Once again happy new year to long time readers!
Preview for Part 3: Your Heart Still in It?
(Next part of I Have Loved You Wrong series)
Chapter 1: Up, Up, Up, and Down
Before digging into his books, Liam planned to feed. Reaching inside the refrigerator, he stopped his hand midair. On the front of the closest blood packet lay a sticky note.
Recognizing Anne's writing , he obediently approached the microwave. He figured she'd heated up his blood anticipating his midnight meal time. But instead of a mug of blood, he found something else . . . something he wasn't prepared for.
Inside the microwave sat a bowl of soup with a spoon inside. It was such a normal human thing, and it was for him. He knew as much from the scent of blood wafting from it.
Not since his parents' home had he enjoyed a meal like this. The sight left him too stunned to reach out and touch his gift.
Something in his peripheral vision caught his attention.
Anne was laying down a glass of water and a napkin on the table, the perfect human touch.
Tying not to let on how affected he was, he commented on her next activity. "He's a little young for bottle feeding, isn't he?"
She looked up from her seat, "Four months is early, but he has to depend on someone, and this way, if it's not me, it won't be such a shock."
If he was naive, he'd promise nothing would happen to her, but given the dangers she regularly chose to face, she could die at any time . . . they were too old to pretend otherwise.
He chose to focus on the present. "Thank you for this." He sat down with his gift.
"Thanks to Vincent, time I used to spend sleeping, I now spend on the oddest of things."
"Like pigs blood soup."
"It's the least I could do for letting us crash here."
"Ha! I drove you here from the hospital and locked you out of your apartment."
She pursed her lips playfully. "Indeed."
Trying some soup, he added, "One of Cordelia's least crazy ideas."
She moved Vincent to her shoulder to burp him. "I don't know what I would have done if you hadn't."
"Run yourself into the ground taking care of teens, demons, and drooly Vinny." He handed her a napkin to wipe up said drool. "And it's not like I don't have enough room."
That was certainly true. After Wolfram and Hart blew up his last office, Liam rediscovered an old hotel from his past. It was beautiful and roomy enough to guarantee Vincent woke only her at night.
She looked out towards the lobby. "How long do you think it will take to restore it all?"
"At the pace we're going? a lifetime or two."
She rocked her gurgling bundle with a smile. "How's the soup?"
"Weird." He quickly elaborated, "Not in a bad way. It's just surreal to eat something from a spoon and enjoy it."
"Good because I was thinking. I mean I found. . ." She looked away nervously.
"What is it?"
"I want to make black pudding- I mean, if you're up for it."
"Could I help?"
"Of course." Her eyes widened with surprise. "I didn't think you'd - but, of course."
"It's just that I remember making it or at least, watching our family cook make it."
The information made her smile. "So you'll keep us on the right track."
"Yeah." He looked down shyly and savored his meal in silence. It was nice just sitting with her. "What time are you picking Faith up?"
"Her bus should get in around five which means my early evening nap is not going to happen."
He took his bowl to the sink and soaked it. "So you should sleep extra now."
Chuckling, she readjusted Vinny's blanket. "You are hilarious."
"Hand him over." He approached her with arms out.
He kept coming. "He's been fed and burped. Now he's gonna fuss a little, cry a little, and sleep a bit." He bent down and waited expectantly. "You don't need to be up for that."
She slowly delivered up the bundle. "And when are you gonna sleep?"
"Undead remember?" He looked into Vince's eyes and smiled. " I don't need daily shut eye." He readjusted the blanket just like she had. "Now go. Off with you."
She stood and caressed her baby's head then she looked at Liam. In a different world, him holding her baby could mean something different, something perfect. Going off to bed, she supposed what they had was perfect enough . . . for now.
Lilly shucked corn while Anne chopped peppers. "Do you ever wonder if they had a thing?"
Anne frowned, "Who?"
"Faith and Liam."
"No. I mean, yes, I wonder, but I don't think anything happened between them."
Lilly handed her the now naked corn. "He wouldn't he'd let it?"
"If they'd dated, she would have let it slip by now."Anne put the corn in the to-be-chopped pile and put the peppers in a bowl. "Besides, he'd be weird around her if they'd done stuff and he seems entirely comfortable."
"Sometimes casual avoids weird."
Lilly handed the full trash bag to a kid passing through the kitchen. Quickly, she focused back on the conversation at hand. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have let curiosity take control of my mouth. "
She started cutting corn off a cob. "If they tell me they want to try a celibate thing, I should be happy for them. Of course, I'd prefer he choose someone who wasn't a slayer."
"Feels like a replacement?"
Buffy shrugged. "I don't want to have been just 'his type' of girl. Darla was tiny and blonde, but that didn't bother me because hello? chosen one - emphasis on the singular."
"Everybody is entitled to preference, and after meeting Lindsey, Liam certainly thinks he knows mine."
"Which is . . . ."
"Brunette bad boy."
Lilly started laughing. "I'm sorry. I know you said he worked for big evil, but I still can't picture Lindsey as a bad boy. Anne, he had an N' Sync lunch box."
"Anyways." Smiling, she bumped Lilly with her side. "If Faith and him decide to couple, I should support it."
Lilly shook her head. "I can't imagine her skipping sex for love."
"Another fact I find comforting."
"Sex without love, though . . . "
Buffy started tossing the vegetable together aggressively. "I could be okay with that, someday, when I'm older and wiser and under magical influences."
Lilly just rolled her eyes and sprinkled in some chopped garlic.
Hearing a knock on her office door, Anne looked up. "Wesley, you didn't have to come to the shelter. I just called to make sure you'd still be at the office tonight." With baby in one arm and papers in another she waved and offered him a chair.
"Yes, well I was in the area, and your message said you wanted my help with something."
"Yes." She gestured at their surroundings. "Sanctuary needs someone respectable to represent it."
"What about Lilly and yourself?"
"High school drop outs who barely got GEDs. Add that to the fact our legal identities are associated with less than legal behavior."
Leaning closer, he lowered his voice. "But you were never arrested for anything."
She lowered her voice too. "I've been a murder suspect twice and was considered a run away until I turned 18."
He leaned back. "I see your point."
"In the beginning, we didn't ask for money, so no one cared who we were. we worked odd jobs and put every pay check into supporting this place." She began softly bouncing Vince. "Lindsey changed all that. He drafted proposals and put his name on them so between government funding and private donors, Sanctuary was covered."
"That he changed things so quickly is quite impressive."
"He was -is - an impressive guy." Pulling herself out of memories, she put the papers on the desk so she could hold Vince with both hands. "But now it's time to renew things and meet people, and Lil and I aren't who they are expecting."
Wesley leaned forward again. "What are you asking exactly?"
"Will you, Wesley Windam Pryce, become a partner in Sanctuary and be your educated, classy, socially acceptable self on paper and in person so we can keep our funding?"
His jaw dropped a little. "You're offering me a job."
"You offered me one." She tilted her head. "And in this case, I actually have the power to hire you - being the head boss and all."
Sitting back, he huffed, "I don't think it's your record which keeps the donors away."
She muttered, "Right- nice face." She smiled prettily. "Please?"
He observed, "I do already have a job."
"I know, and this wouldn't take much time at all. I handle the paperwork and set up events and you just sign and show up."
"And be my classy British self."
She shifted Vincent so he faced Wesley. "Vinny will love you forever."
He tried very hard to scowl but couldn't make it stick. "Soon, that child will outgrow these boyish charms and be useless as means of persuasion."
She whispered in Vince's ear, "Show him your baby blues." Her breath tickled his cheek making him giggle. "You giving the toothless smile?"
"Gums are visible." Wesley furrowed his brow just as Lilly paused in the doorway.
"He say yes yet?"
Looking to the ceiling, he sighed dramatically, "I'll be your front man."
Lil blew baby a kiss. "Thank you Vinny."
She walked away leaving Wesley with mouth agape.
"I agree to help and she thanks the gurgling child."
Moving from her seat, Buffy placed a hand on his shoulder and kissed his cheek. "Thank you Wes."
He tried to contain his blush. "You're welcome."
While placing Vince in the office crib she murmured to him, "We've still got the charm."
Wes couldn't argue that.
"Can I talk to Anne?"
"Just let me get her." Liam held the phone to his chest. "ANNE!"
Wiping at spit up on her shirt, Anne walked into the lobby. Before taking the phone, she muttered, "You are so lucky he's a deep sleeper."
"Faith for you."
She rolled her eyes and sighed. "Is this you postponing your trip again?" She continued wiping at spit up. "Cause I gotta tell you, Vince is getting messier with every day - not cuter."
"I don't think I should leave Sunnydale now."
"Stupid hellmouth - it has no respect for a girl's godmother duties."
Faith didn't reply right away. "When was the last time you talked to Joyce?"
"Couple weeks ago." Buffy frowned growing concerned. "Why?"
"She's been getting headaches for a while and then this week, she went to a doctor. He wants her to stay overnight for testing. Joyce plays it like it's no big, but I think I should stay with her, you know?"
"Are you in the house now?"
"Yeah, she's napping upstairs."
"I want you to go in the living room and look at the day planner on the desk."
"Okay. . ."
"Now look to the day she went to the appointment. What doctor does it say she saw?
"Sorry, I can't say this name."
"Spell it for me?" She typed the name into her computer and read what came up. "And what test does it say she's having later?"
"A kit scan."
Stepping behind her, Angel put a hand on her shoulder. She tried to beat back her worry with deep breathing. "Okay Faith. You did good."
"What does this mean?"
"It means you were right to stay with her." She leaned back into Angel. "And you're going to need support. You both are."
"You're not saying. . . "
"First, I'm going to talk to mom, then I'll know what I'm saying."
"You and me in Sunnydale, how crazy would that be?"
Closing her eyes, she shook her head. "Almost unthinkable."
"Wait, I think I hear her moving around."
"Can you put her on?"
"Yeah, hold on."
Buffy turned in Angel's arms and looked up at him. Her eyes glistened; she sighed, "Is this really happening?"
The rest of Your Heart Still in It? will be posted as a separate story which you can find on my page. If any of ya'll feel good about your editing abilities, I'd love to chat about collaborating. Shoot me a message and we can see about getting the rest of these chapters out in a timely fashion.