Angel stepped forward and Spike, Gunn and Illyria followed. Spike stood off to Angel's right side. Angel was flanked behind by Gunn on the right and Illyria on the left. They stared at the horde of demons approaching them in the alley.
"In terms of a plan?" Spike asked.
"We fight," Angel replied.
"Bit more specific," Spike said.
Angel stepped forward. "Well, personally, I kind of want to slay the dragon." The demons charged forward, right at them. "Let's go to work." He swung his sword and they too charged forward. Instantly, something hard collided with Angel. It was like a force field. It knocked him backwards to the ground, rendering him unconscious.
Angel groaned and stirred awake. He wondered what had knocked him out. Was everyone still alive? He opened his eyes, expecting to be right in the middle of an intense battle between his friends and the Senior Partner’s demons. Instead, he saw a ceiling, the sunlight from a nearby window in his eyes. Instantly he shot up and searched for a place out of the sun, knocking something over. He found a dark corner and huddled in it, his knees drawn to his chin. Rocking back and forth, he closed his eyes and prepared to wait until the sun went down.
Angel stopped rocking and froze at the voice. That voice . . . it was so familiar. Was he dead? Was that why he heard . . . that . . . voice? He opened his eyes.
She came up to him and knelt in front of him. She pushed her dark, curly, hair out of her eyes and smiled.
"You know, you’ve got to be the most well-rested man ever to walk this earth," she said. He just stared at her, smiling, "Are you okay?"
"I’m more than okay," Angel said. He went on his knees and enveloped her into a hug.
"Oh," she said, laughing, "Well, hi. It’s good to see you too."
"I thought I’d lost you," Angel said, hugging her tighter with no plans to let go in the near future.
"Um, okay," she said, "Could you let me go? ‘Cause if you don’t, your girlfriend’s gonna get really suspicious."
He broke the hug and pushed backwards, holding her out by the shoulders, "My what?"
"Don’t even go there," she said, pushing him away and standing up, "We both know that if she heard you she’d kick both our asses."
"Who? Who is she?" Angel said. She looked at him in confusion.
"Hey Cordy, how’s my Rip Van Winkle?" Angel jerked his head toward the new voice. This voice, too, was familiar. It was a woman’s. When she saw Angel, her eyes went wide and she gasped. She brought her hand to her mouth and tears came to her green eyes. "Oh god, Angel. You’re awake! This is so wonderful!"
"Buffy?" Angel said. Buffy started toward him, and tears of happiness and joy ran down her face. He stood up and she wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him on the lips, hard. When it was done, she hugged him, "Wow. You haven’t kissed me like that since . . . since I was human."
Buffy looked up, "You remember?"
"Of course I remember. But how do you remember?" Angel said.
"Angel, what are you talking about?" Buffy said.
"He may have lost some of his memory," Cordelia said from behind them.
"I did not lose my memory! I know exactly what happened that day and every day from my whole undead life," Angel said.
Buffy giggled, "You’re funny."
"Yeah, Angel. I think you hit your head harder than any of us thought," Cordelia said. She too, was laughing.
"What’s going on?" Angel said, looking back and forth between the two women, "And where’s Gunn, Illyria, and Sp—" Cordelia gave him a look and mouthed ‘Don’t say that name!’ "What the hell is going on? And where am I?"
"You’re in your and Buffy’s apartment, below the office upstairs," Cordelia said. Angel was confused and cringed his eyebrows, "In Los Angeles? California? The United States of America? Ringing any bells in that brain of yours?"
"But . . . this building blew up four years ago," Angel said, "Wesley was in the hospital because of it and you . . ." Angel pointed at Cordy, ". . . you were also in the hospital because that demon did that thing with your visions that put you in a coma."
Cordelia laughed, "Maybe you should be a writer. ‘Cause that’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard."
Angel turned his attention to Buffy, who was really quiet and hugging herself, "Last I heard you were—"
"Angel, don’t," Cordelia said, going over to Buffy. Buffy’s eyes were wide with not happy tears, but fearful tears. She had the most terrified look on her face. Cordelia led Buffy over to a couch and they both sat down, "It’s okay. He’s gone, he’d dead. He can’t hurt you anymore." Buffy was shaking and staring into space, letting out a high-pitched whining. She covered her ears and closed her eyes. Cordelia rolled her eyes, "See what you did!"
"What? I didn’t do anything!" Angel said.
"You set it off!" Cordelia said.
"What do you mean I set if off?" Angel said.
"I’ll tell you later. Just, come over here and help me out," Cordy said.
Angel went over by them, "What do I do?"
Cordelia stood up, "Hold her."
"That’s it?" Angel said.
"Yep. While you were still sleeping or whatever if she got like this we’d just put her by you and she’d hold on to you for hours," Cordelia said. Angel sat down beside Buffy and wrapped his arms around her. She buried her head in his chest and sobbed. Angel put his hand on the back of her head and kissed her forehead.
"When she’s calmed down, I’ll tell you everything that’s happened in the five years you’ve been asleep," Cordelia whispered in his ear. She went to the elevator and went up to the office.
Later on Angel carried a sleeping Buffy to the bed and lay her down. Covering her up with a blanket, he kissed her on the forehead. She hadn’t calmed down for over six hours. She’d finally just cried herself to sleep. Whatever happened with her and Spike, he’d really like to push a stake through Spike’s undead heart.
Angel quietly went to the elevator and went in, going up. He was almost afraid of what he would find. Or rather, who he would find. He went down the hall to the office. On the door was the words ‘Angel Investigations’ in bold, black letters. That had never been there before.
Angel took a deep breath and turned the knob on the door. He started to pushed open the door, but stopped when he heard voices.
". . . tell Angel that he’s dead?" someone was saying. Angel continued opening the door. He went in toward the voices.
"What about . . . Angel!" Angel saw people. At this point, he wasn’t going to be surprised by who he saw.
Cordelia, Wesley, Gunn, and Fred were sitting around the office. It had been Fred who spoke first and then Gunn.
"Hi!" Cordelia said, smiling, "How’s Buffy doing?"
"She’s asleep," Angel said, "Can I get that explanation now?"
"Um, sure," Cordelia said, taking a deep breath, "Come, sit. Relax. Let me introduce–"
"I know everyone, I think," Angel said, pointing to all of them as he spoke, "Fred, Wesley, and Gunn." He gestured to a picture of a kid on the wall, "Okay, so I don’t know who the kid is but I know who everyone else is."
"How . . .?" Fred said.
"I dreamt, I think," Angel said, "What exactly happened?"
"Well, what do you remember about 1999?" Cordelia said.
"The Mohra demon, then the day with Buffy . . . but the Powers That Be reversed the day," Angel said, "Buffy went home."
"No, they didn’t. While you and Buffy fought the demon it put you in some kind of mystical coma. We knew the doctors couldn’t do anything for you, even though you weren’t a vampire anymore. So, we kept you here," Cordelia said.
"‘We’ being . . ." Angel said.
"Doyle, Buffy, and me," Cordelia said.
"Is Doyle still alive?" Angel said, "‘Cause in my ‘dream’ he sacrificed himself for the demon half-breeds."
"I’m sorry, Angel. That wasn’t a dream. Well, not really," Cordelia said.
"And you’ve got the visions?" Angel said. Cordy nodded, "But if Doyle died in both my real life and my dream, why didn’t you, Wesley, or Fred?"
"We don’t know. We’ve been trying to figure that out for the past five years," Wesley said.
"What’s this thing with Spike and Buffy?" Angel said, "Did he break her heart or something?"
"No, but he broke everything else," Cordelia mumbled. Angel raised his eyebrows. "About two years ago Spike lost his chip. You remember Spike? Bleach-blonde hair? Bad attitude?"
"Yeah, I remember. In my dream before I woke up here we were in the alley behind the Hyperion Hotel," Angel said, "We were fighting the Senior Partner’s demons."
"Man, I wish I could’ve been there. I could’ve staked his undead ass again," Gunn said.
"You were," Angel said, "You were about ten minutes from bleeding to death."
Gunn shook his head, "Damn. That ain’t right."
"Tell me about it," Angel agreed.
Cordelia rolled her eyes," Honestly. Could you be a bigger . . . guy?! Anyway, we were all in Sunnydale that week, visiting Willow, Riley, Xander, Anya, Giles, and Olivia for Riley’s birthday. And since getting the chip in his brain, Spike has been helping keeping the Hellmouth monsters at bay. However, that week for some reason the chip stopped working. Spike immediately flipped. He knocked Xander out, he broke Willow’s arm and . . ." She hesitated.
"What? What did he do to Buffy?" Angel said.
"Before I tell you, I want you to know that Spike is dead. Gunn staked him as soon as we found them," Cordelia said.
"What . . . happened?" Angel growled.
"He kidnaped her. We searched the entire towns of Sunnydale and Los Angeles for weeks, trying to find her. We find found her about halfway between the two cities in an abandoned barn. Spike was passed out, sleeping off the six bottles of alcohol we found laying about. There was blood on his lips," Cordelia said, "Buffy was huddled in the corner, her knees drawn up to her chin. She didn’t have any clothes on and there was blood all over her and the floor."
"Did he . . ." Angel said.
Cordelia nodded, "Gunn immediately staked Spike and we took Buffy to the nearest hospital. The doctor said she’d been beaten, tortured, raped, starved, dehydrated, and exposed to loud sounds, hot fire, cold water, high volts of electricity, and sharp glass."
"Oh my god," Angel said, "And there’s no permanent damage?"
"Slayer healing took care of all the physical damage. If she weren’t the Slayer, she would have died," Wesley said.
"But the mental injuries, the memories, those will always be there," Fred said.
"She seemed fine when I first woke up," Angel said.
"She has her moments. Sometimes she’s just fine. And others . . . we can’t even take her out in public," Gunn said.
Angel took a breath, leaning forward in his chair and running his hands through his hair.
"Are you okay, Angel?" Fred said.
"It’s just a lot to take in," Angel said, "Hey, when I woke up the sun was on me and I wasn’t bursting into flames. What was that all about?"
"You didn’t get it yet? You’re human," Cordelia said, "As in, mirror reflection, beating heart, no more pale skin, and no more eating of the blood. Ring any bells? And best of all, no more pesky gypsy curse either." Angel raised his eyebrows again. "That’s right. No more brooding and sulking. You don’t have any excuses not to be happy anymore."
"Fine. Now tell me about this little boy," Angel said, pointing to a picture of a kid on a desk., "Whose is he?"
"Well, he’s yours and Buffy’s," Cordelia said. Angel’s eyes went wide. "Yep. A few weeks after you fell into that coma Buffy found out she was pregnant. A few months later, she had a baby. A boy named—"
"Connor," Angel finished. Cordelia nodded. "Ah, Darla isn’t involved in this, is she?"
"No. Why would she? She’s been dead since you staked her in Sunnydale eight years ago," Cordelia said.
"No reason," Angel said, "So. Where is Connor?"
"He’s taking a nap," Fred said.
"Oh," Angel said, "Where’s his room?"
"Downstairs, next to your bedroom," Gunn said.
"But there’s only one bedroom down there," Angel said.
"There’s two now," Cordelia said, "When Buffy found out she was pregnant she had Xander and a couple of his work buddies put up some walls. Then Willow and I helped Buffy decorate it."
"Xander and Willow . . ." Angel said, "They live in L.A. too?"
"No," Wesley said, "Someone has to guard the Hellmouth. And besides, their families and lives are in Sunnydale."
"Their parents?" Angel said.
"No," Fred said, "Xander’s got a wife and son. Willow’s got a husband and daughter, plus a baby on the way."
"Well, that’s news to me," Angel said, "So. Willow got back together with Oz. She told me what happened but I never thought they’d get back together."
"Nobody knows where Oz is. Willow’s with Riley," Cordelia said.
"Finn? That’s Buffy’s ex. When Willow came to restore my soul last year she said Riley was married to Sam," Angel said.
"No. Sam’s his and Willow’s daughter. She’s a year and a half," Fred said.
"Oh, well, that explains it," Angel said, "I think I’m gonna go downstairs." He got up and went towards the elevator.
"Angel, wait!" Cordelia said, running up to him. He stopped and turned around. "I know you’re confused right now, but you should know."
"Know what?" Angel said.
"Doyle," Cordelia answered, "Right before he died, he told me that if you ever woke I’m supposed to tell you something."
"What is it?" Angel said.
"He said that you’ve earned your redemption and that that was the easy part. Now you’ve got to learn to enjoy it," Cordelia said. She went back to the others and sat down. Angel continued to the elevator and went downstairs. Going into his bedroom, he found that Buffy was still asleep. Smiling at how beautiful she looked, he went towards the room Cordelia had described.
It was a room completely covered with a short, fat man in blue overalls and a yellow construction hat. Also, there was a red dump truck, yellow digger . . . etc. Angel had no idea what it was. He made a mental note to ask Cordelia later.
Angel ignored the cartoon-ish character and his eyes wandered to the bed. Under a blue quilt with the same character on it was Connor. The boy was fast asleep. He had blonde hair with streaks of brown. His facial structure was just like Buffy’s. He was smiling took which was a cross between his and Buffy’s. Angel leaned against the frame of the door and just . . . watched his son sleep. In the dream he had, or whatever it was, he’d watched baby Connor sleep. Now he could watch Connor grow up. And he could be with Buffy. He could have a family. Actually, he already had a family.
Connor stirred and kicked off the comforter. Angel chuckled softly and went up to the bed. He pulled the blanket up over the child and kissed his head. He stroked his son’s hair.
"God, I’ve waited five years to see you do that," Angel turned around. Buffy was standing in the doorway, her arms crossed. She was smiling.
"You have no idea how long I’ve waited to actually do that." Angel said.
"So I take it Cordelia told you everything that gone on since you . . . went to sleep," Buffy said, looking down at the ground.
"Pretty much. I just don’t get the whole Willow-Riley thing. See, in my dream you and Riley dated. Then he left, only to come back married to a woman named Sam," Angel said. He stood up and went by her. They went into their bedroom and sat down on the bed.
"Well, at least that’s not completely off the handle," Buffy said, "Before you became human, I admit that I was kind of attracted to Riley. There was a thing, I was reaching for a book and it fell on his head. He even asked Willow what to say when he asked me out," Buffy said.
"I guess it didn’t work out," Angel said.
"When you fell into your coma I decided to move here. I transferred to UCLA, where I graduated from last year and I moved all my stuff here. The others stayed behind in Sunnydale to guard the Hellmouth," Buffy said, "Then Cordelia, Doyle, and I ‘helped the helpless’. Just before he died, Doyle gave Cordy his visions. Then Wesley came. Then Gunn. Then Fred."
"It’s just like in my dream," Angel said.
"At night, after I put Connor down to bed, I’d lie next to you and tell you everything that had gone on during the day. That’s probably why you dreamt about it," Buffy shrugged.
"Yeah, probably," Angel said, "But that still doesn’t explain the whole Darla thing."
"What Darla thing?" Buffy asked.
"In my dream, Wolfram & Hart brought Darla back as a human to get to me. As it turns out, she was dying from the same disease she was when she was human the first time. So Wolfram & Hart had Drusilla turn her into a vampire again. They terrorized L.A. I locked them in a wine cellar with a bunch of Wolfram & Hart lawyers. Only Lilah Morgan and Lindsay McDonald survived. I . . . I slept with Darla. Later on she came back . . . very pregnant. Shortly after, she staked herself so Connor could be born," Angel said.
"O-kay," Buffy said, "I’m just gonna ignore that."
"Sounds good to me," Angel said, "So. Tell me more about what went on, you know, relationship-wise. Who’s dating who. Who’s got kids."
"Sure," Buffy said, "Well, you know Willow’s married to Riley. They have a one and a half year old daughter named Sam. And Willow’s a few days away from her due date of having their second child. They’re waiting for the birth to find out whether it’s a boy or girl. Xander’s been married to Anya for just over two years. They have a six-month old son named Jesse. Giles is engaged to Olivia. They’re getting married next year. Fred and Wesley are dating. Gunn was dating an art student named Nina, but they broke up a week ago."
"What about Cordelia?" Angel said.
"Ever since her boyfriend Groo broke up with her a little while ago, she’s kind of sworn-off men," she said.
"Oh. And . . . what about you?" Angel said, "Any guys in your life?"
"Not so much. I’ve been kind of holding out for you," Buffy said, "Besides, there’s not a lot of guy’s who’ll go out with a woman with a kid."
"I would," Angel said, kissing her on this lips briefly.
"Well yeah. That’s ‘cause you’re you. And besides, you’re the daddy," Buffy said, sitting across his lap and wrapping her arms around him.
"Yes, I am," Angel said, smiling. He kissed her neck and tickled her stomach, "I’m the daddy." Buffy giggled.
"Sshh! You’re gonna wake Connor up!" Buffy said between giggles. She pushed him playfully.
"God, I love you," Angel said.
"Believe me, the feelings mutual," Buffy said, kissing him.
Angel smiled and kissed her again, "Hey, hey, hey! Just because you two can have all the sex you want now doesn’t mean you should. Especially when, I don’t know, you’re in front of your friends."
Angel and Buffy stopped and looked at who’d spoken. Cordelia stood in the doorway to their bedroom. "Well, in all honesty we are in our bedroom." Buffy said.
"You could close the door," Cordelia said, "And put one of those ‘Do Not Disturb’ signs on the doorknob."
"I’m assuming there’s a reason you came down and interrupted us," Buffy said.
"Duh! You think I’d interrupt the two ‘groin buddies’ for fun? Not. Just thought you’d want to know that Willow’s in labor. Riley just called," Cordelia said.
Buffy looked at Angel, "We’ve gotta go!" She shot up and went to the closet, getting out some duffel bags. She flew around the room, grabbing clothes and other things they’d need. "Cordy, could you wake Connor up and tell him to get dressed in his blue shorts and blue shirt? Also, tell him he can pack three toys, and three toys only."
"Sure," Cordelia said, going into the child’s bedroom.
Buffy pulled some clothes out of a drawer and threw them at Angel. "Here. Put these on. I’ve been getting different sizes each year in case you woke up. Those should fit."
Angel nodded and went into the bathroom, quickly changing into the clothes and shoes Buffy’d given him. They fit perfectly. Going back into the bedroom, he found Buffy changed too. She now wore a pair of blue denim jeans, black sleeveless shirt, and black toeless sandals. Cordelia came in from Connor’s room.
"Are you guys coming with us too?" Buffy asked Cordy.
"Nah. We’ll wait a few days. Let the excitement die down a few days. Plus, it’ll be less crowded," Cordelia said.
"Okay. Do you think you could handle the cases ‘til we get back?" Buffy said.
"No problemo boss," Cordelia said, "Tell Wil and Ri congratulations from all of us." Buffy nodded.
"Connor, honey, are you ready?" Buffy shouted.
As if to answer, the little boy came in from his room holding a stuffed version of the character on the walls, a red plastic dump truck, and a green plastic steam roller. "Where are we going, Mommy?"
"Guess what? Your auntie Willow’s having the baby!" Buffy said. Connor’s face lit up and he beamed, "Yeah. That’s why we have to move quickly. It’s a four hour drive to Sunnydale and we have to get there before she has the baby."
Connor jumped up and down excitedly and ran to the elevator. Buffy grabbed two of the duffel bags and Angel grabbed the other two. Following Buffy to the elevator, they went to the main floor and out to the car.
Just leaving Los Angeles, Buffy, Angel, and little Connor all sat in Angel’s old GTX. Buffy was driving, which amazed him. Last he’d heard she was a terrible drive. "Ah, Buffy. Since when can you drive?"
"Since always. How do you think I got to L.A. that day?" Buffy said, as if he’d just told her to jump off of a bridge or something.
"Personally, I always thought you took the bus," Angel said.
"Well, I did get my license after graduation. So, I guess you thinking that kind of makes sense," Buffy said, "Hey, why don’t you tell me everything that went on in your ‘dream’."
"Everything? With Connor listening?" Angel said.
Buffy looked in the rear-view mirror, "He’s asleep. Don’t worry, he’s a hard sleeper. He can sleep through anything."
"Okay, but I’m not going to say you’re gonna like all of it. Or any of it," Angel said. Then he remembered. Spike had been in his ‘dream’. "Um, Buffy, I don’t think I should tell you all of it."
"Why not?" Buffy said.
"There’s someone in there who’s name I’d rather not say for fear of you freaking out, crashing the car, and killing all three of us," Angel said.
"Wow. Gotta love the imagery," Buffy said, "Well, why don’t you tell me everything up to that point and we can wait until after the baby’s born and we’re alone. And calm."
"Okay," Angel said. So he did. He told her everything that happened between the time he became human and when they took over Wolfram & Hart just before the ‘S’ world appeared. By the time he finished that piece of the story, they’d reached Sunnydale Memorial Hospital.
Buffy parked the car and they got out. Angel carried a still-sleeping Connor in his arms while Buffy carried her purse and Connor’s toys. They left the duffel bags in the car.
Once in the building, Buffy asked the receptionist which room Willow was in. They went up there, stopping outside the door to Willow’s room. Buffy softly knocked on the door. Someone said come in and they did. They found Willow lying in the bed, holding a white bundle. A little girl sat in Riley’s lap in a chair. When Willow saw them, she smiled. She looked just like she had in Angel’s ‘dream’ when she came to restore his soul. Only, her hair was longer than he ever remembered it being.
"A-ah, we missed it," Buffy whined.
"Yep. You thought it’d be just as long as with Sam, huh? Nope. This little one was so much shorter," Willow said.
"So? Is it a Dana or an Andrew?" Buffy asked. Wheels turned in Angel’s mind . . . that must be Dana the Vampire Slayer and that annoying Andrew came from! Willow beamed, Riley looked proud, and Sam giggled. "Well?"
"Say hello to . . . drum-roll please," Willow said. Riley and Sam made drums out of their legs, "Andrew Hamilton Finn."
"Yay!" Buffy said, "This day just gets better and better. Angel’s awake, Andrew was finally born, and nobody’s died."
"Speaking of Angel, when did he wake up?" Willow said.
"This morning. Cordelia went down to check on him and I came down shortly after to see if I could help. When I got down there, he was up," Buffy said.
"And he knows about . . ." Willow said, referring to the thing with Spike. Angel nodded. "Okay. So, Angel. Long time, no see. Sort of. How does it feel to be ‘human again’?"
"Great. And actually, it wasn’t so long since I saw you," Angel said.
"Come again?" Willow said.
"While I was in that coma thing, I dreamed. Last year, in my dream, you came to L.A. to restore my soul after Fred called you. Then you and Faith went back to Sunnydale," Angel said.
"Weird," Willow said, "You dreamed we all, even you, had a whole other life?" Angel nodded. "Still, I say weird."
"Welcome to the club," Buffy said, "He said he dreamt that Darla was Connor’s mother and I died."
"Harsh," Willow said.
"Hey, you came back to life," Angel said. Buffy gave him a look as if to say ‘yeah right’. "Really. Willow, Xander, Anya, and Tara brought you back. Then I called you, we met up, and you told me what happened. You also told me you’d been in heaven and not hell like your friends thought. But you wouldn’t tell them because you didn’t want them to feel guilty for bringing you back."
"You didn’t tell me that part before," Buffy said.
"I didn’t think of it then," Angel said.
"What else did you dream about?" Willow asked, "Specifically about me?"
"You were an amazingly powerful witch who got addicted to the magic and quit," Angel said.
"Sounds about right. Except for the getting addicted and quitting thing," Willow said, "What else?"
"Buffy and Riley dated until he left and came back a year later married to a woman named Sam," Angel said.
"Again, I say weird," Willow said, "Who was I dating?"
"Well, Oz left. But that happened here so you already knew that. Then you dated Tara, who later died. You almost ended the world then. And last I heard you were dating Kennedy," Angel said.
"I dated guys with girly names?" Willow said.
"Not exactly, Wills," Buffy said. Angel had already told her this.
"Willow, you weren’t dating guys with girl names. It was more like girls with girl names," Angel said.
"I was . . . I was g—" Willow’s eyes went wide. She didn’t continue that sentence with Sam right beside her. Angel nodded. "Why, why would you dream that?"
"Probably because when your vampire doppleganger was here she acted . . . you know," Angel said.
"But that really happened and I’m . . . I’m happily married to a guy. A very manly guy," Willow said. Angel shrugged.
"Okay, changing the subject," Buffy said, "Angel you said that when Tara died I your dream Willow went all evil and tried to destroy the world, right?"
"Right," Angel said, "Only Xander was able to change you back."
"Well, it may have only been a dream but I’d rather not test that theory. So, Riley, whatever you do, don’t die," Buffy said.
Riley saluted, "Aye, aye, captain. Haven’t planned on it and never will."
"Now, hand over that baby so Auntie Buffy can start spoiling him already!" Buffy said. Willow chuckled and handed Andrew to Buffy. Angel went over to a chair and set Connor down. Just then, Xander came in with Anya behind him. Xander carried a car seat by it’s handle. In the car seat was a baby boy with wild, unkept hair just like Xander’s.
"We’re back!" Xander said. Upon seeing Angel, he grinned evilly, "Hey, it’s Dead Boy! Wait, that doesn’t work anymore. How about Not-Dead Boy?"
Buffy and Angel sat in the Finn’s living room, which was the same house Mrs. Summers had owned. When she’d died, she’d left the house to her daughter. Buffy, however, had no use for it so she gave it to her best friend and her fiancé as an early wedding gift.
Buffy, on the couch, stared intently at Angel, on the recliner across from her. This man, whom she’d loved since he’d stalked her that night at The Bronze in Sunnydale eight years earlier. He’d killed his sire for her. He’d gone to hell and back, her sword in his chest. He’d allowed her to accept him, both demon and man. He’d left so she could have a normal life, go to college, move on. She thought she had. She’d met someone new, liked him even. Then Angel had come back. She hadn’t known he was there, yet she could feel him. As if she stood right in front of him and he was tugging on her heart, blowing on the back of her neck, kissing her lips . . . As it turned out, he’d really been there. So she’d gone to Los Angeles, yelled at him for coming to her town and not even telling her he was there. She was about to leave when the Mohra demon had attacked. The day had spiraled from there. Angel had been made human. They’d done what they’d only been allowed to do once. When she’d awok en the next morning . . . everything had gone to hell. Cordelia told Buffy that Angel’d gone after the regenerated Mohra on his own. By the time she’d gotten to where Angel had gone, she’d found Angel on the ground unconscious. The Mohra demon had been about two seconds from bashing Angel’s head in, ultimately killing Buffy’s boyfriend. She’d killed the demon by figuring out what Cordelia had said Angel said. She’d smashed the red jewel on the demon’s forehead, smashing it’s ‘thousand eyes’. Later, she’d found out about Angel’s mystical coma.
"Buffy?" she shook out of her thoughts and looked up. Angel was looking at her and holding her hand. She hadn’t even noticed when the hand-holding had started. "You okay?"
"What? Oh, I’m fine. I was just, ah, thinking. About, stuff," Buffy said, "What were you saying?"
"What I’m about to tell you probably will be upsetting for you, but you should probably know. And, I’m here. It’s okay, he’s gone and never coming back, " Angel reached out and took her hands in both of his, "Okay?"
Buffy nodded, taking a deep breath, "Let’s get this over with."
"All right, then," Angel responded. "A couple of days into taking over Wolfram & Hart, I got a package in the mail. Inside was the locket I gave you when I went to Sunnydale. As soon as I touched the locket, Spike appeared." Buffy tensed up, squeezing Angel’s hands tighter at the mention of the bleach-blonde vampire’s name. "Sshh, it’s okay." He got up and sat next to her on the couch, putting his hands on her shoulders, "I’m right here. Just breathe."
Buffy breathed a couple of long, deep breaths and held on to Angel’s hand. "That’s right, just breathe. No one is ever going to hurt you again, ever. I promise. I’ll always be with you and with Connor we’ll always be a family."
"Family . . ." Buffy repeated slowly, nodding, "Always."
"And forever," Angel said.
Buffy swallowed, "Okay, I’m back." She sighed and hugged Angel. "I’m sorry you had to come back to all of this."
"All of what?" Angel asked.
"Me, being like this," Buffy broke the hug and looked down at the ground, "From what you told me the dream must have been paradise compared to this."
"No. Not at all. I’m glad I woke up," Angel kissed her on the lips, "I’m not saying there aren’t things I miss from the dream. But what I have here far outweighs what I had in the dream."
"Being human?" Buffy suggested.
"You. Here I get to be with you. There . . . you were all the way in Rome dating my worst enemy and worse yet didn’t trust me," Angel said.
"Well, what about Gina?" Buffy said.
"Nina? Nina was great, blonde even. But she still wasn’t you," Angel ran his hands through his soft, honey-blonde hair.
"And what about Cordelia?" Buffy raised her eyebrow.
"I have no idea what I was thinking. Cordelia is my friend, nothing more," Angel assured her.
"Are you sure?" Buffy pressed.
"Absolutely. Now can I finish my story so we can move on with our lives?" Angel said.
"Okay," Buffy took another breath, "I’m ready."
"As I was saying before, Spike appeared in my office," Angel told her. This time she only flinched and leaned into Angel. So Angel continued, telling her everything about how Spike was involved in his dream.
A week later, Willow and Riley were finally allowed to take newborn Andrew home. Sam was with Xander and Anya for the day and the Los Angeles gang had left the night before.
Riley pulled their purple minivan into the driveway of their home on Revello Drive. In the passenger seat, Willow smiled pleasantly and took off her seatbelt. Nestled in his car seat, little Andrew gurgled and cooed. Riley shut off the van and got out, opening the back door. Willow got Andrew out and Riley took the diaper bags.
"He’s so adorable," Willow gushed for the billionth time since their son had been born.
Riley smiled and kissed her as they went up to the door, "He gets that from you honey."
"You’re just saying that ‘cause I’m your wife and I’ve got you under my spell," Willow teased.
"Then please let it never end," Riley said, causing Willow to blush. Riley chuckled and unlocked the door, holding it open for Willow to get through with the baby. As soon as they were in and Willow turned the lights on, people jumped up.
"Surprise!" both the Sunnydale and Los Angeles gangs, plus both Willow and Riley’s parents shouted at once. Above the fireplace mantel in the living room there was a banner that said ‘Welcome Home, Andrew.’
Buffy and Xander came up to the couple and the new baby. Riley went over to the couch where his parents were standing and set the diaper bags down. Willow tickled baby Andrew and looked at her two best friends.
"He looks just like you," Buffy said.
"That’s what Riley said," Willow told them.
"Well, he was right," Xander smiled.
"How has Sam responded to Andrew so far?" Buffy asked.
"Fine. The jealousy phase hasn’t started yet," Willow put the car seat down on a chair and unstrapped it. She picked Andrew up and held him in the crook of her arm. The baby cooed and went back to sleep in his mother’s comforting embrace. "So. How did you two manage to plan this little welcoming party behind both Riley’s and my back?"
"It really wasn’t that hard. We both have keys to the house and besides, I know this house like the back of my favorite sword," Buffy said.
"I think the hardest part was keeping it from Sam so she didn’t tell you or Riley," Xander said. Buffy nodded.
"I love it, really. Thank you, Buffy, for taking time to throw my newborn a welcoming party instead of spending time with your newly awake boyfriend. And Xander, thanks for pretty much everything," Willow said.
"It was nothin’," Xander shrugged.
"And actually, another surprise, Angel isn’t my boyfriend anymore," Buffy held up her left hand. On her ring finger was a beautiful diamond ring.
Willow’s eyes widened, "Oh my god. Really? Are you really engaged?"
Buffy nodded, her grin from ear to ear, "Three days after he woke up he was gone almost all day. I asked Gunn and Fred to go look for him and they found him in the jeweler store in downtown L.A. As soon as they brought him back, he got down on one knee in front of me and proposed."
"Why didn’t you tell me earlier?" Willow asked.
"I didn’t want to ruin your first few days with the baby. I remember when Connor was born, I’d go down by Angel and my bedroom and I’d just sit in the rocking chair. I’d rock Connor for hours and hold Angel’s hand, praying that he’d wake up. He never did, but I never lost hope. And now, he’s awake and we have a son and we’re getting married. That’s really all that matters," Buffy replied.
"Right," Willow agreed, "We’ve all been through a lot in the last eight years. High school, college, dating, parents, demons, vampires, apocalypses. Now we have families of our own with people we love and care about. We did it, we survived. What more could we ask for, besides letting others get the same happiness we have?"
"I say we make a pact," Xander suggested, "To always be there for each other and ourselves. That no matter what’s going on; whether it’s a family crisis or averting the apocalypse. We’ll do it together. Agreed?"
"Agreed," Buffy and Willow said at the same time.
As the party went on, everyone celebrated the birth of baby Andrew as well as a new chapter in their lives. Buffy and Angel were finally ‘together forever’, with a son, and the promise of a much more different relationship than they’ve ever had. It would not be perfect, but it would be special just the same and they’d always cherish it.~fin~