A few minutes after arriving home Buffy heard a knock on the door. She turned to see Tara making her way to the front door. She wasn’t ready to talk to anyone so she turned to make her way to the kitchen. Willow and Dawn saw her and pulled her aside.
“Buffy, are you okay?” Willow asked as she placed a hand on Buffy’s shoulder.
“I’m okay, I can’t think about myself right now, Will, you understand,” she replied as she looked up and watched Angel come through the door.
Dawn moved closer and whispered in her ear. “Do you want me to tell him off for you?”
Buffy almost smiled. “He doesn’t deserve that, Dawny, right now he needs our support, he just lost his son, man that sounds so weird, Angel’s son, didn’t think I would ever say those words,” she lowered her head trying to hide the tears.
“Buffy?” Dawn asked, while reaching out for her face and shifting Buffy’s gaze up to hers. The sadness in her eyes was evident. “It’s okay to feel hurt, Buffy, we know how much you loved him.”
“That’s the thing, I’ve never stopped loving him, after all this time, he’s just a part of me, I can’t change it no matter how much I try, even though my head tells me there’s no chance that we could be together, my heart just won’t let go, it just can’t. Deep down inside he is still with me, like he never left. Because of that I don’t feel hurt, I feel denied,” with that she slipped into Dawn's embrace and took a deep breathe before she sobbed, “It’s not fair, Dawny, It’s just not fair.”
“Shhhh, I know it’s not, I know.”
Dawn held her, she knew as did the rest of the Scooby gang that Buffy had never moved on like Angel wanted, she just didn’t understand how Angel could have been so blind and short sighted, that he couldn’t see that all the love her sister had to give another man, she gave to him. Ever since he went away she had never been the same, like a part of her had gone with him. She closed herself up, not letting anyone in and she is still like that, she doesn’t let anyone get too close, she assumes everyone she lets in will eventually leave her; Mom, Angel twice, Giles, even Dawn almost. Dawn just wished she had the old Buffy back.
Willow hated to see Buffy hurt, she didn’t deserve that, she deserves so much more, she wished that that there was something that she could do. She saw Tara attending to the guest and she went to join her.
“Willow,” Cordelia called out after noticing Buffy in Dawn's arms.
“Yes,” Willow responded a bit annoyed.
“Is Buffy alright?” she asked.
“She just needs some time to take it all in, we all do,” Willow stated impatiently. She noticed Angel by himself in the dining room and she went to him.
He had already sensed her approaching.
“How is she?” he asked without as much as moving an inch.
“She’s dealing,” she replied, “How are you?” Angel did not respond right away but his body tensed.
After a minute he finally turned to look at her.
“I never meant to hurt her, you know that right,” his gaze landed on Buffy.
“Of course I do, she knows that too, she’s not blaming you at all Angel, you have to know she would never do that.” Willow reached out and grabbed his arm, he relaxed a little under her touch.
“She just feels,” Willow paused not sure if she should tell him.
“Feels what?” Angel asked, as his jaw twitched waiting for a response.
“Denied,” Willow responded.
Angel gave out a low whimper, and shook his head to regain his control. He remembered when he told her he couldn’t have children; she had wanted to have his child, deep down he knew. That is why he made sure she knew that he couldn’t have any. At least not as a vampire. He never thought this would happen, the powers that be never warned him, never even mentioned it, even though they must have known.
He knew how it felt to have a child, but she wouldn’t, she had been denied something no one should be. How could this happen, how could he allow her to be tormented in so many ways, Angel wondered if she would ever find happiness, she had been denied so many things, why this. He felt he was the reason for all her pain.
Willow sensed he was at the edge of breaking down. “Maybe you should talk to her later, in private.”
“I don’t think I can,” he began.
“You may not think so, but right now you’re the one she needs the most, you’re the one she’ll always need, that has never changed and will never change, she loves you more than life itself, nothing you do will ever change that.” Willow gave his arm a quick squeeze and slipped away.
After everyone had settled down, Buffy was trying to sleep but couldn’t shake the feeling that she needed to be somewhere else. She made her way downstairs, found herself searching for Angel, but he wasn’t in the house. She saw him standing outside on the porch. She tipped toed her way through the row of bodies spread out all over her living room to get to the front door. She slowly pulled the door open and quietly closed it behind her.
When she turned Angel was staring right at her. “I was just, um, going to, I could, I could go if you want,” she managed to spit out. She turned to go back in the house.
“No,” Angel choked out. Buffy stopped and turned around to look at him. The moonlight was reflecting off his pale skin. It still fascinated her that he always looked exactly like the day they had met. Her appearance changed so much through the years but he always looked the same, never changing. He was still the same, well in appearance only because she knew that the Angel before her was not the same Angel she fell in love with. That Angel was gone, he only lived in her dreams. Where she could imagine what they could have been, what they could have had.
“Stay”, he paused, “Please.” Buffy nodded and walked slowly to the steps and sat down, wrapping her arms around herself. It was silent for only a moment.
They both began.
“You first,” Angel insisted, he wasn’t quite ready to tell her his news.
“I’m sorry about your son,” she said sadly. “I’ll do whatever I can to get him back safely.”
Buffy knew that he was hurting inside and that he needed her as much as she needed him.
“I knew you would, I never doubted it for a second,” he replied as he kept his gaze on the ground below. “I wouldn’t have come unless I absolutely needed to,” he added, “I never wanted to hurt you.”
“I know you didn’t” she replied, as she felt the tears welling up.
Angel noticed the pain suddenly wash upon her face, and she began to tremble. He moved in closer to shelter her from the chilly night.
Buffy tensed. “Please, I can’t, I mean it’s too much,” she told him without looking up at him.
“At least take my coat,” he said as he shrugged it off and gently placed it over her shoulder.
After a moment she looked over at him. “Do you have a picture?”
Angel moved in closer to her and slipped his hand into the inside of his coat pocket. She was about to say something but realized what he was doing. His cold hand brushed against her chest and she tensed up.
Angel sensed her tension so he quickly removed his wallet, and then a small worn picture, which he handed to her.
Buffy reached for the picture, but she wasn’t sure if she could look at it, she wasn’t expecting him to actually have a picture on him or on her as the case may be. She looked down at the photo, as the soft light of the full moon illuminated the baby’s small face. She put a hand over her mouth, as she remembered how it felt when Glory took Dawn, and how she retreated from the world feeling that she had failed her sister, in some way. She knew Angel must be dying inside, but she wasn’t sure what to say, how to get him to talk about it. They had been apart for so long, and she always found it so hard to be near him. Nothing had changed between them, now there was even more keeping them apart, she stopped, and realized she had to bury those feelings, it wasn’t about them this time, it was about finding Angel’s son.
“He’s beautiful,” was all she could say as one finger traced the lines of the baby’s face.
Angel couldn’t help but notice how tenderly she ran her fingers over the picture of his son.
She knew Angel was watching her; she could feel his gaze burning into her. She returned the picture and he stared at it for a few seconds as she watched him. She slid toward him and wrapped her hands around his arm. She could feel the muscles in his arm tense and relax as he grew accustomed to her touch.
“Angel we’ll find him, you have my word.”
“How could they entrust him to me? What kind of Father am I, how could I let this happen!” he said angrily.
“Angel it isn’t your fault, there was nothing you could have done.” She said to comfort him.
“I could have killed Holtz when I had the chance.”
“You couldn’t have known.” Angel gave no response.
“Buffy,” he whispered as he shifted to meet her gaze. Buffy could see the pain in his dark brown eyes, and she couldn’t stand to see him suffer so much. “I feel like someone ripped my insides apart, and left nothing but an empty shell. I don’t think I can live if I lost him.”
She pulled him closer with one arm and caressed his back with the other. He shifted into her embrace and wrapped his arms around her waist, holding onto her tight, resting his forehead on her shoulder. She could feel his heart breaking.
After a while, Angel released his grip and relaxed, as if he found some kind of peace in her arms, Buffy welcomed the thought. Slowly he sat up next to her and looked over to see her tear stained face. He reached out and wiped the remaining tears, his thumb softly caressing her cheek and she smiled slightly. She reached up, wiped a tear from his cheek and he grabbed her hand, held it upon his face and turned his head until his lips pressed against her trembling hand. He met her gazed and leaned in and whispered.
“Buffy I need you, I need you more than I can stand,” his voice shaky and hoarse, and his lips merely inches away.
Buffy was paralyzed by his words, and nearness. In one gently motion their lips met; all the emotion that they had once buried came flowing out with a force that consumed them both.
“Angel,” she gasped with just a hint of protest in her voice, he pulled her tighter against him and she wrapped her arms around his neck.
“I know,” he moaned with such a need for her, but he couldn’t bring himself to stop. Feeling the coolness in his kiss caused her body to shiver.
The warmth that she brought to his cold body was something that only she could do. His kisses moved from her lips to her jaw, then slowly down her neck and back again.
“I think..” she tried to speak between kisses. She sat on his lap and straddled him . His hands ran up and down her back as their lips met again, and again.
Buffy unknowingly ripped Angel’s shirt, as he lifted her up and rolled her on her back. In that moment he looked at her and realized that if they didn’t stop soon he wasn’t sure he could. Buffy realized the same thing and pulled herself from under his weight. She didn’t want to make it any harder for him or herself. They reluctantly pulled away from each other.
“Maybe I should go back inside,” she said as she got up on her feet and moved toward the front door. Angel didn’t respond, didn’t even look at her.
“Angel, what’s wrong? Buffy asked.
“Do you love me? He asked calmly.
Buffy felt slight tug in the pit of her stomach because she knew that when Angel asked that question, it was always followed by some declaration of something he thought would cause her to stop loving him.
“Angel, I..” she whispered softly, a million thoughts raced through her head, but deep down inside she knew the answer all along.
“Always.” She said as she watched his gaze rise and meet hers.
“There’s something I have to tell you about Conner’s mother,” he said nervously.
Her instincts were right, but she wished they had not been.
“You don’t have to explain anything, Angel that was a long time ago, you had no idea this would happen, I mean who does, right? she joked.
But Angel was serious, she could see the pain in his eyes, as he searched her face for her true feelings, she turned her head. He moved to face her.
“It’s okay, I understand,” she said.
She had said those words before, but she would never remember. All the emotions from that day rushed to the surface, too much for him to control. Buffy watched as the pain and sadness washed over his face, it was unbearable for her to watch.
“Buffy, I love you so much,” he declared as tears began to fall. “I just hope you can forgive me.”
She was stunned, and did not understand what was going on.
“Why are you telling me this?” she questioned as she took a step back from him.
He began to move toward her and she eventually found herself pressed against the front door.
“I tried so hard to believe I could live without you but inside I knew that a part of me was missing,” he continued. “That I would never be as complete as I am with you.” He stood in front of her, staring right at her.
Buffy didn’t say a word. She just looked up at him and their eyes locked. The longer they stood there the more the walls she had built around her heart began to fall. Until suddenly she replied.
“Me, too, I tried so hard to forget but I couldn’t,” breathing a sigh of relief as the words came tumbling out.
Angel shook his head and closed his eyes, “but you did forget, because of me you forget everything,” he told her.
“What are you talking about?” Buffy questioned but Angel could not meet her gaze.
“Angel, what’s going on you're scaring me,” she said nervously.
“Please, tell me” she pleaded. “Let me help you.”
“I don’t want to hurt you anymore,” he answered.
“You won’t hurt me, Angel, I can take it, let me help you carry the burden. Her words spoke more to him than she realized.
“I didn’t know until Wesley mentioned something he had found, that’s why I came, I had to tell you before anyone else found out.”
“Why, me, you said it didn’t matter who it was, that it was in the past.”
“But it does matter.”
“Of course it matters to you, Angel, I wasn’t trying to…” she paused, “I just meant that it doesn’t matter because it’s in the past and what has been done can’t be undone, so what does it matter now?”
“ Because it’s you,” Angel replied.
“What about me?” She asked confused.
“You’re his mother, Buffy,” he answered softly. “You’re Conner’s mother.” He repeated.
Buffy stumbled backwards, and stared blankly.
“That’s impossible, how can you say that!” she questioned angrily.
“It’s true, I know it’s hard to believe but it’s true,” he continued.
“I think I would know if I had a son or not, especially if it was yours.”
“Not if it never happened,” he replied.
“If it never happened, then how could it have happened,” confused by his words she backed up farther.
She found herself on the front steps. He took a step toward her and she waved her hand in front of him and he stilled.
“Buffy, let me explain,” he pleaded.
“I want you to stay the hell away from me,” she slowly backed away and looked between the darkness behind her and the man in front of her. The choice was easy, she ran into the darkness, hoping that the night would swallow her up but Angel followed.
“Buffy!” he called out to her.
“Stay away, just stay away,” she yelled. She ran as fast as she could. The cold wind whipped across her face, and stung her eyes, but she didn’t care. She just kept running.
After a while she was numb, she didn’t know how long they had been running, but all she knew was that she needed to get away, far away. She needed to keep going but she knew it was no use. Angel would be able to keep up with her. No matter where she went he would be able to find her.
“Buffy!” Angel continued to call out.
“Get away from me, just stay,” she paused. She felt her tired legs give out beneath her as she fell forward, and skidded down the street until she came to a stop a few feet from where she fell.
Angel ran even faster to get to her, when she saw him getting closer, she tried to get up, but before she knew it he grabbed her and pulled her up. She struggled, kicking and punching him in the chest, but he just held on.
“Buffy listen to me,” he begged as he grabbed her by the shoulders.
“Let me go, just let me go, please,” she cried. “Please, please” she gasped. He could feel her weakening and he kneeled down on one leg as he held her closer to his chest.
“Shhhh, please,” he kissed her gently, “Don’t cry,” he told her as his voice trembled with, he could feel her soul cry out.
“I wanted to tell you, I wanted to tell you so badly.” He whispered in her ear. The sobs still wreaking through her body. Angel tensed, he could feel vampires were near. She wasn’t safe out here in her condition. He had to get her out of here.
“Well, Well, Well, what do we have here? The slayer and her neutered puppy?”
Angel felt Buffy’s body tense up against his embrace.
“Spike,” he growled.
“Last time I heard you were the neutered one, do me a favor and get lost, or I’ll finish the job.”
“I’ve been cured, so you see me and the slayer have some unfinished business, isn’t that right love?” Spike motioned for Buffy to take his hand.
Angel felt Buffy tremble, and then push him off her. She was still weak but the anger she felt fueled her strength.
“Angel go away, I can handle this on my own,” Buffy said trying to regain her composure.
“I’m not leaving you.” Angel replied.
“That again, I think she’s tired of hearing that one lover boy. It was because of you she came running into my arms.”
“Spike don’t you dare, I’ll rip your heart out!” Buffy threatened.
“It’s a little too late for that love, don’t you think? Now, I know why Angelus was so obsessed with you, shagging a slayer is much more fun than killin them.”
Angel’s head whipped around to look at Buffy, he was hoping she would tell him it wasn’t true, but she didn’t look at him.
Spike was delighted with Angel’s reaction, but he wasn’t through torturing them yet.
“But it’s not as fun as raping one, you should try it Angel, the look on her face, he paused, it was to die for.”
Before Buffy could react Angel gave out a low growl and lounged at Spike, for some reason she couldn’t move. Angel threw a right-handed jab and knocked Spike onto the ground.
“Get up, Spike, this ends here.” Angel growled. Spike rubbed his chin and laughed.
“Oh, but it’s just beginning,” Spike replied as he flipped himself on his feet, and rushed Buffy.
Five vamps jumped Angel from behind. Spike managed to pin Buffy to the ground.
“Buffy!” Angel yelled, as he broke the neck of one of the vampires.
She was struggling under Spikes grip. He couldn’t get to her, but he heard what Spike was telling her.
“Don’t sweat it love, so he knows, big deal, it’s not like he told you about Cordelia.”
Buffy stopped struggling and stared at Spike.
“Cordelia?” she questioned.
Angel could hear the hurt in her voice.
She wanted to get away she didn’t want to believe a word Spike said.
“I didn’t believe it myself when Harmony told me, but I checked it out, and there they were together in bed.” Buffy flinched.
Word on the L.A streets, was that the soul trader tried to rip his soul out, but couldn’t. First thing he did was Cordelia, gotta tell you Angel, you really had me fooled I thought there was only one girl for you, I know Buff would agree with me. Right, love?”
He grabbed Buffy’s hair and pulled her head up. Buffy groaned as he turned her head so that she could see Angel.
“Open your eyes and look at him, look at the man you couldn’t get over, who left you to fight alone and die, so he could save none other than Cordelia. Do you really think he is better than me, that he deserves your love more than I do, does his soul really make him better, tell me what he has that I don’t.” He held Buffy’s face in front of his.
“Tell me or I’ll kill you right here,” he threatened as he shook her.
He became angrier with her silence and put his hands around her neck. Buffy couldn’t breathe; she reached for his hands and tried to loosen his grip but it just caused him to tighten his grip.
Spike with too distracted, to see that Angel had managed to eliminate his attackers.
“How about I kill you instead” he answered and before Spike could react, Angel plunged a stake deep into Spike's heart.” He let Buffy go and stumbled to the ground. He reached out to her. His eyes filled with sadness.
“He doesn’t deserve you,” he whispered just before the chilly wind carried him away.
Buffy couldn’t believe what had happened, Angel tried to help her up but she forcefully pulled away.
“Don’t touch me!” she said as she dusted Spikes remains off her body.
Angel winced at the coldness in her voice.
“Don’t!” She said as she lifted her hand up to stop his words.
“It’s not like you didn’t..” Angel began.
“So you're okay with what happened between Spike and me.”
“Of course not, It’s just,” he paused.
“It’s just what.” She paused. “If I remember correctly you left me, oh what was the excuse again, you wanted me to have a normal life, to move on, I guess you’re the one that wanted to move on, or did you just want something convenient, something that wouldn’t cost you anything. Something that would make you feel something other than the cold. As far as I can tell the same obstacles that stood in our way are still there, do you just love her more to make it work.” She accused him angrily.
“I know how much Spike must have hurt you but don’t take it out on me.”
“Spike hurt me yes, but only because I let him. You turned your back on me when I needed you the most, you made me feel worthless, that somehow I deserved the pain he inflicted on me. So far you have been the only one who has hurt me, the only one who has managed to stake my heart time and time again.”
“Buffy, I didn’t realize.” He answered painfully. “I didn’t want it to turn out this way, I was only doing what I thought was best.”
“What was best for you,” she replied, “Stop acting as if you care about me, Angel, I know full well that you don’t.”
“How can you say that, you know I..”
“Do I, do I really know that you love me. You come to me and profess your love before you tell me that I am the mother of your child. You tell me you love me out of guilt. I’m pretty sure if I wasn’t in danger of finding out from someone else eventually, you would have never told me. If Conner was never kidnapped you would have never come. So stop pretending that you love me to spare my feelings because I don’t think I have any more feelings to spare.”
“It’s not like that, just let me explain,” he replied as he moved toward her.
“I don’t want to hear any more of your lies, Angel.” Tears streaming down her face.
“Oh ya, you better keep her away from me, if she even tries to..” She just stopped and began to turn around but Angel grabbed her angrily and pulled her close, on the brink of revealing his vampiric features, but neither one seemed to care.
“Listen to me Buffy, what Cordelia and I had meant nothing my love for her could never compare to the love I feel for you. We both realized that I couldn’t love her in the way that she needed to be loved, completely, because when it comes down to it, you’re the only one I have ever loved, you’re a part of my life and that will never change, but you have to realize that we can never be together, no matter how much we love each other, it’s just not meant to be. I know that it is hard to believe but you are Conner’s mother, and that still won’t change who or what we are. Why do you insist on believing in something that couldn’t possibly come to pass?”
“Because it was all I had left.” Her voice was small and barely audible but Angel heard it. He gently released her and neither one could look away. All the things he had done believing it was for the best seemed to have made matters worse, but how could they be together, it was impossible. She had been through so much, and he could see that it was slowly killing her, how could he have not seen this before.
“Buffy I’m sorry.”
She didn’t respond, she just turned and limped away, shivering from the cold inside and out. Her heart and soul trembled in disbelief, as the hopes that she had been harboring for so long were crushed in one blow. Every word he spoke, and everything they had done, she remembered and held on to, not wanting to let go fearing that somehow her memories would disappear. She had always felt like there love was greater than even they could imagine, that the bond between them couldn’t be broken. She felt foolish for believing that she was special because she was the only person he would ever love. She gave him so much that she had nothing else to offer anyone else. She continued to walk deeper into the dark night, as Angel watched from a far. She knew that the sun would be up soon and he couldn’t follow and that was comforting in a way.
Angel could sense the coming of dawn, and he hated the fact that he couldn’t follow her, and make sure she was all right. He reached for his phone and called Gunn. He would ask him to watch over her.
It wasn’t hard for Gunn to catch up with her, she wasn’t exactly in a hurry, she was just wondering around in deep thought.
“I know you’re following me,” Buffy called out.
“How did..?” Gunn replied as he step out from behind the corner.
“Slayer senses, remember?”
“Look, Angel just wanted to make sure you were okay.”
“Yea, I figured?” she said softly as she sat down on a bench.
“Do you know that he thinks I’m Conner’s mother? she asked.
Gunn was surprised by her question, but he answered it anyway.
“No, I didn’t, I don’t think anyone knew.”
“Do you have any idea what could possibly make him jump to such a ridiculous conclusion?” she asked.
Before Gunn could answer, someone else answered for him.
“Yes, as a matter of fact I do.”
Gunn recognized the voice and got in front of Buffy, she was surprised because she didn’t hear anything approaching them.
“What do you want? Gunn asked.
“I believe I was answering the Slayer’s question.” Sahjhan replied.
“You’re even more beautiful in the present form, Angel sure knows how to pick them,” he said with a smirk.
“Who are you?” Buffy asked ready to fight.
“Don’t worry I can’t hurt you, I’m not from this time, I’m here to help you find the answers you are searching for,” he explained as he extended his hand for her to take.
“Don’t listen to him Buffy, he’s the demon who brought Holtz back,” Gunn yelled.
“How can you possibly help?” Buffy asked curiously.
“I can take you back in time, so you can see the answers for yourself. I have been to the future and to the past you’re the only one who can get Conner back, your soul is the key.” he replied.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” she questioned.
“Buffy I don’t like the sound of this,” Gunn said.
“It means dear girl that if you don’t come with me Conner will die and you will never find out the truth.”
He lifted his finger and a portal opened. Only your soul can pass through this portal, it will eventually lead you to Conner and the answers you seek, this is a one time offer, take it or leave it.”
Gunn was on the phone with Angel, and Buffy could hear him yelling at Gunn to stop her from jumping into the portal.
“Don’t do it Buffy, you can’t trust him,” Gunn yelled.
“I don’t trust him, I trust myself, tell Angel I’m going to get his son back, if it’s the last thing I do.”
Wesley and Willow drove up in Angel’s car, they both ran toward Buffy and Gunn. Willow watched as her best friend grabbed the stranger's hand and walked into the portal, Buffy looked back.
“Willow take care of Dawn for me,” she turned back to face the portal and disappeared into it.
“Buffy NO!!!” Willow screamed.
Gunn ran and tried to enter the portal but it sent him flying through the air and crushing to the ground.
Sahjhan just smiled and whispered.
“Together they are powerful, alone they are dead.”