My Outcast State
When in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself, and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope
Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,
Desiring this man's art, and that man's scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts myself despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate;
For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings
That I scorn to change my state with Kings.
William Shakespeare, Sonnet XXIX.
Angelus, I've been looking for you, it was a statement said in a voice he had never thought to hear again.
He just stared for a long minute, trying to make the figure from his past go away, trying to make all the dead at his feet not be there. It didn't work of course, but it was worth a try. Holtz, my God, he whispered.
You have no God demon, Holtz said as he approached him.
Angel backed up, he didn't want to fight him, but he would if he had to. The Troclong, he said almost to himself. Raised up from darkness to bring darkness, it's you. Once he said it, it made prefect sense. Holtz, whatever brought you here, he began but then found himself captured with metal rods. `You thought he was actually going to listen to you!' he berated himself.
You did, Holtz said. You and your demon bitch. To Angel Holtz's voice seemed to suddenly start to drift off and then suddenly he was in the house of the oracles.
He was no longer in Angel investigations, but he could still feel the metal against his chin, feel as if his arms were spread long, expect they were now at his side. Warriors, he turned to face the oracles, new ones. He didn't know why he thought there were no oracles now, of course there were. They guarded the gates for the PTB, of course there would be oracles, these ones as well were male and female.
Expect they had said warriors. He turned slightly and for the first time saw the person beside him. He had noticed her, his soul had, after all hadn't it been crying out patently for her every since her death. Her death to save her sister, she couldn't do what she had, had to do to him to her sister. Buffy? he said his voice barely above a whisper.
Angel, she returned her voice just as low. He noticed that her hands as well twitched. She wanted to throw her arms around him just as badly as he wanted to do to her.
Warriors, this was the impatient voice of the female.
They both turned to look at them. You have been called before us to make a decision we never expected to ask you.
`Oh, dear something has happened,' Angel thought and madly began to go over the events that had happened since Buffy's death that could have made the Powers changer their mind.
Because your friend Buffy Summers, Willow Rosenberg, tried and failed to resurrect you from the dead we are stuck with you in limbo, neither dead or alive.
What decision? Buffy asked she wanted to focus on this, not on what they had just told her Willow had done.
As you the vampire-with-a-soul has told the slayer there is a prophecy that you will one day become human through atonement.
Yeah, he told me that. He also told me about Darla and that you would left a bunch of lawyers die.
They were slated to die, the male oracle said.
Buffy was about to respond to this when Angel reached over and touched her arm, shaking his head. She sighed, she had really wanted to be pissed at him when he'd told her the whole story, and not something you want to hear after your mother had died. But she couldn't because she remembered what it felt like being that cold. It had been right after her whole `I can't love anyone anymore' thoughts and vision quest. She'd told him she wanted to try again, and so had he. He'd slept with Darla and she couldn't be mad, because she had slept with Riley for the same reason, because she didn't want to be cold anymore. At least he could say it had woken him up, she couldn't. Chose? Buffy asked bringing herself back to the present.
We will anchor the vampire-with-soul's soul to him and give you eternity, or you will be returned to heaven.
But I won't get my humanity back if she lives, right? Angel said.
Anything else? Buffy asked.
The bond that exists between your soul's will be strengthen, and you as the eternal slayer will only be able to be killed by a stake through the heart or beheading.
But it will be the same for me, won't it? Angel asked.
Yes, you will be burned by sunlight, crosses, and holy water while she will not.
Okay, can you give us a minute? We need to discuss this. Buffy then turned to Angel. I'm not worth your humanity, Angel.
Angel held her so she was looking at him. You remembered didn't you?
Yes, and I wasn't worth it then either, look what we got two years.
We could have eternity together, Buffy, or I could become human and die knowing that the one woman I ever loved had died before me. Looking forward to seeing her again.
You really want to do this, don't you?
Yes, Buffy, I really do.
We'll do it. Buffy said.
Very well the decision you have made knowledge must be taken and given
The dimension you were sent to all memories will be taken, but we will tell what would have eventually been discovered. The male oracle said.
The baby, that your sire carries is not hers, it is yours. The female oracle said looking at Buffy.
Mine and Angel's from the day-that-wasn't?
Yes, and now you know one the reason's why the vampire-with-a-soul could not remain human, you would have died with this child still in your womb.
And this great convergence of darkness would have been successful, Angel said and then turned to look at Buffy and whispered. Ours that is what I wanted.
I know, my love, Buffy answered.
It is important that we return you to your dimension now, or you, the vampire-with-a-soul will be missed, the male oracle said.
Of course, Buffy whispered.
What do we do?
Hold each others hands, and look straight into each others eyes. The female said.
That wasn't hard Angel thought, he could drown in her eyes. He began to feel the metal against his chin again, feel his arms held high, hear voices in the distance and Buffy's face began to fade.
You did, you and your demon bitch, said Holtz. He had been returned to exactly when he had been taken. For 200 years I slept. For 200 hundred years I dreamt of nothing, but this moment.
That should explain why you look so well rested. Angel said beginning to readjust to here and now.
You haven't changed, Holtz said swinging the sword that he had been waving at Angel over his shoulder.
Actually I have, he began; it was the understatement of the century. While you were sleeping a lot changed.
Really, Holtz said and threw holy water in his face. Somehow things seem the same to me. Holtz said when he saw Angel's demon face appear for just a moment.
You're wrong he said beginning to fear and danger of the situation he was in. `Come on, Buffy. I need you,' he silently pleaded.
I will have justice, Holtz said.
No, I don't think you will there is no justice for the things I did to you.
You didn't do them to me, and you didn't do them alone. Holtz then turned to the demons that were working for him. Find the female. If he's here Darla can't be far, or are you going to tell that changed too? Holtz asked.
Angel looked at him for a moment it was on his lips to do just that, but he stopped. `It has, for the most part, Holtz,' he thought. `But you'll figure that out as soon as Buffy gets here.'
Buffy landed hard and rolled onto her back and looked up at the sky as memories came in a flow: dieing, the forgotten day, the Oracles, Angel, the agreement. It could have been minutes, but somehow she thought it was longer. She pulled herself onto her feet, she was dressed the way she had been the day she died. Expect, except she was wearing the jacket Angel had given her so long ago, and his cross. She looked down at her hands half expecting to see his ring magickally back on her hand, but it wasn't.
She trudged toward the building in the distance, a big hotel. `The Hyperion,' she thought though she had never seen it before. `Inside Angel investigations and Angel.' She stopped; she knew these things for sure, just as she knew there was danger in there. `Don't go in there without expecting a fight, Buffy'
She stretched out her muscles for several more minutes and then started heading toward Angel, it was then that the limonene pulled up. Out stepped a woman in a snappy dress suit. Obviously one of those lawyers that Angel talked about, she waited until she was almost in step with her, wanting to appear as if they had come in together. Angel was nervous about something which made her nervous. That of course was when the demons grabbed them. She could have fought, would have if it hadn't been the perfect opportunity. Poor helpless human, rather than Slayer would give them the few moments they needed to come up with a plan.
Angel watched as Holtz played with the weapons in their weapon's closet. `Wonder if he's figured out something wrong, yet.' He could feel Buffy now, he hadn't before which meant the powers hadn't put them back at exactly the same time. You're still human, he said.
Holtz looked up from the sword he was swinging in annoyance, what did he think he was? A vampire?
How'd you manage this? Angel asked.
So, Holtz said putting the sword back and picking up a stake. The question becomes now that I have you, what's the best way to get her.
Only dark magicks could have brought you this far, Angel said. `Yeah, and you'd do it too wouldn't you, Holtz. Anything for your wife and children, can't say that I don't understand the need.'
She was always the trickier one, not you. Darla, was the unpredictable one. `Until now,' Holtz thought, `you're not behaving the way you used to, Angelus.'
Was it a demon or something else?
What if I just kill you now, Holtz said as he placed the stake next to Angel's heart. Would she somehow sense it, would that bring her bursting through those doors, I wonder.
`She defiantly would sense that, Holtz, just not the she you expect. Hurry, Buffy, hurry.' Something come to you, or did you seek it out.
She might show herself in the surface of revenge; it can be a powerful motivator.
Yes, it can. What did you have to give up for this second chance?
Give up, I had nothing to give up you saw to that, Holtz said point the stake at Angel.
We took a lot from you that's true, but we didn't get everything. We couldn't take your soul, Angel said thinking of the noble man he had once known.
What do you know of a soul?
I know that yours will be destroyed if you allow yourself to be used in the service of evil. `That's it, Angel, think of your job and not your life.' You're a good man Holtz a righteous man and you're being used for some purpose other than justice.
Maybe you really have changed. I've never known you to plead so cravenly before.
And I remember you used to work with men. And he hit him hard.
Are you still concerned about my soul, Angelus, I've been by a priest. Angel watched as Holtz turned when of the demon's came in. Excuse me, said Holtz.
Angel wanted to shake his head, it looked like a big soul saving had been dumped in his lap, probably the hardest one he would ever have to do. You've got her, said Holtz. Good, bring her in.
Angel watched as not only Buffy was brought in, but Lilia as well. His girlfriend, his mate, gave him a sneaky look. Clever, look like a poor innocent human, that would give them an advantage. He looked straight at Buffy winked and she nodded, and hoped Lilia hadn't seen it. Lilia, he said.
This isn't her, Holtz said throwing holy water and both the ladies. Neither them are even a vampire.
Vampire, I'm an attorney, Lilia said.
Lilia, Angel said trying to get Holtz focused on her. Dead guys all over my floor, friends of yours? He watched as Holtz turned to her, and saw Buffy start to sneak toward him.
Look, if I'd know you were torturing him I wouldn't have interrupted. I'll wait until you're finished. Angel saw Buffy clench, but continue toward him, away from Holtz, this was going to take some timing.
When I'm finished he'll be dead. Holtz said and Buffy shot Holtz ice from her eyes. `Don't blow a cork, Buffy,' Angel thought.
He watched as Holtz and Lilia talked and Buffy crept closer to him, Lilia was spilling the beans on what he was. It worked out okay. He watched as Buffy froze in place as Holtz turned to him. `Don't notice that she's moved, Holtz, please.' What does she mean curse by gypsies.
Long story, Holtz, doubt you'd be interested in it. He watched as Lilia tried to get out, long enough so she wasn't here when Holtz killed him. Of course, Holtz didn't get that. He felt Buffy's arms go around him. Grenade, right? she whispered.
Right, beloved. He felt her squeeze him tighter and started to foot the grenade. Lilia.
He then pushed the grenade up and caught it with his mouth, felt Buffy help him get the pin out and throw it to the ground and then the explosion. They were flying through air and through elevator shaft. He heard Holtz in the distance, yelling, and felt Buffy's arms around him. He hadn't really felt this good in a long time, this felt right.
Search the grounds! Holtz yelled at his minions and then he turned to Lilia, he had thought that young woman human. Those men you sent they were each of them brave.
They fought to the last.
Yeah, I got that part.
But send more and I will do the same, no will have him but me.
They weren't sent here for Angel. This was meant to be a party for his, girlfriend. Well, actually should probably say ex-girlfriend, considering who that was.
You know of Darla and that young woman with him?
Tell me is, Darla, cursed as is Angelus?
No, she's free range evil.
And the young woman with him, his present girlfriend, who is she?
If I don't miss my guess, her name is Buffy Summers. She's the love of his life, and supposedly dead for six months.
And that little stunt they pulled, standard?
I've never met her, but, yes, standard.
They ran out of the hotel and toward were Angel's gang had last been seen. As soon as Angel felt they were safe he swooped her up into his arms and spun her around laughing. You're alive, he kept repeating. Buffy giggled the entire time. She hadn't felt this free in such a long time.
When he put her down and looked down at her his eyes her intense so full of longing. Yes, I am and we can be together.
Yes, we can. He then grabbed her to him and kissed her fully, enjoying the feel of her lips against him wanting lose himself in that kiss.
Buffy gently pulled him away, her eyes laughing at him. Love to do this now, Angel, but there's a baby that needs our helping coming into the world.
Right, I hope they're gone, but .
You have a feeling they may not be.
She grabbed his hand to get him moving. Let's go, this way right?
Right, he whispered watching her as they ran for the first time in a very long time he felt completed. He briefly wondered what would have happened if Willow's spell had succeed and then shut the thought from his mind, not important right now; his child was important and so was his mate.
Well, it looks they took your instructions to heart, Buffy said sarcastically.
Angel looked over Buffy's shoulder to were his friend's stood staring off in the distance. Crap, and Darla, nor the baby are with them.
Angel jumped down to join them and Buffy followed. What are we looking at? Angel asked.
Angel! Fred cried. Your back, your okay. She then noticed Buffy, oh, and you brought someone with you.
By then the entire group and turned and the next thing they heard was an Oh, my God, from Cordy.
Angel, what happened? Wesley asked.
The PTB gave Buffy and I chose, eternity together, forget ever being human or she goes back to being dead.
I take it you took the eternity, right? Cordy asked looking at Buffy dubiously.
I'm here aren't, Cordy, and they added on permanent soul to deal.
Good, that means your back together, Cordy said she couldn't keep the bitterness out of her voice.
Buffy was about to respond to that when Angel shook his head. Cordy, I know all of your opinions about Buffy and I, but could you please give us a chance?
She had no on her lips, but saw how happy Angel was, and couldn't bring herself not to try. I'll try. So, I take the PTB are the reason you're late, and did they tell anything about your son.
They did tell us something about the baby, he was conceived on the day that wasn't, he's not Darla and mine, he's Buffy's and mine.
Well that's something, and clearly important, that why you late? Gunn asked.
No, I had a surprise visitor waiting for me at Angel investigations.
Who? that was the entire gang.
Some guy name Holtz, and he and Angel have a history, Buffy said. And when I say history I mean he called Angel, Angelus.
Holtz! Cordy yelled.
The vampire hunter that you and Darla .
Through the late 1700's, yeah.
And he of course thinks that you're still Angelus, doesn't he, Angel? Buffy said.
He did until Lilia spilled the beans, Angel said.
Right, but he didn't release you, when she told him he you had a soul which generally means he's only seeing Angelus, and not you.
Guys, we're sure this isn't his great-great-great-grandson?
Yes, both Angel and Buffy said at once.
Maybe he's part of what is supposed to rain destruction upon man kind, Fred said.
Buffy looked at her weirdly and then turned to Angel. We're talking about a prophecy right?
Right, sorry didn't have time to tell you. He took her hand in his gently. Since the Troclong is supposed to be a confluence, that makes sense, Fred.
18th century vampire hunter, 21st century works for me, Buffy said.
You think he's here for the baby? Gunn asked.
I don't even think he knows about it, Angel said.
Yeah, if he hasn't been told about your soul, I somehow doubt whatever big bad brought him here mentioned our baby. Buffy said, she'd just said `their baby.'
He wouldn't have to, said Fred. That's the tragic beauty of a cosmic convergence; I mean he just plays his own small part. He comes here looking for Darla and Angel and in the process finds Angel's unborn child. Who wasn't evil as we feared, but was meant to be some Masonic figure, but Holtz kills it before it's even born. And his vengeance somehow triggers the end of the world, or not it could happen either way.
No, Fred, Buffy said slowly her stomach in her throat. Considering the trouble the PTB went to that makes total sense.
We need to find Darla before, Holtz does, Wesley said.
I can find her faster on my own, Angel said.
We can find her faster, Angel, your not going anywhere without me while that guy is out for your blood.
You guys just find some safe place for her to have this baby, we'll come to you.
Preferably somewhere that Holtz can't or won't come storming in and trash, Buffy said.
We can do that, Gunn said.
Be careful, both of you, Cordy said.
Ah, Angel, Buffy, the scrolls you didn't manage to?'
No, Buffy didn't notice them and I couldn't point out that she was anything important to me without endangering both of us, sorry.
I'm sure we'll be fine without them, Wesley said as both Angel and Buffy raced up to the roof tops.
So, that's Buffy he seems to be happy with her, Fred said.
Yeah, he is, Cordy said.
So, there back together, I mean really together?'
Yes, Fred. The entire rest of the LA gang said.
You knew, Holtz said. You knew and you didn't tell me.
Okay, the demon said. I left out one tiny-weenie little detail.
Not important! Angelus, with a soul? Holtz said. `Not to mention more interested in the state of my soul than his life, this wasn't the same demon I knew in my time.'
It doesn't mean anything.
It means everything.
See this is why I didn't mention it. So, Angel has soul, big whoop. So did an Attalla the hunt, not to mention a heart as big as all outdoors when it came to gift giving. He's still a vampire, Angel, not Attalla.
He's not the same vampire.
Of course he is his hairs a little shorter, a little spikier, he's using product, but it's the same guy.
No, he's changed, he's different.
Look I don't know what moral mind games you've been torturing yourself with, but you can't let this soul thing get in the way of what you swore to do.
Get in the way?
That is what this is about, right? You find Angel has a soul and suddenly thing are murkier ethically speaking.
Things have never been clearer, Holtz said. `If only I can totally believe that, but a part of me wants to remember something I once said about demons, something said to Angelus. Almost as if at one time I would not have done this.' Releasing Angelus' soul to suffer for all eternity only makes his destruction more just, more fitting.
Oh, then what's the problem?
You have me hunting the wrong prey.
Ah, right. Because an Angel with a soul is going to be a slightly different challenge than an Angel without a soul.
Must know everything. For example, who is this female is now with, a Buffy Summers?
Right my mistake. Did you just say Buffy Summers?
She's here in LA?
That complicates things then, considering she knows you're here. You'll have to go through her to get to him.
And there is nothing else?
No, nothing I can think of. I didn't even know that she had come back from the dead yet.
Well, we found her, Buffy said. How do you want to play this?
I'll go see if I can't talk into going wherever we're going to end up, you keep a look out for Holtz.
In other words, stay here and look for the bad guy so I can talk my ex into going with us and not blowing a gas get?
Not, completely, but something like that. He could see that it was starting to hit her, what he had done. Buffy, we did you sleep with Riley? `Not like I really want to know.'
Because he was there, and I wanted to feel love. And toward the end because I wanted to feel anything. Angel? Where is this going?
I slept with Darla because when she showed up I was so lost and so emotionally cold that I would have done anything to feel again. He looked at her for a moment and couldn't put her in the same situation; he didn't think he would have reacted the same way if he had found her there. Well, almost anything. I know I wouldn't have hurt you the way I did her, but I did and I have to take responsibility for that. Are you going to let me?
Yes, just don't get too attached to her, okay?
He gently pecked her on the lips. That, Mrs. Summers, is a promise I intend to keep.
She watched as he started to walk slowly toward Darla she stared off in other directions anywhere, but there. She didn't want to know what they were discussing, didn't want to know what Angel was saying to her. So, it was a bit of a surprise when she felt them start to move toward her. `Angel has his worried face on, which means something has happened.'
Buffy, she saw you and well considering that you'll be taking of the baby and doesn't have a soul most of the time, she has something she wants to ask both of us.
Stop right there, what do you mean most of the time?
This baby, child, has a soul and as long as it has one I have one, at least right now.
Okay, Buffy said. This was going to end badly she just knew it. Darla had a soul, but probably not permanently. She could think of only one reason for the powers to grant her a temporary soul, to ensure that the baby was born.
I want you and Angel to make sure that I don't hurt, my baby. After it's born, I mean, from me.
Of course I will.
Angel's phone went off at that moment. Yeah.
We found a place, Wesley said.
Is it safe? Angel asked.
I'm sure by the time you get here it will be safe as houses, Wesley said. Turning to look at the scene with Lorene trying to wire the security system.
They found a place, Angel?
Yes, I can feel a storm coming, we should probably get moving.
That sounds like a good idea, I'm not sure, but I don't think she's have a contraction.
Darla? Angel asked. Are you alright, contractraction? He saw Buffy give him a look out of the corner of his eye.
No, it's something else.
Buffy watched Angel's face go from worry to somewhere between panic and terror. It wasn't that he didn't believe her, he just hadn't wanted there to be something wrong and she could deal with that.
Wesley was pacing back and forth. He had promised Angel that they would be ready for him when he came here. That it would be safe, and obviously it wasn't going to be that way. Lorene was still working on the security system, and Buffy and Angel should be showing up with Darla anytime now. He shook his head as Lorene grabbed the manual from Fred's hands after another failure; he just hoped Holtz didn't find them, because they had absolutely no protection.
Wesley saw Buffy run in ahead and toward a chair as he heard Angel's voice in the distance. Just a few more steps, that's it.
He watched as Angel guided her into Caritas and into the chair. Thanks, she said to Buffy and Wesley saw the concern mirrored in Buffy's eyes and in Angel's.
He half listened to the conversation between Darla and the rest of the group as Angel and Buffy pulled him aside. She's in a lot of pain. Angel said.
How frequent are the contractions?
About an hour, maybe a little more, said Buffy and for the first time he noticed the concern on Buffy's face.
An hour, but she was well into the active stage of labor. I don't understand what about the pain she's experiencing?
It's something different, Buffy said her voice low.
Angel, what does Darla say?
That it's something different. That's the other thing ever since this storm hit Buffy's been able to perceive what is happening with the baby.
That's worrying. Buffy, what else are you sensing?
It feels like the connection is growing weaker, I don't know if that's because the baby is dieing or something else.
Just at that moment Darla screamed and he noticed the Buffy ever so slightly flinched. Angel? Darla asked as he approached.
Let's get her to my bedroom common. Lorene said as they guided Darla into his bedroom.
It's time to get to work, the demon announced.
You found him then? Holtz asked he had been staring at the fire contemplating what the demon had said to him. Until he had expected him to have moral quandaries he had, had very few, but now he did. When someone expects you to and you don't you begin to wonder why.
Don't forget what we discussed.
You'll get your money.
I've heard that one before; you know I've got mouths to feed. Family too and some of them have mouths as well.
Just tell him what you heard!
Lorene, said Cordelia's voice. What do you expect us to tell Angel and Buffy that they can't bring Darla here? That they're not welcome here?
No, course not, Caritas is and always will be a sanctuary.
He was right it was indeed time to get to work.
Angel hung back he was somewhere between hovering and going berserk, the only thing that was really keeping him grounded was Buffy's hand on his arm. She stood by keeping her feelings in check to make sure that he got through this alright, that was how it always was with them. When the other couldn't handle it their mate was there for them. `And I thought that I was bad for her, I guess I was wrong.' He watched as Wesley approached them. How's she doing? he asked.
She's tough as nails, Wesley said.
And immortal so you know health wise. Fred said.
What about the baby, he asked and felt baby gently stroke his hand.
Wesley simply walked into the another part of Caritas. What is it? Buffy asked. Wesley? She knew this behavior had seen it around her mother when she was dieing.
Considering what Buffy is feeling and Darla, I think you two need to prepare yourself for the worst.
No, Angel said.
Angel the baby's heart beat is faint, very faint.
What do we do then? Buffy asked. And don't tell me nothing, Wesley.
Buffy, Angel there may be nothing that can be done. Her body, it's not a life giving vessel I don't know if it's equipment to do what it needs to do to bring a baby to term.
What are you saying that we just let it die? Angel asked.
Ah, guys what about a C-section, Cordy asked.
Usually that's exactly what we do in this instance, but the mystical force that has been protecting the pregnancy .
Is going to end up killing it, Angel said. Buffy was strangely silent. This doesn't make sense this whole thing as been a miracle you don't just get half a miracle, do ya? The Powers have brought it this far, they've protected the baby?
You don't know that, Gunn said. Angel, I'm sorry but what if Darla is carrying is evil?
But we do know that, Buffy said. We know at the very least that this child was meant to be born, the PTB went to a lot of trouble to put our baby in Darla. The only problem is that she can't deliver.
Buffy what are you thinking? Angel asked.
Darla can't deliver this child, but you can Buffy it would explain the connection, Wesley said.
I'm sure there is a way, but I just want to point out we don't that this isn't supposed to be this way, Gunn said. This could be the thing that will dump the world into ultimate darkness. This could be them stepping up to the plate for once.
How by killing my kid? Angel asked and then he and Buffy walked toward the bedroom.
Do you have to be so damned honest, Cordy said and went to hit Gunn in the back when a spark stopped her.
What?! said Lorene. Yeh, Yeh it worked! He looked at the gloomy faces. Yeah me?
It was raining, hard, but he really didn't seem to notice all he could think about was that it was finally ending. It of course being the death of both Angelus and Darla, the death of Caroline's murders. The things that had made him kill his own daughter and had probably thought it was funny.
`Yet,' a small voice in his head said. `Are you really dispensing justice? What do you know of the soul that you are hunting?'
It was nonsense, of course, Holtz knew that, but the voice wouldn't go away. He couldn't make all of him believe that was he was doing was anything, but revenge.
Revenge, it can be a powerful motivator, he remembered saying to Angelus's ensouled version.
Yes, it can. What did you have to give up for this second chance?//
Had he given up something, something precious for his revenge? For his justice? He was beginning to wonder if he had, after all what he had faced had not acted like a demon. Not like a demon at all, but like a man. `What about Sarah, if you could have restored her soul after a year, would that soul still have gone to Hell in the end? How would you react if this was your daughter instead of what he hunted for all those years?'
He wasn't sure and after tonight he would never know. Maybe I should go in there, apologize, Gunn said as Holtz walked in.
Best to just stay here, Wesley said.
I think they need a little time alone, Cordy said.
This isn't going to end well is it? Fred asked.
Okay, Lorene said as he pointed at the bar. Everybody's drinking, I'm buying. Lorene noticed Holtz for the first time. Oh, hello.
Hello, said Holtz.
We're not open at the moment. Why don't you come back tomorrow night? It's the grand reopening, here's a flyer. He handed Holtz the flyer.
Thanks, Holtz said as he took the flyer.
Lorene went behind the bar and poured drinks and Holtz turned and left and started to sing he heard the demon start to sing along with him. Lorene's eyes suddenly got very large and he started to move away from the bar. Run! he said.
What's going on? Cordy asked.
Just run! Lorene said. As they ran to Lorene's bedroom a bomb and a grenade were dropped and went off in a blinding flash of fire and light.
Both Buffy and Angel were on their feet when they heard the bomb go off and saw the rest of the gang moving toward them. Wesley noticed they it seemed that they had both decided to support Darla and make sure that she got out. `I'm connected to this baby,' that is what she had been telling them. It now was obvious that she was. `Will anything in our lives ever be uncomplicated? Probably not.'
What's going on? Angel asked.
We're being attacked, said Wesley.
Attacked? I thought you had double protection sanctorum spells? Angel asked Lorene.
I do, but it's the thing with the door and stairs and world, Lorene said.
Apparently you can be outside and chuck stuff in, Gunn said.
I just said that, Lorene said to Gunn.
It's Holtz, Angel whispered as the others worked on getting out.
Probably, so much for hoping he would realize what having a soul might mean. Buffy clasped Angel's hand briefly. I'll go help them, you going to be alright?
Yes, Buffy, all that matters right now is getting out of this. Making sure this baby makes it into the word, don't worry about me.
I worry, it's part of being in love, she then walked toward the others.
She's dealing with this better than I could have ever expected her to. Holtz how is it possible? Darla said.
He's here I would have mentioned it before, but I didn't think it was the right time, Angel said.
No, no it's the perfect time. My God, what we did to him.
I know, Angel said it appeared she really had a soul now. He noticed out of the corner of his eye Buffy having the same look, she'd figured out the same thing he had.
That's why this is happening. His family, his children what that must have been like for him. Doesn't seem so funny now does it?
Darla he started to say.
Angel, let's go! That was Buffy they'd punched through the wall.
They raced out, Angel could feel Holtz behind them nearing them. If they didn't get away now it would too late. No, go on. I can't.
We're not leaving you here. Angel reached into his pocket and threw the keys at Wesley. Bring my car around it's out front.
I got ya, Angel said.
Go, get the car! Buffy yelled.
Angel noticed as she kneeled down beside him. You should really go with them Buffy.
I'm needed more here, besides I'm not leaving you.
You're going to be okay, Angel said to Darla.
No, I don't think so. Once he's gone I won't be okay, I won't be okay at all. I don't know what I'll be, over her Angel and Buffy exchanged nervous looks. Angel our baby is going to die right here in this alley. You died in an alley remember?
I remember, he said, he just knew something terrible was going to happen.
I want to say I'm sorry, I want to say it and mean it. But I can't. Aren't you going to tell me its okay? she asked.
No, he couldn't say that not ever.
No, it's really not is it? she said. We did so many terrible things together, so much destruction, and so much pain. We can't make up for any of it, you know that don't you?
I know, he said and met Buffy's disapproving gaze. `But we can try and somehow that's enough,' he thought and put telling her that on his today list, Buffy not Darla.
This child, Angel, it's the one good thing we ever did together, the only good thing he could hear it in her voice; he just didn't know what it was. He felt Buffy's hand gently rubbing his shoulder, giving comfort for what was to come. You make sure to tell him that, she said as she plunged a stake in her heart. Angel felt her hand disappear and then he was faced with a crying baby, his son.
He gently picked up his child, and watched as Buffy stripped of her coat and gave it to him. He recognized it now. It was his, the one he had given her so long ago. Now she gave it to their son, their son. They turned and saw Holtz with a cross bow pointed at him. The next thing Angel knew Buffy was standing between him and Holtz protecting him and the baby.
Angel watched as she approached Holtz in the way she had, had when she was younger. Before Holtz really knew what was happening the cross bow was ripped from Holtz's hand and Buffy had him on the ground, she'd punched him, he thought. How many times do I have to say this? she asked. Nobody messes with my boyfriend.
The car pulled up at that moment and they slowly began to approach it, Angel felt Holtz's eyes on him. Knew that if he turned around Holtz would be looking at him with a crossbow aimed at his back. When have you said that before? he asked Buffy.
When Spike took you, to restore Dru's strength. Buffy got her first good look at the baby. He's beautiful isn't it?
Yes, said Angel, he is.
Do it, the demon said from behind Holtz. Finish it while you still can. You can't just let them walk away, not after what you swore to me.
I swore, Holtz said, that I would show no mercy. And I won't. He said as the car pulled past them. `But what is mercy killing the soul that protects a child, or imprisoning the demon in its own body. I don't know anymore.'
As soon as they were far enough away Cordelia swung around to look at Angel. Can I see?
Yes, Angel said and gently maneuvered so Cordy could get a good look at the new arrival.
He looks just like both of you. Guess the PTB told the truth.
Guess they did, Angel said and gave Gun a stern look.
Yeah, you know me I'm always honest. Not that I didn't want you to have kid, Angel, but I was worried what that kid was going to be. Still am worried.
I know, Gunn, but it wasn't something I needed to hear right at that moment.
Angel watched Buffy as she gently held the baby to her as they drove her hair was wet and her shirt was glued to her body, she looked absolutely stunning. And that was a problem, they had a baby to take care and all he was thinking of was getting her in bed. We should probably stop by a store, get baby supplies. Angel said trying to distract himself from his mate.
Right speaking of which were are we planning on staying? Cordy asked.
For now I think the best place would the Hyperion, we know the territory, Wesley said as he noticed the looks that were passing between Buffy and Angel.
Okay, so are we all going to stay there? Cordelia asked.
Great idea let's all baby-sit while these two get reacquainted, Gunn said.
Gunn, that wasn't what we were going to ask, Angel said.
Yes, Cordy said. But you two want sometime alone and soon you're not going to have a lot, at least that's what all parents say. You're not asking we're offering, so we don't have to see you for an entire trip giving each other the looks you've been doing for the last few minutes.
Cordy, Buffy said repositioning baby on her breast. You don't have to.
Trust me we do, and I'm not doing this ever again Buffy. Unless it's paid or something. Buffy smiled at the former May Queen.
The quick stop to the minimart took longer than expected and they ended up beating the sun by barely 30 minutes. Cordy watched as Buffy and Angel walked up the stairs hand-in-hand, although she thought they looked like the wanted to run. When they were out of sight she turned to Wesley. Why else did you want them not with us?
I didn't want Mrs. Summers or Angel to be the first one to call Giles. It would probably be easier if I called with my personal assurances that this was by the PTB and not a spell.
So, basically you don't want Buffy to bear the brunt of Giles over reaction?
Yes, I'm sure he'll be glad, but there is the possibility he will be too shocked.
I've got a question that I bet those two can answer, Gunn said. How do we know the reason that the Powers were willing to do this wasn't because of a spell?
We don't, Cordy said. I guess we're just going to have to hope they'll tell us tomorrow.
Yes, quite. And Wesley went for the phone dialed Giles's number in England and waited. Mr. Giles, Wesley Windon-Pierce, I have; some news for you that will be rather startling.
I take it I need to sit down for this? Giles said.
Yes, that would be advised.
Very well, he sat down and set the Sherry he had been drinking aside. I'm sitting, now what is this news?
Because certain events that are not quite clear Angel was given a choice by the Powers.
What was that? Giles asked.
He could eventually attain his humanity or he could spend Eternity with Buffy, here on Earth.
My God, Giles whispered. Are you telling me that she's alive?
Yes, she chose Angel over Heaven as Angel chose humanity over her.
Giles rubbed his glasses with his shirt for a moment he wanted to talk to her now, but also knew the dangers of resurrection. You are sure this was done by the Powers and not by a spell.
The resurrection yes, but they have not told us why Buffy and Angel were given this choice.
Of course, Giles looked at the ceiling for a moment. Is she available now?
No, I wasn't sure your reaction, so I'm calling after they have gone to bed.
I'm taking this involved a permanent soul?
Yes, then I'll call tomorrow, less shocked. Oh Wesley, by the way.
You made the right call. I might not have reacted like I am. I'm still not sure how I'm feeling. Tomorrow then, he said.
Tomorrow then, Wesley returned and hung up. He's shell shocked, but dealing.
Okay, so you'll have Buffy call him, tomorrow right? Cordy asked.
Yes, Wesley said. He then looked at the baby Cordy was holding. He is precious, isn't he?
Yes, and we don't have anything for him, expect bottles and food, Cordy said.
So, what do you plan on doing, Cordy? Wesley asked. Go mall shopping without his parents?
No, but he needs stuff, and Angel has no idea were to get it.
Buffy will, Gunn said. She was after all, your school mate.
True and we both like the mall, so I guess we'll do that tonight.
I'll stop by Anne's see about any baby cloths she has lying around, so we can bring the kid with us, Gunn said.
Good, Wesley said again looking that the child that they had all been afraid of.
And since we have an unexpected guest and probably the rest of the Scooby Gang I think we're going to need to do something more than through a couple things together this Thanksgiving, Cordy said.
I'm not cooking, both men said at once.
Didn't think you would, neither am I for that matter. Maria Calendars makes boxes of feasts. It's decent and serves quite a few people. I'll call them.
Good idea, that way Buffy won't be running around trying to cook, Wesley said.
They practically pushed their way into Angel's bedroom, their bedroom. Neither of them able to keep their hands off each other. Buffy had expected Angel to push her onto the bed and ravish her there and then, but he stopped. Angel?
Shssss, he whispered into her ear. Close your eyes.
Okay, their closed, what's going on?
You'll know in a minute, keep them closed, she heard rustling and felt Angel come behind her and pad her hair dry. `What is he up to?' she wondered.
She felt his hand on her knee. You can open them now, he said.
When she did he was on one knee looking for the world like he was going to propose to her. Angel?
I don't have a ring, Buffy, he began. But I desperately want to marry you, in the eyes of God and our friends. Would you consent to be my wife?
Yes, she said between tears. Yes, I will marry you, but Angel you gave me a ring, an engagement ring.
She felt him scoop her up into his arms then looked at her in shock. You knew? he asked in a hushed voice.
Not immediately, but once you were gone I looked it up, and I found out. I've know what they met for a very long time, which is why I couldn't understand why you left me.
Ionuin, I left you because I believed that I couldn't give you the life that you deserved. I left you because I loved you so desperately and wanted you to live as fully as you could, I didn't understand back then that you couldn't. Didn't understand that just as my happiness was tied with you, so was yours.
Oh, Angel, that's the most beautiful thing you have ever said to me. Is that why you so desperately wanted to trade your humanity this time?
Yes, Ionuin, yes.
But you could have been normal something that you obviously think is very important, why?
For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings, that I scorn to change my state with Kings, Angel quoted.
Shakespeare, something about being an outcast in that one, Buffy said quietly.
Yes, I thought it was fitting, we both are outcasts aren't we, Buffy? Neither of us able to completely fit in and be happy expect around each other, and since when do you know poetry?
Took a poetry class, and discovered I liked the stuff. She hauled him up into her arms and kissed him soundly, and this time he did lean them back. She felt his hands go under her shirt, to caress and feel.
I want to go slow, he whispered into her ear. She felt him shaking next to her, realized that he was holding onto not throwing her down on the bed and outright ravishing her by the barest thread. Want this night to be prefect, he muttered against her as his questing hand found her breasts.
Okay, she could do slow, if it was so important to him so could do slow. Okay, slow, just make love to me, Angel.
He didn't answer her in words he answered her in actions his mouth claiming hers his hands wondering over her skin, as her hands found their way under his shirt. And nothing else was spoken for the rest of the night expect softly whispered words of love, gasps, and moans as the two finally become one for all time.
Buffy woke to the feeling of a cold body gently cocooning hers. She opened her eyes and found her Angel staring down at her. Hey, what time is it?
Don't know, 4 I think.
Which means, said Buffy, that we should be getting out of bed? She flung her legs out of bed and got up. It would have been a lot easier if her cloths that had clung to her last night were dry by this point, but they weren't. They were sopping wet in fact, just as she had been last night, and not just because of water. She knew that if she turned around she would see Angel eyeing her in the lusty way he could sometimes. Expect this time it would be unguarded, no need to worry about her being too young or curses. They're still soaked, she finally said.
Here, he said and handed her a shirt of his. It was long, even on him, but Buffy wore it more like a dress. Fred's just a couple doors down you can ask her to borrow some cloths, or maybe Cordy left some of hers here.
Buffy tired to control her jealousy to the idea of Cordelia having cloths were Angel lived; it just didn't sit very well with her. `Why would Cordy have cloths here? She finally managed to ask.
Because she refuses to look gross when she goes home after demon hunting, said Angel with laughter in his voice.
Buffy couldn't help, but laugh at that. Same old Cordelia, I see, she finally managed to say between gales of laughter.
Yes, I'll go talk to her about some cloths, he said after dressing in a hurry.
Angel hurried down stairs to see the rest of the gang holding the baby between them. His son, Buffy and his son. Hey, guys, he said and Gunn gently gave him the newborn.
He was dressed in a puffy blue suit that looked very much like a hand-me-down. Angel looked at his son for long moments, Buffy and him had discussed names briefly. It turned out that they both wanted to name him after Giles, but didn't want him stuck with the stigma of being named after someone. Well someone alive at least. So it had been decided Connor Rupert Connelly. Hello, little one, he whispered.
Angel, Cordy said. We all know that you find him fascinating, but where is Buffy?
Her cloths are still wet, she was wondering if she could borrow yours.
Great so they can get more messed up than they already are, Cordy said.
She can borrow mine, I don't mind, Fred said.
She would, Fred, but she's not as thin as you are, Angel said. Cordy, I asked you to try to deal, remember?
Yeah, yeah, right. Okay, but as long as we can go to the mall and get her stuff.
Right, you'll need to get stuff for him as well, Angel said as he looked at his son.
And you can't? Cordy asked.
I'm not sure, I mean we could go into a store and sunlight. Which if I might remind you is not good for me.
Oh, you will so not, come on, Angel a little shopping won't hurt you.
I agree with you, but after dark.
I'll go give Buffy some cloths and we'll talk about this later.
Might I remind you, Angel, that it is getting darker much earlier now, Wesley said.
I know, but this way they'll be able to get it out of their system without me in the middle.
This is the Cordy doesn't like Buffy thing? Gunn said.
Yes, I'm hoping that this allow them to discuss it before I get there.
Angel, Buffy said as he came down stairs. Are you trying to wiggle out of not going with us?
No, I want to help, he said as she came up to him. He gently steered her so she was sitting right next to him. He watched as she gently picked up Liam. I was thinking that you and Cordy could have a serious talk. Besides there's something I want to buy and I don't want Cordy hanging around as I do it.
She smiled at him then. He wanted to buy an engagement ring, but didn't want Cordy there as he did it.
Why don't I take him with us, so he can help choose what he wants, Buffy said.
He smiled at her. I think Connor would like that.
It was just about time for Angel to get out of the hotel when they had an unexpected guest. Angel had expected all kinds of things to come through. Lorene was the last thing he expected. Lorene? he said.
Lorene looked at the half clenched sword in Angel's hand and shook his head. Is this how you treat house guests?
House guests? both Gunn and Wesley said. Angel only shook his head, what was one more person. Besides he could distract Xander from harassing him.
I thought since you have managed to trash my place, twice I could crash here, Lorene said. By the way, Angel Cakes, you've got good taste.
Angel gave him a `huh' look.
Lot of guys I meet fall in love with women who are so wrong for him, she's truly your other half.
Oh, Buffy, you're talking about Buffy, Angel said. Yes, she is, isn't she? He said almost wishfully. Which is who I have to meet soon, so, I'll see everyone when I see them. And with that he left.
Well, he obviously has something else to do, Lorene said. Well, where am I staying?
Wesley and Gunn looked at each other and then shrugged.
He'd been `shopping' as they called it now for poisons. He was tired of working for demons and figured the easiest way to deal with his hired minions was to kill them. He hadn't expected to find Angelus. He hadn't expected to almost run into him in his haste. Angelus didn't notice him at all, he wanted to call it sloppy of the demon, but stopped when he noticed he was having an in depth discussion with the shop owner. The owner of a jeweler shop.
Are you sure this is what you want, sir? the clerk a bubbly short of man asked Angel.
Yes, quite sure, he almost whispered. He was looking at two Claddagh rings, and they were prefect. Not the plane things that he had bought Buffy long ago, handsome enough to be worn on a male hand, but beautiful enough to be worn by a woman. And they were just stylish enough to make someone stop and think marriage. They're prefect.
They are quite nice, sir, but wouldn't you prefer something more traditional? the clerk asked Angel. Holtz leaned closer toward the shop when he heard this. More traditional for what?
My family comes from Ireland, these are wedding rings were we come from. `Besides,' Angel thought, `I gave her a much less jeweled one, rings that came to symbolize our love. I think it's time that I give it back to her.'
Are you sure that your young lady will understand? the clerk asked.
Yes, I'm sure she will.
Very well, if you'll just wait here a few moments sir, I'll get them ready.
It took another thirty minutes for a very satisfied Angel to walk out of the store. He looked at his watch and saw that it was time to meet Buffy and Cordy. He was just about to turn into the restaurant when he felt the unmistakable feeling of someone following him. `Holtz?' he thought. `Or someone else, either way I need to loose them.' Angel dove directly into the crowd taking the longer and more crowded route. After ensuring himself that the shop keeper was fine Holtz followed him.
It was only minutes until Angelus lost him, and it was frustrating to admit that he had been seen. He was very good at stealth, but it appeared that Angelus had acquired a much bigger antenna in the years since he had slept. But he hadn't turned and challenged him, either because he hadn't known who was following him. Or because he didn't want confrontation in this indoor shopping area. Shrugging his shoulders he turned around and started toward the stop he been intending to go to. Angel watched him leave from the shadows and then headed toward the restaurant across the way.
Buffy and Cordy looked up as he approached and Buffy handed him Connor. What took you so long? Cordy asked.
I thought I felt someone following me, I had to loose them before I came here. He gently fingered the ring onto Buffy's hand as they talked. He saw her look at it and her eyes lit up. He had indeed picked the right ring.
Was it Holtz? Buffy asked.
Yes, I lost him and he's gone back to doing whatever he was doing before he saw me.
Good, Buffy said and put her head on Angel's shoulder so she could look at both him and their son. By the way, she whispered. It's the prefect wedding ring. But I would have done just fine with my old one.
You knew? he whispered back.
Looked it up, what can I say I wanted to understand you.
I love you too, Buffy, Angel whispered and laced his hand in hers. The interaction was not lost on Cordelia. She watched them as Buffy finished her dinner with Angel at her side. Something had just happened, but she couldn't figure out what.
They spent the rest of the night going from shop to shop, making sure that they had everything. And then three hours before sunrise they also stopped off at the hospital to get Connor is after birth check-up. The end result was they were exhausted when they finally returned home, an hour and a half before sunrise.
They walked in to see Wesley talking to Gunn and Giles. When Buffy realized who was there she froze for a moment, not sure what to do or say. Angel put a gentle hand on her back and guided her in. Giles, she said in a low voice.
Buffy, Wesley told me that you were alive. But seeing you like this it makes it more real somehow.
I guess it would, Buffy said.
I guess that you got on a plane as soon as Wesley called you and told you, Angel said.
Yes, I know that Thanksgiving is coming up and that it might comfort you if you had all of your friends and family here, Giles said.
For the most part, yes, I guess it would, Buffy said as she thought of Willow.
Why wouldn't it, Buffy your back I thought that you would want to get on with your life?
I am getting on with my life, and that doesn't include going back to Sunnydale, that's someone else's job now. My fate is here with Angel and this child, our child, Buffy gently grasped Angel's hand as she said that.
Buffy are you sure, I mean it is good that your back, but you've moved on past Angel, Giles said as he looked at Angel and then at Buffy.
No, I haven't, I never really had. Angel and I love each other enough to give up everything for the other. He gave up his humanity for me, not once but twice, and I gave up heaven with him. You want to know why? Because we aren't complete if the other isn't with it us, it isn't prefect if we don't have the other to share it with. The Powers That Be gave us another chance thanks to a screw up of Willows and I'm not going to waste it by taking it slow. Buffy then turned to Angel. I love him and only him, always him. Angel asked Cordy to try to accept me, can you do the same for him, Giles? she asked her head against Angel's shoulder, her eyes looking straight at Giles.
I don't appear to have a choice do I?
Not if you want to be part of my life, Giles, Buffy said.
Very well then I will try to accept him. I do have question thought you said this child is yours and that Willow somehow made all of this possible, how do you know this?
The oracles told us that Buffy was in limbo because of a spell Willow caste, Angel said. My guess it would be a resurrection spell that didn't work. When we decided to take eternity together, they told us that this child was Buffy's not someone else's, they had implanted the child in someone else's womb.
With you as the father I assume, Giles said. He could see that Angel was uncomfortable with the indenity of the suraget mother; even though from what Wesley had told him he had guessed that it was Darla.
Yes, and before you ask the suraget is dead, we never told her that this child wasn't hers, Buffy said.
How very nice of you, Buffy, Giles said.
Not really, I cam back into this world as our child was coming into it. There wasn't time to go into long explanations of how this child was mine and not hers. Buffy gently took her son from Angel and held Connor close. Besides, she said, he wouldn't be here if she hadn't believed that he was hers.
May I hold him? Giles asked.
Sure, Buffy said and gently handed her son to Giles.
He does look remarkably like you, Buffy. Have you named him yet?
Connor Rupert Connelly, Angel said.
Thank you, Giles said as he held Buffy and Angel's son in his arms. I don't know what to say.
Don't say anything, I'm honored.
Don't say anything, Giles, we both care very deeply for you and wanted him to carry your name.
Thank you anyway. I assume that Connelly is Angel's last name?
Yes, it's my family name from when I was mortal.
I do believe that he will carry it well, Giles said. He then handed Connor back to Buffy who was asking for him silently.
I think he will, too, Giles, she said. I'll go put Connor down and be right back. Buffy then turned and went upstairs.
Your son has to be hungry by this time, Angel, Wesley said.
He is, Angel said.
Then why isn't she getting one of the bottles and formula that we bought?
Because, Wesley, Cordy said. Buffy can nurse, guess the PTB thought that since she was here she might as well experience that part of motherhood.
Oh, never mind then, Wesley said as he watched Buffy disappear into Angel's bedroom.
Wolfram & Hart.
Explain to me again why that baby isn't dead? Lilia's boss said.
Because Darla sacrificed herself for her unborn child, sir. So, there was death, just not the kind that we expected.
Clearer loophole we could use some of those Niasien Scroll writers in contractions and negations.
Yes, sir. We haven't been able to verify what Buffy and Angel are saying, but considering that she is lactating .
It makes what they are telling everyone much more likely.
Find out about it, and find out who this guy is he slaughtered some of our best men.
Yes sir, they both said at the same time.
Buffy remembered once telling Angel that he was the only thing in her freaking world that made sense. That wasn't exactly true anymore. He was one of the two things in her freaking world that made sense. The other was her son, their son. Part of her wanted to be angry about him and the whole Darla thing, but she couldn't because she had been in a similar situation once. Knew what it was like to be cold and want to find anything that would make you feel normal, feel human again. The funny thing is, little man, she whispered to the baby that was now just beginning to go to sleep in her arms. That the only thing that has ever really made your father and I feel human is each other, and now you.
She felt Angel come up behind her. What happened to I'll be right back? he asked as he slipped his arms around her.
Ii just started watching him and couldn't start. I wish this moment could go on and on, Angel, just you me and him. Is that too much to ask?
I guess in a way it is Buffy, because we can't freeze time have perfection. We can only capture those moments and make them last as long as we possibly can.
Well, I want this one to last longer than it really is going to. Because you've come to tell me about some big bad, right?
No, I've come to remind that Giles is downstairs and we need to talk to him about Willow, he gently kissed her neck and watched his son sleep. He too wanted this moment to go and on. So, far since Darla died before she gave birth the big bad seems convinced that he died with her.
That's good, that means that we won't have to worry about them until at least after Thanksgiving. Angel gave her a look as she said that and then noticed her crossed fingers.
I hope too, sweetheart, now let's go down and talk to Giles.
Giles looked up as Buffy and Angel came down. His slayer was leaning on Angel and looked very content to stay that way. He was still unsure about the relationship, but considering how comfortable they were with each other he was going to give them a chance. Buffy, Angel, you mentioned something about Willow casting a resurrection spell? He asked as they sat down.
Yes, Buffy said as they approached Giles. From what the oracles told us the reason they have us the choice was that I was in limbo. I hadn't gone to the dimensions of the dead; I hadn't gone back to my body either.
Yes, I would see that, that would be problem. Why did they offer you the choice then and not decide for you?
We didn't ask, Angel said his voice low. But if I could guess it might have something to do with the fact that both Buffy and are Warriors.
Higher level of importance and a choice in the matter that makes sense, Angel. Giles said as he regarded the two.
The next question is, of course, what has Willow done?
Resurrection spells are never to be taken lightly, but considering the fact she didn't even tell you it must have been some heavy dark magicks. Wouldn't you agree, Buffy? Angel said and looked at Buffy who seemed lost.
In theory, yes, but it's just hard for me to accept that the person that become my best friend would do something like that. Willow has, was, the last person I would think of to mess with these kinds of magicks. I can't understand why she would do something like this?
Ssshs, Angel whispered into her ear as he gently held her to him. It's hard for me to reconcile the person I knew when you were in Sunnydale with the Willow Rosenberg that we have now, but dark magick can be a heady force. The powers of darkness can be addictive in whatever form, I think she may have gotten herself in too deep when she did this.
What do you mean, too deep, Angel? Buffy asked.
I've never heard of anyone uses the dark magicks that starts out there, Angel said and then looked at Giles.
I've heard of one or two, but for most it is experimentation that went horribly wrong. I'm sorry, Buffy, but Willow appears to be going down a path of no return.
Are you telling me that the person, who was once my best friend, may become my enemy?
Yes, Giles said.
Buffy looked at Angel for a moment trying to get him to say something different. Possibly, but we don't know how far in she is right now. It is possible that Willow can still back out, she may still have time.
But she might also not have time, is that what you are trying to tell me, Angel?
For long moments he didn't look at her, afraid to tell her what he must. Yes, it's always possible, he watched as she turned away. He gently turned her so she was looking him straight in the eye. But just like I believe that Holtz has a good chance of being saved, I think she does. They both have good pure souls, that more than anything gives them the best chance at not being totally sucked in by darkness.
You actually want to save that guy, why? Buffy asked her voice full of protection and surprise.
Angel almost laughed, if there was ever a constant in this world it was how protective Buffy was of him. Because I remember him as he was, a good man. Buffy, my demon took everything from him, it's not going to be easy for him accept me as anything but what I was.
You respect him, her voice was soft he almost hadn't heard her.
Yes, Angel said. I respect him. Angelus didn't, but I do. More than that he reminds me of someone I care very much for.
Please don't say that it's me, Angel, I really wouldn't like that.
No, I was thinking more of Gunn.
Gunn? The black guy, why does Holtz remind you of him?
Because just like Holtz he was killing vampires not because he wanted the fame or glory, but because it needed to be done. Gunn's old neighborhood got run over by a gang of vampires. He organized a group and managed to kill quite a few of them before I found out about the group and the vampires.
Did they hurt you? Buffy asked.
Not, really, but they didn't trust me either. They were too afraid of vampires too really be able to believe me, but they didn't kill me either. Angel gently played with Buffy's hair. Anyway the vampires turned Gunn's sister and he had to stake her. Holtz hunted Darla and I, and other vampires before us because he wanted to keep his town safe. He only became focused on us when we killed his wife and baby, and turned his daughter. Angel took a deep unneeded breath. He had to kill his own child. He has a lot of reasons to hate me, Buffy.
Doesn't make it right, wanting to kill someone because what their demon did. Angel, you had no control, you do get that don't you?
Not all the time, but more than I used to, thanks to you.
Good, so what happened to the vampires that were terrorizing Gunn's neighborhood? I scared them off, Angel saw Buffy give him a face. Some of Gunn's people would have been killed, I didn't want that.
Okay, we'll deal with Holtz and Willow somehow. What do you think Giles? she asked and then noticed her mentor had left.
He probably went to bed, Buffy, Angel said as he looked at his watch. It's almost ten and your friends are getting her, according to Cordy, around 8 or 9 at night today.
Sleep is in order then.
Yes, well as much as we can get of it, and with that said they headed off to bed.
The nighttime came too fast for Buffy and before she really knew what was happening it was seven and they had to get up. Had to at least start, because she didn't want to look like death warmed over when her friends arrived. And it was all Connor's fault, he had decided about three hours into a good nights sleep to start crying. They'd changed him, rocked him, fed him and none of it had worked. They'd only managed to get him settled down a few hours ago, and she hoped he didn't do a repeat performance for them tonight. We have to getup, don't we? she finally asked Angel who was still comfortably snuggled next to her.
If we want to be presentable, I think so. You want to shower first?
Buffy gave him a sad look and then smiled. Why not together?
Because your friends will be here at either 8 or 9, and we both need to be dressed if they are on the dot.
Right, stupid question, Buffy said. I'll go first, and then you can go.
Angel smiled and watched as she slithered out of bed and wrapped her robe around her body. It was so domestic and something he once thought he would never have.
They just made it; between getting Connor and themselves ready and fed it took nearly an hour. Witch didn't help them or Cordy, who swore they must have been doing something else, and told both of them that. Angel simply smiled at her indulgently and swiftly went to feed himself and get both Buffy and him some coffee.
The Scooby Do Gang showed up at ten minutes past eight. Angel was sitting with Buffy and felt her tense as they heard the car pull up and familiar voices, the same thing he was doing. He gently took Connor from Buffy and kept him as quite as he could, the baby knew his parents were upset and was reacting to it. Buffy! Angel heard and then a small brown haired person threw herself into Buffy's embrace. `This must be Dawn,' Angel thought as he watched Buffy return the hug.
Down, you look good, Buffy said.
You're alive! Dawn cried and hugged her sister again.
Yes, I am, Dawnie, very much alive. Buffy then looked seriously at her sister. How'd it happen, I mean you're you right?
Of course I am, Dawn. Buffy then looked at Angel who was gently holding Connor in his arms. Do you think that Angel would have me here if I wasn't a good guy?
Right, so, was I kept out of the loop or did you not tell the others as well? Dawn said still not able to let go of her sister, she hadn't even really looked at Angel yet.
Cordy, called you guys so I'm not sure. Buffy then turned to Cordy and looked at her.
I talked to her, and I don't remember anything about Buffy being back from the dead, Xander said as the rest of the gang came in. You look good Buffy.
Thanks, Xander so do you. She then looked at the whole group. So, do all of you.
So, it worked, Willow said. The spell not the way that it was supposed to but it worked. That means that you can home with us, after Thanksgiving and start over.
No, it didn't work the way it was supposed to and I'm not coming home.
What? this was from the entire group expect Giles who had already heard the explanation.
Cordy didn't tell you that the Powers gave Angel and I choice. I could either go back to Heaven, or I could spend an eternity with him and they would bind his soul.
I guess you chose Angel, Xander said and for the first time really registered the vampire.
Yes, I did.
And the entire room erupted. Buffy let them scream and yell as she sat down next to Angel and her son. It finally quieted, and by that time Dawn was also sitting next to Buffy. You all done?
Buffy he left you, Willow said.
Yes, because he didn't believe he was good enough for me, and also because he wanted me so desperately. Angel left me and a part of me died inside and it seems that my friends didn't notice that.
Buffy, we noticed that. We've noticed that every time you're together only bad stuff happens, Xander said and gave Angel a look. I'm not the same jealous boy that didn't tell you about him being recursed. You love him and he says he loves you, but I don't see evidence of that.
You don't see evidence of that? Buffy asked. What about the fact that he left the only person that really made him happy, made him feel normal? Or how about the fact he put himself in danger so many times to save me? But you want to know what the real kicker is, Xander? He became human for a day, and because he was told that I wouldn't live as long if he stayed that way he allowed the Powers to swallow that day. He gave him humanity up for me. He gave up a wonderful day, being the only one who would remember it so that I could live. And you say that he doesn't love me. Well he does, he just tends to be over protective sometimes.
Sorry, Buffy, its how I feel, Xander said.
I know that, it's wrong. What I'm asking of all of you is that you don't judge him that you give him chance. Is that too much too ask?
As long as he doesn't hurt you, Buffy, I'm cool, Dawn said.
What about the rest of you?
After a variety of grumbles, and foul looks at Angel she was able to get the same promise from the rest of the group.
What I want to know is w-who's this? Tara asked pointing to Connor.
According to the Powers, Angel said. He's Buffy's and my son, although he was carried to term by another woman.
Who's the birth mother then? Xander asked.
That, Xander, is personal and not to mention uncomfortable information and you won't find out about unless we have to tell you, Buffy said as she looked down at her son.
She's not going to come for him is she? Xander asked.
No, she's dead, Buffy gently held Connor to her. Besides the Powers gave me the ability to nurse him.
Okay, Willow said as she knelt down to look at Connor. What's his name?
Connor, Angel said. His name is Connor.
It seemed that the name suddenly changed the focus and suddenly Connor was being looked at and touched by several different adults. It was so normal, just another baby being accepted into a group.
I look presentable, right? Buffy asked Angel who was sitting next to her.
You look fine, Buffy, why wouldn't you?
She pulled her hair gently and then looked at him. Because I've had a stressful day, because Cordy and I did some putting stuff in the oven. I don't know? I'm nervous Angel.
I though that the worst was over, he said as Buffy straightened out her hair and turn around a few times. They came, had problems with us together all we have to know is sit down to a meal.
No, what we have to do now is sit down to a Thanksgiving meal, which takes hours. We have to talk to them about stuff, and important stuff will of course come up.
He gently walked up behind her. And it's going to be the first one without your mother, right?
Right, that as well. I've always wanted the prefect holiday, Angel, and I know that it's not going to happen this year.
He gently held her in his arms for a moment. Tell you what; we don't invite them over for Christmas. We do something small, you know maybe just the three of us, no guests no craziness?
That sounds nice, but I think that your friends would like to do something with you, wouldn't they?
Then we'll do something, just not on Christmas day.
I'll think about it, she said and put her head against his chest for a moment. Let's go down stairs and deal with our guests, hmmm.
Okay, he then gently took her hand for a moment. He reached over took Connor in his arms and they headed down stairs.
It only took another 15 minutes for everyone to be settled into their seats and the meal to be served. I want to know whose idea this was. Xander said.
Cordy's, Angel said. Buffy and I were so busy with each other and the new baby that we completely forgot about Thanksgiving.
You did I mean you have a lot to be thankful for this year, Buffy. Willow said and watched her friends stop for a moment.
I guess from one perspective I do, Willow.
What other kind of perspective is there? Xander asked.
The one that says that I was in Heaven and happy, Buffy said.
I thought you don't remember Heaven, Cordy said.
She doesn't, but it doesn't stop the sense that you were somewhere, were you were happy, Angel said.
And how exactly do you know this? Xander asked Angel.
Xander, no, you are not going to start a fight with Angel today, is that clear? Buffy said and gently took Angel's hand. She knew how he would know. His soul had, had to go somewhere before the gypsy's forced it back in his body. That is from the time before you were cursed, right? Buffy whispered to Angel.
Right, I wouldn't leave that last time, he gently touched her face. I couldn't.
Well I've got something to be thankful for, Cordy said. Connor is alive and the Big Bad hasn't figured that out yet.
Buffy smiled at Cordy. Right and even thought I'm not in Heaven Angel has a permanent soul and we have real chance at life.
Glory's dead, Xander said he didn't want to open his mouth any more.
We're all in one piece, Gunn said. That's always something to be thankful for when you hunt demons.
Right and that Holtz guy seems to be leaving us alone. Right, Angel?
Angel nodded and brought is glass up in a toast. He wasn't going to ay what he was thankful for. `The Scooby Do Gang jumped off a magickical cliff and survived,' he thought. He looked over a saw Buffy smiling at him; she had sensed his thoughts and agreed with him.
So, Giles said. Who is this Holtz?
A very good vampire hunter who tracked Darla and me through the late 1700s, Angel took bite off the plate he had been served, taking the time to think of what to say next. He someone got transported to into our time.
And I thought stuff like that only happened in Sunnyhell, Xander said.
It happens here too, Harris, Cordelia said. Maybe it has something to do with city demons wanting to be close to the Hellmouth and live in city.
So, you guys get civilized freaky is that why you set up an detective agency, Dead Boy? Xander asked trying to get a rise out of Angel.
No, I did it because Cordy said I needed to make money, he said ignoring Xander's jab at him.
Making money is good, it lets you buy things. Anya said with her usual tactlessness.
It also keep a roof over your head and allows you to buy important things like food, Cordy said. When Angel and I ran into each other I barely had either of those. So, I figured that he might as well make money while saving people, I didn't think that it was too much to ask.
Typical Queen C, always thinking of her needs, Xander said.
At least I don't do things that would put myself not to mention potentially destroy the person I was doing them to.
I have never done anything like that!
And what do you call a resurrection spell or did Willow forget to mention that most end in disaster for both the resurrected and the resurrectors.
Now that's not fair, we were only trying to help Buffy!
At that point Buffy interceded. Cordy, Xander, could one of you hand me the stuffing please?
Sure, Cordy grabbed it and handed it to Xander.
So, who's running the Magic Box now that Giles has moved back to England? Buffy asked.
I gave it to Anya. She was the most interested of the remaining group.
Going well, making lost of money? Buffy asked.
Yes, we have made a very good profit this year.
That's good. Speaking of making money, I bet Maria Calendars makes a bundle every year with these boxes, Buffy said.
So, Dawn, how are you doing in school this year? Angel asked.
Good, she said and then continued to look at her plate. She really didn't want to tell her sister what she had done less than a month ago.
Better or worse than me, Dawnie? Buffy asked her sister sense in full swing.
Better, I got A's and B's on midsemster report.
Buffy nodded and then reached for the potatoes. That was when Anya saw the ring. That is a beautiful ring; did Angel buy it for you?
Buffy nodded and then smiled at Anya. Yes, he did.
So, I guess this means that we'll be planning for two weddings then? Tara asked.
Yes, we're engaged, and then Buffy turned and looked at Xander and Anya. Xander?
I proposed to her right before we went to whip Glory's ass.
Xander, Buffy covered her mouth her for a moment and then smiled at her friend. That's great.
Yeah, it is, isn't it?
I never thought that I would be the one of the first in our group to get married. Always figured it would be you and Angel, and Willow and Oz, he said.
So did I, Buffy whispered. Buffy then reached down and grabbed Angel's hand. Well at least we were both half right, looks like we have two weddings to plan then.
Holtz watched from outside of the hotel as the group laughed and talked through dinner. One of Caroline's murderers was enjoying himself; his soul was able to deal with what it had done. Yes, he was sure that when he did finally kill Angelus the soul would be going to Hell. After all what kind of soul could find any happiness after the atrocities it had done?
They piled all the dishes in the sink and most of the rest of the group headed out for a night on the town. Gunn, you could take the rest of the food to your gang, Angel said quietly.
If they'll even see me, he said.
They still what happened as a betrayal, don't they?
Yeah, which is why I spent Thanksgiving here instead of with my old mates.
That and Cordy, I saw you just about ready to pull out Xander's throat when they started fighting.
I could tell you that, that is none of your business but it would be a lie, wouldn't it?
Not really, it's your personal life and we all should be able to have one of those. Angel ran his hands through his hair. That being said, you can't wait forever Gunn.
Your right, see you tomorrow, man. He then walked out the door.
See you tomorrow, Angel said.
He found Buffy gently rocking Connor to sleep next to her breast. She looked up as he entered. Everyone gone?
Yes, it's just you and me now. He gently came and sat down next to her. How are you doing, Buffy?
Well as Thanksgivings go it could have gone better, but it could have gone a lot worse as well.
Thanks for eating. It made dealing with everyone a lot easier.
You're welcome, Angel gently kissed her on the lips. Besides there were times I could swear that I tasted something in the food today, weird.
Maybe it has something to do with your bound soul?
Maybe, Angel said. I couldn't believe Xander and Cordelia going at each other's throats.
Neither could I, Cordelia's matured so much since she left Sunnydale.
So, has Xander. Buffy stopped and stroked Connors back as she thought. Maybe they bring out the worse in each other?
That's possible. Angel stopped for a moment and then scooted closer to Buffy. You know what's really amazing?
That we are going to be planning our wedding when Xander is planning his.
Yeah, it really is. I never thought he and Anya would last, they used to fight all the time.
I never thought Xander would be interested in an ex-demon, considering how he treated me. Apparently is still committed to treating me.
Its leftover jealousy, I hope that's all it is. Because I really don't want him to hate you just because.
He thinks he has a very good reason to hate me, they all do, Angel whispered into her hair.
That' the part that I don't get, why do they hate you so much?
Angel had to blink several times. He was always surprised when she didn't understand. He always wondered how she couldn't. Initially because of Angelus, he whispered. Then because I broke your heart.
But, they helped me bring you back. Why would they hate you because of what he did?
Because, unlike you, they couldn't make themselves see the difference.
Buffy looked at him for a long hard moment, almost as if she hadn't quite heard him. Am I really the only one who sees the difference?
I think Cordy does, Angel said.
And the rest?
Angel gently put his hand on her face. You tell me, they're your friends.
I want to believe that they look at you and see Angel and not Angelus, but I don't know that anymore. I know they're uncomfortable around you, but I can't believe that all they see is the demon inside of you. She stopped for a moment looked at Connor and then looked at Angel. Why are we discussing this?
Because we talked about Xander, I guess it's something we need to think about.
Well, I don't want to have this discussion. You know what I really want is to already be your wife, and not have to deal with whatever they try to pull us apart.
I thought you wanted a big wedding? Angel asked his voice soft.
I do, but I want more to be your wife, to have forever.
He leaned over and gently kissed her lips. Not a bad idea, but I think they'd never forgive either of us.
Buffy smiled back at him. Angel can I ask you a question?
Yes? his voice was soft sensing how uncomfortable she was.
I know that you love me, but the sex compared to the others, how am I?
Angel wanted to laugh, but stopped his demon and said some pretty damaging things and it looked like she was finally ready to have those repaired. Nothing compares to it Buffy, you gave me a moment of prefect happiness, that has never happened with anyone else. He gently took her hand and placed it on his cheek. There is no comparison, with all the others it was just sex, just about the physical release. With you it was an expression of love, I made love to you. I'd never done that with anyone else, and haven't since.
She wanted to leap into his arms. She settled for reaching up and holding him over her. They gently kissed Connor between them, it wasn't full of passion, but it was very full of love. It's the same for me. There has never been anyone else who made me feel the way you do.
He gently rubbed her face his eyes gazing into hers they stayed that way for what seemed like hours, but was actually more like minutes. Just loosing themselves in each others eyes.
He watched them through the window. He hadn't wanted to believe that a human woman could love a demon. That she could be so corrupted by the demon to truly and fully love him, but it appeared to be exactly what had happened. Angelus had everything it appeared that he had taken from him, and so that is exactly what he would loose. He would have his vengeance and Angelus would suffer the way he had suffered, until he begged for death. And then, only then would he have his revenge. `But you started out seeking justice, didn't you?' a small voice inside him asked. `What does this have to do with justice?' It had everything because when he was through one the worst vampires to ever exist would be gone. Holtz watched on as the couple gently put the baby to sleep and then pulled the curtains.
It was the afternoon by the time the Hyperion started to stir, but stir it did. By the time Angel and Buffy came down everything was in full swing. Which included a rather loud debate between Gunn and Xander. They were looking at each other and deciding what to do when Lorene saw them. Angel Cakes, you look well rested.
Not completely, we're doing feedings and changing's all night. But we had a decent night's sleep. I didn't see you yesterday.
You know human holiday and all that, besides the idea of sitting through a meal with certain individuals at the same table didn't seem like a fun idea.
Noticed how much Xander and I like each other, didn't you?
Yes, and as you can see he and Gunn hit off really well. So, I'm wondering there's been this noise that's bothering me, you don't have fluorescents do you?
No, I don't mix well with them.
I don't care if she's like that now; she was a complete and utter pain in the ass when we went to school! Xander shouted having lost his temper with Gunn.
Gee, Cordy, I think they're talking about you, Angel said when Xander shouted that.
Yes, that's just what I wanted to hear first thing in the morning too, Harris. Cordy said giving him a prefect Queen-C voice. And for the record you weren't Mr. Perfect either when we where in High School.
I wasn't nearly as bad as you were, Cordelia.
No, you were worse, I didn't needle Angel every chance I got or not tell Buffy something every important.
That's enough, everyone. We're all going to have to deal with each other, and because of that bringing up past deeds isn't helping anyone. So, can we all act like the grown-ups we are now, please? Buffy said.
A good deal of grumbling ensued, but they eventually managed to get everyone to agree to behave around each other. Willow, can you come with Angel and I for a moment? Buffy asked.
Willow nodded and they went into the other room. As soon as they other door closed she turned to face both Angel and Buffy. What's going on?
I want to make sure that my best friend realizes what she did was incredibly dangerous and stupid, Buffy said.
How, I knew what I was doing, and look we managed to succeed.
No, Willow, you didn't, Angel said. You managed to boggle the whole thing, you put her in limbo. You messed up enough that the Powers had to intercede.
But, I, Angel, nothing bad happened, she said.
Yes, it did, but something worse could have happened. Don't you see Willow what you did could have been worse, you could have brought her back with all her memories of Heaven.
Would that really have been, so bad?
Yes, it would have, Giles said. He had come in to tell them something. Please don't ask us Willow to congratulate you on falling off a cliff and surviving.
But, we were just trying to help. I don't see what could be so wrong.
Well, you're the only one then, Buffy said. My God, Willow, you've experienced the bad use of magic, you know that most who could and would do something like this are not nice people.
But it was only for once, just to help you Buffy, she said.
Was it? Tara asked.
What do you mean Tara? Willow asked facing her friend.
Was it really only for once, because what I hear it doesn't sound that way.
And what's wrong with that, I have this ability. Why shouldn't I use it to help people?
But are you really helping people, is that the only reason that you're doing this?
The other slowly walked out of the room leaving the two to their conversation. What other reason could their be?
That's what I want to know, I want to know why you're taking the risks you are? You really thought that I wouldn't notice that I wouldn't see the path that you are treading?
Tara, it's not that I don't understand what you are saying, but we can do these amazing things. Why should we only use them sometimes? Why not all the time, why do we have to pretend not to be able to do them?
Willow, you can't do this. You can't keep manipulating people, making decisions for people that shouldn't be made. Don't you see how close to the edge you are?
No, I don't! All I see is that you are holding me back, are you afraid of me, Tara?
No, I'm afraid for you.
Afraid for me? That's rich, you're not afraid for me your jealous of me!
No, I'm not Willow, but obviously you don't see that. We're over. I can't keep you from doing what you are going to do.
Fine I'll go find someone who appreciates me, and with that Willow ran out of the room and the hotel.
Xander watched her go and then turned to Tara. What just happened?
She wouldn't listen to me, she won't stop using magick. I don't even know if she sees what she's doing as hurting people.
Tara stared off into space for several minutes until Angel guided her into a chair. You called her on it?
Yes, she said I was jealous of her. I couldn't get through to her, I broke it off. She said she was going to go find who appreciates her.
Translation someone who will allow her to use magick indiscriminately, great. Buffy said and then turned to Angel. What are we going to do?
I don't think there is anything that can be done, at least by us. Buffy we have to let her make her own mistakes, no matter how bad they are.
We can't just sit back and do nothing, Angel, she's my best friend!
You can't force an addict to seek help, we did all we can the rest is going to be up to Willow.
Oh God, she whispered, Can this get any worse? Angel gently pulled her to him.
I'm afraid it can, Buffy, Giles said. There is a large group of demons outside. It appears that the news is out that your son is very much alive.
Oh, that's great, Buffy said as Angel held her. How many?
We don't know yet, Wesley said. We've started a list. It is already very long I'm afraid.
12 hours later
Buffy drove the car slowly up to Cordelia's apartment, it was hard to believe that so much could happen in just 12 hours. They had found out about the demons, they had all known that the Big Bad was going to come after Connor as soon as it was discovered he was alive. She had been hoping for later, but knew that it probably wouldn't happen that way. She knew that Connor was likely to be found out soon, and so they had in secret through the use of messages found a way to thin the crowd and fool the evil law firm.
/ He's just a little baby, and so many people want him, how is he going to have a normal life? she remembered asking Angel.
Because we are going to make him one, we're going to ensure that he has one. Buffy, this isn't going to be easy, but we are going to be able to do it. We have to. Angel had said as they held Connor between them. /
And they had as the numbers of groups that kept piling up, some with magical power, some without all interested in their son it had become clear that they needed a way to get rid of a lot of them. And through the use of a note, and a janitors closet Lorene had formulated a plan. The plan had involved quite a bit of acting on everyone's part. Basically she and Angel had to act as if they were going to run while the Scoobies supported them and the LA gang got upset about it. They had to convince Wolfram and Hart they were tucking tail and running and the only way to do that was for the LA gang to be upset about it.
And it had worked not only had she and Angel been followed into the Mavajo Desert by Wolfram and Hart, but by almost every other group that had been camped out on their doorstep. The only problem was, because some had been in the Hyperion she wasn't sure how many actually died in the blast. They hadn't run with Connor, they'd left him behind to be taken care of by their friends; they had gone with a bomb. `So, the herds thinned, but it still hasn't dealt with everyone, there will be others.' She then walked up to Cordy's and knocked on her apartment door. Cordy answered immediately with a slightly worried face, but Connor was in her arms. Hi, Cordy, everything go okay? Buffy asked.
Yes, no one was harmed and they bought the you and Angel turning tail and running thing, she handed to Connor to Buffy as she entered the apartment. Where's Angel?
He went to make sure that Wolfram and Hart know that if they any harm comes to Connor they are going to suffer the consequences.
Cordy watched as Buffy sat down and held Connor to her. Even if they aren't responsible?
Yes, we figured it would keep the Big Bad off our backs for a couple of weeks at least. Buffy looked around then, and for the first time noticed that Dawn was missing. Where's Dawn?
She was really jealous of how much attention you've been giving Angel and Connor, remember Giles had talk with her earlier today.
Yes, and I was going to have another one with her when we dealt with the immediate problem, why?
We don't know were she is Buffy, she slipped out sometime during the chaos.
And the others are out looking for her? Buffy asked.
Right, Buffy, don't worry they'll find her.
She's my sister, Cordy. I'm supposed to worry about her. Jus then there was a knock at the door and Cordy went to answer it.
Angel took one look at Buffy and knew that something was wrong. He gently walked over to her were she was standing into the apartment and guided her to the coach. What's wrong?
Dawn is missing, she said her voice scared.
Angel held her to him and noticed as Dennis gently placed a blanket over her shoulders. He mouthed `thank you' in the general direction that blanket had come from. The others are out looking for her Buffy; the best thing we can do is wait and see if she comes back.
I'm scared. She's alone and in danger out there. She wiped her eyes of the tears that had leaked out of them. God, now I know how Mom felt every time I went out to slay.
Except in your case you didn't have a choice, Dawn does.
Right, which is why I'm going to do something serious to her when she gets home.
Angel gently kissed Buffy on the head and gazed down at his son, who was looking worriedly at Buffy. He sensed his parents' distress and didn't know what to do about it.
He watched the young man fight, he was trained and talented, he perfect warrior. Expect for one thing, he was drunk. His name was Riley Finn and after much what Sarjan called hacking he had found out he had once been a demon hunter. He couldn't find out what had made this once proud warrior into a mess, but he was determined to fix it. Holtz watched as Riley was knocked down by a vampire, he quickly staked and then saw Riley looking up at him with a mixture of wariness and interest. Well, isn't it the guy from this afternoon, what do you want?
I want to help you, Holtz said watching the young man as he got to his feet. You used to be a great demon hunter, you can be that again.
What are you going to do turn back the clock and make the things that went wrong with my life not go wrong?
No, but I can give you a new purpose. You're good at what you do, but you've lost your way. Instead of practicing you drink all day and then go out and hunt vampires. Perhaps you are hoping that one will kill you?
And what if I am, what business is it of yours?
It would be waste if you threw all that away just because of some bad luck in your life. I can give you purpose, give you a reason to live.
And for this you want what? You obviously don't really need my help.
I need you to help me kill a powerful vampire, Holtz said.
You know I get involved with a group that wasn't government sponsored; who were saving the world and that is when my world blew apart, what makes you different?
All I want is for you to be a warrior, and nothing else. Obviously whoever you worked for before wanted you to be something else.
So, what are you some Jedi Master for demon hunters? Riley asked. Holtz only stared at him blankly. You know Star Wars, Ben Kenobi teaching Luke Skywalker about the force, right?
No, you will find that your popular culture references will be lost on me, Holtz said.
Riley shrugged. Not really important. You want to teach me so I can help you kill the vampire that you can't by yourself, right?
Yes, Holtz said.
Sounds fine to me, I've got nothing better to do with my life.
It was several hours later when Riley left the restaurant that he and Holtz had used to talk. They were planning to meet tomorrow around ten after both of them had gotten some shut eye. He turned the corner and ran right into Dawn Summers. Dawn Summers what are you doing here? he asked.
She gave him a surprised, but guilty look. Riley, it's good to see you! she said.
Good to see you, too, kid. Now, what are you doing here?
Waiting for Buffy? she tired.
Riley unfortunately heard the question in her voice. Try again, Dawn.
Okay, she isn't paying attention to me, so, I left.
And ran all the way to LA?
No, we're staying at Angel's.
`Great, just who I want to deal with today, the vampire with a soul,' Riley thought. He had, had time to do a lot of self-reflection, and had realized that Buffy hadn't been under any thrall with Angel. It hadn't been about him biting her, or him being a vampire, she couldn't give him what he wanted for one very human reason. She'd already given her heart to Angel, and he had given his to her. Part of the reason he had gone to the bottle, he hadn't wanted to admit what an idiot he had been, that and the humiliation of what he had allowed the vampire whores do. So, why don't you show me where Angel's place is, he said.
Their not there right now, too many demons know where it is, Dawn said.
Where are they Dawn?
Cordelia's, Dawn said in a hushed voice.
Well, then we're going to Cordelia's and you are going to give me accurate directions.
But, Riley .. she started to say and then noticed his face.
You've given your sister a big scare tonight, and put yourself in danger enough is enough, Dawn.
Riley took a deep breath and then knocked on the door. This was the last thing he really wanted to be doing right now. The door opened instantly and there was Angel standing in the doorway. Riley, he said his voice strained but polite. He then looked down saw Dawn. Thank you; we've been looking every where for her.
You're welcome. I found her in the bad part of town, didn't think Buffy would let her wonder down there alone, at night.
No, she wouldn't. he then turned to Dawn who was looking at the ground trying not to look at Angel. Dawn, get inside right now.
But she began and stopped and then slucked into the house.
So, I take it you and Buffy are back together again. Didn't take you long to fill up my place did it? he said. `Great, Finn, that didn't sound jealous at all.'
Yes, we are back together, and no I'm not taking your place, and you know it.
Riley was about to respond to that, apologize in someway when Buffy came between them. Angel could you deal with Dawn, call the others and tell them she's found?
Angel took another look at Riley and then nodded. You want some privacy?
No, this shouldn't take long, she watched as he nodded and headed toward the bedroom.
Thanks for helping find Dawn, Buffy said.
I didn't really, just bumped into her.
Yes, but thanks anyway. That being said, what you said to Angel, Riley you had no right.
I'm more removed I know it lacked tack, but it still hurts, Buffy.
You're the one left, Riley, and not because you were selfless, believing that I deserved a better life. You left because I wasn't paying attention to you, I gave you all I had left to give, and I'm sorry that it wasn't enough. But you betrayed me in the worst possible way, and then you gave me an ultimatum and left when my mother was dieing.
But it wasn't enough Buffy; you didn't give me your heart. You couldn't, could you?
No, because it already belonged to someone else. I thought I could take it back, force myself to love another, but I'm one of those people who only truly loves once.
And that one person was Angel, and are you Buffy the only one he has every loved?
Yes, we're alike in that respect.
At there's that, but Buffy are you sure this is a good idea. The curse, it would be so easy for him to have a moment of happiness.
I don't owe you an explanation, she turned when a baby started to cry. Buffy went to pick it up.
Is the baby mine?
No, he's Angel's, she said.
And yours he looks very much like you, Buffy, he said and watched her pale.
The world doesn't know that part, they think his mother is dead.
And the everybody's after him, he's a very special baby, isn't he?
Yes, Riley, you can't tell the government about him, not anyone. Please, you have to pretend that you don't know who his true parents are.
Then I need insurance that Angel won't become Angelus, Riley said.
His soul is permanent, she said.
I promise that all the government will know about him is what is on his birth certificate. I'll keep your secret safe. And then he walked out the door.
She turned to Angel who gently placed Connor in his crib and sat down with her in his arms, in his lap. And that was what I wanted you to have when I left you, he whispered.
You do realize how idiotic that was, right?
Yes, Buffy, I do.
Besides, Buffy said, by some miracle we have normal.
Yes, now all we have to do is work to keep it.
Holtz nearly jumped Riley when he walked out the building. You do realize that a human servant of the vampire I need help killing lives there?
No, I didn't because you haven't been kind enough to tell me who you want to kill. Holtz, I was simply returning the kid sister to a woman I was once in love with.
Still are in love with, Holtz said. Is she why you self destructed?
Yes, I wanted her to love me, but she couldn't she already loved another. Riley paused for a moment. Can I ask who this vampire is?
His name is Angelus, and Holtz watched as Riley paled.
We need to have a talk, Riley said.
It was several hours later and two strong beers when Riley finally finished his story. Holtz paused for a moment waiting. And you fell in love with her anyway?
I didn't know at the time, and she didn't talk about him. I only got most of the details recently, and from her friends. Riley swirled the glass in his hand for several minutes and then looked up. I didn't find out till later the whole story. Realize how much they love each other.
Love makes you do many things you would not do. But the Angelus I knew would never understand that is he really that different?
Yes, apparently when a vampire is crossed the soul escapes. No one really knows what happens. Perhaps who happens to all dead souls, it is judged sent to either Heaven or Hell. But in Angel's case his soul was yanked back, put into a body possessed by a demon that had done terrible things in his absence.
And the soul feels the need to atone for what happened, and is easily convinced that he is no good for the woman that he loves.
Yeah, you have to admit keeping a demon alive but imprisoned in its own body is great revenge, Riley said.
While making the soul atones for evil, yes, it is perfect revenge. It is merciless, Holtz said. I promised when I was brought to this time to show Angelus no mercy, and I won't. I just won't do it the way the demon wants me to; I will show Angelus no mercy by forcing him to continue to live the life of a hero. I will show Angel mercy thought, thank you Mr. Finn.
You're welcome, Riley said and they both turned to look at the city.
You've thought me something tonight, Holtz; you don't have to work for a big organization to be a hero. It's time I found my place in this world and that doesn't include feeling sorry for myself.
Epilogue: 2 weeks later.
I still think that you should have waited a little while, Dawn said as she watched her sister nervously play her hair. Make sure this is what you want.
I've been waiting to marry him for almost six years Dawn, I've had enough waiting.
So, what do you think? Buffy asked.
I think Angel isn't going to be able to pay attention to the ceremony, he's going to be looking at you. You look great, Buffy, Dawn said.
Just then there was a knock at the door and Giles entered, it was time. The sky was beautiful and there was a full moon over head as Giles handed Buffy to Angel. It seemed as to everyone as if Buffy's hair glowed with moonlight.
Dearly beloved we are gathered here today .. began the priest.
Neither of the couple heard the rest of what the priest said, they were so focused on each other. Angel noticed how today especially Buffy looked like an angel come down from heaven, beautiful and pure. Buffy noticed how her Angel looked more handsome than he ever had.
They both remembered putting rings on each others fingers, the same rings Angel had bought.
It was only the last part that snapped them out of their mutual gazing. Do you Angel Connelly take Buffy Anne Summers as your wife to love, honor and obey till death do you part? asked the priest.
I do, whispered Angel.
And do you Buffy Anne Summers take Angel Connelly as your husband to love, honor, and obey till death do you part?
I do, Buffy whispered.
Then by the power vested in me by God and the State of California I pronounce you man in wife. He then turned to Angel. You may kiss the bride.
There was a loud cheer from the small group gathered around them as Angel and Buffy's lips locked in a kiss that seemed to go on forever. No one noticed the young woman in the back walk away; Willow had come for the ceremony, but didn't believe that she would be welcomed if noticed. `Have a good life, Buffy and Angel' she silently thought.
And it was a wonderful celebration full of laughter and cheers, but under ninth it was sense of sadness for everyone. They knew that Buffy and Angel were going to Europe and wouldn't be returning for at least three years. Enough time for the world to forget about Connor, they hoped. Yet with all that it seemed more a celebration of life. No one noticed when Buffy, Angel and Connor slipped away somehow goodbye would seem final and this wasn't supposed to be final.
It was several hours after the wedding with Willow sitting at a café when she was approached by a man. Mrs. Rosenberg, right? he asked.
Yes, Willow said. Who wants to know?
My name is Holtz, I know that you were a friend of Buffy Summers and know Angel could you answer a couple of questions?
She looked straight at him. So, you can kill them?
No, I simply want to know how a human woman sworn to kill vampires could fall in love with them.
That's easy, they both are outcasts expect around each other. They never really had to hide their strength from one another. Both are warrior for the powers of good. I guess they didn't feel like outcasts around each other, Willow said.
Or were able to accept being an outcast as long as the other was there to bear it with them, perhaps?
Yes, I guess you could say that, Willow said.
It was funny once that was said, both realized exactly what they had given on up when they took the path they did. The ability to have a place in the world, to not be an outcast.
At the harbor there was a cruise to Europe leaving on board were a newly married couple and their young son Connor. No one really noticed anything odd about them expect they liked the night, they seemed to be just a normal couple. Their names were Buffy and Angel and all that most had to say about them was that they were nice and very much in love.
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