all of it. The life of a slayer."
"I'm not sure if I should say that was nice of him."
"At the time I didn't get it. I was eighteen, and I didn't think I'd see legal drinking age. My biggest concern was making it through high school graduation and Mayor Wilkins' Ascension. So, his reasoning seemed very wrong and totally unfair."
"Well, I made it to legal drinking age and barring some all-hands-on-deck crisis I'm pretty much out of the game. My doubles make it difficult for anyone to pinpoint my location. He's right, too, I can't slay forever. I have to learn how to get my need out some other way."
He set his beer down and stood, sliding his T-shirt up and off as he walked the short distance to her.
"I can come up with an idea or two."
"You could, huh?" she asked, working the front of his jeans.
"Whatever I can do to help and all."
"Right," she murmured.
"So, you know, take your aggressions out on me sometimes."
"You sure I won't hurt you?"
"Not in a way I'd mind, no, so it's a chance I'm willing to take."
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com