Word Count: 1,653
Angel had found a new version of Hell. He had no reason to feel jealous over Buffy giving Detective Logan a son. He was, though. He'd come to New York to help and stayed for some unknown reason long after his help was necessary.
Wesley would probably have some psychological term for it. Angel just wanted to be sure that Buffy was all right.
Seeing her with another man was pretty bad. Seeing her pregnant with that man's child was awful. Seeing her share a house with him, evidence that more pregnancies could occur was brutal. Seeing her with her son, glowing and maternal was pure torture.
Even Faith seemed to know what he was feeling because her sarcasm and flippant remarks were kept to a minimum whenever they worked together.
The vamp nest had been dealt with. The leader killed. Most of the followers had been, too. Some escaped and Faith would probably encounter them again.
So why hadn't he left?
As much as it tore him up inside to do it, he wanted to be sure before he left that she was settled here. Settled all around. That included finding a gym and someone for her to spar with.
He could have left as soon as the job was finished, before the baby had come and he saw the transformation in her once she'd become a mother. God help anyone who came between this slayer and her child.
She needed the physical exertion, though. He understood if she didn't get it there could be disastrous results. He wanted her out of the field, away from danger. When he'd left her years ago he hadn't envisioned this for her exactly. He knew, though, that her death would no longer trigger the next slayer, so her Watcher's Council would have no reason to end her life prematurely if she got too old to perform her duties. That meant the possibility of this life for her existed.
So, he was going to help her find a sparring partner or two. He figured she'd be taken more seriously if they saw her in action with him.
It killed a piece of Angel to say that Buffy had managed to find one of the good ones. Acceptance of all that was the slayer and the past that had gotten her to this point was pretty good.
They'd been working out for almost two hours today. They'd finally found a gym Buffy liked. He should've known she wouldn't go for a gym with frills and smoothie bars.
He hated hurting her, their sparring took on an appearance of actual fighting. It had to if she was going to be taken seriously and find someone willing to be her partner.
He knew when Mike and little Matthew showed up. Usually, they waited for her in the car, but they were taking a little longer than usual today. She had found her place, they both knew it. With that Angel would be returning to LA soon.
She wasn't upset about it for the reasons she had been in the past. Losing him. Not wanting such a distance between them. Today, she just hated losing one of her team.
Their time in the ring was up. She stepped out, instantly lighting up at the sight of her family. It crushed him a little more each time seeing her like this.
He headed for the showers as she took Matthew from Mike. She was so careful with him, supporting his head as she was supposed to do. He wondered if anyone here, even her detective who while accepting what she was had never seen her in action, would imagine what she was capable of. The death to his kind she had dispensed with over the years. The burden she'd carried on her shoulders since she was fifteen.
"Does he have to hurt you?" Angel heard Mike ask thanks to his hearing. He glanced at them once more before entering the locker room to see Mike rubbing his thumb along an area on her cheek that had split open.
"Yeah," she replied.
"I trust you to know what you're doing."
"I'm sorry we ran late. Let me shower quick and then we can go home."
"I got here a little early. Matthew was cranky so I figured a car ride would do him some good."
"Well, it seemed to work because he's just fine now."
"So fine I was thinking we could grab something to eat."
"You mean it?"
"Sure. We haven't been out really since he was born."
"That sounds great."
"Okay then. I'll get him back in his seat then and wait for you in the car."
"Okay. See you in a bit."
She leaned in to kiss him, lingering a bit. Matthew was almost two months old now and he had been unable to take things further with her to this point. Her doctor had cleared her and everything, but he just hadn't been able to clear his mind from thinking it was too soon. Her ability to heal a factor or not.
When she kissed him like this, though, he questioned holding back. He knew how fast she healed, so why should this be any different? He kissed her back. How could he help it? She had that effect on him.
"Is there room in that shower for two?"
"Hmm," she whispered, smiling. "Probably, but Matthew might have something to say about it."
"Rain check," he whispered against her lips.
"I'll see you in a few minutes," she said.
"Hey Mike," she called just outside of the locker room.
"Yes?" he asked once he'd turned to face her again.
"We don't have to go to dinner."
He smiled, winking at her. "Yeah, we do. You deserve it."
Usually she liked to take her time in the shower. She hated public showers, bringing up memories of high school gym class that she'd rather forget. Those extra moments of relaxation, though, last minutes of being just Buffy. She cherished them. Not that she didn't love Matthew more than anything she thought she could possibly love, but since he'd been born going to the gym was the only time she ever had to be alone.
And Matthew's dad? She loved him, too. Neither had said it outright, but she thought he was just as obvious about his feelings for her as she was. They both wanted to be sure, though, that their feelings weren't brought on prematurely by a baby neither had planned for.
He took her to one of her favorite restaurants. One that was way out of the way from being on the way home from the gym.
"Best idea ever," Buffy said as she finished off the last of the dessert they'd shared together at the end of their meal.
"Pretty close to it. Yes. I feel like I've done nothing for the last three months besides stay home."
"Well, you've got to be cleared to go back to work soon."
"It's up to me when I go back. Giles knows I may not want to leave Matthew and I can't rely on Faith to babysit every day. Besides, she's as capable as I am to teach the sessions."
"There are some stay-at-home moms in the neighborhood."
"I know. I've met a few of them over the last few months. You know. Share coffee to get the dirt on schools and which parks to avoid."
"Parks," he said wryly.
Buffy knew for Mike it wasn't the parks where the danger lurked, but the one place he should have been unconditionally safe. His home and his church. The night she'd told him about her past and her relationships with not just Angel but also Spike. In bed, much later after they'd made love, he'd told her about his past as well. Her heart broke for the young boy he'd been, seeking refuge from his mother in church only to suffer another type of abuse there.
"Anyway," he said, as if they both knew what he'd been thinking. "Maybe you could find a sitter or two there."
"It's possible. I'm definitely keeping my options open. Giles will keep paying me, so I'm not going to be destitute."
"I wasn't thinking you would be. We'd be fine even without your salary."
"I know. I just don't like feeling like a freeloader."
"Matthew is a prime example of a freeloader. Eat and drink. And he has yet to clean up after himself."
"I know, right?"
They grew quiet as he paid the check, glancing at the Matthew in question. He looked so much like Mike it was eerie. He'd shown her a baby picture he had and they could be twins. So much for the Summers' genes being dominant.
"So, dinner out was a good idea then."
"Yes, I already said it was the best."
"You did, but I'd have to disagree with you on that."
"Oh? You would, huh?"
"Best idea ever was me buying you that first drink."
"You think so?"
"I know so, Buffy. Smartest move I've ever made in my life. I mean, now look at us."
"Keep saying things like that and you might get lucky tonight."
"I can't imagine getting much luckier. I already have you and a son out of the deal."
She leaned toward him and kissed him then.
"It's definitely better off than where I was a year ago."
"Me, too. I was a bitter old detective who saw little positive in the world."
"Me, too," she said with a laugh. "Now, let's go home so we can practice making another one."
"That is the second best idea I've had."
"It was my idea."
He shook his head and chuckled softly as he stood from his chair while she grabbed Matthew. "That's what you think."
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com