Disclaimer: Joss and Mutant Enemy, among others who are not me, own BtVS and AtS. No infringement intended.
Notes: (1) This is my first fic, so comments, suggestions, and or questions are very much appreciated. (2) Thanks to Amanda E. for giving me the nudge I needed to continue. And big thanks to my beta, Mari, who read, reread, edited and supported me. It made all the difference. (3) This fic was originally posted in yahoo groups in March 2004, but has since been rewritten. (4) Hope you enjoy!

Part 1: Let's Start a New Day and Take me Back to where we Used to BE

-NN-

Don't want you to hold my hand
Just need you to understand

A stronger soul is breaking free
--David Sneddon, Long Time Coming

-NN-

...click...
"Boss?"
...click...

...click...
"Yeah Harm?"
...click...

...click...
"Buffy is here to see you. I tried to book her an appointment but she claims she doesn't need one. Personally, I don't think there should be any exceptions--I work hard, damn it! I try to keep up a reasonable schedule and—gahh! Hey, quit that! You can't touch—oww! That hurt!"
...click...

...click...
"Harm?"
...click...

...click...
"Hello Angel, sorry to drop by unexpectedly but I was in town, so... here I am. And hey, thank God I decided to drop by too! It seems you've been neglecting... um, the side of good, because last time I checked, Harmony? Bad. Why the hell is she here? Wait, don't answer that. I don't even want to know; just can I kill her already?"
...click...

...click...
"No, wait! I'll be right out."
...click...

-NN-

The last time Angel saw Buffy was when she came to Los Angeles to tell him that she no longer needed the second front.

"Spike saved the world," she stated.

That visit happened a little more than a year ago, but the painstaking, piercing truth still hurt. Angel's ego will never be the same again.

"It had to be Spike," Angel muttered under his breath as he recalled the memory.

Angel shook his head as if to physically rid himself of his brooding thoughts and stood up to make his way to his office door. He wondered what this visit would bring and how he would get through it when he opened the door, in which he did with such force it caused him to lose his footing and stagger back in the process.

Great job Angel, that's the way to impress the girl; with your super vampiric clumsiness, he berated himself. However his thoughts switched gears as he looked up at the sight in front of him.

Buffy was beautiful.

Not to say she wasn't the last time she visited; however, she had worn a tired, thin, and aged expression that told the world she had lost everything. She just about did.

Now, she looked impossibly beautiful. Radiant and perfect. She had put on just enough weight to soften her curves, giving her a healthy appeal.

She was dressed in a loose but clingy midnight blue spaghetti strapped dress that hugged her hips and flowed down to her calves. She wore her hair down letting her golden brown tresses frame her face. But what caught Angel's eye was her smile. He had never seen a vision so beautiful.

Buffy had looked up at the sound of the door opening and caught sight of Angel's obvious stumble. She choked back a laugh that threatened to erupt, cleared her throat, flashed a grin, and greeted her longtime friend, "Angel."

"You're here?" replied Angel, as she walked over and wrapped him in a hug.

The question was all he could get out. He also knew that it sounded more panicked than the more easy going tone he had intended. He offered her a weak smile, hoping for a quick and not too late of a recovery.

"As much as you are," she said, and gently pulled away from the embrace. Not missing the awkward exchange, she turned to pick up her purse, diaper bag and matching car seat that she brought with her.

"So I take it you are going to see Buffy, who was without an appointment and might I add, threatened me, your hardworking secretary," interrupted Harmony.

"Well, uhh... yeah, of course," replied Angel. And then looked over to Buffy again, "come in. Do you want anything? Coffee? Water?"

"No thanks, I'm fine," answered Buffy, as she stepped into his office.

Angel watched her as she moved, taking in the sight that is Buffy, and that was when he noticed she wasn't alone.

"Harm?"

"Yes Boss?"

"Clear out my schedule for the day."

-NN-

TBC...