Nursing a bloody shoulder after his patrol, Angel checks his voice mail out of habit more than because he actually expects a message. Only two people in the whole world have this number. Connor is never awake before dawn if he can help it, and Spike has learned not to drunk dial. Not unless he's run into a bigger demon trying to stake him.
Some things don't change.
Some things can't change.
Like the way he stands to attention at the sound of Buffy's voice.
"Hi, Angel. If it’s not a bad time – I mean. I probably shouldn’t be calling you. In fact, if you ignore this call, I'll understand. I just - I need…. You know what? Never mind. Forget I called."
That's something he has never done well.
Twelve hours and two states later, his car is parked in front of a nondescript apartment building in Portland. Good timing, as the last of the sunlight disappears from the streets.
Angel gets out of the car and climbs up the steps to the main doors.
708. B. Summers, it says in the middle of a double row of buttons.
He stares at the name, wonders what the hell he is doing at her doorstep on a warm May night.
His hand hovers at the bell, hesitating. He can still go home, Angel thinks.
The main door buzzes open and a family of four bustles out, the youngest boy barreling straight into Angel’s legs. “Sorry!” the child chirps, letting his mom steer him away.
Angel mumbles, “It’s okay,” while glancing between the little black button and the open glass door.
Experience has taught him to be wary of Fate’s signs. However, he’ll follow this one.
He can always go home afterwards.
His first sight of Buffy in five years is a deep frown through the narrow space of a half-open door. The first sounds are a wordless grumble, then a sigh. "One day, they'll discover how to delete messages from other people's cell phones."
It takes him a moment to find the girl he met more than a decade ago. He finds her in a corner of her eyes, one second where she sizes him up and finds him worthy.
Then she says, "Damn you, Angel.”
That makes him laugh. In the story of them, it's far from the worst welcome he's gotten.
She gives him a fondly exasperated look, but the grip on the door's edge doesn't budge.
"I remember when you pestered me about getting a pager." She had wanted a way to stay in touch with him. He'd placated her by installing a home line in the mansion. A vampire at the Slayer's beck and call. No, some things really don't change.
"I remember asking you to forget my call." Her eyes narrow, and her voice raises a notch. "And I never pestered you for anything."
Angel smirks, shrugs one shoulder. “You also wanted to add color to my wardrobe.”
Buffy studies him from head to toe. “It obviously didn’t work.”
The door on the opposite side of the hallway creaks open, and the curious face of an older man stares down at them. The stranger gives him a long once-over, and his eyebrows shoot up when he realizes that Buffy is obstructing the doorway. "Everything all right, dear?"
Not a stranger, then. Buffy's concerned neighbor.
Someone who will consider him a threat until Buffy says otherwise.
Angel doesn't remember feeling like this since her senior year, and it makes his hands clench at the memory.
"Yes, Mr. Rodríguez." Buffy adds a charming smile, leaning her upper body just a little bit further so she can wave. "Say hi to your wife for me!"
Mr. Rodríguez smiles back, but throws Angel a warning look before he re-enters his apartment.
If Angel breathed, he would exhale in relief. "That was awkward."
Buffy snorts, and shakes her head amusedly. "Oh, you haven't seen awkward yet," she chuckles, but doesn’t explain.
Time was, the cryptic was his specialty.
He gives her a questioning look.
She answers with a sigh.
"You called me, Buffy," he breaks the silence.
She looks ready to break some bones. "And I retracted my call in the same sentence."
Angel considers turning his back on this impossible woman and stalking back downstairs to his car. The memory of a laughing teenager, her arms tight around him before she leaned up for a kiss, keeps him in place. "You can't possibly believe you'll out-stubborn me."
"I didn't drive through a sunny day to go back now." Not now that he’s seen her. He leans into the doorframe, crossing his arms over his chest. “I can wait.”
Buffy gives him a puzzled look, and Angel remembers he'd never put his foot down around her.
It makes him wonder how much she's changed in the last decade.
"Besides," he says with a daring smirk, "what will the neighbors think?"
Buffy bites her lower lip in consideration. “Come in,” she finally relents, issuing the necessary invitation. "Don't say I didn't warn you.”
Keeping herself behind the door, she moves backwards until there's enough space for him to pass.
"About time," he grouses, coming through. "Now can you explain what the hell -"
He means to glare at her. He really does. But his eyes stray downwards and fix themselves there.
He has no words.
"I never thought I'd say this to you," she huffs. "My eyes? Up here!" The door slams closed, but not even the noise shakes him. "Damn it, Angel. Don't make this worse than it has to be... please."
It's the final note of her words which makes him drag his eyes back upwards. "You're...."
Her right hand lowers to rub her belly. "Yup."
He needs to sit down.