Picture Perfect Reunion

This came about after seeing an ad for Angel re: Connor. I’m not a big Dawn fan, rarely including her in my stories, and I’m sure I didn’t make her whiney enough in this one…

Author’s Notes: This came about after seeing an ad for Angel re: Connor. I’m not a big Dawn fan, rarely including her in my stories, and I’m sure I didn’t make her whiny enough in this one…Not one of my favorite stories, but hey – like I said in my other story, I think my muse is on vacation.Rating: Adult; explicit sex

Disclaimer: Own nothing. All belongs to Joss, ME, Fox, et.al.

Pairing: Initially C/A, ultimately B/A.

Distribution: My site, EverySixSeconds; sites currently with permission to host my fics; all others please ask.

Originally posted: May 23, 2002

When the picture had fluttered out of the book, Steven – or Connor as he tried to think of himself now – didn’t think much of it. He retrieved it, intending to stick it back in the book without a second thought until he glanced at it. The blond woman was stunning, beautiful. Her blond hair was piled up on her head, held back by a black ribbon. The soft pink sweater she was wearing emphasized the golden tan of her skin. From the smile on her face, he guessed that she had been smiling at someone she loved when the picture had been taken. Connor was immediately captivated. He wanted to know who she was, where she was. And why was her picture tucked away in one of the old demonology books?

An instant later, Cordelia tugged on the picture trying to pull it out of his hand. Connor held tight, raising his eyes in question to Cordelia. She tugged again, clearly expecting him to release the picture to her.

“Give it to me.” Cordelia whispered, glancing out of the corner of her eye where Angel and Gunn sat across the room. Connor was extremely perceptive – he had to be to survive where he had been. He could tell that Cordelia didn’t want the others to see the picture. Specifically, she didn’t want Angel’s attention. That alone raised his interest and curiosity.

“Con-NOR.” Cordelia’s whisper had gotten louder. “I said, give it to me.” She tugged on the picture again. Connor refused to give in.

“Give. IT. TO. ME.” Without realizing it, Cordelia was no longer whispering.

Gunn and Angel were now looking toward them, Cordy’s words attracting their attention. With one more swift tug, Cordelia lost her grip. Connor folded the picture and tucked it in his pocket. Meeting her eyes, he almost dared her to continue her pursuit.

Cordelia cast another sidelong glance at Angel, then sniffed and turned away as he started toward them. It was obvious to everyone in the room that she was annoyed, but she was attempting to pretend otherwise.

Angel sighed. He knew that things had been difficult since Connor had come back to stay with them. Everyone had been handling it with grace, even though Connor wasn’t the easiest person to get along with. Cordelia’s attempts to mother him had been met with skeptical regard. Connor was friendly enough to her – as much as he was to anyone – but he seemed to distrust her. If Angel could read Connor’s mind, he’d know that Connor found her patronizing and insincere. Sure, she seemed to care for Angel, but Connor doubted the depth of her feelings. He had no doubt that saving her own skin was her first priority, anything else secondary. To put it another way, if she was on a sinking ship Connor was pretty sure that Cordelia would be climbing up backs and stepping on heads to make her way into the life raft…

Angel stopped in front of him and held out his hand. “What is it?”

Cordelia turned, wanting Angel to see the picture even less than she wanted Connor to have it. “It was nothing.” She smiled brightly at Angel, and stepped in close to him. “Some old piece of paper.” Things had been heating up between them lately, so she was damned sure that she didn’t want the picture of Buffy to send Angel off into a full-on brood. He hadn’t mentioned or thought about the blond slayer in months, maybe even years as far as she knew, so she certainly wasn’t going to bring her up now. “Nothing at all, right Connor?”

Connor, un-swayed by the pleading note in her voice, shrugged and walked away. It suited him at the moment to go along with her, so he would. Had she thought otherwise, she would have been seriously mistaken. However, now more than ever he wanted to know who this woman was…

“Connor.” Angel’s voice behind him made him hesitate only a minute.

Without looking back Connor left the room, Angel’s eyes staring into his back.

Over the next few days, Connor searched through several more of the books but found no other pictures. He expanded his search to Angel’s office, desk and papers – which took a bit more stealth on his part. Angel was fairly meticulous and would easily detect it if Connor disturbed anything. It took him another few days before he found the only other piece of information that might fit – a name and address of someone named Buffy Summers in his Angel’s personal address book. Could she be the girl in the picture?

There was only one way that he knew of to find out. Pulling out a map of California, he located the town of Sunnydale. It was only a couple of hours away – he could be there by nightfall.

Angel knew Connor was gone the instant that they returned to the hotel. He had taken Cordelia out for dinner, while Gunn and Fred had gone to the movies. Things had been going so well with Connor lately that Angel would never had suspected that he would have taken off. To say he was disappointed was an understatement.

“Maybe he just went out for some excitement.” Cordelia looked around the hotel, wondering how Angel had known instantly that Connor was gone. She didn’t know about the blood bond between he and Connor, much less between Buffy and Angel.

“Maybe.” Angel grudgingly admitted, somehow feeling that there was more to it however. “If he’s not back by the time Gunn and Fred get back, I’ll go have a look around. He could have gotten into some trouble.”

“Hm. Maybe.” Cordelia wasn’t too worried. She knew Connor was more than capable of taking care of himself. If she’d had even the slightest suspicion that Connor had gone to Sunnydale she’d have been more than worried – she’d have been bordering on hysterical.

Connor had been in Sunnydale only a day when he spotted her. She was even more beautiful in person than her picture led him to believe. He followed her to the mall and watched her carefully from a distance as she browsed through several shops, buying a couple of shirts and, Connor blushed as he thought of it, a few select undergarments in a store called “Victoria’s Secret”.

Buffy got a strange sense of déjà vu the minute she entered the mall. It was an almost forgotten feeling – her internal sense that Angel was nearby. But it was daylight, and well, Angel hadn’t been around for quite a while now. That thought spurred Buffy to buy the two shirts she had been looking at – she justified it as something to cheer herself up.

Thoughts of Angel always left her feeling somewhat melancholy and alone. She refused to admit that she missed him. She knew that he had moved on – Oz had mentioned that Angel was dating Cordelia now. He had seen them snuggling together, looking rather intimate at his last gig in LA, just before the Dingoes had stopped in Sunnydale to visit family and friends before heading back east to play a few dates there. That little piece of news had played into her decision to screw Spike once again…

Buffy shook her head, trying to remove the disturbing thoughts of Spike and their ugly love/hate-rough-sex-relationship thing that they had for awhile. She sincerely regretted her involvement with Spike – it had changed the friendship that been slowly building into now a full on feud. Spike was angry that she had broken it off with him and was, Buffy had no doubt, planning some devious revenge.

Reaching the food court, Buffy looked around for Dawn. They were meeting here for dinner before picking up a movie. Another exciting Buffy Saturday night in Sunnydale. Buffy sighed and went to the philly cheesesteak sandwich place to order their food.

The smells of the food reminded Connor that he was hungry. Luckily, he had taken the money with him that Angel had insisted he have. After watching Buffy order her food, he went to the same place and ordered the same thing. In the few minutes that he was distracted by paying and collecting his food, Buffy had disappeared. He looked around but she was nowhere in sight. It was only minutes after he sat down, when she sat down with her tray of food next to him.

“You’ve been following me. Why?” Buffy’s brow furrowed in consternation as she looked around the food court. Her Angel senses were full on bellowing that he was nearby, but she knew that was impossible. Shaking off the feeling, she looked at the boy in front of her. He was staring, open-mouthed at having been taken by surprise.

“Mouth looks better closed.” Buffy half-whispered to him as she nibbled on a french-fry.
As she studied him, she had the strangest feeling that he was familiar to her somehow. Maybe it was the dark hair… the eyes?

Connor suddenly didn’t know what to say, what to do. He attempted to bolt, planning to run but Buffy grabbed his arm. She was fast, and she was strong. He stared stupidly at the hand on his arm holding him in place. He had yet to say a word.

“Do I know you?” Buffy looked at him again. She knew instinctively that he wasn’t a threat to her. Confused, frightened maybe, but she didn’t think he meant to hurt her.

“Buffy!” Dawn shouted as she spotted Buffy and crossed quickly across the room.

As Dawn approached Connor felt as if he had been struck by lightening. He felt an instant – something – for the dark hair girl approaching them. It was an attraction so intense that for a few minutes he was unaware of anyone else in the room, even the hand that still held him by the arm.

“Hi.” Dawn sat down, grabbing a few of the fries off the tray. “I’m Dawn. And the rude one holding your arm is my sister Buffy. You are?”

“Connor.” His voice was soft, hesitant.

Dawn stared back. She too felt as though the lights had dimmed around them. “Do you- um, go to school here? I mean, are you new?”

“Yes.” Connor’s eyes had not left her.

The sound of Buffy clearing her throat brought both of their attention back to her. She was a little surprised at the boy’s name – it was the same as Angel’s son. She felt a small stabbing pain in her heart each time she thought about Angel having a son with someone who was not her. And it was a freaky coincidence that she felt pangs that he was nearby – but Angel’s son would still be a baby, a toddler perhaps. There couldn’t possibly be a connection.

“So, Connor, why were you following me?” Buffy released his hold on his arm and began to eat her food.

Connor looked at her, then back to Dawn, and felt for the first time a sense that perhaps he did belong in this world. Buffy, while very much a stranger to him, exuded a positive, confident energy, almost a glow. He felt as though he could see right into her heart – that she held her feelings out there for everyone to see. Connor could tell though that she was reluctant to trust, that she had been wounded deeply by someone. Instinctively though, he felt as if he could trust her.

With Dawn, he felt a deep and powerful connection. As if they were both part of some other world but they had been brought her for a reason, a purpose. Sitting there was the two of them felt – well, right somehow.

“Geez, Buffy. Don’t you think he might have just been here shopping?” Dawn kept sneaking glances at Connor between bites of food.

Buffy rolled her eyes at Dawn, then looked around once again. Damned pangs. Maybe it was just PMS.

“So, did you just move here?” Dawn picked up her earlier conversation thread, enormously interested in the new boy.

“Sort of.” Connor was definitely not one to over-share.

“You move with your family?” Dawn was certainly not shy about asking questions.

“No. They’re… gone.” Connor looked away, uncertain. Holtz was dead, but his real father was technically still around, if not alive. He had no idea how he’d ever explain that to anyone. He wasn’t even sure what his relationship with Angel was, yet.

“I’m sorry.” Buffy looked up at him with compassion. She knew how hard it had been to lose her mother.

“Where are you staying then?” Dawn, ever persistent, continued her questions.

Connor shrugged, unsure. He hadn’t thought he’d be in Sunnydale for more than a few days, but now he wanted to stay. He wanted to stay and be around Dawn and Buffy. And he still wanted to know why there had been a picture of Buffy at the hotel.

“You could stay with us.” Dawn ventured, refusing to look at Buffy who was currently casting her an evil eye.

“N-no. That’s okay.” Connor wasn’t used to kindness from strangers.

At Connor’s words, Buffy was relieved, not yet ready to take a perfect stranger into her house. But still, he seemed a little – lost. She wanted to help him.

“If you need a place, I know somewhere. It’s not much, but it’s clean…” Buffy stood, clearing the trash from the table and picking up the tray. “Come on. I insist.”

Dawn, Buffy and Connor made their way to the old building by the Bronze. To Buffy’s surprise, no one had moved into Angel’s old apartment in the basement and it was kept relatively clean. She’d been by many times in the last few years, and had never seen the slightest sign that someone lived there.

Buffy pushed open the door and the three of them went inside.

“Wasn’t this-”

“Yes.” Buffy cut Dawn off before she could finish her sentence. All of the Angely reminders today were giving Buffy a headache.

“It’s a little dusty, but relatively clean and warm. No one’s been here for years.” Buffy check the lights – surprisingly the electricity still seemed to work.

“Yeah, because someone is too stubborn to go to LA and bring them back. Or, the one in LA is too much of an ass to realize that he screwed up and should come back.” Dawn opened the armoire and looked inside, her words making sense to Buffy but not to Connor.

Before Buffy and Dawn left, Dawn insisted on giving Connor directions to their house in case he needed anything or maybe wanted to come by tomorrow… The invitation was plain and Connor fully intended to accept it.

Several days later, Buffy was out on patrol. She was fighting a tough pair of demons that obviously had been lying in wait for her. She was managing to hold her own against them, but they were strong. Suddenly, almost out of nowhere, Connor joined in the fight. The two of them managed to kick some serious demon ass, Buffy snapping the neck of the last one and dropping him to the ground with a heavy thud.

Sitting down on the nearby bench, she gestured for Connor to join her. They sat silently for long minutes, both catching their breath.

“So, Connor. Where did you say you were from? Cuz I’m thinking that’s some pretty super-human strength thing you’ve got going on there.” Buffy glanced at Connor, smiling.

Connor smiled tentatively back. “A hell dimension. Although I was born here.”

“Oh.” Buffy wasn’t sure what to make of that. “I’m sorry. That must have been awful – to have been taken away from your family here.” Buffy wondered if being in a hell dimension also gave you super-strength and agility.

“Yes. I suppose. I was a baby then. I don’t really remember.” Connor looked away, suddenly wondering if he should contact Angel. He still had conflicting feelings toward the vampire. Not sure if he should accept him as his father, or if he should hate him and kill him as Holtz had insisted. The things Holtz had told him didn’t seem to fit with the Angel that Connor had met.

“Do you know where they are? Your family from here?” Her words interrupting his thoughts, Connor closed his eyes briefly before replying.

“My mother is dead. She died when I was born. My father is in LA.” Connor glanced back at Buffy, wondering how much to tell her. “You’re strong too. Much stronger than most people here.”

“I’m the Slayer.” Buffy figured since they were sharing confidences she could tell him.

At her words, Connor’s eyes widened impossibly large. Holtz had gone on endless rants about the current slayer, saying that she was a no good whore, that if she had done her job and killed Angelus he wouldn’t have to. She could not be trusted to kill Angelus, that she had spread her legs for him like a whore. The words burned through Connor’s brain – he’d heard them so many times. That sounded nothing like the Buffy that he had come to know in the last few days. He needed some time to sort this out. Almost before she blinked, Connor was gone.

Angel and Gunn had looked for Connor every night for the last week, but there was still no sign of him. It was as if he had disappeared from LA. Angel was frustrated and angry, but above all filled with an incredible sadness. He hated that he had just found Connor again only to lose him. Angel was sure that karma was at work – it was another punishment for the horrible things that he had done.

In his disappointment, Angel simply did what he had always done. He buried his feelings inside and continued on with life. He worked harder and longer on any of the cases that they managed to get, and he spent more time alone, brooding, thinking or reading. Consequently, Cordelia was angry with Connor – blaming him for Angel’s withdrawal from the world. It had thrown a serious wrinkle in her plan of snagging the handsome vampire.

Dawn smiled brightly at Connor as he opened the door to the apartment at her knock.

“Hi. I thought I’d stop by.” Connor stepped back, watching her silently as she entered the room. “You hadn’t been by and so I was wondering if something might be wrong…” Dawn trailed off, noticing that Connor was standing right behind her.

Her eyes flicked from his to his lips. She waited, thinking he would make the next move. She looked in to his eyes again, moistening her lips with her tongue. When Connor still did not move, Dawn leaned in and kissed him.

At the first touch of her lips on his, Connor’s senses took flight. This was unlike anything he had ever felt before. Dawn tilted her head slightly and pressed her lips more firmly against his. Her hands rested on his chest as his lightly gripped her arms. When she opened her mouth under his, he followed suit. When her tongue ventured into his mouth tentatively, he did the same. They kissed for several long minutes, until Dawn broke it off stepping back. “Wow. Uh. Just wow.”

Dawn blushed slightly, suddenly feeling shy under Connor’s intense stare. “Um. I guess I should go.”

As she started to move past him, Connor grabbed her hand. “Wait.”

Dawn looked at him, her face questioning. His expression gave nothing away – no indication of whether he enjoyed the kiss, what he was thinking, nothing.

Tugging on her hand, Connor led Dawn out of the apartment and into the bright sunlight. When they reached the park, Connor sat down on the bench and waited for Dawn to do the same. Reaching in his pocket he pulled out the folded picture of Buffy and handed it to Dawn.

Dawn took the picture and stared at it. After a few minutes, she looked up at him, her eyes filled with tears. “Are you in love with Buffy? Oh-”

“No.” Connor grabbed her hand, preventing her free fleeing. “No. Please listen.”

Dawn sat once again and waited.

“I found the picture. At my father’s house in LA.” Connor explained his life while Dawn listened with quiet patience, a rarity with the young girl. Connor told her what he knew about his birth, how Holtz had abducted him and how he had returned to seek revenge. And he told her than Angel was his father. He guessed now that Angel had a picture of Buffy in the demonology books because she was the Slayer, therefore an enemy to him as a vampire. But that didn’t explain the things that Holtz had said about her and her involvement with Angelus… He admitted that things did not seem to be as Holtz had told him, so he no longer knew what to think, what to believe.

“I don’t know why, but I feel like I can tell you these things.” Connor had said more in the last half hour than he had said most of his life. And now he felt exhausted. He was tempted to run again, but his instincts screamed to trust Dawn, that somehow she would help him.

Dawn sat in stunned silence for a few minutes when Connor finished. “Well, you’re never going to believe this…” Dawn stuttered, unsure where to start.

“Buffy fell in love with Angel when she was 16. He had come her to help her with the slaying, but I think he fell in love with her too. When she was 17, they had sex and he lost his soul. He became mister evil with a capital E for a while, but Buffy couldn’t kill him. I think she tried, but she still loved him. She blamed herself for every person he killed as a demon, but she never blamed him. She felt responsible for him becoming a demon – she felt that she had hurt the person that she cared most about in all the world in a blind moment of passion. And maybe she did. I just know that she was never the same after that.”

“So what happened?” Connor needed to know the truth about Angel, his father.

“Well, Angelus tried to suck the world into hell, but Buffy stopped him. She sent him to a hell dimension. The problem was that Willow was able to re-curse him right before she had to- you know.” Dawn waved her arms indicating a sword through the stomach. “She had to send him to hell as Angel, not Angelus. That really messed her up. She ran away for a while. She did some time in hell herself before she came back. After she got back, then poof. One day, Angel comes back too. Buffy may know what happened, or maybe she did something – I don’t know. She’s never said. She hid him until Xander found out. Her friends and Cordelia gave her endless grief about it too – I don’t think they ever completely knew how much she loved him. Eventually she and Angel made up and everyone was okay with it again – although they could never, you know, do IT again. After graduation he dumped her. Left. Went to LA with Cordelia. At least that’s the rumor now, although I don’t really think that he left with her then.” Dawn’s screwed up her lips indicating that she was thinking.

“Oh, oh. I almost forgot. Faith – she’s the other slayer – had shot Angel with some wicked poison just before graduation. He was dying and draining the blood of a slayer was the only cure, so Buffy cured him.”

“How did she do that?” Connor didn’t want to imagine what might have happened.

“Miss tight-lipped has never said but I think she forced him somehow to feed off her. He had to rush her to the hospital for a transfusion he’d drunk so much of her blood. Xander still swears that Angel attacked her, but he was pretty weak then. I don’t think he’d have been able to do anything that she didn’t want him to do.”

Connor slumped back against the bench, mulling over what he had just heard. Apparently Buffy was his father’s one-time love. That could explain why Cordelia, who now coveted that position, would want to hide the picture. She’d want no reminders of Buffy around – especially if there was a chance that Angel still cared about her.

“Do you still want to kill Angel?” Dawn ventured, watching Connor intently.

“I don’t know.” Connor met Dawn’s eyes – unsure. Everything seemed so complicated.

“Come on. We have to tell Buffy.” Dawn gave Connor an almost apologetic look. “She’ll know what to do. It’s what she does.” Tugging on his hand, she pulled him to his feet.

“Angel!” Cordelia’s shouts could be heard throughout the hotel. “Angelll! Phone!”

As Angel picked up the extension, everyone in the hotel came running. Lorne, Fred, and Gunn all stared at Angel as he said “Hello”.

Cordelia joined the crew in the lobby. “It’s Connor.”

“Connor? Where are you?” The relief on Angel’s face was obvious. He talked to Connor for a few minutes before he hung up.

“So? What gives?” Gunn asked just as Fred blurted, “Is he all right?”

Angel was smiling, despite not getting everything that he wanted. “He’s fine. He said he’s somewhere really nice – but wouldn’t say where. Fred – can you see if you can find where that call came from? He said he met a girl.” At that, Angel’s smiled widened. He remembered sowing the wild oats of his youth, and besides, it was a sign of a normal teenager.

“He said he had a few things to do, then he’d come back to LA. And he said he’d call. He seemed, well, happy. If the girl has caused any of these changes in him, then I’ll love her and her whole family.” Angel had no idea how true is words might actually be.

“That’s great news Angelcakes. How soon before he gets back?” Lorne knew that Angel still wanted his son home, with him.

“Hopefully before there are any little Connor’s running around in the world.” Gunn’s words wiped the smile off Angel’s face. “Or maybe we should start calling you grandpa.”

Angel looked shocked at Gunn’s words. He doubted if Connor knew anything about the facts of life, pregnancy prevention or diseases. Hell, Angel didn’t know much about most of these things himself, having not had to worry about them. Maybe the girl did, or maybe things hadn’t even gotten that far yet… “He’d said he’d be back in a few days.”


 

Dawn and Connor, while certainly spending a fair amount of time lip-locked, were not quite ready for much beyond that. Neither seemed inclined to push it yet, and besides, after Buffy had caught them making out on the couch, she threatened to pound them both into pulp if they even thought about groping below the neckline. Which, on face value, was a fairly effective threat.

“Buffy, we have something to tell you.” Dawn bravely initiated the conversation, her cheeks flushed with embarrassment from having Buffy walk in on her and Connor a few minutes earlier. Buffy hadn’t been home when they got there, so after Connor called Angel they had sat down to watch TV which led to touching and eventually kissing.

Buffy looked up at Connor and Dawn in dismay. Surely they hadn’t already… Dawn wasn’t that irresponsible… Was she? Buffy sighed and put down the mail that she had been flipping through.

“You might want to sit down for this.” Dawn hesitated, wringing her hands in front of her and looking at Connor.

Buffy sat and stared at the two of them, waiting. “Well?”

“Connor’s father is in LA and he wants to go see him. Connor still wants to stay here in Sunnydale – it’s just to visit.”

Buffy raised her eyebrows. Ok, so no shocker yet. She was actually kind of glad to hear that he had located the family he had been stolen from. “Okaaay. And?”

“And well, could you drive us?” Dawn was beating around the bush and she knew it.

“Okay. I have to work until 4:00, but we could go on Friday after that. Dawnie, what is that you aren’t telling me? Connor?” Buffy looked at them, Connor was holding Dawn’s hand but staring at Buffy intently.

“Angel. My dad’s name is Angel.” Connor blurted it out, then watched as Buffy’s eyes widened in surprise. She almost forgot to breathe as the information ricocheted through her mind. Well, Connor said he had been in a hell dimension and she knew timed moved differently there…

“Why- Why did you come here? To Sunnydale?” Buffy’s words were barely a whisper. She wanted to know what new torment this was. Did Angel send his son to spy on her for some unknown reason?

“I found this. In one of his books.” Connor held out her picture. “I wanted to know who you were.”

Buffy took the picture and looked at it. She remembered the day when it was taken clearly. It was shortly after the Halloween when she and Angel had finally started dating. He had been in her room, they had been playing around with her camera. When she got the pictures back, he asked for them – keeping all of the ones of her. That day brought back fond memories of innocent days, full of playful kisses and eager embraces.

“There’s more.” Dawn smiled at Connor encouragingly. “Tell her Connor. About Holtz. About everything.”

Buffy listened as Connor repeated his story and how he had come to seek revenge by killing Angel. He paused, not really wanting to admit to his confusion, feeling that somehow it made him appear weak. But Buffy knew. If anyone, she understood the conflict of Angel/Angelus better than anyone.

“Connor. Angel is not the demon Angelus. They may at times inhabit the same body, but they are very different. Angelus is capable of unspeakable evil, but Angel is not. He’s warm and caring, compassionate, intelligent, considerate… He’s amazing. And he had this sexy smile-” Buffy stopped, realizing that Connor was looking at her a little strangely and Dawn was grinning. “Ok. Let’s just rewind that last part. Maybe not really fatherly attributes. The point is, Connor, I think if you give Angel a chance you might find that he’s a great father. And that maybe Holtz only knew Angelus, not Angel.”

After hearing he speak so warmly of Angel, and having known Angelus, Connor thought that if Buffy, who seemed so good and so powerful, could care so much about his father then maybe he should give him a chance. At least get to know him before he decided to believe everything Holtz had said. What Connor didn’t understand though, was how Angel could leave Buffy behind. She was incredible – beautiful, kind, and with a big heart. Her fighting skills alone would be an asset. Unless maybe he really didn’t love her anymore. Maybe he really loved Cordelia now.

Looking at Dawn, he realized that if he were in the same shoes, he’d still rather be with Dawn then be without her. Not having her in his life would be far harder than being with her with restrictions. And with that realization came the idea that perhaps he had fallen in love. For the first time, ever.

Leaning over, he kissed Dawn softly on the lips. “Thank you.”

He blushed slightly and straightened, looking at Buffy.

“So, you’re still taking us to LA, right?” Dawn smiled, scheming to get Buffy and Angel talking again.

Buffy sighed heavily, realizing that Dawn and Connor had become pretty attached to each other in the few days that they had been together. “I’ll drive you there, but I can’t see him. You understand?” Buffy didn’t want to attempt to explain the complexities and nuances of her relationship with Angel.

Connor could see the pain in Buffy’s eyes and he knew then that she still cared about his father, she still loved him.

“I’ll take you to LA, but I still can’t-” Buffy paused. “Won’t see him. Okay? I’ll drop you off nearby.”

“It’s just to visit Buffy. You’ll have to wait to bring us home.” Dawn reminded Buffy that Connor wasn’t planning to stay. Besides, Dawn didn’t want him to stay in LA.

“Dawn, Angel may not want Connor to leave. And, Connor – he is your father… Okay, okay. I’ll wait somewhere near by. You can meet me when you’re done.”” Buffy gave in to Dawn’s pleading look. As long as she didn’t have to see him, especially with Cordelia, Buffy thought she could deal.

* * * * *

Angel paced nervously around the hotel lobby. Connor had called earlier and said that he and his girlfriend would be there around 6:00 or 6:30, depending on traffic. Her sister was driving them. He purposely left out names, unsure of Angel’s reaction to the names Buffy and Dawn.

“Ho-ly shit.” Cordelia’s words echoed throughout the lobby just as Angel sensed Connor coming through the door. He spun around and stopped in surprise.

Fred, Gunn or Lorne however, hadn’t the slightest idea what caused Angel’s stunned stop or Cordelia’s brash words. They walked forward hesitantly to greet Connor. He was dressed in the current style (obviously the girlfriend’s influence) and seemed to be almost smiling.

“Welcome back Connor. Aren’t you going to introduce us?” Fred stepped forward and held her hand out to Dawn.

“Hi. I’m-”

“Dawn Summers.” Cordelia’s voice rang out over Dawns. “You had to go and get her, didn’t you? You found her picture then ran off to Sunnyhell.” Cordelia walked up to Connor and thumped him on the chest. “Well? Where is miss-oh-so-perfect-blond-slay-gal?”

Connor stepped back, not expecting the venom that Cordelia unleashed. Angel stepped forward, Cordelia’s words jolting him out of his surprise.

“Connor. It’s good to see you son.” Angel stepped forward and extended his hand, controlling his impulse to hug Connor. “Dawn. How are you?” Angel glanced at Cordelia, silently warning her to watch her words.

“Uh. Hold on a second…” Gunn was confused.

“Good. I’m good.” Dawn hesitated then gave Angel a quick hug.

“So you’re, uh…” Angel stammered, not sure where to go with this. “You two are… Ok. How’d you meet?”

“Is this your ex? Or her sister? Cuz I’m not following here.” Gunn finally managed to ask the question that had been running through his mind at Cordelia’s words.

“Her sister.” Dawn, Angel, Connor and Cordelia’s voices rang out in unison.

“And so, where is little miss Buffy?” Her voice a sneer, Cordelia stared at Dawn and Connor.

“She didn’t want to come here. She waiting for us down by the pier.” Dawn was fast becoming annoyed with Cordy’s snide remarks. “Connor wanted to see Angel, then we’re leaving.”

“Oh, like he’s going to let his son go back to Sunnyhell with Buffy? I don’t think so.”

Connor looked from Angel to Cordelia. He had been clear when he talked to Angel earlier that his coming here was a visit – not to stay. Angel agreed, wanting to see Connor on any terms rather than none at all. Now Connor was wondering if Angel would try to force him to stay. He took a tentative step backward, still gripping Dawn’s hand tightly.

“Cordelia, calm down. Connor, Dawn – come in. Let’s sit down. Talk.” Angel moved slowly as if moving too quickly might startle Connor into running away again.

Connor and Dawn followed Angel into the hotel, finally reaching Angel’s rooms. Cordelia followed, knowing there was no way in hell that she would miss this.

“Connor. It’s good to see you. You look- good.” Angel started the conversation as Cordelia plunked herself down on the arm of the chair Angel was sitting in.

“Thanks.” Connor wondered with each passing moment what it was that his dad saw in the obviously dyed blond. While she might be friendly to Angel, Cordelia treated everyone else like they were well beneath her.

“Dawn. How long has it been?” Angel’s thoughts were whirling. How did Connor find Dawn and Buffy? Why did he go to Sunnydale? Buffy knew Connor was his son? She was in LA? But, she didn’t want to see him.

“A long time. Years. Buffy said you’d been at Mom’s funeral. Sorry I didn’t see you.” Dawn had always liked Angel. He treated her like an adult when others didn’t. She hated that he had hurt her sister so much when he left, but she thought he had only done so because he thought it had been the best thing for Buffy. She never believed the rumors about Cordelia, and even now, she had a hard time imagining them together.

“Just how did you end up in Sunnyhell?” Cordelia hated anything Sunnydale related, and most especially she hated the blond slayer that resided there.

“Cordelia.” Angel looked at her, clearly not pleased.

“Well, it is kind of far from LA don’t cha think? And of all the girlfriends in the world that Connor could have, he comes back with your ex-‘s sister. Isn’t that just peachy?”

“Look. Maybe it was a bad idea to come here.” Dawn stood, unwilling to hear any more. If Cordelia started in on Buffy, Dawn wasn’t sure she could restrain herself. “Connor, you stay and visit with Angel. I’ll find Buffy and we’ll wait for you.”

“Don’t both-” Angel’s hand around her mouth effectively silenced any of Cordelia’s additional words.

“I’ll go with you. This was a mistake.” Connor took Dawn’s hand as they moved toward the door.

“Wait. Connor. Please.” Angel released Cordelia and shot her an angry look. “I’ll go with you. If you won’t stay, then we can talk on the way.”

Dawn knew that Buffy wouldn’t like it if Angel was with them when they met up with her. She smiled. Her smiled grew larger as the reached the door. This was working out just as she had hoped.


 

Buffy walked slowly along the beach, watching the waves in the dark. There were a few people on the beach, but mostly it was deserted. She plopped down cross-legged in the sand to wait, thinking about how life took these complicated twists and turns and how often so many things seem to come back to the same people. How many times would her life and Angel’s cross paths? It seemed that each time she felt she was close to getting over him, some new reminder would come crashing down on her head.

She had only just recognized the familiar sensation of Angel – or now Connor’s – nearness when a large body sat down in the sand next to her.

“Hey.” Angel’s voice was soft, barely loud enough to hear over the crashing waves.

Buffy turned her head slightly, looking at his profile out of the corner of her eye. “Hey.”

“Thanks for bringing Connor to visit.” Dawn and Connor sat behind them, far enough back to give them privacy yet close enough that they could see what was happening. “He tells me that I have you to thank for giving me another chance.”

“I didn’t do anything. He would have come around. He just needed some time.” Buffy watched the waves, the people down the beach, anything at all to avoid looking at Angel. She hated that he made her heart race every time she saw him. She only had to look at him, and she felt the stirrings of desire. His nearness now was a cruel reminder of the kisses they had shared, the one stolen moment that they were allowed to have when they had made love. Idly, she wondered if he could make love to Cordelia now without fear of losing his soul. Maybe being demon or part-demon made it all right. Clearly he had been able to make love to Darla.

“How are you?” Angel was feeling much of the same confusion as Buffy. He had forgotten how beautiful she was, even in the moonlight. How his un-beating heart seemed to constrict in his chest when she was near. How all the blood in his body seemed to race to one particular place in his body, stiffening it in his pants uncomfortably. He shifted on the sand, unknowingly moving closer to her.

“I’m ok. You?” Buffy’s tongue darted out and moistened her lips slightly. She clenched her hands in the pockets of the jacket that she wore, resisting the urge to reach out and touch him. He was so close and it had been so long.

Angel shifted again, his body’s responses to her making him feel like a naïve schoolboy. He wanted to kiss her, to push her back into the sand…

“Angel?” Buffy noticed the expression on Angel’s face and looked at him anxiously. He seemed to be in pain.

“Buffy.” Angel groaned and gave in to the impulse that had hit him the minute he stepped on to the beach. He pulled her to him and kissed her. His lips nibbled at hers, teasing and playing before settling on hers in insistent demand.

At the first touch of his lips on hers, Buffy lost all awareness of where she was. The only sensation she was aware of were his lips on hers, and his hands on her back. As she opened her mouth to invite further exploration, Angel pressed her back into the sand. His tongue slid into her mouth, boldly caressing hers. Neither of them heard Dawn’s squeal behind them, as she squeaked at the sight of Buffy and Angel kissing and exuberantly jumped on Connor, hugging him tightly.

When Angel attempted to lift his head, Buffy wrapped her arms around his neck. She knew she shouldn’t, but she was greedy for a few more kisses. They would have to last her for a while…

Angel’s broad back blocked Buffy from their view as he lay on his side, but Dawn and Connor could see her arms looped around his neck, her fingers stroking his hair. Dawn smiled again before leaning over to kiss Connor.

Angel moved his hand from Buffy’s back to her waist. His thumb slid under the hem of her shirt, teasing the skin. At his first touch, Buffy sighed and attempted to arch closer to him.

“Shh..” Angel lifted his head, knowing that Dawn and Connor were still nearby. He glanced over in time to see Dawn wave as she pulled Connor to his feet. She pointed up the hill toward the row of shops and restaurants, then made eating motions. Before Angel could respond, the two of them were off.

“Looks like they were conspiring to give us some alone time.” Angel turned back to Buffy, whispering as he traced her jaw with his nose. Moving his lips toward her ear.

“Um. Ok. We really shouldn’t-” The spell broken, Buffy struggled weakly against him knowing that she should find Dawn and Connor and head back to Sunnydale. Leaving Angel was bad enough, but she knew that she could mend her broken heart – she’d done it before. And that was usually the best-case scenario where they were concerned.

“Just one more kiss.” Despite his better judgment, Angel didn’t want to leave her just yet.

Buffy relaxed back into the sand, staring up at him. His words sent a wave a desire through her that heated her blood and curled her toes.

“Please, sweetheart.” Whispering the words against her throat, he pressed his lips there kissing the scar on her neck softly. Biting gently, teasing before returning his mouth to hers.

Buffy sucked his tongue into her mouth, opening her lips wide in blatant invitation when his lips met hers. Angel’s hand slid a little further under her top, his entire palm resting on her rib cage. Buffy whimpered softly as his fingertips grazed the underside of her breast.

Angel’s eyes met hers briefly as he changed the slant of his head, deepening their kiss. His hand continued to move up, now cupping her breast, his thumb teasing her nipple through the thin material of her bra.

Buffy dropped her head back to the sand as Angel’s mouth moved down her neck once again. As he reached the top of her shirt, Buffy arched her back silently begging him to continue. Angel pushed her top up and stared down at her breasts. Her nipples were hard tips, poking through the sheer material of her bra. He sucked one nipple into his mouth through the fabric, swirling his tongue around it wetly before sucking hard. As he kissed a path to her other nipple, fully intending to treat each equally, his fingertips replaced his lips. Pinching and rolling her hardened nipple between his fingers, he teased it before pulling down the fabric of her bra to touch her skin. Buffy thrashed on the sand beneath him, feeling the beginnings of an orgasm at his touch on her breasts alone.

The subtle rise of her body temperature and the smell of her arousal spurred him on. Angel wasn’t sure if he could control himself any longer. When he bit down with his blunted teeth on her nipple, Buffy suppressed a moan and bucked against him, the ripples of her orgasm pouring over her. As she gasped for breath, Angel pressed his lips to hers. When Buffy sucked greedily on his tongue as he kissed her, he knew he wanted more.

Unbuttoning her pants roughly, Angel pushed his hand down the front of them. He could feel the increased heat of her body as he neared the wet slit between her legs. He lifted his head to watch her face as his fingertips slid over her wetness through the thin silk of her panties. “Buffy, baby. You’re so beautiful. So wet.”

Buffy whimpered as his fingers brushed her clit, teasing. She wanted naked flesh on flesh. She knew at that moment, she’d give anything to have him. She didn’t care if they brought Angelus back into the world. The pleasure that he brought her was worth any price.

Angel however, was thinking a little more clearly. Lifting his hand, he slid it inside her panties and once again brushed across the sensitive nub of flesh. “It’s been too long since I’ve held you. Touched you.” Angel sucked gently on her neck to the time of his fingers stroking her.

Sliding one finger inside, he began to massage her clit with his thumb. Buffy attempted to open her legs wider for him, never wanting him to stop touching her. “That’s it sweetheart. Open up for me.”

He sucked hard at her neck, knowing full well that it would leave a mark but seemingly unable to stop himself. Buffy braced her legs on the sand and pressed her hips hard into his hand. “Angelll… harder…” At her words, Angel rubbed harder and began working two fingers in and out.

Buffy slid her hand down his chest stopping at the hard ridge that was pressed to her hip. Caressing his hard shaft through the material, she squeezed powerfully before sliding down the zipper and reaching inside. Gripping him through the silk of his boxers, Buffy stroked hard. Her breath was coming in heaving gaps. At the clenching of her tight pussy and the flood of wetness around his fingers as she came, Angel felt himself come in her hand, his cock pressed hard against her hip.

Sliding his fingers slowly out of her, he licked them clean while she watched, mesmerized. She then repeated the motions, licking the sticky white fluid from her hand. Unfortunately, the act made them both more than a little aroused again… But Angel knew he had already pushed the limits of the curse. Sighing regretfully, he pushed away from her and sat up, zipping his pants.

Buffy adjusted her clothing and sat up, feeling incredibly ashamed that she had risked Angel again in another moment of passion. “Oh god. I’m so sorry. Oh god. We should call Willow.” Buffy looked at him in horror. “Your soul…”

Angel smiled slightly and hugged her close. “Safe. That was incredible, but it wasn’t…”

“Perfect happiness.” Buffy finished the sentence. “Well, for once I have to say I’m glad that I’m bad in bed. Or in the sand.” She attempted to joke off her embarrassment. She was enormously relieved, yet strangely disappointed. Did this mean that he no longer cared…?

“No. Buffy. Hey.” Angel put his fingers under her chin, turning her face toward him. Her eyes sparkled with tears. “Now that I know about the loophole with the curse, it’s always in the back of my mind. That may be why… Not that I’ve, uh, tried to test it or anything. But sweetheart, that was amazing. You’re amazing.”

“I’m sorry. I should never have let things get that far. Angel, I’m so, so sorry.” Buffy wanted to run back to Sunnydale and lick her wounds. She couldn’t believe what she had just done, what she had all but begged him for.

“Things are a little complicated right now, I know. But Buffy. I want to find a way to make it work for us.” Angel expelled an unneeded breath. “Connor proved something to me. He proved to me that I need you. I need us.”

Buffy looked around, wondering where Dawn and Connor were, feeling another stab of guilt at forgetting about them so completely in Angel’s arms.

“Look. I’ll look after Connor in Sunnydale without you having to make me any promises.” Buffy stood, brushing the sand off her clothing. She suddenly felt dirty, used.

“No. Buffy. It’s not about that-” Angel followed as Buffy started to walk off.

“In fact, Angel. I seem to recall that you don’t really keep your promises to me anyway.”

“Buffy, Connor only made me open my eyes to the fact that I still love you. What happened just now – that wasn’t because I wanted something from you. I wanted to give you pleasure. Hell, I just wanted you.”

Dawn and Connor walked up, preventing any response that Buffy might have given.

“So, are you guys back together?” Dawn grinned, noting the faint purple hickey on Buffy’s neck.

“No!” Buffy turned to Angel.

“Could you guys give us a minute?” Angel grabbed Buffy’s arm, holding her back. He released her when she gave him a frosty look that would have chilled even the coldest iceberg.

“Buffy, this isn’t about Connor. It’s about you and me. I’d like to try to find a way to make things work with us. I still love you. You can’t tell me that you don’t feel it too. Not after what we just shared.”

“What about Cordelia? Did you just cheat on her? Because for the record, I’d consider what we just did cheating.”

“No. Yes. I mean no. I love Cordelia – not the way I love you – and yes, we’ve sort of started dating. But, it’s not- we’re not a couple. At least I don’t think we are.”

“Well Angel. Why don’t you figure it out? And when you do – if you’d still like to try this thing with us – then you can call me. If you don’t call… Well, then I’ll know you worked it out with Cordy.” Buffy turned and started toward the parking lot. “Connor’s staying at your old apartment near the Bronze.”

Walking away from Angel that night almost three weeks ago had been one of the hardest things that Buffy had to do. When he had mentioned wanting to make things work between them, she wanted nothing more than to throw herself in his arms and scream “yes!” at the top of her lungs. But, she had more pride than that. She didn’t want Angel to come to her because of Connor, and she certainly didn’t want to share him with Cordelia.

Things had settled into a fairly predictable routine, Connor was helping Buffy to patrol every so often and seeing a tutor. He wanted to enroll in school with Dawn, but he didn’t want to be far behind when he started. He didn’t mention Angel, or the fact that Angel had been to see him twice.

Dawn was studying in her room, Willow and Tara had gone out somewhere, and Connor had gone home early to study himself. Buffy had washed and put away the dishes from dinner and was just getting ready to go out on patrol when a knock sounded on the door.

When she opened the door, no one was there. Buffy glanced around in irritation, almost missing the single red rose on the doorstep. Smiling slightly, she picked it up and glanced around again. Tied to the rose was a small slip of paper with an address written on it. It was the address of the mansion on Crawford Street.

Buffy smiled and grabbed her coat, heading out the door. She had just reached the end of the walk before she turned and ran back into the house. If – and that was a big if – this note was from Angel, she wanted to look her best. She quickly changed into a black mini-skirt and halter top and a pair of silver sandals.

As she walked up to the door of the mansion, Buffy found herself suddenly wishing that she had worn sensible shoes. Or maybe something less revealing.

“Hey.” Angel voice came to her from the shadows on her right.

“Hey.” Buffy smiled. He looked so good. And he was here.

“I’ve cleared my calendar for the next few weeks. Thought I might spend some time here.” Angel walked slowly toward her, his eyes sweeping down her body.

“Really?” Buffy was trying to be casual, but her heart was racing.

“And I’ve tied up some other loose ends.” He stopped in front of her.

“Such as?” Tilting her head back, she looked up at him.

“Well. Cordelia has gone to Groo. He loves her. I don’t think you met him…” Angel reached out, idly playing with a strand of her hair. “She’ll be a princess in Pylea.”

“I see. So what do you plan on doing in Sunnydale?”

“Well, there’s a girl there. I need to convince her that I love her. That I’ll stay with her this time. And I need to spend some time with my son.” He inched closer.

“I have to warn you. I’m not sure the girl will let you go this time, if you should try to leave her.” Buffy moved forward slightly, leaving no space between them.

“Really.” Leaning down, he finally took her in his arms and kissed her, a passionate kiss that told her the depth of his feelings.

“The curse-” Lifting his head, Angel looked down at Buffy seriously.

“Is still an issue. I know.” Buffy kissed Angel’s neck then hugged him tightly. “But we can work around it, somehow. You’ve already shown me that. What matters most is that we’re together.”

“I love you.” Angel kissed the top of her head. He was finally home.

“I love you too.” Buffy sighed and snuggled closer to him, her eyes closed.

Despite attempts to keep them apart by various evil beings lurking in Sunnydale under many names and disguises (such as “The WB”, “UPN”, “Joss”, Marti” and “Greenwalt”), Buffy and Angel still managed to live happily ever after.

The End.