DISCLAIMER: I own none of the BtVS or AtS characters, as they are the property of Joss Whedon et al.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: Looks like I didn't quite make it to five chapters… sorry, but I've been really busy writing on my novel, and the response had dropped off a bit (about eight reviewers dropped off the face of the planet), but I'm doing what I can.  Hope you guys enjoy this chapter, and look for Thine Own Self next Sunday.

The Luck of the Irish: Chapter Four

            Maddy looked around.  Colette was standing next to her, and the two of them were standing in the middle of some kind of golden cave.  She looked over her shoulder and saw Connor standing as well.

            "Hi-hi!" a voice said from the entryway of the cave.  They all turned to face Hopie, still wearing her water wings, and looking very satisfied with herself.

            "Hopie," Connor said, rushing over to the little girl and picking her up.  "You're all right."

            Hopie laid her hand on her brother's cheek.  "I'm fine, My Connor," she said.  "I've just been playing with my leprechauns."

            "Your what?" Colette asked, her voice shaky, still not sure of where they were or why they were there.

            Spelke poked his head in the door.  "This is Spelke," Hopie said.  She wiggled to get down out of Connor's arms.  "Come meet everyone else," she told them, pulling his arm as she ran toward the other leprechauns.  Maddy and Colette followed.

            "This is Val and Clarence and Wynn," Hopie told them.

            "Baaaaaaaaaaaaa," several sheep said from the distance.

            "And that's Nunzio and Angelique and some other sheep I don't know," Hopie said.

            "Oh, that's Mary Sue-Bob," Clarence said, indicating the baby sheep.  "She's just a wee little sheep, she is."

            "That's the youngest Mary Sue I've ever seen," Maddy commented, not sure where the comment had come from.

            "Is it me," Colette whispered, "or does that sheep look a little constipated?" She pointed toward Angelique.

            "Actually," Connor said, "it looks kind of broody."

            "Didn't you say her name was Angelique?" Maddy asked.  All of the leprechauns nodded.

            Another sheep came and stood by Angelique: a bit too thin sheep with a similar broody expression in dire need of a haircut.

            "What's that sheep's name?" Connor asked curiously.

            The leprechauns changed the subject.

            "Where're Momma and Daddy?" Hopie asked, wrinkling her forehead.

            "Angel's not quite ready to have you back, lass," Clarence said.  "There's something he needs to settle first.  Do you have any other games you can teach us?"

            Hopie thought for a minute and nodded.  "There's a game called Duck, Duck, Goose, but I like to play Slayer, Slayer, Vamp instead."  The little girl went about teaching them how to play the game.

            "Angel, what's going on?" Cordelia asked, following him as they walked through some kind of enchanted forest.  Angel sighed and turned to face the woman he loved.

            "I know why the leprechauns took Hopie," he said.  He thrust the package he had taken back from Colette and Maddy into her hands.

            Cordelia opened it and looked at the pictures it contained.  "Who is this?" she asked him softly.

            Angel was silent for a moment, and then he sat on the ground and pulled Cordelia into his lap.  He nuzzled her softly and whispered into the back of her head.  "They were my family," he said.  "Once upon a time when I was Liam."

            Cordelia laid her head on Angel's chest, knowing suddenly that Hopie was all right and that Angel was the one who needed her.  "Tell me about them," she said, saying the words he most needed to hear.

            Angel held up the drawing he'd done of his mother when he'd been very young and slowly, the words came, describing the way she'd held him as a child, the way she used to stand up to his father for him, the way he knew he'd disappointed her.

            Cordelia sat, listening to him, loving him, until he came to picture of a little girl.  "That was my sister," he said.  "My little Kathy."

            "I didn't know you had a sister," Cordelia said.

            "I killed her," Angel commented, his voice rough.  "I killed them all."  Cordelia buried her face in his chest and did what he could not.  She shed tears of grief and mourned the family he had lost so long ago, and in her tears, they were one.

            Nic tried to ignore the way Clay was staring at her.  Finally, she couldn't take it anymore.  "You know," she said, her accent crisper than his, "when you look at me like that, it makes me feel like you're undressing me mentally."

            Clay simply cocked one eyebrow.  He was incorrigible.

            "You're not interested in me," Nicolaa stated firmly.  She'd been with the Council so long that she couldn't remember ever interacting with a flirting boy before.

            "Aren't I?" Clay asked. 

            "No," Nic countered, her eyes stubborn.  She spoke slowly.  "You just think you are."

            "Oh," Clay said, accepting her answer.

            Taking her by surprise, he grabbed her shoulder and kissed her, gently and deeply on the lips.  Instinctively, she kissed him back. 

            When their lips parted, she was gasping for air.  "You didn't just do that," she said.

            "Didn't I?" he asked, his eyes dancing, as he turned and left to save whoever Maddy was currently teasing.

            Nic stared after him, savoring the taste of her first kiss.  This was strange, but quite… lovely wasn't the word.  It was all quite… quite intolerable really, and wonderful at the exact same time.

            All of the leprechauns, Maddy, Connor, Colette, and several sheep sat in a circle as Hopie circled them, as she had been doing for a good five minutes.

            "Slayer, Slayer, Slayer…" she said as she touched each of their heads.

            "Pick someone," Spelke grumbled.

            Hopie touched his head.  "Slayer," she said, sticking out her tongue at him.  "Vamp!" she shrieked, patting Connor on the head.  She started running around the circle as her brother ran after her.  She safely made it back to his sit.

            "Connor's in the mush pot!" she giggled.

            Maddy tried to keep a smirk off her face, but she couldn't do it.

            "Baaaaaaaa," laughed Nunzio in a little sheep giggle.

            Connor sent the sheep a deadly glare.

            "So," Maddy said, to break the silence as much as to irritate Connor.  "Is it still sex if close your eyes?"

            Colette giggled helplessly, and Hopie looked at Maddy, interested. 

            "I don't think you should ask Connor that," Hopie said.  "But Aunt Anya might know."  Hopie paused.  "Or Nunzio."

            Nunzio gave a very seductive, "Baaaaaaaaaaaaaa."

            On the spur of the moment, Clarence waved his arms and some latin pop music filled the air. 

            "Oh no," Connor said.  "Tell me we're not singing Karaoke."

            "You aren't," Val said, letting all of them know they were about to see something very special that few non-leprechauns got to see.  She pointed to the sheep.  "They are."

            Cordelia turned around in Angel's lap when he finished talking and raised her head to meet his eyes.  "Thank you," she said simply.

            "For what?" he asked, thinking for the millionth time that she was beautiful.

            "For sharing them with me," Cordy replied.

            Angel put his hand on her cheek, gently tracing the path of a single tear down her cheek.  "Thank you," he said.

            "For what?" she asked, bringing her face closer to his.

            "For loving them," he replied.  "For loving me."

            His lips closed over hers, and he tasted the salt from the tears she'd shed for him as they both fell into a passionate and gentle embrace.

            When they looked up, they were surrounded by the oddest sight they had ever seen.  Three sheep were standing on their hind legs on some sort of makeshift stage, absolutely crooning the words to some song he'd never heard in Spanish.  Dancing around them in a Conga line were their daughter, their son, the Potentials, some leprechauns, and a few more sheep.

            "Daddy, Momma, come dance!" Hopie said.

            Angel and Cordelia did as they were instructed, and Angel bent down and whispered something into the ear of the leprechaun in front of him.

            "Baaaaaaaaaaaa," said Angelique.

            Later that night, Connor, Cordy, and Angel sat in Hopie's room as Angel told the little girl a bedtime story: a story about another little girl who'd lived a long time ago, who had loved St. Patrick's Day and stories about fairies and leprechauns.

            Hopie fell asleep, dreaming about her daddy when he was a little boy, playing with her Aunt Kathy.

            Clarence sighed, content that he'd put in a good days work, as one of the sheep gave him a back rub.  The herd was quiet without the child, but he had a suspicion that they hadn't seen the last of the little Shanshu child.

            She was, after all, kin.

OKAY FOLKS, THAT'S IT, but since I've had a couple of requests for Wes/Willow and Faith/Lindsey stuff, here's a small bit on each of them.  If you asked for it, enjoy it.

            Lindsey stood, a towel wrapped around his waist, beside their bed as the tropical morning sun gently lit his body.  He looked at Faith, her hair mussed, deep asleep and taking up far more than her half of the bed.

            Her dark hair covered her face, and as Lindsey looked at his wife, a smile began to make its way onto his finely sculpted face.  It had been a long journey, but finally, he'd made it to where he was meant to be.  With Faith, beside her.

            She murmured in her sleep, and he knew that the nightmares were plaguing her again.  She'd told him stories that made his belly curl: stories of the father who'd left before she was born, stories of the mother who spent more time drunk than sober, stories of a little girl hiding under the kitchen sink where her mommy couldn't reach her.

            He climbed into bed next to her and wrapped his arms around her.  She turned into him and laid her head on his neck.  "I love you," she murmured, "for chasing away the nightmares."

            He held her, and she him, and the light of the morning shone on them both, as a new day, the first in their new life together.

            "Eeek!" Willow said.

            Wes, watching the Potentials and his sister training with Buffy in the back yard, turned to Willow.  "Eeek what?" he asked.

            Excited and with wide eyes, she pointed to her stomach.  "Eeek this," she said, gesturing widely.

            "Is the baby all right?" he asked.

            "All right and kicking," Willow responded, her eyes filled with wonder.  "Eeek!" she said again.  "I think he's doing the Can-Can."

            Wes put his hand tenderly on her bulging stomach.  "He's obviously going to be a football- er, soccer player," Wes said.  "Eeek!" the British man said suddenly, feeling movement beneath his hand.

            His eyes met Willow's and they both laughed as he leaned down and pressed a firm kiss to her stomach.

            "I love you, baby," he said, his voice gentle.  He worked his way up to Willow's face.  "I love you, Mommy," he said, planting a firm kiss on her lips.

OKAY GUYS, until next week, I hope that will hold you… here's a sneak peak at what's to come:

THINE OWN SELF

            Faith and Lindsey go off to search for the second demi-slayer, while Buffy discovers that Chance has a personality all her own.

            Kendall and Anni make an Alliance that can only lead to mischief.

            Joss pines after Jordy.

            Clay pursues Nicolaa; Maddy plays matchmaker.

            The Fang Gang discovers a toddler vampire, whose human mother stirs things up a bit.

            Lilah makes plans to reclaim her baby, as Willow progresses through the pregnancy.

            Hopie's first loose tooth and related hi-jinks.

AND much, much more. 

NOW GO REVIEW.  ALL OF YOU.  YEAH, EVEN YOU.