Once Upon a Wish
by indie



AUTHOR'S NOTE:  OMG, this thing is such the quintisential indiefic that I almost couldn't bring myself to even post it.  This thing is never going to be finished.  It's so damn melodramatic and angsty and so, sooooo sappy.  It's my guilty pleasure.  I work on it when I'm stuck on other pieces.  I had absolutely no intention of ever letting anyone see it, but here goes nothing.
 
 

***

The room was dark, but she could sense him there in the shadows, curled into a little ball in the corner as always.  She tossed the stake onto the nearby chair and pulled her shirt over her head.  She wore no bra.  It wasn’t like she needed one.  She was barely recognizable as a girl anymore.

Which was why she was here.

She bent at the waist, quickly unlacing the steel toed combat boots before pulling them off.  Her socks were next, stuffed into the boots lest she lose them in the dim light.  It took a while to get the belt undone, given that it was jimmy rigged together in the first place.  She’d had to punch extra holes.  As it was, the worn leather would almost span her waist twice.  With the belt gone, the cargo pants fell to the floor without undoing the button.  Nude, she pulled the tie from her hair, quickly releasing the braid.  Her body was tight, her nerves stretched.

It was always like this on the weak nights when she ended up in the broken down mansion on Crawford Street.

She turned and crawled onto the massive bed.  The linens were old, soiled with dust and other things.  She’d slept on far worse.  She laid down, staring at the ceiling, waiting.  Her breath sounded harsh in the darkness and she tried to relax.  She tried to assume a submissive posture.  It was never easy.

This wasn’t natural.  This wasn’t right.  He was one of the creatures she was born to hunt, to kill.  But she hadn’t killed him.  She allowed him to limp away into the darkness after the Master fell.  She never told Jeeves or any of the other whitehats.  He was her dirty little secret.  Her weakness.

Always tentative, he put his hands on the bed, palm down, waiting for her reaction.  She forced herself to remain still.  After what seemed endless moments, he pushed himself up, crawling onto the bed.  He approached her on hands and knees, his face skimming the sheets.  He snuffed at her hand.  Ever so slowly, she brushed her fingertips over his cheek, encouraging him.  He licked her palm wetly before traveling up her arm to press his uncomfortably cold lips against her collar bone.

Her fingers bit into his shoulders and coaxed him over her.  He complied silently.  Always silently.  He discovered very early in their arrangement that she did not want his words.  She spread her thighs and he settled between them, his sex hard despite his sad physical condition.  She groaned shifting underneath him restlessly and he dropped his head to capture one of her pebbled nipples.  She whimpered in discomfort, pushing against him and he stopped, releasing her flesh from his mouth.  He was stock still, waiting.  Her breathing was still harsh, but she touched his face carefully.  “Not there,” she said.

Her hands once again found his shoulders and pushed gently.  He took the hint, kissing a line of cold fire down her stomach to her nest of damp curls.  Her hand fisted in his hair, holding him against her and he set about pleasing her.  He licked her in long, languid strokes of his tongue, reveling in her taste, her scent, her wetness.  Night and day, she was skinny and dirty, a wraith hiding in the shadows.  Only in this moment, did her true nature betray itself in the decadent lushness of her moisture.  When he touched her like this, she came alive like a prized concubine.  She was utterly feminine, utterly sexual.  There was no room for warrior or Death.  She was sex incarnate, wanton and absolutely his.  He pressed closer, his hands angling her hips so he could stab his tongue into her heated depths.  She let out a sharp cry of pleasure and he growled appreciatively.  Her entire body shuddered.  He pulled back with tiny teasing licks, searching out the seat of her pleasure, wrapping his lips around the hard, slippery little bud.  He purred deep in his throat and she screamed.

She was still climaxing as he moved up her body, burying himself inside her.  Her legs automatically wrapped around his waist.  Her fingernails dug into the corded muscle of his upper arms as he braced himself over her, his pelvis slapping against hers in a demanding rhythm.  She keened underneath him and he growled in unrestrained pleasure.  She didn’t like him.  She wouldn’t be seen speaking to him in public, but on her lonely nights, she would come to him.  Always him.  And he alone could give her the kind of release she so desperately needed.

Much later, he finally collapsed over her, sparing her none of his weight.  He knew she hated it and a mean little part of his soul enjoyed that.  He needed her to know what she had just done, what he had just done to her.  He needed her to remember him, to acknowledge him.  He pushed himself up on his elbows far enough to press nipping kisses along her shoulder and collarbone.  She let him, though he could feel the tension in her body.  She did not like to be touched by anyone or anything, but she let him do this as some sort of necessary evil.

He sighed heavily, placing a hard kiss to her jaw before withdrawing from her body and moving off her.  She wasted no time, rolling off the bed and reaching for her clothes.  He sat there listening to her hurried dressing.  She would run back to that fleabag motel where she lived and scrub herself raw until the shower water ran cold.  She would cry herself to sleep with tears of self-loathing.  She would toy with the idea of killing him.  She would avoid him for a week or two.  But once again, the loneliness would become too oppressive and she would search him out.

And he would be waiting because he could do nothing else.

*****

“I feel the need to point out that it would be much more efficient to combine our efforts,” he said irritably, removing his glasses to polish them yet again.

“I don’t play well with others,” she responded flatly, wiping her knife on her cargo pants to clean the blade.  “You wanted a weekly check-in.  I’m here.  But I’m not about to hold hands with you and your little whitehats, Jeeves.”

“Ms. Summers, this is not about holding hands.  There is a serious tactical advantage to presenting a combined front.  You may have vanquished the Master, but I assure you his minions are still numerous.  They may be running scared for the moment, but they will regroup.”

She looked around the interior of the library and shrugged.  “Seems to me you guys don’t know much about tactical advantages.  If you did, you wouldn’t have your headquarters in a building feely accessible to the undead.  You also wouldn’t be running on a skeleton crew of three.  This town is under siege.  You’re obviously desperate enough to recruit from the general population.  If you’ve gone that far, why hold back?  There have to be others willing to fight, but you’re still trying to maintain the illusion that people don’t know what’s going on.”

His face was tight as he stared at her, but she knew her point hit home.  She might be simply a Slayer, but she wasn’t ignorant.  “I’m needed, so I’ll stick around for a while,” she said.  “But I’m not part of the team.”

*****

The nurse practitioner stared at the clipboard with a frown.  She pushed her thick glasses up on her nose as she pulled the little stool out from under the desk and sat down.  “Well, Miss ... Smith,” she said, “I’m afraid there are some complications.”

Buffy shifted nervously on the table, her paper gown crinkling loudly.  Her nails were chewed down to the quick.  She was acutely aware of the cold, gelatinous lubricant pooling between her legs from the earlier examination.  “Complications?”  Her voice was harsh and cold.

“According to the information you have provided us and the results of the ultrasound, you are well into your second trimester.”

“I can’t be,” Buffy protested, “I ... I mean, just look at me.”

The nurse practitioner frowned.  “I agree that you are very thin, unhealthily so,” she tacked on with a stern look, “but you are measuring at fifteen weeks.  You’re almost halfway through your pregnancy.  This does mean that your options for termination are reduced.”

“You can’t just give me a shot?  I thought you could just give me a shot, or a pill.”

The nurse practitioner set down the clipboard and looked at Buffy with a gentle smile.  She saw so many girls like this, alone and scared.  It always broke her heart.  “The pills and shots are what are referred to as medical abortions and they can only be administered in the first seven weeks of pregnancy.  You are well past that stage. At this point, your options are dilation and evacuation or induction.  Our clinic is not equipped to offer either of those services and you will need to be referred to a local hospital.”

Buffy stared blindly around the room.  “I can’t go to a hospital,” she whispered frantically.

“I’m afraid that is the only local option.  If you could somehow get to Los Angeles there are several clinics there that could accommodate you without needing to be hospitalized.  Of course, once you get there, you will have to have the mandatory counseling and twenty-four hour waiting period.”

Buffy chewed on her bottom lip, her entire body trembling with nerves.  “I just ... ,” she trailed off, tears pricking her eyes.  “You saw it right?  You saw ... the ... baby.  I mean ... is it ... Is it okay?  Is it normal?”

“Your pregnancy seems to be completely normal,” the nurse practitioner said gently.  Lord only knew what had happened to this girl, anything from a dead beat boyfriend to an abusive stepfather, maybe even being raped by a stranger.  Norma had seen it all but it never failed to affect her.  It was obvious this young woman had no support system.  She handed Buffy a card which she warily accepted.  “That’s a counselor,” she said, “I think it might be best to discuss all of your options.”

Buffy nodded, unable to respond.

“Okay,” Norma said, “I’ll leave you to get dressed and I’ll see you at the front desk.”

*****

Buffy sat in the chair, her arms wrapped around her middle, her feet tapping incessantly.

The counselor looked at the paperwork she had filled out.  “Nice to meet you ... Joan, my name is Mr. Platt.  I see that Norma referred you to me.”

Buffy nodded.  “She thought I should talk to you.”

“So is it safe for me to assume that you’re pregnant?”

Buffy nodded again, chewing on her thumb nail.  Her eyes darted around the office.

“Okay,” Platt said gently.  He knew this wasn’t going to be easy.  The girl was so nervous she was about ready to jump out of her skin and he had the feeling she was going to bolt any second.  “How about we start with the basics, is the father in the picture?  Do you have relationship with him.”

Buffy chewed on her bottom lip, looking at him somewhat helplessly.

“Boyfriend?” Platt offered.

She shook her head.  “He’s just a guy,” she muttered.

Platt nodded, making a note.  “Okay, well can you at least tell me if the conception was consensual.  Did someone force you into something?”

She shook her head frantically.  “It wasn’t like that,” she said. “He’s just ... I wasn’t raped and he’s not my teacher or my brother or my priest or anything. He’s just a guy.  We have a thing sometimes.”

“Does he know about the pregnancy?”

“No.”

“Do you think you should tell him?”

“No,” Buffy snorted.  “Look, I don’t even really like the guy.  We just, you know, have a thing.  And this shouldn’t even be possible.  I mean really shouldn’t be possible.  He’s not supposed to be able to have kids.”

“Did he tell you that?”

Buffy groaned, rubbing her temples.  “No,” she said, exasperated, “he didn’t tell me that.  Look I can’t explain how I know, I just know.  He shouldn’t be able to have kids.”

“Is it possible that someone else is the father?”

She was back to chewing on her thumb as she shook her head.  “He’s ... he’s the only one I’ve ... been with,” she admitted.

“Well fine,” Platt said, “so it was consensual sex between two adults.  You don’t have a relationship and you don’t wish to continue the pregnancy.”

Buffy chewed on her bottom lip, her hands were balled into fists so tightly that her knuckles were white.

“Do you want to talk about other options besides termination?” he offered gently.

She sighed.  “I just ... I figured there would be something wrong with it,” she admitted.

“With the fetus?”

“Yeah,” she said.

“Wrong how?”

“Look,” she yelled, “I don’t want to play twenty questions okay.  It’s just,” she gestured wildly with her hands, her irritation evident, “the guy shouldn’t have been able to have kids, but he can and so I thought the baby would be all messed up.”

Dr. Platt took her outburst in stride, choosing not to react.  “According to your medical chart, the pregnancy is progressing normally and there are no problems with the fetus,” he said blandly.

Buffy sank back in her chair, looking unbelievably young.  “Yeah,” she said in a tiny voice.

“There are still a number of options if you wish to carry the child to term, adoption or keeping the baby being the two biggest.”

Buffy’s hands instinctively covered her abdomen and tears pricked her eyes.  “I don’t know if I could keep it,” she said in a near whisper.  “My life is really screwed up.”

“If that is the decision you make, there are certain social service programs that could assist you,” he explained.  “But there is also the option of adoption.  There are a lot of families out there that can’t have children who could offer your child a good home.”

Tears streamed down her cheeks.  “I just don’t know,” she said.

“I need to ask if you plan to terminate or continue this pregnancy,” he said seriously.

Buffy looked at him, biting down on her bottom lip.  “Continue,” she whispered.

He nodded, making a note in the file.  He reached into his desk and pulled out a stack of papers, handing them to Buffy.  “This is information on pre-natal care and a referral to a local physician who does a lot of pro bono work.  He should be able to take you on at no charge.  There's instructions on applying for WIC.  It's a government funded project.  They'll give you vouchers for free food.  I would also like to see you once a week if you can manage that.  You look like you could use a friendly ear.  No strings attached, you can walk away at any time, but I really hope you don't.”

*****

“I can do that a lot quicker than you.”

Giles spun around, holding the shovel in front of him as a weapon.  As he realized it was Buffy, his stance did not relax.  “I am quite capable,” he bit out.

Buffy’s vision flicked from him to the girl’s body, lying crumpled on the ground in the vacant lot.  Her throat was torn out, but he was still going to behead her and bury the body.  Buffy could have told him there was no need.  She could have assured him that vampires didn’t tear out their prey’s throat if they were intending to turn them.  But she held her tongue.  She knew his reaction was instinctual, not logical.  He was performing rote tasks to keep himself from going insane.  She knew how that went.  Someone died, you cut off the head, you buried the body.  You didn’t stop to think about the fact that you knew them.  You didn’t stop to think about the fact that they were your friend, your student, your mother.  You just did it.

“I suggest you be on your way,” he said tersely.  “Perhaps you can prevent this from happening again.”

She stared at him, denying the sting his words caused.  He was lashing out.  She knew this.  He was blaming her for the girl’s death because inside he was blaming himself.  “Fine by me,” she said, turning back to the night.

*****

He was standing by the window when she entered the room.  She saw him turn to face her, but he didn’t speak.  She wondered if he was angry.  It had been six week since she was last here.  That was by far the longest she had ever avoided him.

She sat down on the bed, turned away from him and slowly drew her knees up to her chest, her dirty boots further soiling the already dusty sheets.  She wrapped her arms around her legs, resting her forehead against her knees.

She hadn’t intended to fall apart, but sometimes these things couldn’t be helped.  She clutched herself and the tears fell.  Her body shook and she sobbed aloud, wailing, finally voicing the stark terror and bone deep loneliness that had been her constant companions.

She cried for what felt like days and slowly, he ventured near.  She could sense him hovering, afraid to come close.  Little by little he crept nearer.  By the time he sat down next to her, her tears were slowing to a sniffling hiccup.  She took a deep, shuddering breath.  “I miss my mother,” she whispered.

He turned his head towards her and she knew he was searching for the right thing to say.  Of course, there was no right thing.  Her mother was dead.

“I always thought she would be here for this,” Buffy continued.

He opened his mouth and then shut it before finally asking, “Here for what?”

“I’m pregnant,” she said.  Fine.  There it was.  No taking it back now.  She hoped Platt was really fucking happy.

She felt him bristle and realized too late that he probably had exactly the same assumptions that she did – that he was physically incapable of fathering a child.  “It’s yours,” she added hastily.

That shocked him. He went perfectly still.  “It can’t be,” he said.

She snorted, growing angry.  “Do you honestly think that if some human had knocked me up that I’d be trying to pin it on a vampire?  Trust me, if there were other options, I’d be exercising them.”

That made him mad.  She didn’t care.

“It’s yours,” she repeated, her manner somewhat more contrite.  “I don’t ... I don’t know what you’re supposed to do with that information.  My shrink thinks that I owe it to you to tell you the truth.”

“You didn’t want to tell me?”

She looked away, even though the room was dark.  Force of habit.  “No,” she said, “I didn’t want to tell you.”

“I don’t deserve the truth,” he offered bitterly, “is that it?”

She shrugged.  “More like you’re just some guy I fuck every now and then,” she said. “Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean to insult you, it’s just that you don’t really seem like the daddy type.”

“Because I’m a vampire.”

“You say that like I’m discriminating against you because you don't donate to the United Way or something.  You’re dead for fuck’s sake.  You don’t have a heartbeat, you can’t walk in the sun.”

He was quiet for a long time.  “Does your Watcher know?”

“He’s not my Watcher,” she said bitterly.  “My Watcher is dead.  Jeeves is just some annoying British guy who likes to tell me what to do.”

“Does he know?”

She sighed.  “No.  I figured that you deserved to find out first.  It’s your kid.”

The statement seemed to sober him.  “So you’re having it, keeping it?”

“I didn’t want to,” she admitted.  “I went to the clinic to have an ... to get rid of it.  But I was too far along.  That’s when they told me it was fine.  I mean, I figured it was going to be some kind of monster or something … but ... it’s not.  It’s just a baby.  I’m going to have it.  I don’t know if I’ll keep it or not.  I don’t know if that would be a good idea.”

“Where do I play into this?”

She shrugged. “I don’t know,” she admitted.  “My shrink really didn’t get that far.  Of course, I omitted the part where you don’t have a pulse.  And considering that this is the longest conversation we’ve ever had, I don’t think I can say.  I mean, our ... whatever it is, really isn’t a relationship now is it?”

“Who knows,” he said enigmatically.  “Anything is possible in this town.”

*****

It took him almost three weeks to make the mansion presentable.  Accounts that hadn’t been touched since the early fifties provided more than enough cash to make the necessary repairs as well as pay for the cleaning service.  Angel didn’t know what Buffy would do.  He knew she was confused and scared and alone.  He didn’t know how she would react to his overture, but he had to try.  Knowing her, she would turn it down flat, but still, he had to make the effort.  He also went about procuring a regular supply of bagged blood.  He had to get himself back into some sort of shape.  Odds were that Buffy would continue with the pregnancy ... and that he would be a father.  He needed to prove that he was up to the responsibility.

He found her in the cemetery, hunting.  He suspected it would make her mad, but he couldn’t resist.  He stood in the shadows, watching her for long moments.  For a while, it felt like old times; skulking in the background, marveling at her work.  Only it was different now.  She was no longer the terrified fifteen year old girl, so open and vulnerable.  She was the Slayer, cold, methodical and wise beyond her years.

She quickly dispatched a fledgling vampire and then sat back on a tombstone, waiting.  She shifted uncomfortably, staring up at the night sky.  Angel watched her wrap her arms around her middle, hunching in on herself.  He had never seen her look more alone.  But she wasn’t alone now.  He knew the truth in that as her hands idly rubbed the flesh of her abdomen.  She was still undernourished, far thinner than was healthy, but he could see the gentle swell of her stomach.

Lost in his thoughts, he stepped on a twig.  She spun around, a feral look on her face.  It died when she realized who it was, replaced by an awkward frown.  She snorted, “Oh, it’s you.”

He ignored the insult.  “I would like to show you something,” he said.

She looked at him warily, flipping her stake in her hand.  He waited for her to reject him, but she merely stood there, silently appraising him.  Finally, she shrugged, walking toward him.  He was speechless with shock, having anticipated a heated argument at the very least.  He turned, making sure she was following, and headed toward the mansion.

Buffy was mute as she entered, but it was clear she noted the extent of the renovations that had been made.  “Guess you redecorated, huh?” she asked lamely.

He turned to face her and nodded.  “There’s ..., “ he trailed off.  Taking a deep breath, he started again.  “I know where you’ve been staying,” he said, alluding to the halfway house for pregnant teens where she had been sleeping.  “I know you don’t like it there.  I have room for you – and for the baby ... if you want it.”

Her expression was closed, unreadable.  “Why?” she asked.

“Because you have no place to go,” he said, “and because I have a responsibility to you and our child.  It’s the least I can do.”

“I’m not looking for handouts.”

“It’s not a handout,” he said flatly.  “I have more than enough room.  I don’t expect anything from you in return.”

She was quiet as she watched him.  “Where would I stay?” she asked in a near whisper.

Angel didn’t let any of his shock show on his face.  “Your room’s over there, if you want it,” he said, pointing to a hallway off the kitchen.  Buffy slowly walked toward it, Angel stood where he was, watching.  He didn’t know if he had made a mistake or not.  He remembered Buffy’s room from Los Angeles, though he had only seen it that once through the window.  He did his best to try and use familiar colors and fabrics.  The walls were a creamy white, the bedspread a muted mossy green.  The dressers and bookshelves were a golden wood that matched the floor.  He gave her one of the few rooms in the house that didn’t have stone walls and floors.  He thought it would seem like less of a dungeon that way.  There was an adjoining private bath.

He watched Buffy disappear inside the room and prayed that she liked it.  Nearly ten minutes later, she finally exited the room.  She kept her distance, avoiding looking at him from the opposite end of the large living room. “I’ll stay,” she said.  He knew she had been crying, but he didn’t know why.

*****

Buffy jumped when he entered the room and he held his hands up in a sign of surrender.  "Sorry, didn't mean to scare you."

She let out an explosive sigh, growling as she turned back to her paperwork.  She was curled up in the corner of the couch, sorting through a stack of papers trying to make heads and tales of things.  Slowly, Angel ventured closer.  "Anything I can help with?" he asked.

She looked up at him through her lashes.  "Doubtful," she said, "can't imagine a vamp would have much experience filling out an application for food stamps.  Though I guess you could have … How old are you anyway?"

Angel blinked at her dumbly.  "I, uh," he stammered.  "I've been a vampire for two hundred and forty-six years," he said, frowning.  "Why are you filling out an application for food stamps?"

"They're not really food stamps.  It's this WIC thing.  Free food because I’m pregnant.  Guess they figure it will make the baby healthier or something.  Anyway, two hundred and forty-six.  Damn.  That's like, ancient.  I don't even know if Lothos was that old.  How old were you before some vamp decided to snack on you?"

"Snack," Angel said sounding halfway between exasperated and pained.  "I was twenty-six when Darla turned me.  And can you please run that free food thing by me again?"

"Darla," Buffy said with a frown.  "Were you two close?"

"Food stamps," Angel prompted again, avoiding the subject.  "Why do you need food stamps.  I can buy you food."

Buffy's face puckered in a frown.  "Thanks, but I like my handouts government sanctioned," she said uneasily.  She was already feeling awkward enough living under Angel's roof, she really didn't need him buying her groceries.

Angel stepped closer, his face set in hard lines.  "I can buy you food," he reiterated firmly.

"It's no big," Buffy said with a shrug.  "They just give me this little card and I get food - "

"I can buy you food!"

Buffy blinked at Angel.  He seemed a little shocked with his own outburst, but he wasn't backing down.  He crossed his arms over his chest, staring at her expectantly.

"Why is this such a big deal all of a sudden?" she asked.

She could almost hear his teeth grinding together.  It was kind of cute actually.  "I may not - as you have so often and eloquently pointed out - have a pulse, but I can still damn well provide for the mother of my child."

Buffy frowned, but apparently decided against arguing with him.  “Fine,” she said.

*****

“Ms. Summers,” Giles noted irritably, “how nice to see you.”

She eyed him up and down taking in his gore and ash covered clothes.  His little whitehats were milling around the library nursing a variety of wounds, none of them life threatening.  No doubt they had a bad night.  Yeah, well hers wasn’t exactly a laugh a minute either.  “Looks like you all survived,” she said.  “Why the whining?”

Giles’ mouth dropped open as he glared at her in sheer exasperation.  “Survived?” he demanded.  “Ms. Summers we were quite nearly killed!”

“Nearly,” she repeated blandly.  “Meaning, not. Meaning you’re all still alive so stop yapping.”

“Yapping?” he growled.  “Where were you?  I find it very difficult to believe that you do not know the importance of the Feast of St. Vigeous.  Your slaying abilities if not your sparkling personality, would have been most welcome.”

She frowned.  “I couldn’t,” she said.

“Couldn’t?” he parroted acridly.  “I’m sorry, were you pinned under a boulder or something?”

“No,” she snarked, “my blood pressure was way up last week and my obstetrician didn’t want me doing anything overly physically taxing.”

“Your obste-“  Giles fell silent.  His eyes immediately fell to her stomach.  She wasn’t big, but now that he was paying attention, he could discern her added roundness.  He took a deep breath.  “I see,” he said tightly.  He removed his glasses, polishing them madly.  “While it is highly unusual for a sitting Slayer to conceive, it certainly is not impossible.”

*****

Angel knew she was there.  He could sense her the moment he entered the mansion.  Contrary to her usual pattern, she wasn't holed up in her room, but rather sitting on the couch staring into the fire.

If she knew he was there, she didn't give any outward sign.  While he hated to intrude upon her solitude, he was hungry for the sight and smell of her.  He knew that Buffy's association with him was grudging.  There had been a very real physical hunger between them - a hunger that disgusted her.  But now …  They hadn't touched since well before he found out about the child she carried.  They were civil to one another.  She allowed him to provide her with food and shelter, but that was the extent of their intimacy.

The distance was slowly killing him.

He had loved her for years.  Granted, in the long existence of an ageless demon, the time that had passed since Buffy was fifteen wasn't so great.  Yet to his very human heart, it felt like an eternity.  An eternity of wanting her, of needing her to want him in return.  He knew Buffy resented her dependence on him.  It should have shamed him to revel in the very fact that caused her so much distress, but it didn't.  Buffy needed him.  But he longed to provide her with more than simply material necessities.

She still did not react when he entered the living room.  He took it as a good sign.  Buffy tended to react in one of two ways, she'd either bite your head off, or be reasonably docile.  The two moods rarely flowed into one another.  If she was docile now, she was likely to stay that way.

He sat down on the sofa and she inclined her head slightly without really looking at him.  She sighed.  "I told Jeeves about the baby today," she said.

No doubt she hadn't mentioned the baby's paternity.  That bridge would have to be crossed some time, but not tonight.  "What did he have to say?"

She shrugged.  "He didn't seem to think it was any big deal," she said quietly.  "I guess Slayers have kids every now and then."

"That's good, right?" Angel offered.  "The baby's normal.  The circumstances are … more normal."

"I don’t' know," she said quietly.  "If it's so normal, then why … Why do I feel like this?"

"Like what?"

"So scared," she said in a tiny whisper.

Angel's heart nearly broke at her quiet admission and without conscious thought, he reached out for her.  Buffy didn't fight.  She allowed him to pull her into his lap, to wrap his arms around her.  She burrowed into his embrace, just letting herself feel.  He rocked her in a slow, soothing manner, his lips resting against her temple.

Little whispers at the back of her mind, which sounded suspiciously like her dead Watcher, scolded her for allowing this contact.  They reminded her how fundamentally wrong this union was.  They reminded her that with every touch, every kind word she was betraying herself, her race, her calling.

But her heart …  Her heart longed for the scent and feel of this man.  It longed for the comfort he could provide, the gentleness in his touch.  It longed to share the joy she held for the child in her womb with the only other soul on the planet who could fully comprehend what a miracle it was.
 
 
 
 

END ... for now

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