THE COMMON GOOD OF LIFE
By D. M. Evans
Disclaimer - don’t
own a single one of them. Mr. Whedon does.
Spoilers - Post Not
Rating - PG-13
Feedback - yes
Summary - Buffy
picks up the pieces after the show down in Los Angeles
Author’s Note - It
was written for the Summer challenge at Blood
Roses Forums and had to include the theme of summer and a sunny day.
Thanks to SJ for the beta and helping to pick the title
lived in storm and strife,
Her soul had such
For what proud death
That it could not
The common good of
But lived as ’twere
William Butler Yeats
- That the Night Come
“There’s more eggs
if you want some,” Buffy said, seeing Connor trudging into ‘command
central’s kitchen. The boy looked dead on his feet, his eyes dark and
“My cooking that
bad?” She grinned.
“Too tired to eat.”
He slumped at the table across the table from her.
Buffy got up and
pulled down a box of Weetabix. “Try these. You need to eat something.”
Sheesh, when did she turn into Mom?
He pulled out one
nugget, eyeing it dubiously. “What the hell is it?”
“Something Giles and
Spike can’t get enough of.” Buffy sat back down as Connor nibbled at it.
Angel would be furious if she let his son starve to death...provided he
ever regained consciousness. “It’s a bright sunny summer day, Connor. You
don’t see many of them in Cleveland if Jess is to be believed.” Buffy felt
a little sorry for the Cleveland born Slayer. Her little territory of the
Hellmouth had been overrun by three new Slayers, a witch, a Watcher and
three Watchers-in- training, not to mention Connor and an agogic demon. It
made Jess a little jumpy. “Why aren’t you out there enjoying the sun?”
“Why aren’t you?
Man, this is crap.” Connor wiped at his mouth then offered the weetabix to
Scraps, Jess’ fat Labrador Retriever. “I’ve eaten stuff in hell that tasted
allowing herself that bit of joviality. Dawn had been reminding her that
laughter was healing. “I might get in a little sun bathing once I’m sure
all the potential oglers are elsewhere.”
sunbathing.”Connor flashed his scary smile.
pervert.” She kicked him under the table. “That’s Faith’s thing.”
“Yeah, I know.” His
blue eyes glowed. “I need to get to bed. Faith wants me to patrol Lake View
cemetery with her. She thinks vampires have moved into President Garfield’s
crypt. And I promised Dawn I’d go to the art museum with her this
afternoon. I think I can get a few hours nap in.” Connor got up. “How is
he, Buffy? Has he woken up?”
“I would have told
you, Connor.” She tried to keep the creeping annoyance out of her voice. It
was natural he’d ask. “I’m going to check on him now. Want to help?”
Connor shook his
head, running a hand through his thin hair. Buffy saw a sucker bite just at
the base of his neck and she wondered if it was Faith or her sister who had
put it there. She wasn’t sure which girl Connor was spending his nights
with but she was hoping it wasn’t with Dawn. “I can’t...it’s just so hard.
I don’t know how you do it.”
“Because someone has
to.” Buffy put a hand on his shoulder and the haunted look in his eyes felt
like a dagger. “Go on, get some sleep. You can do the feeding before you
head out with Faith tonight.”
“Xander, Andrew and
some of their new friends are role playing in our house. I’ll never get to
sleep over the geek-noise.” Connor sighed, looking out across the way to
the male-dominated home.
“Crash in my bed for
a little while,” she offered, thinking he honestly didn’t look up to
slogging next door. Jess and the handful of Watchers studying the Hellmouth
had rented most of the homes on the block making it a mini-Complex.
Buffy watched him
head up the stairs before she went into the basement. The smell from the
basement made her wish for a perfume-daubed doctor’s mask. Buffy knew it
had to be worse for Connor with his senses. She lingered on the stair,
thinking life wasn’t supposed to be like this. Okay, Italy hadn’t turned
out like she expected. Italian was harder to learn than she expected and
her new boyfriend ended up having been lover to a lot of really gross women
over the centuries. She had been looking for a new assignment out of Italy,
when she got a call from someone claiming to be Angel’s son.
He had to call three
times before she had listened to him, furious at the cruel joke she thought
someone was playing. Finally, she listened and conferenced the call to
Giles. The story sounded too familiar. An apocalyptic battle, leaving
everyone dead except Angel and Spike, both so injured the boy wanted to
know if he should dust them to be merciful. Giles told the boy to take them
to the Cleveland complex. He would find help there and the Watchers would
gain valuable knowledge by watching vampires heal. Giles didn’t say that
but Buffy knew he was thinking it.
Buffy would rather
have just gone to L.A., sparing them the difficulty of transporting the two
injured men but large sections of the city had been blown up. She had
believed the party line about it being terrorists. Foolish. She should have
at least suspected.
She gathered up her
three Watchers-in-training, Xander from Africa, which had been another less
than well thought out assignment, Dawn and Andrew. They met Giles in
Cleveland. Kennedy and Willow had come up from Rio, Kennedy moaning all the
way and Faith came in from the east coast. It was almost like old times, if
she could ignore the RV in the drive that had come across country, driven
by a scrawny kid and a green-skinned demon, transporting two half destroyed
Spike was housed in
the house next door. Willow, Xander, and Andrew were caring for him.
Spike’s legs, hips and back had been crushed. Connor had found him under
rubble while digging out Angel. Buffy could see why the boy had wanted to
stake them both. At least, Spike was in better shape that his grandsire. He
was busy giving everyone a hard time because he was bored with his
immobility. She and he had had their big talk and found there had been
little left to say beyond thank you for giving his life in Sunnydale to
She sensed Spike was
in mourning, not for her, but for someone else. Lorne mentioned the name
Illyria. She didn’t feel this was the time to ask about who that was,
sensing the rawness there. Still, Buffy stopped over at least once a day
just to listen to Spike piss and moan, because it felt a little like old
times, and, as odd as it was, she missed them. She hated having her friends
scattered around the world. Buffy felt adrift and this accident was
anchoring her. Moreover, she needed to feel that old time connection,
especially when she’d surface from the basement of her new home.
Screwing up her
courage, Buffy went to the basement. Angel rested on a futon under the
florescent lighting next to a couch and TV across from the washer and
dryer. There was a mini-bar with a tiny fridge and a microwave along the
wall next to the pool table. Jess had used the area as a game room. Now it
was a sick room. Angel’s injuries were comparable to Spike’s, only they
were over his head, chest, and arms. Half of his face had been gone, his
head looking like a crushed melon when Connor first drove up to the house.
Angel had yet to regain consciousness. They tried to feed him but couldn’t
do it well. Connor said vampires didn’t need to eat. He knew that because
he had pitched Angel into the ocean in a metal coffin. Buffy refused to
listen to that because she wanted to like Connor for Angel’s sake and she
couldn’t if she knew stuff like that. Giles said the Watchers knew not
feeding would destroy a vampire’s brain. She didn’t want to know how the
Watchers knew that but took Giles at his word and they tried to dribble
blood into Angel daily.
Buffy poured an iv
bag of blood into a cup. The Watchers had a deal with the Cleveland Clinic
to purchase blood too old for transfusion under the pretense of research.
She microwaved it then sat on the futon, keeping the sheet up over Angel as
much as she could. It hurt to much to see the wounds on his arms, even
bandaged as they were. Giles called it a degloving, a fancy way of saying
stripped to the bone. Much of the muscle had regrown but not all of it, not
yet and not the skin. Spike said Angel had more blood he’d heal faster.
They kept moist bandages over the wound. She helped to change them even if
it made her queasy. The worst was what lay under the bandages over the left
side of his face and head. The damaging was healing but it was gruesome to
In treating Angel,
caring for him, she received a deep insight into herself. Her love for
Angel hadn’t been a simple high school crush. She wanted to convinced
herself of that at one time, even up until the kiss they had shared when he
brought her the amulet. She had been babbling fast then, trying not to lose
herself in Angel, even to the point of reaching to Spike only to have him
stun her by telling her he knew she didn’t love him.
What had Spike once
said to her? She could never lie to him. He had also said that she and
Angel would never be just friends. He was right on both accounts, damn him.
Angel was still a part of her. Even broken as he was, comatose, silent, he
still completed her. She hadn’t even realized that she was a jigsaw missing
a piece until he came into her care, or was that a lie, too? Maybe she
always knew there was a stray piece and that’s what all the men in her life
were, Parker, Riley, Spike, attempts at completion. Even in his silence,
Angel made her feel whole for the first time since she blew up the high
The best part of
this whole tragedy was it forced her to explore her inner self. Now she
could honestly say that her feelings were based on something beyond the
sexual, something other than pure hormones and lust. No one could look at
Angel right now and have a single lust-spawned thought. He looked like
something someone would find in a medical school anatomy dissection lab. It
was hard to look directly at his face with the terrible wound. No, there
was no lust in her heart, just something that felt a lot like love.
Buffy siphoned up
some blood in a turkey baster. She went to press the tip into Angel’s
mouth. When the plastic touched his lips, his eyes shot open. Buffy dropped
the baster, blood arcing out of it over the bandages on his face. She
swallowed back her startled cry.
“Oh my god! You’re
Buffy resisted the
urge to hug him, knowing it would only cause him pain. Angel’s eyes fluttered
closed. His lips parted, a deep guttural moan pouring out of him. His body
shuddered and he cried out in worse pain.
“Angel, easy, try to
rest easy. I know you’re hurting but try not to move much.” She wiped a
little of the blood off his forehead. His eyes opened and tracked her
bloody finger. On impulse, Buffy pressed her finger to his lips. His tongue
rasped her skin. A growl rumbled in his throat. “You have to be hungry.”
Buffy picked up the baster and tried to fill it with blood.
hand snagged the cup and he gulped at it, choking as blood rained all over.
She could see the pain the effort was causing but he didn’t stop. Buffy got
up and tossed two more bags into the microwave and let him sip straight
from them. It was neater and easier on him. Buffy didn’t speak as he drank
greedily. This was his primal demon, mindlessly feeding and somehow it
didn’t bother her like she thought it might, as if something inside her had
finally accepted him wholly. Finally, all the available blood in the
mini-fridge was gone. Angel’s eyes started to shut. Buffy stroked the bit
of hair that escaped the swath of bandages.
“Angel, you can hear
me, right? Understand me?” she asked hesitantly, knowing how badly Angel’s
skull had been damaged. She had been preparing herself in case they had
been nursing a brain dead shell.
Angel licked his
lips, looking in horrible pain. “I can.” He paused, his jaw clenching.
brought you here.”
A sigh escaped
Angel’s lips. His eyes opened again as every part of him relaxed.
Buffy’s hand moved to his uninjured cheek. “He’s upstairs napping. Do you
need more blood? We have more upstairs, I think. Want me to wake Connor?”
He tried to shake
his head then winced. “I’m okay and let him sleep.”
Buffy got up and got
a bottled water out of the mini-fridge. She cracked open the bottle. “Try
some water.” She tipped it slowly to his lips as he drank sloppily. She
pulled it back. “More?”
“No.” He shut his
eyes for a moment. “I didn’t expect to see you again...Buffy.” He tried to
raise his hands and groaned.
“Angel, try not to
move too much. You were very badly hurt in the battle with...the Black
Thorne?” Buffy’s brow creased as she tried to recall Connor’s story. “Your
head was all tore up. We weren’t sure if you’d keep your arms. We were
trying to track down a healer like the one that healed Spike after the
thing with Dana but the ones working for us were busy with the human
victims of the battle.” Buffy tried to hide the fact that even she
understood it was more important to help the innocent than to help a
vampire, no matter how she felt about him. She hoped she tucked it away,
keeping it from her voice.
word was flat, so were his eyes. Pain? Disappointment? Acceptance?
“Your arms are
healing slowly.” Buffy tried to shoot him an encouraging smile. “Now that
you can eat, you should heal better. Spikes’s toes are starting to twitch.
Maybe he’ll walk soon and his legs looked as bad as your arms.”
“Spike made it?”
Buffy couldn’t tell
if he sounded relieved or disappointed. His expression was inscrutable.
“Spike’s alive but barely in better shape. He got crushed from the waist
The eagerness in Angel’s eyes hurt her.
Buffy knew he wasn’t
ready to hear the truth. She wanted to shield him. “We don’t need to talk
about this right now.”
“They’re all gone,”
he said with heart wenching pain.
Buffy pursed her
lips then answered. “Connor seems to think so. Lorne’s here, too. Connor’s
been helping me, Faith and Jess. She’s the Cleveland Slayer. Connor’s an
Buffy was surprised
to see the consternation in Angel’s eyes. She thought he’d be proud of his
child, not fearful. He tried to get up but didn’t manage more than a
lifting of his head. “I don’t want...he’s not supposed to be fighting.”
“He said you’d say
that.” She took a deep breath before venturing, “I don’t think you get a
say in it, Angel. He’s a grown up.”
“He’s a boy,” Angel
snapped back, his brown eyes going even darker. “He’s supposed to be with
his family. Send him back.”
“To the Stepfords?”
Buffy tried for humor and the look on Angel’s face said he was so not
receptive to that. She didn’t want to burden him too much with the awful
truth but she could see he wouldn’t let her be his armor. “Angel, I can’t
do that. The Reilly’s...damn, how do I say this. After Connor went to find
you that day, Mrs. Reilly won tickets to a show. Connor didn’t know. He had
left his cell phone in the car or something. He can tell you better. The
family you put him with were in the blast range. Everyone in that theatre
Angel’s face where
it wasn’t covered in white gauze, crinkled up. “I don’t....”
“Oh, right, I
haven’t told you that part yet.” Buffy sighed, stroking his uninjured
cheek. “Are you sure you don’t want to wait until you’re stronger for
this?” The building fury in his eyes answered her. “Whatever you guys did
at the end, to defeat the evil, it went off like a bomb. Large chunks of
L.A. around Wolfram and Hart’s building were left a smoking hole. Hundreds
were killed. The government is blaming terrorists, of course. Connor’s an
orphan as far as him being a Reilly is concerned. The lawyers are still
working out the wills and life insurance policies. Connor’s going to have a
lot of money soon, which I know doesn’t make up for the loss of life. I
think, though, he had already stopped viewing them as his family. He’s said
and all but he didn’t feel it like losing a parent.”
“So much death...”
Buffy could see Angel giving up.
“It wasn’t your
fault, Angel,” she said and she believed that. “Any more than Sunnydale
becoming a smoking crater was mine. It was a military strike, sacrificing
some to save the world.”
“That doesn’t sound
like you.” His lips thinned.
Buffy,” she said, looking to the ceiling, hearing Scraps barking. “I had to
adopt that to convince the Potentials and myself about what we were doing.
I did a lot of speech making. Turns out I was a real arrogant bitch about
it, but that doesn’t change the fact that no matter how much we hate it, if
those people hadn’t died, this would be the newest hell dimension.”
Angel’s eyes closed.
“Connor’s supposed to be in school.”
“It’s the middle of
the summer, Angel. He might go back but I think he’s bonded to Giles so he
might be going to college with the tag ‘Watcher in Training’.” Buffy
snorted. “The son of a vampire as a Watcher. Anyone for a little Alanis
Morrisette?” Off Angel’s confused look, Buffy warbled a few lyrics. “Isn’t
it ironic, don’t you think?”
“Besides I think he’s dating Faith or my sister or both.” She tried not to
let it show she didn’t like any of those options. It felt creepy, almost
incestuous to think Dawn might be with Angel’s son. Maybe that kind of
thing flew in the deep south but they were so far from there it wasn’t
funny. She also didn’t like the idea of Connor and Faith since, in spite of
it all, she still looked at Faith and saw someone who should be doing
twenty to life. She tried not to think like that but she knew Faith had
willingly committed murder and no matter what kind of crap she put up with
as a kid, there was no excuse for it. She wanted better for Angel’s son but
wondered if Angel would see it that way. He had a soft spot for Faith that
drove her nuts.
likes his women older.” Angel sighed, his body trembling then went very
still. Buffy thought for a moment he had passed out.
Before she could do
anything, there was ruckus from upstairs. Scraps’ barks were louder and
someone was thundering down the stairs. She could hear the obese dog
dancing on the floorboards, her barks more excited. Angel was awake again,
looking at the ceiling curiously.
“Out! Out!” Connor
bellowed. “Dawn! Jess! Someone shut this dog up before I put it in a
“Like to see you
make her fit!” Dawn called back.
“So much for Connor
napping.” Buffy sighed then looked at Angel. As much as she wanted to keep
him all to herself for a while, his son deserved to know Angel was awake.
“Connor! Come here.”
The door opened,
spilling sunlight down the steps but nowhere near Angel’s resting place.
Connor came down two steps then squatted, looking under the railing. “What?
Did he dust?”
“Are you in your
underpants?” Buffy stared, not expecting that.
Connor flipped his
hair out of his eyes. “Yeah, I was sleeping.”
“In my bed,” Buffy
said and heard Angel shifting around at that announcement.
“It’s summer. It’s
too damn hot. Besides, I usually sleep naked so be thankful I’m wearing my
“Could you stand up
or something? Those things are gaping open.” Buffy averted her eyes.
Connor got up and
came down the stairs in navy blue boxers. When he hit the shadows at the
base of the stairs suns, moons and the whole zodiac of constellations
glowed on his boxers. “Faith’s right. You’re such a prude.”
“I am not!” Buffy
bit back the impulse to pop him one. “I just don’t want any surprises
falling out of those things.”
“I’m pretty sure
you’ve seen it before.” Connor strolled over to the bed, gesturing at his
father. “Besides, he’s naked and I don’t see you tossing a spazz over it.”
Angel shifted again.
Connor jumped back
and Buffy got up, wrapping one of the blue plastic, cotton-lined chucks
they put under Angel for sanitary purposes around the boy’s waist while he
stammered. “He’s awake.”
“I was trying to
tell you that before you blinded me with your boxers,” Buffy said, rolling
Connor moved past
her, pulling off the chuck. He looked down at his father. “I didn’t think
you’d wake up. I thought I had done the wrong thing not staking you,
putting you out of your misery.”
“Patience was never
your strong suit,” Angel said and Buffy saw Connor bristle even though
Angel’s tone was gentle. “How long...”
“Weeks.” Connor kept
up his relentless stare. “I’m glad I was wrong.”
Angel smiled weakly.
“So am I.”
“I’ll go tell Dawn
and Faith. We can rearrange our afternoon plans,” Connor said.
“No, go with Dawn,”
Buffy said quickly. Connor stared, confused, then his face morphed into a
mash or mild irritation and amusement as understanding dawned.
“Oh, you’re giving
me a twenty to go to the movies and leave you two alone for a while.”
Connor gave her one of his scary smiles.
Buffy blushed. “You
don’t mind, do you? I mean, I know you want to talk to your father.”
His smile threatened
to split his head in two. “We talked. Any more than that, he’d be biting me
and I’d be punching him. I won’t tell the others yet.”
“Thank you. Now get
before a wind comes along and yanks those boxers off of you. You don’t have
hips to hold them up.” Buffy swatted at him.
“The way you keep
talking about it, I think you want them to.” His grin became absolutely
“No.” This time she
swatted him hard. “And on second thought, stay away from my sister or
“Not worried. Faith
and Jess will protect me.” Connor swooped in and kissed her cheek before
heading for the stairs. “I’ll come back later, Dad.”
no...wait? Jess, too? You little pervert.” Buffy eyed him evilly.
“While you’re out
slaying we’re all down here having orgies. Giles’ idea, reliving his
younger days. Angel never seemed to mind, so why not?” Connor’s eyes
sparkled at her.
“Why am I so worried
that you aren’t joking?” Buffy shot Angel a nervous look and thought the
vampire might actually be amused by the exchange. “And didn’t I see Faith
in those boxers last week?”
“You aren’t wrong,”
Connor assured her, bouncing up the steps. “I still need a nap.”
“Dog’s out,” Buffy
heard Faith saying. “What took you so long?”
“Buffy was being a
prude about me wearing boxers.”
“Is he always so
annoying?” Buffy tapped Angel’s chin.
He made a noise that
might have been a laugh or a wheeze of pain. “Always.”
Faith appeared in the
doorway and waved the boxers overhead. “Problem solved. No more annoying
“Oh dear God. Faith!
Give him those back before he crawls into my bed.” Buffy screamed.
Faith laughed and
slammed the door shut behind her. Buffy hung her head. “It’s like I’m
running a preschool around here, I swear. Your son is now running naked
through our house.”
“I’m so proud.”
Angel seemed utterly relieved for the break in the painful revelations she
had been handing out.
Buffy touched his
lips. “Seeing this smile, I think you actually are proud of him.” Suddenly
her eyes were swamped with tears and she couldn’t stop them.
She wiped the tears
that splashed onto his face. “Sorry. It’s just been so hard, Angel, seeing
you like this, thinking like Connor just said, not sure if we had done the
right thing in trying to nurse you back. We were all terrified, if you
lived, you’d be a vegetable. Every day it got harder and harder not to just
end it and now you’re here and I’m so happy.” She leaned down and brushed
her lips to his. “Do you need to get some sleep now, Angel? I know this is
wearing you out, I can see it.”
“I can stay awake
for a while.” The expression on his face was heart warming.
“This is about the
time we change your dressings. I probably should do it now. If I wait until
your asleep, it’ll probably wake you. I’m pretty sure this is going to
hurt...a lot.” She wished that she had a way of sparing him that but she
didn’t. Spike whined for morphine but the best he ever did was Canadian whiskey.
“I’ve been through
terrible pain before, Buffy. I can handle it.”
“Okay.” She folded
the sheet down to his waist, tucking it in. She picked up the chuck that
Connor had cast aside and draped it over Angel’s belly. She got another
one, putting it under his arm.
“I guess being naked
made this easier,” he said and she heard his attempt at levity. She
“It does. And we did
get a little blood into you so it...uh, eventually had to come out.” Buffy
felt the blush on her cheek. Did he feel embarrassed at about having to be
cleaned like a baby. “This made clean up easier.”
“I’m sorry I was so
much trouble.” He did look embarrassed.
ridiculous. You didn’t ask to get crushed by a building any more than Spike
did and trust me, he’s been a far worse patient.” Buffy got the bandage
scissors and started cutting.
“Well, to be fair to
Spike, I’ve been in a coma.” He managed another quick grin.
probably bitch while comatose,” Buffy muttered and Angel laughed then gasped
as the pain seized him. “It’s true.”
“I know.” His eyes
danced then the light died. “Have you been doing this for weeks?”
“Ever since Connor
dug you and Spike out of the rubble. I think he got in on part of the fight
but he’s being close lipped about it.” Buffy bit her lip, feeling pain for
the boy. “I think he saw too much.”
“That’s his whole
life, Buffy, being raised in hell.”
“Yeah, he mentioned
that. Me, Faith and Connor have been taking care of you. Willow, Xander and
Andrew have been caring for Spike. Giles supervises. I decided Dawn didn’t
need to see this mess. Kennedy decided that for herself and Lorne is well,
too prissy.” Buffy started to remove the slit dressings. “It’s been very
hard on Connor. He was joking with you but after he helps, he gets so quiet
it’s spooky. I don’t even want to know what’s going on in his head. Faith
and I tend to take his shifts.”
“Are you sure he
just didn’t want burdened?” Angel seemed dubious.
Buffy knew father
and son had problems. She was seeing now how deep it ran. “I’m sure. He
sits down here every day with you, talking.”
Angel’s eyes snapped
up at her. “Really?”
“Yes. He might not
want to admit it but he loves you.” Buffy took the dressing edges. “Angel,
this is going to hurt.”
She stripped the
dressing away, bits of flesh clinging to it. Giles said this was good, it
was actually cleaning the dead tissues away. Angel gritted his teeth,
grunting. She tossed it into the garbage and when she turned back she saw
Angel’s eyes the size of ostrich eggs. He was holding up his injured arm,
looking at the raw, glistening muscle. She moistened some gauze with
saline. “Angel, put your arm down so I can fix it. Try not to look at it.”
He gave her a look
of a slasher flick victim who was realizing he was dead and had yet to
fall. She put the wet gauze over the wounds and started wrapping it with
dry fluffy gauze then moved to his other arm.
“Is this one as
bad?” He sounded like a scared little boy.
“Not quite. Still, I
wouldn’t look if I were you.”
“Buffy, why are you
doing this?” He watched her start to remove the other dressing.
Her head snapped up,
shocked by both question and tone of voice. He was surprised she was caring
for him. How could that be? “Angel, do you even need to ask?”
“I do. Last I heard
you didn’t want anything to do with me or Spike. You had moved on and we
were told to move on, too.”
working, hearing the pain in his voice. She brandished the scissors in his
face. “Did Andrew actually say that?”
“Yes.” Angel tried
again to sit up but the pain kept him down. “You didn’t tell him to?”
“Angel, since when
have I ever needed anyone to be my mouthpiece?” Buffy tore away the
dressings a little more forcefully than she needed to. “I didn’t even know
you were in Italy, no matter what Andrew might have said. I don’t know if I
would have been ready to see either of you but I never told Andrew to say
word one to you. He took it on himself to do it. Xander might have put him
up to it, I’m not sure. I’ve already shown Andrew just what I thought about
him putting words into my mouth.” Buffy didn’t need a mirror to know the
smile on her face was more the grin of a predator.
“Then you weren’t
seeing the Immortal...I didn’t think you would. He was an ass when he was
doing Dru and Darla. I’m sure he hasn’t improved with the centuries,” Angel
said as she started redressing the wound.
meeting his eye. “He what?”
widened, realizing yes she had been with the Immortal and no, she hadn’t
know his history. “Slept with Darla and Dru.”
“Now I’m more glad
than ever I kicked him to the curb. His money only went so
far...personality was a real problem.” Buffy sighed. “Darla and Dru, gross,
and no words out of you about any virtues those ladies might once have
“You have scissors.
I can’t move. I’ll be quiet.” He managed a grin.
Buffy laughed softly
then she sobered. Words started pouring out of her. “I missed you so much,
Angel. I tried to not miss you. The moment I saw you back in Sunnydale
before the fall, it was like you never left. And even though we both
pitched major jealous fits, I think what we were trying to say was we had
missed each other more than our pride would allow us to admit. I knew when
you gave me that amulet that whoever wore it would die, you know?”
“Yes, I do.” Angel
licked his lips. “I knew it from the moment Lilah gave it to me.”
“I chose. Spike
knows it, even if he won’t say it. He knew it when he volunteered to die.
He knew I had made my choice.” Buffy started with the fluffy dry gauze.
“But being in Europe helped, Angel. I started to know who I am. I grew to
understand that I can be me and I can still find myself with someone
standing at my side. What’s the point of growing up when you’re missing a
“And stand together
yet not too near together. For the pillars of the temple stand apart, and
the oak and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow,” Buffy recited.
“Khalil Gibran On Marriage. Connor’s studied poetry at Stanford for reasons
I think were entirely for whispering to girls to get them out of their
pants.” Buffy caught Angel’s expression. “I saw that, Angel, that proud,
‘that’s my boy look,’ in your eyes.”
assured her as she started to unbandage his chest wound. “Awful, awful boy,
using poetry to lure women into his clutches.”
“You know, that
would be more convincing if you didn’t have a wide grin on your face. Men.”
Buffy humphed. “You’re all incorrigible. Now that I think about it, you
used to have poetry books on your shelf.”
He cocked an eyebrow
at her. “Why do you think Spike ever started writing poetry?”
Buffy made a
mock-disgusted noise, shaking her head. “Giles probably did it, too, and
Xander’s kicking himself for not thinking of it.”
“But I understand what
you’re saying, Buffy,” Angel said then hissed as she lifted off the
dressing. “You were afraid of dying in my shadow. Now, you have roots of
“And I realized the
oak needs her cypress. I’ve dreamt about this day for the past few weeks,
Angel. I dreamt about seeing you again even before I knew you were injured.
I had all the perfect things to say and I’m not sure I’ve said any of them.
She shot him a sheepish look. The thing is I’m glad you’re here, awake and
you’re going to be all right. I’m glad that I get to tell you again that I
still love you. Anya died without Xander ever getting to tell her that
again. All of your friends are dead now, too. I thought you’d go to dust
before you got to hear me say it. I love you.” As Angel started to open his
mouth to say something she pressed her fingers to his lips. “I didn’t dare
to say it before but I never stopped loving you and no matter what I felt
for other men along the way, part of me always loved you. I even sewed your
ring into the waistband of my pants for that final battle because if I only
took one material thing from Sunnydale, I wanted it to be that.”
Buffy kissed his
forehead, seeing him crying. Her tears hit his flesh. She felt his bandaged
hands moving so they rested on her hips. She wiped her face. “I swore I
wouldn’t do this.”
“I won’t tell if you
don’t.” He managed a smile.
“Buffy, I told you
then I would be waiting for you. I meant that. I love you, too, through it
all, through the little detours, I knew it would be you there at the end of
She caressed the
uninjured parts of his face. “We have a lot of trip left, Angel. Granted
it’s going to be in a Suvie with all the crazies we’re related to by blood
and love, but it’ll be fun.”
His expression was
one of pure joy. “We can always put Spike and Connor in the trunk with
Andrew and Xander...or on the roof rack.”
Buffy laughed and
couldn’t stop. Her face had to be red when she finally got control. Her
sides hurt. “Oh, that felt so good. I can’t remember the last time I did
that.” It was a lie. It was with Giles after she came back from the dead
but she didn’t want to interject that into the conversation. “I need to
take care of your face, Angel. It might be easier if we didn’t talk while I
Angel fell silent
and Buffy tended to his face. It was hard to do when she was trying not to
look at the damage. How long before she could look at him and see him as
something other than that anatomy mannequin from high school biology?
“So, are you cookies
yet?” he asked as she finished up. A hint of a smirk played on his lips.
Buffy winced. “I was
hoping you’d forget that or the brain damage might carry it away.”
“Your head looked
like on over-rotted jack-o’-lantern. We weren’t sure how much brains you’d
have left. Connor and Spike were betting none since you started with so
little.” She grinned.
Angel’s lips skinned
back. “Any chance you can wheel me over there so I can kick Spike before he’s
able to walk?”
“Be good.” She
kissed his cheek. “I should let you sleep now.”
“Sit for awhile,
until I fall asleep.” He smiled at her.
“All right.” She
rested a hand on his knee; that part of him was at least uninjured. And for
the record, I’m cookies but you’re in no shape for eating.”
“Lucky me.” He
sighed. “You really have the claddagh?”
replied as the door to the basement opened.
Connor came down
wearing Buffy’s blue lacy robe. “Sorry, I didn’t want to interrupt, but I needed
something.” He went over and peered in the dryer. “Damn, I thought I left
pants in here.”
“I took them over to
the other house.” Buffy drummed her fingers on Angel’s leg. “Connor, why
are you wearing my robe?”
Connor came over to
the futon. “Well, after Faith got my boxers, she and Dawn decided to take
the rest of my clothes, too, because it was funny. Then Dawn and Jess left
with them. Dawn called on her cell to cancel today since I looked too tired
to go to the art museum. Last seen, my pants were billowing from the car
window as she and Jess headed for Tower City on a shopping trip.”
Buffy tried not to
picture that. She might laugh and she wanted to look irritated with him.
“That doesn’t explain why you had to put on my robe.”
“Did you want me to
come down here naked and check the dryer?” Connor asked.
“Speaking of that,
you might want to close your robe,” Angel said. Connor tugged the robe
tighter with a sour look.
“Oh god, I’m blind.”
Buffy covered her face.
“Yeah, yeah.” Connor
glanced at his father. “You need more blood or something?”
Angel said. “And I’m deeply disturbed that you fit in a ladies’ robe with
room to spare.”
Giving him the
finger, while grinning broadly, Connor went back upstairs.
“What took so long
this time?” Faith’s voice bellowed down the stairs.
bitching about me wearing her robe.”
Faith reappeared a
moment later, sending the robe over the railing. “Problem solved.”
Buffy patted Angel’s
leg. “Well, he’s naked again.”
“And alone with
Faith,” Angel said. “I’m never going to see that blood.”
“I’ll go get some.”
Buffy started for the steps but Connor, naked as the day he was born,
opened the basement door and tossed her some blood bags. “God, could you be
Connor rolled his
eyes. “Look who’s talking.”
Buffy crossed her
arms. “Put on some clothes,”
“You quit looking at
me,” he shot back.
“How did you get to
be such a perv?” Buffy took the blood to the microwave.
“Genetics,” Connor said,
shutting the door.
“It is not genetic,”
“I’ve been reading
the Watchers’ manuals on you and Darla. Well, Connor was and he was in
share mode. His mom was a prostitute and you were no prince yourself back
then, Angel.” She looked coyly over her shoulder. “I’m betting genetics.”
He made another of
those pain-filled laughs. Buffy brought over one of the blood bags and sat
with him. She held it while he drank.
“But I’m willing to
look past that,” she said.
“Good...but it did
provide for a lot of good training.” His lips closed over the iv bag’s
genes.” She grinned. “I expect you to show me when you’re all better
because from what I’ve been hearing you’ve learned ways around the curse.”
“It’s tricky but possible.
As to the other, that’s a promise.”
She didn’t tell him
she loved him again. He knew. She fed him and sat with him long after he
fell back to sleep. They had a lot of work cut out for them but for the
first time in a very long time, Buffy felt hope.
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