BNovember 2000/B

She gripped the steering wheel of her car, Angel's car, biting her lower lip. There was no evidence in the car that she was a mother. Her figure was somewhat of a giveaway, at least she thought it was and she imagined he would notice, too. He knew her that well and she doubted a few months away would change that.

She flipped open her phone and dialed.

"Hello."

"Hi. How's it going?"

"Fine," Angel said and she couldn't help but smile at the cautious tone in his voice.

"Are you sure?"

"Yes, quite."

"What's he doing?"

"Buffy, he's sleeping! You can't put this off."

"I could. There's nothing saying I have to do this at all."

"Buffy, it pains me more than you know that I even suggested you do this, but he deserves this much."

She sighed heavily. "I know." And she did. She just hated doing this. "I'll see you later."

"I'll be here."

"Kiss Mikey for me."

"Only if you give one when you get home to make up for it."

"Done."

"All right then, you have a deal."

She hung up then. Neither of them were real fond of saying goodbye. They'd had too many goodbyes over the years that were painful.

She got out of the car then, smoothing down her shirt as she made her way down the street. She'd debated about where to do this and decided this was the best option. Giles was familiar with a coven of witches in England and they had placed the best and strongest protective spells they could on Mikey. No one knew what Wolfram & Hart's limitations were, but Mikey going undetected at this point was a necessity.

One nice thing about being the Slayer and having access to the Council's contacts, there was no record of Mikey's birth anywhere. One day Willow would see to it that a record was done officially, but no one wanted to chance a search of Buffy's name netting results.

She rang the doorbell and stood her ground. It took him a few minutes to answer the door, some of the longest minutes she could remember. Her eyes rested instantly on his hand, unable to stop herself. She'd wondered what he would look like since Angel had told her what happened.

He didn't look overly pleased to see her. Not that she could blame him.

"Did you forget something when you cleaned the house out of your things? Because I haven't found anything if you did."

"No, I came to talk to you."

"That▓s rich."

"I know."

"And either very stupid or brave," he added as if she hadn't said anything.

"I know that, too."

He regarded her for a minute and then stepped aside, letting her open the door herself.

"Why'd you decide to let me in?"

"Well, I've done some research since you left."

"On me?"

"Slayers in general. I know, for instance, that I wouldn't really be able to prevent you from coming in so I may as well save the door from being damaged."

"I wouldn't break down the door, Lindsey."

"I didn't think you'd up and leave me either, but you did that."

"I didn't have a choice."

"Yeah, yeah, you did."

"Lindsey. You work┘"

"I know who I work for, I know what I do, who I represent. But it's profitable. It kept you in a pretty decent way for over a year. You didn't have to work."

"I know."

"You know and yet I'm evil, right?"

"I don't think you're evil, no, but I couldn't sit idly by either."

"You had to know from the first dinner meeting I took you to."

"I hoped you didn't know!"

They were in the living room by now. She noticed he'd changed the room around from the way it was. Her favorite spot to sit was now a table. She sighed softly and chose the uncomfortable chair she never willingly sat in while she lived here. She noticed he had picked the one room in the house they had never spent much time in together. It was one of her favorite rooms, but he had rarely ever taken the time to sit in it with her.

"What do you mean?"

"Well, I couldn't ask you if you knew he was a vampire because that would mean admitting I knew about vampires."

"Which would have led to questions."

"Right. And I was, you know, trying to hide. Trying to be Anne not Buffy."

He was quiet then and she didn't know exactly what to say. His eyes were filled with pain, hurt. Things she'd put there, unintentionally but still.

"Why are you here, Buffy?"

"To say I'm sorry."

"You could have sent an email or a card. I'm sure Hallmark makes one for just such occasion."

She grimaced. "I wanted you to know that it was real, that while I wasn't in love with you I did love you. You made it difficult for me not to."

"Not in love with me because of Angel."

"Yes."

"Did he come here for you?"

"What?"

"That night. Was he here for you?"

"No, Lindsey, I'd completely fallen off the radar of my mom and my friends. He came to LA to get away from the idea of me."

"So, it's just my luck his path crossed with me and led him to you."

"Sort of, yeah."

"And you started sleeping with him right away?"

"No! Never! Lindsey, never once did we."

"But you saw him."

"Yes, to train. He was afraid by researching him your firm would find out who I was."

"The firm? Not me?"

"I didn't think you'd hurt me."

"You were right."

"I wasn't sure."

Silence again. She found a spot on the wall very interesting just then. She was sorry, she really had cared for him.

"Did you ever think you could have just talked to me? Told me who you were and why you had to leave?"

"No, it didn't enter my mind because I didn't think you'd let me leave. I know how important your job is to you, Lindsey. I don't think you'd hurt me, but I'm not sure you wouldn't turn me over to someone who would."

He looked away then and she realized she'd been right on that. She stood then. She'd said and done what she'd come for. She had to see he was all right with her own eyes despite what Angel had said. Not that she didn't trust him, but she'd spent a lot of time with Lindsey. She had to be sure. Closure, for both of them. And the hope that maybe her apology would stop him from seeking full-out vengeance on Angel for this. The hand was another story. She wasn't sure anything could get him to stop wanting revenge for that.

"Are you with him now?"

She was almost out of the living room when he asked. She didn't go back to the chair, just turned to face him. She'd thought it was going to be harder to be here, remember things. There were so many memories here, most of them good. Who was she kidding? All of them good.

"Yes."

"And you can live like that? Knowing he's a vampire? That you're going to die and he's not?"

"I love him too much not to try."

He didn't say anything, didn't even look at her as she said the last. She sighed softly.

"I'm sorry, Lindsey, I really am. It wasn't fair or right of me to do what I did, but the idea of a normal life. A real one was so appealing to me, and you gave it to me."

"And if I hadn't been working for Wolfram & Hart you'd still be here?"

"Probably. I don't know honestly. I liked being married to you, so all I can do is guess that we wouldn't be where we are today if you weren't working for them."

"Thank you."

"For what?"

"Being honest."

"You're welcome," she said, though it sounded odd to say it. She was hurting him. He showed no signs of saying more. "Good bye, Lindsey."

"I won't come after you, Buffy. I can't make any guarantees about your boyfriend," he said, holding up the hand Angel had taken. A fake one was there now.

"I understand, but you realize if you come after him you're coming after me."

"Yes."

"So, we're enemies now?"

"You made that choice when you left me."

"You could leave Wolfram & Hart."

"And what? Had you told me who and what you were at the beginning maybe. I don't know if I would have, but maybe. But now, I have nothing but the job, Buffy."

"There are other law firms. Ones that don't cater to demons."

"None that are quite so profitable, Buffy. And you can't deny you didn't enjoy the fruits of my labor while you lived here."

"No, you're right."

He turned to look at her then. She could have loved him. He had a good face, but she saw it now. The eyes, tainted with the knowledge he had and being immersed in evil too long. She wasn't sure how she'd missed it to begin with.

"Good bye, Buffy."

She turned then and while she didn't run for the front door she didn't exactly take her time either. She made her way down the street and around the block where she'd parked so he wouldn't see what she was driving now. She sat in the driver's seat for a few minutes, taking deep breaths, startled when her cell phone rang.

"Hello?"

"Are you okay?"

"Yes," she said with a smile. "How did you know I was in my car?"

"I didn't. I figured I'd just try calling periodically until you answered."

"You were worried for me?"

"Yes."

"Thank you."

"You're welcome. Now come home, Mikey needs his mother I think."

"I'll be right there."

CENTER
/CENTER

Angel hadn't stopped pacing until he'd gotten her on the phone. He was more than worried for her really. It had been at his suggestion that she went to see him. He was hoping that maybe if she talked to Lindsey he would leave them alone. He didn't really think it would happen, but he was hoping the fact he'd loved her would make him see reason. Though he wasn't sure when love was ever reasonable.

He also had to admit there was a little bit of doubt in the back of his mind as to whether he would let her go. Or try to convince her to give him another chance. Buffy loved Angel, he knew that, but there were limitations to their relationship.

Mikey would be the only child he could give her. She'd told him after he was born that she wouldn't want another one anyway. She didn't seem to mind the being pregnant part of things, but the delivery had been particularly difficult for her. He wasn't sure if it was due to her small size or being the slayer, maybe a combination of both. A couple of years from now when Mikey was older and the memory of the labor process had faded some she might not feel that way.

And Lindsey had one advantage over Angel. He knew the intricacies that were Buffy from living with her for over a year. If there was anyone who could weasel his way in, it would be Lindsey. He knew he was being unreasonable and probably it was his jealousy making him think like that. Buffy loved him. They'd created a child out of that. If Buffy had wanted to be with Lindsey she would never have come to Angel the day Mikey was conceived to be with him. For good.

For good had a different meaning for the both of them. He knew that. There were times since he'd seen her again that he'd thought of letting her go, leaving LA and disappearing. He couldn't help but think she might be better off that way. He couldn't do it, though. He'd already lived over a year without her in his life, he knew he didn't want to do that again. And knowing she was out there but he was willingly staying away would be worse in a way.

And while he couldn't give her more children or ensure that she lived as long as he did, he could give her something not many others could. He was able to fight by her side, help her keep evil at bay and stop apocalypses. Because if he knew anything, more would be coming.

And if he knew anything, Wolfram & Hart would most likely be behind a few of them. They would not stop until he was destroyed, possibly Buffy, too. Slayers didn't take on humans usually so they might leave her alone thinking she was no threat to them. Their lives would be in constant danger, but that wasn't anything new - for her anyway. He'd lived so long as a recluse that he hadn't had much danger of being staked until he'd come to help her.

Gentle hands on his shoulders brought him from his thoughts. He placed a hand over hers and turned to face her. He cupped her cheek, tears in his eyes which surprised him. He really wasn't sure what would happen with this visit. If he'd lose her again one way or another.

"Are you okay?"

He smiled then, blinking away the tears. "I am now."

"You were really that worried?"

"It was on my mind, yes."

"I didn't have to go."

He didn't say anything and she looked down at their joined hands.

"Yeah, I did have to go. I needed to say goodbye, he deserved that."

"Are you all right?"

"Yeah. It was weird to see him, the house, but I'm okay. Is Mikey awake?"

"Not yet, but he's moving around so not too long now."

"Okay, I'll go get a bottle for him."

"And I'll go back to my research."

"They're not going to come after you today, Angel."

"Today, tomorrow, next year, I not only need to be ready but I'm not done taking the fight to them."

She squeezed his hand. "We're not done taking the fight to them."

It was hard for him to believe this part of things. That they were in this together. This wasn't him helping her come into her own as the slayer. This was vampire and slayer working side by side. Yes, they were lovers, but just the same working with her was like nothing else he'd experienced. Ever.

Cordelia came into the room. Normally they disengaged from kissing or hugging when that happened but neither pulled away today. He needed her close and she seemed to as well.

"Giles just called."

"Oh?"

"The nanny is leaving on a flight tonight."

"Good," Buffy said, sounding relieved.

That had been the hardest thing for them to work around. Mikey. They couldn't both just up and leave, not with a baby around. And Cordelia couldn't be relied upon to babysit, particularly since she would be helping them a time or two he was sure. So, Giles had arranged for a potential slayer to come to the States and work with Buffy and Angel as a nanny. Familiar with slaying from her training to one day be the slayer, Buffy, Angel and Giles wouldn't have to worry about the girl questioning their activities. Or coming home bloody and bruised repeatedly.

"Thanks, Cordelia," Angel said.

"Anytime."

"Let's go check on Mikey. The evil law firm can wait for a little while longer."

He followed her to Mikey's room. He'd follow her anywhere and he imagined it would be the same for Mikey. He watched as she got the changing table ready, a new diaper, wipes, and clean clothes in case he was wet straight through.

"What?" she asked softly.

"Just wondering when I'll come to terms with the idea that this is mine."

"I'm sure once the novelty wears off┘"

"Two hundred forty years I never dreamed of having this. A woman who loves me, a child that's mine. I'm not sure the novelty will ever wear off."

"Well, that's okay, too. I don't think Mikey will mind being cherished by his father like that."

"You don't know boys very well."

"He won't mind, Angel. And neither will I."

He closed the distance between them, taking her into his arms. He gave her a quick kiss. "That's good, because I plan on letting you know quite frequently why it is you ended up with me."

"Why is that I wonder?"

"I think we're proof positive that you can run but can't hide from what the heart wants. At least when the powers that be are a part of your life."

"And your heart wanted me?"

"Yes."

"Even if I'd wanted to be Anne and not Buffy?"

"Even if."

"Me, too."

"How long until he wakes up do you think?"

"I'm not sure. Why?"

"There are others parts of me that want you, too, and it seems to me you should be clear┘"

She laughed and kissed him. "I don't think we'll have enough time."

"I was afraid of that."

She nuzzled his neck with her cheek, kissing him there. "I'll make it up to you later."

"Promise?"

"I pinky swear."

"Wow, that's serious stuff."

"I don't mess around when it comes to pleasing my man."

He chuckled then. "You never have."

She pressed up against him and sighed, kissing him. "Good to know."

Just then Mikey chose to start to fuss and wake up. "That's my queue I guess."

"I'll go get his bottle."

"Thanks," she said. He watched from the doorway as she gently picked up the delicate bundle that was their son. Hard to believe she was capable of so much power watching her now. No one would think it was possible. This was his.

He realized then he was lucky his soul was permanent, because just this scene would be sufficient to make him happier than he could ever recall being. Buffy or Anne it wouldn't have matter, he would have taken her in any form she was willing to be with him.

The End