Laying Her Cards On The Table

Author: Nitrowugs

Rating: PG-13 (I'm not sure.)

Pairings: B/A implied

Feedback: Please. Constructive criticism is always welcomed and appreciated.

Disclaimer: I do not own anything associated with BtVS and AtS. (Characters, plots, and dialogue from the shows are borrowed with no infringement intent whatsoever.)

Distribution: Please ask and let me know where it's going.

Written: 05/09/2009

Summary: Buffy confronts her family and friends regarding her relationship with Angel.

Author's notes: Angel is in L.A. Joyce and Doyle are alive. Oz and Anya are not in the picture. Faith is back in Sunnydale and reconciled with Buffy and the Scoobies.

Buffy addressed her family and friends that were gathered in her mother's living room: "I asked each of you to come here for a reason. There are some things that I need to say to you and I need you to listen and not respond until I am finished. Do you all agree?"

Each person in the room either nodded or voiced their agreement.

Buffy spoke again. "I know that some of you…" she hesitated then looked at each person around the room before continuing, "most of you, do not approve of my relationship with Angel. I also know that some of you have gone to great lengths to make sure that we are not together."

She addressed her mother first. "Mom, I know what you said to him to make him change his mind and decide to leave me for what you described as my 'own good'" she said using her fingers to make double quotes for emphasis.

"Giles, you, more than anyone else here, know the difference between Angel and Angelus and yet you have over and over made sure he knew that you blamed him, Angel, for every one of Angelus' crimes, including the death of Miss Calendar. You know that Angel would never have done any of the things that Angelus did."

"Willow, my best friend, when I was so distraught after Angel left me, your oh so supportive words to me were that it was for the best that he left and on so many occasions that I am sick of it, you have tried to push on me every guy you could find."

"Xander, you used lies and half-truths to Faith and to me on more than one occasion to make sure that he died. It didn't matter to you which one of us killed him, you just wanted him dead."

"Spike, you know why I went to you after I returned; you know who owns my heart and yet you continue to push over and over and over. Get over it. It will never happen again."

"Faith, you tried to kill him because he turned down your blatant offers of yourself to him."

"I am here to tell each one of you this: Angel owns my heart. I love him with my very soul. I will never love anyone or anything the way I love him. And I want you, each one of you, to know that you have to either accept him as part of my life or don't you plan on being part of my life."

Xander couldn't hold his tongue any longer. "Are you saying that you would choose to have him in your life rather than all of us?"

Buffy spoke directly to him. "I asked all of you not to speak until I finished and you agreed. I'm not finished."

She continued. "I learned some things over the last few weeks. One of them is that Angel will be human one day and we will live out our lives together. Another is that he is not the only one who has access to 'higher authorities'. Through Doyle he has access to the Oracles who speak for The Powers That Be. Since I returned from heaven, I have direct access to The Powers themselves. They have allowed me an audience and a request. I have asked them to bind Angel's soul so that it can never be removed by any means until his final death and to remove from him the guilt that he feels for what Angelus did. They have granted my requests. As of last night's full moon Angel's soul is bound. I spoke with him this morning and he assures me that it is. You can expect to see him in Sunnydale and with me very often from now on. You can either accept that we are together and will remain together or you can cut yourself off from me permanently."

She paused, then, continued. "Please address me one at a time as I addressed you." She lifted an eyebrow with a smirk. "Now I'm finished."

Since Joyce was the first one to be addressed, she spoke first. "Buffy, I did what I thought was best for you because I felt that you were too young to make those decisions for yourself. I see that I was wrong. I just want you to be happy. If Angel is the one who makes you happy, then it is fine with me. I will welcome him into my home," she smiled and then continued, "and as my son-in-law when the time comes." She stood and walked over to Buffy and they hugged.

"Thanks, mom," Buffy said as she wiped a tear from her eye.

Giles was next. He removed his eyeglasses, cleaned them, and put them back on. He spoke quietly, his voice laced with humility and regret. "You're right, Buffy, I do know the difference between Angel and Angelus. It was just so difficult to look into Angel's face after what Angelus did to me. When I was finally able to look him in the eyes, what I saw there shamed me. The burden of guilt that Angel carries would have long ago crushed a lesser man. It wasn't until he returned from hell that I realized that you two were soul mates, but I wouldn't acknowledge it to you or to him. I was so afraid that I would lose you, that he would some how take you away from me. You are the daughter of my heart, Buffy, as surely as if I was responsible for your birth. I will speak to Angel. I hope he can forgive me." Tears ran down Giles' face and Buffy moved quickly to enfold him in her arms.

"I love you, Giles. You are more of a father to me than my biological father ever was. And don't worry about Angel, he doesn't carry a grudge." They hugged until they both stopped crying.

The group was stunned silent. None of them had ever seen such an emotional display from Giles.

Buffy held onto Giles' hand and stayed on the sofa next to him.

A teary eyed Willow spoke next. "Buffy, I am so sorry. I thought I was being a good friend and I see that I wasn't. I want you to be happy; I love you. You are the sister that I never had. Please forgive me." She moved to give Buffy a hug.

"I forgive you, Will; I know that your intentions were good."

Then it was Xander's turn. "Look, I am never going to be Angel's friend, but since I don't have to worry about seeing Angelus again, I guess I can live with having him around."

"You need to change your attitude toward him, Xander. You still hate him for something that wasn't his fault. All he ever did to you was save your life. Get over your hatred and jealousy of him and grow up because I will always belong to him." Her implication was blatantly clear.

Xander nodded his head and sulked, but didn't say anything.

"Okay, slayer, I get the message. Can't fault a bloke from trying though." This came from Spike even though he was smiling when he said it.

Buffy shook her head and rolled her eyes skyward.

"We're 5 by 5, B. Angel and I are friends and I know who owns his heart." Faith paused and said, "You know, I have to change my approach. Even Angelus turned me down."

The room erupted in laughter. Even Giles thought it was funny.

Buffy had presented her position to her mother and friends and they had more or less agreed with her. She could now look forward to a life with Angel without concern about losing the rest of her loved ones.

The end.