Disclaimer: I don't own Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Angel or any of the characters mentioned in either cannon.
Author's Note: Thanks Lady Mac for the beta job. If you haven't read this story in a while, please go back and at least skim it. Details, answers, and other little clues are written in each chapter. I'm giving away no surprises. You'll find out when as the character's do. (: Hope you enjoy it.
The plan had been to watch over Ava all night. When Angel woke up, Ava was watching over him instead. Stretching his eyes open with her tiny fingers, she chirped. "Did you know that … you made my ice cream get all melty? The whole two scoops."
Releasing his eyelids, Ava remained perched on his lap. She left him no time to respond and barely any to wake up and register what was happening. "No sparkling means no sunshine right?"
"No, I can go into the sunlight." He just chose not to, most of the time. Losing Buffy made Angel believe that he didn't deserve it.
"That's so silly!" Shaking her head like it was the craziest thing she had ever heard in her four years of existence, Ava's face shifted to a more serious face. She had that thinking face again.
Oddly enough, she reminded him a lot of Buffy. The way her nose scrunched up in a way that it was obvious she was really thinking hard about something.
"I just don't have a reason to really go. I work at night." Angel shrugged and shifted under Ava's gaze. There was that look. It had to be the second craziest thing she heard.
"Angel. You're a silly butt. I have to play outside. Besides, all the funny faces come out at night." Trembling, she shoved away the memory of the bad men taking her away from her mommy.
"I work at night to get rid of all the funny faces." Angel smiled genuinely at the little girl. She was so full of life.
"Are you a ninja vampire? Is that your work?"
Staring at her serious expression, Angel shook his head no. "I'm a private investigator. I help the helpless."
And then it hit him, she was helpless, despite how strong of a personality she had. They still had to find her parents.
"Ava… what's your mommy's job?"
"She's my mommy." It was said like it was the most obvious thing in the world.
Nodding, Angel continued. "Well, what's your mommy's name?"
It was going to be a lot harder than he expected.
"Where do you live?" Anything would help.
"With my mommy."
Angel ran a hand down his face. She was definitely a lot like Buffy.
"Okay my turn!" Ava slid off his lap and then walked back and forth like she had seen the policemen do on her mommy's favorite show.
Angel stretched out his legs and focused on the tiny blonde. He could already tell that she required a lot of attention.
"Work time at night means play time in the sun and I need a new dress."
"Ava, I don't -"
"MY turn! My mommy is a sun time person. The only way to find my mommy is now."
Walking over to the curtain, she threw it to the side and Angel almost leapt out of it. Ignoring the reflex to hide, Angel squinted. She was beautiful in the light, just as Buffy had been.
"I have-ta change and I gots nothin' here." Her hands slid to her hips as she stood before him in the same a tutu pajama-set.
"Well I could get Cordy to take you out shopping." Angel reached for his wallet in his pocket, but was stopped with tiny hands covering his own.
"You. I want you to take me."
With the Circle of the Black Thorn defeated, life had continued on. Buffy had rejoined his life in the midst of still seeking out his redemption over a year later. Nearly four years after the Circle of the Black Thorn had been defeated, Angel had been so caught up that he pushed Buffy away and in what many believed to be an early grave. The Powers that Be had granted him his redemption on the anniversary of Buffy's death, but it was too late. Angel did not believe he deserved it, not after sacrificing the one hero the world truly needed. Refusing the gift of humanity, both Angel and Spike were turned into day-walkers in the year of 2009. Four years later, Angel was squaring off with a toddler demanding that he join the real world.
He had been through many battles, Buffy's death, and the begging of his friends. And in the five years since Buffy's death, Angel found himself considering to join the real world long enough to help the small blonde that reminded him so much of her.
"…You're not going to let me win this are you…"
Ava's entire face lit up and Angel could see the excitement in her chocolate eyes.
The innocent smile that she gave him made him laugh out loud.
"Alright, Ava. Let's go."
Nose crinkling up in that familiar fashion, she gave him the once over. "You have gotsta change, mister."
Angel's mouth fell open and he started to protest, but she cut him off again.
"And you stink." Grabbing her nose, she walked out of the room and headed for the living room to wait patiently.
Angel stepped out of his room to see where she planned on going and found her crawling on the couch beside Spike. He was already watching his day-time soaps.
He didn't look away from the television until Ava began to ask him what felt like five thousand questions about each character and what they were doing.
Taking advantage of the stand-in babysitter, Angel closed the door behind him and decided he'd follow her orders. A shower and a change of clothes were required and he wanted nothing more than to keep her happy.
Spike looked down at the blonde and found himself thinking of finally settling down and having at least one of his own. The image of the leggy, half-demon seer entered his mind. Cordy had reentered their lives after the battle explaining she had gotten bored with the fashion above. The gang had accepted her back, but it wasn't until Buffy's death and Angel's fall that Spike had finally noticed what the others already had.
Despite Cordy's knack for fashion and bold comments, some consider high maintenance and rude, he noted a change in her. She truly cared for Angel and it was Cordy that helped keep him sane during Angel's break to insanity. The remainder of the group had moved back to Angel Investigations where some pulled together and others split up after Buffy's untimely death. Two leaders gone, Spike and Cordy did their best to keep up the Los Angeles battle while the rest spread to different parts of the world again.
Pulling himself out of his thoughts of a baby with Cordy, Spike blinked his eyes to focus them. "How you'd end up with Angel, pet?"
Ava's brow lifted and she grinned. "You're a nosey-body."
"I am not!"
Ava shrugged and covered her mouth to keep from giggling. Grown-ups, they were silly.
Caving in, Spike sighed loudly, and beat himself up mentally. Women. "Alright, I'm nosey. Are you going to tell me or not?"
Dropping her heads, she placed them in her lap. Crossing her legs, she mumbled. "Criss-cross apple-sauce, hands in the pot."
A serious expression suddenly crossed her features and the look alone worried Spike. Did the poof finally loose it and kidnap a kid?
"The monsters hurt my mommy, but Angel got them and the funny faces."
An eerie feeling crept inside of Spike and he felt his heart go out for the young girl. She was so young. He could tell that already some of her innocence had been lost through the experience.
"What were you doing out so late?"
Ava's eyes began to tear up as she recalled exactly what had happened.
"I was sleeping and they tried to get me and my mommy …" Her lower lip began to tremble and a tear slipped down her cheek. Wiping it with the back of her hand she continued.
Spike couldn't help but to notice strength in the child most adults didn't possess.
"They hit her real real hard and took me to the funny faces."
Looking down into her lap, her tiny shoulders slumped in defeat. "Mr. Angel gonna help me."
Spike wanted to ask if her mother had died, but he couldn't bring himself to ask her that question. Did Angel know?
Exhaling, she shook it all off and forced out a hopeful smile. "I'm getting a pretty dress to see my mommy."
Reaching into his pocket, he took out his wallet and took out some cash. Extending it out to her, he shook it a little to bring her attention to the bills.
"Buy some shoes to go with that dress."
Spike wanted to give her a reason to hold onto the hope. His heart ached for her and he wanted more than anything for Angel to really find her mother, alive.
"My mommy said not…"
"Shhhh, it's okay. You can't wear a pretty dress with slippers can you?"
Straightening out her legs, she wiggled her toes inside of her fuzzy slippers and looked up into Spike's blue eyes.
"There you go… good girl."
Closing her fist over the folded bills, she jumped up on the couch cushions when Angel emerged from his bedroom freshly showered and dressed.
"Angel! I get shoes!" Ava waved the money excitedly as she jumped up and down on the couch cushions causing both Angel and Spike to share matching grins.
"Call Cordy, tell her to meet us at the mall." Angel grimaced as he and Ava left the apartment in search of a dress with matching shoes.
Somehow Angel knew he would end up in the mall when she first mentioned the dress, he just didn't know why. The small fingers laced in his own reminded him of exactly why.
"This store! This one. This one." Ava jumped up and down excitedly, still holding tightly to Angel's hand. Women that passed by smiled appreciatively at Angel assuming that Angel was the doting father.
Dragging Angel into the store, Angel could tell Ava knew the store well. She had been in it several times with her mother.
A young lady walked up, beating out her coworkers in assisting the handsome man who entered the store with his daughter.
"Hi, my name is Holly. What can I help you with today?"
Completing ignoring Ava, Holly smiled at Angel seductively.
Relieved to have help and oblivious to the flirting, Angel looked down at Ava. "She needs a dress and some shoes."
Ava glared up at Holly and moved closer to Angel, immediately hugging to his leg.
Holly squatted down to Ava's height, for the first time really noticing Ava. "Oh, she looks just like you!"
Recognizing Ava, the assistant manager walked over which she didn't spot Sadie. Assuming Angel was the father, she gave a little wave to Ava.
"You must be the missing puzzle piece."
Holly stood and looked at her manager, but before she could speak, the assistant manager Rebecca cut her off.
"He's married and this little girl and her mother are two of our best customers."
Ava finally figured it out and had to giggle. They thought he was her daddy.
Holly flushed in embarrassment, but did not have long to dwell on it.
"Hey, guys." Cordy tossed some hair out of her face and then flashed a smile.
"Oh, you're the wife."
Cordy looked over at Holly flabbergasted. "Excuse me?"
Ava looked up at Angel and noticed he looked like the world was about to open up and swallow him whole or he wanted it to.
"That's not is not Mrs. McDonald." Rebecca looked disapprovingly at both Angel and Cordelia. Eyeing Cordelia, she decided to remain professional without getting too personal.
"I'm Rebecca, the assistant manager, and you're …"
Tugging at Angel's hand, Ava grabbed his cheeks when he reached her level. "They're driving me crazy, Mr. Angel."
Angel chuckled. They needed the dress, but he needed the information.
"I'm sorry, sweetheart. Just give me a minute to figure out…"
Ava waved her hands, "No. My mommy has yellow hair and her eyes has lots and lots of colors."
Turning toward Cordy, she pointed. "You're not my mommy. And Angel is my friend…"
One more turn to the staff and Ava slid her hands to her hips in Buffy fashion. "I need a dress and shoes."
It was Rebecca's turn to flush in embarrassment. "Oh, I thought this was your father. You look so much … Where is Mr. and Mrs. McDonald?"
The name turned Angel's stomach. Lindsay had left Wolfram & Heart years prior and no one had seen him since. It couldn't be. Angel shook off the absurdity of his thoughts. It just couldn't be.
"My friend and I are babysitting Ava and Mrs. McDonald was supposed to meet us here. We were running late and I forgot my phone..." Angel patted his pockets and tried to use charms.
"You know once you store a number into the memory of your phone, it doesn't store in your memory as well." A half smile was given as he looked between the two women. He hoped he wasn't THAT out of practice.
"O'Roarke..." Angel took her hand into his and shook it gently, noting her blush. Her eyes never once left his as the blush deepened.
"I can give Sadie a call…" The professionalism had left the moment she fell victim to his thrall.
"You can call me, Angel."
Rebecca sighed softly, completely forgetting her surroundings. "Angel."
"You'd do that for me? I'd hate to have to ask …"
"Oh, no, you didn't. I suggested it. It's fine. I'll just go… call."
Ava gasped when Rebecca and Holly walked away. "WE HAVE TO HURRY."
Cordy laughed out right at that. "Then I say we get started with the dress."
Releasing Angel's hand, Ava took Cordy's and the two hurried to the dress section while Angel took a seat by the dressing rooms.
Watching Cordy and Ava interact, Angel could tell that Cordelia longed for children. Hell, so did he, but that had died with Buffy.
"…Angel, Sadie is on her way."
Angel looked back at the sound of Rebecca's voice and then gave a little nod. He was happy to hear that Ava's mother was alive and healthy enough to come, but sad that he was about to lose Ava.
Cordy looked helped Ava put on the seventh dress since entering the store. It had absolutely the right one. It was sweet, but still had the modern spice to it.
"Oh my wow, I LOVE IT." Ava spun in the mirror and then squealed before bursting out of the dressing room toward Angel.
Jumping alert, he sat up and could not help but to watch on as she pranced around and twirled in the dress. She reminded him a lot like Buffy. She too didn't understand how beautiful she was.
"It's very lovely." Angel smiled, causing Ava to curtsy.
Cordy joined them holding the other dresses. "Let's get them all."
At Angel's look, Cordy whined. "What? Like you and Spike get to be the only ones to spoil her…"
"Spike ….OH SHOES!" Suddenly remembering the money Spike had given her, she took off toward the shoes leaving Cordelia chasing after her.
"Slow down, Ava!"
The two of them practically screeched to a halt when they both spotted them… They were glittery ballerina flats that were covered in sequins and matched the dress perfectly.
The two looked mesmerized. Could anything be more beautiful?
Rushing into the store, Sadie did exactly what her husband said not to do, she acted before thinking.
Doing so previously had gotten her knocked out cold while her daughter was kidnapped. Lindsay had told her to rest and that he would handle it. It led to a fight which led to Buffy leaving in search of her daughter and Lindsay heading for his sources.
It was her daughter and if someone spotted her, she had to go. Nearly getting into several traffic accidents on the way, Sadie had made it and it made her nervous to think maybe she was too late.
"Ava?" Sadie searched the store frantically, tears filling her hazel eyes.
"Ava, sweetie. Mommy's here. Where are you?"
Angel had gotten up from his seat to pull out his credit card after seeing the reaction to the shoes, but stopped cold when he heard HER voice. Buffy.
His back was facing her and for the first time in a long time, Angel was completely terrified. What if he turned around and she disappeared just as she had during all of his hallucinations?
Sadie neared the dressing rooms and felt her stomach get sick. She didn't see Ava anywhere.
"Excuse me sir." Sadie reached out and tapped Angel on the arm.
When he turned to face her, she felt a rush of comfort wash over her as she got lost in his soulful brown eyes.
Her touch had felt like it had restarted his heart as it literally skipped a beat. Angel almost reached out to touch her face as he stared down into the hazel eyes he thought he'd never lose himself in again.
Sadie blinked and took a step back. The intensity was too much, too familiar, and deeply personal.
"Have you seen a little girl, brown hair ... brown eyes..." Just like his.
Second Author's Note: Yes, I'm evil. 3 Buffy's back or is she?