Secrets & Lies, Part XIV

Author’s Notes: Future-ish fic.  Buffy catches the demon in their yard, Angel does a little thinking, a little reading and later some ass-kicking, and our fav couple finds a new use for the kitchen table…The Laughing Corpse, Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter is by Laurel K. Hamilton.

So, since I started this way before the end of BtVS s7 and A:ts s4, here’s a few things to know – There was a big battle with the FE, but it was banished without Spike’s sacrifice (damn, if only I had thought of that) and Jasmine was killed, Cordy never went into a coma and Connor stayed part of the AI family.

Dedication: To Indie, because she kicks ass. *g*

Thanks to everyone again for reading and for the wonderful feedback.

Rating: Adult; explicit sex

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

Pairing: Ultimately B/A. Has C/A and mentions of B/S.

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

Originally posted: Jun 2, 2003

The loud crash outside the window startled them both out of a sound sleep, Angel rolling quickly and coming to his feet on one side of the bed, Buffy scrambling to her knees still on the bed. Their eyes met briefly, then Angel began tugging on his pants with one hand as he reached under the bed for the sword that he had placed there with the other. Buffy scrambled to her feet and threw on the first thing she could grab – Angel’s silk shirt.

A tinny rumbling rattle sounded again, echoing through the quiet morning air.

“You are not going down there in just that.” Angel hissed quietly after he glanced at Buffy where she now stood next to him, her bare legs peeking below the hem of the shirt. Granted, because he was so tall and she so small, the shirt came almost to her knees, but still. she *was* naked underneath. Leaning cautiously through the bedroom door, he looked down the hallway toward the stairs.

“Well, you’re not exactly going out *there*.” Buffy retorted indignantly, her sentence punctuated by the stomp of a small foot.

With the lift of an eyebrow, Angel glanced back at her before he quickly moved into the hallway and down the stairs.

“You’ll get a sunburn.”  Buffy called out softly in warning as she followed him, glancing meaningfully at the bedroom across the hall where the gray light of the breaking dawn could be seen clearly.

“You’re *still* not going outside in that.” He grumbled, reaching the bottom of the stairs and turning into the kitchen. He moved toward the door and peeked carefully through the blinds covering the window.

“And you’re planning on checking out the noise how?” She questioned in a sweetly sarcastic voice just before pushing him aside and opening the door. She smiled sweetly and stepped out into the backyard before he could stop her.

“Buffy. damn it!” Angel barked in a loud frustrated whisper as she flounced away from the door and disappeared around the corner. He quickly debated his options with the sun now creeping steadily higher in the sky and filling the yard with deadly golden rays of sunshine. Before he had a chance to reach a decision, Buffy reappeared at the door, a fluffy gray and white cat in her arms.

“Nothing demony, just a kitty. She knocked over the garbage cans.”  Still petting the loudly purring creature, she smiled up at her almost snarling boyfriend.

“Stop growling, you’re scaring her.” She admonished lightly before murmuring soothingly to the squirming cat that was now staring at Angel with wide blue eyes.


“Poor thing, she must be starving.”  Buffy interrupted, glancing up thoughtfully.

Angel blinked as Buffy shoved the gray ball of fur into his arms and then swept past him and opened the refrigerator. Calmly, she took out a leftover chicken breast and shredded it into pieces with her fingers. She talked to the young cat in a baby voice as she worked, completely ignoring her glowering vampire as he watched her with stunned confusion while attempting to hold on to the wriggling mass of fur.

Putting the chicken on plate, she retrieved the cat and set both the cat and the plate of food outside the door. “There you go kitty. Now be good. No more playing in the garbage.”

Closing the door and returning to the sink, Buffy quickly washed her hands and then swung around to face Angel where he still stood in the same spot just near the door.

“Now then.” she seductively murmured, reaching for the top button on the shirt she was wearing. Slowly she padded across the room toward him, slipping a button free with every other step. By the time she reached him, the shirt was completely unbuttoned and parted enough to teasingly reveal her navel.

“You think you’ll convince me to not turn you over my knee for that little stunt?”  Angel growled, his dark eyes assessing as his gaze instinctively drifted down her shapely form. “You didn’t know what was out there. You could have gotten hurt.” Or seen!

“Mmm…” Buffy murmured softly, her hands toying with the silk collar absently as she stared up at him. His words created an explosive shocking heat that flared through her body in a wild rapacious jolt. Her eyes held his for a shuddering moment.

“Or some big bad lusty demon might have seen me…” She whispered, sliding the shirt off her shoulders but still clutching it over her breasts modestly.

Me! Me! Me! Me!  Angelus blurted in a sudden rapid staccato.

“Buffy.” Angel’s brows rose marginally, his gaze now trained on her nipples which were rising beneath the black silk. The material clung precariously to the tips, the rosy hue of her aureolas just visible.

“You really think that a demon like that would be interested in little ole me?”  She coyly asked, the shirt slipping down another inch, baring her breasts.

Oh yeah, baby. Bring that to over here to the big bad demon. the demon lustily purred, the mental images he was forcing through Angel’s mind ratcheting up his desire.

Reaching out with one hand, Buffy idly walked her fingertips up the center of his chest. Peeking up at him from under her the thick fringe of her lashes, she murmured, “Do you think he’d…” She paused before continuing in a breathy whisper, “want to see me naked?”

Yes! YES! Angelus’ loud reply echoed Angel’s own thoughts. His eyes narrowed, his anger and fear fast giving way to a potent need. His desire for her was unquenchable, beyond reason or sense. It was an insatiable craving, a burning ache.

“Do you think he would… ravish me?”  The shirt fell silently to the floor as Buffy’s husky voice once more licked at his senses.

“And. would he tie-” The rest of her sentence ended in an abrupt squeak as Angel, possessed and impatient, swept her over his shoulder and strode out of the kitchen. Taking the stairs two at a time with lust burning in his brain and through his body, he made his way to their bedroom.

With her face pressed against the Gryphon tattoo, Buffy smiled. This was much preferred to arguing when it came to methods of dealing with her vampire’s anger; most definitely something to keep in mind.

Despite the sheer contentment humming through his senses, Angel lay awake in the darkened bedroom. Against his side, Buffy slept, her back curled against his side, her head pillowed on his arm.

When she stirred slightly, he rolled over onto his side and gathered her close. His arm slid around her waist as he buried his face in her hair, refilling his senses with scent and her silken warmth. A contented purr sounded in his chest.

Buffy sighed softly, finding the heavy weight of his arm across her middle and the low rumbling vibrations against her back comforting. After a few minutes, her breathing returned to the deep and steady rhythm of sleep.

Angel’s gaze drifted over her contemplatively. There was no denying it. Her scent. it was different. Altered. And had been since their return to LA. He had noticed it yesterday but hadn’t dared to even consider the implications until now.

The subtle change was similar to his demon’s memory of how it had been after her 17th birthday.

Was Buffy was pregnant with his child?

When she had told him about baby Liam, she had mentioned that together they could have children but she hadn’t elaborated on the how’s or why’s… so was it at all possible?

He could scarcely believe that they had even been gifted with one miracle child, but two?  To be so blessed as to have a second chance. another baby to perhaps help lessen the scars that had been formed when Liam had been stolen so tragically. it seemed a precarious tempting of fate to even contemplate such a blessed miracle.

Almost unconsciously, his hand splayed over Buffy’s still flat, firm stomach. The often wished for dream of seeing Buffy pregnant with his babe, watching her bloom with motherhood… it was almost unimaginable. Sheer wonder was reflected in his eyes as he looked down at her sleeping face, blonde tendrils of hair cascading over her cheek.

Would her child have the same mossy green eyes?  The same golden blonde curls? He wondered suddenly, struck afresh with the thought of the new life they may have created.

Without a doubt, the thought of his child, curled up under Buffy’s heart filled him with pride and unbounded happiness. It made some strange kind of sense. as if, somehow he was close to fulfilling some key purpose for his life; some reason for being. He had known once that Buffy was his destiny. Could this – their child – be part of his purpose? A reason for having been returned from hell?

In the midst of the waves of happiness swelling within him, a touch of guilt crept into his mind. Did Buffy want a child?  Or more to the point perhaps, did she want a child now?   He was unused to the need for precautions during sex, so he hadn’t given any thought to it and they certainly hadn’t taken any.  This child would change her life, which was already complicated. And they had scarcely had time to reestablish their relationship, much less prepare for a child.

Still, he smiled in the darkened room and dropped a kiss on the top of Buffy’s head. A baby.

His thoughts drifted to Connor when he first held the tiny baby in his arms, so small, so helpless. He had felt as if he had been entrusted with the most precious gift… Suddenly, alarm skittered through his brain. The child of a vampire and a Slayer would be a subject of intense interest to many, not to mention a valuable pawn to their enemies.  Could he- could they protect their baby from those who would seek to harm them through their child?

He knew without a doubt that Buffy would be fiercely protective of her child and that only added to his worries. She had risked her life often enough over the years for any cause that needed her, willingly throwing herself in the face of danger when necessary; doubly so when it came to defending or protecting those she loved.

His embrace tightened as fears flooded his mind and Buffy struggled slightly in her sleep. Forcing himself to relax and loosen his grip, he kissed her hair and she relaxed against him once more. He knew that she was more than capable of taking care of herself, but age-old masculine prejudices insisted that he be the one to take care of her, of them.

There was no doubt that having a child terrified him. It made him feel vulnerable, exposed and unguarded. The disregard of fear, the detachment of regard for personal safety that served him so well as a warrior, as a soldier for the Powers, was impossible when his continued existence mattered now, not only to Buffy, but also to their child.

He had felt much the same when Connor had been born and yet…  with Connor he had never worried about Darla; with Buffy and their babe his fears would be tenfold. How could he protect them?

Angel sighed softly. What did he know about being a father anyway?  Connor was evidence of his skill at parenting. How could he make sure that things were different for this baby?  Could he spare this child the pain that Connor had known?

Buffy had mentioned that Giles was the one who had told her that it was possible for Slayers and ensouled vampires to have children. Knowing the meticulous, detailed oriented Watcher, he would have written down anything and everything that he could have ferreted out on the subject. It must be in the journal that he had taken from Cordelia.

Buffy murmured in protest as Angel slowly extracted himself from her and rose from the bed. He waited for a breath-held moment to assure himself that she was once again sleeping before he pulled on his robe. Retrieving the leather bound journal that belonged to Giles from the bureau drawer, he silently crept down the stairs.  He had to know everything possible about Buffy and babies – prophecies, predictions, reasons, anything. It was the only way he could keep his family safe.

Sinking into the couch, Angel turned on the small table lamp and turned the book over in his hands apprehensively. He hadn’t opened the book since he’d taken it from Cordelia, wanting to talk to Buffy first. Now he was almost afraid of what he might find inside.

With a resolute sigh, he carefully opened the cover. Flipping through the first few pages, he noted that it was much like any of the journals he’d often looked through in the Watcher’s office back in Sunnydale when Giles wasn’t around.

The first few pages were mostly comments and observations about Buffy: her wit, her humor, and her slaying ability.  Several pages into the thick journal he spotted his name in a short paragraph. Giles had written of his concerns about Buffy’s interest, along with his observations of her obvious and immediate infatuation with the “tall, dark-haired vampire.”  There were several notes about “Angelus” that followed, indicating that Giles had indeed begun his research immediately after finding out who Angel was. Several pages later near the bottom of the page, Giles had noted with explicit relief that the relationship between “Buffy and Angelus” had apparently cooled.

Angel shook his head slightly. “Cooled” wasn’t a word he would have used. Yes, he had tried for a several months to help her without becoming directly involved with her, but he had found that to be impossible.

The next several pages were about various incidents in Sunnydale: a Moloch demon, a puppet show, several pages of dream analysis and mystical meanings, a little boy named Billy. In the margin of one page Giles noted that Buffy had begun to have more frequent prophetic dreams, a sign that she was coming into her own as a Slayer.

Angel skimmed the pages quickly, his primary interest at the moment in finding information about babies rather than reading Buffy’s history – although he knew it well enough from his own memories and his own journals that he probably could have written a substantial volume about Buffy on his own. He chuckled slightly. Only his would include sketches.

Flipping forward several dozen pages impatiently, Angel stopped.

Carefully taped to the heavy vellum of the journal page, was a letter that Giles had received from the Watchers council.  It appeared to be a response to some correspondence that the Watcher had obviously sent them regarding Angel and his relationship with Buffy.

In the short, boldly scrawled paragraph, the Council demanded that Giles separate “the Slayer from the cursed vampire, Angelus, immediately and permanently“. The author didn’t offer any explanation why, but in a few additional tersely worded sentences emphasized that it was Giles’ responsibility to see to it that it happen immediately. The letter was signed simply, Ian Jeffries. Who the hell was he? Some Council Chairman or high ranking official?

Who the fuck cares?  He’s a dead man now, that’s who he is.  Angelus grumbled angrily.

Shut up. You’d kill everyone. Angel absently replied to the demon in thought, something he rarely did anymore. He usually preferred to ignore the demon; responding to him usually just made him chatty.

Yeah? And you don’t kill often enough. Like say, a certain dyed blonde, constant yapping, can’t keep her legs closed bitch. The one that betrayed you, that screwed your own son, not to mention-

Yeah, I know, I know. I got it, already. Angel sighed and shook his head, interrupting the demon’s tirade and ignoring his further commentary.

Scanning the previous pages, he searched for any indication of the contents of Giles’ letter, wondering what the Watcher had written to them to provoke such an unequivocal response. Instead he found only a few entries in which Buffy’s Watcher had written, “Albeit with a few reservations, I do approve of Angel helping Buffy with slaying. Strength in numbers, as they often say. At any rate, it certainly can’t hurt.” Although further down the page he once again expressed his concern about their obviously growing attachment to each other and what he suspected to be an increasing level of intimacy.

The vampire’s brow lifted at Giles’s next carefully penned, naïve assertion: “Yet, I can say with utmost confidence that I do believe that Angel, given his advanced age and experience, will not seduce a teenage girl.

Angel chuckled. If age or experience had anything to do with it, perhaps he might have found it in him to resist his own desires but with Buffy, love and passion pretty much overrode any and all of his scruples or concerns.

He read through several more of Giles’ entries in which the former librarian expanded on his increasing concern about their growing relationship. In addition, there were several more angry letters from the Council, many of then disparaging Giles for his complacency in dealing with the “absurd situation that he had allowed to develop” along with their continued demands that he see to it that “the Slayer and Angelus” be separated permanently. They reiterated their concerns about the dangerous presence of “Angelus, a known murderer and vicious monster,” only grudgingly acknowledging his soul as well as his knowledge and aid in fighting the demons on the Hellmouth.

The last line of the next letter caught his eye, “Our stance on vampires is quite clear, Mr. Giles, and you would do well to heed it before we must remove you from your post. Regardless of his current leaning, Angelus is a danger and a threat to all, and most especially to the Slayer. He must be removed in any way necessary.”  The implication was clear: if necessary, Giles was to kill him.

Angel briefly wondered why the former Sunnydale librarian had never followed the orders he had been given. In fact, Giles had never appeared as the slightest threat to him until after Jenny’s death. Only then did the Watcher actually attempt to carry out the Council’s wishes, but then it was about revenge and retaliation, not about following orders.

Thoughtfully, Angel turned the page. Carefully printed on the top was an excerpt from the Pergamum Codex, still in the Latin translation of an ancient demonic tongue. Beneath the carefully cited passage was a hastily scribbled translation followed by Giles’ own notes.

Reading it carefully, Angel understood the translation to be a prophecy that predicted a child to be born of a Slayer, sired by a vampire with a soul. It was believed that the child would be a great power, but from what they could ascertain so far, they were uncertain if the child would be a power for good or for evil.  In the margin of the page, Giles had written a page number, indicating that there was additional information to be found later in the journal. Angel made a mental note of the number and then continued to read.

On the very next page, in considerable detail was the explanation of “how”: it was believed that a warrior in possession of a soul combined with the supernatural power of the Slayer lineage was sufficient to create life. Slayers were typically infertile without the intervention or involvement of mystical forces. Vampires, were of course, typically infertile period. The exact mystical properties were cited in mathematical formulas and chemical equations. In general terms though, it was so surprisingly simple that Angel read it twice over to see what he was missing.

Given such a simple explanation, it was likely that Buffy was pregnant.  The serious expression on his face slowly transformed into a smile.  With his thoughts drifting to blissful fantasies about Buffy and babies, he glanced at the next page with casual disinterest.

The letter taped to the journal was another one from Ian Jeffries, only this one was longer than all of the previous ones. He admonished Giles severely for not separating “Buffy and Angelus” and explicitly blaming him for the loss of Angel’s soul. He demanded that Buffy be carefully watched for signs of pregnancy and stated that a team from the Council would be sent to Sunnydale immediately to “assist as required.

The next words caused the hair on the back of Angel’s neck to stand on end, and a low growl rumbled through his throat.

“Should such an abomination result from this ghastly and unsanctioned liaison, it must be aborted posthaste.

Angelus snarled loudly. Dead. All of them. Any one that the First left alive, we find. We kill.

Agreed. Angel acknowledged the demon’s comment without hesitation or consideration. Despite wanting to stop and simply throw the book across the room, he continued to read.

“Furthermore, if the girl is allowed to carry the child to term, then it must be taken from her immediately and turned over to the Council’s special operations team. It will be cared for and observed.

We trust that you understand this directive and that your insubordination in this matter will not be allowed to continue.

As a matter of record, your concern that the prophecy is as of yet incompletely translated has been duly noted in the official Council register, as has your assertion that the inclination of the prophesized child, whether good or evil, cannot be ascertained from the current translation. We fully understand the ramifications of the decision that we must make in this matter and have noted your objections. We do acknowledge that the child may not be a danger, however, we find that this is a chance that we are not willing to take at this time.”

Angel slammed the book shut, his fingers tightly gripping the leather cover and threatening to separate it from the spine as his demon continued to snarl loudly, the sound ricocheting through his head in angry bursts. His eyes flashed gold and his demonic visage appeared as the scenario of the Watcher’s Council taking their child from Buffy played itself out in his mind. He doubted if she had any idea that she and the baby would have been at risk from the Council.

Long minutes later, when the initial fear and rage began to abate slightly, mollified by the fact that the Council had all but been destroyed by the First several years ago and never reformed, Angel slowly opened the book again.  He flipped back to the page where he had been and once more resisted ripping the letter from the page and shredding it to bits.

Two pages later, Giles had written a brief paragraph simply stating that he did not believe Buffy to be pregnant.  The entry was dated almost two weeks before the former Watcher had been captured and tortured to reveal the secrets of Acathla.

The Watcher’s incorrect assumption had been a small favor; no team had been sent to Sunnydale to hunt down the Slayer. Although, that might have changed had she not run away to LA and the truth revealed.

Angel rubbed a hand over his eyes in anger and frustration. No matter which way you turned, it seemed that their lives would have been in peril.

The final entry on the page was a brief sentence simply stating Angelus had been destroyed and Acathla sealed.

Angel flipped past Giles’ paragraphs about his frustrated search for Buffy in the months that followed her disappearance, stopping when he found a note about her return to Sunnydale.

The next few pages were mostly training details; Giles’ prep obviously for Buffy now that she had returned to her duties.

Several pages later, in bold black ink Giles had written about Buffy’s pregnancy.  He had been startled when she had confessed that she had been pregnant, but had lost the baby. He wrote the word “Miscarriage?” beneath the few brief sentences. Apparently she hadn’t been forthcoming with details about the tragic incident with the Shaqti with the former Watcher. Had she told him the complete truth, Giles likely would have written about the demons in detail.

It seemed that Buffy had simply inquired how and why, and the Watcher had written that he had told her only a few partial answers. With Angel gone, there was no longer any need to worry about the fulfillment of any prophecy regarding the Slayer and babies and there was, in his opinion, not need to alarm Buffy with specific details or any of the Council’s concerns about the child. They needed her focused and on duty.

Angel growled again at the apparent lack of personal concern for Buffy from both Giles and the Council and once more nearly tore the book to shreds.

It became quickly apparent from the various passages that Giles never informed the Council about Buffy’s pregnancy or about his return from hell. Why, Angel had no idea and the former Watcher didn’t mention any details.

The Council however, did eventually discover that Giles had continued to research and translate the prophecy regarding the child on his own. They vehemently objected to his “meddling and interference with what is strictly a Council matter for investigation” in one tea stained letter.

Following what appeared to be Giles’ lack of cooperation, they sent several Council members to Sunnydale to straighten out the wayward Watcher, which, combined with his behavior on Buffy’s 18th birthday, had led to his being fired.

The new watcher, Wesley Wyndham Price, had been informed about the prophecy and had also informed the Council of “Angelus’ return“.  Angel was surprised somewhat that Wes had never mentioned anything about it to him, but then he had no reason to suspect that the curse had been changed so perhaps he also believed that keeping them apart to prevent the conception of a child was no longer an issue.

Several pages later, was one final entry. Giles had written that his personal concerns for Buffy had begun to affect his objectivity in doing his duty and that he disagreed with many of the Council’s principals regarding their treatment of Slayers. As such, he was actually pleased to be relieved from his duty as Buffy’s Watcher, although he expressed dismay that he would not be able to change things for future Slayers. In a final note, he added that he was concluding this journal and turning over any administrative details to Buffy’s new watcher.

Reading the journal had helped clear up a few things: he knew that it was possible that he and Buffy could have children, so he was almost positive that she was indeed pregnant. Prophecies weren’t always certain; Buffy proved them false more times that not, so their babe might or might not be the “child of great power” that was predicted.

Angel stared at the book, wondering what he should do with it. Buffy should be given the chance to read all of this for herself, of that he had no doubt. He knew too, that Giles was anxiously looking for it.  Why hadn’t the Watcher turned it over to Wesley or to the Council as he had all of the other journals?  Ultimately, it mattered less what Giles wanted; he’d give the book to Buffy and let her decide what she wanted to do with it.

Suddenly reminded of the page number that was listed earlier near the translation of the prophecy, Angel flipped forward through most of the remaining blank pages until he was near the end of the book.  There, neatly printed, he found the complete translation of the prophecy.  It had taken Giles several years, evidenced by the dates, but ultimately the former Watcher had persevered and completed the translation on his own.

Curious and with no small sense of trepidation, Angel began to read. When he finished, he thoughtfully closed the book and put it down.

In the dimly lit room, he smiled.

Standing in the middle of the bedroom, wrapped in her new pale green cashmere robe with her hair still damp from a quick shower, Buffy indecisively contemplated what to wear. On one hand, it was early in the afternoon but on the other, she doubted that they were going out anytime soon. She could hear Angel moving around in the kitchen and within minutes the smell of coffee wafted up the stairs. Buffy smiled.

The sound of Angel’s phone ringing drew her attention. Turning, she crossed the room and retrieved it from his coat pocket. After a brief hesitation, she shrugged and answered, “Angel’s phone.”

Buffy listened as the girl hesitantly introduced herself then asked to speak to Angel.

“Good morning, sunshine.”  Angel looked up and smiled when Buffy entered the kitchen. His dark gaze slowly traveled down her slim figure before returning to her sparkling green eyes.

“You mean afternoon, don’t you?” Buffy returned his smile and looked at him in an intimate, assessing way. The black robe he wore accentuated his tall, lean body and the stark beauty of his features.

“Okay, afternoon. Still, I was planning on making you breakfast in bed.” He murmured softly as she stopped in front of him. “And maybe keeping you there for awhile.”

“Mmmm… sounds nice.”  Buffy ran one hand up the smooth material covering his chest to his neck as she tilted her head back and lifted her lips for a kiss. The clean scent of him filled her nostrils as his hands settled on the soft material at her waist. Her small tongue was just reaching for his, her other hand lifting to his shoulder when she suddenly broke off the kiss.  She held the phone in front of her, her cheeks heating in a blush as she realized she had forgotten the reason she had come downstairs in the first place. “Ooh. Phone. Girl. Fred.”

Angel took the phone from her with a small smile and ushered Buffy to the table, dropping a kiss on the top of her head as she sat down.  He greeted the caller on the phone as he poured a cup of coffee and added cream from a small pitcher on the counter, then set both on the table.

Buffy took a sip of the hot liquid and grimaced. Reaching for the pitcher, she added more cream to the strong French roast coffee.  She watched Angel under her lashes as he talked quietly to the girl on the phone, asking only a few brief questions. After several minutes, he retrieved a small pad of paper from a nearby drawer and hastily scribbled a few notes.  After another few minutes, he thanked Fred for calling, then clicked off the phone and set it on the counter.

“Work.” He apologized as he glanced over at Buffy, returning to his earlier position behind the counter where he had been chopping up mushrooms and fresh spinach for an omelet. After a brief pause, he added, “And some personal business. She had some information that I needed.”

“S’okay.” Buffy replied, finding simple pleasure in just watching him as he moved around the kitchen. His casual expertise was astonishing.  “Not to pry, but how did it go last night with Connor?”

“When I finally caught up to him, fine. He’s having a tough time right now.” Angel swept the mushrooms off the cutting board into a bowl then began shredding a small amount of Swiss cheese. He stopped for a moment and looked up,  “This whole thing with Cordelia…  well, he thought that he was in love with her and that she loved him too.”

“But she was using him. And you.” Buffy said with disgust, shaking her head slightly. How could Cordelia have had sex with Connor in the first place?  She had been around the boy when he was an infant.  She had even changed his diapers! It was practically incestuous. And to cheat on Angel?  Buffy couldn’t even comprehend it. Angel was all she ever wanted, so sweet and wonderful, so caring, not to mention a magnificent lover. How could Cordelia not have simply basked in that?  Why seek out anything else?

“Yes, she was. I don’t know why – spite, maybe?”  Angel sighed ruefully. He frowned as he recalled the conversation that he had overheard between Cordelia and Nikkos yesterday. With such blatant lies, it appeared that the seer had become mentally unstable which made her that much more of a threat.

“Okay, so it’s been years since I’ve seen her but from what I remember, Cordy always wanted … well, the nicest way I can say it is attention and a lot of it. Connor probably adored her and she loved it. I’m sure it fed some inner desire she has to be worshiped by all. Men especially.”

Buffy thought back to Cordelia’s treatment of Xander when they had dated; the brunette had been cruel to him at times, but still expected the teenage boy’s complete devotion. He had been insecure when it came to women and dating, and had been fairly easily controlled and manipulated, something Cordy no doubt knew well. Buffy guessed that the former May queen probably had a similar relationship with Connor.

“But that’s not all of it.” Angel continued as he cracked eggs into a bowl with one hand and whisked them briskly. “He and I – I’ve told you a little of it – we didn’t exactly get off on the right foot.”

“But you tried.”

“Not as much as I should have.” The tall vampire interjected with a touch of disappointment in his voice. “Cordelia, she- no, I can’t blame her for it really.  Let’s just say I haven’t spent as much time getting to know my son as I should have. I’m just finding out now things that were happening right under my nose. Things I should have seen. The lies, the deceit. ”  Angel trailed off, shaking his head in disgust.

“You can’t blame yourself for everything that you think goes wrong.” She admonished softly. She knew his sense of responsibility and his easy acceptance of guilt perhaps better than he did himself.

He poured the omelet mixture into the pan and then glanced up, his dark eyes meeting her mossy green ones. Regretfully, he murmured, “Maybe not, but I should have seen what was going on. I should have done things differently.”

“Angel, I know you and I know you did what you thought was right at the time. It’s all you can do.” Buffy smiled slightly, a teasing glint in her eye as she added, “Except maybe you should’ve kicked his ass a few dozen more times that you did. Cordy’s too.”

After a brief pause, Angel smiled slightly, reminded of Buffy’s two meetings with his son. Connor certainly hadn’t been on his best behavior either time.  And Cordelia? She was certainly right about that.

“You’re probably right about that.”  He agreed thoughtfully. There was no doubt that he had been too lenient with his son at times, afraid that imposing rules or any type of discipline would only drive them further apart.

“But last night – you were able to talk to him? Work things out?”  Buffy questioned, drawing his attention back to her. She frowned slightly, studying her nails.  She peeked down at her toes briefly before tucking her feet back under her.

“Yes, it’s a start. He’s a man now, Buffy, and I have to treat him like one instead of like a child. I know that, but sometimes I still think of him as a boy.” Taking the muffins out of the oven, Angel dumped them into a cloth covered basket, which he set on the table next to Buffy before returning to the stove. “And Cordelia- well, she managed to keep us apart for so long with her lies and machinations. He thinks that it will be the same with you, that I won’t have time for him because I’ll always be with you or that you won’t want him around.”

“I’d like to get to know him. Ouch. Hot.” Buffy dropped a hot muffin on the napkin in front of her, anxious to have one of the delicious smelling treats. “As long as you assure him that things with me will be *very* different. Where did you learn to make blueberry muffins anyway? These aren’t from a box, I can tell.”

“I don’t know. Must have picked it up somewhere.” Angel smiled at her impatience.  He poured a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice and set it in front of her.  “What do you mean different?”

“Well.” Buffy began almost hesitantly, nibbling on the still hot muffin. “I know he was raised in a hell dimension and you said. well, you said that Cordy was his first. you know, girlfriend, relationship whatever. ”

“And?” Scooping the omelet out of the pan, he sprinkled it lightly with herbs.

“Well, I just hope he doesn’t think it’s like. normal, you know, for your father’s uh, girlfriend… to also be your … er, you know, girlfriend too. That’s not…you know, normal. ” The word girlfriend came out in a strangled voice, as Buffy hated to think of Cordelia as that to Angel in any way, shape or form.

“Unless maybe it’s a soap opera. I think they had something like that on Passions once.” Buffy chewed her bottom lip thoughtfully, before she hastily added. “Not that I watch. And, uh, not that I’d be… shareable.”

Angel laughed slightly, brushing her cheek with a kiss as he sat the plate of food on the table in front of her. “He knows.  Besides, I would never share you.” his voice was low as he sat down in the chair next to her. “You’re mine now and I intend to keep it that way.”

With a smile, Buffy leaned over and kissed him lightly on the cheek. The kitchen was cozy, the blinds filtering the afternoon sun and casting the room in a soft warm light. The surrounding neighborhood was quiet, making it seem as if they were alone in the world.  Settling back in her chair her gaze lingering on his face, her heart swelled with happiness. He was utterly exquisite, tall, powerful, more beautiful than any other man she had ever seen. Not to mention so very sweet and kind and caring.  He was perfection. In every way, she reflected with a smile, recalling his amazing sexual expertise and the rapturous pleasure he so easily bestowed on her.  Why can’t the world disappear, she thought briefly, and we could just stay here forever?


Lost in her reverie, she shook her head slightly when he said her name and brushed a hair from her cheek.

“Oh, sorry. Daydreaming.  I can’t eat all this.” She smiled at him apologetically and sat forward, looking down at all the food he had placed in front of her: the omelet, a bowl of strawberries topped with a small mountain of whipped cream, a basket of muffins and fresh squeezed orange juice.

“Just eat what you like.” He smiled indulgently. Lounging back in his chair, his gaze once more drifted over her appreciatively, taking in the slender curves outlined by the soft cashmere. He had personal business to take care of tonight, but until then… he had all afternoon to make love to her.

“It all looks yummy.” She murmured in appreciation, indecisive about which to try first.

“Eat. You’ll need your energy.”  He prompted at her continued hesitation.

His deep, husky voice and the small wicked smile playing on his lips sent a flutter of swirling heat through her belly.

“Really?  For what?” Buffy inquired with a grin, another small shiver of pleasure coursing through her. If possible, it seemed that the more often they made love the more she wanted him. It was as if her carnal urges were on high since they had come to LA. “Are we going somewhere? Doing a little training maybe?”

“No and no.” Angel smoothly replied, watching the rapid pulse beat under the fine skin of her throat, remembering how it felt to kiss the smooth skin, how delicious she tasted.  “I thought I would test your Slayer stamina.”

“But you aren’t eating?” She questioned with a coquettish smile, her eyes glowing with interest. “How will you keep up?”

“I had something while you were in the shower.”  Leaning forward, he lifted a strawberry from the bowl and dipped it in the whipped cream. Holding the ripe berry to her lips, he smiled that same wicked, smirking smile. It was part playful, but wholly carnal. “And I plan to eat when you’re done.”

Buffy drew in a sharp breath, a licentious surge rippling through her at the suggestive entendre. His dark eyes were rich with promise as he gazed at her with a lazy impudence.

“Now open your mouth for me.”

Her eyes held his as she took the strawberry from his fingers into her mouth. She did so with such languor his erection surged powerfully, forcing him to resist the impulse to simply push the dishes aside and take her on the table. Instead, he tampered back the sensation and fed her another strawberry before sitting back in his chair.

Buffy smiled as she swallowed the ripe fruit, then picked up her fork and attacked the omelet with gusto. She closed her eyes and murmured a soft sigh of appreciation as the luscious blend of flavors melted together on her tongue.

For the next few minutes, she ate with a quiet intensity, absorbed in the food and the act of eating. It made him consider again the idea that she had been so rarely pampered in her life. He doubted if she had had more than a few any gourmet meals, if any. She had probably never been treated to a day of pure indulgence with all those things that most women loved: massages, manicures, pedicures and other stuff that he could only imagine.

“Angel.” She began hesitantly, her fork poised halfway to her lips with another bite of food.

“Yes, love?”

“Well, you do realize that- well, that for some reason we can- that is, I can-” She paused and reorganized her thoughts, releasing a soft exhalation of breath. Lord, this was awkward. More so than she had expected. But it was a conversation that they needed to have. She sat her fork down and clenched her hands together in her lap. “You and I- we can- I can get pregnant. At least I think I can.”

Angel leaned forward slowly, his muscles tightening nervously. His expression was shuttered. Did she know somehow that the topic had been on his mind just this morning? Or did she already know or suspect something herself?

“Um, well, I think it’s kind of that time of the month.” She continued in a rush, unnerved by his silence and calm gaze. “Well, not *that* time, but the other time with the hormone fluctuation and the ovulation thing and well, you and I can. you know, make babies. I mean, we can if we don’t do anything to, you know, not.”

“Do you want a baby?” He asked quietly, his gaze intense.

Buffy stared up at his face. Yes, she wanted his child desperately, but she didn’t know how he felt about it. They hadn’t talked about babies at all, other than one conversion years ago when he told her that he couldn’t and the few recent conversations they had had about Connor. Would she scare him if she said yes, now, please give me a baby?

Angel had never been aware of such quiet as the silence that filled the room as he waited for her response. His spine was rigid, his nerves on end.

Twenty seconds passed in hushed silence before Buffy spoke, her luminous green eyes lit with emotion.

“Yes.” She answered honestly, unable to lie with his dark eyes staring down at her so intently. It was something she had dreamed of for years, but had long ago given up hope of having.

In a sudden flurry of nerves, she added, “But we don’t have to have a baby right away. We could always just practice first. You know, get the baby making part down. Then, someday, when you want – *if* you want – we could. you know someday.” She stopped, biting her lower lip nervously. Was she rushing things? After all, they hadn’t been back together that long. Should she mention that she picked up condoms yesterday, just in case? Oh god, and would he even know what they were?  It wasn’t like they had them when he had to worry about things like that . right?

He paused for only a heartbeat before his lips curved upward in a smile. Lifting her hand, he gently kissed it. “Sure, sweetheart, we *could* practice.” Leaning forward, he brushed the corner of her mouth with a delicate butterfly kiss.

“But you know what I think?” He murmured softly against her lips, “I think we’re already perfect.”

“You’re sure?” She breathed moments later when his mouth finally lifted from hers. Her heart was racing, a nervous excitement tightening her stomach.

“About a baby with you?” He inquired, smiling faintly.

“Yes.” Her eyes sparkled happily as she leaned further forward and twined her arms around his neck.

“I suppose I can resign myself to the idea.” His dark eyes were teasing until she drew back her arm and socked him firmly in the solar plexus. Pulling her back to him, his expression serious, he lightly touched her cheek.  “It would be a dream come true, sweetheart. But are *you* sure?”

“Oh, yes.” She replied with a small sigh as she leaned forward for yet another kiss.

“It might not happen right away.” Buffy said as she sat back and picked up her muffin, extracting a blueberry and popping it into her mouth. It was a small deference to getting her hopes up only to have them dashed if things didn’t go as planned. Which, in a Buffy life, was always a consideration.

“Or it might.” He cheerfully replied. He didn’t want to unnerve her with the degree to which he could sense changes in her hormones, nor did he want to disappoint her if his suspicions turned out to be wrong. He broke off a piece of her muffin and held it to her lips.

Between sweet smiles, teasing banter and playful kisses Buffy finished the rest of her breakfast, Angel feeding her tidbits occasionally to prompt her when she deliberately stalled.

“Mmm… that was delicious,” she purred, as he leaned forward to kiss a small bit of whipped cream from the corner of her mouth. She lured his tongue into her mouth with her own as she lifted a hand to his cheek, drawing him closer. When his mouth lifted after a time and drifted down the silken column of her throat, she sighed in pleasure.

“You taste sweet.” he quietly murmured. “Now let me see how you look..” Leaning forward, Angel untied her robe and eased it open. As he suspected earlier, she was nude beneath the soft fabric.

“Beautiful.” Cupping her breasts in her hand he squeezed gently, gazing at their plump full beauty and rosy firm peaks. He tugged gently on her nipples, watching the crests elongate and harden. Leaning forward he licked a path around one taut peak before taking it between his teeth. At the infinitesimal pressure of his teeth closing over the tip, Buffy’s breath caught and her hands lifted to sink into the thick mass of his hair.

“Mmm… tastes good.” Angel murmured against the silken skin of her breast just before his mouth closed over the tip and he sucked with hard, exquisite pressure.

“Feels good” Buffy breathed, the depths of her eyes lit with green flames. Her breath caught in her throat as the pleasure spiked through her senses as he nibbled, sucked and tugged on the taut peaks of her nipples in a leisurely fashion, moving from one breast to the other then back again as if he had all the time in the world.

“Angel, please, I can’t wait.” Buffy whispered softly, clenching her legs together against the ravenous throbbing ache that was steadily increasing to a panting urgency. It was as if she had an addiction to his touch.

“Yes, you can.” He murmured, his voice low and husky as he cupped her breasts in his palms and lifted them slightly before biting her nipples with nibbling bites.  Each time his teeth closed firmly on a taut peak, Buffy felt an answering throb between her legs. She was quivering slightly, hovering on the brink of orgasm when Angel finally lifted his head.

“Ready to come for me, baby?” He murmured softly, his fingers moving teasingly over one thrusting nipple.

Buffy drew in a sharp breath at the licentious words and the delicate touch of his cool fingertip on the highly sensitized tip. She had to swallow before she could answer.

“Now, Angel.” She demanded in a throaty whisper, her back arching and her hands firmly tugging his hair to draw his mouth back to the hard, wet tip.

Only seconds after he drew the hard peak between his lips, her orgasm flared in a flashing burst of sensation. When the trembling flurries subsided, Angel lifted his head and gave her a lazy impudent smile.

Leaving her breathless in her chair, he calmly stacked the dishes and cleared the table, setting it all on the counter near the sink.

“My turn”  He whispered, lifting her from her chair with effortless strength and arranging her on the table in front of him. He pushed the robe off her shoulders to fall to the table behind her, and then parted her legs with a slow glide of his palms up her thighs.

“Angel!” Buffy laughed softly, a flush of heat coloring her cheeks at such a blatantly sexual display in the kitchen. This outdid any of her imaginings she had last night about their use of the table.

“How luscious you are, sweetheart.”  His fingers reached the apex of her thighs, stroking over her damp and swollen flesh with compelling pressure. His touch was delicate, his competence like so many of his other skills, expert.

Buffy fairly purred under the delectable pleasure of his touch, leaning back to lie on the table in shameless abandon. Her eyes closed and her fingers clenched in the soft material of her robe beneath her.

“Mmm… so wet for me.”  He murmured softly, his middle finger trailing along the wet cleft delicately.

Buffy arched her back and lifted her hips as he slid two long fingers inside her. A soft breathy moan escaped her lips.

“How does that feel?”  Angel asked softly, his fingers working their magic on her. He pushed his fingers higher, stretching her. His thumb pressed on the sensitive nub of her clitoris, massaging delicately.

“Mmm… so perfect.” She purred softly, her hips rocking to meet the gentle thrust of his fingers. “So good.”

“Look at me, love.”

Almost trembling with sexual longing she slowly opened her eyes, their green gaze darker with the depth of her passion.

“I want to taste you, Buffy. Do you want me to? Do you want me to lick your wet, sweet pussy?”

His voice was velvet soft, the words wildly arousing.  Buffy nodded, her tight channel clenching around his fingers as if he had tripped another sensual trigger. She was already slippery wet with desire.

“Say yes.” He commanded softly, reaching for her hand. Raising it to his lips, he nibbled and sucked on each finger in turn. “Tell me what you want.”

“Yes. Please… lick me.” She murmured softly, wanting what he wanted. She was powerless against the sheer degree of lust he so easily evoked within her. She writhed on the table, arching her back and wanting more.

“Hurry,” she added in an urgent heated whisper.

Hooking the chair with his foot he pulled it forward and sat down. Releasing her hand, he guided it to the pulsing wet cleft between her legs.

“I don’t think so.” he whispered, bending her legs and settling them over his shoulders. “Tá tú go h-álainn,” he whispered, telling her of her beauty as he moved her hand gently over the sensitized flesh. “Now, show me where you want me to touch you. To lick you.”

A soft needy whimper escaped her lips and the liquid warmth flooded between her legs as his words coursed down through her body like molten heat.

“Here?” he asked softly, sliding her small hand over the wet swollen flesh, bending her fingers to slip slightly between the wet folds. He eased her fingers further inside her. “Or here?”

She whimpered, the sound barely audible over her hushed breathing, as she firmly rubbed the taut sensitive nub of her clit of her own accord.

“Angel.” She protested softly when he lifted her hand away, lapping at the liquid evidence of her desire before releasing her fingers.

Bending his head he licked a slow path along the tender swollen flesh of her labia up to her clitoris.

“Do you like it?” he inquired, stopping to press his cheek against the warmth of her thigh.

“Mmmm…” she sighed languorously on reply, stretching her arms over her head. Bending one leg, she braced her foot on his shoulder, opening herself wider for him.

“More?”  He smiled at her casual sensual repose on their table.

“Yes.” She purred, a hint of command in her voice as her hips lifted.

“I have to say, sweetheart, you’re so wet.” With his fingers, her parted her plump folds and stroked her clit, rubbing it generously with the slick fluid of her desire while she quivered beneath his hand. “Very wet. If I’m going to lick this up, it may take awhile.”

She didn’t answer, seeming not to hear him, too absorbed in the dizzying sensations, the pulsing unfulfilled ache growing in the pit of her belly. She whined softly and moved again, lifting her hips and attempting to entice him to hurry.

“Now hold still,” he quietly murmured, placing a hand on her hip and lowering his head once more.

“If there’s anything you don’t like,” he looked up at her then, his eyes angelic as a choirboy’s, his mouth quirked into a grin, “let me know.”

A scant few minutes later, her panting cries rippled through the small room as he licked, nibbled and sucked at her wet and swollen flesh. He was playful and indulgent, his attention to detail unparalleled and extremely gratifying. His tongue was inside her the first time she came, lapping at the release of her honeyed fluids.

Without allowing her respite, the light deft pressure of his tongue sent exquisite vibrations, hot, deep throbbing pulsations upward and outward in blissful waves.

With a whimper, Buffy moved against his mouth, half hungry, half inundated in bliss. Her hands tangled in his hair as she drew him closer. The molten pleasure flooded her senses, crawling along her spine in a self-centered, all consuming ache.

Taking the taut nub of her clit between his lips he sucked, gently at first then rougher. Seconds later, she came with releasing a high, breathy scream that echoed through the room.  Even before the last orgasmic ripples died away, his tongue swept over her again and she felt the flooding pleasure begin anew.

Angel took great care to please her, using the finesse of mouth and hands and tongue that he possessed as a man supremely proficient at oral sex. No, more than that. He was a virtuoso after over two hundred years of experience. And under Darla’s experienced tutelage, he’d certainly learned flawless techniques for provoking sensation.

He didn’t stop until she had come more times than she could count, the dizzying sensations blending one into the other until she collapsed back on the table nearly insensate. Skittish to the touch, unsure if her senses could take further stimulation, she simply lay there basking in the delicious pleasure.

She heard the scrape of the chair on the floor, as Angel stood.  When she opened her eyes to look at him, he was smiling down at her with a smug expression.

“Kiss me,” she murmured, holding out her arms for him. Despite the contentment humming through her senses, her need for him was like a living flame. Like a glutton, she wanted to fill her senses with him, feel him over her, around her, inside her. And she wanted his baby.

“And later,” she murmured softly as he discarded his robe and climbed over her, his hard length sliding inside her in one smooth stroke. “We can pick out baby names.”

Eventually, the amorous exploits in the kitchen were abandoned for the more comfortable milieu of their own bed as the afternoon turned into a sexual marathon. It was a day of discovery and indulgence, excitement and urgency. Sweetly virginal at times for them both, all hot haste and enthusiasm at other times – until shortly before dusk when Angel collapsed next to Buffy on the bed.

Sated and replete, Buffy initially teased him about his diligence in starting their family. He only gave her a cheeky grin in reply before forcing himself up to shower.

When she realized that he was planning on going out alone, she strenuously objected, insisting that she could help. He tugged her into the shower with him and under the heated spray of the water persuaded her with cryptic phrases and whispered love words that it was just some business that he needed to handle personally. His promise was something personal and wholly carnal.  He was most convincing.

Angel stopped just inside the gates of Evergreen Memorial Park and looked around at the dark mist-covered cemetery shrouded in silence. The orange glow of the city lights behind him cast shadows along the wall as a mangy calico cat prowled through the grass in search of prey.

After several minutes of contemplation, Angel stepped forward. Only a sliver of the moon shone in the deep blue sky, casting a faint silvery light through the gloom as he moved carefully through the graves and tombstones toward the back of the cemetery.

With keen preternatural eyesight, he scanned the various stones and plaques until suddenly he stopped. He stared at the tiny grave for long minutes. In the distance, the steady hum of traffic from the freeway could be heard.

Slowly, Angel knelt down and reverently brushed his fingertips over the simple stone plaque marking the tiny grave. The name Liam Angelus Summers was engraved in the gray stone just below a small Celtic knotwork design cross. Beneath the cross in neatly scripted letters the stone read:

Liam Angelus Summers
My Angel

Beloved father and son, both left this world too soon.
Neither will ever leave my heart.

Angel closed his eyes as he placed the white camellia stems that he carried on his son’s grave.

Making only a meager salary as a waitress in a dingy diner, he knew that Buffy would barely have made enough money to support herself and yet somehow she had managed to bury their baby in a proper grave. He could only guess, but he suspected that it look her several years to earn enough money to pay for it. His heart ached for her, for what she had been forced to endure alone.

Opening his eyes, he once again brushed his hand over the cool stone.

She had named their son after him.

He had told her that his name had been Liam before he had been turned. The conversation had been so brief that he was surprised she had remembered. In fact, Xander had interrupted them with news of vampires outside the Bronze so Buffy hadn’t even replied to him and they never got back to the conversation. Angelus, he suspected, she had used because it was often referred to as the proper name for him in the Watcher’s Journals.

Liam Angelus. My Angel.

Angel sighed. When she buried their son, she had buried him as well, thinking that she had killed him. He knew that she never thought he would return.

Grief rose up within him, filling him. Tears filled his eyes.

Kneeling over the baby’s small grave, Angel wept.

It was just before midnight when Angel entered the hotel, his need for vengeance now forceful and urgent. He took the stairs to his room two at a time and stripped off his wrinkled silk shirt just after he crossed the threshold of his bedroom. Still dressed in the black leather pants, he pulled on an equally dark, thick sweater that molded to his body snugly giving him freedom of movement without encumbrance. He exchanged his shoes for a pair of heavy, steel-toed boots. His face was dark, his expression foreboding as he went about the everyday ritual of dressing with calm deliberation.

He hadn’t allowed himself to think about the Shaqti demons until just a few hours ago; his mind preoccupied with his thoughts of Buffy and now his coming child, his grief for the loss of the son he never knew and his hesitant hopes for the future. Only now, searching through the shelves for the specific book that he needed did he allow his thirst for the death of the demons responsible for such horrible atrocities to surface. Yanking the book off the shelf with a small mental shout of triumph, he flipped it open with rapid searching fingers as he rushed down the stairs. When he found the information that he sought, he slammed the book down on the counter and closed his eyes. He said a small prayer of thanks to any god that would listen that Buffy had survived, mentally and physically.

The information on the Shaqti was graphic and brutal. The demons preyed on pregnant women, attacking them and feeding on the unborn child. All too often it appeared as a terrible rape or a botched abortion; rarely did the mother survive. Those few that did tended to withdraw into themselves and live in a catatonic state, unable to cope with the terror of such an attack. Because of the Shaqti’s dwarfish stature and freakish appearance, those few mothers who attempted to tell the truth about their attackers were rarely believed.

With calm deliberation he laid maps of LA out on his desk, scrutinizing them carefully for the most likely location for the thieving demons that had been long thought to be myth; he had to strike quickly and hard or they would retaliate in ways too horrible to contemplate.  With a thick black pen, he decisively circled two likely locations on the map, one just east of the neighborhood where he knew that Buffy had been living when she had been in LA.

He was rummaging through the weapons closet when the lobby door swung open. He stopped briefly and glanced in the direction of the door before returning to his task.

Connor came through the door first, followed by Gunn.

“Got your call.” Gunn stated, glancing first at Angel then at the counter. The vampire had left only a brief message on Gunn’s cell, asking for he and Connor to meet him at the Hyperion.

Several weapons were laid out on the counter next to a map and a small stack of Angel’s papers, including the sketches he had done weeks ago of Buffy.

“Uh, did you find Cordelia?” Connor asked with wide eyes, watching as Angel tested the sharpness of a sword blade with his fingertips. His father’s actions and mood certainly seemed to point to trouble ahead for some one or some thing.

With a single shake of his head, Angel glanced at Connor and continued to search through the various weapons as if looking for something in particular.

With a bemused expression on his face, Gunn walked over to the counter. He perused the map and the weapons for a minute before asking, “So you said there was something we could help you with?”  He had no problem hunting down the seer if Angel was so inclined. No doubt he’d sleep better at night if she was dead or locked away, damn certain.

“Yes.” Angel replied simply, tossing a rather large and deadly axe in Gunn’s direction.

“So what are we hunting?” Gunn asked almost cheerfully, swinging the axe and testing the weight of it in his hand.

“Shaqti.” Angel’s voice seemed distant, his thoughts elsewhere. He turned to face his friend and his son, holding a lethal looking doubled edged saber in his hand. The razor-sharp metal blade glinted in the light as Angel slowly rotated it in his hand.

“Shaqti?” Gunn glanced up, unfamiliar with that particular type of demon.

Angel nodded, pointing to the demonology book that was open on the counter, Glanvil’s 1682 book, De Praestigiis Daemonum.  There were two sketches of the Shaqti demons along with a detailed description.

“Damn, these suckers are ugly with a capital ug.”  Gunn studied the picture for a few minutes and read what little he understood of the Latin, a vague memory stirring at the image. Years ago. he had seen a pack of them, he was certain. Almost absently his eyes drifted over to the picture of Buffy that sat next to the book along with a small stack of other papers. His eyes widened in recognition.

“That’s it! That’s where I’ve seen…” Abruptly the young man stopped talking, his head snapping around to look at his friend.  He shuddered with understanding and horror. At the questioning look from both Angel and Connor, Gunn finished reluctantly. “Your girl.”

Angel stopped where he stood, utterly still, his eyes trained on the man across from him.

Gunn swallowed, wiped a hand across his brow and hesitantly continued in a hoarse whisper. “But I thought her name was Anne.”

“You saw her?”  The icy rage underlying the question wasn’t meant for him, but it still gave Gunn pause, as did the flashes of gold appearing in Angel’s eyes along with the low growl that seemed to emanate from the vampire.

Gunn nodded slowly, somewhat uncertain how to respond, “She’d been attacked. It was vicious, man, just brutal. Me and Eddie … we took her to the hospital but … I think by then … it was too late to save her baby.”

Taking another deep breath, he continued, “We scared away the pack of cretins that attacked her, but they were fast. Real fast. Too fast. It was chase them or save the girl. We went with save the girl.”

Angel forced an unneeded breath through his lungs, yet his eyes were distinctly amber as the demon within him raged, snarling and howling with unleashed pain and anger, although not for the first time since he’d heard about the loss of his child.

“It was definitely one of these things.” Gunn pointed at the picture in the book, “They’re mean and they’re fast.”

“Not anymore.” Angel replied with a dangerous chill in his voice, his lips curving into a grim smile as he glanced once more at the blade in his hand. “Now they’re going to be extinct.”

“Count me in.”  Connor added, stepping forward bravely despite the tremor that passed over him at the rarely seen feral look on his father’s face.  He wanted to help, he wanted to prove himself worthy of his father’s trust. And if nothing else, his fighting skills were well honed. He knew he could be an asset.

Nodding, Angel tossed first a crossbow then a curved scimitar to his son. “Here’s what I need you to do.”

The first location that they checked out proved to be abandoned, but some evidence existed that the smelly cavern had been occupied within the last year.  Angel’s second guess had been eerily accurate; they found the demons in a dank hovel within a block of his scrawled circle on the map.  Only two blocks away from where Buffy was attacked and three and half blocks away from where she had lived. He snorted with disgust that he had not come across the demons before, especially given all the years that he had been hunting demons in LA.

In the cover of darkness, they scouted the location. There were no windows and only two solid doors, so they could only guess how many of the demons might be inside. Quietly Connor and Gunn moved into position, blocking the back exit as Angel prepared to enter through the front. A low hum of conversation could be heard through the thick door, the Shaqti talking amongst themselves unaware of the danger lurking just outside their door.

For a small space of time, Angel simply stood at the scarred wooden door. Shutting his eyes briefly, he tested his grip on the sword. As he opened his eyes, his features shifted to that of his demonic visage. His need for personal vengeance against the Shaqti burned inside him with primitive ferocity.

Kicking the door open so hard that it broke free from the hinges and crashed into the room, Angel burst through the door. The Shaqti immediately leapt to their feet. When they realized that they were under attack, they moved quickly to their defense. The sheer number of them appeared as a dark mass in the crowded room as they swarmed around him like a pack of wild animals.  At the sound of the melee, Connor and Gunn joined in the attack from the back door, taking down several demons that had attempted to flee past them.

Swinging his sword with a vengeance, his concentration on the battle at hand, Angel was unmindful of the few blows the demons managed to land in retaliation for his attack.  At that moment, he was hell bent on only one thing: the annihilation of the Shaqti.

Shaken by the suddenness of the attack in their own lair, the Shaqti gradually crumbled under the onslaught of Angel’s rage combined with Connor’s deft skill and Gunn’s determination.

“Why are you here?! Why have you done this? We do not harm you or your kind.” One of the last remaining and larger Shaqti roared, his chest heaving from his exertions, his breathing rough, a sheen of sweat covering his thick gray skin. The bodies of his fallen comrades lay strewn around him. He spat in disgust, even as he stood in front of the vampire without a single trace of visible fear.

“You killed my son.” A savage light shone in his eyes as Angel advanced toward the demon, watchful, wary. He guessed that this was the leader of the vile creatures from the crude markings that adorned his body. Around one beefy wrist, in a gruesome display, was a tiny blue baby bracelet. Obviously a trophy from a kill, something some young mother had no doubt been carrying.

The Shaqti’s mouth twitched in a monstrous grimace and he laughed, the sound loud and rasping in the low ceiling chamber. “Very amusing but you, dead thing, you cannot have children.”

From the corner of his eye, Angel saw the arrow coming toward him just before Gunn took out the creature firing the bow by burying his axe in the demon’s spine. Grabbing the arrow before it reached his chest, Angel angrily tossed it aside.

In the momentary distraction, the squat, burly demon lunged at the vampire with a sudden maniacal burst of speed, catching him off guard and knocking him to the floor. Angel managed to roll before the demon’s knife slid into his chest, the blade instead sinking up to the hilt in his side, between his ribs and still dangerously close to the heart. Viciously, the demon twisted the blade.

“Tell that … to my … son.” Gritting his teeth against the pain as the demon continued to rotate the deeply embedded blade, Angel lashed out with his fist. He caught the demon in the jaw, knocking him several feet backward on his ass. “He’s right …behind you.”

“Hi. That would be me,”  Connor quipped as he planted a foot firmly in the middle of the demon’s back forcing him to lean forward over his legs.

The Shaqti’s head jerked around in surprise. He was just in time to see the arc of the sharp scimitar swing toward his neck. The blade sliced through the demon’s thick skin and his spine, severing his head cleanly from his shoulders.

Connor kicked the squat body out of the way and reached down, extending his hand to his father.

“Thanks.” Angel grimaced as he rose to his feet, the wound in his side aching painfully. His other minor cuts and bruises would heal in a day or two if he fed, the knife wound the only one that would take a bit longer. With a low hiss he pulled the blade from his side. It clattered to the ground as he dropped it distastefully.

“Any time.” Connor grinned. Almost as an afterthought, he punted the demon’s head into the corner with a smooth perfectly timed kick.

Angel’s room at the Hyperion at the moment looked something like an emergency room: gauze, bandages, tape were strewn on the bed, along with tubes of ointment and bottles of antic-bacterial disinfectants. A garbage bag with ruined clothes sat near the door.

Connor sat in a tired heap on the floor, his back against the bed. The purplish bump on his forehead appeared larger now than it had been when they had first arrived back at the Hyperion, even though the bleeding had stopped. He had gotten away with only a few bumps and bruises, most of them on his legs and lower back.

“Shit, short demons are the worst. They can inflict damage too close to the family jewels.” Gunn said, hissing slightly as he dowsed the cut high on his thigh with hydrogen peroxide and began to bandage it carefully.  He sat on the bed wearing only his boxers, having just returned from his own room where he had showered and retrieved clean clothing.

Angel smiled faintly as he came out of the bathroom, his hair still damp from the shower. He pulled a clean pair of pants on over the boxers he wore, not wanting to return to Buffy bloody and battered from the evening’s activities.

He was filled with an almost unseemly pleasure at the carnage that he had wrought tonight with his own hands. There was no doubt in his mind that the Shaqti deserved it. They deserved to die for a thousand more reasons than his. Yet, the shameful joy was so akin to his demon’s relishing of death and destruction that he wondered briefly if he had lost a bit of his conscience. If he had a conscience  – not a surety after so many years of fighting, of existing solely as a demon and still to have the demon in residence – it was a soothing balm to know that he had done the right thing. Buffy would be safe from them, as would any and all other pregnant women that might have wandered too close to the lair of such vile creatures.

“I still can’t believe you charged in that pit of depraved filth alone.” Gunn continued with a small shake of his head, examining the other bruises and bumps on his legs from the clubs that the squat demons had wielded. “You musta taken out a third of ’em before we even got the door open.”

“I had to.” Angel replied quietly, twisting and trying to see the wound on his side. He groaned softly as the gash stretched and tore when he attempted to rotate his torso further. “I had to do it for Buffy.”

Connor rose gracefully to his feet and knocked his father’s hands away. Reaching for the bottle of antiseptic on the bed, along with tape and gauze, he began tending to the angry wound. “And for yourself.”

“Yes.” Angel replied after a moment, dropping his arm when Connor finished taping the bandage on. “And for Liam.”

“Liam? He would have been my brother then? Your son – with Buffy?” The young brown-eyed man asked quietly, crossing the room to pick up the mug of blood that he had warmed while Angel was in the shower.

“Yes.” He gravely declared, his eyes flicking to Connor’s face as he took the mug from his hand. His thoughts drifted to his coming child. He had not yet thought of the babe as a brother or sister for Connor. Smiling faintly, he took a sip of the warmed liquid.

“I’m sorry, man. I had no idea.” Gunn replied quietly, standing and tugging on a pair of khaki cargo pants now that his thigh was bandaged. With quick efficiency, he tossed the bandages and other medical paraphernalia back into the container that sat near the bed.

“Thanks.” Angel acknowledged softly. Noting the time, he quickly finished the mug of blood and rinsed the cup in the bathroom. Pushing aside his exhaustion and rapidly crossing the room, he stopped in front of the closet. “Thanks. You guys should get back to the hotel. Fred will be worried.”  Yanking a shirt out of the closet he tugged it on, leaving it unbuttoned while he stuffed a few items clothing into a bag.

Gunn nodded, tossing the wrappers from the bandages and other debris from their medical treatment into the garbage. “Catch you later then?”

“Yeah.” Angel replied with a brisk nod, following them out the door.

With less than an hour to spare before the harsh light of dawn would be creeping across the horizon, Angel silently entered the house. A few minutes later, he stood utterly still at the foot of the bed, captivated by the mesmerizing sight.  It still didn’t seem real at times – that she was here with him, that they were together again after all these years.

Buffy lay sprawled almost diagonally across the bed, the covers twisted around her tiny body. One arm was extended over her head; the other was draped over the book in her lap. Her long blonde hair streamed out over the pillow, the golden mane richer in the glow of the bedside lamplight.

Angel undressed quietly, his gaze drifting back to her repeatedly. When he sat next to her, the bed dipped slightly from his weight and she stirred. Her eyelids fluttered briefly before closing again as he lifted the book from her lap and sat it on the night table. His brows lifted slightly at the title, “The Laughing Corpse; an Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter Novel”.  He switched off the lamp leaving the room shadowed in darkness.

Turning back to her, he ran his finger lightly along the creamy smooth skin of her arm.

“You’re back. How did it go?” she murmured softly, her eyes still closed.

“Did you miss me?” He whispered instead. He’d tell her later about the demons.

“Mm… I missed you. And your kisses. And your sexy body.” She replied with a smile, rolling and stretching her arms upward to twine around his neck. Her lashes fluttered and her eyes opened slowly. “You missed my surprise.”

“I see that.” He traced the top of the silky green chemise with his finger. Leaning over, he gently kissed her lips before sliding under the covers beside her.

“You’re too far away.” She whispered, scooting closer and burying her nose in the center of his chest. Her hands moved slowly from his neck to his shoulders then down the firm muscles of his arms. She could feel his tiredness in the relaxed droop of his body even as his arms went around her, drawing her close.

His eyes closed.

“You’re hurt.” Buffy cried softly in alarm, her hand encountering the bandage on his side.

“It’s nothing.” He murmured, the words almost unintelligible as he drifted off to sleep. He was able to relax with her as he never did anywhere else with anyone else. She was his solace and his sanctuary.

“Uh-huh. Feels like something.” Her fingers moved over him lightly, searching with her hands what she couldn’t see in the darkness under the covers. Finding no other bandaged wounds, she carefully tightened her arms around him.

She watched him sleep for a while, touching his face gently every so often to soothe him or herself, tucking the covers around him when he moved. She offered a small prayer of gratitude for his safe return, knowing that it wouldn’t be the first time or the last time. The dangers facing them on any given day were unknown and immeasurable; it was all part of the job. They had to have faith and trust in each other’s abilities to deal with those threats. Anything else was simply not an option.

Regardless of her brief disquietude, her happiness was beyond measure. He was beside her. They would hopefully be having a child soon. She snuggled against him and finally drifted off to sleep.

It was late in the morning when Buffy awoke. Angel still slept beside her, his large frame still and quiet. As she eased her body from his, he mumbled in unintelligible protest but did not wake up.

With a small smile, she quietly exchanged her green chemise for a pair of navy blue sweats and a baby blue hooded sweatshirt. Carefully she extracted the keys to this car from his pocket and crept down the stairs.

Almost an hour later, Buffy carried a tray into the bedroom and sat it on the table next to the bed. She studied him quietly for a moment. It didn’t seem real at times – that she was here with him, that they were together again.

He came awake before her lips touched his, his eyes opening slowly as his lips curved into a smile. She kissed him softly, before turning to pick up the tray.

“Breakfast in bed. My treat.” She declared, climbing on the bed and perching next to him, cross-legged, the tray on her lap.

“Starbucks?” Angel questioned teasingly, noting the white cup with the green logo label next to the a similar sized plastic cup. A blueberry muffin leftover from yesterday sat next to the two cups.

“Chai latte for me. Type O from the local blood bank for you.” Buffy replied, picking up the insulated vente size coffee mug decorated with Christmas trees that she had picked up during her visit to the local coffee house. She held it out for him.

With his injury she wanted him to have more blood than just a small cup, and the extra-tall insulated mug would keep the blood warmer – at least in theory. Besides, they were half off in the after Christmas sale.

“You were exhausted last night and injured. Humor me.” She prodded until he took the cup from her hand and began to drink.

He finished the warm liquid and set the cup aside, his energy and health already largely restored after feeding and a few hours of sleep. Lying back against the pillows, he watched Buffy as she ate, quickly polishing off the muffin and most of her Chai.

With a teasing smile, she brushed off her hands and set the tray aside. Sweeping up the green chemise where she had left it on the chair earlier, she went into the bathroom. He could hear the water running as she filled the tub.

“Now, a soak in a hot tub.” She announced, crooking her finger and gesturing for him. She was once more clad in the tiny green silk, the color perfectly complimentary to her creamy skin and hazel green eyes.

With an amused grin, Angel got out of bed and followed her into the bathroom. He brushed his teeth and then waited patiently as she made him stand before her nude so that she could inspect his bruises and cuts, carefully removing the bandage from his now healing side. She frowned at the deep puncture and shot him a look that said he wouldn’t get out of providing her with an explanation then gestured for him to step into the tub.

He sank into the hot scented water with a sigh, watching as Buffy flitted around the bathroom gathering a few items before returning to sit on the edge of the tub.

“That’s very pretty, sweetheart, but it’s going to get wet.” His body was already responding to the sight of her body so delectably displayed in the green confection.  With an amused glance, he caught her hand and tugged, nearly toppling her into the bath.

“Very funny.” She glanced down at the tiny chemise, and shook her hand free. “This is not water washable. And it was expensive, as you’ll find out when you get your credit card bill. Which, by the way, when I get paid next month I fully intend to pay you back.”

“You’re beautiful and it’s beautiful on you. I don’t care what it costs. I’m not taking your money.”  Angel slid lower in the water, his mind eagerly anticipating her joining him in the large tub – either on her own or with his encouragement.

She frowned at him, “I will pay you back. I’m not just some… some freeloader.”

“Buffy,” he began calmly, sitting up slightly, “What does it matter, who pays for what?”

“It matters to me.” Buffy flatly replied, “I know you probably don’t understand but it’s important to me to be self-sufficient.  When I first came back from- when I was resurrected, I couldn’t make ends meet. I had to borrow money from Giles, from my friends. I worked at one crappy job after the next. I had to sell the house and most of Mom’s art collection to give Dawn a college education and pay off the rest of the bills.”

He looked at her thoughtfully for a moment then gently touched the tips of her fingers. He genuinely regretted that he had left her alone, that he hadn’t been there for her when she needed help. More than anything he wanted to make that up to her.

“You’re an amazing woman, Buffy. Strong, beautiful. Incredibly competent. And you’re my wi- the love of my life, the woman I adore more than anything. Everything I have I would share with you. It makes me happy to buy you things.”

“Is this a get in my pants thing?”  Buffy glanced over at him, the seriousness lifting from her face. She smiled.

“Since you aren’t wearing any at the moment, no.”  He teasingly replied, his eyes raking over her with interest.

Watching her as she twisted her hair up and secured it on her head with a clip, he wondered if she knew the impact that the messy upswept style had on him. He was torn between wanting to remove the clip and have the golden silken mass of her hair spill into his hands and the enticing site of her bare neck, now once again marked with his bite.  He was already hard, but the physical reaction to his thoughts was immediate. Beneath the water, his erection firmed even more.

“Besides…” Reaching up, he tugged her into the tub with a splash, “If I pay for it then I don’t have to pay you back for all of the expensive lingerie I ruin or rip off you.”

“Angel!” She gasped, startled, water sloshing over the sides of the tub. She grabbed on to him for balance, her body rubbing erotically against his in the water.

“You ruined this you know.”  She glanced down with a pout at the soaked garment that clung to her curves as she pushed against his chest, her knees straddling his hips. “And I was close to getting it for free.”

“I know. I’m sorry.” His hands made quick work of the sodden garment, stripping it over her head. It landed with a soft plop somewhere over his head where he tossed it. “What?”

“Nothing. Five-minute rule.” She rose to her knees slightly and scooted forward. “I never really tried to do this – you know – dress up, play games – with anyone else.”

“Good.” He grumbled, a spark of jealous anger shooting through him at the thought. His hands slid up her legs she sat down carefully on his lap, cautious to keep her knee away from his injury.

“But I wanted to impress you.”  She ventured softly, her hands sliding across the slick skin of his chest and along the wide contours of his shoulders. Leaning forward, the tips of her breasts grazed his chest. She nibbled his earlobe, her voice a husky whisper. “I wanted to turn you on.”

“You think I’m not?” Angel’s hands circled her narrow waist and he adjusted her slightly, rubbing the hard length of his erection against her bottom. He wanted her with an addictive fervor that defied explanation. He could have her a hundred times more and it still wouldn’t be enough. It was mildly unnerving for someone who had been alive as long as he had, and had never before experienced such inexplicable need. “Just being with you turns me on.”

Buffy smiled and rotated her hips against him. With her eyes half-closed, she licked her lips in anticipation of their kiss and she pressed tightly against him, crushing her breasts to his chest.  She kissed him hungrily, wantonly as if she would devour him.

The water splashed as Angel lifted his hand to the back of her neck, as she tilted her head and deepened the kiss. She bit down on his lower lip gently, nibbling.

Breaking off the kiss, she lifted her head. Her green eyes, sultry and heated, held his.

“Feels hard. Big.” Buffy whispered, reaching behind her and stroking the long hard length of his arousal with teasing fingers.

Angel’s head dropped back to the side of the tub and his eyes closed as her small hand closed around him, moving up and down with such deftness that he groaned softly. After a few more minutes of the tantalizing pleasure, his hands closed over her hips and he attempted to guide her down on him.

“No.” She scolded gently, resisting his attempt to move her. She swatted his hand away from her hip.

“No?” He questioned softly, his eyes opening. He gazed at the intoxicatingly beautiful woman astride his lap, her hand moving on him in an enticing erotic caress and he felt another jolt of carnal urgency. His hand slipped between her legs.

“Not yet.” Buffy let out a long slow exhalation of breath as his fingers glided over her wet sleek cleft, parting her gently to slip inside. She rode his fingers to the rhythm of her hand clutching his erection until the agonizing rapture threatened to overwhelm her.

Breathless and panting, she gazed up at him. She shivered with lust, her body betraying her need for him.

Angel withdrew his long fingers from her core, his dark eyes looking at her with wicked, carnal assessment as he waited for her next move.

“Did you want me to put this.” She purred softly, stroked his hard length again with one hand as she moved her other hand to the golden curls between her legs, “in here?”

“Yes.” A wolfish smile appeared, his hand lifting out of the water to tweak a distended nipple.

Buffy guided him into place, sinking down slowly on his engorged length. She sighed softly as he stretched her, filled her. She clenched her muscles around him and watched his face for subtle nuances of pleasure.

“You feel perfect.” He whispered huskily, every nerve in his body hypersensitive. He flexed his hips upward as she moved down, the water sloshing around them.

“You feel big.” She sighed very softly, her hands braced on his shoulders, her hips moving in a slow serpentine undulation that made him groan.

With ecstasy fast inundating her senses, she glided upward, stopping with just the tip of his erection still inside her.

“Now how does that feel?” She questioned softly, languidly descending down his rigid length. Leaning forward she nuzzled his throat, her fingertips toying with the short hair on the nape of his neck.

“Tight. Wet…” He murmured, his voice velvety and low. “Hot.”

“Good?” She kissed his throat as she steadily rocked her hips. Her lips moved over his wet skin with greedy ravenous bites, licking and sucking hungrily.

“Better than good, baby.” He growled softly, a ferocious lust threatening to consume him.

With a smile, she forced her hips down firmly, burying him deep inside her. Her lips found the diamond hard nipples on his chest, her teeth closing over them in nipping bites.

The violent throbbing between her legs rapidly became her singular focus as she impaled herself on him. With each thrust, the tantalizing view of paradise seemed almost within reach.

“Angel?” She breathed softly, the movement of her hips slow and fluid. The water sloshed around them, spilling out on to the floor.

“Hmm?” Angel murmured in response, his eyes closed against the delicious pleasure as she impaled herself on him yet again.

“Bite.” She said on a hitched breath, the tips of her nipples scraping across his chest as she leaned forward.

His eyes opened suddenly, his ravenous desire sharp set and urgent. He attempted to suppress the shameless rush of pleasure at the thought, but peaking desire overwhelmed any hesitation or doubt and his features shifted.

Buffy whimpered softly in his arms as he pulled her to him almost forcefully.

She clung to his shoulders as he sank his fangs into her neck, reaching her first shuddering climax with the painful stinging pleasure of his bite.

Her next low keening sigh of release melted into his own groan of pleasure, as he joined her in climax, the shimmering pleasure vibrating through every taut nerve.

Long moments later, her face buried in his neck, her words muffled, Buffy murmured softly, “Okay. You can buy the lingerie.”

On to Part XV