Spoilers: all in Dimension A. BtVS Season 4 and Angel Season 1.

Couples: B/A, B/R by default in Dimension A

Disclaimer: No, they're not mine. It's a pity, but there it is. They all belong to Joss Whedon. Sob.

Author's note: This is my take on the Buffy-gets-pregnant / Buffy-remembers themes. The story is split into two dimensions. Dimension A is 'our' world, the Buffyverse of Joss, taken to the death of Professor Walsh in BtVS Season 4. Dimension B is the world where the Oracles refused to turn Angel back. It should be fairly clear which is which!



DIMENSIONS: chapter 1 - Shanshu

A:

"I'll never forget. I'll never forget. I'll never forget. I'll never forget."

And time was rolled back, the miracle was undone. One remembered and one forgot, her promises never said.

B:

Angel staggered backwards in the flash of light that ejected him brusquely from the Oracles' presence, rubbing his eyes. He was not sure whether to laugh or to cry. That was it. No more demon. No more curse. No more brooding in the dark. He was free.

He climbed out into the early morning light and blinked as he glanced up. His second morning alive, the second of the rest of his life. Really, he thought, as he crossed the road and started towards his building, keeping by habit in the shadows, the whole thing felt strange. Felt unbelievable. At any minute the spell would break, the witch would cackle an evil laugh, and he would find himself back in the night – or worse. How could a body dead for two and a half centuries suddenly work again? How could someone who he had left, who he had injured mentally and physically, whose friends he had tortured and killed, agree to take him back and start again?

Angel felt his brand-new heartbeat speed up as he thought of Buffy, and the day before which they had spent together in such bliss, such ecstasy. A perfect day. Surely he would not be granted any others? Automatically he drew out his keys and opened the door to the building, and went inside and up the familiar stairs, remembering as he climbed the words of the female Oracle, "This is your reward. You deserve this. And if anyone's angry at us not doing what you ask, they'll have me to deal with. Go back to your Slayer."

His Slayer was sitting in his apartment, curled up on the sofa, idly flicking through a book on demonology. She was not really reading it, the pages turning too quickly, her eyes vacant, and as Angel came down the stairs she dropped it on the couch and stood up.

"Where've you been? What happened?"

He took her hands and pressed them to him, their eyes meeting. He looked down at her, amazed as always at the colour of those blue-green eyes and the love in them.

"I went to see the Oracles. I asked them to turn me back."

The violence with which she tore her hands away and swung around so her back was facing him shocked Angel.

"Why?" The single word was full of controlled violence.

"Because more than ever I know how much I love you." Buffy turned, slowly, and Angel held up a hand to stop her words. "Don't say anything, not just yet. Yesterday was … was extraordinary. It was the best day I've ever had. And it wasn't because I was given life again. It was because I was with you." He paused, and took a deep breath. "When we were fighting the Mohra I realised that I'm a liability to you. I fight with you and you'll take risks to protect me."

"So you went to ask for superpowers again?" Buffy stared at him, shaking her head slowly. "Entirely unselfishly, of course."

"No." Angel twisted his hands together. "No, I admit. Last night I knew that there are some things I will miss."

"When are they doing it?" Her voice was resigned to the obvious. The dream would end.

"Never."

There was silence in the apartment, save for the humming of the fridge in the background. Buffy took one tentative step forwards, and then froze again.

"What did you say?"

"Never. They refused."

"They refused. They what?"

"It was meant. It was all meant to happen. We've been manipulated again. This is … this is my reward. I'm human, Buffy, and I'm staying this way." Buffy's eyes filled with seagreen tears, but she smiled warmly as she met his eyes. Angel held out his hand, and she moved forwards and took it, putting the other arm around his neck as they moved irresistibly into a kiss, warm lips meeting warm lips.

"So what happens now?"

Buffy was tracing an idle pattern on Angel's chest, leaning comfortably against his shoulder. He squinted sideways down at her.

"Mmmm?"

"What happens now?" She sat up properly, clutching the bedclothes around her. "You're alive. We could spend weeks like this …"

"But we can't."

"No." She frowned. "Why can't we?"

Angel smiled at her fondly. "Because you have your duty, and college, and friends waiting for you, and I … I suppose I have to tell Cordy and Doyle that it's all over."

"No more Angel Investigations." Buffy twirled a strand of hair around her fingers. "Come to Sunnydale?"

Angel was silent, and he stared into space. Sunnydale, source of so many good and bad memories.

"I don't know," he said eventually. "I don't know where I fit anymore."

Buffy looked at him and flicked her eyes downwards suggestively.

"With me," she replied, and bent over to kiss him.

They got up for lunch, and Angel made Buffy an omelette with the eggs he found Cordelia had bought, and they shared it and followed it by ice-cream. Afterwards Buffy sat and watched him wash up, her chin leaning on her hand.

Angel dried his hands and turned to the fridge, opening it and staring at the bags of blood which were still stacked in the corner.

"I suppose I can throw these away," he said, picking one up and tossing it from hand to hand. "Extraordinary."

"Don't bother," Buffy said. "We'll take them to Spike." Angel looked at her in astonishment. "Oh, of course, I forgot you didn't know." She gave him the story of Spike-with-a-chip-in-his-head and Angel threw back his head and laughed aloud.

"I would love to see Spike feeding from a plastic bag," he got out, finally. "The Powers have a sense of ironic humour after all. That serves him right for the insults he gave me."

"You can see him, if you come to Sunnydale," Buffy played her trump card, and Angel nodded, resigned, and closed the fridge door.

"All right."

"But first," she said, standing up and stretching languorously, "or rather this evening, I promised I'd have dinner with my dad if I was still around. I want him to meet you."

Angel started protesting.

A:

Willow sat down on her bed and watched Buffy unpack the small bag she'd taken to Los Angeles.

"How'd it go?" she asked, deciding to be straight.

"Dad is fine," Buffy replied, hanging up a flowery dress she hadn't worn and wasn't sure why she'd taken.

"And … I mean …" hesitated Willow.

"And Angel and I are going to forget each other," her friend said, closing the wardrobe door and dropping a handful of stakes into his trunk. Her face crumpled and she sank down on to her bed. "Oh, God, Willow, I can't bear it. How can I forget him?"

Willow got up and went to put her arm around the distraught Slayer.

"Sssshh," she comforted. "Sssshhh. It'll all be okay."

B:

"You look gorgeous. Stop glancing in the mirror."

Angel glanced sideways at Buffy. "Sorry. I can't get used to having a reflection. Give me a chance. And anyway I'm nervous."

"Dad will love you. I love you."

"I love you too." Angel swung the car into a space and turned off the ignition. "Here we are. I'm starving again. Are you sure I look all right?"

Buffy took his arm and reached up to kiss his cheek. "Stop worrying. That's an order."

Hank Summers was already sitting at a table in the restaurant, a bottle of wine open in front of him, tapping his fingers on the edge of the tablecloth whilst he waited for his daughter. He saw her enter, summery and pretty in pink, and stood up to welcome her – and then unconsciously his eyes opened wide as he took in her companion; tall, dark, dressed simply in a white shirt and black trousers and jacket, following Buffy slowly across the restaurant.

"Dad!" Buffy flew into his arms and kissed him on the cheek.

"Hi, honey. Love the dress."

"Thanks." She turned and held out her hand to her companion. "Stop being nervous. Dad, this is Angel. Angel, Dad."

"Pleased to meet you, Mr Summers," Angel said, shaking hands with the other man.

"And I you, I think. Shall we sit down?" Angel pulled Buffy's chair out for her and she flashed him a smile as she sat down, the warmth of which was not lost on her father. "When you said you were bringing a friend I kind of expected it to be that school friend, Buffy."

"Sorry." Buffy looked unrepentant despite her words. "Cordelia's busy."

"So." Hank reached for the wine and poured it out, red and glistening, and then put the bottle down again and rested his elbows on the tablecloth. "How do you know my daughter, Angel … should I call you Angel?"

"Please do. I, erm, I lived in Sunnydale for a while. Before moving here."

"And what do you do?"

Angel glanced sideways at Buffy and back at her father.

"I'm a … I have a sort of investigative agency. Sort people's problems out for them."

"A private detective?"

"Of a kind."

There was a pause whilst the waiter came and passed them all menus, took drinks orders and disappeared again.

"Which doesn't explain how you two met."

"We bumped into each other. I knocked him over," Buffy said brightly, flashing a smile at Angel. Angel looked down at his menu, concentrating on the words to banish the memories of that night, so far away now – the night he had first felt her, smelt her, spoken to her, begun the long lie and the spiral which would lead to Hell and back.

"Knocked him over?" Hank Summers asked, rousing Angel from his thoughts. "Have you two both decided what you want to eat?"

"Chicken and then ice cream," Buffy said. "No, I really did knock him over."

"She sent me flying," Angel added, forcing himself to be cheerful. After all, he had no reason not to be, he reflected. "I think I'll have … actually, I've no idea what I want to eat." He peered at the menu again, and looked hopelessly at Buffy.

"Mr Indecisive," she teased. The waiter arrived and looked attentive.

"One chicken," said Buffy's father, "one, erm, sea bass, with salad, and …"

"Lamb?" said Angel eventually. The waiter noted everything down, took the menus back and faded away again.

"So, tell me about college," Hank said, and Buffy was off on a carefully edited account of the University of Sunnydale, leaving Angel to watch her in peace. Halfway through her stories of psychology classes, sharing a room with Willow, parties and clubs, the food came, and they settled to eating. Angel found he had forgotten what lamb tasted like, and the miniature cobs of corn were completely new. He drank some of the red wine Hank Summers had chosen, and that did bring back memories. Memories of endless dinner parties when he was young in Ireland, dinner parties to which his despairing parents had invited eligible young ladies in the hope of him proposing to one of them. Memories too of other dinner parties, where the guests were the dinner and the wine was there to grease the wheels of the evening, to help blur the survivors' minds so that afterwards they would not connect the death of Lady So-and-so with the delightful party they had spent in the company of Angelus.

"Earth calling Angel!" Buffy's voice brought him back to the present. "You okay?" she checked, laying her hand on top of his.

"Yes. Yes, I'm fine." He reassured her with a smile and turned his hand to squeeze hers. "Just … my mind wandered."

"You are not to start brooding again," she told him firmly. "Okay? Brooding over."

"Brooding over," Angel agreed. "Sorry."

"Good." Buffy picked up her napkin and wiped her mouth with a contented sigh. "That was yummy. Now if you two will excuse me …" She got up and disappeared in the direction of the Ladies. Hank put down his knife and fork and met Angel's eyes frankly.

"There's a lot between you two neither of you are saying," he said. Angel put down his own cutlery neatly, and tried to think of an appropriate response. "Are you in love with my daughter?" asked Hank, before he could.

Angel fiddled with the stem of his wine glass, and nodded.

"I have been since I first saw her."

"And is she in love with you?"

"I don't know. I'd like to think so … it's complicated."

"Love is always complicated," said Hank with a wry smile. "As you'll find when you're older, I dare say. Although, having said that … you're older than Buffy, aren't you?"

"Yes." Angel thought he'd better not mention how much older.

"It's been tough on her, these last few years," Hank said, half to himself. "What with our divorce, and the move to Sunnydale and so on. It didn't really surprise me when she said she was staying there for college. It's best for her to be near her mother. Have you met Joyce?"

"I have," answered Angel, an image of Buffy's mother flicking into his mind. Earnest eyes meeting his, eyes full of concern for a daughter; and fear too, fear that a nightmare would be resurrected.

Hank sighed. "We were two strong characters and we both wanted our own way. I guess it was never destined to last. But I don't regret the marriage – "

"Because of Buffy," Angel finished for him. "She's an extraordinary young woman, Mr Summers. Unique. And if there's one thing I really want, it's to be with her." He turned his head to watch Buffy come back across the restaurant. "Forever."

She sat down with a smile that embraced them both. "Had a good discussion of me?" Angel opened his mouth to contradict her, but Buffy laid a finger across his lips. "You're both looking as guilty as hell. Can we have pudding?"

They finished the meal chattering idly about small matters; Buffy's father demonstrating an ironic sense of humour which only made Angel like him more. He had always thought that the Slayer took after her mother, but now he saw that the jibes she threw at victims and her keen, if underused, skill at planning things came from Hank Summers. Angel was careful to remain guarded about what he said about himself. Indeed, he was still not sure what the future held for him. As always his position was unique, a first in the history of the world. Nobody could advise him, nobody could offer counsel based on prior experience. He watched Buffy's animated face and reflected that following his heart was undoubtedly best.

A:

"You're a strange girl," said Riley Finn, looking appreciatively at the slight girl in front of him. She smiled back, and they set off across the campus together. Buffy felt like she was setting out on a new path, a path into a world where she would forget the past. Surely this tall, blonde, solidly American TA was the complete antithesis to a certain dark vampire still lurking in the shadows of her mind? She put Angel firmly to the back of her thoughts and started thinking about Riley Finn instead.

B:

Buffy held on to her father's arm with her left, and Angel's with her right, and the three of them thus linked strolled along the dark street.

"This is perfect," she sighed happily. "Isn't it perfect?"

"It is," Angel agreed. "Utterly."

Hank glanced over his daughter's head at the dark young man who was gazing down at Buffy with clear adoration and wondered about him and their relationship, and was just going to ask the pair a question when Buffy broke the link, staring intently ahead of her.

"See something?" Angel asked, trying to see into the darkness ahead and failing.

"Against the wall five hundred metres down the street," said Buffy, opening her small evening bag and feeling in it. "Hope we're not too late."

"What's going on?" Hank asked, as Buffy threw her bag at Angel and set off in a sprint. Angel turned to the other man, clutching the pink bag in one hand.

"She'll explain later. We'll explain later." He tossed Hank Summers the bag and set off after Buffy.

By the time he reached the Slayer she had separated the two figures next to the wall of an apartment building and was landing a rain of blows and kicks at one of them. The other was collapsed on the floor, and Angel, realising Buffy had the situation well under control, went to this one first.

"Hey." He lifted the girl and got her into a sitting position, putting his handkerchief against the gaping wounds on her neck. She was scarcely conscious, and pressing the material hard to stop the bleeding Angel pulled out his phone with his other hand and dialled 911. Hank arrived as he was putting the phone away again, and the girl was fluttering her eyelids and trying to say something. "Don't talk," Angel said. "You're all right. An ambulance is on its way. You've lost a lot of blood but you'll live."

Hank bent down to him.

"Is she okay? What happened?"

"She … she was …" Angel looked past Hank at Buffy, who had the hapless vampire pinned against the wall, her arm raised to stake it.

"Buffy?" said Hank, confusion and puzzlement supreme on his face. "What the …?"

The Slayer plunged the stake into the vampire's chest and it disappeared in a cloud of dust. Buffy turned, brushing off her dress.

"She okay?" she asked Angel.

"She's alive. And she'll stay that way. How are you?"

"Bruised," said Buffy rubbing her arm. "Be all right tomorrow. You see, I can do this without worrying about you."

"Erm …" began her father, and Buffy switched her attention from Angel to him. "Erm," Hank repeated. "Did that … man … did he just turn into dust?"

The sound of sirens saved the Slayer for a few minutes, as the ambulance arrived and they sent the girl off in it. There was silence on the pavement, Buffy facing her father with her arms crossed protectively over her front.

"I'm … I'm the Slayer, dad," she said.

Nobody said anything. Hank looked from Buffy to Angel and back again.

"That was a vampire," Angel explained, deciding to help her out. "Buffy is …"

"I kill vampires," Buffy continued. "And demons and monsters and things. It's what I do. It's what I am."

"You're my daughter," Hank said faintly. "You're eighteen years old. And … that man disappeared."

"It was a vampire," Buffy repeated. "The girl was bitten, but she'll be fine."

"Why … how …" Hank started, and Buffy came to him and hugged him.

"You're taking this better than Mom," she said. "Let's go back to Angel's place and we'll … explain. We'll try and explain."

"We?" said Hank, turning to Angel. "You know about this too?"

The journey to Angel's apartment took only a few minutes, and once there they sat Hank down. Buffy settled next to him on the couch and held his hand. Hank looked around with interest.

"Nice place," he commented, trying to seem light-hearted. "I like the paintings."

"Thank you." Angel fiddled with his fingers.

"Did you find them all in antiques shops?" asked Hank. "I mean, it's an impressive collection."

Angel glanced around at the pictures, and took a deep breath that three nights ago would have been unnecessary.

"It's only half the collection I used to have," he said. "Some of them I … bought … from the artists, some from other collectors."

"And the books," said Hank, looking down at the low table by his side upon which lay a copy of Baudelaire's Les Fleurs du Mal alongside Redford's Demon Compendium. "An unusual selection."

"The Baudelaire's a first edition." Angel met Buffy's eyes, and nodded at her. "No, Buffy, he has to know. In any rate your mother could tell him. This goes with the Slayer stuff."

"What goes with the Slayer stuff?" asked Hank. "Buffy?"

"I first saw Buffy the day she was told of her destiny for the first time," Angel said, standing up and pacing the room. "I was peering out of a car looking at the sun for the first time in over two centuries, trying not to get burnt. But I was. By her. I followed her to Sunnydale, and helped her to fight, followed her and watched her and fell in love. But there was so much between us, so many differences … I left and came here."

"Differences?" questioned Hank. "What differences?"

"A difference in age," Angel said, summoning all his courage. "Of some two hundred and twenty years. And, when I first met her, a difference … a difference in … species, I suppose you might say. But it's all changed, everything's … I'm human, now." He sat down again. "I'm alive. Until three nights ago I wasn't, I was … I was a vampire like that one Buffy dusted tonight."

Hank stared at Angel and then turned his stare on Buffy.

"It's all true," Buffy said. "Ask Mom."

"Joyce knows about all this too … I mean you told her all this …?"

"Bit by bit. It began before we moved to Sunnydale, Dad. The fire in the gym at Hemery, that was all Slaying, and the late nights, it was all Slaying." She smiled a little smile. "And Angel was always the best and the worst of it."

They exchanged looks, and Angel knew then that his hope would not be in vain. But Buffy's father shook his head, and stood up.

"This is ridiculous. We've all drunk too much." He stopped pacing in front of a broadsword hanging shining above a mantelpiece, and stared at it perplexed. "It's … Buffy, sweetheart, you know everyone long forgave you for burning the high school gym down; you don't need excuses for it. You were going through a difficult period."

"Yes, my Watcher had just died," Buffy pointed out. "There was a nest of twenty vamps in there."

"And," Hank said, turning from the sword to Angel, "have you thought about … you know, psychiatry or something? I'm not sure that Buffy should be with …"

Angel met the other man's eyes evenly.

"Learning the truth about the world is always difficult to accept," he said, softly. "In my youth we believed so much more easily than nowadays; when girls in the village still thought leprechauns lived out on the moors and the fisherman tied charms to their boats to ward off the kelpies, and still it came as a shock for me, on the border between life and eternal death, to discover that the girl I'd followed was not human at all. Since then I've been a myth, a nightmare, something from horror movies, and the things I see each night still come as a surprise. Mr Summers, I swear to you that we're telling you the truth. Buffy is the Slayer, and … and she's the best there has been since before my memory. In my time two hundred Slayers have been called, and none of them did what she's already done for the world." He paused for a moment. "And if you still want proof, call Joyce. Or …" Angel took Hank's arm gently but firmly and steered him towards the kitchen, where he opened the fridge door and took out a bag of blood. "This will go to Sunnydale now I no longer need it."

There was silence. Hank looked from the bag in Angel's hand to Angel and back again. From the doorway Buffy watched them, a lump inexplicably refusing to disappear from her throat. Angel replaced the blood and closed the door, and took the few steps across the room to her, where she put her arms around his waist and leant into his warm, solid chest, resting her head on his shoulder.

"I'm … I'll call you in the morning, honey," Hank said, faintly, and went out, his footsteps slow on the stairs before the door at the top was closed.

"I love you," Buffy said into Angel's jacket, her voice muffled. "I've tried not to, I've tried so hard, but I can't stop."

"There's no reason to stop now," he replied, breathing in the scent of her hair. "There's no reason."