The Thin Spun Life
Story #3 in the Burrs and Brambles of Life series
By: D.M. Evans
Disclaimer - definitely not mine but I'm having fun with them. Thanks to Mr. Whedon for having this chance to play
Rating - FRT
Pairing - B/A, Connor/Faith
Time Line - Post Not Fade Away
Feedback - yes please, - Angel fears he and Buffy have drifted too far apart to ever be together again.
Author's Note #1 - This is the third story in the series but you don't need to read them to enjoy this. All you need to know is Angel and Spike are the only ones to survive the battle, both horribly injured. They are rescued by Connor and he and Lorne take them to the Cleveland Hellmouth where the Scoobies have converged to help the vampires recover.
Author's Note #2 - Thanks to SJ and Maren for editing this monster Thanks to SJ, Maren, DL, Kristi, Stephanierb, vampedvixen, Makd, fickledame, Aaronlisa who all helped field ideas as to what Buffy and Angel had and didn't have in common which really fleshed out this story.
Author's Note #3 - You can find the first story, The Living Years here http/ www. the second story - The Common Good of Life here http/www.f Creacht do dhail me im arthach galair.
A fateful wound hath made me a hulk of sadness
b Daibhi O'Bruadair, Irish Poet 1652 /b /I
Angel looked through his new wardrobe, that hung on the roller rack which had been set up in his basement bedroom. He tried to make a decision. His wounds had finally healed and he could be seen in public. However, when Connor had evacuated him and Spike from L.A. clothing hadn't been included. Angel had spent weeks lying in a coma naked so it would be easier to treat his numerous severe wounds. After he regained consciousness, it was mostly loose jogging pants and T-Shirts, definitely not his style but comfortable given the condition of his body. He had taken advantage of his first night of freedom to go get clothing because if he was to be seen in public it was not going to be in Xander's cast-off's.
The basement door opened without anyone knocking or asking permission. Connor shut the door behind him and thundered down the stairs. He came to rest by the pool table, leaning against it. Smirking at Angel standing in front of the rack of clothes still in his boxers, he said, "I told Faith that you'd be going through your clothes like a woman. Just pick something already."
Angel eyed his son critically. The boy had inherited no fashion sense whatsoever, seemingly married to baggy clothes in earth tones that did nothing for his coloring. Darla would be as disappointed as he was in Connor's tastes. "You're the last person who should be giving fashion advice, son."
"Whatever." Connor flung himself on the couch in front of the tv. Angel's bedroom had been Jess, the Cleveland Slayer's game and laundry rooms. "Faith, Buffy, and Dawn keep threatening to have Lorne call in the Fab Five for an emergency consult."
"Maybe for your birthday," Angel said wryly.
Connor snorted. "If I knew you had money enough to go on a shopping spree in Tower City," he gestured to the new and expensive wardrobe Angel had bought at Cleveland's exclusive mall, "maybe I wouldn't have been running around for a year in my three stolen outfits."
Angel felt the sting of that even though he knew Connor had meant it as a joke. He hadn't done well by his son and vice versa. This time things would be different. Angel was sure of that. Connor had fought hard to save him after the battle with Black Thorn when it would have been much easier to just stake him and end his suffering. Buffy had told Angel that while he was in a coma, Connor had come often to talk to him. Now that he had been conscious for a few weeks, Connor's visits had ended. Oh, he came to see Angel daily and helped changed the dressings on all of his wounds but the boy didn't say much. Mostly he talked about Cleveland, what happened to him, Buffy, Faith, Kennedy, and Jess on patrols, and argued with his father about taking a semester off of school. What they didn't talk about were the deeply emotional and important things that Connor had talked about while Angel was in the coma. The vampire suspected Connor had gotten shy and maybe Angel would need to be the one who initiated the conversation, only it wouldn't be tonight.
Tonight Buffy wanted to take him around Cleveland now that he was healed enough to not frighten people with the horrible wounds to his head. It would be a short night. He was still gathering his strength and tired far more easily than he cared to admit. He almost felt sorry for Spike who was back in a wheelchair for a second time. His sympathy was tempered by the advantages of having a partially helpless Spike—like being able to wheel him and leave him somewhere when he got too obnoxious or started telling Connor stories Angel didn't want him to know. Those, of course, were the stories Connor wanted to hear the most.
"Fine, I'll take you shopping some night."
Connor clapped his hands together. "Oooo goody, a shopping trip with my daddy. Do I get a lollipop if I'm good?" he asked in a little boy's voice.
Angel scowled. The revised edition of Connor might be happier but his son could still be tremendously annoying when he put his mind to it. "Fine, I'll send you with Lorne." He smirked.
Connor's lips skinned back. "That's no better."
"Trust me, you don't want to go on a Buffy-led expedition. Any of the girls will be merciless to you."
"You could just pony up some cash. I'm capable of shopping on my own." Connor kicked his feet up on the couch.
"Judging by the clothes you wear, no you're not," Angel retorted.
Connor stuck up his middle finger. "I don't have to take that from a man in silk boxers. And you know, I somehow just knew you'd wear those."
"What? I should wear those glow in the dark ones of yours?"
"Like to see you fit in them."
Angel snorted. "It's not my fault you have no hips and are built like a blade of grass."
"Oh, just hurry up and pick out an outfit, you woman. You could go in your boxers. Buffy won't complain. She might even prefer it."
"Don't be crude." Angel shot him a warning look. "What's your rush?"
"You and Buffy were supposed to leave a half hour ago."
"So? We're just going to stroll around Coventry. That doesn't have any time table." Angel pulled out a pair of soft cotton black slacks. His eyes widened as realization dawned. "Oh, I see. Jess and Kennedy are on patrol. Willow and Giles are at that art gallery opening with Dawn and Lorne. Xander and Andrew went to go game at that comic book store Andrew won't shut up about and Spike's...well, I don't know nor care where he is. Which leaves you alone with Faith."
"Exactly and Spike's with Dawn. Just don't tell Buffy," Connor said.
"Why tell me?" Angel pulled on the slacks.
"Because you're likely to sniff it out and blurt it out. Of course everyone's likely to smell like his ashtray by the time they all get back from that gallery," Connor said then gestured at his father's bare chest. "You're still half naked. Just because you're not likely to get lucky doesn't mean the rest of us are similarly cursed."
Angel looked at him sourly as he pulled a deep blue silk shirt off the rack. "Try to be good."
"I'll be as good as you were at my age."
Angel whirled around, a horrified look on his face. "That's not reassuring."
Connor smirked. "Guess I can assume you were never a good boy."
Angel curled up on corner of his lip. "Don't you have someone else to bother?"
"Yes, but I can't do that until you get the hell out of here." Connor glared. "You found a shirt. Just put it on."
"Quit rushing me." Angel pulled on the shirt. "That hair gel you bought me smelled funny, you know."
Connor shrugged. "They didn't have your brand so I got something similar. What do I know from hair gels?"
Angel eyed his son's fine, limp hair. "Doubt it would help that hair."
Connor flipped him off again.
Angel smoothed out imaginary wrinkles in his shirt. "How do I look?"
Connor got up and came over, giving Angel a critical once over. "Queer Eye clothes, check. Dead beaver on head, check. Cro-Magnon brow, check. Dumb but eager look on your face, check." Connor grinned wickedly.
"My foot in your ass, check." Angel summoned up his best glare and Connor danced away as a precaution, grinning even more broadly.
"Might want to put shoes on those enormous Frankenstein feet." Connor flicked a finger at them.
"If I do, will you leave me alone?" Angel asked, exasperated.
"I'm here until you go out that door, pick up your woman and leave." Connor crossed his arms over his chest.
"You remind me of Spike whenever he wanted to be alone with Dru," Angel said churlishly then froze. He hadn't meant to say that. He glanced over at Connor to see if he was offended. Connor looked amused.
"I'm only as annoying as Spike. I must try harder."
Angel made an exaggerated wince. "For the sanity of everyone, don't!"
"Correction, you're already more annoying than Spike." Angel slid on his shoes.
Connor cocked up an eyebrow. "Is that any way to talk to the man who brought you a present?"
Angel cocked up his eyebrows. "Present?"
"For tonight...well, maybe for future nights because you'll probably screw up tonight," Connor said and Angel curled his lip. "Got it off the internet." Connor took a strip of three little packets out of his pocket and winged them at Angel.
The vampire caught them and stared at what he held. "Vampire brand condoms?" Angel couldn't keep the stunned tone out of his voice.
"From the Vampire Wine company in Transylvania. I figured if anyone should stop at one kid, it's you." Connor smirked.
Angel mirrored it. "No argument. I couldn't survive another you. But if you're staying here with Faith, I should give these back."
"Don't worry." A smarmy grin slid across Connor's face. "I have plenty."
"Good to know." Angel stuffed the condoms into his pocket.
"I figure if you asked our merry band of men what would be the scariest thing we could face this year, me and Faith having a kid would be on the list."
"Again, no argument."
"Good, now are you done getting pretty or what?" Connor grabbed his arm and Angel tried not to wince. His barely healed limbs were exceedingly sensitive. Connor relaxed his grip. "Sorry."
"Don't worry about it. Okay, I'm ready."
"Good." Connor went behind Angel and started shoving him toward the stairs. Angel swatted at him again, missing by a mile. "That the best you can do, old man?"
"Oh, I can do better." Angel grinned and chased Connor up the stairs, swatting at him playfully. Connor raced into the living room where Faith stood guard over Buffy who looked about as irritated as Angel figured he had to. Connor nearly ran over Faith as he tried to avoid Angel.
"What took you so long, Connor?" Faith asked, steadying him after their near collision.
Connor jerked a thumb at his father. "He's worse than a woman."
Angel ignored them, unable to look away from Buffy. She looked gorgeous in the ivory cashmere shell with its sparkly crystals. The drapey champagne satin pants with its hip-hugging sash made him want to get on his knees and worship her. Buffy had bought the outfit at Ann Taylor as a gift from Angel for taking care of him. He knew it had been a hard, gruesome, heart-breaking job. Thanking Buffy was easy. He had yet to figure out what to do for his son to thank him. Not killing him tonight was a start. He moved past his son and put his hands on Buffy's shoulder and kissed her. "You are beautiful."
She slid her arms around his waist. "Thank you." She kissed him back.
Faith cleared her throat. Angel and Buffy looked over at her. She and Connor were looking at them impatiently.
Angel took Buffy's hand. "We'd better go before they kill us."
Buffy laughed. "Tell me about it. Faith was rushing me."
"Ditto with Connor."
"We're going to rush you again if you don't get out of the house," Connor promised.
Angel didn't give his son a chance to make good on the threat.
"Are you feeling okay?" Buffy asked as they hiked slowly down the hill in Coventry, taking in whatever shops were open at this time of night.
Angel could see she was disappointed that her plan for the evening had a subtle flaw, that outside of bars there wasn't much to do in this area of Cleveland at night. "I'm fine. This is nice. Would you like a coffee?" He gestured back up the hill at the coffee house.
He didn't miss the irony of the fact that most of the dates they enjoyed consisted of coffee, sitting around at the Bronze or graveyard strolls. The graveyard stroll might still be on the agenda with their luck.
Angel made a point to get a cappuccino. Connor had asked him why he never ate or drank while Spike did both with a gusto that should shame a vampire. Angel realized Spike understood the social implications of those acts, something he himself in his near century of isolation had forgotten. The cappuccino tasted like nothing but it felt good and warm going down his throat. He licked the foam off his lips, seeing Buffy watch him do it. Angel leaned forward and kissed the pale foam off hers. Buffy smiled under his lips. "Tasty," he said, settling back.
"Yes." She looked somehow sad. "This isn't really working tonight, is it? I think what we really need is a real date, a plan, or a place to go instead of this aimless wandering.."
"What brought that up?" Angel was a bit surprised since it echoed his thoughts just a few minutes before.
"The fact we never really had one. Okay, we've gone for coffee before and that strange movie once." Her eyes met his and she blushed at the remembrance of that movie, of how it made them both so hot and how Faith caught them. She swallowed nervously. "But for the most part we just met at the Bronze, usually work was attached or we skipped the actual date part and went right to patrol. Not that it wasn't nice but it wasn't a real date."
"I was going to point out I did meet you at the prom," Angel noticed Buffy's face going grim, "but given what I did at that time, I shouldn't have even brought it up."
"Probably not. I know you were trying to save me from getting hurt but it still shouldn't have just been your decision alone." She stabbed at her the foam of her cappuccino with a stirrer, not looking at him.
"I know. I just didn't want you to get into it with your mother. I knew what it's like to have irreconcilable differences with a parent, and now I know what it's like to be the parent in that situation," Angel said, thinking maybe it wasn't totally irreconcilable with Connor. There was a chance to change things there.
Buffy's eyes were stormy. She lost her stirrer inside the huge cappuccino cup. "Do I even know what you're talking about?"
Angel covered her hand with his. "Your mother ordered me away from you. I never really wanted you to know but it can't hurt her now."
Buffy paled under her make up. "I can't believe she did that."
"She was trying to protect you. She went through the horror of Angelus with you and I don't blame her for being protective. She ordered me out of town and I came to see her point," Angel admitted. "Maybe I shouldn't have but I could see the battles and I didn't want you to lose the most important person in your life. Even if you thought that person was me..."
"And noone thought to involve me in it?" Buffy's voice went strident and Angel was afraid she was going to gouge holes in the lacquered table top from the way her fingers were flexing against the decorated wood.
"You were too young. I know that doesn't make it easier on you but it's true. I should have realized that from the get-go but as Connor likes to point out, and you've seconded on at least one occasion, I've been stuck in my teen-aged years all my life. Maybe he's right. It would explain a few things. I wasn't very good at acting adult."
Buffy took a deep drink of her coffee. "I don't really want to talk about it. It's years past and we can't change it. Maybe it's better to let those bones lie."
Angel nodded. "Agreed. I'm tired of living in the past and letting it erode the future. Guess we need to think of a better way of finding that future." Angel poked at the cinnamony foam, wondering how he managed to screw up so badly so fast. Didn't he used to be better at wooing once upon a lifetime ago? Buffy took his hand and sucked the foam from his finger. He grinned. "That's not helping me think."
"Maybe we should think less and do more," Buffy suggested. "But I'm not being fair. I know you're not quite up to full strength."
"And I've been assured I'll screw up tonight. I think I'm well on my way," Angel said woefully.
Buffy rolled her eyes. "You shouldn't listen to Spike... or was it Connor?"
"My lovely son but he did give me a gift for the date," Angel said then looked sheepish, realizing he shouldn't have brought that up.
Buffy seemed to read his expression perfectly and said with a hint of humor, "A strip of condoms?"
"You know my son well. I dread to learn what he was doing and saying while I was in a coma." Angel gulped nervously at his cappuccino. "They're specialized vampire condoms."
"What?" Buffy cocked her head at him. Angel handed her his wallet. She picked them out. "I'll be damned. Vampires condoms." She peered at the leather wallet, curling her lip. "You have no credit cards."
"I have no social security number or driver's license either. I like to deal with cash."
"That can be fixed. You can't do anything without a credit card," she assured him.
"So I'm learning. I've an idea. Why don't we each plan a date? You first, anywhere you want to go, anything you want to do and I'll do the same," Angel said, excitement tinging his voice.
"A full night at each other's mercy, that could be fun." Buffy grinned wickedly.
"That's what I'm hoping."
She set aside her mug. "Let's start planning. Come on, some fresh night air will help us think."
"Works for me," Angel slid an arm around her as they headed out. "I love the cashmere by the way, in case I forgot to tell you how good you look. I love the feel of cashmere."
"I was going to say the same about your silk," Buffy said as she led him down the hill. "By the way, can I beat on Connor for assuming you might need condoms?"
"I'll keep Faith busy so you whip him to your heart's content," Angel said, noticing her staring at his hair. Passerby's had been casting him glances all night but he assumed it was out of jealousy over the beautiful woman he had on his arm. He was beginning to suspect he was wrong about that. "What's wrong?"
"You've been staring at my hair all night. So have strangers." Angel smoothed it. "What's wrong with it? It feels okay."
"It's fine only...well, I didn't want to say anything and ruin the mood but I'm dying to know why your hair is glowing in the dark." She twirled a finger through his hair.
Angel stared at her, speechless for a moment. "My hair's what?"
"Glowing in the dark." She was fighting a smile and losing.
Angel's lips skinned back. "The new funny-smelling hair gel. Oh, he's so dead," he growled, thinking of the top five ways to murder his child.
"Connor? He's such a brat." Buffy tried to look angry but she looked far too amused for that.
"He fits in perfectly with our little group." Angel rubbed at his hair, making it stick up. "I'm going to kill him slowly."
"Let me beat him first then I'll take the Faith watching detail while you work," Buffy offered cheerily.
Angel smirked, his hair a spiny, glowing mess. "I think we have the outline for our first date."
Buffy laughed and pulled him down for a kiss.