Sleep, my child, and peace attend thee,
All through the night;
Guardian angels God will send thee,
All through the night;
Soft the drowsy hours are creeping,
Hill and vale in slumber sleeping,
I my loving vigil keeping,
All through the night.
- Sir Harold Boulton, 1884
Wesley spared a moment from the dark road ahead of him to glance at the back seat of his car. Connor, snuggled safe in his car seat, was still fast asleep. He'd been sleeping on and off since they left LA. Like most babies, Connor found the motion of the car soothing, and was unusually quiet. Wesley had been afraid that he would fuss.
They had been driving all night. Since picking up Connor from the Hyperion on the pretense of having him stay overnight, Wesley hadn't stopped driving except for gas. He should have been exhausted, but coffee and adrenaline were coursing through his veins, keeping him alert.
The father will kill the son.
The father will kill the son.
The words repeated themselves in an endless refrain as he drove. Wesley knew with absolute certainty that he couldn't let that happen. Not to Angel, who he had come to regard as a dear friend. And not to sweet, innocent Connor, who he had come to love as a son himself. That prophesy was not coming true, not if Wesley had to take Connor to the ends of the Earth to make sure it didn't. But he wasn't going to drive that far. There was one way out of this, and Wesley was taking it.
As the first streaks of dawn began to lighten the sky, the car sped past a slightly dusty and bent sign that read Welcome to Sunnydale!
Wesley turned off his GPS. He knew the way from here.
Buffy couldn't sleep, but that was nothing new. She hardly ever slept nowadays. She stared up at the ceiling, wishing that she could slip back into the oblivion that sleep offered. At least then she wouldn't feel the emptiness inside of her, curling around her like a black shadow.
With a groan, Buffy pushed the covers back. There was no use just lying there, staring at the walls. She might as well get up. Without bothering to get dressed, Buffy made her way downstairs, intent on hot chocolate or tea or something else soothing. The house was quiet as she walked through it to the kitchen, the inhabitants still asleep. Through the window, she could see the dawn lightening the sky. Good, no beasties about.
A rough pounding on the door made Buffy jump. Ok, famous last words. She should have known better, she thought sourly to herself. Who would be knocking at this hour?
Buffy jerked the door open, and then blinked in surprise.
Wesley looked the worse for wear. His five o'clock shadow was more like a three-in-the-morning shadow, his clothes were rumpled, and he had dark shadows under his bloodshot eyes. But the most surprising thing was the baby he had propped on his shoulder.
"Buffy," he said, his accent not sounding quite as polished as usual in his gruffly weary voice. "May I come in?"
Buffy silently moved aside, allowing Wesley to walk in.
"I didn't wake you, did I?" he said, glancing down at her pajamas.
"No," said Buffy, shutting the door behind them. "I was already awake. What's happened, Wes? You look terrible."
Wesley have her a weak smile.
"That's not surprising. I've been driving all night. Buffy, I need your help."
"What else is new?" Buffy sighed. "Do you want something to eat?"
Wesley hesitated, then nodded.
"I don't think I've had anything but coffee since yesterday afternoon," he said wearily.
He followed Buffy into the kitchen, sitting down on a stool at the breakfast bar and propping the baby up on his lap. He gratefully accepted the mug of tea that Buffy handed him.
"All we've got is cereal right now."
"The world's not ending, is it?" Buffy asked offhandedly over her shoulder as she got out cereal and milk.
Wesley poured himself a bowl and started wolfing it down.
"I don't know," he replied between bites. "Not if I can prevent it." His voice was so bleak that Buffy whirled around to face him.
"I'm guessing it has something to do with that little guy there."
Wesley took another heaping spoonful of cereal.
"You would guess right. His name is Connor, and Buffy… he's Angel's son."
Buffy was frozen to the spot, her brain grinding to a halt.
"That's not funny," she whispered.
"I know it's not," Wesley replied wearily. "It's not a joke."
"Is Angel…" Buffy asked, afraid of the answer.
"No," said Wesley quickly. "No, Angel's still a vampire."
"Oh," said Buffy, wishing those words didn't hurt her quite so much. For one glorious second, she had allowed herself to hope.
"We're not sure how, or why," Wesley continued, "But Connor is the child of two vampires, Angel and Darla."
"Darla?" Buffy asked. That name sounded familiar.
"Darla was Angelus's sire," said Wesley, finishing off the last of his cereal, and devouring the toast that Buffy had just made. "Wolfram and Hart brought her back to live to distract Angel from their plans. She gave her life so Connor could live."
Wesley held Connor close to him, leaning down to kiss the baby's head.
Buffy was in shock.
"But vampires… they can't… can they?"
"He's a miracle," Wesley said. Finishing the last bite of his cereal, the former watcher cradled the baby in his arms.
"Why are you here?" Buffy asked bluntly. "Shouldn't he," she jerked her head towards Connor. "Be with his father?"
"The father will kill the son," Wesley whispered, a haunted look in his eyes.
"What?" Buffy asked. His voice was so low that she hadn't caught his words, only the anguish in his eyes.
"There's a prophesy," Wesley said, louder. "Connor's unique, special. And to say Angel has a lot of enemies would be an understatement. They're all after him, and they all want to kill him."
"So you thought you'd run away with him?" Buffy asked.
Wesley's eyes were intense as he spoke.
"We have to hide him, Buffy. Actually, that's something I was hoping you could help me with. I need to leave him with someone I can trust, someone who will keep him safe. And I have to go back to LA, to help Angel fight." Wesley's face was pleading.
Buffy backed away from the breakfast bar.
"Oh no. no, no, no. No way. Not a chance. Wesley, no!"
"There's no one else I trust to keep him safe," Wesley said. "This is the only way I can think of. Buffy, please."
Buffy backed up until her back hit the sink.
"I have enough to handle, Wes! I'm barely making ends meet, Dawn in having trouble at school, Willow's a mess, Xander and Anya's wedding is only a few days away. I can't handle a baby, too! No way, no how."
Wes's face fell. The bleak despair in it scared Buffy.
"Then I can't protect him," he said.
Even though she was panicking, Buffy recognized the desperation in her former watcher's face. She had seen it in her own eyes in the mirror every morning. Here was a man who was at the end of his tether.
"Can I hold him?" she asked.
Wesley nodded, transferring Connor to Buffy's waiting arms. Buffy looked down at the small life she held, and something moved within her, a stirring of the embers of a heart she had thought was long-cold.
"I haven't held a baby since Dawn was born," she said, looking down at him. "He's so… tiny."
"He's three months old," Wesley supplied.
"And he's human? Or is he vampire-y?"
"Fully human," Wesley assured her. "Heart that beats, loves the sunshine, eats… well, baby formula. But someday he'll eat real food. He's a totally healthy, human three month old baby."
Buffy's eyes hadn't left the child. He opened large, stormy gray eyes and blinked at her. His eyes were intelligent, regarding her with curiosity.
"There's one more thing, Buffy," Wesley said.
Buffy tore her eyes away from Connor.
"Under no circumstances can Angel be told he's here."
"Why?" Buffy asked, suddenly suspicious.
"Because," said Wesley, "If Angel knows, those after Connor could rip it from his mind. We agreed that only I would know where I was bringing Connor, for those reasons."
Something flickered in Wesley's eyes that Buffy couldn't name. He wasn't telling her the whole truth.
"Wes, I need to know the truth."
The tortured look was back in Wesley's eyes.
"Please, Buffy. There are things I can't tell you. You have to trust me."
Her gaze returned to Connor. He looked exactly like Angel in miniature.
"Angel's son," she murmured, a tiny smile on her face. "He looks just like him. Except for the not broody part. He looks like Angel asleep." She amended.
Wesley didn't comment on that.
"I have to keep him safe," he repeated. There was conviction in his voice, and utter devotion. He loved this kid.
In a split second of clarity, Buffy knew what she had to do. She had always made the most important decisions of her life in a split second – when to lunge at the vampire, when to duck; the decision to kiss Angel; the decision to jump off the bridge in Dawn's stead. This was no different.
She took a deep breath.
"Ok," she said. "What do I have to do?"