Two Months Later:
He stroked his thumb over her knuckles then bent to kiss her hand. "Are you sure this is what you want?"
Buffy nodded. "I've given it a lot of thought. I can't raise a baby. I'm the slayer and there's no guarantee I'll be around for her first birthday, much less her eighteenth. She's a beautiful little girl. Have you seen her?"
Angel nodded. "She's amazing."
Twelve hours ago, Buffy had given birth to a beautiful, normal seven pound three ounce baby girl. Angel had sat in the waiting room like the expectant father he would never be, but the hospital staff hadn't been able to pry him away from Buffy's side since then.
"She is amazing and that's why I have to give her parents who can give her an amazing life without demons and darkness, without fear. It doesn't matter how she got here, she deserves so much more than I can give her."
Angel could have come up with arguments, excuses and reasons why Buffy was wrong, why she should keep the tiny baby lying in a bassinet in the nursery, but he didn't. Buffy was right and in her place, Angel would choose to give the same opportunity to his child.
"It makes them nervous, but the adoptive parents are bringing her by for me to say goodbye. They live in Sacramento. He's a doctor and she is a writer. They're good people. They'll be good for her."
She truly was saying the words for him. She knew she'd never have a normal life. She refused to take that away from her daughter. She weighed and quartered all her options, but from the moment she began to love the tiny baby growing inside of her she knew there was only one option. She had to love her enough to let her go.
A soft knock on the door tore Buffy out of her reverie and a smile came unbidden to her face. The adoptive parents stood nervously on the threshold. The father cleared his throat and shifted his feet like he wants to run.
"A-are you the father?" The woman holding her daughter finally asked Angel.
The look on Angel face said he wanted to be, but he shook his head. "No, I'm a friend."
"This is Angel. Angel this is Ben and Laurie," Buffy introduced the parents and beckoned them inside. She held her arms out. Laurie hesitated. "It's okay. I'm not going to change my mind. I mean I know the adoption service has warned you of that, but I'm not. I just want to tell her goodbye."
Laurie glanced at her husband and waited for his nod. At that cue, she placed the infant in Buffy's arms. Angel watched as Buffy traced the delicate line of the baby's golden eyebrow, brushed her finger tips over the infant's mouth. Angel would never tell her, but the baby girl has a Summers mouth.
"Do you know that song? Catch a falling star and put it in my pocket…" Buffy sing songed.
Laurie nodded. "My mother used to sing it to me and my sisters."
Buffy smiled. "So did mine. Would you sing it to her sometimes?" Tears rushed to Laurie's eyes and she nodded. Buffy's attention turned back to the baby. "You grow up strong and beautiful and happy." She placed a kiss on the infant's forehead and handed her back to Laurie.
The couple huddled around their new daughter. Nervousness forced an awkward silence. They finally dismissed themselves, thanking Buffy and bidding her good luck. She waited until they were gone before she let the tears fall. Angel was there to gather her in his arms. She didn't sob or curse her decision. She never changed her mind, but the question lingered, begging to be asked.
"Do you think she'll know I love her?"
"One of these days when she's older she'll realize that sometimes love is letting go."