A/N: Oh. My. Gosh.
The AISHB sequel has arrived! (jumps up and down and claps happily)
So freaking excited.
This story is my favorite, I'll just tell you that right off the bat. I love, love, love, love it! I already like it better than AISHB (gasp). But I think that's due to the MAJOR storyline! Major, major, major! I AM SO EXICTED! This is ridiculous! Although these rewrites are definitely the most difficult I've done (trust me on this), it is sooooooooooooooooooo worth it! I'm hopelessly devoted to this story. It killed me to have as much of it written as I did and not post it, but I wanted to finish Eye of the Beholder before I posted, and then I also wanted to give you guys a break. Hence, the whole day before starting to publish this story (lol). I seriously think that I'm spoiling all of you. But, that's okay with me, so we're good. So, I've typed my fingers to the bone, and this is the product!
This story is going to be even longer than AISHB, both in chapter and word count. This story will also have two original episodes by yours truly. I'm ecstatic about those! I haven't written them yet because I can't write anything out of order, and my original episodes are way down the line...so...you'll have to content yourselves with me fixing Joss' epic work so that Buffy and Angel are together and happy with their little bundle of...
You really didn't think I'd tell you in the author's note, did you? :D
I swear. I really do love you. Promise.
Random Disclaimer: (I do not own Buffy).
Me: Guys! Guys! New story!
Buffy: (whispers to Angel) She's really wigging out...
Angel: (eyes me warily) Yeah...I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not...
Me: Hey, at least I finished Eye of the Beholder, right? You guys were so annoyed with your younger, angsty selves.
Angel: (sighs in relief) Thank God.
Buffy: Seriously. We were so stupid, and we were even more stupid in canon.
Angel: (looks at me fondly) But that's what she's for! She fixes it.
Me: (blushes furiously at Angel's look) Hi...
Buffy: Great. Look at that. Now she's an incoherent mess. Why must you be so good-looking?
Me: (still breathless and awestruck at the awesomeness that is Angel) Hi...
Angel: Okay, that's just creepy.
Heartthrob Part One
Buffy ducked quickly and the fist meant for her face sailed over her head, just missing her temple. "Ha ha, too slow!" she taunted before spinning and kicking her attacker in the chest, sending him flying back into the wall.
Angel grinned as he flipped himself up. "Yeah right," he scoffed before leaping at her again, sending another flurry of kicks and punches her way, all of which she deftly defended against.
Their audience watched in rapt attention, occasionally whispering to each other.
"Oh, she's got 'em, she's got 'em," Gunn said excitedly as Buffy backed Angel against the wall.
"No, no, no," Wesley shook his head. "Angel is far too experienced to allow that," he argued and not a second later, Angel had thrown Buffy across the room. However, the Slayer gracefully rolled to her feet, ready for another attack.
"I think you guys are way too into this." Cordelia shook her head, but then her eyes widened as Buffy sent a quick combination at Angel, causing the vampire to lose his rhythm. "Get him Buffy!"
Fred was silent the majority of the time. She simply watched and observed. Fred knew who would win in the end. It had taken a great deal of concentration, but after a few minutes of watching Buffy and Angel spar for the first time a little over a month ago and then doing the mental calculations in her head, she had determined that it was really a draw as to who would win. However, for this particular fight, Fred bet that Angel would win. His moves were just a little bit sharper than Buffy's today…
A plan formed in Angel's mind as he deftly dodged and blocked Buffy's attack. He blocked a right hook meant to connect to his cheekbone, and then he grabbed her other wrist that he knew was sailing towards his temple.
There was a soft thump as Angel pinned Buffy's body against the wall with his. He held her wrists above her head against the wall as he nipped at her neck playfully. "I win," he smirked.
"Aw man," Gunn whined as Angel and Buffy approached them hand in hand. He fished around in his pocket before forking over the twenty he owed Wesley, who took the money with a smug smile.
"I told you so," Wesley grinned happily as he pocketed his extra money.
Cordelia just shook her head, but nonetheless gave Buffy a somewhat scandalized glare. "What's with the lack of girl power?"
Buffy smiled before whispering something in her ear, so low that Angel couldn't hear. The guys watched as Cordelia suddenly burst into a fit of un-Cordy like giggles.
"I don't even want to know," Angel shook his head.
"She totally said something about you," Gunn smirked.
"Probably of an embarrassing nature," Wesley couldn't help but add.
Angel frowned. "And now Cordy knows…damn it."
"Is that…a…um, bad thing?" Fred asked quietly, still slightly awkward although she was growing in leaps and bounds in terms of social constructs.
Gunn adopted an adoring smile, "Nah, as long as Angel doesn't do anything that warrants blackmail…then he's in trouble."
"I imagine she just received some valuable information," Wesley said grinning, seeing Angel's wide-eyed look. "Of a sort," Wesley couldn't help but add.
"This is what I was missing the last century," Angel said dryly. "Friendship."
Buffy spotted Angel's slight pouting expression, and smiled as she looped her arm through his. "You know I love you, right?" she couldn't help but tease.
"That's what you keeping telling me." Angel shook his head, but he couldn't help the slight quirk of his lips.
"And you'd better believe it," Buffy quipped before giving him a solid kiss on the cheek. "Cause me and Cordy are going shopping…and we're taking Fred, if she's willing."
"W-what?" Fred spoke up, looking from Angel to Buffy to Cordelia and then to Wes and Gunn.
"Come on Fred." Buffy smiled encouragingly. "A little shopping's good for the soul."
"We just want to hit a few stores." Cordelia assured Fred. "They're really boutiques, so not too many people."
Fred still looked hesitant. Although she'd made great strides since returning, it all still seemed a little surreal to her. Leaving her room was trying enough, although she did like to come down to the lobby as long as Angel was there. "T-that's…um, nice for ya to ask, but I'll just head back…up to my room, if ya don't mind," she smiled nervously, glancing up at Angel quickly before looking back at Buffy and Cordelia.
Buffy shrugged. "No biggie, there will be a next time," she grinned as Angel closed his eyes and wondered which of his credit cards she'd take.
Angel, Wes, and Gunn entered the hotel, all of them looking tired and dirty with their shirts torn in places. Not five minutes after Buffy and Cordelia had left for their shopping excursion; a client had come in, saying something about weird people and more weird people worshipping an even weirder thing. Complete, babbling nonsense...so, naturally, the men of the AI team had decided to check it out.
"I understand a lot of things," Wesley said as they walked into the hotel just as the sun was setting. "But I don't understand how people can worship demons."
"Yeah, especially a Lur-ite demon," Gunn spoke up, shaking his head. "I mean, the stink on that thing…you a Prince of the Underworld, bro, take a Jacuzzi once in a while."
Angel and Wes chuckled, but Wesley couldn't help the sigh that escaped him. "It's sad how the only purpose some can find in life is by becoming obsessed with demons."
"It could be worse," Angel told them, and Gunn and Wesley looked at him questioningly. "Trust me," Angel shook off their inquiring looks. "You don't wanna know."
"I believe that," Gunn said after a moment before plopping down on the couch.
Wesley sat on the couch next to Gunn and set a bag of weapons on the floor, taking out Gunn's weapon for him to clean. Angel had kept his sword with him and grabbed a rag from the bag before setting to work. They were all focused on their tasks, and silence rained upon them. Angel finished first and then stowed the weapon in the weapons cabinet, putting it where it was supposed to be.
Angel had not been happy when he'd returned from Ireland to find that Cordy had rearranged the weapon's cabinet. It had taken him hours to get everything where it had been. It was just wrong to mess with a man's, or in this case, an ensouled vampire's, weapons. It just…it wasn't right.
"By the way Gunn," Wesley spoke up, breaking the comfortable silence. "Technically that wasn't a Lur-ite. It was a Mur-ite, a subspecies of the Lur-ite. The male sports a small, telltale fin just behind the third shoulder," he explained as he gestured to his shoulder.
"Sure glad to know we're not the sad people obsessed with demons," Gunn said dryly.
"Well, we have to be a little obsessed," Wesley returned logically. "We're detectives who specialize in these things."
"But…we're not sad," Gunn shook his head.
"No, no," Wesley agreed. "We're a happy and rambunctious lot if I ever saw one," he said causing Angel and Gunn to chuckle.
"I realize that we sacrifice a great deal of our…social lives, but we have to. Work demands it," Wesley continued contemplatively. "Unless you're Angel," he added.
"What?" Angel raised his eyebrows.
Gunn shook his head at Angel's confusion. "He's clueless."
"What?" Angel repeated exasperatedly.
"You got it all man," Gunn explained. "You've got the love of your life—which is sayin' something considerin' you've had a pretty long life. You still fight all the demons and she gets to fight them with you, and you don't have to worry 'bout her 'cause Buffy can take care of herself."
Angel frowned for a moment before a slight smile pulled at his lips. "Yeah," he agreed finally, quietly. "I'm pretty lucky, I guess."
"Yeah," Gunn agreed. "I mean, how do us regular guys have time for love when we're out there doin' it with demons?" he asked, but at Angel and Wesley's looks he backtracked. "That came out wrong."
"I hope so," Buffy smirked as she and Cordelia came into the lobby, bearing the fruits of their labor—many, many shopping bags.
Wesley eyed Cordelia and Buffy's shopping bags. "I thought you said you were doing a little shopping."
"We did," Buffy shrugged with a smile.
"But there was a sale," Cordelia added happily.
Angel looked at all the bags. "Sale?"
"Don't worry, I did think of you," Buffy smirked slightly, a teasing glint in her eye. "I got you something…actually I got you a few somethings," she said as Cordy giggled, causing Angel to grow anxious.
There was no telling what Buffy had bought. She'd bought him a pink t-shirt once. It had 'BITE ME' across the chest. Buffy had thought it was hilarious because of the irony, but when Angel had absolutely refused to wear it, even for a second, Buffy had decided it would make a very appropriate nightshirt for her.
"Do I have to wear it?" Angel asked somewhat nervously.
Cordelia shook with laughter. "God, I hope not," she managed between bouts of laughter.
Now, Angel was just lost and Buffy took pity on him. With a giggle, Buffy dropped her bags and sidled up to Angel, whispering in his ear, "Don't rip these okay? Lace is expensive."
Angel knew if he could have, he would have blushed. But since he couldn't, he was able to smirk and look completely unembarrassed.
"Yo, care to clue us in?" Gunn asked, never one to like being out of the loop.
Angel and Buffy wore matching grins. "No."
Buffy giggled as Angel kissed her stomach and tickled her sides, his lips slowly making the journey to her neck and then her lips. Buffy wrapped her arms around him and smiled into the kiss. When they broke away, Angel grinned and laid on his back as Buffy propped herself up on her elbow.
"I'm so proud of you," Buffy teased, glancing pointedly at her still intact black, lacy lingerie on the floor.
Angel just grinned and pulled Buffy on top of him. "You should be," he replied, unable to stop himself from kissing her as his hands ran down her back.
Buffy glanced at the clock on the nightstand. "Huh…we missed dinner."
"I've always liked desert better, anyway," Angel joked as he began to massage her back.
"Mhm," Buffy murmured contentedly as she laid her head on Angel's chest. A thought occurred to Buffy then. "Has Fred come out of her room since this morning?"
Angel didn't pause in his ministrations, but Buffy didn't have to look up to know that he was thinking. "No…"
"You should go talk to her," Buffy told him. "She trusts you more than any of the rest of us."
Angel sighed. "She'll come around…she just needs to adjust."
"I know," Buffy said softly. "And believe me…you're good at helping people adjust to a new world. Help her like you helped me," she ordered gently with a kind smile.
Angel ran a hand through her hair and kissed her tenderly, trying to put all the love he had for her into the kiss. "Okay," he whispered.
Fred was busy in her room, writing furiously on the walls. They were practically covered from floor to ceiling in complex, mathematical equations that she doubted anyone but herself could aptly understand completely. It was her own language and at the moment it was truly the only thing that made sense to her. She took comfort in that.
A sound suddenly resonated through the room, causing her to jump slightly and pause in her writing. Fred quickly assessed that the sound was from a knock on the door. Not wanting to see anyone (people still made her nervous, even though she was fairly certain that no one here would hurt her), Fred called towards the door, "Oh…hi! How are ya?" she asked even though she hadn't even opened the door. "I'm just fine, doin' good here! No need to worry 'bout me, but thanks for checking!"
Behind the door, Angel smiled. "Fred, it's me."
"Oh!" Fred exclaimed, trying to control her excitement.
She trusted Angel. He was the only person she trusted fully…although Gunn and Wesley were making their way up in the trust ranks. They made her feel safe, protected, and Fred was grateful for that, but at the moment, they just didn't measure up to Angel. Buffy was cool too, and Fred could surmise, based on the available evidence, that it was quite possible she could be good friends with the blonde, and Cordelia too for that matter—but she just wasn't ready to fully trust them yet. This world was still too new, too foreign.
Remembering that Angel was behind the door, she quickly opened it and almost went to hug him, but she stopped herself. Although Buffy seemed nice, and even if Fred wasn't that up to date on reading people…she got a distinct feeling that both Buffy and Angel were jealous types and very protective of each other.
"Hey!" Fred said excitedly as she took off her glasses. "Hey, hey…hi…uh…here…" she stepped aside and began throwing things into corners to make a decent walk space suitable for company. "Why don't you…uh, let me make some room..." she said as she swiped papers and things off a chair in case Angel chose to sit.
"I can't come in," Angel told her patiently. No, he hadn't actually come up to Fred's room since they'd gotten back. Between cases and other demons and Buffy, Angel hadn't had the chance. Although he knew that Wesley and Gunn had come up to try and coax her downstairs more than once.
"'Course not," Fred said shyly. "You're probably all worn out from fighting. You go rest…we can catch up later…" she said as she began to shut the door again.
"No, Fred, I want to talk to you," Angel told her gently, using the calm, soothing voice he used when Dawn or Buffy were upset. It always seemed to relax them, and he was hoping for the same result with Fred. "I just can't come in unless you—"
"Invite you!" Fred interrupted, as she slapped her forehead. "Of course, come in, come in," she urged as she moved out of the way.
Angel smiled as he entered the room, Fred closing the door behind them and immediately beginning to talk in a rushed babble. "As far as I'm concerned there's only a smidge of vampire in you, but the universe has rules," she began. "I'm a big believer in rules and theorems and formulas…"
Angel scanned the walls, not understanding a bit of it. "I get that," he said as he continued to look at the walls.
"Aphorisms leave me a little dry…" Fred said as she picked up her pen once more.
"How are you?" Angel asked kindly.
"Yeah, good," Fred said still a little fidgety and embarrassed despite Angel's best efforts. "Everything's pretty much like when you…ya know…went away for your trip."
A familiar wave of guilt washed over Angel, but Buffy would always come first. "Sorry I left you so suddenly…" he apologized.
"Hey, no, you had to take care of Buffy…" Fred shook off his apology. "It's not like I need a babysitter or anything or…you're sticking around though, right?"
"Yeah, I am," Angel smiled, assuaging Fred's anxiety.
Fred smiled happily. Even though Angel and Buffy had been back for a little over a month, she couldn't help but wonder if he would suddenly leave again. Angel's positive response reassured her. "Good."
Angel looked over her shoulder at the writing on the wall. "Listen, listen," he read. "What are you listening for?"
Angel looked at her patiently, waiting for her to explain.
Fred perched herself on a chair. "When it all comes together and makes sense, it's like there's a click in your brain and you understand things again."
"Well what happens when you run out of wall space before you get the click?" Angel questioned, gently poking and prodding, trying to get Fred to open up.
Fred looked genuinely puzzled, as though the thought had never occurred to her. "I don't know."
"Fred, you know, you spent five years in a place where humans could only be slaves or fugitives," Angel told her. "I know that wasn't a picnic for you, but you're home now. You're safe," he said softly. "You can come out of your room."
Fred looked away.
"I know it takes some time," Angel said knowingly.
"Time! I have a whole treatise on time," Fred told him before turning to the wall, beginning to scribble unremittingly. "I seem to take a lot of it to do anything these days."
Angel sighed and followed her to the wall, gently taking the pen from her hand. "Fred, you don't have to write absolutely everything down."
"Oh, right," Fred laughed nervously. "God, I should write that down."
Angel placed his hands on her shoulders and guided her off the stool. "You just need to take some small steps, hmm?" he said as he pushed her glassed up on her nose. "Like…um," Angel began as he moved towards the door. "Coming downstairs and…" He opened the door. "Hanging out with us for a while..."
Noticing her slightly scared look, Angel gave her one of his best charming smiles that he'd used in his human days. "What do you say?" he asked as he moved into the hallway. "You're safe here in the hotel."
And just as Fred started to move towards him, Cordelia let loose a high-pitched scream. Damn it.
"You know, uh, hold that thought," Angel said quickly before hurrying down the stairs, leaving a confused Fred in the doorway.
Angel ran down the stairs to the lobby, seeing Buffy settling Cordelia on the couch. The Seer's face was scrunched up in pain, and Angel smoothed back her hair, "Easy, what is it? What do you see?" he asked softly, but firmly.
"Uh, a bunch of vampires," Cordelia answered strained as she focused on her vision. "T-there crashing a party…they're killing people…"
"Where?" Buffy asked hardly noticing that her friend clutched her hand in a death grip.
"Wilson College, Bonner Hall," Cordelia answered after a moment, and Buffy could hear Wes and Gunn already at the weapons cabinet loading up.
"Room 918!" Cordelia added as a room number flashed through her mind. "They're going to take hostages! Watch out for the blonde, she's the worst…"
Cordelia's eyes fluttered open then, the vision passing. "You gonna be alright?" Angel asked hurriedly, glancing towards the doors where Wes and Gunn had already left, heading for the car.
"Yeah, yeah, I'm fine," Cordelia cajoled, but Angel didn't move, looking at her worriedly. "I'm fine, go!" she entreated firmly and Angel finally nodded and left her side.
"Cordy," Buffy said disapprovingly, causing the Seer to look at her friend.
"I'm fine, Buffy, I promise," Cordelia repeated a little snappy.
Buffy frowned. "Then can you stop trying to crush my hand?"
Cordelia dropped Buffy's hand instantly, and closed her eyes tightly.
"Buffy! Let's go!" Angel barked from the doors and Buffy looked torn.
"We'll talk about this later, Cordy," Buffy warned before getting up and running out the doors where the rest of AI was waiting.
The moment Buffy left, Cordy clutched her head and began to cry, unable to keep her pain silent any longer.
So there you have it! The first chapter of "Love's Gift." I know most of this chapter is fluffy and filler, but don't worry, the next chapter has a lot more action! Personally, I'm lookin' forward to Chapters 3 &4! Those are my fav...you'll find out why...
Alrighty, so I'm changin' things up a little with posting. I have no idea how hectic my final semester of high school will be, and I don't want to commit to posting every other day and then end up not being able to follow through like I did with Eye. That really annoyed me, probably more than it annoyed any of you. To try and avoid that and give you guys consistent updates, I'm going to post every Monday and Thursday. Why those days? Because Mondays and Thursdays suck. Monday is just, well, Monday, and Thursday isn't Friday. At least, that's my logic. :D
Sooooooooo...I'll see you guys Thursday!
Reviews make me giggle,