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Title: Giod Clann No Daoine Le Gradh Author: Heidi Disclaimer: Joss is the owner of all.

I am just a puppet of the left over strings that he leaves dangling. Spoilers: Completely AU. Set back in 1916, Liam Angel is a young Irish revolutionary who is given the mission of kidnapping Buffy Summers, the daughter of a prominent English official, to further Irelands quest for independence. Distribution: If you want it, take it. Just let me know where it goes! Authors note: I just want everyone to know that I am in no way a historian; this is just my own little imagination at work here. I just find this portion of Irish history kind of fascinating! So no one flame me on this particular story. Feedback: Like it, love it, hate it, I want to know. Please, I beg on my knees. Rating: PG-13 for now but probably will change. Prologue April 1916 The newly wedded American couple picked the wrong time to visit Ireland for their honeymoon. Leaving for what they believed a peaceful vacation in which they would be able to experience the Emerald Isle, they were sorely mistaken. Instead of seeing vast fields full of lush, green clover, they faced cobblestone streets covered with the blood of the many bodies that contorted on the ground. The couple was forced to hide inside their quaint bed and breakfast while a war was waged on the streets of Dublin. As they watched Irish revolutionaries square off with the finest of British troops, they sat in horror of what was happening outside. For two whole days, the couple watched through their windows at the world around them. By the end of the second day, the British troops had stabilized the streets of Dublin around their bed and breakfast and they decided to test this shaky peace and leave their room to see Ireland for the first time. Carefully the couple stepped outside the door onto the streets. The city was now stricken with a deafening quiet. Turning towards her husband, the young wife whispered, It sounds like the fighting has finally come to a close. She smiled at her husband to ease some of the fear her heart held for these past days. Her husband made no reply to her comment; he just kept his eyes focused on the streets ahead of him. His eyes held no emotion as he stared forward. The only movement that he made was the involuntary shaking of his body from the cold that seemed to seep through his clothes to caress his skin. It seems colder out here then when we first came, she said as she turned towards him. Taking a deep look into his face, she saw no emotions crossing his countenance. Worried about him, she asked, Honey, what is wrong? Wrapping his arms around his young wife, he felt her shiver from the same cold that he was subject to. Finally responding to her question, he said, Its not over yet. ~~~ Part I Shenanigans Pub Dublin, 1916 Come on, guys. We need to think of something. We cant let their deaths go unanswered, Xander Harris blurted out in his drunken stupor. Liam Angelus Malone, Allan Doyle, Charles Gunn, and Daniel Oz Osbourne just

stared at their friend with glazed over eyes. Sitting around the table, the five men tried their best to drown all the memories of what happened the past couple of days on the streets of Dublin; choosing a method quite fitting for themselvesmany, many pints of Guinness. Oh, Xander, what can we do now? Did you see all the people that they arrested this morning? We wouldnt even stand a chance, Doyle slurred. Leaning over the table, Doyle gripped the temples on his head in order to stop the bodhran played inside his skull. Suddenly standing on his feet, Xander yelled, Hey, I got it But while he attempted to return to his seat, the chair moved backward causing Xander to tumble to the floor. Staring at each other for a moment, all five men tried not to laugh but their efforts were fruitless. Bursting in unbridled laughter, the friends couldnt control themselves. Loosing all refrain, they all ended up on the floor after they rolled from their seats. Though his amusement, Liam asked, Now what were you going to say, o graceful one? Thinking that that comment was the most hilarious thing they had ever heard, the laughter continued with even more force. Thank you, Angel. Thank you. Ill be here till Saturday. Try the veal, Xander joked to all his friends. Food, that's a good start for a plan. I say we attack the English with hummus, Oz stated matter-of-factly. At first everyone laughed at the comment but as the truth of it sunk in all their heads, they all turned to Oz in confusion. Silence blanketed over the table as all of them began to slowly and quite shakily rise from the floor. Breaking the silence, Gunn asked, So any one else have any ideas? Im leaning more towards the hummus offensive, Xander admitted and shook his head in agreement. Theyll never see it coming, Oz said stoically as the room yet again erupted into laughter. Then Angels voice rang out through the loud bursts of laughter. Not really knowing exactly what he was implying due to his completion of his 10th drink, Angel began to shout, Hey, I got it. You all know Hank Summers, the head English official of this town, well he has a daughter, maybe we should kidnap her or something. Once completed, Angel burst into laughter but everyone else stared at him in silence. That could work, Gunn admitted. What? Angel inquired incredulously. Your idea, he continued, they would listen to the Sinn Fein if we would do that. You are honestly considering kidnapping someone to further our cause. Thatll work, Doyle added sarcastically. No, really. That could work. I say tomorrow we tell it to the officials, Xander finally spoke up. Due to their inebriated states, all five men nodded their heads in agreement. Well, what do we do now? Doyle asked. I propose we get really, really drunk. Angel moved his glass toward the pitcher that sat on the tabletop. Who agrees with me?? All agreed by downing yet one more drinks from their glasses. Part II

Dearest Buffy. What are our colors for the wedding? Riley Finn asked his fianc. Rolling her eyes, Buffy turned away from him. I dont know yet, she said. I have been exceptionally busy lately and I havent had time to truly think about it. Sitting closer and placing his hands over top of hers, he quietly assured, Take as long as you want, darling. I will wait for you. Buffy turned toward him with a smile on her face. Her smile seemed to give Riley confidence on her feelings for her but her heart told her another story. Thinking to herself, Buffy said, You are going to be waiting a long time then because I plan to never marry you. After hearing her hearts statement, she quickly removed her hands form under his and stood up to walk a few steps away from him. Putting on the act of being tired, Buffy forced a yawn from her mouth and said, Riley, honey. Today has been a very tiring day and I think I am going to retire to my quarters for the rest of the evening. Standing up from his seat, he took her hand and gently brought it to his lips. I will see you tomorrow, he formally bid her farewell and exited the room. After noticing that Riley was plainly out of view, Buffy quickly wiped the back of her hand on the fabric of her skirt hoping that she could remove any remnants of Rileys slobbery kiss left there. Yet again lost to her thoughts, she told herself, Why am I still here. Over in America, women right now are marching for their basic rights and here I am lacking the basic freedom of choosing a marriage out of love not political alliances. And why does it have to be with Riley Finn of all people, he couldnt even find his way back to his village desperately calling for its idiot to come back. Sitting and slouching back down where she sat before, she felt so alone at that moment, but then she became resolved. I think it is time for me and my father to have a little heart to heart, Buffy said aloud as she swiftly began her search to find her father in her large home. ~~~ So what were we talking about before? Angel asked again as his speech was even more significantly slurred by the alcohol he had consumed. All of his friends stared at him in confusion. Were we talking about something? Xander finally asked with his voice muffled by the cold, hard surface of the table that his forehead rested on. We were talking about something? Gunn asked, Because I dont remember a bloody thing. Everyone felt the exact same way that Gunn did and they shrugged their shoulders at the question. We should probably get going, its getting pretty late and I dont want to walk home in the dark with all those British soldiers patrolling the streets, Doyle stated as he stumbled to get out of his chair. Taking a few minutes to steady on their feet, all five friends began their slow, swerving attempts to walk out the doors of the pub. Im pretty sure with the massive hangover I will have tomorrow to figure out what we all planned to do tonight, Angel commented while he leaned over onto Xander hoping that he could hold his huge framed body from collapsing on the floor. I know we talked about something. But nothing came into his mind. ~~~

Searching throughout the entire house, Buffy could not find her father anywhere. Turning towards the stairs to the upstairs, his bedroom was the last place that she had left to search through. Only the long skirt that fell to the floor inhibited her attempt to sprint up the flights of stairs. Father, I need to talk to you, she yelled when she was at the top of the stairs, not caring if he was there or not. If he was, she wanted to get started on the topic at hand. Pet, I dont think he is there, a voice came from behind her in the shadows of the hallway. Suddenly a hand reached out and grabbed her shoulder, Buffy turned quickly to the place where the voice and the hand sprang. Startled by the voice and the shock of the hand that grabbed her, Buffys foot swiftly kicked the figure between the legs. Bending over in pain, a bleached blonde man came out of the shadows. Buffy finally recognized the person who the voice belongs to. At first she wanted to be apologetic, but then thought otherwise. Spike, why on Gods green earth are you here? she said in annoyance. Still kneeling on the ground in pain, Spikes started talking to her through gritted teeth. Apparently I am here to finally come to the conclusion that I will never be able to have my own children. Buffy just stared down at the floor at him with her arms crossed across her chest. No, really why are you here? Finally being able to stand, Spike rose from the floor. Staring her straight in the eyes he commented, Come on, love. I know you are happy to see me. Stepping closer to her, she promptly stepped back away from him. Buffy rolled her eyes and just stared at him with raised eyebrows. No really, I am here to see the man about trouble on the streets this morning, he told truthfully. But seeing you is always an extra bonus in my day. Spike yet again approached Buffy to trap her against the wall. Finding her voice Buffy forcefully said, Well, if he isnt here then I suggest you get out of here. Slamming his hand into the wall next her head, Spike leaned closer her. Come on, I am so much better then the imbecile that you are engaged to. Hows a little taste of it. Spike inched towards her face as she slammed her knee into his crotch. How about I permanently make your voice a few octaves higher for you. While Spike slid down to the floor Buffy found her opportunity to escape from her perpetual stalker. While walking away with a slight skip in her step, she wanted to get as much distance from him, he heard her say, Sorry I cant talk too much right now, I really need to find my father. Spike landed on the floor in pain yet again, placing his hands on his groin. I think she likes me, he squeaked to himself. Part III Night past as the dark sky filled with glittering stars gave way to an azure sky beckoning the suns rays to rise above the horizon. The young husband had been awake for an hour just watching the light reflected off the dew-covered fields. His wife still lay sleeping in the bedroom; he made his way to the windowsill and stared yet again at the waking world. Nothing seemed to break his ruminations all kinds of thoughts until he heard the soft, pleasant voice of his wife. Honey, can we go on a walk right now? the young wife

asked her husband as she placed her hands in his. He sat motionless for a couple of seconds just staring through the window. Turning to face her, he caught glimpse of the bright smile that was spreading across her face and the sparkle in her eyes. He still had fears on what they were caught in, but then he relented his thoughts after looking into her face. Lightly squeezing her hand, he rose to his feet and said, Lets go. Walking hand in hand, the young couple left eh building and began to breathe the cool fresh scent of the early morning hours. The dew that covered the plush grass quickly soaked through their shoes as they strolled leisurely through the town. Oh my, I just got these shoes before we left. Now look at them, she pointed to her shoes. Laughing softly, he husband looked over at her and found himself no able to suppress a slight chuckle. While looking over to her, he saw a brief image at something only a few meters away. Squinting his eyes to get a better look across the field, he saw something that made him laugh a little harder. Whats so funny? she giggled and looked into his face seeing for the first time in this trip a relaxed look on his face. You think you have problems with your shoes? Just look at the five bodies lying in the grass over there, they are wet all over. At first she was nervous at his comment thinking that he was talking about more deceased bodies lying around. Turning to where he was looking, the young woman saw what caught her husbands glare. Five men sprawled themselves out on the grass a couple of meters away from them. Their entire figures were covered in dew as they probably had lain out in that field since last night. She began to laugh aloud at the sight of the unconscious bodies lying there. Walking over to them and watching their chests rhythmically rise and fall with each breath, the couples laughter increased. Should we try to wake them? she whispered softly through her giggles. Nah, they seem ok here. Looking up at the sky above them, the husband noticed that little clouds started to gather in the sky over their heads. Pointing above their heads, Let the rain wake them up, then they can be killing two birds with one stone right here. How so? she asked. Great wake-up call and a nice shower. He turned to his wife again and was amused by the look in his wifes face. Wonderful things early in the morning. They look so peaceful now, she turned her attention back to the men sprawled on the ground. They arent going to be so happy when the rain comes down. Maybe the rain will help them remember their experience last night of having a little too much fun, he smiled and took his wifes hand yet again into his. Starting to walk away from them, the couple still held slight chuckles in their voices. ~~~ All night Buffy searched for her father and couldnt find him. Finally she did find him the next morning in his office. As soon as she stepped through the door, her argument with her father burst with an uncontrollable fire. Father, please listen to me. I cant do this anymore. I dont want to Buffy pleaded but her father stopped her.

Buffy, its not whether you want to marry Riley or not, it is your duty to do this. This is what proper women have done for a long time and will remain as long as that young women lives under my roof. Hank Summers refused to listen to his daughter. I dont care about duty or the fact that this is how it always has been done! Welcome to the 20th century, not the 5th. I want to make my own decisions about my life, she begged. You can make your own decisions, just you will be doing that married to Riley Finn, he told her. Father, please. I cant do this, Buffy felt quite resolved in her feelings but her father just didnt listen. You can, and you will, he stated firmly looking her straight in the eye. No more complaining about this either. Father, PLEASE! Oh, and by the way, he interrupted her again. Your mother and I were talking last night and with recent events as they are on the streets, I dont think it is safe for you to be alone so when Riley isnt calling on you, I have employed Spike to watch you. Hatred soon filled Buffys eyes as he looked at her father. She prayed that looks could kill right now for he would have been dead yesterday for what he just said. Spike?? You have to be kidding with me? she sounded annoyed. Your mother was the one that brought it up. She was talking to him over their random cups of cocoa and marshmallows, and he said something to her about looking after you. Buffy felt an overwhelming urge to either punch her father or Spike, she couldnt decide which one would be better. Clenching her fists into tight balls, she felt so angry and had to leave the room before she did hurt him. Sprinting from the room, she heard her father yell out to her, HE IS COMING OVER IN 30 MINUTES, SO DONT GO ANYWHERE! ~~~ Lying face down in a field of clover, Angel got a big mouthful of grass as he slowly woke up with the feeling of rain sprinkles across his body. What happened? he asked aloud as the other four began stirring. Where are we? Xander quickly asked as he began to prop himself up on his hands. He was caught by the surprise of the slick ground that he placed his hands upon. Quickly slipping out from under his weight, his face yet again met the wet clover on the ground. Everyone began laughing at Xander but after a few chuckles they all moaned as their heads throbbed in agony. I remember walking out of the pub last night really late, but I dont remember falling asleep out here, Doyle admitted. I think past out is the correct word in this instance, Gunn corrected Doyle. Nodding his throbbing head at his friend, Doyle smirked at him. Shakily arising from their resting positions, all five men came close to falling down again multiple times before they were securely on their feet. I think I know. Someone must have kidnapped us, robbed us blind and left us out here to die, Xander thought aloud. Pulling his wallet from his pocket, Oz shook it in front of his face. I dont think so, he said stoically. Ok, well not robbed us blind but definitely kidnapped us, he came back quickly.

All stared at him in confusion, except for Angel. Thinking to himself, Kidnapped? What about kidnapped? but then the realization hit him like a locomotive. We werent kidnapped, we were planning to kidnap the Summers girl, he abruptly said. Slowly they all remembered the topic of last nights conversation and they began recalling what was discussed. Aye, Gunn stated, we talked about bringing that idea to the Sinn Fein. We should probably do that today. All nodded but didnt move any muscles to go anywhere. I think before we do anything about this, we all could use a shower right now, Angel mentioned to his friends. Rain just doesnt do it for ya, does it? Oz asked. Not really, he stated as he began to walk towards his home. If we do end up kidnapping her, I want to look my best for you, he pretended he was talking to the pampered, snotty little girl they were planning to kidnap later on. Part IV Tears began streaming down Buffys face as she raced from her fathers room. Thinking to herself, Ok, first I am forced against my will to be married to Riley, now I have to be babysat by my demented stalker. I am leaving and I am NEVER coming back! Lifting the bottom of her skirt off the floor, she found a greater opportunity to run faster. The tears choked her eyes as she ran towards the front entrance of her grand home. She couldnt see anything nor did she want to. Her world was a blur and nothing seemed to make any sense. Not paying attention to anything around her, she just ran. But suddenly standing in her way was her stiff butler, Rupert Giles. Running smack dab into him, her quest towards the front door was abruptly ceased. The force that she bumped into him caused her to tumble backwards onto the floor. Shocked and surprised at who ran into him, Giles quickly turned towards the figure sitting haphazardly on the floor behind him. Reaching his hand out to help her off the floor, he apologized, Miss Summers, I am so sorry about all of this. Please forgive me. Taking his hand in hers, she hoisted herself off the ground and told him, You dont have to be sorry for anything, Giles. I ran into you. She bent over and started to dust off her skirt that had touched the ground. No Miss, It was my fault. I he started apologizing again but was quickly stopped by her. Giles stop, she finally looked up into his face. It was my fault, and you have known me since I was a baby, you can call me Buffy when I am not around my father and mother. She stood in front of him and stared demandingly into his eyes. Sorry, miss Buffy, she insisted with raised eyebrows. Ok, sorry m-m-Buffy, he stumbled, but I have to ask you, whats wrong? Giles noticed her eyes were rimmed red and large tear tracks marred her white cheeks. Looking away to the floor, Buffy attempted to hide her face from him, but he knew better. For all her 18 years, he had watched her. Giles had witnessed her first steps, her days at school when she would come home and complain that all history tests are unfair, every scraped knee, every tear, and every smile. Giles knew something was wrong. Nothing, she said turning away from him only to wipe away her tears. Placing a tender and loving hand on her shoulder he attempted to turn her to face him yet

again. Whats wrong? Giles asked again. Buffy felt more hot tears running down her cheeks, as his presence seemed to pull her out of the shell that she has just built. I dont know what to do, Giles. I feel so trapped here and I cant get out. What happened? he inquired. I just talked to my father upstairs. He wont listen to anything I say. I cant marry Riley, I cant be made to love him. Pulling her into his embrace, Buffy leaned her head onto his shoulder. I feel like a prisoner here, she cried, even more now since my father employed Spike to baby-sit me all day. You know he loves you Giles stated to say but was quickly stopped. Love me, LOVE ME! she exclaimed stepping back from his touch, He doesnt love me. There is something implanted in his brain telling him that he loves me, its not real. No matter how much my father and mother like him, Spike is a soulless bastard who is evil down to every fiber of his being! Finally ceasing her rant she yet again looked at Giles but was confused at the smile that crept across his face. I meant your father, Giles chuckled lightly. Oh, she whispered and blushed at her outburst. So, I am guessing Spike thinks hes in love with you. How can he? He is so beneath you, he assured to Buffy. Buffy felt her smile spread across her face at Giles words and presence. Thanks Giles for listening to me here. You are always going to be more of a father to me than that man upstairs could ever be. Youve always been like a daughter to me, Buffy. You know I love you, he said as he pulled her again into his hug. Buffy and Giles stayed in that embrace for quite a long time and she felt safe and loved there. But then a voice came out of nowhere to yet again make her tense. Awwwww. Look at them, that is so cute, Spike mocked. Sorry, Giles. I have to take away the little missy here. I promise to take good care of her. Spike looked at Giles with malice in his eyes and he stepped closer to Buffy to take her from his embrace. Holding her tighter in his arms, Giles leaned down to whisper in her ear. As soon as I let you go, run out the door. I will take care of Spike for the time being. Feeling her nod her head into his shoulder, he carefully let go of her. Feeling his grip loosen on her, Buffy quickly broke away from Giles and ran towards the door. Spike tried to reach out to grab her but he was suddenly stopped by Giles fist slamming into his face. Buffy successfully ran out the door and onto the street as Giles stood triumphantly over Spike. Looking up in hatred at Giles, Spike threatened, I will get you for this! Dont worry, Spike. She just left to get some air, she will be back soon, he smirked at the man lying on the floor. But for now, you better leave my sight before she comes back. Getting up off the floor, Spike stood up to stare at Giles in the eyes. You cant protect her forever, he whispered. Neither can you. ~~~ Angel slowly stumbled into his house after his brisk bath outside on the field. He knew that he had to shower before he did anything that day but for some reason he had the

hardest time in finding his bathroom and then getting to it. Finally finding it, he turned to the bathtub and started the warm water flowing. Shedding his rain-soiled clothing, he stepped into the shower to feel the hot water spread over his muscular body. He felt the dirt and grime slowly fall away as the tension in his shoulders began to relax. Angel just stood in that shower with his hands pressed against the wall in front of him, just letting the water relentlessly falling onto his dark brown hair. I cant wait to meet this girl. This is going to be very interesting, seeing a pampered princess cry for her parents, he smiled to himself at his thoughts. Finally stepping out of the shower, Angel grabbed the closest towel to him and began to wipe off all the tiny droplets of water that still clung to his skin. It felt so good to be clean. Angel walked out of his bathroom and into his bedroom where he had some of his clothes rumpled up into a ball on the floor. Picking them up, he tried to smooth out all the wrinkles before putting them on and was somewhat successful. He looked all around his room for his shoes but then remembered that he didnt even have them on when he walked into his house. Angel had taken off his shoes before he entered his house without even knowing exactly what he was doing. Walking down towards the front door, he opened the front door to find his shoes lying out in the middle of the street instead of right next to his door. Walking out bare feet into the muddy street, he leaned over to pick up his shoes but before he reached them, a small form slammed into his body. The force didnt cause him to fall down but it surprised him anyway. Turning toward the person that just ran into him, he heard her exclaimed, OH BLOODY HELL, how many times can I run into someone today! Lying on the ground was the most beautiful woman Angel had ever cast his eyes upon. Her honey golden hair seemed to glow even though the sun wasnt shining all that brightly at the moment. The many folds of her dress spread out on the ground encased her small frame. Do you need some help there? he asked as he leaned over to help her up. Brushing off his assistance, the young woman stood up on her own with a confidence that shook the very ground that Angel was standing upon. Actually no. I dont need your help, she snapped. She looked into his face then and Angel saw the most captivating green eyes that he had ever seen. He felt himself getting lost in them as quickly as she looked up at him. He was promptly brought out of his reverie by her walking away from him. He couldnt find his voice for the longest time but then he finally did. You dont have to walk away so fast. I dont bite, he joked. Stopping in her tracks, she turned and smiled at him. The tension between them slowly faded away as they both just stared at each other. Where were you going in such a hurry? he asked with a smile still on his face. Anywhere but here, she responded abruptly. I thought I would be able to get out of her without the slightest tarnish but look at me now. Water will never get these mud stains out. She tried to brush some of the caked on mud that covered her dress. If you want to, Angel offered, you can come into my house and we can try to get you cleaned up a little. Knowing that he was her only hope, she nodded her head and stated, Thank you.

Angel extended his hand out to her as she started to walk towards him. She took it and felt his warm touch throughout her entire body. Leading her into his home, Angel finally asked, Whats your name? Feeling lost in his touch for a moment, she didnt here his question right away. My name? she asked herself out loud, Buffy. My name is Buffy. Part V Come on in, Angel led Buffy inside. Go ahead into the parlor. Where are you going? she quickly asked as he turned to walk away from her. Just going to get some hot water and some towels, he smiled at her blushing face. While Angel left her in the parlor, Buffy still tried to talk to him. Nice place you have here, she commented while walking over and picking up some his shirts crumpled on the floor. The shirts smelled of himsome scent that was intoxicatingly masculine. Putting the shirt down on one of the chairs in the room, she began to circle the room, evaluating its contents. Nothing in particular caught her attention until she noticed a small bookcase full of books. Buffy knelt down to read the titles of some of the books in his collection. The case was filled with such titles as Bram Stokers Dracula and Emily Brontes Wuthering Heights. Buffy was quite impressed at the wide range of books but his collection of numerous plays by Shakespeare truly caught her attention. Breezing through the titles she read Othello, Henry V, Midsummers Night Dream, The Merchant of Venice, and so many others but as soon as Buffy saw Romeo and Juliet her eyes concentrated on that play. Removing it from the shelf, she opened up the cover and started reading, Two households, both alike in dignity/ (In fair Verona, where we lay our scene/ From ancient grudge break to new mutiny/ Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean. / From forth the fatal loins of these two foes/ a pair of star-crossed lovers take their lives You like to read? his voice surprised Buffy and she promptly dropped the book on the ground. Buffy quickly stood up and turned towards him while the book still lay on the ground. Angel had been watching her for a while. He was mesmerized by the soft glow she radiated and nothing could pull him from where he leaned against the wall or avert his eyes from her beautiful form. Facing him now, Buffy breathed, Oh, I didnt know you were here already. Her heart raced in her chest not only due to his sudden entrance into the room but also because of the seductive pull that she felt in her entire body towards the handsome man across the room. Buffy had never felt this way before, especially not a stranger whose name she had not heard. Buffy felt her whole body glued to its spot as he slowly walked in her direction. She was hypnotized by the way his whole body seemed to surge forward like a stealthy predator and she was his ever-willing prey. Through his thin shirt and pants, she could see his long, sinewy muscles flex with great finesse. Taking her eyes from his body, she found herself trapped in the deep brown pools that were staring at her. Buffy came extremely close to losing herself in those dark orbs, only coming out of her reverie when she heard his deep voice. Romeo and Juliet, huh? Thats one of my favorites, Angel admitted. What? she nervously responded. Oh, yes, mine-me too, Buffy stumbled as her face turned a vibrant shade of red at her little mistake. No matter how many times I read that play, I always cry at the final scene.

Noticing the beautiful hue of pink her cheeks held when she blushed, Angel couldnt keep his eyes off of her for any long period of time. Smiling to himself with the knowledge that a quote was popping up in his brain, he quoted, For never was a story of more woe/ than this of Juliet and her Romeo. Surprised at his memory of those final lines, Buffy smiled curiously at the man standing within reaching distance from her. Interesting, she smiled at him, couldnt imagine you to be a person who would quote Shakespeare. Sometimes people may surprise you, he whispered in her ear. Buffy felt this overwhelming urge to turn her face towards him and feel his warm lips upon hers but instead she stepped back a little and stared yet again into his face. Her breath caught in her chest and for a moment there, she felt like she couldnt breathe. Finding her breath and voice, she finally asked, So are you ever going to tell me your name or am I going to have to make one up for you? Liam, he responded, but almost everyone I know calls me Angel. Angel, I like it. May I ask, how did you get through school without being made fun of with a feminine name such as that, she teased with a smile upon her face. Sensing her jest, he came back, How did you do it with a name like Buffy? Touch, she laughed. Leading her to a chair in the kitchen, Angel took her hand in his and felt a shock of electricity running through his body. In the kitchen he had set up an area on the table where he placed a tub full of warm water and swabs of cloth that he was going to be using to clean her up. Turning to face her, he placed his hands on her slender waist and lifted her up to sit on the table in back of her. She felt as light as a feather but he knew by looking into her eyes, she was probably as tough as nails. What were you running away from this morning? he asked as he strained some of the water from the cloth and removed some of the mud from her skirt. Who said I was running away? she smirked. I consider it beginning my journey to freedom. Buffy crossed her arms across her chest and raised her eyebrows at what his comment was implying. Freedom from what? he wanted her to go on not only to find out more about her, but also just to hear her sweet voice roll off her tongue Nothing that couldnt be solved by a little streak of violence. Never imagined you to be the violent type, he quoted her from earlier. Well, you never know. Some people may surprise you, she smiled at him. For the next couple of moments, the two were content with their silence. They felt absolute comfort and peace with each other. If comfort was needed, Buffy found it in his gentle touch while he cleaned the mud off of her. So, do you read all those books in there? Buffy asked breaking their happy silence. Most of them. I have a lot of free time on my hands the day after I come home from the pub and my body really does not want to move anywhere. Angel removed his eyes from her silk skirt to yet again gaze into her eyes that had now changed from hazel to a brilliant green. He removed the cloth from her skirt and placed it back into the warm water, ringing out some of the dirt that clung to it. Buffy stared at his hands while he worked. My God, those hands. I can feel them touching my skin and sending waves of heat across my body. Touching me she abruptly stopped her thoughts. I just met him, why do I feel this way? Her eyes

followed his hands as they went towards the water. Seeing the side of her face while she turned, Angel noticed the dirt that still clung to the soft, pink skin of her face. You have a little mud here, he said while he brought the newly cleaned cloth up to her face. His fingers were so close to caressing her skin and Angel felt himself completely pulled to her at that moment. While his right hand still held the cloth, his left reached up to cup her cheek. Angels heart beat at an unprecedented speed as he touched her silky skin. Gently pulling himself closer to her sensuous lips, he saw her eyes close as she also pulled closer to him. Inches away from contact, some noise from the front door quickly caused them to pull away from each other. Stumbling through the door, Xander Harris yelled, Hey Angel. I got some good news! Seeing Angel and some blonde girl in his parlor, he found himself saying, Oh, hello. And who might you be? Speaking for her, Xander, this is Buffy. Buffy the big goof over there is Xander. Blushing brightly over what Xander had almost witnessed between the two, Buffy responded strongly, Nice to meet you. An awkward silence spread over the room as the comfort level greatly decreased. Hopping down from the table, Buffy started walking towards the front door. I should probably be going now, you have a visitor and I dont want to interrupt you two. As she walked away, Angel stopped her by gently grabbing her hand, turn her around to face him and placed a soft kiss on the back of her hand. Closing his eyes while he kissed her hand, he imagined himself kissing her lips and feeling her warmth flow through his body. He opened his eyes to see her smile radiate back at him. It was nice to meet you, Buffy. Maybe I will see you again sometime. I would like that, she winked as she turned to walk out the door past Xander. Angel stood unmoved, watching her as she left his home. He felt his heart slowing to a normal pace with her absence. My, my, my. Wasnt that a pretty girl? Xander teased. Not hearing him, Angel stood as still as a statue just staring out the door. To make Angel listen to him, Xander punched him on the shoulder to get his attention. Angel?? he asked. Are you alright? Jesus Christ, Xander. You have the worst timing of anyone I know, Angel laughed. I see that now. So who was that girl? Not even looking at Xander to answer his question, he continued on staring out his front door. The girl of my dreams, he smiled to himself. Part VI Buffy never wanted to leave Angels house. She felt something with him that she had never felt with anyone else before and it felt absolutely right; perfect in every sense of the word. A smile crept on her face that she believed would never be replaced after everything with Riley, Spike and her father. With those people, she felt cold, but with one look into Angels eyes and the touch of his skin, she was set afire. Suddenly stopping her reverie, she thought, Set afire?? What the bloody hell am I thinking? I just met the man for heavens sake! Love at first sight happens only with Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and some Juliet, that never will happen to me. Juliet, Buffys thoughts went straight back to Angel and his appreciation for that play. Her mind was telling her to stop with all these thoughts of everlasting love, but her heart

sang with the romantic notion that these do exist and that she just witnessed that type of love in the making. God, I never want to leave here. But she knew that she must but she definitely didnt want to go home as of yet. Her encounter with Angel greatly reduced some of the tension that weighed on her small body and yet there was still anger and resentment that she felt in the pit of her stomach. Turning from the direction to her house, Buffy decided to skip her way to the green fields that accentuated the background of Dublin. She whistled to herself as she made the trip and slowly sank into the plush clover that carpeted the fields green. The clouds in the sky broke revealing the soft baby blue in the sky and shedding rays of warm light all across the land. Buffy sat in that field feeling the suns warmth spread over her whole body. Gracefully falling backwards, she lay completely sprawled out on the ground with her hair flowing over the clover and her smile still plastered on her face. Hearing birds chirping and feeling the breeze softly blow across the field, Buffy felt utterly free. Free from her fathers oppression, free from Rileys stupidity and annoyingness, free from Spikes obsession, free to love Angel. Free to love Angel? she laughed to herself. What a dream! Her eyes closed with those dreams dancing across the inside of her eyelids. For a few blissful moments, Buffy just laid there in absolute serenity and peace. Alone with her many thoughts, she felt happy. The warm breeze caressed her skin but then a solo gust of cold air sent shivers across her body. You know its not exactly lady-like to be seen lying around on the grass with you ankles showing under your skirt, a chilling voice broke through her thoughts. Spike, she sighed, when will you leave me alone. Refusing to open her eyes to see the blonde, extremely gaunt thing in front of her, she continued to lie there. Cant, pet. I promised to look out for you with any means possible, Spike leaned over to move his face closer to hers on the ground. Buffy opened her eyes at that moment to see his evil smirk spread from ear to ear. Sighing again and quickly sitting up, Buffy tried to ignore him for a little longer. She even ignored the hand that he reached out to help her up with. Standing up without his assistance, she began dusting off her dress. Spike, I have a question for you? she asked while busy at work. Fire away, ducks, he answered. Do my parents pay you? she inquired finally standing up to look him straight in the eye. Yeah, why do you ask? he responded with confusion painted on his brow. I was just curious because it seems to me that you need to go out and eat something. Your cheeks are just too sunken in to be anywhere near attractive, Buffy stated smugly. Lifting his eyebrows several times to her comment, Spike said, These cheekbones caught your attention didnt they? Rolling her eyes at his statement, she began to walk out of the field towards her house. Spike walked right behind her and attempted to grab her arm but she harshly shrugged him off. Im not a dog. You dont have to put me on a leash for me to go anywhere, she hissed with her eyes forward. Dont touch me. ~~~ Angel found no sight of the blonde beauty when he exited his house with Xander right on

his heels. Sighing in disappointment, he led Xander to the pub where they were going to meet the rest of the gang. Walking close to complete silence, Angel and Xander met Doyle, Gunn, and Oz in the back of the pub. Everyone had seemed to be over the hangover that all had faced this morning in the field. All that is except for Doyle. Doyle still had on the same clothes that he wore the previous night and his hair exceptionally disheveled. Noticing Doyles appearance, Angel couldnt repress the chuckle that rose in his throat. Tough night, Doyle? What? he turned toward Angel with a sluggish look on his face. Are you still wearing the same thing because you werent physically able to changes clothes or did Cordy refuse to do your laundry again? At this comment, everyone had smiles on their faces. Smiling at Angels mention of his wife, Doyle commented, Probably a little bit of both. Delia yelled at me this morning because I am too cheap to hire a cleaning lady. Thats Cordy for you. Willful and a complete pain, Gunn joked. Thats exactly the way I like it too, Doyle admitted with a huge grin on his face. Now officially walking away from the pub, everyone in the group was quick to notice the slight hop in Angels step as he lead them towards the Sinn Feins secret headquarters. What are you so happy about, Angel? Oz asked while walking. Nothing in particular, he smiled as the image of a beautiful blonde crept into his head with sparkling green eyes. Guess I am just happy today. Xander turned towards the three other members of the gang that were behind Angel and whispered not to discretely, Hes thinking of a petite blonde, supposedly the girl of his dreams. Angel, you should have told us. It is about time you find someone, Doyle laughed as he punched the back of Angels shoulder. Thats right. Angel, you seriously need to get some type of action in your life. I mean, I have Willow, Doyle has Cordy, and Gunn, well he needs someone too. You need someone too, Oz agreed with Doyle. Walking up to the back door of the headquarters, Angel rapt a couple of times on the door before the window on it opened up to reveal a pair of eyes glaring at him. Responding to Oz, Angel said, I have plenty of action in my life. What do you think I am doing now? Opening up the door, the five men sauntered into the secret headquarters to discuss their plan. Quickly after entering the door, Angel was recognized by one of the people that occupied this particular room. Liam, what are you doing here? Hello Penn. Have some ideas on what we could do next to further stress our cause. Nodding in understanding, Penn lead the gang to another room that was encased in darkness. Knowing that someone was there, Angel began speaking, We have come up with a plan to convince the British to leave us alone. Go on, a raspy voice broke through the darkness. We kidnap Hank Summers child and hold her for ransom until the British listen to our demands. For what seemed like an eternity, the voice didnt say anything. The gang began fidgeting in the awkwardness of this silence. Sounds like a good idea to me. Liam, you will be in charge of this and I dont want it

messed up like the last assignment that was given to you. I want you all to go now to his house and survey the area. Sir, oh wise one, the MAN Xander bumbled quickly. Xander would you get to the point! the voice rose. How will we know what his daughter looks like? You will know. Shes his only child, the voice answered. Summers lives at 1630 Revello Drive. Now go, you have some work to do. The five men exited the room and walked back to where they met Penn the first time. How did it go? Penn asked as soon as he saw Angel leave the dark room. Sorry, we cant talk right now. We have some business to take care of, Angel responded stonily as they exited the building towards Revello Drive. Part VII So guys, umm, whats the plan here? Doyle asked after the gang left the headquarters. What ever we are planning on doing right now, it has to be quick. The band is playing at the pub tonight, Oz responded stoically. Hows the band coming along? Gunn inquired. Well, we reek royally but hopefully we can get to some point that we just stink. Laughing to himself, Doyle chuckled, All you really need to do to fix that problem is talk the bar to decrease the prices of their drinks. Everything sounds heavenly when you drink yourself under the table. Gotta agree with you on that one, Xander concurred. Also everyone looks good after they have one too many. So thats how you met Anya! Angel laughed aloud while punching Xander in the shoulder. Sneering at Angels comment, Xander turned to him and laughed mockingly, Ha ha, very funny. Now thinking of his soon to be wife, Xander smiled. Anya is one of the most beautiful women I have ever met. I know, I just was messing with you, Angel said. But she is not as beautiful as Buffy, I hate to say. I dont know what you are all on, even though I cant speak for the girl of your dreams, but Delia leaves everyone far behind, Doyle stated with a huge grin spreading across his face. All four other men turned to stare at Doyle. Responding at the same time they all yelled, Nah, and started bursting out into laughter. So when are you going to tell us about your little encounter with this girl you keep on smiling about? Gunn asked Angel. When we arent so busy with are little assignment here, Angel held back. Well we are coming close to Revello Drive, has anyone thought of anything? Walking in silence, all four other men shook their heads in disappointment. Lets just face it, were at a dead end! Gunn finally broke the silence. Not exactly, Angel said as a thought hit his mind. Xander why dont you go and walk past the house and look for anything that could lead to finding out who Hanks child is. Well stay behind over here and wait for you to come back. Nodding his head in agreement, Xander kept walking closer to 1630 Revello Drive while the others stayed behind a building on the opposite side of the street. ~~~

While Buffy and Spike walked back to her home, she felt so uncomfortable in her own skin. She hated it when Spike would randomly try to take her arm in his but she would quickly reject him by shrugging off his touch. Most of the trip was accompanied with awkward silence because she really didnt want to talk to him. Walking up the couple of steps up to her front door, Buffy gripped the banister as Spike inched closer to her one step below her. Ah, home sweet home, Spike whispered in her ear as he shoved her through her ornate door. Ok, while I am in my own home, you dont have to be around me all the time. Why dont you go and occupy yourself somewhere away from me, Buffy said smugly. Playing hard to get, I like that. But in all actuality, I am feeling kind of puckish so I am going to head over to the kitchen, Spike stated while he left Buffy in the front entrance of her house. Its about time you ate something, Buffy muttered under her breath as he walked away. Moving further into her home, Buffy knew that she had to find Giles to tell him what happened to her this morning. Searching through the lower level of the house, she found Giles inside the library with his nose shoved into a book. Breaking through the silence that encased the room, Buffy asked, Whatca reading? Quite startled by the sudden noise, Giles jumped in his chair. Oh, Buffy, I didnt hear you come in? he breathed. I can tell, she smiled as his fingers nervously stroked the hardbound cover of the book that he had just been reading. Which book is that? Ah, Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens, Giles said as he read the title from the front of the book. This man is really into coincidences, I must say. Giles removed his wire-framed glasses from his face and slowly began to clean them with his white handkerchief. I think there are no such things as coincidences. Everything happens for a reason, call it fate, Buffy said as she removed the book from the table that he placed it on and smoothed her hand over its cover. Or maybe destiny, who knows? Shaking his head in disagreement, Giles let a smile creep across his face. I didnt think you would be back for a while, Giles quickly changed the subject. Aye, Spike found me and pretty much drug me back here. He is giving me now some moments to myself. I could hit him again if you want me too, Giles smiled. You hit Spike, she burst out laughing. No wonder he has that huge, red welt on his cheek. Great aim, I must say. Laughing along with her, Giles chuckled, Well this cheekbones as prominent as his, they are kind of hard to miss. Both Giles and Buffy laughed so much that tears began to brim their eyes. She felt her knees buckle as she quickly found a seat to rest upon. Her laughter slowly ceased as she was just going to begin to tell him of her meeting with a tall, dark and handsome man but Giles calling bell began to chime. Excuse me Buffy. I am needed elsewhere, Giles stopped laughing as he began to exit the room. Giles, Buffy interrupted his exit. Where is my father now?

He left the house after you ran, I have no idea where he went. Giles shrugged his shoulders. Oh, all right, Buffy said. You should probably get going. I will just wait for him at the front. Nodding to her, Giles left the room as Buffy made her way to the bay window in the front of her house where she could sit on the bench and look out at the street in front of her. From this window, she could see almost the whole town. But her eyes rested only on the green fields that she just came from. ~~~ Xander felt all stealthy as he crept towards Hank Summers large home. Thinking to himself, he said, Now Angel isnt the only one that can be all sneaky. I have officially joined the club. Walking towards the house he caught glimpse of a beautiful woman in the window of the house. Moving closer he felt like he recognized her from somewhere but he couldnt quite pinpoint it exactly. Suddenly it hit him, Oh my God, its Buffy. Too shocked by what he saw in the window, Xander didnt watch where exactly he was walking. He rammed straight into the banister of her front porch and found himself lying on the floor underneath it writhing in pain. The banister hit him hard in the right spot as he pulled himself into a tight ball. I have to tell Angel he thought as he slowly stood up still in a crouched position holding his hand over his groin. Limping slightly, Xander made his way back to where the rest of the gang waited for him. Noticing Xanders awkward position, Oz asked, All went well I hope? Just great, Xander responded through clenched teeth. I found her. Ok, what does she look like? Angel quickly asked as his eyes began to glow in curiosity. Standing up straight to look him in the eye, Xander could only shake his head at Angels question. You probably dont want to know who she is? Why? Angel asked as confusion spread across his face. Its Buffy, Xander whispered, as Angels eyes quickly grew dark at his revelation. Part VIII Angel didnt want to believe Xander, but something deep down inside his soul was screaming that Buffy was very close. Are you sure? he asked incredulously as his brow became deeply furrowed in his forehead. Uh, let me check, Xander looked up at the sky pretending to be really concentrating on what he was about to say, yep, its her. Walking out from behind the side of the building, Angel crept closer to the house. His stomach churned with the realization that Xander was telling the truth as he saw the radiant beauty that was perched in the window. Angel felt his heart hit the pavement below his feet and for a moment he actually felt nauseous. What am I going to do now? I know what I am supposed to do, but can I really kidnap her? Why, God, does it have to be her of all people? So lost in his thoughts he didnt hear Doyle walk up next to him. You know someone is bound to notice you gawking at her. Angel didnt respond to him for a while, all he could do was look at her. He couldnt keep his eyes off the way her hair shone its strikingly gold color or the way the window bent the light to place a vibrant rainbow across her lap as she sat there. He thought, Was

she thinking about him? as he saw a smile spread across her face as she used her hands to smooth out the material of her skirt the way that he had done, earlier that day. Punching him on the shoulder, Doyle yelled, ANGEL! SNAP OUT OF IT!! Finally turning away from her image, Angel sneered, What was that for? What do you think? Shaking his head in defeat, Angel turned to walk back to where the gang was. Doyle was quick to follow him back. See I told you so, Xander chided. Angel bent his head down towards the floor and refused to look up at them. So, Angel, whats the plan? Gunn asked. We have a plan? Oz said. After Oz spoke, the group went silent. No one could talk for they all knew that it was Angels decision on what to do. They all stared at him as Angel held his gaze firmly on the dirt-covered ground. Angel was painfully aware of the rock and the hard place that he was sandwiched between. Lifting his head, he decided on what to do. Before talking to his friends, out of the corner of his eye he saw a small doctors office a block over. Confidently ordering, Angel turned to Gunn and Oz, You guys go to that doctors office and ask for a bottle of chloroform. We are going to need it as soon as possible. What happens if the doctor says no? Oz inquired. Just tell him my name. The doctor that works there, him and me kind of go back. Im sure you wont have any problems. Nodding, Gunn and Oz left to go towards the doctors office. While the rest waited, Angel told them the plan on how they were going to get her outside. Taking only a few minutes, the two returned with an old bottle of chloroform and a small rag to put it on. Oz extended them out to Angel to show him what they had brought back and he nodded in graciousness. Good. I am going to try to get her to come out of her house. I will lead her back here where one of you guys make sure you get her. Everyone understand? Angel asked coldly. Angel turned away from the group to yet again walk back towards the house. Standing next to Oz, Xander turned to him and whispered, Always the key guy. When will I ever be the key guy? Shaking his head, Oz couldnt think of anything particularly monosyllabic to say to him. So they all just stood there in the shadows waiting for Angel to come out with their target. ~~~ Every step that Angel took his heart broke into smaller and smaller pieces. Of all the hundreds of thousands of women in this world, must it be this one? he thought. Sidestepping behind a tall bush, Angel found himself staring at the beautiful woman again in the window. His eyes and skin burned as her radiance reached and brushed against him. Her radiance also burned deep into his soul as it was screaming to him not to do this. Angel was torn in half. Heart telling him to run backwards, head telling him to continue forward, he was so confused. But he knew what he had to do. Giving himself a few more moments of pleasure seeing her with her freedom, he stayed behind that bush. Sighing and talking aloud to himself, he said, Things are going to get very interesting.

Walking from behind the bush, he painfully made his way towards the girl of his dreams. ~~~ Buffy loved to sit in that window. She remembered as a little girl how she would sit there with her favorite stuffed animal and stare out at the birds that graced the sky with their flight. Hours and hours on end, she would stare out that window. It was her release because it helped her to imagine the day that she would too fly away. She would feel her wings completely unfurl and glide away with the warm breeze. Glancing down at her dress she saw the colorful rainbow that was imprinted on the silken fabric. She smoothed the material down to get hopefully a full rainbow there. Placing her hands on the skirt, she remembered how Angel handled her so carefully and tenderly this morning. Angel she thought and a smile ran across her face. I felt so free with Angel, just like I always wanted to do. He gave me a glimpse of my possible wings. Buffys smile got even bigger as her mind travel to, Well that wasnt the only thing that went through my mind when I saw him. I started to see Stop that, Buffy. Returning her attention back towards the window, she watched as more birds flew across the sky. Suddenly, she felt something in the pit of her stomach. Not a bad feeling but one that she didnt quite understand. Buffy felt that same way when she was with Angel and no other time did she feel it. She knew he had to be somewhere close. Looking out she saw a tall, dark haired man walking down the street towards her house. Just by the way he walked she knew it was he. Not just the walk though, but the feeling told her the same due to its increase as he came closer. She felt completely drawn towards him and she knew that she had to go outside to talk to him again. Her heart pounded in her chest as she stood up and ran out the front door. Buffy didnt want to seem too overly excited about seeing him again, she tried to slow herself down but instead she ran into him again. Angel wasnt paying attention to anything besides his thoughts and Buffy only had her attention on him, not on stopping. Falling on the ground again, Buffy burst into laughter. Must we always meet like this, she smiled up at him. Laughing in return, Angel extended out his hand to help her off the ground and she took it. Again they felt that warm electricity run through their bodies just at the touch of one another. We should work on this a little, especially since we just finished cleaning you up, now we have to do it again. Angel had never seen a smile so beautiful. Well get it later, she whispered to him. I was just out for a walk. Would you like to join me? Angel asked as he found himself lost in her hazel eyes. I would love to, Buffy responded as she wove her arm in his as he led her off towards the building where his friends stood waiting. In silence they walked. That silence was only broken when Buffy asked, So where are we going? Leading her a little bit more, Angel didnt answer her question. As soon as they came close enough to the building, Angel said, Nowhere in particular. I would go anywhere with you. Smiling up at him, Buffy didnt notice the person that was coming close to her. Feeling an arm harshly grab her, Buffy pushed away from Angel. She began to fight back at the person that held onto her. Her foot connected with someone and she felt like she might

have won, but the hand that covered her mouth with a clothe would tell her otherwise. She felt her hold body go paralyzed as she started to slump down to the ground. Before shutting her eyes, she saw Angel standing there doing absolutely nothing. Feeling defeated, she succumbed to the black shroud of unconsciousness. Hobbling over to Angel and rubbing his shin, Gunn stated, Boy that girl put up a fight, no wonder why you like her so much. We need to get her out of her, Oz said bluntly. Picking her up in his arms and cradling her unconscious form, Angel carried her away. Holding her tight, he said, We got her, now we should go. Part IX Angel held onto Buffy tightly in his arms as he and his friends made their way through the streets of Dublin. They all did their best to try to look inconspicuous and to their fortune, no one questioned what exactly they were doing. So, Angel, where should we take her? Doyle asked walking up behind him. Reaching down into the front pocket of his pants, Angel removed a piece of paper and handed it to Doyle. First, I need you to go back and slip this under her door. Doyle took the note from his hand and turned back towards the house. Now rotating towards Oz, he directed a question, Oz, can we use your house for the time being? Oz responded to his request with a nod and he led the gang straight towards his house. Willow wont be home for a while, so that should be fine. The rest of the trip was carried with a comfortable silence from that moment. Everyone was comfortable, all except Angel. He felt like he was being torn in half. Part of him was screaming to let this woman go and yet the other part couldnt get enough of her presence resting in his arms. He felt her strong heartbeat against his chest and through its rhythmic beating; he felt his own heart increase its speed. But with every beat, his heart also shattered into smaller pieces because he knew that she would never look at him the way she had before, ever again. What am I going to say to her? he questioned himself over and over again. Once reaching Ozs house, Angel walked straight into his spare bedroom where he laid Buffy gently down on the bed in the middle of the room. His body shivered with cold as her warmth was taken from his arms, but he couldnt completely let go of her. As she lay there sleeping peacefully, he held her small hand in his and massaged the back of it with the soft pad of his thumb. Angel knelt on the floor next to the bed and just watched her sleeping form. Rapping quietly on the door, Gunn entered the room to find Buffy lying on the bed with Angel holding her hand that he placed on his lips. Hey Angel man, what are we going to do now? he asked quietly. With Buffys hand still placed across his mouth, he muttered, I dont know. He shook his head and refused to take his eyes off of her. One thing I do know is that I am going to stay here with her until she wakes up. Nodding his head, Gunn agreed and silently left Angel with her. Gunn knew by the sound of Angels voice that he was being torn up inside. Just before leaving the room, he turned back toward Angel and said, Are you sure you want to stay with her until she wakes up? I already got a taste of her fire and anger when she kidnapped her and I am afraid that when she wakes up, that fire is going to blow up in your face.

After saying that, Gunn turned and walked out the door. Once hearing the door shut behind him, Angel whispered to himself, The fire, thats one of the things I like so much about her. ~~~ After enjoying a wholesome lunch, Spike finally exited the kitchen in the hopes of finding Buffy. He had last seen her sitting in front of the window, so he began his search there. To his complete lack of surprise, he didnt see her sitting there anymore. Thinking to himself, he said, If I dont find that girl, Hank is going to have my testicles in a vice, so he decided to go upstairs to hopefully find her in her room. Entering it, the smell of her was all around him. The light sea green walls screamed her name as he scraped his fingernails across them walking towards her dresser full of clothes. Knowing exactly which drawer he wanted to open, he went straight for the drawer that her undergarments were placed in. Picking up a pair of soft pink underwear, he placed it underneath his nose to breathe her scent inside. Spike couldnt help to hold down the smile that spread across his face as her image danced in his mind. She will be mine, oh yes, she will be mine, played in his mind like a broken record stuck on the same exact verse. Suddenly the door opened in on him and he quickly hid her underwear behind her back. Spike was startled by the image of Riley bursting through her door with shoulders hung low and a frown on his face. Once seeing Spike standing alone in her room, Rileys frown changed to a scowl as he asked, Spike, what are you doing here? None of your business, Spike quickly responded with a smug look running across his face. Wheres Buffy? Shes around here somewhere. What are you doing here? Spike asked trying to stealthily slip her underwear back into her drawer without him noticing. That is not of your concern but just in case if you really want to know, I have been drafted to fight in the Great War and I wanted to tell Buffy that we will have to postpone our wedding for a while, Riley said while he looked to the floor. I know that she will be upset about it and I wanted to break the news to her gently. Sauntering out of the room and brushing his shoulder into Riley, Spike quipped, Oh yeah, she will be devastated. Not catching his mocking, Riley agreed while he followed Spike out, She was looking so forward to our union, I dont know if she will handle this well. Whatever Captain Cardboard, you can probably go now, I will break the news to her. Riley followed Spike down the stairs into the front entrance when he saw a small piece of paper lying on the ground right in front of the door. Leaning over to pick up the paper, Riley opened up the note and began to read its contents. His eyes opened in shock as his eyes followed the words that were written there. Crudely in scripted on the paper, the note read, WE HAVE YOUR DAUGHTER. WE WILL CONTACT YOU LATER WITH INSTRUCTIONS. DO ANYTHING RASH, AND SHE DIES. Rileys eyes shot up from the paper and tried to find Spike. Seeing him not too far away, he yelled, Spike, what did you do?!

What are you talking about, mate? he said as he walked back to Riley. Grabbing him by the throat, Riley spat, Werent you supposed to protect her and now looked what happened. Spike was barely able to respond as Rileys hand constricted around his neck. What are you talking about? Releasing his grip and throwing the paper in his face, Riley waited for a response from the other blonde man from the room after he read the note. The only words that came from his mouth as he read the note was, Oh bloody hell. ~~~ Every minute that went by during Buffys unconsciousness felt like an eternity to him. Angel refused to leave her side and wouldnt let go of her hand. He just held it and muttered soft prayers to himself the whole time. Some of the prayers were begging forgiveness while some prayed that she would soon open up her beautiful eyes. One of his prayers was answered as he felt her limp hand finally begin to squeeze his hand a little more. His heart increased its speed as she slowly stirred from her slumber. The palms of his hands became a little sweaty as she opened her eyes and turned them toward him. Angel saw the confusion in her eyes as they made a connection with his. Her eyes were asking so many questions, most of which Angel really didnt want to answer. Where am I? she asked softly. A friends house, was the only response that Angel could think of at the moment. What happened to me? The last thing I remember is seeing your face as someone grabbed me from behind. Dont worry, Buffy. We wont hurt you, Angel assured hoping that she would cease her questioning of him. What do you mean we? she asked as she removed her hand from his and quickly sat up in bed. We kidnapped you, he whispered bluntly. Hearing this Buffy became enraged. KIDNAPPED ME? WHAT FOR? she screamed. For the independence of the Irish Republic. It is kind of a long story, he said. Crossing her arms across her chest she sneered, Let me guess, you are an Irish revolutionary who was given a mission that involved me and you came a runnin. I guess not that long, he looked toward the floor after her response. I am sorry Buffy, I truly am. I never thought that my mission would involve you. Snapping back at him, Buffy said, Save your apologies, I dont want to hear them. Buffy turned away from him and looked toward the wall across the room. Using the bed as a support, Angel raised himself off the ground. Standing on his feet, he started to walk away from her. While walking away, he proclaimed one last time, Buffy I am so sorry. Buffy didnt watch him leave the room and shut the door behind him. She didnt watch but she felt the coldness of the room right after he left. The cold seeped into her chest as he heart cried out for Angel to return. Buffys head was telling him good riddance but her heart was sobbing. Angel had betrayed her trust but she couldnt hate him no matter how hard she tried. The only thing that she resolved to do now was to make sure to not to let Angel know how much he had hurt her. I will make his life hell, she vowed with slight hatred in her thoughts.

She resolved not to show any weak emotions but for now, she decided to give herself a break and let the tears rain down her face. Part X Spike raised his head from the note to look back at Riley. You are going to tell Hank, right? he asked. She was your responsibility to look after and protect, Riley accused. Raising his voice at Riley, Spike yelled, SHES YOUR BLOODY FIANCE, YOU DEAL WITH IT. Spike slapped the note back at Riley. Returning the gesture, Riley shoved the note back at Spike and yelled, You! No, you!! Spike responded quickly. YOU!!! Riley screamed again throwing the note back. The Summers household for the next few minutes was filled with the screams of Riley and Spike from downstairs. Their argument was only broken up when they heard a soft voice beckon from the stairs. Boys, boys, Joyce Summers scolded, what is going on here? A small smile flickered on her face with the sight in front of her. Joyce came down the stairs just in time to see Spike holding Riley in a headlock lowered closely towards the ground. What happened? she asked. Quickly breaking apart and standing up straight, the boys looked sheepishly at the ground for their actions that she had witnessed. Nothing, maam, Riley said with a slight rustic accent. Me and Spike were just wrestling in a peaceable manner and things just got a little out of hand. Spike, Joyce raised an eyebrow, is that true? Nodding his head and still looking at the floor, Spike responded, Yeah. Joyce knew that they werent telling her what really happened but she just was not in the mood to press the issue any further. Looking down at the watch that adorned her wrist, Joyce exclaimed, Spike, its cocoa time. Riley do you want to join? No thanks, maam, I should probably be heading out, Riley declined. You are really missing out, the cook just went out yesterday and bought a brand new supply of marshmallows, Joyce added. Spike perked up a little when hearing about the marshmallows. Turning towards Riley and slapping him in the shoulder, he said as a smirk traveled across his countenance, Oh well, soldier boy is just going to miss out on all the fun. Too bad for him. He walked away from Riley and put an arm around Joyce leading her towards the kitchen. While Spike led Joyce away from Riley, a question suddenly came from her mouth. Have you boys seen Buffy anywhere? Spike stopped suddenly in his tracks as Rileys posture turned ramrod straight. Buffy? Riley whispered as he felt the tattered and torn piece of paper burning in his palm. Yes Buffy, my daughter. Have you seen her lately? For a few awkward seconds not a sound came from anyones mouth. Spike tried to get Rileys attention by shaking his head at Rileys look that he was going to give Joyce the note. Come on, boys, where is she? Joyce asked with tension in her voice now. Seriousness saturated her face as she saw Riley extend his hand with the note towards her. Taking it from his hand, she opened it up to read what was inscribed on the crumpled piece of paper. As she read her eyes widened in shock. Her hands trembled as she gripped

the paper tighter and tighter. The trembling was too much and she felt the piece of paper slip from her fingers and slowly drift towards the floor. Collapsing against Spike, Joyce cried, Oh my God, my baby! We need to find Hank. ~~~ Everyone saw Angels pained face as he exited the room that Buffy was kept in. He looked so tired, more tired than they had ever since him. Walking up to him and placing a firm hand on Angels shoulder, Doyle said, Its ok man. Dont worry about her. Angel took his eyes off the floor for only a moment to stare icily back at Doyles. Whatever you say, he said sounding completely dejected. Could someone go in there and see if shes ok? Gunn stepped forward and nodded his head at Angels request. Sure, Ill go. Before walking towards Buffys room, Gunn heard Angel sigh loudly and hang his head a little lower. Hey man, dont worry. It will be ok, Gunn said as he turned the knob of her door and entered it. Angel felt so old at the moment. Every part of his body ached with the knowledge that he had hurt her. Shuffling across the room, Angel found a chair to sit on and he crumpled down into it. When Gunn entered her room, he saw Buffys small form sitting on top of the bed with her head resting upon her knees. Buffy heard him enter and she lifted her head to meet him revealing a wet part of her skirt soiled with the tears that she had been shedding ever since Angel left the room. Buffy wanted it to be Angel who came through the door and was disappointed to see a dark skinned man enter instead. Feeling more tears coming, she lowered her head again on her knees. Walking over to the bed where she was, Gunn went over and sat down beside her. The both sat in silence before Buffy softly spoke, You arent from Ireland are you? Nope, born and bred USA. The names Gunn, he answered. Lifting her head up to look at him, she said with excitement lacing her voice, America! Oh, how I wish I were there. Why are you here now? Why do you think? he asked but then quickly answered his own question, THE DRINKING, OF COURSE! Buffy couldnt help but to smile after his comment. No really why are you here? she asked with more seriousness in her voice. Well, its kind of a long story, he admitted. Looking from her right to left, she said, Its looks like I have plenty of time to hear it. Smiling at her, Gunn began his story. Well, where I grew up, I didnt get much opportunity to do anything with my life. I felt completely trapped due to the color of my skin. I would walk down the street and people would give me this stares just waiting to accuse me of some crime. I hated it and I knew that I had to do something. I left Los Angeles, where I am from, and went to Washington D.C. to see if I could talk to someone about this but no one would listen to me. But no one would listen to me no matter how loud I shouted! The only politician that gave me the light of day told me to just give up because it is worthless to fight discrimination. I left him and went straight to a bar in the hopes of drowning my sorrows in a big bottle of whiskey. Gunn paused for a moment there to look back at Buffy where she was sitting there listening intently. At that bar, there were a few people who were trying to get a group together to play

poker. I, being exceptionally intoxicated at that time, decided to join even though I couldnt really read the values on the cards all too well, Gunn laughed as his memory of that day came back to him. One of the guys at the table who was Irish ran out of money really quickly and in one hand he decided to put his ticket back to Ireland as a wager. Well, I won that hand, took the ticket, stumbled out the door and got on the slow boat to Ireland. And here you are? Buffy smiled. Yep. I met all the guys at a pub one night when I was just about to get pummeled by some big hairy guy that I spilt a little ale on. Angel and the others saved me from a few bruises and broken bones. Until I got my own place, Angel let me stay at his. Buffys face grayed as she heard Gunn mention Angels name. I guess hes your guardian angel then? she asked. You could probably say that, Gunn said as he saw the same pain on her face that he saw on Angels when he left the room. He helped me to get on my feet here and helped me escape from all the stuff that was going on in America. That makes us equals then, Buffy said with confidence as she looked at Gunn. Looking back at her in confusion, he asked, What? Escape. Angel just helped me escape a pretty confining situation that I was stuck in. Really, whats going on in your world? he inquired. Arranged marriage in a few weeks, she admitted. Oooooh, evil. I am sure he is very glad to help you with that one. Thinking to himself, As a matter of fact, I am sure he is glad to do that because he couldnt handle you getting married to anyone else besides him. Laughing to herself, Buffy said, I just hope that I can stay kidnapped and I dont ever have to go back. Are you going back to America anytime soon? Why? You looking for a ride? he chuckled. If you are offering, then that is a definite yes, she said with hope in her eyes. Shaking his head at her, Gunn said, Nope, I dont plan to go back for a long time. Sorry. Bowing her head again, she whispered, Thats ok. I like it here too much. I dont really want to leave. Just call me a Smoked Irishman for the rest of my life, he laughed as he saw a smile spread across her face at his nickname. Smoked Irishman? I like, she admitted looking back at Gunn. I am just letting you know that we are probably going to go to a pub later on this evening and I think you should probably come along, he offered. Sighing at his request, Watching over me? Not me. I know Angel would want to make sure you were alright. Angel? Why would he care? Im just his prisoner. No youre not. Just call yourself our honored guest for the time being, he laughed. Come to the pub with us. At least there you can get Angel really drunk and make him do whatever you want to do to him. When he is drunk, he would do anything you tell him to do. Thinking of the possibilities of all the things she could do to him, she relented and shook her head. I would be happy to go, she accepted. Good because I will need your help to think of new ideas for pranks to do to people, he laughed.

It would be my pleasure, she said as many different ideas flew through her mind over what she would do that night. Part XI With confidence radiating from each step, Buffy followed Gunn from out of the room to meet the rest of the gang. Her eyes traveled from right to left, evaluating each person until her gaze met the form of a crumpled man across the room. Angel sat there in that chair and stared blankly at the floor, he didnt even acknowledge her presence when she exited the room. Buffy stood frozen where she stood, her eyes not moving from Angel. He looked so tired and worn; her heart ached just to see him. She desperately wanted to run towards him, wrap her arms around his robust torso and never, ever let go. Tears began forming in her eyes, but then she heard someone say something to bring her out of the abyss of her thoughts. Xander, he approached the petite blonde. What? Buffy asked with her eyes still fixated on Angel. Xander, he repeated his name, is me. Finally looking at the dark haired man, Buffy greeted, Hi. Gunn, who still stood behind her, pointed out Doyle and introduced the two. Thats Allan Doyle, but everyone and their mothers call him Doyle, Gunn said. Doyle, hearing his introduction, tipped his hat to Buffy. Continuing, Gunn said, Oz is somewhere around here. This is his house. Hes the one with the red hair, right? Buffy asked. Answering for Gunn, Xander said, Red this week, next week who knows. Xander turned his attention to the man across the room, And Dead Boy over there is Angel. I think you two have probably already met. Buffys eyes met Xanders with confidence and she stated, No introduction necessary. Now turning to the whole group that waiting in Ozs living room, Hi, Im Buffy, but you all probably knew that already. Please to make your acquaintance, Doyle said to her. After all the introductions were made, the room blanketed itself again in a deafening silence. No one knew what to say and all Buffy could do is continue to stare at Angel and chew on her lower lip in nervousness. So, Xander said breaking the silence, what do you like to do? Tell us a little about yourself. What is this interrogation time for the hostage? Buffy quipped quickly back at Xander. Were sorry about that, just to let you know it isnt personal, its just business, Doyle apologized. Well, you know, To business that we love we rise bedtime, and go to't with delight, Buffy shrugged. Looking to her with utter confusion in his face, Xander responded, I think I speak for everyone here when I say huh? From across the room, Angel joined in the conversation with a whisper, A Shakespearean quote. Buffy likes reading his plays. Finally releasing himself from his near catatonic stage, Angel rose from his chair to move closer to her. His heartbeat increased with every step he took towards the woman of his dreams. Wow, Im impressed, she tossed back at him not intentionally sounding condescending

but thats how her words came out. As soon as the words left her mouth, Buffy saw the pained looked that Angel had written on his face. She wanted to say she was sorry but she would not, for now, give him the benefit of her wrong. So when do we leave? Buff said, suddenly changing the subject. Leave? Doyle asked, For where? I invited her to go with us to the pub tonight, I hope you dont mind, Gunn said to the group. Elbowing her lightly in the shoulder, he smiled, Just call her my date for the evening. Angel could not help the wave of jealousy and anger that rose in his throat at Gunns implication of being Buffys date. He forced himself to repeatedly clench and unclench his fists in the hopes that this action would decrease his chances of reaching out and murdering his friend in cold blood, right then and there. Noticing Angels body language, Buffy felt a smile spread across her face. Hes jealous, she thought to himself, he is so cute when he is jealous. We can go in a few minutes, Angel muttered behind gritted teeth. Oh, we have a party now, Xander joked, This ought to be fun! ~~~ Running as fast as her legs could carry her, Joyce ran upstairs to find her husband screaming the entire way. HANK! HANK! Joyce let no door shut as she slammed open every single one in the hopes of finding her husband inside one of the rooms. She needed to find him quickly and as one door after another opened to reveal nothing but an empty room, she felt more and more despair in her heart. The last door in the hall was the only one left and to her great fortune, there sat Hank Summers, sitting at one of the desks reading another one of his books. Hank, she panted from lack of breath, didnt you hear me call for you?! Joyce was quite surprised when he didnt respond right away to her question. Didnt why dont you answer me?! Slowly putting a folded piece of paper inside the book and closing it, Hank made eye contact with his wife. Sorry, I wanted to finish the rest of the page. What is it now? Its Buffy, she said with great concern. What about her? he responded with forced distress. Whats wrong? Briskly walking over to her husband, Joyce shoved the note under his nose. They have her. Reading the note and not paying to much attention to his wifes last comment, Hanks eyes flickered with the slightest hint of hatred. WHAT?? Where was Spike in all of this? He was in the kitchen. He said that Buffy must have walked outside for a few seconds and they took her then. Joyce spoke with fierce quickness in her voice and she was yet again confused at her husbands silent response to her heightened emotions. What are we going to do? Suddenly getting overtly angry, he yelled, Dont worry. I will put a letter in the newspaper about her disappearance and hopefully someone will respond to it with her whereabouts. And when I find out whoever did this, be certain, I will have their heads for this. ~~~ Finding a table at the pub that evening for some reason was quite a difficult task. The pub seemed to be busier than usual that night for some unknown reason.

Carrying back a couple of drinks from the bar, Xander slammed into at least 20 people on his way to the table. My God, what the bloody hell is going on tonight? he panted as soon as he placed the glasses down on the table. Its a mad house in here, Gunn said while he sat down at the small table. Is this table ok? Well, since it is the only one that is open, I guess it will have to do, Doyle answered bluntly as he moved around the table. We will just have to cram on in. Buffy, with her small size, was very efficient in scooting across the bench towards the opposite end of the table. Pushing herself towards that direction, she was stopped only by the presence of a large body that got in her way. Angel, she whispered as her body trembled just from bumping into him. Buffy, he said feeling the same as she. So, Buffy, what can I get you? Doyle asked getting up from his seat to walk towards the bar. I dont think that is a good idea, Angel answered for her bluntly. Just get her a water. Insulted by his intrusion, Excuse me? Did he ask you? she said while turning towards Angel with mock anger. Returning her attention back to Doyle, Ill have whatever you were going to have. Are you sure about that Buffy? Gunn asked with concern in his voice. Doyle drinks some pretty potent stuff. I can handle it, she responded confidently. Whoever said a rich girl cant drink? Not believing her argument, all the guys sat there and shook their heads. You dont believe me, do you? How much you want to bet that I can drink more than any of you? she asked with her eyebrows raised to the sky. Do I feel a challenge here? Gunn always is willing to take a challenge. I say you are on, little girl! Buffy nodded her head at his acceptance of the challenge and looked up just in time to see Doyle bring back a couple of shot glasses and a monstrous bottle of some type of liquor that she had never recognized before. Doyle placed the glasses in front of his friends and himself and began to pour the liquid out of the bottle into the glasses. Quickly snatching one up in her hand, Buffy cheered, Bottoms up! Her first drink burned her throat as it flowed down. Hacking harshly and putting a hand to her chest she prepared herself for another shot. The rest of the gang quickly joined her in this little game that she had just initiated. Not that long later, the whole gang had already finished off at least two bottles of this unknown liquor. Buffy was definitely feeling it too. Nothing seemed to stay in the same place as the world around her twisted and contorted into unusual and interesting shapes. Slurring slightly, Angel asked, Buffy, how many is that for you? Uh, Im thinking only six, Buffy responded then lifting up five fingers to wave in front of his face. Unable to control where her head was going, she suddenly leaned against Angels shoulder to hopefully stop the world from spinning from a few moments. Wow, Buffy, Doyle said with his forehead on the table, I am quite impressed with how many of those you have put away. Lifting her head, Buffy garbled, You see I know how to handle my liquor.

Yes, you, can, Xander said as he punctuated every word. You drink like you are a man. Buffy stumbled a little when she attempted to stand up and face Xander. But Im not a man am I? No, Im a lady. You are no lady, Xander said, too drunk to fully understand what he was saying back to her. Punching him in the shoulder, she became a little unbalanced on her feet and almost fell on the ground. Seeing this Xander burst into uncontrollable laughter. Feeling embarrassed and wanting Xander to stop laughing at her, Buffy stood up straight and punched Xander straight in the cheek, knocking him to the ground unconscious. Watching the little fight in front of them, Angel, Doyle, and Oz fell to the floor in an uproar of laughter. Joining in their laughter, Buffy fell to the floor and landed right on top of Angel. Through his laughter, Oz said, Someone should pick him up, we need to get him out of here. Ozs knees almost buckled underneath him as he got up to pick Xanders unconscious body off the ground. Doyle joined him and the two of them did their best to lift him from the ground. We are going to take him home. Angel, you and Buffy should probably go back to your house tonight, Doyle grunted slightly as he and Oz lifted Xander out towards the door. Sure thing, I will take good care of her, Angel responded while trying to get off the ground himself. Once he got to his feet, he lowered his hand to Buffy on the floor to help her up but while she was doing so, she almost brought him down with her. To steady her, Angel had to quickly grab her and place her against his chest. Her lips were so close to his face and they seemed to call to him to place his securely over hers. Buffy felt warmth go through her entire body as Angel held hers close to her chest. Her head was screaming to her to keep a distance between them but with the alcohol in her system, she wasnt lucid enough to pay attention. Without much hesitation, she placed Angels face between her hands and pulled his lips down to hers in a searing kiss. All control left both of their bodies as their tongues dueled inside their mouths. Emotions ran high, as Angels hands slowly caressed the sides of her body and the increasing itch that was present between his legs. Buffy relished the feelings that Angel caused to grow inside her body. She loved the feel of her hands softly caressing the short hairs on the back of his neck that stood on end. She never wanted to break this kiss but her desperate necessity for oxygen told her otherwise. Breaking quickly only to catch their breath, the two met each other in another passionate kiss. This kiss was broken for a few seconds periodically, only to catch their breath. All the way to Angels house, the two were entangled in each other and nothing seemed to break down their passion. // Denotes dream// Part XII The sun rose the next morning just like any other, slowly jarring the young American husband from his peaceful slumber in the arms of his new wife. Entangling her from his body, he lifted himself from the bed to go to get the daily newspaper. A small smile spread across his face as he heard his wife grumble softly and turn over in the hopes of not having to wake up from her sleep. Shuffling quietly away from the bed, he exited their room and retrieved the paper that was laid out on the doormat of their outside door. The young man quickly unfolded the

front page and had to adjust his newly awoken eyes to the small print that was scattered on the front. Blinking several times to take the tiredness from his face, he caught sight of the large print that was placed in the center of the page. Rapidly skimming the article under the large heading, fear rose in his body as his hands began to tremble. Whispering aloud to himself, he read, KIDNAPPED!! He quickly folded the paper back in half and ran back to where his wife still lay motionless. Honey, honey, you have to read this, he said while placing a gentle hand on her shoulder trying to make her open her eyes to greet him. Honey, please. Grumbling in a sleepily fashion, Just five more minutes, Dad. Come on, sweetie. I need you to read this, he said as he moved the newspaper closer to her face. She groggily opened her eyes to look at her husband that was sitting on the edge of their bed, trying to wake her up. Whats so earth shattering that you need to wake me up from my beauty rest? she smiled at him weakly. A young British girl was kidnapped yesterday afternoon, he read from some of the first lines in the article. It is believed that Irish revolutionaries were the ones that did this. The wife heard what her husband was saying and suddenly she was jarred awake by his words and the fear behind those words. Does it say what happened? Skimming the article one more time, he answered, No, not really. It just says that a lot of the British community in Dublin is outraged by this act and want blood. Just over some girl? she asked in confusion. Not just any girl. Buffy Summers was kidnapped. She none other than the only daughter of Hank Summers, he responded bluntly. Hank Summers, as in THE Hank Summers. The lead British official in Dublin? she asked with surprise and fear in her voice. The one and only. The article says that with the uprising a couple of days ago brought a whole slew of British soldiers here and they are going to be commissioned soon to start sweeping the streets to find her, he said while looking at the paper. That cant be good. There is going to be a lot more bloodshed on these streets if that happens. Fear was quite evident in her voice. And I feel so sorry for Buffy. She must be so scared right now. ~~~ //Warm heat spread throughout her body as she felt his searing touch upon her skin. This was her first taste of heaven in his arms. She found herself completely lost in his embracing kisses that he traveled from her supple lips, across her cheek to the back of her ear, down the length of her silky throat, to her chest where he placed soft kisses in the valley between her breasts. She moaned in ecstasy as he took her turgid nipple in his mouth and swirl his welleducated tongue around the tip. She arched herself towards him enticing him to maintain his sensual administrations to her body. She ground her hips into his body as his lips and hands completely took over all of her thoughts and feelings. She felt his firm gentle hands slowly make their path down to her dripping wet heat where he began to brush lightly against the naked lips of her open sheath. One then two fingers dipped into her body as she began to shudder under the glorious feelings that his touch created in her. He tenderly massaged her engorged clitoris, making the heat of her body rise to blistering proportions.

Her peak was rapidly approaching as her hands reached down and started caressing his raging erection. Very carefully and softly, her fingertips caressed the its rounded head and down its turgid, tumescent shaft. She could hear a soft moan come from his mouth as he arched himself into her small hand. I need you inside me, she whispered breathily into his ear as her tongue swirled around all of its crevices. Moving his hands away from her tight heat, he grabbed onto her small hips and positioned her legs so that his body rested between her warm thighs. She opened herself wider and wider preparing her body for his entry. She felt him slowly entering her compliant body with such grace and love. Her body was screaming in euphoria as his length filled her completely. The pain of his entry in her wet sheath was quickly overcome by the powerful pleasure that radiated through her body as he slowly and methodically began to move in and our of her. She wanted to scream in utter bliss as every one of his thrusts jutted him inside her body and flush up against her cervix. Never had she felt this way before, completely whole. She had absolutely no idea where he ended and she began as they performed their erotic dance. Both their climaxes were coming in earth shattering force as he began to thrust harder and harder into her body. She met every one of these thrusts by slamming her open hips into his. Her arms wrapped around his strong torso and she grated her fingernails harshly across the smooth skin of his back leaving dark red trails in their wake. Just one more strong thrust and it would be it for them. The heat that radiated from their supple bodies was too much and it caused an explosive feeling that spread throughout both as his warm seed flooded her insides. She felt completely lost in all the emotions that coursed throughout her body as every fiber of her being sang for joy. Not removing himself from her tight heat, he caught her smooth lips in a passionate kiss. Tongues dueled inside their mouths mimicking the dance that they bodies had just performed. Coming up for a moment for breath, she heard his velvety voice whisper into her small ear. I love you, she heard him say. I love you, too, Angel.// Buffys eyes shot open as she felt her chest heave up and down. She shut her eyes again and the images of her dream played on her closed eyelids with complete clarity. Her body felt the heat that was coursing through her veins and her mind whirled with confusion over what the dream was telling her. They seemed so real but she knew that they had to be a dream, only in her dreams were anything that close to perfection. Buffy did not remember what happened last night as so many things slammed into her mind. How much did I drink last night, she thought and smiled to herself as a headache slowly began to pound inside her skull. If it was just the dream or what happened last night, Buffy found herself completely content laying there peacefully. With a smile on her face, she started to stretch out all of the sore muscles that ached in her body. Her eyes closed yet again as her back arched backwards. But a muscular wall blocked her stretching movements. Her eyes suddenly shot open as she felt the warmth radiate from the naked chest that her back was leaning against. Only then did she feel her nakedness under the covers of this bed. She moved her hand from

where it lay next to her face, down towards her thighs and hips. Reaching behind her, she felt a smooth leg flush against her naked backside. Then suddenly she felt a strong arm wrap around her small waist and pull her closer to the body that lay, also naked, behind her. This arm brought her small body flush against his and she felt herself unintentionally molding to the form that held onto her tightly. At his touch, the pleasure that she felt in that dream yet again began to radiate through her body and she felt her eyes close again under the safety of his embrace Her heart felt completely content but then her mind caught up with her. Oh. My. God, she whispered to herself as she felt his warm breath travel across her skin making her whole body trembled. Part XIII Oh. My. God, were the three words that Buffy kept on muttering under her breath. She didnt want to leave his warm and loving embrace but she couldnt force herself to stay there either. Her heart was content where her head stirred with fear and confusion. This confusion was not helped by the fact that her head was still swimming with its hangover of last nights drinking binge. Buffy began to squirm under his strong arm trying to release herself from his grasp, but with every motion, he held onto her tighter. Dont go, she heard him whisper behind her still deeply asleep. Angel, she said while turning inside his embrace. Angel, you need to get up. Buffy commanded Angel to open his eyes with a soft whisper, but he paid no attention to her command. With her head laying gently on the muscular surface of his chest, she reached around him with her hands and tried to nudge him awake but that didnt even work. Maybe if I beat you over the head with a shovel, you would wake up, but then I have to get up to get a shovel which you wont allow me to do, she chastised him. For a couple of seconds after trying to nudge him awake, she laid there peacefully with her head resting forward against his chest. She enjoyed listening to his strong heartbeat and deep breath while lying there next to him. There seemed to be nothing that would wake him from his slumber but then Buffy decided that drastic measures are needed to wake her sleeping lover. Moving her face from his chest, she met his warm lips with her own in a gentle, insecure kiss and slowly he began to respond to that kiss. Buffy knew that he was waking because he started to move his hands up her back to entangle themselves in her golden tresses. Both felt the kiss deepen dramatically as he groggily opened his eyes to greet the young woman that slept at his side. Angel felt like there had to be some drummer inside of his brain that was causing the rhythmic sounds that played there. The pounded was so distracting that he at first didnt realize whose hazel eyes were gazing up at him. Angel had to blink his eyes numerous times to understand what was going on around him. Buffy? he mumbled. Good morning, she responded not moving her lips that far away from his. Whats going on? he asked in confusion. I think the alcohol last night got the better of us, she stated with a bitter tone. Moving his face down to look at their blatant nakedness then looking back up into her eyes with astonishment. Oh. My. God! he accentuated breathily. What happened last night? I think it is pretty obvious, she admitted.

Oh my God, Buffy. I am so sorry, he apologized with sincerity in his voice. I am so, so sorry. Angel released his hold of her as she moved away from him on the bed. She kept her eyes on him the whole time he apologized and she was quite moved by the sincerity in his voice and the gentle look that was in his eyes. As she lay there she fell deeper and deeper into the abyss of his dark eyes. Reaching her hand up to caress the side of his face, she smiled in forgiveness. Noticing her forgiveness, a smile spread across his face. They laid there on that bed in silence just enjoying their closeness. Finally breaking the silence, Buffy asked, So, uh, what do we do now? Angel shook his head and said, I dont know. Staring into his eyes, she started saying, Angel, I lov He quickly interrupted her, This was a mistake. We cant ever let this happen again. Tears began to brim her eyes as she heard his words. Buffys heart was breaking into a million pieces for the second time in the past couple of days. Um, yes, I agree. Then an uncomfortable stillness spread between the two lovers. Can I use your shower, she asked quickly. Sure, he said then arose from the bed, leaning down to the floor to find his pants that were crumpled there from the night before. I will get you a towel, he mumbled not looking back at Buffy who wrapped herself in the bed sheet and started walking behind him towards his bathroom. Picking up a towel in his hand and turning to give it to her, Angel refused to look into her beautiful green eyes. Here, he said still looking towards the floor and moving out of her way so that she can take a shower. Angel turned around and walked out the door, shutting the door as he left. Why did I just tell her that? he thought to himself as he heard the water start to run. He wanted to run back into his bathroom, take her in his arms again and never let go. Moving towards the farthest away spot away from the bathroom door, he leaned up against the wall and muttered, God, Buffy, I love you. He could barely remember what happened last night, but what he did remember was the feeling of absolute perfection. Lying there in her arms was where he wanted to be and without her, he felt so cold and lonely. He shuffled through his house in an unconnected state from the world. Nothing seemed real anymore because he had lived the dream of her. Only in that dream was there reality and now since he had made the mistake of calling what they did a mistake, his reality crumbled. Alone with his thoughts he wandered the house not able to stand still until an unexpected visitor came through his door. Where is she? Xander asked with a sense of fury written all over his body. Where is who? Angel naively said, trying to hide her because he saw what Xander looked like when he stepped through Angels door. You know who I am talking about. Buffy!! Where is she? Xander asked again with a heightened voice. Shes in the shower, Angel answered nonchalantly. Turning to face his friend, Angels brow furrowed into his forehead, What are you doing here, Xander? Oh, I dont know. I think it may have been the fact that when I woke up this morning I had no idea what happened last night. I thought I must have gotten into some big fight or

something because my jaw bloody hurt. I went over to Doyles house and asked him what happened. And do you know what he did? Xander asked with excitement in his voice. I have no idea, Angel admitted not really paying attention to his friend. He fell to the floor laughing at me. He told me that Buffy punched me last night and knocked me unconscious. Oh yeah, Angel remembered a little bit of what happened at the pub then started laughing at Xander. Yeah, yeah very funny, Xander said in annoyance. And you came over here to do what? Angel asked through his chuckles. Stopping and thinking to himself for a moment, Xander admitted, I dont know. I guess I thought I would come and give her a piece of my mind! I would probably curb that impulse because you never know she might get angry at you and knock you unconscious again. Angel turned away from his friend and started to walk towards his kitchen to get some breakfast made for him and Buffy as soon as she got out of the shower. Watching Angel as he turned from him, Xander yelled, Jesus, Angel. What did you do to piss her off last night, too? Turning swiftly on the balls of his feet, Angel looked at his friend with wide eyes. I, uh, we, nothing, he stumbled trying to cover up what was going through his mind. Why do you ask? he abruptly asked. I dont know. Your back is all scratched up and everything. It looks like you got in a fight with a very large cat or Buffy decided inside of using fists, she used her nails, Xander exclaimed stepping closer to his friend placing a hand on his back. Oh, those, Angel tried to think of something that would cover up the truth of where those scratches came from, Buffy passed out last night and while I was walking her back to my house, I stumbled backward and fell onto a bush. He looked Xander straight in the eye trying to cover up his really obvious lie. Those arent tree branch scratches those look like my back after Anya and I Xander started saying but then was interrupted by the presence Buffy wrapped only in a towel coming into Angels living room. Buffy was walking toward Angel with a tattered dress in her hand and was going to start to say something but then quickly stopped after she noticed the other man in the room. Jumping back a couple of feet and feeling her heart and breath quicken, she panted, Xander, what are you doing here? Just coming over to give you a piece of my mind, Xander said matter-of-factly. Why did you punch me last night? I PUNCHED YOU!? she asked with a shocked tone to her voice. I dont remember doing that, if I did I am really sorry, Buffy said with a smile spreading across her face. For some reason she found this situation that she was in completely hilarious. Her she is standing in the middle of her kidnappers house, wearing only a towel and looking at a poor man with a bluish-black welt raised across his chin line. Buffy saw Xanders uneasiness as she stood in front of him and decided to lighten up the room a little. If I did punch you like that, I am sure you probably desired it. Angel laughed at Buffys comment and Xander found him staring at her icily. You probably did deserve it, Angel nodded agreeing with Buffy. Xander looked down and noticed Buffys ripped dress in her clenched hand. Howd

your dress get all torn like that? he asked quickly changing the subject. Buffys eyes got wide in fear as Xander asked his question. Well, uh, when Angel was walking me home, we, uh she said but was interrupted by Angel who began to answer for her. She fell in the bush with me too. My back is all scratched and her dress got torn, he covered for her. Buffy turned towards him and gave him a look that radiated, THANK YOU!! Xander totally went along with both of their lives even though he knew that something was up. He didnt know what exactly, but he was pretty sure that sometime, someone would just burst and out would come everything. Part XIV Both Buffy and Angel had never felt so awkward in their entire lives. Buffy in her bath towel and Angel trying everything to conceal his true feelings for the woman he loved were almost unbearable as Xander stood in the middle of the room just staring at them. So, umm, Angel. What are we going to do about my dress that was, umm, torn by the bush? Buffy attempted to break the awkward silence by making conversation but that didnt relieve the uncomfortable air that stirred around her. Well, the, umm, bush probably ruined it, so we will probably have to get you a new one, Angel studdered as he kept his eyes off of the blonde woman in his living room. He knew that he couldnt look at her without wanting to run and take her into his arms. Her presence around him was just too much, her aroma wafted towards his nostrils where he breathed her in deeply, just like he had last night. Her scent was intoxicating and Angel craved for more, but he didnt want to give in how wrong he was before so he stood there firmly planted on his feet. Umm, Xander could you run to Ozs house and get a dress for Buffy or maybe she could borrow one of Cordys dresses. Sure, Xander responded as he turned to walk out the door. The tension in the room was almost more than he could bare and he knew that he had to get out of there. Buffy and Angel were left alone in the room together and both refused to make eye contact with each other. The just looked at the floor and stood in silence. Finally breaking the silence, Buffy said sweetly, You know, we cant keep on acting like this in front of your friends, they will figure out what happened to us last night. Angel smiled and raised his eyes to meet her beautiful form. He was captivated by the glow that her silky skin seemed to radiate. The little droplets of water that still clung to her skin reflected the light that shone into the room and twinkled on the walls were the rays bounced off. She completely captivated him and he could barely force breath to come in and out of his lungs. Well think of something, he said just above a breathy whisper. Buffy nodded her head and turned around to go back into the room that she and Angel shared last night. Walking back in and closing the door behind her, she went over to the bed and gently sat down on the still warm sheets. She gingerly ran her fingertips across the cotton sheets and picked up one of the pillows that were at the head. Lifting the pillow up to her face, she breathed in deeply. Angels pillow, she thought to herself as his smell brought her back to the events of the previous evening. Buffy took the pillow from her face and hugged it close to her chest, wishing that it was Angel that she held in her arms, not just something that he touched. She felt tears begin to form again in her eyes even though she thought that she had cried her last drop while in the shower.

Thank God the shower was loud, she thought. If he would have heard me crying, I dont know what I would do. With the pillow still placed firmly on her chest, she rested her face back into its soft folds and began to cry again. Buffy cried for several minutes before she was quickly jerked out of the pillow by the sound of someone walking through the door. You must be Buffy, the red haired woman walked up to her with a beautiful deep purple gown in her hands. Thatd be me, Buffy whispered. Are you Cordelia? Are you two talking about me already, a loud voice came into the room. I dont even know you all that well and Willow is already brewing the gossip. Thats Cordelia, the red haired woman turned to glare at the young burnette that just graced them with her presence. Im Willow, she said while pointing at her chest. Nice to meet both of you, Buffy couldnt suppress a smile that was forming on her face at these two completely opposite people standing in the room with her. Looking down at the dress that Willow hung in her hands, Buffy whispered, Did Xander come and ask you if I could borrow that? Yes, Willow said and extended it to her but was quickly cut off by Cordy intercepting it. You know, Will. That dress doesnt match her color at all. She needs more pastels, Cordy critiqued as she extended a soft yellow dress in Buffys direction. Who asked you? Willow said with a smile on her face. No one. I just enjoy handing out fashion advice. It is my calling in life, Cordy responded matter-of-factly. Besides, with her light hair, I think lighter colors just matches better. I was thinking about going blonde once, but then I thought how horrible I would look so I decided not to attempt anything. I think I like you better with dark hair, Buffy stated as she moved a little over on the bed to allow Cordy to sit next to her. Im with Buffy on that one, Willow agreed. Do you need any help with that? she asked Buffy while pointing towards the dress. No, but thanks anyway, Buffy stood up with the dress clutched in her hand and she made her way to the closet where she could dress with some privacy. Buffy heard silence spread across the room as she made her way out of sight. You know, I think it is horrible what the guys did to you, Cordy said loudly enough for Buffy to hear. Last night I smacked Doyle on the back of the head for his stupidity. Are you scared? Willow asked with concern. Buffys voice came through the door of the closet, Actually, no. I am kind of relieved to get out of my house for a while. WHAT?! the two girls said at once. Yeah, I know it doesnt make much sense at the moment, but it is the truth. Arranged marriage is just one thing that I dont want to deal with ever, Buffys voice suddenly turned bitter. Let me guess, complete nincompoop, Cordy wondered. Captain Cardboard, lets just say. Oh, that not good, Willow said as Buffy came out of the closet wearing Cordys dress. Being shocked by her appearance, Willow conceded, I have to admit, Cordy. I think you were right about the color.

Was there any doubt? Cordy smirked proudly. I know that Angel will like that dress on you. No, no he wont, Buffy, responded quickly as she attempted to cover up the blushing on her cheeks at hearing his voice. Oh, come on, Buffy. You are going to knock his socks off with that outfit, maybe even more than that, Cordy huffed. Ah, no socks or clothing will be lost, let me guarantee that, Buffy shot out as her cheeks turned bright crimson. Buffy, are you alright? Willow asked after noticing Buffy slight change of color. Oh yeah, I fine. No problems here, Buffy answered rapidly not looking either of them in the eye. She just kept her eyes on the bed that she shared with Angel. You like him, dont you? Cordy said as a smile crept across her face. There has to be something going on between you two for you to be acting so nervous. No, nothing is going on, Buffy tried to calm her nerves but her efforts were fruitless. Was it your first time? Cordy asked bluntly knowing something must have happened last night between them. Excuse me? Buffy turned to the dark hair woman that still sat on the bed but her posture was straight. Was it your first time making love? Cordy pushed Buffy for an answer. What makes you think that? Buffy asked innocently. You cant fool me, I have seen this too many times before. I know how to read people, well, sometimes when I am not looking at their clothes and I can tell that you two did something last night. Is it that obvious? Buffy muttered under her breath. I KNEW IT!!! Cordy yelled. I am so good it is almost scary. You do scare me, Cordy, Willow rolled her eyes at her friend. Willow, I knew when you and Oz made love before you to got married, didnt I? Cordy said with a cocked eyebrow. That was one of the most embarrassing moments in my life, especially when you had to bring that out in front of my parents, Willow admitted. I wanted to kill you. So, Buffy, tell me something. Was it good? Cordy asked excitedly. Thats a little rude, Willow scolded. Be quiet, I am curious. Us girls have to must talk about this sort of stuff, I think that is a rule or something. You read that in a handbook? Willow asked. Probably, she shrugged. So tell me honestly, how was it? Unbelievable, from what I remember. I wasnt exactly sober last night, Buffy admitted with a smile on her face. But it was a mistake. A mistake! What are you talking about? Cordy said with confusion in her voice. It can never happen again, Buffy said bluntly as tears brimmed her eyes. Why? I can tell you like him, whats the problem? Cordy continued. I was just about to tell Angel how I felt and he interrupted me and told me that this was a mistake, Buffy started to cry. Oh. My. God! Men, I just dont understand them sometimes, Willow said in shock over what Buffy was saying to them. Buffy flopped backwards on the bed and turned to have her sobbing face pressed into the

bed sheets. Dont worry, Buffy. Everything will turn out alright, Willow said as she scooted backwards and stroked the blondes shoulder. Until then, I get dibs on whacking him over the head with something large and heavy, Cordy said with an evil smirk across her face. Part XV You are going to have to face him sometime, Cordy said through the many tears that Buffy was shedding while her face was implanted in the comforter on the bed. He was the dumbass, and we will make him see that. Buffy ceased her sobs for a couple of seconds to rise from her position and look straight at the brunette to nod in her direction. Willow reached up to Buffys face and tenderly wiped away the tear streaks that stained her face. And, besides, you dont want to face him with teary face, not very appealing, Cordy said bluntly and chuckled a little. Red eyes dont go with your complexion. Both Buffy and Willow laughed right along with her statement. Thanks you for listening to me. I really needed someone to talk to about this, Buffy said with relief in her voice. Oh, dont thank us yet, we have some things to do before you will be fully satisfied, Cordy winked at Willow who had a thoughtful gleam in her eye. So, you ready to face the beast? Willow asked. Ready as I will ever be, Buffy responded as the three girls lifted themselves off the bed to start to walk out the door to meet the rest of the gang. The three girls opened up the door to find Xander, Oz, Angel, Gunn, and Doyle all standing around Angels living room in deep conversation about the paper that they shared amongst themselves. Xander, wheres Anya? Willow quickly asked wondering where her best friends wife was. Lifting his eyes off of the paper for only a moment to look at the red head, he answered nonchalantly, Working. Why that girl works as much as she does absolutely blows my mind. So, when are you going to learn from your wife and start working instead of hanging around with these same people all the time, Cordy raised an eyebrow. Hey, I work, Xander lifted the paper and pointed it at his ex-girlfriend. We all work hard on this project. Whats in the paper? Buffy asked innocently. Nothing much, Angel said with fear in his eyes that Buffy could read like a book. Whats going on? Buffy asked more sternly. The English are stabilizing troops around Dublin to rake through the town to find a missing person, Doyle answered for his friend who couldnt seem to find words at the moment as he stared at the beautiful woman in the pale yellow dress that clung to all the right curves. Ah, let me guess, they are looking for me, Buffy returned with sarcasm. Well, that should teach you boys that it is bad to kidnap people, Willow shook a finger at the group of males still huddled in a circle. Shame on you. So, Angel-man what are we going to do? Gunn asked ignoring the red heads scolding. We should probably keep a low profile for the next week or so, then we will see what is going to happen, Angel commanded as his eyes traveled off of the beautiful blonde back

to the paper in front of him. He was concentrating so hard on his thoughts and the fact that these people wanted to take her away from him, he didnt notice the Cordelia and Willow walk closer to the group while Buffy kept a sure distance from Angel. As soon as Cordy was behind Angel, she immediately moved her hand up and promptly smacked Angel on the back of the head. What was that for??! Angel asked with confusing as he reached up and massaged his head where her palm made painful contact with his scalp. What was what for? Cordy asked innocently as the other girls in the room could hardly control the laughter that rose in their throats. Willow did you see anything? Shaking her head in disagreement, she answered, No, what happened Angel? A low growl came out of his mouth as he turned away from the girls back to the situation at hand. Letting his anger soften a little before speaking again, Angel commanded, Ok, heres the plan. Everyone stay out of public as much as possible unless it is necessary for you to leave. Cordelia huffed at Angels command but before she could argue Doyle turned towards her and took her hand in his and he began to slowly massage the back of her hand with the soft pad of his thumb. Sorry, Delia. I think this is for the best even though I know you will get serious cabin fever by staying out of the public. Consenting to him, Cordy nodded in agreement and remained silent (probably the first time in her entire life). Whats going to happen when the troops come through town? Oz asked to the group. I wouldnt be surprised for even more bloodshed than before, Xander confirmed. We are talking about full fledged war. So thats why we have to stay low and hopefully, they will just go away. Ah, the traditional Xander method of fighting. He laughs in the face of danger then hides and hopes it goes away, Cordy joked and the entire room began to fill with laughter, all except for Buffy. I am thinking I am out of the loop here, Buffy shrugged. I have no idea what you are talking about. You will figure out soon learn little things about us when you are around us for too long period of time, Willow laughed. Not bad things, just interesting. Will I be able to use some of these things for blackmail later? Buffy asked. Maybe, probably the best one you could use would be the Angel getting a tattoo on his back story. That one was a classic, you should see it sometime Doyle started saying but was abruptly stopped by Angel. Doyle, dont you even dare tell her about that, Angel grew a little red in the face because of the embarrassment that he felt. Dont worry, already saw it on his back last night, Buffy said before she considered what she was saying. Realizing what she just said, she blushed slightly as she saw Angels eyes open widely to look back at her in fear. And how did you know about the tattoo? Xander asked with interest. The bush, she answered quickly recovering for her mistake. His shirt got torn and I saw his back. Willow and Cordy just stood back from this situation and felt a laugh coming on again. They knew that Buffy was trying to hide what happened last night and not doing a very good job of it at the moment. Noticing the blondes distress as all eyes were on her,

Cordy quickly changed the subject, So when should this plan begin? Sooner is better than later, Gunn answered. Everyone except for Buffy and Angel started filing out of his house as they began the plan of living discretely for the next week or so. Once alone, a sense of awkwardness filled the room as the two just stared at each other. Nice recovery on that one, Angel finally said breaking the silence. Thanks, Buffy shrugged. So what are we going to be doing this week? I dont know, but I think we can figure out something, Angel said trying not to imply the idea of wasting away the time being entwined in each others arms all week. Thats what he wanted, but you cant always take what you want because things can turn awful if you would act upon want. Oh goody, Buffy sighed then muttered under her breath, This is going to be a very, very long week. ~~~ The entire week went as soon as can be expected due to the awkwardness that each felt when around the other. The electricity and tension in the room was close to palpable and they could barely suppress their wants for each other. Every morning Angel would wake up from the couch that he would sleep upon and walk over to the room where Buffy slept. Silently opening up the door to watch her beautiful form lay in a peaceful rest, he marveled at her exquisite body. His body screamed at him wanting him to lie down next to her and hold her small body inside his strong arms. Angel remembered their glorious night together and couldnt help to feel like he wanted a repeat performance between them. That one night opened up his eyes and he knew that he really loved her. Love her completely heart, body, and soul; and nothing could stop him from loving her but he couldnt tell her that. Walking away from the door and shutting it, Angel turned to go back to his cold couch. He walked a few steps out of the doorway before he heard her feet move quickly across the room. Entering the room once again, he couldnt find her anywhere so he decided to go towards the bathroom door and softly rapt on it. Buffy, are you alright? Angel whispered with concern through the door. He didnt hear a response from her so he decided to turn the knob on the door and check if she was ok. Angel was shocked to find her sitting beside the toilet with the pale trail of vomit on her small chin. She quickly reached up to wipe away the remnants of her being sick and turned away from Angels concerned form standing over her. What happened? Angel asked as he crouched down to be closer to her. Must have eaten something bad last night, Buffy said as she felt nausea overcome her again. Angel reached over, placed a comforting hand on the swell of her back and slowly began to massage it. Moving quickly away from his hand, she whispered, Dont touch me. Part XVI Buffy, whats wrong? Angel asked again as he tried with everything in his power not to reach out and touch the woman he loves. He couldnt stand being there in that room with her and not touch her beautiful form or look longingly into her expressive eyes.

Nothing is wrong, Buffy whispered harshly as her face was still held over the bowl, just in preparation for another attack on her stomach. Please go away, Angel, she thought to herself. I dont want you to see me like this. No, something is wrong, Angel said more sternly. If nothing is wrong you will look me straight in the eye and tell me so. Buffy lifted her head slightly to turn her bloodshot eyes in his direction. Nothing is wrong, she answered icily. Well, is there anything you need me to do, he asked with concern laced in his voice. No, I can handle myself. Just leave, she commanded turning her attention away from Angels burning eyes. Angels heart shattered at the cold words that just came from her beautiful mouth. He knew that she was upset with him and he felt that there was nothing for him to do besides do as she pleases. Standing up from his crouched position next to her, Angel stood up and turned to walk away from the frail woman that still lay there on his bathroom floor. Im sorry, Buffy, he muttered softly under his breath not allowing her to hear his voice and he walked out of the bathroom to his designated couch. Lying there down on the couch, his thoughts were filled with concern for Buffy who was obviously ill and yet he didnt know what to do. She wouldnt let him do anything to help her and he felt so lost. Why wont you let me help you? he thought to himself as he stared up at the ceiling. Angel could almost feel the pain that she was feeling and at first he was sad over her response to him, but then he just got angry. He abruptly sat up from where he lay and stared down the door that he had shut behind him. Determined, he stomped towards the door and firmly yelled, Buffy, we need to talk But his harsh words were stopped suddenly when he saw Buffy lying on the cold tile floor, as pale as a ghost and curled up in a small ball next to the bathroom tub. Oh My God, he whispered in shock at the appearance of his love lying there on the floor. Buffy, what is going on? Towering over her with slightly slumped shoulders, Angel tried to pour as much compassion in his voice and the look in his eyes as he could muster. I told you, that you should just leave, she breathed as tears began to run down her cheeks. No, I wont accept that, Angel said as he leaned over and took the petite blonde in his strong arms and cradled her to his chest. There is something wrong here. Her mind was screaming at his touch because even though she was supposed to be angry with him for what he did to her, a feeling of such love and security ran through her and she felt like she was being betrayed. Buffy wriggled slightly trying to release herself from his grip but he only held onto her tighter as she moved. Knowing that further struggling against him would be fruitless, Buffy let her heart take control and allow Angel to lift up her body and carry her back to bed. She snuggled further into his chest as he brought her back to the bed where she slept. Involuntarily, Buffy wrapped her arms tight around Angels body and held him close. Having him hold her like this, she felt at home and the only time that she had felt this way was when she was with him a week ago. She was so moved by his gentleness that tears began to yet again roll down her cheeks. Angel softly placed her back on the bed and moved the covers out of the way to tuck her

tightly inside their warm folds, leaving a little space for him to climb into the bed with her. He quickly moved underneath the covers next to her and wrapped both their bodies inside the comforter. Buffy was surprised suddenly when he lay on the bed behind her and tenderly enveloped her trembling body in his strong arms. Her breath caught in her throat as she moved her body slightly to burrow deeper into his warm chest. Her tense body slowly began to relax as she started to feel sleep overcome her small form inside his loving embrace. A small smile crept across her face as she drifted into unconsciousness and before she finally shut her eyes she whispered softly, I love you. For a long time, Angel just laid there behind her with his arms encircling her waist. He heard her fall back asleep and he felt himself doing the same but he knew that he had to get a doctor to check her over to make sure she was all right. After a few moments when he knew that she fell asleep, he unwillingly untangled himself from her and rose to go get help. Angel knew that he had to get a doctor to help her out but first he decided to get Cordelia and Willow, maybe they could help her out. ~~~ Walking quickly over to Doyles house, Angel urgently pounded on his front door hoping that someone would quickly answer the door. He had to forcefully place his hands in his pockets after knocking at least 20 times because he wanted to rapt on the door some more, but decided that he should work on his patience at the moment. His thoughts were constantly on Buffy and the sound of the unlatching of the door lock brought him out of his reverie. Angel, what are you doing here? Doyle groggily asked with his hair in disarray for just waking up. It is too early to be doing this. Is Cordy here? Angel asked urgently. Doyle suddenly perked up as soon as he caught the sound of stress in his friends normally calm voice. Angel, whats wrong? Pushing past him, Angel stormed into his house. Something is wrong with Buffy and I thought maybe Cordy could help her. Staring at his friend incredulously, Angel did you have too many drinks last night or something? Doyle, I am serious. Something is wrong. Ok, I will get her but I am warning you if you wake her up from her daily beauty rest too early, you will be forced to meet the wrath of my wife, Doyle shrugged as he traveled back into their bedroom. Angel stood in his hallway, looking down at the floor and playing nervously with his hands in front of his body. His mind was going a mile a minute trying to think of different things that could be happening to her. The thought of her being ill frightened him. Medicine was not very developed and the idea of losing her was too much for him. Knowing that these thoughts jumped the gun, he couldnt help to be worried that she could die from this and he would never be able to tell her that he loved her with everything that he was made of. Ok, Brood-boy, why on Gods green earth would you come over to my house at the ass crack of dawn and make my husband drag my ass out of bed, it had better be a really dire reason, Cordelia said as anger flooded her voice.

Snapping from his thoughts, he turned towards her and said, Buffys sick, could you stay with her while I get Willow and a doctor. Cordelias anger was suddenly ceased as she heard the pain that was in his voice. Feeling a joke coming on, she sighed and nodded, If she isnt dying, I am going to kill you. Thanks, Cordy. I will owe you one. Why dont you go to the doctors now and I will get Willow. We will meet you at your house, that sound ok? Cordelia asked as she moved towards her bedroom to get on appropriate attire. Fine. See you there, Angel said as he almost sprinted out their front door to go and get a doctor. What do you think is wrong with her? Doyle asked as he placed a strong hand on her shoulder. Shaking her head at her husband, she said, I dont know, but I think I may have an idea. ~~~ Buffy woke up from her slumber only to find that Angel had left her side. All the warmth that she had collect while she slept seemed to drain completely out of her. She felt tears come towards her eyes again but then was suddenly stopped as Cordelia and Willow came bursting into her room with an older man in a tweed suit right behind them. Buffy, how are you feeling? Willow asked as she sat next to her on the bed and placed her hand in hers. What is going on? Buffy asked in confusion. I called the doctor here to check if you are sick, Angel said as he pushed past the two females and the doctor in the room to stand next to where she lay. Angel, I am going to have to check her, so you are going to have to leave the room, the doctor ordered as Angels head bowed slightly and he shuffled out of the room. Buffy, the doctor said as he moved towards her with his bag in hand. I am Dr. Wyndam-Price, but you can call me Wesley. Hello Dr. Cordelia quickly answered for her since the girls did not have to leave the room while he examined her. So what happened this morning? ~~~ As soon as the door was shut behind him, Angel couldnt stop walking so he paced the floor over and over again. He must have walked around his living room at least twenty times before Doyle and Oz came through his front door to stop his movements. Hey man, you are going to burrow a hole in the carpet if you continue on with that pattern, Oz stoically admitted. Even though he heard what Oz had said, Angel just couldnt hold still; he just continued on walking faster than he had previously. Dont worry, she will be ok, Doyle assured as he placed a hand on his friends should to stop his marching. ~~~ So Dr., whats wrong? Buffy asked as she sat up from the bed and looked straight at him. Nothing that nine months wont cure, Wesley said as he packed up his tools in his bag to leave.

Nine months? Willow asked in confusion. Shes pregnant, Cordelia snapped back at the red head. Isnt it a little early to tell these things? Buffy asked with shock in her eyes. I have seen enough pregnant women in my career that I know what I am talking about, he admitted. So whos the lucky dad? Angel popped up in her mind and suddenly her hands shot up to conceal the look of fear on her face. Oh God. Buffy kept her hands to her face while Cordelia and Willow escorted him out of the room. Wow, Buffy, Willow shook her head in disbelief. What are you going to tell Angel, I am assuming that Angel is the father? Through her hands she cried, Yes, he is. Buffys entire world seemed to be turning upside-down and nothing would stop its movements. So shocked by the news, she didnt know how to feel about this. Should I feel happy that I am having Angels child or sad that this baby will be a constant reminder of what I cant have? she thought as he hands still concealed her face. What am I going to do? Buffy asked her friends that had moved to sit on the bed next to her. Well, I can tell you one thing, the back of Angels head is going to have another meeting with the palm of my hand, Cordelia chuckled lightly breaking the heavy tension that shrouded the room. I mean what am I going to do about telling Angel? Buffy said finally releasing her hands from her face. Willow just shook her head in uncertainty. I have no idea, she admitted. Nothing. Dont tell him anything yet. When the time is right, thats when we will drop this little tidbit of fun facts on him and lets see how he acts, Cordelia said confidently. But when do I tell him? Buffy asked, her eyes wide with expression. Dont worry about that, I have a plan on how to tell him, Cordelia disclosed with a small smirk on her face. Part XVII No matter how hard he tried, Angel just couldnt stop and hold still. He felt so uncomfortable in his own skin because he felt that there was nothing that he could do for the woman he loved with everything that was inside of him. When she was ill, he felt the same. Everything seemed to be going wrong for him. He was forced to kidnap the one woman in his life that meant anything to him, had one absolutely incredible night with her, now she hates him for it, and he found her this morning curled up on the bathroom floor being sick. And now, above everything else, the English army is mobilizing around Dublin to sweep the city to find her and take her away from him. Angel man, you are making me queasy, Xander said while he sat there on the couch with Gunn, Doyle and Oz watching Angel pace the floor. Stopping in his pattern to turn towards them, Angel apologized. I am sorry, you guys. Maybe we should think of something to get your mind off of this for a while? Doyle suggested. Sure, what? Oz answered. Well, do you know that the troops were called up this week and in a couple of days, they will begin to scour the city? Doyle informed his friends. Already?! Gunn shouted. Angel man, what the hell are we going to do when they

come for us? Sighing in defeat, Angel slowly shook his head at his friends. I have no idea. Well, we have to do something. We cant just sit here and just wait for them to come for us, Xander tried to rally his friends together. A thought suddenly hit him and he burst, Maybe, we can But Xander was suddenly stopped when the doctor stepped out of the room and Angel quickly attacked him for information. Wesley, how is she?? What is wrong?? What can I do?? Angel rapidly asked not taking a breath between phrases. Obviously the father, Wesley thought to himself and a small smile spread across his face. Angel, one question at a time, please, he said calmly. Doyle suddenly rose from his seat and stood next to his friend and placed a soothing hand on his shoulder. What happened to her? he asked for his friend whose face was turning bright red from anger. I think you should probably ask her, Wesley suggested and winked at Angel whose anger was increasing because he wouldnt tell him that the young blonde in the opposite room was carrying his child. Before any more questions could be asked, Wesley walked past the five men in the room and exited Angels house. Well, that was informative, Xander responded bluntly. Youre telling me, Gunn started to laugh. I remember when I was a little kid and my mom got sick one day, my father sent for the doctor. After examining her, the same kind of response was given to my father. I have never seen him so tense before in his life. His face was completely classic, I will always remember that one. Did he ever figure out what was wrong? Doyle asked wanting to learn more about what was making his friend laugh so. Still laughing, Gunn answered, Yeah, we did. Wanting more of a back story here, what was it? Xander pried. My sister. Your sister?? Doyle asked in confusion. What in the world would your sister have to do with your mother being ill? Lets just say in nine months from that doctors visit, I met my sister for the first time, Gunn smiled as he grew nostalgic over one of his most prized memories while he lived in the United States. She was pregnant? Xander asked still in confusion. No idiot. My sister just randomly popped out from thin air at some coincidental time, Gunn laughed. Of course she was pregnant. While his friends laughed, Angel became deathly quiet and horribly pale. So many things were running through his mind and this revelation. Could she? Could she be pregnant? Angel man, are you ok? Gunn asked still laughing, noticing the sickly look that was on his friends face. Yeah, just fine, he responded and donned a fake smile so that he could get his friends off his case a little while longer so he could be alone with his thoughts. That had to be pretty interesting for your father. God, it was so funny. There was a huge line down the center of his forehead and he was constantly pacing the floor. My mom teased him for the longest time when my sister and

I would roll a ball on the floor where he was and the ball would be suddenly stopped in the unseen ditch in the middle of the floor. She said that he scuffed a trench in the floor that is just like a stain, you try and try again but nothing is going to get that thing out, Gunn yet again grew sentimental over his childhood memories. Uh oh, Angel. What did your little trip into the bushes do to her? Xander chuckled. Angel suddenly perked his head up as soon as he heard Xanders question. Wh-what are you talking about? Angel stumbled remembering the lie that he and Buffy had told him when he came into his home after their night together. Bushes?? Doyle, Gunn and Oz all turned their attention back to Angel and asked at the same time. On our way home from the pub that night when I punched Xander, we were stumbling trying to get back here when we fell over and my dress got torn on a bush and Angels back got all scratched up, Buffys voice through the door took the pressure on Angel for an explanation of what happened that night. Angels eyes lit up when he saw Buffy walk through the door with Cordelia and Willow behind her. He wanted to run to her and wrap her small body in his arms, but his head telling him that he shouldnt do that, kept his feet firmly planted to the floor. Buffy, are you all right? he asked with sincerity in his voice. I think the doctor said it must have been something she ate last night, Cordelia responded as she walked past Angel to stand next to her husband. No worries, she is fine. Angel kept his eyes on Buffys hazel eyes as he heard Cordelias voice tell the group what was wrong. At the very same time, they both felt completely drawn to each other. Buffy wanted to feel his arms around her in comfort and Angel just wanted to make sure that she wasnt mad at him. He pushed the thought of her being pregnant from his mind as he took one step closer to her. Earth to Angel! Come in Angel! Doyle shouted bringing his friend out of the thrall that the blonde had on him. We still need to work out what to do about the troops coming for us. Forced to blink his eyes a few times to break their connection with hers, Angel turned to address the rest of the group while he moved to stand behind Buffy with Willow next to him. Any ideas? he asked as he moved closer to Buffy from behind her. He could feel the warmth from her body radiate to him with every inch closer to her he was. I am sure we can figure something out, Xander shrugged. Here let me help, Willow said as she reached up and smacked Angel on the back of the head. Does that help? Reaching a hand up and rubbing the back of his head where her hand made a connection with it, Angel sneered, What was THAT for?? Good idea, Will. Maybe that will pry some ideas his mind, Cordy said laughing at Angels scowling face. We should try it aga Cordelia was suddenly interrupted when Doyle jumped next to her. We should take her to headquarters. They will tell us what to do or will keep her there for security reasons. All eyes perked up and looked straight at him. Thats probably our best option, Oz admitted stoically. Anyone else up for a trip?? Xander asked as he raised his hand to the sky. Everyone just stared at the Xander, as he looked odd with his hand raised in the air, but

then nodded. Well, this is going to be fun, Gunn muttered under his breath. Part XVIII Come on, boys. I know that you can drink just one more cup of hot chocolate, Joyce begged Spike and Riley, who were starting to turn purple after drinking too many cups. Uh, no thank you, Miss Summers. I think I have had my fill of today. And of the week, month, year, and millennia, Riley thought to himself. Ill have another Spike admitted as Joyce stood up to get the boiling water off the stove to make Spike another hot chocolate. Extra marshmallows this time! How can you stand drinking this anymore? Riley forced conversation while Joyce was away. Talent, I guess, Spike smugly responded. We have been forced to drink these ever since Buffy was kidnapped FOR THE PAST WEEK AND A HALF!!!! his voice raised. I dont know if I could handle this waiting anymore, or drinking for that matter. God damn, you are annoying. Quit your blooding whining! I am surprised I havent killed myself yet with you here. I am speaking the bloody truth that it would probably feel better to have a railroad spike implanted in my skull to listen to your hee-haw voice for one more bleedin second!! Spike yelled. Hey you boys arent about to get in another fight are you, Joyce chastised as she placed one more cup in front of Spike. No maam, they answered in unison. Would any of you like something to eat? Joyce offered when the room was filled with silence. I know Spike, you could use a good fattening meal. Glaring back at the older woman in the room, Spike muttered, No thank you. When are the troops going to be here? Joyce directed at Riley before he could say anything about the food question. Dropping his head down and letting out a big sigh, he just shook his head. The troops wont be here for another month or so. WHAT?! WHY?! Joyce yelled with fear in her voice. I need my baby! I know exactly how you feel, Riley empathized. From what I have heard, the tides have changed in the Great War over in the mainland, and the troops are being stationed there shortly to begin to build trenches across Europe. I am actually waiting for my orders of what to do. And you will just leave Buffy alone here and not try to help her get out, Joyce sadly replied as she felt tears brimming her eyes. Just for the record, I would never leave your daughter alone, Spike consoled Joyce and glared back at Riley. That is because you are a low life nothing who has got nothing better to do than to stalk my fianc, Riley began to raise his voice. You are so beneath her, cant you see that. Anger began to seep into Spikes veins and he clenched his fists in preparation of punching out the other man in the room. Well, if I were her fianc I would tell that bloody army to go screw themselves and stay here to find Buffy, he yelled and stood up to look Riley straight in the eye. Boys, boys, calm down, Joyce stepped between the testosterone poisoned men to break up their almost fight. I know you all are just worried about Buffy but if we just work

together, she will be found and brought back to us. The sooner, the better, Riley sighed as he retreated back to his seat. That way we will get married and you will be out of our lives forever. And boy oh boy, I will be counting down the days till that happens. I dont believe that you will ever get entirely rid of me. Joyce, here, likes me too much to get rid of me and when you see Joyce, you will see Buffy, Spike admitted to him. And another thing, nothing lasts forever. I dont know if I entirely agree with that pessimist opinion, Joyce countered his comment. There are plenty of things in this world that will be that way. Oh yeah, Spike shot back, Name one! ~~~ So heres the plan Tomorrow morning we all take a little trip to headquarters and hopefully we wont be found? Xander asked a little shakily. Thats the best we can come up with, Oz admitted stoically with his arm wrapped around his redheaded wife. And what time are we planning on going? Gunn asked the group. Earlier the better, Angel responded quickly as he felt Buffy stand closer to him in the group. Cordelia quickly shot an icy glare at Angel. You know my rules about mornings. Getting up too early can do a lot of damage on my appearance. Cordelia, Xander sighed. No amounts of hibernation over the many months of winter could help you in your appearance. It would be a waste of my breath and time to even consider a witty response to that statement, Xander, because I dont know if your simple structured mind could even comprehend what I am trying to say, Cordy shot back with no emotion in her voice. Well, umm Xander began to say but was quickly cut off by Doyle. Dont listen to him, Delia. You are the most beautiful person that I have ever laid eyes upon, Doyle assured his wife as he pulled her in closer to his body. And I think you would all agree on that one, Cordy responded haughtily. I dont know about that comment, Angel thought to himself as his eyes wandered in the direction of the exquisite blonde that stood very close to him. Whatever you say, Cordy, Angel responded still looking at Buffy. So, um Can we go now? We have spent most of the day here with you and I would like to get a little rest before we have to get up tomorrow morning, Cordy asked. Oh yeah, start early. Dont want you to miss Xander again was interrupted mid sentence but this time by Angel. Xander, dont start, he chastised. You all should probably go and we will see you in the morning. Sure, Xander answered as he and the rest of the gang walked out of Angels house and began to walk towards their places of residence. For the first time in a couple of hours, the house was completely silent. Buffy had no idea what to say to him anymore. She wanted to profess him everything but in her mind, the words, it was a mistake still rang clear as a bell. Everything that she felt for this man and what she carried of him in herself was all a mistake. A mistake that she had fallen into, even though if she was forced to choose between that mistake and not, she would not have changed her actions.

So, what did Wesley say to you this morning? Angel asked finally breaking the silence. Ate bad food, got sick, Buffy abruptly lied. Nothing deadly. Oh, he sighed. Well that is always a good thing, isnt it? I guess, she shrugged refusing to look deeply into his dark eyes for fear of being lost in them. Are you hungry? Angel asked as he placed a hand under her chin and lifted her face to look into his. Starved, she smiled back at him as her stomach growled. I will make you anything. You pick it, I cook it, he said lightheartedly as he made his way into the kitchen. And I promise you, I would make you sick tomorrow morning this time. Well thank you. I think I may get sick none-the-less, she thought to herself as Angel made himself busy with their dinner. Whatever you want to make is probably just fine with me. Ok, well just relax in the living room and dinner will be served shortly, he said as the sound of pots and pans hitting counters reverberated through the house. For the next hour or so, Buffy had to try really, really hard not to laugh out loud when she heard the clatter of kitchen ware and Angels muttered curses in Gaelic. You need help in there? Buffy asked with a soft laugh in her voice. No, I think I got it, Angel answered as he brought out their food on a tray and placed it on the dinning room table. Food is ready! That smells delicious, Buffy sniffed the air as she made her way towards the room. If I get sick tomorrow, I will come to believe that you are trying to kill your hostage instead of using her for ransom. Hearing her comment, all the blood in Angels face drained out. He hated to hear her say that she was his hostage because it just hurt him too much to think about what he had done to her. I am sorry, Buffy, he whispered sincerely. Even though his apology was faint, Buffy could still hear it and she felt a horrible pang in her heart from hearing his pain filled words. Grabbing him by the shoulders and turning him to face her, she looked deeply into his eyes. Angel, you dont have to continue on saying youre sorry. I understood you the first time you said it to me. Looking deeply into her hazel eyes, Angel forced himself not to lean down and claim her lips as his. His entire body tingled as she gripped his shoulders and held him so close to her. I he started to say but then was cut-off. If you are going to say your sorry again, I might be forced to punch you out like I did Xander, ok? she threatened as a smile spread across her face. Yes maam, he laughed in mock fear. Now, when can we start eating? While they ate, no conversation was made for they were enjoying their food a little too much to say anything to each other. Quite content in their presence, they sat there eating and sometimes catching quick glimpses of each other to quell hungry eyes. I think I am about to implode from all this food, Buffy sighed as she moved her napkin from her lap and placed it on the table. Oh please dont, I dont want to be cleaning little bits of Buffy out of my carpet for the next couple of years.

Yawning and laughing at the same time, Buffy began to rub her eyes in tiredness. Today had been one hell of a long day for her and she was definitely feeling the affects of it right now. I think I might head to bed now, I am really exhausted. I might be joining you on that one, Angel said to her in a yawn. Hearing this, Buffy cocked an eyebrow in his direction. Reading this response from her, he quickly added, Sleeping, I mean. In an entirely different room, away from where you will be sleeping. I knew what you were talking about, Buffy stood to excuse herself from the table. Goodnight, Angel. Goodnight, Buffy, he said as he watched her walking into his room. Got to love Freudian slips, he laughed to himself as he cleaned up the table and made his way back to the couch where he would be spending another long and lonely night. But every night had been that way since being with her. The most horrible pain in the world is to be sitting next to a person and know that you cant have them. Removing all of his clothing except for his boxers, Angel began to burrow himself deep into his couch readying his body for sleep. Much to his surprise, sleep quickly caught up to him as he turned to his side and had his back pressed firmly to the back of the couch. Buffy on the other hand, lay in the bed, staring at the ceiling and could not fall to sleep. Her mind was racing with millions of thoughts and even though she was tired, sleep could not claim her. Standing up from the bed, she walked to the door and opened it a crack to see Angel already fast asleep on the couch. He looked so peaceful as he slept and all that Buffy wanted to do is reach out and trace her fingers across his resting features. She saw him shiver lightly from the lack of a blanket, so she moved to the bed, removed a blanket from the mattress and made her way towards her slumbering lover. Kneeling in front of him with her face next to his, Buffy leaned in to place a tender kiss on his soft lips. As soon as their lips touched, she felt the same bolt of electricity run through her body as even in his slumbering form, he responded to the kiss and kissed her back. Breaking away from him and placing the blanket on top of him, she turned around and began to walk away. Please dont go, he whispered in his sleep. Buffy, please. Buffy heard his plea and turned to face him. Narrowing her eyes to examine him, she knew that he was still asleep and didnt just say that to torment her one more time. Buffy tiptoed softly towards him and began to lie down quietly next to his sleeping body. Feeling the warmth radiating off of his body as her back pressed up against his muscular chest, sleep finally began to claim her. Her eyes slowly shuttered closed as she felt a strong arm suddenly come around her waist and hold her tight. Part XIX Raising his arm to salute his superior officer, Riley greeted, General. Mimicking the inferior officers gesture, the general answered, Private Finn, what brings you here so late at night? Dropping his arm from the salute, the general stared back at Riley with annoyance glaring from his eyes and body language. Excuse the hour, sir. I wanted to inquire as to the status of the mission, he asked abruptly with stoic expression with his back still straight in attention. At ease, Finn, he commanded and Riley promptly obeyed. And what mission would

that be, soldier? The scouring of the city, sir. For Buffy Summers who has been missing for about two weeks now. Cancelled, the general responded bluntly. CANCELLED!!! Rileys voice began to rise. What do you mean cancelled??? The general leaned over to retrieve a file folder from up top of his desk and suddenly turned to throw it into Rileys unsure hands. Take a look at that and you tell me what I mean. Riley threw open the cover of the file and allowed his eyes to skim page after page of military intelligence information. Each page contained recent reports of the war raging on the mainland of Europe and all the difficulties that the troops are facing against the enemy. Turning to the last page and closing the file, Riley extended it back to the general. I dont understand, sir. Oh, I think you do by that look upon your face. Parliament is intending to send a couple hundred thousand of soldiers to build more trenches along the front because our casualties have increased 30% in the last few months. The war is turning on us and we need all the man power that we can possibly muster there, the old general sighed as he retreated back to behind his desk and slumped down into the chair. But, sir. What about my fian Buffy Summers? he began to plead. What about her? he retorted back with a snap in his voice. Didnt we make a promise to her family that we would get her back as soon as possible. At least we should try to look, even if it is to appease such a powerful man such as Hank Summers. Finn, you read the reports, you know how many men we are losing over there, the general pointed to the wall behind his head. If we send troops across Dublin, do you know how many men we would lose to the revolutionaries. If we are going to lose men, they are going to be lost in the Great War not just some uprising by some temperamental Irishmen. Riley could think of no words to retort back to his superior officer. He knew not to argue with him but his heart was telling him to get her back. The muscle on the inside of his cheek pulsated with anger as he tried to think of something to say that would convince the army to march across Dublin. Dont you think that it would grease the wheels of the English people to know that the army was willing to search high and low to try to get one young woman from the clutches of the enemy? Give a little more faith in our goals? Im sorry, Finn. But I already had this meeting with Hank Summers previously and he lobbied the same exact thing. And the only thing I can really do is to let you know that periodically some soldiers will be sent across the city for the next couple of months and if we cant find her in 3 months then about 500 soldiers will be sent here to look as a last ditch effort. Did he agree on that? Riley asked in the hopes that Buffys father was unhappy about this and was willing to petition the army to help out more than they are willing. He seemed upset with it as any father would be, but then he decided that it would be best. Just like that, he agreed? Riley asked in shock. Yes, the old general answered bluntly. He had absolute faith that the kidnappers had not harmed his daughter due to her value so that it would be just fine that they waited for

the right time get a full force out on the streets. I dont want to here any more arguments about this topic, and that is a direct order! But, sir Riley began to argue but then was quickly interrupted by his officer. Private Finn, are going planning to ignore a direct order? the general asked with curiosity in his voice. Returning to his about face stance, Riley responded, No, sir! Good, you are dismissed! he ordered as Riley turned to storm out his door. The best that I can do, I pray will be good enough, the general thought to himself as he shook his head in despair with the thought of this young girl being so scared right now. ~~~ Caught in one of the most pleasant sleeps that Angel had ever experienced in his life, he had no idea of the warm body that molded close to his chest. He dreamt of her though, dreams filled with her in the sunlight with her golden hair illuminated by the warm rays of the sun, her running through the rain with a smile across her face while her damp hair and clothes clung to her body revealing all of her perfection, such beautiful images that it would have been a crime to not have seen them in reality. Angel felt warm and at ease with each image that flashed across his mind, but then suddenly his entire world turned a shade of deep obsidian. Angel? Buffy called out to him as her hand unconsciously traveled down her body to caress her distended abdomen. Buffy? But it was too late, she was gone from his sight but he could hear her screams from somewhere. BUFFY? he hollered. Buffy opened her eyes suddenly, waking from her beautiful rest to make a mad dash to the bathroom. Removing herself from his strong grasp, she ran away from her sleeping lover and prepared herself to be sick in the restroom. She looked back only momentarily to check to see if Angels eyes still remained closed tight. From his nightmare, Angels eyes suddenly burst open as he looked around the room. His heart raced in his chest as he panted crazily to get air into his lungs. Reaching his hands up towards his chest, he ran his fingers across his chiseled muscles to feel his heart fluttering inside. He felt so warm to the touch and he looked down to see that he had a blanket wrapped around his body. Grabbing the warm folds of the cloth, he brought it up to his face and breathed it in deep. Buffy, he thought to himself as he deeply inhaled her glorious scent. But then suddenly he looked at it in confusion. I walked in her last night and you werent sleeping with a blanket, so I thought I would bring you one, Buffys voice brought Angel straight out of his confusion. Hope you dont mind. I didnt know you were awake, he said quickly as his heart began to beat faster with her presence in the room. How did you sleep? Great, I love your bed. It is so much better than mine at home, Buffy lied about where she slept that night. Hmm Angel once again entered his confused state. Penny for your thoughts? Buffy teased him slightly. Angel smiled weakly back at her, If you offered pennies for all of my thoughts, I think I would probably be a rich man by now. Probably, Buffy giggled. No, honestly whats on your mind? How long did you stay in my room when you gave me the blanket?

A few minutes, she lied again as she moved towards him and sat down on the couch next to him. I dont know why but I feel like it was longer. You were sleeping, how could you tell? Just a feeling. Well, feelings can lie to you sometimes, she said bluntly. Not all of them. The room was filled with silence as the two just stared at each other. Buffy had no idea how to respond to that statement because as he stared deeply into her eyes, she felt his gaze burn deep inside her body and wrap around her heart and soul. Angel felt the exact same and he had no idea what to do at the moment. Unconsciously leaning forward, their lips slowly came closer to an embrace within a kiss. Angel, you ready??? Xander asked as he stormed through his friends door and watched Angel and Buffy quickly break apart from each other. Oops, did I get in the way of something again? No, you are fine, Buffy said bluntly. I had better get ready for the day, she quickly stood up and walked away, leaving a very stunned Angel. Xander, it is officially, I need to get you a cow bell so I know every time you come near me, Angel sighed at his friend. Moooooo!! Xander joked as Angel began to laugh. So are we ready to go to headquarters? When Buffy is ready then we can head out. Where is everyone else? Angel asked as he made his way into his bedroom to retrieve a shirt to wear. They are outside, waiting for us. Great, Angel smiled as they waited for Buffy to emerge out of the bathroom ready for the day ahead of them. It didnt take but 15 minutes for her to look absolutely perfect and them leave Angels house in silence. No one said a word as they snuck around and finally made their way back into head quarters. Angel knocked faintly on the door and suddenly it opened to allow all of them to walk inside. Penn!! he greeted as he embrace his friend for a long time. Buffy Summers, this is Penn OConnor. Penn, this is Buffy, he introduced them quickly. Nice to meet you, Buffy, he extended a hearty hand to Buffy which she quickly accepted. I hope Angel here has treated you well, if not I will kill him for you, he threatened jokingly. Oh, I dont think that will be necessary for now but if you want to beat him with a shovel at any moment of time, be my guest, she laughed and soon everyone else, except for Angel, began to laugh at her statement. Penn turned his attention back to his scowling friend. So you want to talk to the man today, huh? Yes, is he in there? Angel asked as he touched Buffys back lightly with his soft fingertips. Yep, been there all morning, Penn informed them as he led his friend and the beautiful blonde to the dark room. You guys have fun, he pushed them inside. So the voice hissed as they walked across the doorway. How is life treating you

both? Fine sir, Angel answered as a lump built up in his throat. I was just curious as to what you want to do with this plan. Suddenly a piece of paper was thrown out of the shadows and tossed straight in front of Buffy for them to read. Whats this? Angel asked as he read. With harsh voice, the leader in the shadows answered, The troops wont be coming for some time, now. How long? Angel inquired with his eyes straining to read the words through the darkness. Three months or so. Dont worry about this, just take her to your house and watch over her, the voice ordered. Now go, I have things to do! Angel turned suddenly to walk out the door and had to grab Buffy by the arm to drag her out of the room because she seemed not able to move. Leaning down to whisper in her ear, he asked, Are you all right? I know that voice, she admitted. Part XX I JUST CANT BLOODY BELIEVE THAT YOU ARE WILLING TO WAIT AROUND FOR ANOTHER TWO GOD-DAMN MONTHS TO GET BUFFY BACK!!! Spike screamed at Riley. It has already been two months since she was taken. SHE COULD BE ANYWHERE!! What do you expect me to do?? Riley sighed tiredly. I dont know, and I really dont care. Pull rank, throw a bloody coup, DO SOMETHING!!! Spikes voice was still raised. No, Riley asserted. I may be Buffys fianc, but I am a soldier through and through. It is not my place to question the ulterior motives of the army. I follow the orders that are commanded of me. I cant believe my ears! You are a bloody fool! Spike paced the floor angrily while Riley just sat in his chair with his back straight against the back. You are not willing to fight for the woman that you supposedly love, that is pathetic! Riley now started to get annoyed with Spikes anger and he decided it was time for him to start to yell. What do you mean supposedly love, I love her with every fiber of my being? And yet you are willing to do nothing to help her, Spike stated coolly. I have done absolutely everything that I could have done so far. At least I went to the army to plead my case unlike you who has no connections to higher places to get jobs done. You are nothing but a waste of space! Well, I cant sit around here any longer. I need to go out to do something, Spike ignored Rileys comment. Offering a white flag, Spike asked, This search will go a little better if you help me here. I cant, Riley interjected. Why not? Too chicken? Spike mocked. No, I am being sent to fight in the Great War in a couple of days. I have been commanded to pack up my gear and head out at 0600 Thursday morning. Well, it is a shame that I wont be missing you all that much while you are gone, Spike sneered truthfully. Reaching over to him and patting him on the back, he smiled and stated, Bon Voyage, Captain Cardboard! I just hope you arent all that upset that I wont

be throwing you a going away party because I have things to do and people to see. Thank you for your bode of confidence, Riley said sarcastically then pulled a pen out of his shirt pocket, grabbed a piece of paper and wrote a few addresses for Spike. Reaching out to give them to the blonde anorexic, Riley assured, If you need any help, these people could be useful. Why should I accept your help now when before you wouldnt give me the light of day? Spike first refused the paper but then relented and took it in his hand. This would be helpful but I have all my sources too. Time for me to call in a few favors from old friends. Spike promptly left the room leaving Riley to prepare his stuff for he journey to the mainland. ~~~ Are you certain that you dont know who that man at headquarters is? Buffy asked for the hundredth time in the past couple of months. Her mind could not rest with the attempt to pinpoint how did she know that voice and it was starting to really get on her nerves that she couldnt think of the person who owned that voice. Angels heart broke every time she asked that question because he knew no answer to give her and he could tell that it was putting a strain on her body. She seemed to be really tired lately and he had no idea how to make her feel better. To relieve some of the stress that wracked his lovers body, for the past couple of months, the lovers would venture outside for a few moments to take a walk along the cobblestonepaved streets of Dublin. Angel wrapped a long black duster around her body so that no one would recognize her and escorted her out the door. It was nice to walk next to her but he still kept a firm distance from her while they walked. No, Im sorry. He has always said that he has kept his identity secret so that he can allude all the English authorities, Angel sighed dejectedly. I understand that but CANT THE BASTARD AT LEAST GIVE A LITTLE CLUE AS TO WHO THE HELL HE IS!!!! Buffy screamed in desperation while Angel gawked at her response. A smile began to curl on his lips and he couldnt hide his laughter any longer. Whats so funny??? Buffy shot at him with her eyebrows raised. You! he chuckled. Just when I think I have you figured out, a new side of you shines brightly and I feel that I am blinded by it. What kind of noblewoman would have just called someone a bastard'? I did get a little carried away there, didnt I? Buffy sighed and laughed softly with him. Its just sometimes I get the biggest urge to yell to the sky with frustration. It is good to do that sometimes, makes you feel a lot better. At least it does in my opinion, Angel admitted freely. You know what else makes me feel better? Kidnapping young, innocent girls for pleasure? Buffy jabbed at him. Angel paled slightly at her words and he could think of what he was going to say to answer his own question. He looked down at his feet as they continued to walk down the street. The fact of what he had to do to her was still an open wound that she just rubbed a pinch of salt into. His free swaying hands felt a call to bury themselves deep into his pockets but Buffy ending up not allowing one of his hands there. Pulling his hand into hers, she lightly squeezed his in assurance that she wasnt upset with him any longer. Buffy hadnt been mad at him since she came to stay at his house

but she knew that he would always think that she was angry at him. Im sorry for saying that, she apologized. Angel responded to her statement in silence because he truly had no idea if she really meant it or was just trying to make him feel better. Hey, are you going to say anything for the rest of our walk???? Buffy began to become annoyed with his silence for they had been able to talk about basically everything and when he was silent, she knew something was wrong. Probably, he whispered sadly. Stopping suddenly and turning him to look straight into her eyes, Buffy held onto his arms tightly preparing herself to give him the lecture of his life. Would you stop beating yourself up about this, if I tried hard enough I could hear the silent beat down from all the way across the room! I AM NOT ANGRY WITH YOU!!!! Shaking his head, he started to say, Buffy, I No, she interrupted. You will let me finish. Do you know how many opportunities I had to run away from you and yet here I am?! PLENTY!!! So if you dont get that fact into your head, I think I might be forced to physically beat it into your thick skull, Buffy threatened. Angel looked away from her blazing eyes until Buffy reached up and grabbed his face in her small hand and forced it to look at her. Buffy, I he tried again but was interrupted by Buffys lips quickly overpowering his in a passionate kiss. Surprised at first by her actions, Angel was confused but then it took no time for him to respond to that kiss with equal force. He wrapped his arms around her small body and lifted her slightly off the ground to feel her strong heartbeat strum against his chest and give his mouth greater access to her face. Buffys fingers ran through his dark hair as she tried to get him as close to her as possible. He hugged her tighter to him with the small of her back forcing her abdomen where his child lay to press tightly into his body. Buffy hadnt begun to show her little secret but deep down she prayed that Angel could feel the life growing inside of her and recognize it as his own. Angel broke the kiss to catch his breath but he refused to let her out of his embrace. She laid her head on his shoulder and he took cues from her and did the same. Removing her head from his shoulder, she looked up into his eyes and smiled at him. I dont want to be forced to punch you out because with these mood swings I might end up knocking you unconscious instead of kissing you! Mood swings??? Angel asked still in a thick haze from her kiss. Uh nothing! she quickly responded hoping that he would drop the subject. Ah home sweet home, she stated as they walked to his front porch after walking all the way around the city. Buffy walked through the front door and headed straight to the kitchen. I am so hungry! she sounded ravished for hunger. I could make you something? Angel offered. Sure, that would be good. Make anything and I will eat it! she admitted then turned to walk to her room. I am going to get changed out of these clothes while you get the food ready. Have fun, he wished to her as he watched her skip lightheartedly into the room and closed the door. Nothing could stop his smiles that radiated from his face. His body

hummed with the after effects of the kiss that they had just stared momentarily ago. First she was scolding him and the next she was kissing him. God, I love this woman, he thought to himself as the images few through his mind. So caught up in his reverie, he almost didnt here the knocking on the front door. Walking over to the front door, Angel opened it and started laughing. Xander, you really need to get a life instead of coming over to my house and Youre not Xander. Is that how you greet an old friend anymore? the man asked on his front step. Angel stepped forward and took the man in his arms for a strong hug. Spike, long time no see!!! Part XXI So what brings you to my doorstep? Angel asked as he still had an arm strung across Spikes shoulders and escorted him inside his small house. Just thought I would like to pay a visit to an old friend. You know for bloody shits and giggles, he smiled at Angel and started to laugh. It had been at least ten years since Angel had saw Spike last. Memories from their childhood flooded his mind and he began to remember of all the mischief they had gotten into together. They had such a wonderful time sneaking into the nearest pub and stealing drinks from the old men that sat their too inebriated to know that two small boys skittered across the floor or doing everything possible to scare their teachers to death in school so that they werent stuck in those uncomfortable desks any more than they had to. //Are you sure this is going to work? young Liam asked his friend as they hid behind a wall, randomly sneaking glances at their on coming prey. You scared? Spike teased. We have been planning this thing almost every recess period for the last week, this is our chance. Liam shrugged and consented his approval for the event to take shape. Hey guys, whatca doing? Penn asked loudly as he turned the corner and went behind the wall and found his two best friends crouching down. Bloody hell, Penn! Would you like to try again and see if we can get everyone and their mothers to hear you! Spike whispered harshly. Sorry, Penn apologized in a hushed tone. And what are you boys doing back here????? an adult voice cut through the silence after Penns apology. A three boys stood erectly and turned to face the image of the old croon with the largest nose they had ever seen on anyones face, the wretched hag herself Mrs. Garrahan their teacher! Even on the warmest of days, the sight of her would send a shiver of cold down anyones back. Nothing Mrs. Garrahan, all three responded in a singsong voice. Leering down at them and crossing her arms across her burlap-covered chest, she raised an eyebrow at the seemingly innocent young boys in front of her. And how come I find that hard to believe, especially you William! Spike winced openly at the sound of her calling him by his christened name. He had hated that thing ever since he could remember; he definitely preferred Spike to that. He wanted to say something to her and he didnt by biting harshly down on his lower lip to keep from talking. Taking their lead from him, Liam and Penn did the same but not from anger, but to keep from laughing at the anger that was in Spikes face. Come on, boys. Now tell the truth for the truth shall set you free. What were you

doing? she pried further. No longer able to hold his tongue, Spike retorted back to her in the calmest of voices, We were thinking on how lovely you look this morning with your faded polka dot shirt and plaid skirt. Interesting! Now tell me one thing, are you blind in the morning that you cant tell what you pull out of your closet? Liam could no longer hold the laughter in but Penn kept painfully silent. You think that is funny? she turned her attention to the snickering boy. Yes! he laughed a little harder. Well, you wanted the truth, I think we will be on our way, Spike smirked back at her as he began to walk away. I dont think so! she said as her gnarled hands reached out and grabbed Spikes and Liams ears harshly in a firm grasp. Pulling them out from behind the wall she chastised, Truth is in the eye of the beholder!// Angel remember that day like it had been yesterday. Fond memories of his childhood and nothing could stop his smiles but all those memories quickly stopped as he thought of not so wonderful memories. Ten years ago, life for these friends had changed completely. So what have you been up to lately, Spike? Angel asked as he brought himself out of his reverie. You mean after that little stunt a couple of years ago in which both of us ran but only one got caught, sent to a reform school in England and couldnt return back here years later Nothing much, Spike shot at his friend. The image of the running through the streets and watching the authorities drag his friend away with him just standing there as if his legs were made of stone and he could not move. His mouth dropped open as if to say something but he was quickly cut off by Spike. But that is all in the past, right?? he asked with a hint of ice in his stare. Actually that little incident helped me to get a job and meet one interesting girl. Oh, really? Angel asked trying to get the conversation off of that fateful day years ago. ~~~ Buffys body still hummed from that kiss that she and Angel had shared in the streets earlier. Unconsciously she rubbed her stomach where a new life grew and felt tiny pricks of electricity on her palm. Singing softly to herself as she walked light-heartedly around the room, Too Ra Loo Ra Loo Ra, Too Ra Loo Ra La, Too Ra Loo Ra Loo Ra, Thats an Irish Lullaby, she sang to her unborn child. Skipping lightly towards the door, it seemed that nothing could break the mood that she caught herself in. Buffy reached toward the doorknob and slowly began to turn it and walk out the door. With the door-cracked open slightly, she heard two distinct male voices from outside. At first she thought it was probably Xander making his random visit to get in the way of Angel doing something, but then listening closely she knew that it wasnt his voice that she was hearing. The voice was very familiar, one that she normally tried to avoid like the plague but always seemed to find her and stalk her. Spike!!!! she hissed softly as she retreated back into the room and silently shut the door. Go away! Go away! GO AWAY! she thought to herself as she snaked her way into Angels closet and hid in the corner under a veil of darkness. The entire place smelled of

him and suddenly through fear and confusion, her happiness broke and tears began to wander down her cheeks. ~~~ Yeah, she is just one of those girls that gets under your skin and drive you absolutely crazy, Spike began to describe the woman that believed he loved. I know of some with that quality, Angel admitted automatically thinking of Buffy who was still in his bedroom. She is one of the most beautiful people I have ever seen, Spike said dreamily as he pictured her in his head. Still with the picture of Buffy in his mind, he smiled to himself. So beautiful that the world without her being there seems like such an ugly place but with her standing next to you, the world glitters. Very kind. Extremely intelligent. MY KIND OF WOMAN!!! they both exclaimed aloud together and broke into fits of laughter. So whats this young vixens name? Angel asked through his laughter. You are probably not going to believe me when I tell you but Buffy Summers, Spike continued on laughing. You know Hank Summers daughter. Angel suddenly stopped laughing and stared at him in shock. We were talking about the same person, oh my God!! His mouth gapped open as to say something but no words were able to come out. Really? Angel coughed. I know it is not like me to love her, but it just happened. I work for her father and her family now since I was permitted to come back here, Spike stopped laughing when hearing Angel become deathly silent and pallid. Whats her name? W-w-what??? Angel stumbled. The girl you were talking about her name, Spike clarified. Her name? he thought to himself and pulled his gaze to his clenched fists. Her name? OH HER NAME!!! he yelled, Its Shannon. Well, I am going to have to meet this girl, Spike was confused by his friends reaction. But back to business. Yeah, Angel agreed, as he wanted to get off this conversation as quickly as possible. I am sure that you have heard about Buffys kidnapping and most people are suspecting that it was the IRA that did this, Spike began to explain to Angel. I know that you were a big part of this and are able to some ideas as to who could have possibly done this. I-I-I dont think I can do that, Angel stuttered. I am pretty sure you can for someone who you owe something, Spike threatened with the hopes that Angel would catch what he was insinuating. You know, for an old friend. Being stuck between a rock and a hard place was just somewhere that Angel really didnt want to be caught in. He felt so guilty about what happened to Spike those years ago but by helping him out, he would reveal himself and Buffy would be gone from his life forever. Not helping him out would betray an old friend that saved his life basically. What am I going to do? Did you see Penn yet? Angel asked suddenly. He is going to be my next victim, Spike smiled. I am going to need both of your

help. Silence filled the room again as Angel thought about his options. He knew he had to say something quickly or Spike would suspect something was wrong so he though fast. What to do? he thought but then came to a resolution. Come back in a week and hopefully I will have something for you. Hearing his agreement, Spike stood up from where he was sitting and smiled gratefully at his friend. He reached down and took Angels hand in a harsh handshake, I knew I would count on you, old friend. Always, he muttered under his breath as he returned that handshake and led Spike out his front door. Spike turned his back on him and walked toward the street. Oh, Spike! Angel called out to him, making Spike turn back around to stare at him. Yeah, he answered. Laughing to break his tension, Angel said, You should probably ask for a raise. I can see you havent been eating all that well. Whatever! Spike laughed in return and walked away as Angel shut his front door. As soon as the door was shut, Angel leaned his back against the hard surface of it. His head began to pound over all the thoughts that flew in and out. Sighing loudly and moving his hands to his head to massage his temples to relieve some of the pressure, he felt like he couldnt move. But then one thought took precedence over all the others at the moment. Buffy. Bounding off the door, he made his way to room and softly rapt on the door. Buffy, he called then slowly opened the door to find the room completely empty. Buffy, where are you?? he asked softly and fearfully that she had left him. Where did she go? he thought to himself as his heart sank at her absence. Part XXII It felt like Buffy had been in that closet an eternity. She was alone with her thoughts over what the past couple of months had done upon her heart and her mind. While she was with Angel, she had felt happiness that she had never felt before, even though she had to lie to him every time she had the opportunity to tell him about the baby. Thoughts of her life before she met him seemed like such a distant memory but everything flooded back as soon as she heard the cordial conversation between Spike and Angel. Images of a life that she was forced to conceal her free spirit confined inside a body that was supposed to be prim and proper at all times, a life that she was frequently cast aside by her father and the closest male figure in her life had been her some-what uptight butler, a life in which she was forced to marry against her will and a life of being constantly stalked by none other than the man that was sitting in her lovers living room. Buffy pulled her tightly against her chest and buried her face in her knees. She shielded her eyes from the physical world around her and yet nothing could stop the images that played against her closed lids. One image would quickly cover up the one previously and she began to feel quite nauseated by the speed but then the final image of Angel kissing her that day, pulled all her thoughts into slow motion. His perfume inside the closest helped her to imagine his arms wrapped around her just had it had wafted around her body and provide a little comfort. Buffys tears began to become dried on her face as she smiled and thought of him. Then his voice broke through the silence inside the small room and she knew that it was safe for her to come out. Pushing her legs from her chest and moving her hands to her

face to remove any remnants of tears, she prepared to step out of the closet in confidence. From outside of the closet, Angel could hear the soft sniffles from inside and movement of some of his shoes. He knew that she was in there and a smile spread across his face with the knowledge that he found her. Angel strode towards the closet and grabbed the knob to open it just as Buffy was doing the same on the inside. The door promptly swung open, revealing an extremely shocked Buffy looking like she was a deer caught in headlights. Buffy took a surprised step forward, but wasnt aware of the shoes that were strung across her feet and as soon as she lifted her foot, she was caught up in them and fell face forward into Angel, who still stood there with his hand on the doorknob. He was definitely not prepared for her to come forward into him, so as he tried to catch her from falling, he ended up on the floor, pinned against the hard surface by her soft body. Buffy looked into his eyes without moving off of him and whispered softly, Oops, sorry about that. Angel couldnt think of any words to say at that moment. Buffy pressed up against him, caused all rational thought to escape his mind. He felt her warm breath upon his face as he moved his hands from his side to softly grab her hips. Um Thats alright, you can fall on me anytime you want, he joked as words finally fell off his tongue. Hearing his jest, Buffy gave him a small smile and she rolled off of him and raised herself on her elbows on the hardwood floor. Angel instantly turned from his back to his stomach to propel himself off of the floor to stand. Quickly, he was on his feet and off ering a hand down to her, to help her to her feet. So, what were you doing in there? he finally asked as he still held onto her hand long after she was off the floor. I could tell the closet was feeling a little neglected at the moment, so I thought I might me and the closet should have a little alone time, she laughed faintly and cocked an eyebrow at him. Plus, you had company and I just was not in the mood to make an appearance. Angel took his eyes from her and looked toward the floor. Oh, so you heard me talking to Spike. Loud and clear, she admitted. So, when are we going to make a trade? Thats what you were doing, right?? You get your bloody money or God knows what else and I get to go home. Is that why you think he was here? Angel asked as he shot her an icy glare with his eyes. Why else would he be here? she asked with her voice slightly raised in anger. Doesnt it seem a little odd that the man that is paid to follow me wherever I go just randomly comes to your front doorstep to have a little chat. Oh, I know, it was just a social visit filled with tea and crackers! Buffy knew that her anger was irrational but ever since she was holed up in that closet, she needed release and Angel was there to take the brunt of her rants. Angel promptly grabbed her by the shoulders and swung her body around to look at him squarely in the face. Buffy, I had no idea he started to say but she wasnt finished yelling at him.

Liam, you dont have to lie to me. Believe me when I get home, I will make sure you get paid in full for all that you have done for me! What makes you think that I am going to get you away from me that easily? Do you honestly believe after all this time, I would want you to push you out of my life like this? he asked as his gaze burrowed into her. Spike isnt here anymore, I told him that I have no idea who kidnapped you and that I asked for a week to find something for him to go on. But if you want to leave on your own accord right now, I am not going to stop you, just make sure that the door doesnt hit your ass on the way out! Angel dropped his grip on her and promptly turned to have her face his back. The reason why he was over is that when we were young, we were friends. Always getting into trouble, but having a damn good time doing so. Then one day in our normal fashion of mayhem, we ended up running from the authorities, Spike got caught while I continued on running. I only heard about what happened to him after Penn stopped me in the street and told me about Spike. I havent heard neither hide nor tail of him and then suddenly 10 years later he came to my front door, asking for a favor. Help him find his girlfriend, who just happens to be the one and only Buffy Summers, his anger began to simmer down as he whispered to her. Hearing his heartfelt confession, she could no longer hold her anger towards him. So what are you going to do now? I dont know, he sighed while his held shook. I dont want to tell him the truth but then he saved my life from something completely horrible as being uprooted from friends and family and sent away. So I guess I will put the decision in your hands. What? she asked as she took a step towards him and gently placed a hand on his arm. What do you want me to do? If you want me to let you go, I will lead Spike directly here but it is all up to you, he whispered with half of him wanting her to answer and the other, dreading her decision. Choose. Will you be caught? she asked. I was the one that did this to you. It is only justice that I would be the one that would be taken for all the time that I stole from you. What will happen to you? I honestly dont care anymore. You dont care! she screamed. How can you say that?? It doesnt matter, he shook his head as he turned to face her with sadness in his eyes. There is nothing here for me. I will just be repeating myself here, but how can you say that??? You have all your friends, you have all of this, she pointed her hands around the room. And you will have me. You cant say that about yourself. No matter how much I want your words to be real, you will always be one step in front of me, just out of arms reach, he said truthfully. Angel, I lov she started to say as tears began to fall upon her cheeks. Dont say that, he interrupted her. You have no idea how those words hurt me. Buffy wanted to pour her heart out to him and tell him everything but she held her tongue. Instead, she took a step forward towards him but he quickly took a step back from her. I am tired, he sighed. If you need me, I will be sleeping on the couch. Angels gaze hit the floor and with slumped shoulders, he shuffled out the door leaving Buffy crying in

his wake. ~~~ Even though Angel felt tired and weary straight down to his bones, he couldnt shut his eyes long enough to embrace sleep. He decided that he needed a walk and maybe that would help him to finally rest. He rolled off the worn couch to stumble across the floor to pick up a pair of shoes that he had in his living room. His tired fingers found great difficulty in tying the laces but as soon as they were finished he was on his feet to retrieve a jacket to shield his body from the cold night. Moving towards his front door, he grabbed the knob but the thought of Buffy stopped him from walking out the door. He turned on the balls of his feet to check up on her in the room. Silently he walked across his house to open his bedroom door a crack to look in on her. The sight in front of him, caught all breath in his throat. In front of his eyes, lay the love of his life still in her dress for that day, curled up in a tight ball with her hair flung haphazardly across her pillow. Even though she looked disheveled, she was still the most beautiful creature that he had ever set eyes upon. The moonlight danced across her milky skin making her look like an angel glowing in light. His heart wanted him to go in and pull her into his body in an embrace but his mind was telling him that he cant. Letting his mind make his decision, he quickly pulled the door shut and walked away from her door. This time he shuffled out the front door, locking the door behind him and walked out onto the street. Angel was completely numb to the world and the cold that encased his body as he made his way to a friends front door. Raising a hand, he firmly knocked on the front door to come face to face with a tousled Penn on the opposite end. Angel, what are you doing here so late? he asked in a yawn. Did Spike come to talk to you? Angel asked. Penn nodded his head as he turned to the side to invite his friend inside out of the cold. Yeah, he wanted to find Buffy and he called in a favor. I am guessing that he did the same to you. I talked to him as Buffy hid in the closet in my room, Angel smiled faintly. Smart girl. I think if I would have known that it was him that came to my door, I would have hidden also, Penn said trying to lift the mood of his friend. So what are you going to do? Angel asked him. I dont think it is important what I am going to do, I think more importantly, what are you going to do because I will follow you. Angel buried his face in his hands as he slumped his body down into Penns nearest chair. I dont know. Well, then here, Penn said as he sat down next to his friend. What do you want to do? I want to tell him nothing, I want to lead him on a wild a goose chase so that I can spend some more time with her. But what I want doesnt matter. Keep on telling yourself that. I know that you think you have some moral obligation to Spike for what happened that day, but you are not the man that you were 10 years ago. It was horrible what happened to Spike, I wont deny that, but that didnt happen to you. You cant be held responsible for what happened, we were young and didnt know any

better and I know that if it were possible to turn back time to change what happened, I know you would take it. But you cant change the past; you can only learn from it and grow from your experience. Learn to forgive yourself and embrace what you have now Penn spoke. Did you figure out who the boss is yet? Angel asked, abruptly changing the subject of their conversation. No one knows. I have grilled every available person and there is nothing, Penn said truthfully. It is really starting to make me extremely brassed off. Is there anything? The only thing that I can come up with is that, when I hear his voice, his accent is not quite alike ours. I know it isnt Irish, Penn thought aloud. Angel contemplated his words and dove into his memory over when he heard that man talking to him. Suddenly, he could hear the difference and his mind raced to try to pinpoint where the accent may come from. As I think about it now, I see what you mean. Buffy said she heard that voice before and maybe she knew it when she was living among the British. Could be? Penn admitted to himself. You dont think that if I go up to him, he would tell me his name, would he? Angel chuckled to him. I dont think I would waste my breath. Angel sighed loudly and put his hands on his knees to pull himself on his feet. Well, I ought to be getting home. I still want to walk around for a while before Buffy wakes back up. But if you hear anything, I want to be the first to know. Sure thing, Penn agreed as he stood to escort Angel out the door. Just answer me one question before you go. Shoot, Angel said as he turned to face Penn after he walked out of Penns front door. Are you in love with her? Penn asked wanting a truthful answer. He could see the look in his friends eyes when he said her name and he knew that Angels feelings for her had gone much deeper than the kidnapper toward his hostage. Without a moments hesitation, Angel said, I love her with everything inside of me, but it isnt enough. Angel swiftly turned on his feet and walked away from Penn as he shut the door behind him. Part XXIII When Angel shuffled through his front door after walking the streets of Dublin for a couple of hours, he came inside to be greeted with deathly silence. The only sound that was partially audible was the soft ticking of the large clock that was on the opposite wall from where the front door was. His heart prayed that when he would open those doors, Buffy would be sitting right there waiting for him to come home, but he knew that would be a foolish dream. With a heavy heart and a loud sigh, Angel quietly shut the door behind him and removed his coat to place it back on the coat rack. Instead of heading straight back to his couch, he decided to make another visit to Buffys room to see if she was still asleep. Angel silently opened the door to find Buffy still in the same position that he had found her previously. The only difference that he sensed was the fact that she clutched the bed sheets more tightly to her face that when he left her before.

One more time his heart and body screamed to lay down next to her and wrap his arms around her body, never letting her go but he knew that he couldnt do that. His eyes looked down at his feet, as he pried them from her beautiful form lying there. That is the worst pain in the world to bearsitting next to someone or being so close to someone and yet know for a certain that you cant have them. Angel would never have her and he kept on telling himself that over and over again, but for tonight, he would give his heart some rest from this ache. Angel silently crept inside her bedroom and tiptoed softly over to where she lay sleeping. Gently, he traced a finger across her cheek and moving a strand of golden hair away from her glorious face. He would be content for an eternity to just stand there and watch her sleep peacefully but he didnt have an eternity, only a few more moments. Leaning down, Angel softly brushed his warm lips across her forehead only to see her stir briefly and take a deep breath from his touch. A smile spread across his face when he saw her own smile as she slept. Taking a step back from her, Angel kept his eyes on her the whole time, barely blinking in the process. He retreated to the opposite corner of the room, where he pressed his back firmly against the wall and slid down the hard surface so that he now was sitting on the floor with his knees bent in front of him. The back of his head leaned up against the wall as his eyes still remained open to watch her. Angel felt his eyelids begin to droop after watching her for countless minutes. Instead of seeing her with his eyes open, he watched her behind his closed eyelids. He saw her beautiful smile, her hair blowing wispily in the soft breeze, the way the sun made her skin glow a radiant hue, and her kind heart. Angel didnt need to look far to see that aspect of her, she wore it on her sleeve for the world to see and he loved her for that. As the images played there, Angel felt himself being lulled tenderly to sleep and for the first time that day, he experienced serenity. ~~~ A bright ray of sunshine broke through the shut blinds of the window to flash across Buffys face, causing her to groggily open her eyes to meet a new day. She heard the faint song of morning birds outside the house and sat up in the bed, only to notice that she was still wearing the same dress that she had been wearing the previous day. She stretched her legs out among the rumpled bed sheets, and used her hands in attempt to smooth out the creases that were in her skirt. Heres me, in desperate need of an iron, she whispered to herself silently. Her eyes remained on her dress until she looked up to see Angel sleeping against the wall on the wall opposite to her. His dark shadow of a beard grew in short stubble across his face as it lay against the wall propped against his shoulder. Buffy noticed how disheveled he looked and she knew that he probably had just a horrible time sleeping as she had. Buffy watched him as he slept peacefully not being able to take her eyes off of him. The soft glow of sunshine bounced across his unshaven face and it seemed to caress every line and crevice of him. She wanted him to stay that way forever because if he would wake up, he might break her heart just as he had last night. While he rested peacefully, she could dream of when they could openly say that they loved each other and he would hold her in his strong arms. She was quite disappointed when she saw that he slowly began to stir from his slumber to stretch and sigh. When he finally opened his dark eyes, she could see the look of shock

on his face as he locked eyes with her. How long have you been awake? he asked as he moved his hand to rub the side of his face and comb through his disheveled spiked hair. Not too long, she answered truthfully. Have you been there all night? Not all night. After you fell asleep, I took a walk around town then after I came here, he admitted to her. Well, good morning, she smiled sweetly at him as he grunted trying to raise himself off of the floor. Good morning, he responded to her with little emotion in his voice. Buffy, I need to talk to you about last night Last night she whispered to herself before she raised her voice to stop him. I want to apologize for my comments after Spike left, I was scared that he would find me and take me back. Buffy, I need you to do something for me, Angel said quickly not commenting on her previous confession. Anything, she responded truthfully as she looked deeply in his eyes. I need you to get away from me, he unintentionally snapped at her. W-w-what?? she stumbled. I am going to take you to Willow and Ozs house this afternoon where you are going to stay with them until we can figure everything out. He was sending her away and she felt the tears brimming her eyes one more time. At first, she felt sad at his request for her but then her emotions drastically turned angry. Why?? she demanded. Spike knows where I live and as long as you stay here with me, he can come anytime he wants and take you back. He has no idea about Ozs involvement in your kidnapping, so their house is safe for you, Angel said in desperation. We will go over there when you are ready. Angel turned his back on her and tried to walk out the door right before she jumped from her spot on the bed to grab him by the should to make him turn to face her. Is that what you really want? Buffy asked in the hopes that Angel would change his mind and not send her away. Yes, he answered coolly. I cannot protect you any more. Taking her hand from his shoulder and throwing both arms limply to her sides, she looked to the floor and turned to walk back towards the bed. I will be ready in a few minutes, she whispered and after a few seconds she heard his feet softly pounding on the floor as he made his way out. As soon as she heard the door shut behind him, she picked up the nearest pillow lying there on the bed and tossed it across the room at the closed door. Bastard, she screamed softly to herself before she crumbled down on the bed in tears. ~~~ It took only about five minutes before Buffy and all her things were packed up to relocate to Willow and Ozs. No words were said as Angel walked Buffy a few blocks down. Here, let me take that, he offered as he moved his hand and placed it over top of hers on the handle of her bag. Buffy felt his warm touch open her skin and prompt pulled her hand away, as if this hand burned hers. No thank you.

No problem, he said sullenly as he dove his hands in his pockets to try not to place his arm around her shoulders. Walking up to the front door, the tension between the two was so thick; one can almost cut it in half with a dull knife. Angel quietly rapt his knuckles on the hardwood door, only to see Willows face as she smiled when she opened the door. Hello, you two, she greeted with an even bigger smile. Hi Willow, Buffy said as she put on the faade of happiness with a smile that matched the red heads. Well, I ought to be getting along, Angel said. If you need anything, you know where to find me. Angel turned to walk away from the two women, but before he could get too far, he heard Willow call out to him. Arent you going to say goodbye? Willow yelled. I cant, he said honestly because he knew that he could never fully let her go. She would always be in his heart and nothing could take her from that spot. Not able to say anything more, he turned and walked back towards his house. Willow returned her attention back to Buffy who was still standing outside her door, only to see the look of sadness in her eyes. Are you all right? she asked soothingly. Im fine, Buffy answered her knowing that she was not fine. She would never be fine until she was with him. Buffy, you can tell me the truth. I can see you are hurting, you know you can talk to me about it, Willow offered. Hearing the kindness and tranquility in Willows voice was the last straw for her, Buffy let the tears stream down her face. God, I hate him and yet I cant hate him, Buffy sniffled softly. Willow wrapped her arm around Buffy and escorted her into her house. Does he know yet? she asked. Does he know what? Buffy asked in confusion. About the baby? Willow clarified. Buffys hands unconsciously moved down to her abdomen where she began to feel the small swelling under her touch. No, and I dont think I am ever going to tell him, Buffy said truthfully as her anger resurged and he tears stopped. Buffy, he needs to know, Willow shook her head at the blonde. I think it might change his mind a little if he knows. I dont want the only reason that he is with me is because I am carrying his child. If he doesnt want me, then he doesnt want this baby, Buffy said not taking her hands from her womb. He will come around, all he has to do is deal with a few things, then he will be right back here, begging for you to return to him. I know he will, Willow tried to assure her friend but she didnt know if Buffy would believe her. Buffy only cast her eyes downward towards the floor and nodded her head slowly. In my dreams, only my dreams, she thought to herself as she took a deep breath and a look around the place that she would consider her home for the next couple of weeks. Part XXIV The loneliness of a week without Buffy started to gnaw and eat away at everything that Angel held inside of him. No matter if he tried to escape the memory of her, he would find someplace that would remind him of her. He would walk the same path that they

would take on their walks together, remembering how she had held his hand as they walked or pass by the building along their route where they exchanged their last kiss; all memories almost too painful to bear. With her being gone for a few days, Angel decided that he should probably move back into his bedroom but every time he laid his head down on the pillow, he would take a deep breath of her scent that still clung to the sheets. It was also on that same bed that they had shared something that could never ever be replicated, unless they would be able to have another moment just like that one. But that would never happen again! Angel shook his head at the memories and knew that he had to stop his brooding and actually get something accomplished instead of just sitting there and feeling sorry for himself. He stood up suddenly from the chair where he was sitting to have his worn copy of William Shakespeares play, Romeo and Juliet, fall from his knee and clatter on the floor. Must find Spike, he thought to himself as he ran from his home to try to get his old friend off his trail for a little while longer to figure out things. He ran with reckless abandon thinking of everyplace that Spike could be possibly found and he followed his feet back to a place that he never wanted to see again Buffys house. Angel worked up enough courage to step up to the front door and knock on the hardwood door to see if anyone was home. Part of him wished that no one was there so that he could make a clean getaway but part of him wanted to face this and get it over with. After a few seconds of waiting Angel turned his back to walk away, but then the sound of the door creaking open, he turned back around. He took a few moments to evaluate the man that had answered the door. The very presence of the man in front of him absolutely screamed butler, so he found it safe to assume that it was. The man was a little over 40, his body incased in a suit of tweed and he had thin-wired glasses on the bridge of his nose. Angel could tell from the wear on the sides of his glasses, that the wearer put them on and took them off quite frequently. Can I help you sir? the man answers while staring Angel down on the porch. I am looking for Spike, is he by chance here? Angel asked as he tried to keep his voice calm and collected. And you are?? the man asked with slight annoyance in his voice. I, um I am Liam Malone, sir, but everyone calls me Angel, he stuttered with a shaky voice. The plain fact that he was standing in front of Buffys front door and moments away from being caught made him quite nervous. Angel! the man exclaimed. I have heard much about you from Spike. Hearing the influx of the mans voice, caused Angel to relax slightly but he was still on guard for anything wrong that could happen. Whatever he has told you, dont listen to a word he says, Angel said halfway between being serious and joking. We dont listen to him much around her anyway so no need for the warning, he smiled back at Angel. Why dont you come on in and I will go and see if I can find him. As soon as Angel stepped inside the threshold, the man that opened the door quickly sprinted away from him leaving him all alone in this strange place. He buried his hands deeply into his pockets, and craned his neck so that he was staring at the ceiling while he rolled back and forth on the balls of his feet to his heels. Waiting was the worst, especially in the position that he was in.

It took only moments before the man came back. I forgot to introduce myself back there, I am Rupert Giles, the Summers family butler. Nice to meet you, Angel greeted with a hand extended in offer of a handshake. Is Spike here? he asked still with his hand interlocked with the butler. Yes, he will be here in a few moments. He is always busy around here, running around trying to find anyway to get back the girl that was kidnapped from here, Giles informed him as they dropped their hands. Buffy, Angel said plainly. Indeed, have you heard about her? Giles asked with excitement in his eyes. Maybe he is going to tell Spike were she is. I am so worried about her. I cant stand the thought of her being lost somewhere with the people who did this to her. Were you close to her? Angel asked directly because his curiosity of this man took control of his mind. She was the only person in this whole world that was like a daughter to me. I never had any of my own, but I always had her. God, I miss her so! Giles exclaimed as he tried but failed to hold in his emotions. It is so odd to not see her every morning, bounding down the stairs, with the biggest smile that anyone could have. I bet. Oh my, I should not be talking to you about this, it was rude of me, Giles apologized but he didnt need to. Angel could tell that this man truly cared for the woman that he loved and it felt good to her something about her life before she met him. No, that is alright, I am a pretty good listener, Angel assure him with a smile on his face. Well, all I can say is that when she comes home and I see a new scar on her body that I dont know of, I might act quite irrational, Giles admitted. I have been there for every bump, bruise and scratch. I have always been curious as to how she got that tiny scar on the base of her head towards her neck, Angel slipped. What did you say? Giles inquired as he heard the mans question about a scar that normally Buffy had kept quite hidden. I, um I Heres Spike, Angel tensed up from the question and was quite lucky to see Spike bail him out perfectly from the awkward situation. So, Angel, what brings you to my crypt? Spike greeted with a large grin on his face then turned to face Giles and commanded, You can go now. Giles responded with a slight bow of his head and turned to leave the two young men alone. Have you heard anything? Spike asked imperatively. Angel cast his eyes down at the floor in order not to look his friend in the eye when openly lying to him. No I am sorry, Spike. Everyone has been keeping exceptionally hush, hush, and I could pry not one word from anyone to find out who kidnapped her. Really? Spike questioned, wondering why Angel could not look him in the eye to tell him this. You have heard nothing. Angel knew that he had to look Spike straight in the face in order to pull this off, so he took his eyes from the floor and stared into his friends light blue orbs. Not a peep, but I will keep on trying. I am pretty sure that around the time that the British officials sweep through Dublin, people are bound to crack and slip something. You heard about the officials? Spike asked now starting to be convinced that his friend

was telling him the truth. Everyone has, especially after that little incident in the bed and breakfast a month ago. Only one couple escaped from the explosion and right away the accident was blamed on Irish revolutionaries. Oh yeah, I remember that story now. What happened to that couple anyway? Spike inquired. Not sure, Angel admitted with a shrug. I think they may have headed back home or something. After telling him this, Angel sighed loudly and slumped his shoulders with absolute exhaustion. Are you alright? Spike sounded concerned. I am fine, Angel said while straightening his body slightly. Just havent been getting too much sleep lately. Aww Is that girl that you were talking about keeping you up all night? Spike mocked him. Really, Peaches, I thought that you would have a little more stamina. She keeps me up all night, he admitted but then finished the statement in his head, but in a way that you mean. She is gone for a while though, so I am going home and getting some sleep. You do that, Spike said with a smile then grabbed his friends arm to escort him out the door. It looks like you could use a full 24 hours of sleep with the way you look. And it looks like you could use a constant stream of food for 24 hours with the way that you look, Angel joked. Spike laughed along with his friend, and continued to lead him out the door. You go home and make sure to get some sleep and if you hear anything, you have to let me know. Will do, Angel nodded his head and walked away from the front door. Now, I have to make a pit stop. Shenanigans Pub. Angel felt the overwhelming urge to drown his loneliness and pain in as many bottles of alcohol that he could get his hands on. In on time at all, Angel found a spot along the bar and began to down one drink after another in hopes to wash away the heartache. ~~~ For the next few weeks, Angel spent almost every waking hour inside that pub, wasting away in his drinks. He had cut off most conversation with his friends and they were getting quite worried about him. Angel, Doyle said as he squatted down to Angels face that was pressed firmly against the top of the table. Why dont you let me have this one? No, Angel slurred as his mouth barely moved and his eyes stared forward with no emotion in them. If he cant take it, then I will, Gunn came up quickly behind him and swiped the drink away before Angel could protest. Angel was extremely pissed off about Gunns action but he could not move fast enough to take physical revenge from his friend. Thats ok, he garbled, I will just get a new one. Oh no, you dont, Xander stated plainly. You really need to stop this, what the hell happened to you anyway? You guys wouldnt understand, Angel said as he laid his head back down on the table.

Girl troubles, Gunn, Xander and Doyle all said at once. Angel turned his head to the side so that he didnt look at them any longer and his other cheek rested on the cold surface. Who is she? Xander pried. You normally tell us everything but ever since Buffy left your home to live with Willow and Oz, you have said maybe five words to all of us. Well, unlike you Xander, I dont have an overpowering urge to keep my mouth moving at all times of the day, Angel began to take his anger out on his friends. What is wrong with you man? Gunn pried further. You cant keep on doing this to yourself. What happened? Doyle said in a soothing manner as he crouched across his friend and placed a hand on his back. You can tell us. God I love her!!!!! he yelled as he felt tears begin to fall on his face. After his outburst, the room fell silent. That was it? Xander asked breaking that silence. That is everything? Well, does she know how you feel? Doyle asked. Angel shook his head no, not pulling his head up far enough that his nose still scrapes across the table. Why dont you? Xander asked. Because I cant and I wont. This is all too difficult. The course of true love never did run smooth, Gunn whispered in the back. Angel picked up his head suddenly to stare down his friend. What did you say?? Good ole Willie Shakespeare, The course of true love never did run smooth. Ever heard that one? he repeated. She loves Shakespeare, too, Angel admitted as he sobered up slightly from Gunns words. Angel you cant just spend the rest of your life here, trying to drown out you problems. Believe me I tried, Doyle began to explain. After Harry left me, I felt that I could never feel good again but hey, look at me now. I am just fine. What did you do? Angel asked barely above a whisper. I went to talk to her. We talked things over and we decided that the separation was probably for the best, but it might be different for you, he said. She is probably feeling just as shitty as you do, but in order to see that, you have to talk to her first. I dont know how, Angel admitted. Well, the first thing you need to do is get off your ass and walk to where she lives, Gunn stated as he grabbed Angel under the arms and lifted him to his feet. That is always a good start. Gunn let Angel go, thinking that he was going to hit the floor, but Angel surprised everyone when he stayed on his feet. You know what, you guys, you are right! I should go and find her and tell her what she is missing, Angel claimed as he swayed back and forth on shaky legs. Thats the spirit! Xander exclaimed. Now the next step is getting through the door without falling. No problem, Angel waved his hand nonchalantly and promptly took a step forward which caused him to quickly fall straight to the ground. Uh, guys. A little help here. After much struggling, the three boys were able to get Angel to his feet and out the pubs doors. From that moment, he was able to walk well enough on his own and the three

others returned back to their homes. With unsteady legs, Angel made his way to Ozs house to confront the woman that he loved. And I know that you are feeling the pain just as I am, so here I am to tell you that I love you! he screamed to the darkness of the street, practicing what he was going to say. I know you are hurting just as I am so he yelled before he got to Ozs front lawn. He caught himself staring at the front of the house for many moments, not moving, before he finally decided to walk toward the door and ask for her. Striding forward, Angels eyes never left the house but then when he was able to see through the window in the front of the house, all walking ceased. There was Buffy in the living room with the largest grin on her face. Angel could see the sparkle of happiness in her eyes, and he could tell how glad she was there without him probably happier than when she was with him. He could not take his eyes off of her while she seemed so happy and laughed loudly with the people that she was sitting with. This was proof that she was happy and not in pain as he was, so with even more tiredness and with drooping shoulders, he turned around to walk away from the house only to return back to the pub. Part XXIII When Angel shuffled through his front door after walking the streets of Dublin for a couple of hours, he came inside to be greeted with deathly silence. The only sound that was partially audible was the soft ticking of the large clock that was on the opposite wall from where the front door was. His heart prayed that when he would open those doors, Buffy would be sitting right there waiting for him to come home, but he knew that would be a foolish dream. With a heavy heart and a loud sigh, Angel quietly shut the door behind him and removed his coat to place it back on the coat rack. Instead of heading straight back to his couch, he decided to make another visit to Buffys room to see if she was still asleep. Angel silently opened the door to find Buffy still in the same position that he had found her previously. The only difference that he sensed was the fact that she clutched the bed sheets more tightly to her face that when he left her before. One more time his heart and body screamed to lay down next to her and wrap his arms around her body, never letting her go but he knew that he couldnt do that. His eyes looked down at his feet, as he pried them from her beautiful form lying there. That is the worst pain in the world to bearsitting next to someone or being so close to someone and yet know for a certain that you cant have them. Angel would never have her and he kept on telling himself that over and over again, but for tonight, he would give his heart some rest from this ache. Angel silently crept inside her bedroom and tiptoed softly over to where she lay sleeping. Gently, he traced a finger across her cheek and moving a strand of golden hair away from her glorious face. He would be content for an eternity to just stand there and watch her sleep peacefully but he didnt have an eternity, only a few more moments. Leaning down, Angel softly brushed his warm lips across her forehead only to see her stir briefly and take a deep breath from his touch. A smile spread across his face when he saw her own smile as she slept. Taking a step back from her, Angel kept his eyes on her the whole time, barely blinking in the process. He retreated to the opposite corner of the room, where he pressed his back

firmly against the wall and slid down the hard surface so that he now was sitting on the floor with his knees bent in front of him. The back of his head leaned up against the wall as his eyes still remained open to watch her. Angel felt his eyelids begin to droop after watching her for countless minutes. Instead of seeing her with his eyes open, he watched her behind his closed eyelids. He saw her beautiful smile, her hair blowing wispily in the soft breeze, the way the sun made her skin glow a radiant hue, and her kind heart. Angel didnt need to look far to see that aspect of her, she wore it on her sleeve for the world to see and he loved her for that. As the images played there, Angel felt himself being lulled tenderly to sleep and for the first time that day, he experienced serenity. ~~~ A bright ray of sunshine broke through the shut blinds of the window to flash across Buffys face, causing her to groggily open her eyes to meet a new day. She heard the faint song of morning birds outside the house and sat up in the bed, only to notice that she was still wearing the same dress that she had been wearing the previous day. She stretched her legs out among the rumpled bed sheets, and used her hands in attempt to smooth out the creases that were in her skirt. Heres me, in desperate need of an iron, she whispered to herself silently. Her eyes remained on her dress until she looked up to see Angel sleeping against the wall on the wall opposite to her. His dark shadow of a beard grew in short stubble across his face as it lay against the wall propped against his shoulder. Buffy noticed how disheveled he looked and she knew that he probably had just a horrible time sleeping as she had. Buffy watched him as he slept peacefully not being able to take her eyes off of him. The soft glow of sunshine bounced across his unshaven face and it seemed to caress every line and crevice of him. She wanted him to stay that way forever because if he would wake up, he might break her heart just as he had last night. While he rested peacefully, she could dream of when they could openly say that they loved each other and he would hold her in his strong arms. She was quite disappointed when she saw that he slowly began to stir from his slumber to stretch and sigh. When he finally opened his dark eyes, she could see the look of shock on his face as he locked eyes with her. How long have you been awake? he asked as he moved his hand to rub the side of his face and comb through his disheveled spiked hair. Not too long, she answered truthfully. Have you been there all night? Not all night. After you fell asleep, I took a walk around town then after I came here, he admitted to her. Well, good morning, she smiled sweetly at him as he grunted trying to raise himself off of the floor. Good morning, he responded to her with little emotion in his voice. Buffy, I need to talk to you about last night Last night she whispered to herself before she raised her voice to stop him. I want to apologize for my comments after Spike left, I was scared that he would find me and take me back. Buffy, I need you to do something for me, Angel said quickly not commenting on her previous confession. Anything, she responded truthfully as she looked deeply in his eyes.

I need you to get away from me, he unintentionally snapped at her. W-w-what?? she stumbled. I am going to take you to Willow and Ozs house this afternoon where you are going to stay with them until we can figure everything out. He was sending her away and she felt the tears brimming her eyes one more time. At first, she felt sad at his request for her but then her emotions drastically turned angry. Why?? she demanded. Spike knows where I live and as long as you stay here with me, he can come anytime he wants and take you back. He has no idea about Ozs involvement in your kidnapping, so their house is safe for you, Angel said in desperation. We will go over there when you are ready. Angel turned his back on her and tried to walk out the door right before she jumped from her spot on the bed to grab him by the should to make him turn to face her. Is that what you really want? Buffy asked in the hopes that Angel would change his mind and not send her away. Yes, he answered coolly. I cannot protect you any more. Taking her hand from his shoulder and throwing both arms limply to her sides, she looked to the floor and turned to walk back towards the bed. I will be ready in a few minutes, she whispered and after a few seconds she heard his feet softly pounding on the floor as he made his way out. As soon as she heard the door shut behind him, she picked up the nearest pillow lying there on the bed and tossed it across the room at the closed door. Bastard, she screamed softly to herself before she crumbled down on the bed in tears. ~~~ It took only about five minutes before Buffy and all her things were packed up to relocate to Willow and Ozs. No words were said as Angel walked Buffy a few blocks down. Here, let me take that, he offered as he moved his hand and placed it over top of hers on the handle of her bag. Buffy felt his warm touch open her skin and prompt pulled her hand away, as if this hand burned hers. No thank you. No problem, he said sullenly as he dove his hands in his pockets to try not to place his arm around her shoulders. Walking up to the front door, the tension between the two was so thick; one can almost cut it in half with a dull knife. Angel quietly rapt his knuckles on the hardwood door, only to see Willows face as she smiled when she opened the door. Hello, you two, she greeted with an even bigger smile. Hi Willow, Buffy said as she put on the faade of happiness with a smile that matched the red heads. Well, I ought to be getting along, Angel said. If you need anything, you know where to find me. Angel turned to walk away from the two women, but before he could get too far, he heard Willow call out to him. Arent you going to say goodbye? Willow yelled. I cant, he said honestly because he knew that he could never fully let her go. She would always be in his heart and nothing could take her from that spot. Not able to say anything more, he turned and walked back towards his house. Willow returned her attention back to Buffy who was still standing outside her door, only

to see the look of sadness in her eyes. Are you all right? she asked soothingly. Im fine, Buffy answered her knowing that she was not fine. She would never be fine until she was with him. Buffy, you can tell me the truth. I can see you are hurting, you know you can talk to me about it, Willow offered. Hearing the kindness and tranquility in Willows voice was the last straw for her, Buffy let the tears stream down her face. God, I hate him and yet I cant hate him, Buffy sniffled softly. Willow wrapped her arm around Buffy and escorted her into her house. Does he know yet? she asked. Does he know what? Buffy asked in confusion. About the baby? Willow clarified. Buffys hands unconsciously moved down to her abdomen where she began to feel the small swelling under her touch. No, and I dont think I am ever going to tell him, Buffy said truthfully as her anger resurged and he tears stopped. Buffy, he needs to know, Willow shook her head at the blonde. I think it might change his mind a little if he knows. I dont want the only reason that he is with me is because I am carrying his child. If he doesnt want me, then he doesnt want this baby, Buffy said not taking her hands from her womb. He will come around, all he has to do is deal with a few things, then he will be right back here, begging for you to return to him. I know he will, Willow tried to assure her friend but she didnt know if Buffy would believe her. Buffy only cast her eyes downward towards the floor and nodded her head slowly. In my dreams, only my dreams, she thought to herself as she took a deep breath and a look around the place that she would consider her home for the next couple of weeks. Part XXIV The loneliness of a week without Buffy started to gnaw and eat away at everything that Angel held inside of him. No matter if he tried to escape the memory of her, he would find someplace that would remind him of her. He would walk the same path that they would take on their walks together, remembering how she had held his hand as they walked or pass by the building along their route where they exchanged their last kiss; all memories almost too painful to bear. With her being gone for a few days, Angel decided that he should probably move back into his bedroom but every time he laid his head down on the pillow, he would take a deep breath of her scent that still clung to the sheets. It was also on that same bed that they had shared something that could never ever be replicated, unless they would be able to have another moment just like that one. But that would never happen again! Angel shook his head at the memories and knew that he had to stop his brooding and actually get something accomplished instead of just sitting there and feeling sorry for himself. He stood up suddenly from the chair where he was sitting to have his worn copy of William Shakespeares play, Romeo and Juliet, fall from his knee and clatter on the floor. Must find Spike, he thought to himself as he ran from his home to try to get his old friend off his trail for a little while longer to figure out things. He ran with reckless abandon thinking of everyplace that Spike could be possibly found

and he followed his feet back to a place that he never wanted to see again Buffys house. Angel worked up enough courage to step up to the front door and knock on the hardwood door to see if anyone was home. Part of him wished that no one was there so that he could make a clean getaway but part of him wanted to face this and get it over with. After a few seconds of waiting Angel turned his back to walk away, but then the sound of the door creaking open, he turned back around. He took a few moments to evaluate the man that had answered the door. The very presence of the man in front of him absolutely screamed butler, so he found it safe to assume that it was. The man was a little over 40, his body incased in a suit of tweed and he had thin-wired glasses on the bridge of his nose. Angel could tell from the wear on the sides of his glasses, that the wearer put them on and took them off quite frequently. Can I help you sir? the man answers while staring Angel down on the porch. I am looking for Spike, is he by chance here? Angel asked as he tried to keep his voice calm and collected. And you are?? the man asked with slight annoyance in his voice. I, um I am Liam Malone, sir, but everyone calls me Angel, he stuttered with a shaky voice. The plain fact that he was standing in front of Buffys front door and moments away from being caught made him quite nervous. Angel! the man exclaimed. I have heard much about you from Spike. Hearing the influx of the mans voice, caused Angel to relax slightly but he was still on guard for anything wrong that could happen. Whatever he has told you, dont listen to a word he says, Angel said halfway between being serious and joking. We dont listen to him much around her anyway so no need for the warning, he smiled back at Angel. Why dont you come on in and I will go and see if I can find him. As soon as Angel stepped inside the threshold, the man that opened the door quickly sprinted away from him leaving him all alone in this strange place. He buried his hands deeply into his pockets, and craned his neck so that he was staring at the ceiling while he rolled back and forth on the balls of his feet to his heels. Waiting was the worst, especially in the position that he was in. It took only moments before the man came back. I forgot to introduce myself back there, I am Rupert Giles, the Summers family butler. Nice to meet you, Angel greeted with a hand extended in offer of a handshake. Is Spike here? he asked still with his hand interlocked with the butler. Yes, he will be here in a few moments. He is always busy around here, running around trying to find anyway to get back the girl that was kidnapped from here, Giles informed him as they dropped their hands. Buffy, Angel said plainly. Indeed, have you heard about her? Giles asked with excitement in his eyes. Maybe he is going to tell Spike were she is. I am so worried about her. I cant stand the thought of her being lost somewhere with the people who did this to her. Were you close to her? Angel asked directly because his curiosity of this man took control of his mind. She was the only person in this whole world that was like a daughter to me. I never had any of my own, but I always had her. God, I miss her so! Giles exclaimed as he tried but failed to hold in his emotions. It is so odd to not see her every morning, bounding down

the stairs, with the biggest smile that anyone could have. I bet. Oh my, I should not be talking to you about this, it was rude of me, Giles apologized but he didnt need to. Angel could tell that this man truly cared for the woman that he loved and it felt good to her something about her life before she met him. No, that is alright, I am a pretty good listener, Angel assure him with a smile on his face. Well, all I can say is that when she comes home and I see a new scar on her body that I dont know of, I might act quite irrational, Giles admitted. I have been there for every bump, bruise and scratch. I have always been curious as to how she got that tiny scar on the base of her head towards her neck, Angel slipped. What did you say? Giles inquired as he heard the mans question about a scar that normally Buffy had kept quite hidden. I, um I Heres Spike, Angel tensed up from the question and was quite lucky to see Spike bail him out perfectly from the awkward situation. So, Angel, what brings you to my crypt? Spike greeted with a large grin on his face then turned to face Giles and commanded, You can go now. Giles responded with a slight bow of his head and turned to leave the two young men alone. Have you heard anything? Spike asked imperatively. Angel cast his eyes down at the floor in order not to look his friend in the eye when openly lying to him. No I am sorry, Spike. Everyone has been keeping exceptionally hush, hush, and I could pry not one word from anyone to find out who kidnapped her. Really? Spike questioned, wondering why Angel could not look him in the eye to tell him this. You have heard nothing. Angel knew that he had to look Spike straight in the face in order to pull this off, so he took his eyes from the floor and stared into his friends light blue orbs. Not a peep, but I will keep on trying. I am pretty sure that around the time that the British officials sweep through Dublin, people are bound to crack and slip something. You heard about the officials? Spike asked now starting to be convinced that his friend was telling him the truth. Everyone has, especially after that little incident in the bed and breakfast a month ago. Only one couple escaped from the explosion and right away the accident was blamed on Irish revolutionaries. Oh yeah, I remember that story now. What happened to that couple anyway? Spike inquired. Not sure, Angel admitted with a shrug. I think they may have headed back home or something. After telling him this, Angel sighed loudly and slumped his shoulders with absolute exhaustion. Are you alright? Spike sounded concerned. I am fine, Angel said while straightening his body slightly. Just havent been getting too much sleep lately. Aww Is that girl that you were talking about keeping you up all night? Spike mocked him. Really, Peaches, I thought that you would have a little more stamina. She keeps me up all night, he admitted but then finished the statement in his head, but in a way that you mean. She is gone for a while though, so I am going home and getting

some sleep. You do that, Spike said with a smile then grabbed his friends arm to escort him out the door. It looks like you could use a full 24 hours of sleep with the way you look. And it looks like you could use a constant stream of food for 24 hours with the way that you look, Angel joked. Spike laughed along with his friend, and continued to lead him out the door. You go home and make sure to get some sleep and if you hear anything, you have to let me know. Will do, Angel nodded his head and walked away from the front door. Now, I have to make a pit stop. Shenanigans Pub. Angel felt the overwhelming urge to drown his loneliness and pain in as many bottles of alcohol that he could get his hands on. In on time at all, Angel found a spot along the bar and began to down one drink after another in hopes to wash away the heartache. ~~~ For the next few weeks, Angel spent almost every waking hour inside that pub, wasting away in his drinks. He had cut off most conversation with his friends and they were getting quite worried about him. Angel, Doyle said as he squatted down to Angels face that was pressed firmly against the top of the table. Why dont you let me have this one? No, Angel slurred as his mouth barely moved and his eyes stared forward with no emotion in them. If he cant take it, then I will, Gunn came up quickly behind him and swiped the drink away before Angel could protest. Angel was extremely pissed off about Gunns action but he could not move fast enough to take physical revenge from his friend. Thats ok, he garbled, I will just get a new one. Oh no, you dont, Xander stated plainly. You really need to stop this, what the hell happened to you anyway? You guys wouldnt understand, Angel said as he laid his head back down on the table. Girl troubles, Gunn, Xander and Doyle all said at once. Angel turned his head to the side so that he didnt look at them any longer and his other cheek rested on the cold surface. Who is she? Xander pried. You normally tell us everything but ever since Buffy left your home to live with Willow and Oz, you have said maybe five words to all of us. Well, unlike you Xander, I dont have an overpowering urge to keep my mouth moving at all times of the day, Angel began to take his anger out on his friends. What is wrong with you man? Gunn pried further. You cant keep on doing this to yourself. What happened? Doyle said in a soothing manner as he crouched across his friend and placed a hand on his back. You can tell us. God I love her!!!!! he yelled as he felt tears begin to fall on his face. After his outburst, the room fell silent. That was it? Xander asked breaking that silence. That is everything? Well, does she know how you feel? Doyle asked. Angel shook his head no, not pulling his head up far enough that his nose still scrapes

across the table. Why dont you? Xander asked. Because I cant and I wont. This is all too difficult. The course of true love never did run smooth, Gunn whispered in the back. Angel picked up his head suddenly to stare down his friend. What did you say?? Good ole Willie Shakespeare, The course of true love never did run smooth. Ever heard that one? he repeated. She loves Shakespeare, too, Angel admitted as he sobered up slightly from Gunns words. Angel you cant just spend the rest of your life here, trying to drown out you problems. Believe me I tried, Doyle began to explain. After Harry left me, I felt that I could never feel good again but hey, look at me now. I am just fine. What did you do? Angel asked barely above a whisper. I went to talk to her. We talked things over and we decided that the separation was probably for the best, but it might be different for you, he said. She is probably feeling just as shitty as you do, but in order to see that, you have to talk to her first. I dont know how, Angel admitted. Well, the first thing you need to do is get off your ass and walk to where she lives, Gunn stated as he grabbed Angel under the arms and lifted him to his feet. That is always a good start. Gunn let Angel go, thinking that he was going to hit the floor, but Angel surprised everyone when he stayed on his feet. You know what, you guys, you are right! I should go and find her and tell her what she is missing, Angel claimed as he swayed back and forth on shaky legs. Thats the spirit! Xander exclaimed. Now the next step is getting through the door without falling. No problem, Angel waved his hand nonchalantly and promptly took a step forward which caused him to quickly fall straight to the ground. Uh, guys. A little help here. After much struggling, the three boys were able to get Angel to his feet and out the pubs doors. From that moment, he was able to walk well enough on his own and the three others returned back to their homes. With unsteady legs, Angel made his way to Ozs house to confront the woman that he loved. And I know that you are feeling the pain just as I am, so here I am to tell you that I love you! he screamed to the darkness of the street, practicing what he was going to say. I know you are hurting just as I am so he yelled before he got to Ozs front lawn. He caught himself staring at the front of the house for many moments, not moving, before he finally decided to walk toward the door and ask for her. Striding forward, Angels eyes never left the house but then when he was able to see through the window in the front of the house, all walking ceased. There was Buffy in the living room with the largest grin on her face. Angel could see the sparkle of happiness in her eyes, and he could tell how glad she was there without him probably happier than when she was with him. He could not take his eyes off of her while she seemed so happy and laughed loudly with the people that she was sitting with. This was proof that she was happy and not in pain as he was, so with even more tiredness and with drooping shoulders, he turned around to

walk away from the house only to return back to the pub. Part XXV Buffy, you really need to get out of the house sometime, Willow pleaded with her friend. Over the past couple of weeks together, their relationship grew stronger and stronger as the days past. With a tear stained face, Buffy looked up at Willows big eyes only to look back down to the floor and shake her head. Todays not a good day, she whispered softly, still feeling the loneliness that Angel had sat upon her when he left her there. You said that yesterday, Willow sighed loudly. You really need to think of better excuses. How about I dont want to go because I am the size of a large house, I am lonely and I am starting to get fond of the lack of direct sun. I never knew the wonders that darkness can do to milky white skin, Buffy said in all seriousness. Willow smiled faintly at her friends comment and could not hold back the laughter that was dying to be heard. That is one of the worst excuses that I have ever heard and by the way, you are not as large as a house. Maybe not a large house but most definitely a small cottage, Buffy joked as she stroked her moderately distended stomach. In her time at Willow and Ozs house, the only true time that she felt happy was when she would feel the tiny life inside her body moving under her touch. How are my two favorite females? Oz asked as he came inside the room where Buffy and Willow sat and breaking their conversation. Great, Willow responded with a smile as Oz leaned down and left a quick kiss on her cheek. Huge, Buffy said stoically. Oz looked up at the blonde that sat in his living room and he could almost see the sadness radiating off of her body. You know if you would tell Angel about the baby, I am pretty sure that he would tell you otherwise, he shrugged his shoulders at the two females who suddenly looked at him with piercing glares when they heard his words. W-w-what did you say? Buffy stuttered, with Willow equally confused. I said that if you would tell Angel about him becoming a father in only a few months, I think he would tell you that you are one of the most beautiful women on this earth, he stated again. After Willow, of course. Oh yeah, of course, Willow smiled brightly and rolled her eyes at her husband. Buffy looked around the room and saw how much in love these two were and suddenly a new bout of tears brimmed her eyes. She would give everything to have that kind of moment with Angel, just one signed that he loved her just as much as she loved him. Buffy twisted her hands in her lap as the tears began to fall. Please, Buffy, dont cry, Willow pleaded seeing her friend breaking down into tears one more time. I thought those leaks would have stopped themselves by now. Me too, Buffy sniffled and the tears began to quell. How did you know about me and Angel? she asked finally getting down to her confusion. Wasnt hard, Oz admitted. You two have acted differently around each other ever since that one night at the pub and of course, your incessant sadness after he left you. Did you tell Angel? Willow asked knowing that Buffy was probably going to ask the same question.

Havent said a word. If anyone is going to tell him, it had better be you, he turned his attention to Buffy. Buffy quickly shook her head at her friends and returned her attention back to the floor. No, I wont, she said rather confidently. You have to tell him sometime, Buffy. He needs to know, Willow said truthfully. You have two before you lose the chance to. I dont know what to tell him or how, she admitted as she felt tears come again. Alright, you need some fresh air, Oz said and strode next to her with his wife quick on his heels. Each took one of her arms and drug her to her feet to escort her out the door. No, Buffy pleaded and ground her heels into the floor to stop them. Stop! But before they would listen to her cries, Buffy was already out the front door and feeling the warm rays of sunshine on every inch of her face. She had felt this continuous feeling of cold and standing there in the sun, some of that chill was swept away from her bones. The birds in the sky sang their merry songs as the clouds chased themselves across the sky. The wind blew through her hair while she lifted her arms from her side in the attempt to fly away from all of this. All of the pain, all of the loneliness, all of the heartache, everything. Willow and Oz stood behind her watching Buffy feel some sort of release from all her worries. Something in the air was telling them that she was going to be all right and that in the end, she would be happy. Buffy turned slowly in a circle to face her friends with her arms still extended out from her shoulders. Thank you, she said as stared at Willow with a small sparkle in her eyes. Thank you to what? Xander said as the rest of the gang came toward the front of Ozs house. Hearing their coming and Xanders voice, Buffy quickly dropped her arms and turned to face them. Hows everything Oh hello, he continued as his stare fell upon Buffys body. Seeing his gaze, Buffy promptly crossed her arms across her stomach in the hopes to cover up her swelling belly. Uh guys, what is going on here? Doyle asked finally founding his voice after the shock of seeing Buffy. Nothing Nothings wrong, why are you asking? Buffy snapped back. Buffys pregnant, Cordelia answered her question, clearing the air for her husband and the rest of those who stared in utter surprise. Tell us something that we dont know, Xander huffed at her. Could you please explain how? Gunn spoke up. Dumb question, Gunn. I think you already know that answer, Buffy quipped back. Let me re-phrase, who?? he expanded. Angel, Oz responded for the blonde. ANGEL?????? Gunn, Doyle, and Xander all exclaimed loudly. Wait, when you say Angel, do you mean Angel? Doyle needed further explanation. The one and only, Willow stated. Does he know yet? Gunn asked as he moved closer to stand next to Buffy. No, Buffy replied shortly.

Well that explains a lot, Xander said openly. Explains what? Cordelia asked. We just found out that while whittling away the wee hours, he offers himself escort at some of the finest pubs this side of Dublin, he added. He hasnt taken this separation that well either, Cordelia shook her head. You see, Buffy. I told you that he felt the same way, Willow pointed out to her friend. What are you guys doing here anyway? Oz asked changing the conversation after seeing the look in Buffys eyes telling them that she didnt really want to talk about his anymore. Official news from headquarters, Doyle said in his thick Irish brogue. Need to meet the head man tomorrow. Always a thrill, Xander chimed in. What for? Oz asked. I wouldnt be surprised if it was about the troops coming into town in a week, Gunn stated. It could cause quite a stir in this town. Look what happened the last time. Please tell me that that wont happen again, Buffy said concerned. Will try our best, Xander shrugged. But you never know. So will you be there tomorrow? Doyle asked Oz. Cant wait, Oz agreed as he, Buffy and Willow all watched as the group began to turn to walk back to their own houses. Before Gunn could get totally out of Buffys reach, she quickly grabbed his arm and pulled him closer to her in order to whisper in his ear. Promise me that you will not tell Angel anything, Buffy looked at him with her big doe eyes. Gunn said nothing; he only nodded his head in agreement and once again turned only to be brought back to her. Also promise me that you wont let anything happen to him, she pleaded. He looked deeply in her eyes and he could see how much she really loved him. Her soul seemed to cry out to him and if he would die then a part of that soul would just die right there in her body. Before he said anything, he moved a hand to place it firmly on her rounded stomach and Buffy hastily placed her hands on his to hold him in place. I promise, he stated as he took his hand away and walked from the house. Part XXVI Guys, someone should honestly tell Angel about Buffy, Xander opened up their silent conversation as soon as the gang left Willow and Ozs house, on their way to meet up with Angel. We cant, Gunn spoke up in disagreement. Doyle quickly glanced over at his friend and shot him a burning question, Why not? Because I just promised her that I wouldnt, he answered plainly. You did WHAT?? Doyle and Xander yelled together. I agree with Gunn on this one, Oz said. Even though I believe that he deserves to know, Buffy needs to be the one that tells him, not us. Both Doyle and Xander sighed loudly at the same time, knowing that Oz was right. If anyone was going to tell Angel that he was about to become a father, it should be the mother that tells him. I think we are making a big mistake, though, Xander said aloud as he stepped up to Angels front door and pounded loudly on it. The rest of the group stood behind him

waiting for their friends arrival at the door, which wouldnt come for at least 10 minutes and Xander constantly knocking on the door. What the bloody hell is taking him so long? Doyle asked, starting to grow a little too impatient. He should be here, Xander whispered loudly behind him. IM COMING, IM COMING!!! HOLD YOUR DAMN HORSES! the group heard a voice hiss forcefully across the closed door. When Angel finally opened the door, his friends met the person that he had slowly become over the past couple of weeks. There seemed to be no end to the dark circles under his eyes, his hair was thrown from this way to that, and his clothes hung loosely on his lean frame, due to the slight weight loss he had sustained. Hi guys, he greeted slowly. The strong aroma of alcohol permeated from the shrunken man in front of them and suddenly they could see the pain that he was enduring after loosing Buffy. Jesus Angel, you really need to cut back on the Guinness cologne that you got working for you right now, Gunn coughed at the smell. Angel found no words to shoot back at his friends; the only response that he could muster was a deep growl that erupted from his chest. So when do we leave? he finally found his voice as he pushed himself out of his house to join the group in a puddle in his front yard. The sooner we start this, the sooner we get it done, he thought to himself as he shuffled forward. The walk toward headquarters was at first held in silence but that would not last long. Everyone were just itching to burst out and tell Angel about what they just discovered but they saw the shrunken look in their friends eyes, and they knew that it wouldnt be a good time to openly tell him about the baby, but that didnt exclude little hints to the fact. So Angel man, how are your sister and her new baby doing? Doyle asked breaking the silence. Just fine, he answered abruptly. Have you seen him yet? Doyle continued trying to pull anything from his friend. Once, he admitted and took a long breath in. My sister is already bothering me about teaching him how to play football or rugby, one of those two. I told him that it was his fathers job to do. Oh really, Xander broke in and not wanting to let an opportunity go to not make a hint at Angel. I am pretty sure that if you were a father, you would probably be a great with that. But Im not, am I? Angel said gruffly. You never know, man, Doyle shrugged. There could be one out there for you. What did you say? Angel turned in surprise to have Doyle repeat his question. I am talking about the future, sometime, you never know, he continued. Cordelia and I are thinking about trying for a baby. I didnt know that? Xander sounded shocked. I could think of not one other person who I would think about carrying my child inside of her, he admitted. I am pretty sure you probably feel that way about Willow, Oz. Have fun, Angel huffed briskly. He was getting quite disgruntled because with all this talk of love and children, Buffys image kept on popping up in his head. If he would have a child one day, he would hope that it would be her that would hold something that

special. But he knew there was no hope in that. Can you think of the one woman who you could think about for yourself? Xander asked. I, um I Angel started to answer under deep scrutiny but before he could fully respond, they were at the building and walking through the front door to meet the boss. Hey Penn, is the man here? he asked. Penn shook his head telling him that he was there and leaned over to whisper in Angels ear. No one, except for Angel, could decipher what he was telling him, and all got a little nervous with not knowing everything that was going on here. As soon as Penn was finished speaking, Angel stood upright and nodded his head before he led the rest of the gang, including Penn, into the dark room. Welcome, boys, the voice rang loud and clear throughout the darkness. Hey there, sir, Xander greeted back as he jokingly saluted him with a hand rose flatly to his forehead. I hope that everything is in order for the next couple of days, the voice came again. Is our insurance well? She is just fine, Oz responded stoically. Good! Glad to hear it. There was a short pause in his statement before he continued onward. I am guessing that you would like to know what the plan is? That would be quite helpful, sir, Angel complied. You will keep her under close surveillance for the next couple of days until the troops arrive. I have already given orders out to have only fight back when necessary so it can be assumed that many people are probably going to lose their lives in the near future, the voice said. I will put her under my care for the time being because we need to keep her for as much time as possible, it is crucial to our mission. Yes, sir, all responded at once. Tomorrow afternoon, I want you to bring her to me, I want to have a little chat with her, the voice hissed. An extremely cold chill ran down Angels spine after hearing what the boss had just commanded. He remembered that Buffy knew that voice from somewhere and he feared that her knowledge of who he was would end up hurting her. Fear and anger started rise and he had to work really hard to suppress telling him that she would be safe in his care and that he would not let her out of his sight. Sir, I dont think that he started to say but was cut off by Penn. That should be fine sir, we will bring her here, he stated quickly. And I will be looking forward to it, he said with soft laughter in his voice as the others in the room turned to walk back out. But before they could all leave, he hastily caught their attention. Just remember, boys. She gets hurt, you will pay. It is important that she is in perfect health. Things are not exactly perfect, Xander muttered under his breath but was loud enough to have almost everyone able to hear him. Angel heard his friend statement; he just decided that it wasnt all that important. ~~~ Willow, I am home! Oz shouted as he walked through their front door to an empty living room. Buffy was the first person to come to greet him. Oh Buffy, hello. Hello, Oz. Everything all right? she asked with concern in her voice. He could tell that

she was worried about Angel but he couldnt come close to comfort her worries. Hes just fine. A little cranky if you ask me, he said truthfully. Buffy, I have something to tell you. What is it? she strained fearing what he was going to tell her. Our boss is going to look after you until all of this gets blown over. He wants to meet you tomorrow, he admitted. Is that all? she asked, relieved that it wasnt more serious. Basically yes, he said abruptly. Will I get a chance to see everyone before I go? You might not see us again, I think as soon as the troops pass over, then you become a free woman, he confided in her. I cant talk to Angel, she dreaded to herself. No goodbyes? Probably not. ~~~ Ozs words had plagued her all evening. The thought of never seeing any of the oth ers again, made her quite upset, especially the thought of never being with Angel one more time. That thought was almost more than she could bear at the moment. Resolving to herself that she had to see him one more time, she promptly pulled a heavy cloak over her body to protect herself from the dank night, she left the house and started towards Angels. She followed her heart towards that place and in no time, she found herself on his front porch looking under his doormat for a key. The key that she found was covered in a thick layer of rust but it still opened the front door as soon as she put it to the test. Walking through the front door, she found herself in shock to see Angel sleeping right there on the couch instead of going back to his bedroom. In his immobile hand, he gripped an empty bottle that had once been filled with liquor. Buffy crept silently towards him and knelt down on the floor in front of his unconscious form. She removed the bottle from his hand and brought his hand up and placed it squarely on her distended abdomen. I dont know if you can hear me, but I wanted to show you this, she glanced down at her stomach. The baby is yours, I couldnt tell you until now so I here is the truth. It would be nice if you could have helped me look for a name for our child, but I dont know if I will ever be seeing you again. Before I go, I wanted to tell you that I love you, I will always love you and I will not stop loving you. Who could refrain who had a heart to love and in that heart, courage to make love known? she quoted as she pushed his hand gently in circles around her stomach. For a few brief moments, she was content to watch him sleep. She could only hope and wish that he were dreaming of her because thats where he will always dwell for her, in her dreams. She slowly leaned over to him and placed a soft kiss on his warm lips. Goodbye, Angel, she whispered as she placed his hand on his chest and stood to walk out his door and out of his life forever. Part XXVII Buffy, WAIT!! Angel cried as he was suddenly stirred from his sleep and quickly sat up on the couch that he was laying on. His hands gripped to the fabric for dear life as his head went frantically from left to right searching through his small house.

He could have sworn that she was there. The dream had been so real that he could have felt her lips upon his and her taking his hand and pressing it against her swollen womb, just as if she were pregnant. PREGNANT!!! Just that thought made it perfectly clear that his thoughts of her coming to him last night had only been a figment of his imagination, just like the many dreams he has had of her previously. Almost every night she came to him, telling him that she loved him, what was so different about last night that made him believe that dreams could come true? But it had to be real, he thought to himself and shook his head. As soon as he could take a deep breath of air, he could smell her. He could not deny the fact that her beautiful aroma caressed him like a second skin as soon as he opened his eyes to greet just another average day. The problem was, was that Buffy was going to be handed to his boss today and probably out of his life forever. With that thought in mind, he let out a deep sigh and pulled himself to his feet to get ready for today. Before he could trudge to the bathroom to rid of the acrid stench of alcohol that radiated from his pores, a knock on the door sounded. Oh, bloody hell he cursed to himself under his breath as he made his way to the door. As soon as he opened the door, Angel wished that he had ignored the knock and went on his merry way. Mornin to you, Peaches, Spike greeted with a rather large shit-eating grin on his face and thoroughly inspected Angel from top to bottom with an icy glare. You look like hell, he stated plainly as he pushed past Angel into his house. Nice to see you too, Spike. Why dont you come on in? Make yourself at home? Here, I will give you the keys and you can live here instead of me, Angel hissed at his old friend. And apparently in the middle of the night some stick decided to implant itself up your ass while you slept, he said as he slumped down on Angels couch and haphazardly swung his legs up to rest them on the coffee table in front. Whats eating you? I would say, YOU, but I am just not in the mood, he though to himself. Tomorrows going to be moderately difficult on me. With the troops? Spike cocked an eyebrow in his direction. Howd you guess? Angel retorted sarcastically. What are you doing here? I guess we will just cut straight to the chase then, I am giving you one more opportunity to tell me if you know anything about the fools that kidnapped her. There was a slight hint of threat in his voice. Angel stared him indignantly in the eyes. One more chance and then what? Nothing, he shrugged and paused momentarily. I am just saying that it would be of your best interest to say something if you know anything because if you do know anything about this, I will find great pleasure to make sure that you never walk again. Ooo Is that a threat? Angel was not the least worried about Spikes words. Even as a young child, Spike would challenge him to the simplest of brawls and every time, Angel mopped the floor with him. Today was no different, even though he had a hangover that was splitting his head into two distinct halves. Honestly Spike, I dont have time right now to beat around the bush so I am going to tell you know and always, I have NO idea who could have taken her or to where. You satisfied, he shot at him as his arms crossed his chest.

Hardly, Spike admitted. I will only be satisfied when she is home and in my arms once again. Angel could barely choke down his laughter at Spikes last words. In my arms once again, MY ASS! he thought. She is probably missing you a lot, Angel spat. How could you not miss me, everyone loves me and cant live without me, Spike said with stars in his eyes. Angel could find no civil words to say to him so he decided to keep his mouth shut. He was truly utilizing the basic saying, if you cant say anything nice, dont say anything at all. Well, as you can see, I have things to do today so I got to get going, he said finally breaking his silence. Just remember if you hear anything you know where I will be, Spike mentioned as he stood up and made his way to the door. Just before he walked out, he turned suddenly to tell Angel one last thing before he left. Oh I just wanted to let you know that I will be a part of the gang tomorrow searching for her and if I see anyone dragging her away from where she was, I will shoot them. Always nice to know, Angel smirked and practically shoved his out the door so that his house was quiet one more time and he could safely think about her. Oh how he wished this day could just go away. With one more heavy sigh, Angel backed away from the front door and moved to the bathroom to prepare himself for the day. ~~~ Willow, I need some kind of shaw to hang around me, Buffy almost whined as she bustled through her friends house before she was taken from there. What are you talking about, Buffy? Why do you need a shawl? Willow asked in confusion. Well, it is either a shawl or a sack cloth, one of the two, Buffy said exasperated and could feel tears almost in her eyes. Noticing the sound of her voice, Willow hunted her down and made Buffy stop for just a moment to figure out what was wrong. What is wrong, Buffy? she asked. I need some large piece of clothe to cover myself up if I by chance see Angel later on today, Buffy admitted by pointing at her distended stomach. She was still nervous about showing Angel her stomach and with her wearing something that was large enough to cover her or a wrap that she could pull around herself and not show anything. Buffy, you really need to tell him, Willow pleaded as she gripped Buffys shoulders tightly. He deserves to know and you need to get it off of your shoulders. I already told him, Buffy whispered softly. You WHAT!? Willow exclaimed and pulled Buffy down to sit next to her on the couch in her living room. Why didnt you tell me? What did he say? Tell me everything. He snored, Buffy smiled shyly. Snored? He was sleeping when I told him. Doesnt that count? she asked innocently. Oh Buffy, Willow shook her head at her friend. I will find you a shawl, but I will the entire weight of not telling him on your shoulders. He needs to know, you may never see him again and you will regret it for the rest of your life if you say nothing. Willow stood up to leave Buffy momentarily to find what she asked for. Or I may regret for the rest of my life telling him and he rejects me one more time,

Buffy muttered softly enough to barely be heard by Willow. Willow bumped straight into her husband and the rest of the gang, excluding Angel. Is Buffy ready to go now? Oz asked his wife as he and his friends were waiting to take her to the boss. In a few minutes, I have to get her something, she nodded her head and headed out of his way. It took not very long to find a lovely cream shawl for her and Willow soon emerged to give it to her. Buffy was still sitting on the couch just where she had left her before the only difference is, was that the boys were there waiting to bring her to the boss. Just remember what I told you, Willow stated while she held out the article of clothing to her friend and before Buffy accepted it, she nodded her head. Are you ready to leave? Doyle asked calmly. Buffy stood up as a sign of agreement and quickly she wrapped the shawl around her abdomen to hide her little secret. Where is Angel? she asked as they all lead her out the door. He is already there talking to the man, he will meet us there. ~~~ Sir, what are you planning for her? Angel asked as he stood in darkness talking to the faceless voice. What is it any concern of yours? the voice shot back with the slightest hint of annoyance there. Rest assured, that I wont let anything bad to her. You had better, Angel snapped before he could control his words. Do I sense a hint of anger, Liam?? the voice asked. You should be cautious as to whom you direct your anger to, especially a person who will take into his custody a person that you obviously care for. Angel answered his comments in complete silence and obedience. I more than just care for her, he almost whimpered. What What was that again? I said I more than just care for her, I am in love with her. A deep belly laugh vibrated off the walls. You have got to be joking with me! I only speak the truth, Angel said plainly. Truth, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder, the voice said through his laughter. Dont worry, I believe you. Now the question is, is does she reciprocate those same sentiments? You will just have to ask her, I only ask one thing. The room filled yet again with silence so Angel took that as an open opportunity to continue what he was saying. He reached down deep in his pocket and rooted for what he was looking for. He quickly pulled out a claddagh ring and held it in front of him. I want you to give this to her, he said then he placed it on the table in front of him. And then what? the voice sounded curious. Then nothing. If she accepts it, then I think you will know her answer, he said as he heard the door to the room being rapt upon. Shes here, please take care of her. Dont worry, Angel. She will see you again, I will almost guarantee it, the boss muttered softly as he watched a small blonde woman enter his area. Bid her farewell, Angel. Angel made no reply to his boss, he only found himself lost in the vastness of her eyes.

His arms itched to wrap themselves around her body but he would refrain. It would just hurt too much to touch her but he had to do it just one more time. Timidly he pulled her into his body, placed a swift on her shoulder, and whispered in her ear. I love you, he professed and in the moment he didnt notice the bulge that she pressed into him when he embraced her. Before she could respond to him, he hastily exited the door, leaving Buffy alone with the man whose voice she knew from somewhere. She stared at the darkness hoping to see a glimpse of him but all she saw was black. Buffy heard the soft squeak of a chair as the man stood up and she braced herself for him to make his identity known. Hello, Buffy. It is so nice to see you, the voice rang clear as medium height man came through the darkness and stood up in front of her. She looked deeply in his face and recognized it immediately. Giles Part XXVIII For only a split second, Buffy stared straight at the mans face that she knew too well. She knew every inch from his face from his wrinkled forehead right down to his chin. Buffy desperately wanted to say something witty to him at the moment, but she could barely pull off another Giles, before he had her in his arms and squeezing her tightly into his chest. Oh My God, Buffy, he said with worry in his voice as he unconsciously began to stroke her back in assurance. I have been worried sick about you. Nice to see you too, Giles, she forced out her chest because he had her in such a strong hug she could barely breath. The next few minutes he held her in his arms as if he would never let her go again. She was so like a daughter to him that even though she was in his control this whole time, he still was concerned for her safety. It was an absolutely crazy world out there and he would protect her with his life if he had too. Giles, she forced yet again. If you dont let me go, I am going to faint in your arms for lack of air. Letting her go suddenly and then reaching out to brace her from not falling to the ground, he apologized. I am so sorry, did I hurt you? Or the baby? Were Wait, how did you know? she stared at him incredulously. It may have been assumed that I lived in the shadows of this very room or in the basement of the Summers estate, but you have no idea how much I see and how much I know, he said to her in a rather haughty tone. Oh Also it could be the fact that I know you too well that you would have grown a belly such as that in the past 6 months, Giles told her truthfully with a smile on his face. As soon as she saw him smile she couldnt suppress the smile that dared to creep on her face. Her mind was filled with so many questions but she didnt feel nervous about the answers to those questions. His smile assured her that even though his actions were questionable, he would keep her safe and she was absolutely fine throughout this whole ordeal. Well, since you know everything, then it is my turn to figure out things, she finally said as she watched his gaze reach to the floor and he staggered back slightly to lean against the table behind him. Ive been waiting for this, he said with an exasperated voice.

Who are you? You know that answer already, he looked up at her almost upset at her first question. I thought I did You were the kind butler who seemed to be the only person in the world who actually care about me and loved me. You were the man that I grew up with who taught me almost everything I know. Now, I dont really know. I am all those things, he paused momentarily to sigh, but that it isnt all that I am. I am a butler in the employment of Hank Summers, who loved his daughter throughout her entire life as if she was my own, but I am also the leader in the Irish revolutionary movement. I command those revolutionists such as your friends, Doyle, Oz, Xander, Gunn and of course Angel. Angel and I arent friends, she quickly shot back at him breaking his speech. No you arent friends, he agreed with her but continued on quickly. You are more than just friends, but that is for another conversation entirely. We should probably get back to your questions. Right Ok, um, how? I mean you seemed to always be at the house, I didnt even think you have seen actually sunlight in at least 60 years. I beg your pardon, I am only 48 years old, young lady, he chastised her comment with a smirk on her face. Excuse me, she apologized as she rolled her eyes at him. But back to it, when I was younger I had a wild streak to myself as I have told you time and time again. He stopped to get her agreement with a slight nod in her head. I ran with a type of crowd such as this one and over time I grew out of that rebellious stage, but that part about me never died. It was clawing inside my body and trying desperately to be release. I saw the plight that these people were facing and I knew my escape for that unsettling feeling. Over the past 10 years I have slipped my way through the system. Didnt you find it strange that I had to run to the library every day for at least 5 hours? he asked her. It was a little unusual but then I got to thinking it is just Giles, he is like that, she shrugged her shoulders. Well, thats what I was actually doing, so now you know the truth, he told her flat out. Now here comes the big one Why? Why did you have these men take me away from my home and put me in this situation for the past couple of months? I really dont know how to answer your question. You see there was no real big reason why I did what I did but I will pledge to you one truth, I meant you no harm. I saw the look on your face when you became engaged to Riley Finn, or when Spike repetitively tried to force himself on you and then I saw your face the day that I heard you had met a young Angel Malone, one of the men under my authority. You just have one of those smiles, Buffy that when you do smile it can light up a room and those days after meeting him, your glow was blinding. By taking you under his wing, you could get closer to him or make your own decision to stay away. I am assuming that your child is his, am I right? Buffy responded to his statement with a brief bow of her head. You needed to get away from there and this was the way that I thought of. But what has that to do with the advancement of the Irish cause? Buffy asked in complete confusion.

A little eye opener to the monarchy to know what we are capable of, what we will do and plus it felt so good to get a little arse kicking in when I am able to, he smiled yet once more. Kill two birds with one stone, I said I did well for myself. So now what are we going to do? Buffy asked one more question. Test our destinies. ~~~ The entire gang was huddled in Angels living room as soon as when they got back from releasing Buffy into their boss watchful eye. Angel man, are you alright? Doyle asked as he placed a comforting hand on his friends shoulder as Cordelia did the same for her husband. Angel was sitting haphazardly on his couch with his elbows on his knees and his face in his hands. He wanted to go back and say that he wouldnt let her go, that he would protect her, but now it felt like it was too late. Im fine, he answered with a slight growl in his voice. Now do we just wait this whole army thing out or are we supposed to fight? Xander asked the rest of the group. Sounds like a good plan to me, I definitely wouldnt object to that, Cordelia stated quickly. Im with Cordy on this one, Willow found her voice and her hand clenched in her husbands. So I guess we wait for something to tell us to do something, Gunn shrugged his shoulders sounding disappointed and was itching to actually do anything beside just sit in Angels house and take up space. The room was filled with silence assuring everyone had understood what to do and accepted the plan. That was until Penn burst through Angels front door with a file of papers in his hands. Angel, I think I know who the boss is!!! he screamed as he caught everyones attention. Angel looked up at his old friend with a curious look on his face, wondering what his friend had discovered. And..? Well, from the information that I have hear, the boss is a butler in a wealth house somewhere deep in Dublin. He has been so for a little less than 30 years. As a teenager he got into much trouble with the law but then his record seems to have slowly trickled off since then. He seems to be quite reformed from that, Penn fingered through his papers. Does that give the mans name? Doyle asked wanting to know every bit of information. Um Yes it does, let me find it here, Penn leafed through the file and found what he was looking for. Ah yes, it is Giles, a Mr. Rupert Giles. The name suddenly ran clear in Angels mind. He knew who the man was; he was the Summers butler. He was the man that basically raised Buffy, who loved her as a daughter. The same exact man that he held a conversation with at her home. I know him, Angel admitted. You do??? Gunn asked in astonishment. Yes, he is the Summers butler, he knew Buffy, he answered him bluntly. Who? What? How? Xander asked aloud not understanding what was going on. I think you forgotWhen? Cordelia added in sarcastically.

Thanks for reminding me, Xander snapped back. How did an Englishman get up in the ranks of the Sein Finn? It doesnt really matter now, Angel sighed. What do you mean by that, Angel? Willow asked. She is now in the protection of a man that she deems worthy to be her father. She trusts him and loves him, it is only right that she is in his care. It is good for her to be with him. What about being with the other man she loves? Willow felt her rage begin to rise. She needs to be with you, Angel, the man she loves and cares for. So dont give me that cow dung that it is good for her to be with him. It is only fair and right, he said plainly. You dont make the decision on that topic, Willow screamed. Do you think she would want to be with this Giles character if she could be with you. Think about Buffy. And her child, Xander shouted then suddenly stopped dead in his tracks for his words. Her what? What did you say???? Angel stared at his friend with his eyes wide in confusion as he stood up on his feet to stare Xander straight in the eyes. Buffys pregnant, Oz clarified. No she cant be, she cant! She would have told me before we Angel stopped in his comment because he was about to say what had happened between them. Whos the father? Stunned by his question, Cordelia quickly made it to Angels back and promptly squatted at the back of his head for even daring to think it was someone other than he. Whos do you think it is? she asked. It cant be mine, she would have told me, Angel shook his head in denial. She didnt want to tell you because she was afraid that you would still push her away even if you knew the truth. Might as well keep the secret to herself and save a little of the pain, Gunn added. But yes, it is your child that she is carrying. My God, Angel, you got Buffy Summers pregnant? Penn asked incredulously. Angel stared around the room at the people who he considered as friend and his shock suddenly turned to anger. Why did you all know and I didnt?? She made us all promise not to tell you, Gunn continued. We all wanted to but we promised. Angel shook his head in frustration, anger, shock and sadness. He was going to be a father and the woman that was carrying the child, the woman that he loved, didnt even tell him. If he knew earlier, there would be no way that he would have let her go and now she could be taken right back home this very day and he could do nothing to stop it. I know it is hard to believe, Angel. But it is the truth, Doyle assured as he whispered in his friends ear. I dont know if I should say I am sorry or congratulations. Angel continually said nothing and his silence was deeply disturbing everyone in the room. So Angel, what do you want to do? Oz asked. You had better go after her or I will be forced to hit you again, Cordelia threatened. That goes for me too, Willow joined Cordys side. So Angel, what would it be? Stay here and wait it out or find Buffy with your child? Doyle asked. You had better say go and get her or I will be forced to join with the ladies here,

Xander added. Angel, you know I will help in any way I can, Penn offered, as his friend still remained silent. Snap out of it!!! Cordelia yelled as she swung her hand and connected with his skull one more time. Hit me one more time, woman and you loose an arm, Angel said jokingly as he looked up at his friends. We should go now! Theres the spirit! Willow chuckled to herself as she and Cordy watched the men in the room begin to bustle around to figure out how to get Angels love back into his arms. Part XXIX The march through Dublin began just before the ghostly light of the pre-dawn sun glittered the thick fog that hugged the ground in a damp blanket. March March March The planned to let not one stone unturned or one street searched. Their search would not stop until they found their treasure. The Dublin streets pulsated with the energy that had been kept under control for the past couple of months and it was just about time to feel that power explode and feel its effects on the world. ~~~ So, um Giles. Whats the plan for now??? Buffy asked as she stood in the exact same place watching her butler bustle around the room retrieving different things that they would need to leave the room. We leave, he answered her plainly and said nothing to further explain himself. Thats it? Thats all?? Buffy was completely surprised by his lack of an explanation with more than a few words that she would have to look up in a dictionary in order for her to understand. What happened to your long winded instructions that I end up not hearing the last couple of words because I became to bored to truly listen? We have to leave now, no time for explanations. You need to get out of this building because the British will search this place first and what is the purpose of you being found only after a few hours of searching? he responded to her as he maintained his actions of picking up a secret parcel that he had hidden in the darkest corner of the room. With quick fingers, he opened the package and drew out a few articles of mens clothing that he planned on Buffy wearing in their escape. Here put on these? he thrust them in her arms, without looking at her face, which a look of befuddlement was painted across. Ah Giles, I think we need to discuss something here, she said to him as she brought the clothes to her body and pressed them against her. I think we need to have a little talk about these things. I dont think I am going to be able to get a leg in them before they will no longer reach around me. What are you talking about? I know what your size is, how could they not fit? he asked incredulously as he still kept his eyes averted from hers. Must you honestly ask? she questioned him, as she demanded his attention. Giles finally looked up at her, then his eyesight went directly to her distended abdomen. Oh bloody priceless, he muttered to himself as he stared at the clothes that she was draping across her body. The mens clothing that she held in front of her barely fit half of her as she stared at him with her arms resting on her hips and her foot incessantly tapping on the floor. You see my point, she shook her head at him.

Well, didnt plan for that to happen, he chuckled softly. Forget the clothes, just wrap this cloak tightly around you and make sure to keep your hair concealed under the hood. Tossing it in her direction, she caught it easily and pulled it over her shoulders. Aye aye, Captain, Buffy joked slightly as she brought the hood forward so that it concealed her entire head. How do I look? Not too conspicuous, he shrugged. Just remember to keep close to me. I dont think the troops are here yet, but just to be certain we need to get you too a safe spot. And that place would be???? Buffy lifted her eyebrows high in the hopes that he would tell her where they were heading. Yet again, what would be the fun in telling you? Giles sent a smirk her way and heard her sigh loudly at his reluctance of telling her where they were heading off too. Dont worry Buffy, you are going to be just fine there. Buffys eyes were downcast towards the ground as she nodded her head slightly to let him know that she totally trusted his judgment. Will they find us? she asked softly, her voice barely audible due to the slight fear that slowly began to creep up her spine. I hope not, I dont think that the army would look through the place that we are going, Giles admitted to her. I wasnt talking about the army, she stated truthfully. Ahhh I understand now, you are wondering about if Angel and his gang will find you? Her only response to his question was another silent nod as they made their way out of the building doors out to the oddly quiet roads. That is the test. Where we are going he will have to know some truth about you that is buried deep in your heart. He will need to think about something that means a great deal to you and once he finds that out, he will find you, Giles told her cryptically. Remember this, Men at some time are masters of their fate. Buffy hearing that quote she had heard and read many times, she took a deep breath in reassurance and stepped out with Giles towards a destination. She knew where they were going; she just prayed that Angel would know that same place too. ~~~ So Angel, where do we start first? Doyle asked as the whole gang had waited in his friends living room trying to come up with some plan of attack. Well, we know one thing. This Giles guy is an exceptionally intelligent man, and I think that he has probably wont keep her at headquarters. He took her somewhere else, I am almost sure of it, Penn spoke aloud as he rummaged through the papers that he was still holding. How do you know that he isnt there? Xander asked him. Headquarters would be the first place that the army would look, Gunn stated aloud. He and Buffy are probably way far from the building by now. So all we need to do is find out where he took her, Oz answered the obvious question. But where? Xander asked in totally confusion. Ideas, anyone??? Everyone in the room fell completely silent as they shook their heads. Buffy could be anywhere right now, Angel thought to himself. She might be in her own bed right now. Well, lets think here, Doyle said aloud breaking the silence. I would guess that since he has known her most of her life, he would probably take her to some place that she would feel familiar and safe. Angel, when you and Buffy talked did she mention Rupert

Giles at all? She spoke of him like a father, Angels ears suddenly picked up on Doyles question. He would take her out of the house to many places around the city. Such as?? Willow asked. Um he thought aloud. They would take walks around the fields of clover, feed birds on the sidewalks, go on outings to different places in town. He went quiet for a moment to try to remember all the places that she had been talking about and suddenly a thought hit his mind. Penn, is there anything on the likes or dislikes of Buffys butler? Very quickly, Penn fingered through this information and found a few things that may be of some importance. He is interested in collecting ancient artifacts, has a great love for books and likes eating mushy peas. Anything of help in there? Gunn asked. Maybe, Angel whispered to himself as he thought of what Penn just was mentioning. Wait, did you say that he liked books?? Um Yes, he has a great love for all different types of books. He reads books of different genres, subjects, and content. It says here that he can read and write in 6 different, a great accomplishment for a person just meant to be a servant. I do notice something here that it says that he has a great reverence to Shakespearean plays. Shakespeare, THATS IT!!! Angel yelled in excitement. The first time that I met her, she quoted from Romeo and Juliet and told me that she loved his works. Great, good!! Xander exclaimed. And now what?? I am thinking that he was the one that taught her to adore the great bards plays and poetry. I am betting that he probably took her someplace that would have to do with that or some place that has to do with Shakespeare, Angel stated. London Cordelia said silently. What did you say, Delia? her husband asked. London. Thats where Shakespeare was from, is it possible that he would take her there, she clarified. Do you think he has enough time to take her across the English Channel? Willow asked her. I dont know, it is only a suggestion, Cordelia started to take on the defensive. Based on the time frame that we have here, I don think he would have time to do that, considering that he has a pregnant woman with him to bring down their pace, Oz shook his head. So close, but no cigar, Xander taunted her. If you think you are so smart, why dont you think of something? she shot back at him. I I, um Im getting there, he stuttered. Thats what I thought. Honestly Xander, you have no room to talk at the moment. You dont have enough brains in the tiny head of yours to come up with any intelligent suggestion, Cordy kept on going. School would have been helpful to you if you went once and a while. Its called a library, use it!! Library Is there a library in town? Angel asked hastily breaking his friends little argument. There is one a few blocks south from Revello Drive, Oz informed everyone. I used to work there between gigs. Did Rupert Giles take her on any trips to the library??? Doyle asked.

I wouldnt be surprised if they did, Angel shrugged. Lets start there, Willow commented. Its a start, Angel agreed. And if we are wrong, we have a few more hours to try something else, Cordelia admitted. Such as we are made of, such we be, Angel muttered under his breath as he watched his friends gather their things and prepare to hit the streets to find his love. Part XXX Giles, you cant leave me here alone, Buffy began to plead as she watched her butler start to make a departure and leave her there. What am I going to do if the army comes here??? Do you trust me?? he asked her. Of course, I have always trusted you. Then dont worry. This place will give you protection until I come and find you or Angel and his friends get here, he informed her. I have to take care of a little business right now and I promise to be back as soon as I can. Buffy nodded in understanding and watched him run from her presence. With a deep sigh and a prayer on her lips, she tried to remain patient as she watched him go. ~~~ Under his dark coat, Giles ran from the building straight towards Revello Street. He had devised a plan over these past couple of months and he was actually feeling the slightest excitement that it would be implemented. He knew it would work, it has to work! Bloody hell, man, Spike cursed as a running Giles ran smack dab into him as he exited the doors. Spike Spike Spike, Giles panted as he grabbed the young mans shoulder to steady himself and to slow his heartbeat. If you say my name one more time without anything else to add to that, I just might have to kill you, Spike hissed in irritation. Where were you anyway and why are you running?? I found her, I know where Buffy is! he finally caught his breath and started into the gaunt mans steely blue eyes. Hearing the older mans words, Spike grabbed him by his shoulders and dug his fingertips into Giles flesh. Spike nearly drug Giles into the house to tell him everything that he had heard. Tell me everything! he demanded as the stepped inside the house. Well, this morning I was going to my daily library run and from out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a rag tag group of men in an alley close to the building. Curiosity got the better of me and I decided to figure out what was going on, so I spied on them, from a far, of course. Oh yeah, of course, Spike huffed in impatience. And?? And I heard a little of their conversation. They began to talk about taking Buffy to an abandoned warehouse outside of town to avoid the army coming through town. Did they mention where this warehouse was? Umm Giles pretended to be deeply in thought and trying to find an answer. He would direct them to a place that was on the exact opposite side of town from where she actually is hiding. Goose chases, got to love them! Oh I remember! It was an old run down warehouse on Main Street. I could be wrong though.

You better be right about that because the army has already started going through the town and by the time that they get to that place, it will be later on in the afternoon. Cant you just go to the leader and ask to go straight there? Giles sounded concerned. If Fish boy was not on the mainland and with me, then I could. But since I dont have any ranking in the army, I have no way to petition to the commander. It would be a bloody fruitless task, if you ask me. Well, you must go and try to find her and I will be quick to tell the Summers where their daughter is. Quickly Giles placed on his mask of being a butler and turned to his duties that he secured for so many years. They left for England just a few minutes ago, I dont think you are going to be able to catch them, Spike informed the butler and was quite confused with the fact that he didnt already know this information. Oh bloody priceless, Giles swore under his breath. Thank you for reminding me, I almost forgot with the stress of what happened this morning to me. You should remember those kinds of things, Spike chastised. It is your job to attend this house and all who live here. Believe me, I am already doing that without your lecture, Giles thought and wanted to say aloud but kept quiet. Yes, well you ought to be off. Our mistress waits for you. And I am pretty sure that she is going to be so relieved when she sees me that she will just run into my arms, Spike said with confidence as he made his way out the door and shut it behind him. Unless she has a dagger hidden in her hand, I dont believe she would do such a thing, Giles stated to an empty house. Finally being alone, Giles ran up the stairs towards Buffys room and began to rummage through some of her things that she had hanging there. A bag was quickly packed with all sorts of necessities that she may need, and he made his way out the door en route back to where Buffy lay hidden. ~~~ So Angel, what makes you so certain that she is there? Gunn asked incredulously as the entire group covered themselves in heavy coats to make their ways out to the streets. And I dont believe we are going to fool anyone with this disguise we all have working for us. Just try to look inconspicuous would you please? Angel begged as he opened up his front door and watched as everyone filed out of his small living room. Remember guys, look like you are taking an easy stroll through town without a worry in the world. Easy for you to say, I think I have already released half the contents of my bladder on your doorstep, Xander cursed silently. Those were the last words anyone said on their journey. Oz held Willow tightly to his chest, in the same fashion Doyle held Cordelia as they made their way across town avoiding all who might discover who they are. They heard the soft march of the troops a few streets over and they all knew that they had to hurry before they were confronted and asked who they all are. Quietly the entered the Dublin library and stopped dead in their tracks to look around the building at the expanse of it all. The library was vast in its architecture and its collection of books. The walls were lined from floor to ceiling in works from such famous people as Yeats, Chaucer, Machiavelli,

Dante, and so many more. You all might catch flies if you keep your mouths open like that, a young dark haired librarian whispered to the entire group as they all stood and gawked at the sight. What did you say? Willow asked she came out of her stupor and smiled at the young woman. You guys look rather interesting with your jaws to the floor, she chuckled softly. Can I help you?? No one moved as if they did not hear a word that she had said. Well, I guess if you need anything, just let me know. My name is Fred if you want to know, she sighed and began to walk away. What kind of a name is Fred? Gunn found his voice and looked into the dark haired woman standing in front of him. Nick name, actually, she clarified. My real name is Winifred, but most people just call me Fred. Can I ask you another question? Gunn continued on with their conversation with a large smile on his face. He was mesmerized by the light sparkling in her chestnut colored eyes and couldnt stop himself from walking forward to get a closer look. As me anything. I am a fountain of all knowledge but sometimes I dont know the answer, so I go and I research to find it. If that doesnt work then I will try and try again till Gunn smiled at the blush of her cheeks as he continued to stare at her as she babbled. She had a wonderful voice and he didnt really mind if she kept on talking even if he wouldnt hear what she said. I am babbling arent I? she asked. I think so, he laughed silently. No one said a word around him; they were all content in the interaction between the young librarian and their friend. There was something in their eyes when they looked at each other and no one wanted to break that spark. So what can I help you with? I was curious if you saw an older man and a young blonde woman walk through the door not more than a few hours ago. With a deep crevice in her forehead, Fred racked her memory trying to remember the people that she saw walk through the door. I am not sure, not many people have come in today, I should know. But I was away from the front door for a few minutes or so, doing inventory. I just love these books in here, I find it so easy to just get pulled into another dimension with every one I pick up. So you didnt see anyone? Angel interrupted to enter his question. Sorry, she apologized then wrung her hands in front of her body. You can look around here if you want, you might just see them. Thank you, Gunn whispered and winked at the woman. He smiled at her reaction as she blushed bright red and looked to the floor innocently. Would you by chance know where I could find a lot of Shakespeares plays? Angel spoke up. Why just Shakespeare? Doyle asked his friend. Buffy and I had our first real conversation over his works, I am betting if she is anywhere in here, it would be near his plays.

Good thinking, Xander encouraged. The bards plays are in the reference section at the end of this hall, Fred pointed out. We have a specific room dedicated to him. Thanks, Angel said quickly as he made his way down the hall with everyone except Gunn following him. You should probably go with your friends, Fred stated as she watched the black man not move from his spot. They might need you. I think they can make do without me, he smiled as he moved closer to her and placed her arm in the crook of his. Without many more words, the two walked into the heart of the library to continue on a conversation with just the two of them. ~~~ Angel felt and heard his heart slam in his chest as he ran down the aisle towards the Shakespeare room. With every step he took, he could almost feel her closer to him and it seemed that his legs wouldnt move fast enough for him. Only a few more strides from the entrance, he tried to halt his movements to walk in there quietly. He peaked in slowly letting his eyes wander from one end to the other. Is she in there? Willow demanded silently. There was no sign of her there and Angel felt his heart hit the floor below him. No, he stated defeated and slid down to the floor with his head hung low. Are you certain? Doyle asked. Take a look for yourself. Oz, Willow, Doyle, Xander, and Cordelia all entered the room to see a bare room with no signs that anyone had been in there except for a few books laying on the floor where someone would be sitting on a chair. They all exited the room feeling the same defeat that Angel felt. Where else could she be, Angel? Cordelia asked. Why dont you try the ladies room? You never know what you will find in there, the voice that Angel had been desperate to hear suddenly filled his ears. Buffy, he looked up from the floor to see his blonde angel staring down at him with tear filled eyes. You give up too easily, we are going to have to work on that, Buffy chastised him as she took a step forward. Without another word spoken, Angel kneeled in front of her and flew his arms around her swollen stomach and hugged her lower body into his chest. Buffys fingers ran through his hair as he rubbed her back lightly. With much effort, Angel pulled away from her body only to look up at her. She looked down at him with eyes full of love and watched him as he leaned forward to press a soft kiss on her distended belly. Why didnt you tell me? he asked while he placed his ear on her trying to listen to his child. Part XXXI Angel never wanted to let go of her. She was finally in his arms after such a long time apart and even though the world was chaotic around them, their love gave them gravity and an anchor to peace. He placed one more soft kiss on her distended abdomen before he stood up to tower over her small frame. Angel looked down at her momentarily and saw tears begin to form in her eyes before he crushed her to his chest and gently rubbed her back with loving hands.

Why didnt you tell me before?? You have no idea how many mornings I woke up and asked myself the same question. But I guess the best explanation I have is that I wanted you to love me, just the way that I have loved you since I first talked to you out there on the muddy streets, Buffy admitted to him openly. I have loved you just as long and yet you said nothing. I hoped that you loved me, but I had no way of knowing for sure. I was almost positive of your feelings but then after our one night together, you quickly said that it was a mistake. You crushed me, I was about to tell you how much I love you and you stopped me, she paused for a moment to break from his embrace and look into his sad eyes. And I will always regret those words, I never meant them. You may say that now, but with our time together, you tried to suppress your feelings for me and then you sent me away after I finally stated my love for you. That day I was actually thinking about telling you about our child, but I didnt want you to think that you had to keep me under your wing just because I was with child. To be in a relationship such as that with no love would have destroyed both of us. I couldnt raise a child that way, it wouldnt be fair. Would you have ever told me? he asked both dreading and anxiously waiting for her answer. Buffy shook her head in confusion then looked to the floor. I dont know. Angel you didnt just break my heart, you turned it to dust. I wanted to tell you but I just couldnt put my heart through any more torture. I knew that when I would have this baby, I would always carry a piece of you with meone spot in my soul and one in the child that we made together. He or she would remind me of you when I would look at them and I could imagine myself as your wife and spending the rest of my life with you. She paused to take a deep breath. To dream that you said you loved me. Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale her infinite variety. Other women cloy the appetites they feed, but she makes hungry where most she satisfies, Angel quoted before he placed her chin between his thumb and forefinger to tilt her head up to meet his eyes. I love you Buffy Summers. I love you with every breath I intake, with every heartbeat, every piece of me. And I hope you can forgive me for not telling you sooner. Finally reaching her breaking point, tears streamed down her face as she buried her face into Angels shoulder. I love you, too. A heavy burden seemed to be lifted off her shoulders with both their professions, she pulled back from him slightly to capture his warm lips in a kiss. His hands wrapped around her back and pulled her tightly into his body while her arms wound themselves around his neck. It is about time, Giles stated as he walked toward the couple, not really paying any attention to the world around them while they were in each others arms. Ahem he coughed twice loudly before Buffy and Angel broke apart. Hello, Giles, Buffy greeted slightly irritated that he interrupted them. Good afternoon, Buffy, he smiled at her then turned his attention back to her lover. Angel Angel responded to his greeting was a brief nod of his head. Well it seems to me that we find ourselves in a rather peculiar situation, wouldnt you agree? Now the question is, how do we get out? Giles asked as the rest of Angels gang gathered around him. The group now included Gunn with his arm firmly planted around

the thin shoulders of the young librarian. What do have planned, sir? Xander asked, as he didnt want to wait any longer for an answer. We escape, what else could he have in mind? Doyle answered for the group. I think that response speaks for itself, but how? Angel sneered at his friends. Well, first we need to get out of this library and to some place that they wouldnt even think about looking through, Giles smiled for he knew the exact place to go, he just wanted to lead these people a little, just to feed his drive to wait for the last minute to tell everyone so that the danger would be increased. Any ideas?? I know for a fact that we cant go back to headquarters, that would be the first place that they want to look through, Cordelia spoke up. I guess that place is out of the question. I would have to agree with that one, Xander admitted. Are there any ideas? I have one, Giles stated. Are you going to tell us or what? Willow sounded impatient. The Summers residence. No one could say a word. Everyone was completely dumbstruck at the thought of going to the lions den, right where all of this had started. Are you crazy or are you just crazy? Xander raised the question. Why would we go there? Think about it. Why would the army think to look in Buffys house when she hasnt been there for many months now? What about my parents, arent they home? Buffy asked. No, they went to England for some formal business with the government. They wont be home for another couple of days. Are you certain? Angel inquired. Positive. It is the safest place to go, plus it is very close to here and we can make it there fast without much consideration. You all could hide in my office down in the basement until everything that I have planned goes into effect, Giles said. Trust me, I wouldnt put any of you in any more danger. Seeing no other options available, the entire group agreed to this plan and they started their way out of the library. But before Angel could step forward, Giles grabbed his arm and pulled him away from Buffy. Angel, may I have a word with you? I promise it wont take long. What is the matter, Giles? Angel asked but was hastily silenced as Giles fist slammed into his jaw line. If you ever hurt her again or put her in a situation like this ever again, I will kill you, Giles threatened as anger rose in Angels eyes. Before Angel could violently retaliate, the older man extended a handshake towards him. Welcome to the family. Angel took his hand and gave it a hefty shake. I mean what I say Angel. Dont hurt her, Giles added. I dont plan to ever again, that I can guarantee, Angel declared. So is it alright that I ask her hand in marriage from the man that she considers a father? I never thought you would have to ask me because you should already know the answer, the older man stated as he looked ahead of him and stared into Buffys eyes, filled with love, as she looked at Angel. Plus if you didnt ask her, I think I would have killed you anyway for impregnating her before marriage.

Giles laughed faintly and Angel quickly joined in to his laughter. Buffys heart soared as she heard the two most important men in her life share that happiness. She knew that no matter what would happen from now on, everything would be just fine. Without much more to say, the entire group exited the building in relative silence. Everyone was too worried say anything, but Giles wasnt afraid to say one more thing. Buffy, I need your cloak. My cloak?? ~~~ Marching through those streets for more than ten hours felt like it was killing Spike. His body screamed for water and food; he had denied himself those simple pleasures for too long and it was definitely wearing his body down. The only relief he felt after this long day with not finding her was the fact that they were getting closer to where Giles had said that he saw a group of people talking about taking Buffy there. The building in question was completely run down as parts of the walls hung loosely out of place and the majority of windows smashed beyond repair. A horrible stench of mold and feces radiated from the graying walls and dilapidated structure. Cautiously he looked inside the windows, seeing absolutely nothing that would indicate that anyone was waiting inside. No guards, no life, no Buffy. If Giles led me wrong, I will strangle him, Spike thought but then something out of the corner of his eye caught his attention. General, take a look at this, Spike yelled and waved his hand in beckoning. What is it? the general asked in irritation. I think I see someone in there, Spike spoke plainly pointed to a human like figure in the middle of the room strapped to a chair. The sight quickly caught up with the general and he barked out an order to send a few men in there to check everything out. Inside now, there is someone in there! he yelled. A small entourage of soldiers lead by Spike slithered their way into the room, looking around for any signs of the opposition. It seemed quite odd that no one was there except for this person in a long black cloak, but Spike made nothing of it. He tip toed softly to the person and pulled back the hood to reveal the person inside. His breath caught in his throat as he stared straight into the blank eyes of a stuffed mannequin looking back at him with golden colored hair. His eyes traveled the length of the dummy where they landed on a small piece of paper with a saying on it. Spike picked it up in his fingers and read what is said. Erin Go Braugh, he thought to himself then said aloud, What the fuck?? His question could and would never be answered because as soon as he spoke those words, the entire building was engulfed in an explosion that rocked everything inside. Nothing was left of the building when sound ceased, only a dust cloud remained of the building and all the people inside and most of the people outside. Part XXXII New York Times Sunday, October 22, 1916 Explosion Rocks Dublin Streets Killing 50 For the past few months, the streets of Dublin, Ireland, seemed to almost to the point of being serene but all that would change when a bomb ripped through an abandoned warehouse on the outskirts of the city.

At approximately two oclock in the morning EST, while the British army was combing through Dublin in the attempt to find the perpetrators to horrendous crimes, committed by Irish revolutionaries in the sake of their quest for political freedom for a new republic of Ireland. These revolutionaries are believed to have direct involvement with the Easter Monday Rebellion in which hundreds of Irish and British citizens were murdered along the cobblestone streets. There are no eyewitnesses that have come forth to authorities that may have seen or heard any information that would lead to the arrest of suspects. For now, the British authorities are questioning those individuals that have been known to take part of rebellious acts in the past but no solid leads have been uncovered. Currently police are out searching for a young man named Penn McWilliams for questioning purposes of these crimes. Penn McWilliams, a 26-year-old revolutionary, is known to have ties to the Sein Finn, a group that is believed to have initiated the unrest in Dublin. No one can account for his whereabouts for the whole day of the bombing and it seems that he is now hiding while the investigations continue. The local government has continually denied their contribution to these acts of violence by stating that they have no concrete facts, only vague ideas as to who would have orchestrated these rebellions. President Patrick H. Pearse vows, We shall look into these accusations pointed toward our people, and we will not stop our search until the fiends behind these acts are found and justifiably tried for their crimes. More than 50 people were found, unidentifiable, among the burnt remnants of the explosion. No one that was on the inside of the building had the opportunity to stay alive and all lives were lost inside the crumbling walls. Most of the lives lost were members of the British army searching through the streets for a young English woman who had been kidnapped from her home 6 months ago by the Sein Finn. Buffy Summers, daughter of prominent British official Hank Summers, was believed to be kept inside that building during her time in capture. Hank Summers had been an influential figure in Englands presence on the island. Mr. Summers has always spoke openly to the British Parliament to keep their holdings on Ireland and to fight back at those who would threaten British authorities there. By kidnapping his daughter, revolutionaries attempted to bring their claim straight to the official, but all their efforts seemed fruitless for an audience. At the time of the explosion, Mr. Summers was on a trip to Parliament, pleading the government to stay in Ireland indefinitely. He has stated no comment at the present time over the past couple of days events. Survivors of the blast recall seeing her image in one of the warehouse windows before the explosion and it is alleged that Ms. Summers was also killed in the explosion along with the men who had come to bring her back to her family. Her body has not yet been uncovered but already her family has begun making preparations for her burial. Buffy Summers was only 20 years old. ~~~ Hank Hank Joyce Summers began to sob openly at the news of her daughters apparent death in the blast. What are we going to do now? He didnt know how to answer his wife. He wanted to comfort her and tell her that everything would be all right, but he knew that that would be not true. Their lives are now and forever changed beyond repair at this moment. Buffy, their only daughter, dead

and they could do nothing to stop her death or bring her back to life. Hank wrapped his arm around her shoulders and pulled her tightly into his chest. It isnt fair that our baby was taken from us so soon, but we must remember that she is in a better place now. I dont care that she is in a better place, I want her here! Joyce raged as her sobs became quite forceful. All my life I have prepared myself to watch her grow old with Riley, the man she loves, grant me with many grandchildren, and be able to see me pass on. No parent should ever have to bury their child! You are most definitely right, honey, Hank attempted to calm her with a soft voice. The only thing that we are able to do now is commit ourselves to the cause of finding those who took her away from us and make them pay. We will find them and put them to justice and the only way to do that is to keep the British government in Ireland. Politics, it is always about politics! Joyce muttered under her breath. Do you understand, Hank, that your politics have murdered my our baby!! You must not think that this little setback can deter my vision, I fear that it is actually a step forward to an increase of British influence. The Irish cannot govern by themselves; the only route toward their peace is English help. If I had my will, Ireland will never see freedom from Great Britain. And if I had my will, I would never allow Cromwell to conquer Ireland, that way these rebellions would not exist and our daughter would still be alive. For what this hatred has done to Buffy, I damn it all to hell! Joyce swore. With the rate of violence in that country, I dont believe that the stronghold that you so thoroughly hope to preserve wont last past the 30s. I shall work to make sure your predictions dont come true, Hank stated with determination in his voice. I plan to speak with Parliament and plead my case, then we will go back home. Joyce shook her head in despair at her husbands words. He would not listen to her and her arguments. Too many died, how many more must in order for there to be peace in Ireland? Not during my lifetime, Joyce thought as her anger turned to tears that ran down her face. What am I to do while I wait? she asked her husband in a hushed whisper. Think about her funeral. We need to think of ceremony that Buffy would like, something that we will always be able to remember her by. Part XXXIII The day of Buffy Summers memorial service began with the skies filled with dark gray clouds that would periodically open and weep droplets of rain upon the ground below. Damp grass parted way while the procession passed along the streets. This procession was eerie with the absence of a casket that would have held the body of the young woman. In place of her body was the memory of the happy times that she existed on this earth and all the sad faces that witness this dismal ceremony. The damp ground soaked up the rain and all the tears of the many people that came to pay their respects to the woman who had lived a life full of passion and vitality, who was caught between the two factions of this country that had been violently trying to rip apart from each other. The same thought crossed each mourners mind while they trudged through those dank streets. She was so young, why did she have to die? Joyce Summers lead the crowd of sadness with little to no emotions crossing her blank

countenance. Her husband had held her hand in condolence for their loss, but she needed no comfort. She was beyond all attempts to feel at ease. Joyces heart cried out for her daughter, but she had already shed too many tears. As she walked her shoulders slumped to the ground, feeling the weight of her despair lean heavily on her weakened body. She had not had a full night sleep since the explosion and her eyes were bloodshot with the tears that had come down. Im not ready to say goodbye, she whispered into her husbands ear as he pulled her more tightly into his body. Me neither, but she will always be in our memories, Hank attempted to soothe her with comforting words, even though he would not be comforted by what he said. The rest of the trip to the ceremony was kept in silence. The only sound heard was the faint pitter-patter of raindrops on the cobblestone streets and the tolling of bells in the background of the church whose cemetery they were walking to. ~~~ Buffy felt her own tears fall down her cheeks as she stayed in the rear of the procession to her own memorial. The eerie feeling of not really understanding what she was experiencing filled her heart and mind with complete sadness and wonderment. Angel stood next to his weeping love and he could feel the emotions rolling off her body and slamming into his own. In an act of comforting, he wrapped his arm around his dark cloaked Buffy to pull her face into his shoulder to catch her tears. Buffy promptly wrapped her arms around her lover to hold him tightly to her and not forget that he was with her now, forever. They never let go of each other until Giles softly tapped the young woman on the shoulder. Do you have the letter? Buffy could only nod her head because she felt her throat hoarse with her tears. She released Angel momentarily to reach under her dark cloak to retrieve a letter that Giles asked her to write and give to her mother. I will give it to her at the end of the ceremony, Giles whispered to her. Cant I give it to her personally? she asked meekly. Giles shook his head at her question for he knew that if she were seen, Buffy would be taken away and placed back into her other life. Im sorry, Buffy, but it is better this way. She nodded her head in agreement and sniffled back a few more tears as she felt Angel grip her tighter. They watched as Giles walked away and Angel leaned forward to whisper in her ear. Are you all right? Buffy didnt know how to answer his question. I dont know. I am so happy that I will be with you now but then I will miss certain things that I enjoyed in my old life. You will always have your memories, I can guarantee that and I can only hope that we will be able to replace the bad memories with our new life together. It will be difficult, but we will do this together. I promise, Angel spoke eloquently and looked directly into her eyes. With a sigh of comfort, Buffy felt the love that radiated from Angels eyes as he stared down at her. She could spend eternity looking directly into them and she trusted him to know that her life with him will be perfect. You have to admit the irony to this situation, Angel stated with a simple smile. What do you mean? Buffy asked.

How many people you know are able to witness their own funeral? She couldnt help the smile that spread across her face at his words. Well, I always believe that when you kissed me, I wanted to die. Then lets make you die one more time, Angel commented as his lips fell upon hers and the warmth flowed between both, opening both their hearts to the love they shared. ~~~ Joyce looked around at all the faces of the people in the crowd that huddled around the small plaque that was placed under a tree in the middle of the cemetery. She could see the grief that was painted on all their faces as the stood there facing the rain to pay their respects to her fallen daughter. As her eyes wandered, she noticed that most of the faces that were in the rabble, she didnt recognize. On the opposite side of the circle, she noticed a group of men and women massed together, wearing almost the exact same dark cloaks. The black hoods concealed their faces as their hands hung low towards the ground. Once and a while she saw one of them, raise their heads so that she could get a brief glimpse of their faces. She noticed a tall dark skinned man who held the hand of a slender burnet female wi th black-rimmed glasses; also a shorter, light haired male who had his arm around an equally tall woman with flaming red hair. Also among that group there was a man with the most wrinkled cloak who had an elegantly looking woman on his arm and two men who stood by themselves, one having fair skin with short blonde hair and a shaggy, dark haired one. Her attention moved to the last two members of that odd group when Giles came forward and distracted her from her thoughts. With an unsteady hand, he lifted a letter to her and she nervously took it in her hand. For you, maam, he stated as he handed to her and walked away for her to have a moment with the letter. Joyces hands shaked as she opened the letter pensively to realize that it was her daughters handwriting that she was staring at. Once again her eyes filled with tears as she read the plain words on the page. //Dear Mom, I dont really know what to say to you. It is so hard for me to write this, words cannot even express what I am feeling. I wrote to let you know that I am happy wherever I go. Know that I will always love you and I will see you someday. Goodbye Love forever, Buffy// Joyce read the words at least a hundred times by the time that she looked up from the paper. Buffys letter provided her with a comfort that she could have never felt without it. She knew now that her daughter was going to be fine and she will see her some day. She looked up from the paper only after the words could no longer be read for the rain had made the ink blur on the page. Joyce looked up from the page only to have her eyes fall once again towards the odd group of people. Suddenly the sight before her eyes made her heart quicken its pace. The woman that caught her attention across the way was slightly blurred by the rain that fell before her, but Joyce could almost swear that it was Buffy looking back at her. Strands of the womans golden hair flew from its confines and framed her beautiful face. Joyce wanted to scream Buffys name and run towards the woman, but something held her back.

She kept her silence as she stood there when she saw the young woman make eye contact with her. A shiver ran through her body as she saw the deep shade of green in the womans eyes. Her skin glowed and Joyce began to change her opinion about the woman from her daughter to a luminous angel. Their eye contact remained intact until the point that Joyce raised a hand to her face and blew a kiss toward the young woman from her fingertips. A glittering smile came from the woman as the kiss wafted her way. Joyce put her hand to her side as someone stepped between them and broke their eye contact. When she looked again, the woman was gone along with the rest of the cloaked figures. Joyce looked to the sky and whispered one more goodbye to the heavens for she knew that her daughter was now an angel up there watching all of them from below. Ill be seeing you, she whispered aloud as she felt her daughter inside her heart. She knew now that no matter what would happen, Buffy would always be there with her. ~~~ Buffy released a loud sigh of release as she, Angel and the rest of the gang left the cemetery. Well, that was fun, Xander stated as they walked. Oh yeah, tons, Cordelia added. It is a shame that we wont be able to attend the wake, I wouldnt mind getting a little inebriated at the moment, Doyle smiled. I would have to agree with you, Angel agreed with his friend. With standing at his lovers supposed funeral, his heart was filled with dread. It opened his eyes to the idea that one day she will be in fact taken from his side and he would not know how to continue to exist without her. He wouldnt want to think about that now for he now just won her, their future would just have to happen when it did but for now he must live for today. I dont think that would be such a good idea, Gunn broke through Angels brooding. Why? Angel asked. Funny things happen when you get drunk, Gunn explained. Like what? Gunn could say no words only point to Buffys distended stomach. I think your girlfriend has the answer to your question. I dont think it is a bad thing, just interesting none-the-less. Understanding what his friend was referring to, Angel placed a soft palm to Buffys abdomen as the continued to walk forward. So now what are we going to do? Willow asked in excitement. Not sure, Doyle answered her question. I know what I can do right now, Angel stated. And that would be?? Xander asked. Angel turned to stop Buffy in her tracks and stand straight in front of her. Buffy Summers, will you marry me? At his proposal, Buffy almost jumped straight up into the air and wrapped her arms around his neck. She placed a passionate kiss upon his lips and stated with all the love that she had in her warm heart. Yes. THE END!!!

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