Final chapter. Thanks for reading!
"I would have been here earlier too, if you all would learn to trust me," Patricia Holtz muttered in annoyance.
"Mom, we went over this!" Riley sighed in frustration.
"Yeah, yeah," she waved at him as Liam hurried to her, wrapping her up in a big bear hug.
"Mom! I didn't know you were coming."
She hugged him back and kissed his cheek. "I only spoke with Riley and Lindsey briefly and they, along with Rupert, told me I shouldn't inform you or Xander were done with... whatever it is you have been doing. And I'll assume it's over now." She looked him over for a moment. "Have you lost weight?"
He laughed and went to pull Buffy back into his arms. "I present to you the reason."
"I told you," she pointed her finger at him, "long ago, but you did not listen." Patty looked at Buffy and smiled. "I knew you were meant for my Liam the moment I first met you."
Buffy returned her smile then gazed up at her love before looking at his three brothers. She wasn't exactly surprised, she'd figured it out earlier, but still... she was in a daze.
"I still can't believe it. Half brothers, all of you," she shook her head. "Different fathers, last names, different lives. But the same Mom. The same blood. Jesus."
"And how exactly did you figure that out, by the way?" Liam asked, leading them over to a chair.
Buffy sat on the arm of the chair, though he'd wanted to place her somewhere else. "I won't be able to think if I sit on your lap," she murmured.
Liam's eyes gleamed at her.
"I've met her, many times now actually. Lindsey also has a few pictures up in his work area. I walked out earlier, no.. now yesterday, and you were all in here talking. The three of them plus Fred, and you were talking to my dad. A few bells started going off in my head, but I didn't really get it until later. Little things just.. came to me. Like how much you look more like her than Lindsey, how you all.. do certain small things you know. You all stand the same and your grim expressions are the same. Stuff like that. I already knew she'd married many times and.. I don't know.. you all give off this.. feeling. That was the only time I remember you all being in the same room together and really looking at you. And it scared me, though I didn't know what it was yet. I thought that The Gentleman had to either be Parker or William and I knew they could probably put it together if I had."
"How did you figure out it was Parker?"
"When I went to go looking for you. I used... I tapped into our... well, whatever between us. That connection we have. And it was really strong. I could almost see him. I knew you were there."
"Which is why you were running through his garden."
"I doubt you knew that he knew, but if he did..."
Liam sighed. "Yeah."
"Okay, now that we know when Buffy figured it out, why don't you tell us when you did."
He sighed again and prepared to tell the story.
"And you never let us on any of this because... why now?"
"I thought that the fewer who knew, the less possible it was to have a slip up."
"Jesus Christ, Liam. You teamed up with a vicious killer! One slip would have gotten your throat cut!"
"I thought it was worth the risk."
"But... Okay, Parker also knows that you.. that Liam O'Shea is Angelus," Buffy commented with a frown. She looked quickly over to their Mother, but she didn't seem phased at all, she just smiled at the blonde.
"Does he now? He might say that Liam O'Shea is Angelus, but all he really knows is that I claimed to be one in the same. He can't prove it. And there hasn't been a single robbery tied to Angelus in the city on top of everything. It comes down to my word against his and if he tries anything, my sterling reputation will protect me."
"And Interpol will say that the man who they strongly suspect to be Angelus never left Europe," Xander threw in softly.
"And, with their help, there's even been a couple of robberies that have been publicly linked to Angelus back in Europe, while I've been publicly Liam O'Shea."
"You should just be glad luck was on your side and the Lehanes didn't go public with their robbery then. That could have raised an issue."
He smiled. "Nah, and Rupert, I told you I didn't steal that thing. You refuse to believe me?" he shook his head then chuckled. "But anyway, the only luck I'm worried about is that they're going to find that very necklace in Parker's safe. So it's obvious he, The Gentleman,stole it." And he quickly added, "Not me."
"Oh yeah," Lindsey muttered, "obviously."
"So what next?"
"He's still more valuable to us on the outside of a prison cell than in."
"Road to redemption," Liam muttered.
"Don't push it," Xander warned.
"I was being serious..." When he noticed everyone was staring at him, he cleared his throat. "Okay, reasonably serious alright? People can change, you know!"
"I'm not always going to enjoy this, no, but I can do it."
"Can. I believe that. But for how long?"
"As long as it's necessary."
"And how long will the be?" Riley jumped in.
Liam sighed. "If you all want to know whether or not I plan to return to thieving, the answer is no. I do not. I've been there, I've done that."
"Obviously," Fred muttered and he laughed.
"I became an internationally famous cat burglar. I have nothing to prove. And honestly, I've enjoyed the past few months." His eyes drifted to Buffy. "Very much in fact."
"Oh, even the part where you've been shot at?" Lindsey spoke again.
His gaze went to his mother, "Sorry?"
"If you continue this, getting shot at could become an occupational hazard," Giles pointed out. "That's a dangerous life to live."
"Unlike the one I've been doing?" he shook his head. "But in any event, this is a life I enjoy. And I happen to be very good at it."
"You've broken the law."
"Many times. And now I'm being punished."
"Punishment?" Lindsey scoffed. "You're enjoying this all too damn much for it to be called punishment, dear brother."
He thought for a moment. "Okay, sure, but you can just say I'm working to redeem myself then."
"And what about all the loot you've stolen over the past close to ten years?"
"What about it?" he asked innocently.
"Goddamnit, you know what I mean about it."
"What? You expect me to give it back? I don't think so. Hell, not even Interpol expected that."
"We did try..."
"And?" Giles asked, raising an eyebrow.
"It was decided that his will coorperation was worth more than reclaiming everything he's stolen."
"Unlike Parker, I never stole anything just to put in a vault somewhere and stuff it with valuables. And it was never about the money either."
"Then what was it about?"
Liam smiled at Buffy for a moment before answering. "The thrill I guess. I liked putting my skills and my smarts to the test against the best security systems."
"Which he will still be doing.. in a manner of speaking."
"Hey, I'm willing. I don't want to spend my life in a prison cell."
"Can you control him?" Riley asked Xander.
"God knows," he rolled his eyes. "But I'm trying."
Lindsey sighed and looked them all over. "Am I the only one here who's still hung up on the fact that Liam is Angelus? That he's broken the law? Repeatedly?!"
Liam chuckled. "Yes. Now get over it."
"Really, Lindsey," Patty joined in.
Buffy never joined in the conversations between brothers and she still was avoiding any talk of what Liam's future plans might be. She figured he was probably still going to be around at least for a little while, but she didn't think that was going to be enough for her.
She didn't expect a little house on the outskirts of town, white picket fence, 2.5 kids, a cat and a dog.. but she didn't see it just as passing fling. It her eyes it wasn't anyway. So all she could get was it was somewhere in between those two.
She wasn't sure.. about anything, so did her best to not think about it. She'd just deal with it when the time came.
"We've got a problem," Riley announced with a yawn as he gathered everybody back up.
"We finally got a print off our Jane Doe."
He sighed. "And it belonged to a Amy Madison."
"What? Your partner Amy Madison?"
"If she's... then who... who the hell was with you all of that time?"
"I don't know, but whoever she was, she's vanished, After the ID came in, we checked her place out, finding nothing but boxes. The real Amy apparently had time to move in, but not unpack. Didn't look like the impersonator was staying there."
"A cop... she impersonated a cop?"
"Looks like that. And she did a damn good job of it, too." Riley sighed. "Fuck!"
"To get into the department and in here too."
"Yep. Investigating the very murder that she committed. Nice, isn't it? She killed the real Amy Madison and then left all of those nice signs leading us here. So since then she has been cleared to go in and out of here as she pleased."
"We rolled out the goddamn welcome mat for her."
"Yeah," he repeated.
"Shit fucking damn," Liam cursed, starting to run, "the collection."
Ten minutes later, every expected visitor had been canceled and extra guards had been put in place. Giles and Liam started inspecting the display cases since they knew the collection the best.
"Shit," he finally muttered and everyone came to see what it was. "Amara's gone."
"But it's right there," Buffy said, confused.
"It looks like it, but it's not it. Fred," he turned slightly, "can you cut off the display alarms please?"
In a few short moments the brunette had finished and nodded. Liam's hand reached in with a handkerchief, pulling the fake out.
"Are you sure?"
"Yeah, I'm sure. It's a good copy of it though. A damned good one, but it's not the genuine piece," he told them and started to explain why not.
"How'd she get in?" Fred asked, looking around. "None of the wires and alarms were tripped."
He sighed. "I don't know. Fucking Hell I don't know!," Liam turned to Giles. "I'm so sorry."
"This wasn't your fault."
"Oh, no, I just was the one who got you to risk the collection with a promise to keep everything safe."
"You did. You kept it safe from every threat we knew about. None of us saw this one coming, Liam," he said, placing a comforting hand on the younger man's shoulder.
"I should have."
Buffy opened her eyes, glancing at Liam for a second before going to her clock, noticing it was a little after midnight now. Then her eyes went to the naked man who was standing by her window, gazing out into the night.
"Liam?" she called sleepily.
He turned and smiled at her as he started crossing the room, crawling back under the covers with her, pulling her into his strong arms. "Sorry if I woke you," he told her before dropping down to kiss the top of her head.
"You have to stop blaming yourself. "
"You did everything you could."
"Yeah, everything but keep it safe."
"Liam, the only piece that's missing in the Gem. It's very valuable, you know that.. maybe better than anyone. But look at everything that wasn't stolen."
"Buffy, I knew that someone was working behind the scenes after that body was found. I just knew it. But I didn't pay any attention to it. I was too busy focusing on everything with Parker."
"Who you caught."
"And then I cost your father his..."
"He doesn't care about it. You saved lives, Liam. And we'll never know how many, but if the price to do that was Amara then so be it. He doesn't care."
"Maybe not but..."
"He doesn't care," she repeated.
"I know," he said after a few minutes with a sigh. His arms wrapped tighter around her and pulled her closer, making them both smile.
Buffy yawned. "Besides, you'll catch her I'm sure. And Amara too. Just send a thief to catch a thief remember," she told him, already falling back asleep.
"Yes honey, I remember," he sighed. "Let's get some sleep."
"I love you."
"I love you, too."
Buffy woke up late the next morning to an empty bed and a note, but she didn't have to read it to know what it said.
'Me and my big mouth!'
Angelus was gone.
He wasn't in the house. Not even in the city anymore. She had no doubt about that.
He'd gone after the Gem.. with a promise to return to her as soon as possible.
And if he didn't, she knew he knew she'd come after him as she looked around her room.
He hadn't given up stealing for himself completely after all.
Buffy laughed, fell back and read the note wondering how long to give him.