Part Five: In My Hands

Silence. Nothing but an awful, gut-wrenching silence. I wish he would say something; I look at the clock once again. Ten minutes has passed since I let out my little – but very big – secret. I had pulled away from him, terrified of his reaction, but there has been no reaction as of yet.

"Can you say something?" I was pretty fed up with his unreadable face.

Nothing.

"Please."

"I already knew."

I was silent. Nothing but an awful, gut-wrenching silence.

"You…you, already knew?"

"Yes-"

"What?" I yelled at him. "You knew, how did you know?"

"I can hear its heart beating."

"That's kinda gross and weird. But why didn't you say anything? Do you have any idea how scared I was? What you would say, I was so scared that you'd…" but I didn't finish the sentence. I couldn't, I'd like to say that it was because Angel's mouth was against mine. But it was because I had burst into tears. "You'd hate me, I thought that you would hate me."

"I could never hate you, Buffy."

"But I didn't know that-"

"I can't believe that you'd think that." He took my hands and placed them into his. I pulled them back, close to my chest. His eyes filled with pain, but I didn't want him touching me. I know that I should say sorry, and make some attempt at fixing up my mess, I didn't…I should have. Instead I left my bed, I sensed Angel reach out for me, but I moved too quickly. "Buffy!"

"Don't. You might not hate me, but here comes the part where you say that you don't want to be with me-"

"No, it's not."

"Yes, it is. This is what happens to us: things look great for a while then it all goes south."

He stared at me and I couldn't read his expression. After nearly four minutes silence I lost my patience.

"Please say something."

"Why bother, you seem to know everything I'll say."

Anger boiled, "not the point, you can't not say anything. I need you to say something about-"

"You having Riley's kid." He also left the bed, "I don't want to leave you because of this, and I definitely don't want to fight with you about this either. I know you might think that I won't be able to handle it, but I can, I will and I need and want to be with you. It doesn't matter if it's Riley's, I want to help you bring up this child…if you let me."

"Oh, god." I ran at him and the force knocked us onto my bed: me on top of Angel, his arms went around me. "I love you."

"I love you."

"Are you sure you want to do this?" I was scared that either he was lying – which is very unlikely – or I was dreaming this conversation. And the reality might be much worse. "Because I would understand if you didn't – I'd get it. I wouldn't want to-"

"Of course I do." He said softly. Angel gently put a piece of hair behind my ear and I blushed. Angel half-smiled, "I love you, so much. Don't ever think that I don't."

"I'll try…it'll be hard. It'll take time before I realise that you won't be going anywhere, you've hurt me a lot. In the past." I added to clarify that he wasn't hurting me now. "This, for me, will be a forever kind of thing. This will be your last chance to bail."

"I'm not bailing." He promised, kissing my forehead. "It's forever, Buffy. That's the whole point."

I smiled, tears springing to my eyes. "Good."

"Good."

We stared into each other's eyes, after a moment I decided to spoil the mood: "You're not just being noble, are you?"

"What?"

"You know, being with me because I'll be a single – young – mom. You're not doing that, are you?"

"No, but you being pregnant has made me realise-"

"What a fool you had been for leaving me."

"That I want you no matter what and I wasn't a fool."

"Oh, yes you were. I wouldn't be in this mess if you hadn't left. Riley wouldn't-"

"Buffy, it wasn't your fault." He said softly, the mood was now completely destroyed. Riley's face came unbidden into my mind, his kind blue eyes and warm smile. I bit the side of my mouth, fresh tears formed in my eyes. "Hey, don't cry."

"I'm not. I'm sorry for everything, I'm sorry you have to deal with my problems-"

He interrupted me. "But that's what couples do: they deal with the other person's problems."

"So, we're a couple now?"

"How about next time you ask that, you can act a bit happier?" he joked. He joked. Weird, I mean, it wasn't exactly laugh out loud funny. But: progress.

"So, we're a couple now?" I asked with mock happiness and a wide smile.

"What am I going to do with you?"

"Love me forever."

"Forever isn't long enough."

"Okay," I rolled off his chest. "You have to stop saying things like that."

"Why?"

"Because," I sat up, Angel proceeded to do the same. "When you say those beautiful things, I have no idea what to say back. Nothing seems to match it."

He half-smiled and shook his head incredulously. "You don't have to say anything back."

"But I feel like I have to." I admitted, "and all I can do is smile and tell you that I love you."

"Which is enough, being near you is enough."

"See!" I exclaimed, getting to my feet and I then began pacing the length of my room. "You say that and I'm at a loss for words. What am I supposed to say? You spout out all these proclamations of love…and what do I do? Smile."

"I get it."

"What?" I was utterly lost, stopping mid-stride.

"You don't have to say something 'beautiful' for me to know how you feel."

"Oh, that 'get it.'" I stopped moving all together, slightly embarrassed by the conversation we were having. It's different from any other talk we've had; Angel and I have never been very open about our feelings. It was making me a bit uncomfortable.

He left the bed and moved in front of me. I looked down and he put his hand gently underneath my chin and lifted my head so I could look in his eyes. "When I'm around you you're so relaxed, comfortable, open. I feel like all I need to do is look at you and you'll tell me everything I need to know. You don't have to say a word; I know how you feel about me. I know you love me. When you smile, laugh or sigh I know. The way you look at me when you wake up beside me, that lazy smile spreads across your face and I know. It's more than enough, Buffy."

"See: at a loss for words."


"Oh, I'm glad you talked her down." My Mom said as we walked down the stairs and into the lounge room. Her and Dawn were watching television, curled up on the big lounge. Angel and I moved to the armchair, he sat down first and I sat on his lap. My mother looked concerned, while Dawn seemed totally oblivious to our presence. "How are you feeling?"

"Okay. A little tired, but-"

"Do you want to sleep?" asked Angel.

I smiled at his concern. "No, I'm okay. It's just been a big day is all."

He nodded and turned his attention to the television, I, however busied myself by intertwining our hands. His skin is cool and soft; it surprised me that after 250 odd years his skin is unaffected. No scarring, just a tattoo that I'm fascinated with. I don't know the story behind it, or when he got it, but I'm interested to find out one day.

"Buffy, are you hungry?"

"No, mom. I'm fine."

"Are you sure? Because I don't mind fixing-"

"I'm fine." I say in a firmer tone. She looks harshly at Angel, who sensed her glare and returned the look, though not as harsh. I studied their faces, it seemed as though they were communicating with their eyes or something like that. They knew something I didn't. "What's going on?"

"Nothing." My mother said much too quickly.

"Oh, yes there is. What's going on?"

"It's nothing, Buffy."

"Don't you dare lie to me, Angel."

His face filled with pain, "just not now. Drop it."

"What?" I wiggled out of Angel's arms and steadied myself as I stood up. "Something I going on here? Since when are you and Angel in cahoots with one another? It's wigging me out and I really don't like it."

"Buffy, let's go talk in the kitchen." My mother moved away from Dawn and took a step toward me. "We should talk, but not here."

"Why?"

"Because of Dawn."

"What about me?" Asked my sister, suddenly entering the conversation "Are you guys talking about me?"

"No, we're not." Answered Angel.

"Can we please talk in the kitchen?" my mother persisted.

"Okay." The situation was very odd, but if this is a way to find out what's going on, I'd be up for having a talk on the moon.

We walked into the kitchen; my mother was the first to speak. "Buffy, I know that the past week has been hard for you. I'm glad that Angel was here to help you; Dawn and I will be here for you too. You don't have to worry about being alone in this-"

"Alone in what?" I asked, "You mean, grieving for Riley?"

"No, I-I, Buffy…I know."

I waited for her to say what she knew, she didn't say anything. "You know what, exactly?"

"That you're pregnant."

"What!"

"Buffy…" Angel said.

"No, you what? You knew and you didn't say a word. How did you know, you don't have vamp hearing and I'm pretty sure I didn't tell you. I didn't tell anyone." Not even Riley. My mother was stunned into silence; Angel took this as his chance to say something.

"The doctors at the hospital after I brought you in…while you were out, they asked your mother if she knew you were pregnant. I was lurking and I heard."

"So, you can't hear its heartbeat?" I said softly, my voice shaking. "But you said-"

"I can hear its heart beating. But I didn't notice until after, I was more focused on you." He gave me a lop-sided grin. "We talked about it and decided to tell you after the funeral, after everything settled down a bit. You beat us to it."

"Sorry for ruining your plans." I joked, trying to lighten the mood. It didn't really work.

"Buffy, I'm not disappointed in you. I know you didn't mean for it to happen," said my mother, she walked towards me. "I love you and I will always be here for you."

"I know you will. I love you too. But, Mom…"

"Yes, honey…" my mother idly smoothed out my hair.

"Angel's…he's not – he's not leaving me."

"I don't understand." She shot a glare in Angel's direction.

"Mom, you're not dealing with him. You're dealing with me. I'm the one talking, so look at me." I told her, letting the Slayer come through hard and fast. Joyce tore her eyes away from Angel's and looked at mine. "He's gonna stay and take care of me…and the baby. We're-"

"You're getting back together!" she cried. "Buffy, don't you remember what happened-"

"Mom. I was there, I experienced it, you didn't. Don't talk about it like you actually had a clue, you had no idea. I'm pretty good at keeping you out of my life."

"Buffy, if-" Angel started to say. I didn't let him finish, I was terrified that he would agree with my mother and say he has to leave me.

"Don't. Say. A. Word." I turned back to my mother. "I don't want to know what you think of Angel and I being an 'us'. But if you don't accept it, deal with it and keep your opinions to yourself. No visits."

"Excuse me?"

"I'll move to LA with Angel and you won't get to see me or the baby."

"Now, Buffy, that's out of line."

I was deeply hurt that it was Angel who said that. "Angel…but I want to be with you. I don't want other people to determine our relationship."

"And they won't. But this is not the way, Buffy." He reached out and gently stroked my arm. "No one will benefit from you going to LA. I'll still be here for you, I'll move back to Sunnydale. The others can run the agency for me. And I can go if they really need me. I could get Gunn to help, maybe even hire him-"

"Okay, I get it. I don't know who Gunn is, but I get it."

"May I say something?" asked Joyce impatiently. If she were Giles she would have make a cluck-cluck sound with her tongue.

"No." Angel said simply. I smiled proudly at the man I love. He truly has become someone. "Buffy and I are going to be together whether you like it or not. I don't know about Buffy, but I'm not here to get your blessing. But you know, deep down you must know, that I have always had Buffy's best interests at heart. If she needs me, that's what she'll get."

"Buffy…I-I, I don't know what to say. Angel, I'm-"

"What are guys doing?" Of course Dawn had to interrupt a pivotal moment. "You're not talking about me, are you? 'Cause, you know, it's not healthy to obsess."

I laughed loudly and fought to keep the giggles from making an appearance. "Don't be so up yourself."

"I am not up myself. I'm not, am I Angel?"

He shook his head in full seriousness. I didn't buy it for a second, but it seemed to fool Dawn. She smiled triumphantly, walked to the fridge, pulled out a packet of chocolate covered biscuits and walked back into the living room.

"She's really quite strange." I deadpanned. "Don't you think she's really quite strange?"

Neither answered me, it seems they were too busy giving each other looks. I rolled my eyes at their immaturity.

"How am I going to tell the others?" I asked, suddenly remembering that Giles, Willow, Xander, Dawn, Anya and Tara had no idea I was pregnant, at least I didn't think they knew. "They don't know, do they? The others, I mean."

"No," my mother shook her head. "Only…Angel and I know."

"Okay, I want to tell them one on one. Less bombardment of questions."

"Sure, that's a good idea. We should tell Dawn first."

"No, after Giles. Then we tell Dawn. I want to tell Giles."

"Okay, we'll go over right now." My mom offered. I looked out the window, the sun was still up. it was still day and would be for another several hours.

"No, I want Angel to be there."

"Buffy, there's sewer access near Giles apartment. I can get there safely."

"Great. Mom, we'll meet you there. I'm just gonna go upstairs and get changed-"

"You're not coming in the car with me?"

'No, I'll go with Angel. We'll leave-"

"I don't want you walking in your condition, honey." My mother left no room for argument and I was too tired to fight over it.

"Fine, fine. Angel's getting a ride too, then. We can't make him walk."

"But how? The sun."

I smiled at that and glanced sideways at Angel. "Blanket?"

"Blanket."

"I'll find something that's big and dark enough." My mother offered, I nearly fell over from shock. She was doing something to benefit Angel, something to help him. I gave her the most grateful look I could accomplish. She'll never know what that simple act of finding a blanket would mean to the handsome man standing next to me, transfixed, we both watched her leave the kitchen in search of the item.

"Well, that was…unexpected."

"Yeah," I replied, agreeing completely. "Maybe some things will work out on their own. Like that, there wasn't much forcing."

"She still hates me."

"She doesn't hate you."

"Fine, she despises me."

"She does not." I smiled, stepping in front of Angel. He smirked and wound his arms around my waist. I reached up and put my hands firmly behind his neck. "Enough talk about my mom."

"Enough talking."

I laughed until Angel's lips hit mine.

TBC…
It took much longer to update than I expected, sorry to keep you waiting. Lol. You know the deal: read and review. I always reply if given some way to contact you. Love, Maddy.