Title: Ripple Effect

Author: April (acflager@UDel.Edu)

Disclaimer: If they were mine, Riley wouldn’t exist, and Angel could get as happy as he wanted…

Summary: Your basic, “what if – the – Oracles - hadn’t – erased – everything - with – that – temporal – fold” story line. :)

Spoilers: Anything up to Something Blue. Hero didn’t happen. Minor reference to Expecting. Oh and, just cuz I want it simple, there is no Initiative; Spike is just helping for, well I don’t know, he just is.

Couples: Buffy/Angel, Cordelia/Doyle, and Spike/Anya (small references to C/X , X/Anya and B/R)

Author's Notes 1: I realize that in the Buffy-verse, Buffy was at school for her birthday, meaning that probably, she had a normal school break like everyone else, going back around the 16 of January. Well for my story, she has a break like mine (Go UDEL!) , not going back till the beginning of February.

Author's Notes 2: This is my first variation from the cemented Scooby-gang, so tell me what you think and if I did it well.

Feedback: Please? I took some perfectly good final study time to write this…well also cuz its stuck in my head but…please? I need my fix…

Whistler: Its amazing how one small detail can throw the life you know into a tailspin. One otherwise inconsequential action can warp your whole outlook. It’s the ripple effect, when you throw a small pebble into a smooth lake, you get ripples going outward.

Buffy grimaced at the food in front of her, the small salad not looking very appetizing. What she really wanted was something fattening and greasy, but Willow was meeting her, and she didn’t really feel in the mood for a lecture from her roommate. Throwing her fork down in disgust, she pushed the tray away, opting to stare out the window.

“Buffy! Hey!” She turned, sighing softly as the tall T.A., Riley Finn, crossed the university café, tray in hand.

“Hi Riley. How was your break?” she asked, shifting in her seat as he sat down, uninvited, across from her. Why had she thought it would be all right to wear the tight top and jeans? Oh yea, cuz it was the day before most of the students came back to campus and she hadn’t expected to really see anyone.

“Relaxing. It was good to be home and see my family; even though I had to get used to the farm schedule. How about you? Did you have fun?”

Buffy shrugged. “It was all right.” If you call getting disapproving lectures and panic attacks ‘all right’.

“I missed you,” he said sweetly, his eyes doing a puppy dog thing. “Do you want to do something tonight? Dinner, maybe a movie? Before it gets hectic from classes starting?”

Buffy grimaced, avoiding his almost pathetically pleading gaze as she pushed her hair out of her face. “Um, actually Riley, I should tell you something. You see, I’m sorta, well, um, I’m pregnant.”

Riley’s mouth fell open, and then closed, then open again, rather making him look like a fish. He shut it then, and began to laugh. “Oh, that was a good one Buffy. Like the time you said you were going to get married to that Spike guy. So I’ll pick you up around 6?”

Buffy gave a soft growl of annoyance. “Riley, okay, I admit that the Spike thing was a joke, but I’m serious. I’m over 3 months pregnant.” She stood up then, standing in profile so that the blonde would be able to see the small, but obvious curve of her once flat stomach. “Now, if you would excuse me, I have things to do. If you see Willow, could you tell her that I’m sorry, but I wasn’t hungry.”

With that, Buffy turned and headed out the side doors, wrapping her arms protectively around her waist. She was blaming her now raging dislike of the T.A. to hormones. Shrugging, she walked down the pathway to the campus market near Stevenson, intent on getting a pint of ice cream.

Willow paused at the door to the café where she was supposed to meet her roommate, glancing around the tables, looking for her blonde haired friend. Spotting Riley sitting with a dumbstruck look on his face, she made her way over to him, noticing that a small salad was on the table across from him. “Hey Riley. Are you okay?”

“Oh, hey Willow. Um, yea. I think so.”

Willow cocked her head, and slid into the chair across from him, pushing the salad to the side. “Have you seen Buffy?”

He nodded dumbly. “She was just here. She said that she wasn’t hungry anymore and left. She said she’s pregnant.” Riley turned to her, his eyes doleful.

“Oh Riley. Yea. She is.”

“How, I mean…she wasn’t seeing anyone else three months ago was she?”

Willow shook her head. “She hasn’t told us who the father is. She says she knows, but she refuses to tell us. I’m sorry you found out like this.”

Riley caught her gaze, a determined look on his face. “I still want to see her. I was starting to fall in love with her; I thought we had something good. Do you think she’d still want to? I’d help her with…”

Willow shook her head softly. “I don’t know Riley. She hasn’t been that appreciative of us doing stuff for her. I don’t know if she’d want to continue what you guys were getting into before. Give her a little time to get into a schedule, and then why don’t you come over? I’ll try and change her mind for you.”

Buffy opened the door to Giles’ later that day, slipping in unnoticed as the Scooby Gang argued somewhat loudly. Spike, who was seated facing the door grinned and opened his mouth to say something, but shut it when she shook her head.

“What do you mean, you’re not going to do anything! Giles! She’s pregnant, and she’s not telling anyone what happened!”

Buffy stared in shock at Xander, who was in one of his misguided crusades. Anya sat beside him, flipping through a magazine. She turned to look at her watcher, wanting to see his reaction.

“I admit that yes, I am worried about the origins of the pregnancy. As Willow has told us, she wasn’t seeing anyone at the time of the, um, p-pregnancy. And if she says she knows, and isn’t too concerned about it, then my hands are tied.”

“But, but….what if it’s demon spawn and she doesn’t know it!”

“Xander!” Buffy grinned at her best friend’s admonishment, but that quickly disappeared at Willow’s next words. “We just got to stick to the plan. Be nice to her, support her, and hope that she tells us the truth.”

“And keep with you and Giles’ trying to use magick to figure it out? It hasn’t worked properly yet!”

“I have contacted the Council, Xander. They are looking into the issue.”

Buffy gasped loudly, turning everybody’s heads toward her. Her stance turned to one of self-defensiveness and anger. “Is it true? Have you been sneaking around my back??” No one would even look at her, save Spike. “Spike? How long has this been going on?”

Spike shrugged. “Since you told ‘em Ducks. They threatened to take away the telly if I told you.”

“So you weren’t in on this?”

“Nope. I knew better.”

Buffy turned a reproachful glance at her so-called friends, who had inched closer to her. “I can’t believe you guys would do something like that.”

“Now Buffy, you’re just being hysterical. Its not you…”

“If you even dare say its hormones, I’ll make you wish I was being hysterical. I believe I’m acting rather calmly for someone whose friends that she trusted went around her back. Did you think I wouldn’t find out? You knew I was coming today.”

“Y-you were early,” supplied Willow.

“And I’m glad that I was. God, everyone I give my trust to eventually just tosses it back in my face.” Buffy turned to the door, and reached for the knob, before turning back one last time. “I don’t want any of you near me, or my child. You got that? Just stay away.”

Her control quickly fraying, she ran outside into the just darkened night, making it out of the courtyard before breaking down in tears. Body wracked with sobs, she leaned her back against the ivy-covered wall of the complex.

Suddenly, a strong arm came around her, wrapping a long coat around her shaking frame. “Shh, pet. It’ll be all right.”

Buffy turned into his chest, soaking his shirt with her tears. “My friends betrayed me Spike. My mom won’t speak to me now with my “situation” and I can’t trust them anymore. I don’t see an ‘all right’ any time in the future.”

“Maybe they weren’t your real friends. Real friends tell it how it is.”

The sound of footsteps approaching found them, and Buffy looked up at her once-enemy. “I want to leave Spike. I need to get away from the Hellmouth.”

“Well, luv, where are we going?”


“I’m not going to let you and my little brother or sister leave unprotected, now am I? How do I know?” Spike shrugged. “I just do. So where to?”

“First the dorm, I want to get a few things. Then, L.A.?”

“You’re going to go to see the poof?”

Buffy shook her head. “I don’t think I can just yet. But Cordelia for now.”

Cordelia groaned as someone knocked on her door. It was nearing dawn, and she’d only gotten in an hour ago, too exhausted from the nightly crusade to do much else but collapse on the couch. Finally kicking her heels off, as if to say she definitely wasn’t moving, she dug more deeply into the couch.

Closing her eyes, she intended on finally going to sleep, finally getting the nervous energy of battle out of her system, when Dennis snapped on the light by her head. “Dennis!” she hissed,” Turn that off!”

The knocking came again, this time with a voice. “Cordelia! Please! Are you there?”

Cordelia sat straight up, her legs swinging around to hit the bare floor. She knew that voice. Moving quickly toward the door, she swung it open to reveal a very tired looking Slayer, and behind her, Spike. Barely raising an eyebrow at the second person, as she’d kept in good touch with Buffy of all people, she focused on the girl. “Buffy. Is everything all right?”

Buffy shook her head wearily, one hand moving to push back hair falling into her face, then returning to rest at her stomach. Cordelia took the motion in, but doing nothing more than arching an eyebrow in response. “Is some one hurt? Why didn’t you go to A…?”

“Can we come in Cordy? It’s been a long drive, and a hard night.”

Cordelia stepped aside, sending a look in Spike’s direction. “If I invite you in, are you going to go all psycho killing?”

“I haven’t killed anyone yet tonight, even though I had plenty of chances. I won’t harm you, pet, unless, of course, you’re that kind of girl.”

Cordelia bit back a laugh at that. “Come in.” Spike stepped past her, and she half expected Dennis to throw him back on his butt into the hallway. When her ghostly roommate did nothing, however, she knew it was all right. After shutting the door and latching it, she turned back to her guests, surprised to find Buffy leaning heavily against Spike. Concern colored her words. “Buffy, what’s wrong? I’ve never seen you like this. Not even after Angel went all ‘grr.’”

“I don’t think she’s much up for a convo right now, Ducks. Is there someplace she can crash for the rest of the night?” said Spike, absently stroking Buffy’s blonde hair. “Once she’s settled in, and I go grab a bite, I’ll try and explain.”

“Sure. The guest bedroom. Second door on the left. And I should have some blood of Angel’s here.” Spike nodded and led Buffy out of sight. “Dennis, could you watch her for me?”

“She’s pregnant?” Cordelia’s voice screeched through the apartment, and she hushed herself. “Who’s the father?”

Spike took a sip of his heated blood, having gotten over his surprise of the May Queen actually handling the liquid, before answering. “That’s the issue. The bloody pricks that call themselves her friends went behind her back to find out, just because she wouldn’t tell them.”

Cordelia frowned in distaste, then looked in the direction of the second bedroom. “All of them? Even Giles?” Spike nodded, and she shook her head. “How did she find out?”

“Walked in on an argument that they were having. They were using spells to find out who the father was.”

“Spike, who is the father?”

“Angel is.”

Cordelia’s head whipped to the kitchen doorway, where the weary slayer stood. “How? I thought he was all impotent and stuff. Not to mention the ‘grr’ factor.”

Buffy shook her head, sitting heavily in one of the chairs. “I don’t know. I haven’t slept with anyone since the end of September, and I’m four months along. All I have is these dreams of us, and something just telling me that he is the father.”

Cordelia’s eyes rose at the math, but said nothing about it. “So what are you going to do?”

“I’d hoped we could stay here for a little while? I have some money. At least until I find a job and a place to stay.”

Cordelia sighed. “Of course you can stay here, and I don’t want your money, you’re going to need it later. But I’m guessing since you didn’t run straight to Angel that you don’t want to see him.”

“I know I have to tell him, but what am I going to say? I’m pregnant with your child when the last time we had sex was over two years ago?” Buffy shook her head. “I can’t right now.”

“Angel’s my friend Buffy. And he comes here. Why else would I have blood in my fridge? I can’t just suddenly say he’s not allowed in.”

“I know, but could you try, just for a bit? If I’m stuck seeing him, I’ll deal with it then. Please Cordelia?”

“I’m not promising anything.”

“Mornin’ Princess,” said Doyle as Cordelia entered the office. “Where were you yesterday?”

Cordelia sighed, putting her Starbucks coffee cup on her desk before taking off her jean jacket. “I wasn’t feeling very well.”

“Are you still feeling sick, Cordy?” asked Angel, coming out of his office to lean in the doorway. “Don’t get mad, but you look like you barely slept last night.”

Cordelia surprised her friends with not doing anything but shrug, throwing an unintelligible look in Angel’s direction. “Some issues came up that I had to deal with. No big.”

“If you’re sure. If you need to go home early, we’ll be fine here.”

“I’m fine, but I do need to leave early today,” said Cordy. “A friend is coming up from Sunnyhell and I promised that I’d help look for a place.” She didn’t miss Angel’s look at the name of the town, but she didn’t elaborate, choosing instead to start looking through the pile of papers on her desk. “So anything big and nasty come up that needs to be killed?”

“No mind numbing visions,” drawled Doyle, sitting in the chair in front of her desk and propping his feet up.

Giving him a look, she pushed his feet off, and reached for the phone as it began to ring. “Angel Investigations, we help…Oh..Hi…Giles.” Cordelia used all her acting to keep a friendly tone. “Angel? Yea, sure. Here.”

Angel took the phone, his entire frame stiff and tense. “Is Buffy all right?” Cordelia rolled her eyes, and turned back to her mail. “Of course. You call if you hear anything.” He replaced the handset, his face drawn in worry. “Buffy is missing.”

“What happened man?”

“Giles said he didn’t know. She left his place two nights ago, and no one has seen her. I told him I’d keep an eye out.”

Cordelia snorted, shoving her seat away from the desk and picking up her things. “She’s fine, I’m sure. I’ll see you guys later.”

Cordy opened her door, stepping into her apartment, to find Buffy in a very different state of mind from the way she’d left her that morning. “What’s up?”

Buffy grinned at her and motioned her closer. “Spike is cooking.” She pointed toward the kitchen, where Spike was indeed cooking, with an apron on and all.

Cordelia bit back a laugh. “Um, why is he cooking, and is he going to burn my place down?”

“He’d better not! It’s going to be our place soon too!”


“I called my Dad today. He’s securing me an apartment upstairs.”

Cordelia gaped. “How did you manage to do that?”

“He feels guilty for leaving me with my mom. I just hinted that if he had been around more, maybe I wouldn’t be in this situation. He’s buying the apartment, so all I have to pay for is the utilities.”

“That’s great! I’m happy for you.” Cordelia grinned at her friend. “Now what do you say we go tease Spike?”

+ A month later… +

The door to Angel Investigations opened, and Cordelia looked up, her customer smile pasted to her face. “Welcome to Angel Investigations…Anya?” Cordelia stood in shock at the appearance of her ex-boyfriend’s ex-demon girlfriend. “What are you doing here?”

The girl seemed a little uncomfortable. “Hi Cordelia.”

Cordelia crossed her arms. “Are you here to make sure that Buffy really isn’t here? Xander better not be coming in here again. I’ll kick his…”

“Xander isn’t here, Cordelia. I came alone. And I’m not here to see Buffy.”

“Buffy isn’t here.”

Anya leveled a look at the former May Queen. “Maybe not, but maybe you know where she is?” Cordelia looked back to Angel’s office, which was thankfully empty; he and Doyle had gone off to kill something gross. “I broke up with Xander. All he does is whine and complain about not being able to find Buffy, and how it’s so typical of her. He wouldn’t have sex with me. I moved up here about a week ago.”

“So why did you come here?”

Anya shrugged. “I figured Buffy and Spike wouldn’t go to Angel, but maybe to you. I just want to make sure she’s okay.”

“Buffy and Spike left together? Giles never said anything like that.”

“They’re a lot more stupid than they seem,” mocked Anya. “And I don’t think he ever mentioned Buffy being pregnant either.”

“What?” Angel’s voice was low, shell-shocked, and Anya and Cordelia turned to look at the new occupant of the room. “Buffy’s pregnant?”

Anya nodded. “I guess he didn’t tell you the story then.”

“Tell me what?” Angel’s tone brooked no argument.

“The real reason Buffy left. She didn’t disappear Angel. She ran away.”

Cordelia and Anya watched as Angel’s head disappeared as the elevator descended. Anya had just told Angel everything that had happened leading up to Buffy’s running away, and he’d fallen into brood mode.

“You know where Buffy is, don’t you?” whispered Anya.

Cordy sighed, then nodded. “Come on. Let’s pick up some food and then we’ll go and see her.”

+ About three months later… +

“Buffy?” Cordelia opened her friends’ door with her key, shutting it behind her as she called out into the apartment. “You ready?”

Spike ambled out into the living room, a mug in his hand and the TV Guide in the other. “She’s in the bathroom. She’ll be out in a minute.”

Cordy nodded, plopping onto one of the plump armchairs. The apartment was quite nice. The layout was pretty much exact to hers, with the small entranceway, a living room, kitchen, one bath and two bedrooms. Buffy had gotten a waitressing job at a small family restaurant, and with the money that Spike filched from vampires before staking them, lived comfortably. Heavy drapes hung around the windows, and the furniture was old but clean castoffs from either Goodwill or pieces found in want ads. “Are you sure you won’t come with us tonight?” asked Cordy, speaking of the doctor’s appointment that they were headed to.

Spike shook his head. “Yea right. I’m not that whipped. Anya’s going to come over.”

Cordelia raised her eyebrows, not really knowing what the two had planned. The two demons turned good guys, and good friends, had hit it off outside the boundaries of the Scooby Gang, and had been joined at the hip ever since.

“I can’t wait to be thin again,” moaned Buffy, as she appeared in the hallway. At eight months pregnant, she was beginning to have a hard time getting around.

“You’re glowing, Ducks.”

“Yea, with sweat. It’s a workout doing the littlest thing.”

Cordelia grinned, getting up and opening the door for her best friend. “You don’t have to tell me that. I’ve been there, remember?”

Buffy snorted. “But that was over in a day. You didn’t have to carry around all that extra weight for about four months, remember? Do I look okay?”

Cordelia nodded. “I love that dress.”

Buffy grinned, knowing that it was one that Cordelia had bought for her. It was the first time she’d worn it. It was a red, empire waisted slip dress that flowed to her knees. She’d put a white tank top underneath the dress and had chosen white Keds and a jean jacket to go with it. “You’re the one that picked it out.”

Cordy laughed. “I know. I have such good taste in clothes.”

The two friends exited the doctor’s office, laughing and smiling, Buffy clutching the ultrasound photos in her hand. “I’m glad it’s going to be a boy. At least this way I know the baby won’t be Called.”

Cordelia’s grin dimmed slightly, and she wrapped an arm around her friend’s shoulders. “Have you thought any more to telling Angel?”

“I know I should, but I’m just afraid.”

“The longer you wait the more you’re going to hurt him.”

“I know. I want to, but I still have no idea how to explain it to him.”

“Maybe he’d have some idea of how come. . .cuz he’s knows so much.”

“I guess I’d better before Junior here decides to make an appearance huh?”

Cordelia didn’t comment, changing the subject. “How does picking up some ice cream sound? We’ll take it back to your place or mine, depending on what our lovable demons are up to.”

Buffy followed Cordelia from the corner market down the street from their apartment complex, her steps slower and less easy than that of her friend. Swinging the bag lightly, she grunted as she ran into Cordy’s back, surprised when the actress stopped suddenly. “Cordy? What’s wr…” Buffy broke off as she looked up to meet a pair of dark eyes even in the dark of the night.

“Buffy.” The one word conveyed his emotions: anguish, pain, relief, and a myriad of other emotions that she didn’t want to face.

She bit her lip, her hand reaching out to grip Cordelia’s arm in support, the other moving to cradle her stomach, bringing his gaze to her protruding belly. “Angel. Um…hi?”

Angel’s whole being turned stiff and untouchable, and Buffy flinched as if she’d been slapped. “Have you been here the whole time? Do you know how worried everyone has been?”

Buffy gave a dry laugh, her defenses going up. “You mean the people that were going behind my back? Or the mother that was so disappointed in me she threw me out of her house again? Or the person that I loved most who just turned around and walked out of my life?” Buffy shrugged. “I don’t much care about that. I’m living that normal life that everyone wanted for me.” Buffy had let go of Cordy’s arm and moved past Angel, head set straight ahead, with the intention of going home and having a good cry.

She hadn’t gotten a foot away when Angel’s cool hand wrapped around her upper arm. “Buffy, this isn’t finished.”

Her gaze was cool as it looked at his hand. “Let go of me Angel,” she said, not saying anything else until she was free. “I’m leaving now.”

“We need to talk.”

“Talk? All you know how to do is tell me what to do. No thank you. I control my own life now. Good-bye Angel.”

Buffy turned around, heading resolutely down the street. Angel made as if to go after her. “Let her go Angel.”

Angel turned on Cordelia, his eyes glowing gold with anger, but she didn’t flinch. “How could you know where she was and how she was all this time and not tell me! I thought you were my friend!”

Cordelia drew herself up, telling herself that he needed to hear the things that were going around in her mind. “I am your friend, Angel,” she said, not letting her anger color her words. “But I’m Buffy’s friend too. It wasn’t my place to say.”

“Yes it was! Buffy’s my life, and what happens to her I want to know!”

“God damn it Angel! You’re the one who walked out on her!” she unleashed the words on her tongue. “You decided that she should have better and that what you were doing was for her own good!”

“I care for her! She didn’t need me in her life!”

“She didn’t need someone who knew what she was going through? Who loved her with all his being? Yea I can see how that would be a bad thing.” Cordelia shook her head and lowered her voice. “She loved you Angel, and you left her to deal with a scary life all by herself. Your self-sacrificing, nobility is really starting to piss me off. I thought just walking out of her life was bad, but then when everything is finally going good for the two of you, you decide you’re not good enough for her, only this time that you’re not abnormal enough to be with her. And you take her life away again.”

Angel said nothing, his gaze anguished. “I’m going after her now, Angel. I wouldn’t try and find her unless you are ready to admit some things.”

Buffy’s mind worked quickly, and she tossed back and forth in her bed, deep in the throes of the same dream that had haunted her since she’d found out about her pregnancy. This time was different however. Everything was more real, with more emotions than that of a dream world. “I’ll never forget, never forget…” she whispered into the darkness, tears tracking their way down her cheeks.

“Angel!” Buffy woke with a start, the one word echoing around her, breathing heavily.

Her bedroom door slammed open, and Spike rushed in, dressed only in a pair of boxers. He hurried to her side, embracing her in his arms. “Are you all right Pet?”

Buffy was unable to do nothing more than shake her head, her breathing hitching as she cried hysterically. Anya appeared in the doorway, one of Spike’s black T-shirts hanging to her knees. Spike seemed to sense her, catching her gaze and shaking his head soberly.

Moving to sit beside the crying slayer in his arms, Anya rubbed Buffy’s back slowly, pushing her damp hair out of her face.

The next morning, Cordelia entered the outer office quietly. “How is he?” she asked Doyle.

Doyle shook his head. “He hasn’t come out of the office. He’s been staring at the picture of the lass that’s hidden in his book all morning.”

“Maybe I should talk to him?” she asked timidly, looking to the half-demon that she’d been on the phone with half the night talking to.

“It might be worth a try,” he said, giving her hand a reassuring squeeze as Cordelia walked past him and to her boss’s doorway. Knocking lightly on the door frame, she stepped just inside the door, not waiting to be invited in.

He didn’t even look up. “I don’t want to talk about it Cordelia.”

“Well that’s all right. I think you’ve hurt enough people with your words. You have the tendency to try and make everybody’s decisions for them. It’s extremely annoying.”

His gaze broke from the book, and he looked up at her, his eyes sad and depressed. “Didn’t you go over this last night?”

Cordelia nodded. “So you were listening. Just wanted to make sure it got through the thick skull of yours.”

“She’s having somebody else’s child, Cordelia.”

“You’ve known that she was pregnant for awhile now.”

“Not seeing her made it not be so real though. I know this is one of the many things I wanted for her, but…I didn’t think it would hurt this much.”

“Huh. It doesn’t seem like she’s happy with somebody else, does it now?” Cordelia sighed, wanting the soap opera to be over. “Didn’t you even bother to do the math, Angel? She conceived around Thanksgiving.”

“Are you trying to make me feel even worse? I gave up that one perfect day and she went back to her boyfriend at school.”

“Angel, Buffy told me, and I believe her, that she hasn’t had sex with anybody since last September.” When he didn’t seem to get what she was hinting at, she elaborated. “She’s also told me about these dreams that she’s been having ever since she found out. Do you want to know what these dreams are about? You being human, and getting pelvic all over your apartment, which she’s never seen, but seems to be able to describe perfectly.”

A suddenly understanding look crossed his face as a phone rang in the background. “I think the kid is yours Angel. I don’t know if those Oracles didn’t do their job or what, but I don’t think everything was erased.”

Doyle burst in the room, Cordelia’s cell phone in his hand. “I think you might want to take this, Princess.”

Cordy shot him a look, ready to chastise him for answering her phone after finishing the call, as she took the phone from him. “Hello?”

“Cordy!” Anya’s voice was hurried and relieved. “Buffy’s gone into labor!”

“What!!!” Cordy stood, ignoring the looks the two men were giving her. “Oh my God! But how! She still has another month!”

“She woke up from a bad dream early this morning, hysterical, repeating “I’ll never forget” and calling for Angel. She kind of lost it and started having contractions.”

“Oh god! Did you call the doctor?”

“He’s at the hospital now, and the ambulance is on the way.”

“OWWW! Damn it Slayer! Ease your grip!” Spike’s voice carried over the line.

“There’s still another month!” repeated Cordy.

“Tell the kid that,” retorted Anya. “This kid is coming today, whether we’re ready for it or not. You’d better get your butt to the hospital. We’ll see you there.”

Anya hung up, and Cordy shut the phone off, staring at it in shock, not coming out of it until Angel shook her violently. “Cordelia! What’s happening?”

Cordelia wrenched herself from his grip, shaking her head. “Buffy’s in labor. I have to get to the hospital.”

“I’m coming with you.”

Cordelia spared him a small smile. “It’s a bit bright for that Angel.”

Doyle spoke up. “I’ll get him there.”

“County General. And hurry. It sounded like the kid was coming fast.”

Cordelia tapped her foot impatiently as the elevator rose to the maternity floor, ignoring the other people in the small space with her carrying balloons and flowers. As soon as the doors slid open, she was out into the hallway, heading for the nurse’s station. “Buffy Summers.”

“Room 419.” The nurse’s voice trailed after her as her heels clicked on the sterile floor. Finding the correct room, Cordelia pushed it open, finding Spike and Anya on either side of a sweaty slayer.

“How is she?”

Anya pulled her hand free, moving to talk quietly to Cordelia. “They’re doing fine,” she said, loud enough for Buffy’s benefit, before pulling her away to talk in a whisper. “The doctors are a little concerned. She’s almost fully dilated, but the baby isn’t close to coming.”

Cordelia paled underneath her tan, shooting a worried look to her friend. “Oh god. Angel better get here fast.”

“Cordelia!” Angel’s voice called out to her as she made her way from the ice machine, a pitcher of ice chips in her hand. He skidded toward her, Doyle on his heels. “How is she?”

Cordelia gave him a comforting smile. “She’s doing fine Angel.”

“And the wee one?” added Doyle.

Cordelia pushed her hair back and sighed. “Doesn’t seem to want to come out as bad now.”

“C-can I see her?” asked Angel almost timidly.

Cordelia nodded. “Of course you can. Just try and keep calm, all right? It’s been hard enough trying to keep her focused. She’s down this way.”

Buffy sighed deeply as the last wave of the contraction passed, giving a wan smile to Anya as she wiped her forehead down and the doctor and nurses bustled around the room. “How much longer?”

“It shouldn’t be too long now, Buffy. You’re doing terrific; just think, soon you’ll have your baby here,” replied Anya, exchanging glances with Spike across their friend’s head.

“Buffy?” She focused on the doorway where Cordelia had just entered. “There’s somebody here to see you.”

Buffy’s eyes widened as Angel stepped into the room, his tall form seeming unsure as he overpowered her senses with his presence. Her hazel eyes drank in his appearance, every plane of his face was caressed with her gaze, and as light orbs meet dark pools, grievances were laid to rest to be discussed later. “Angel.”

She was only half aware as Spike stepped away from her side with an acknowledging nod from his sire, and Angel took his place, taking one of her hands in his own. “How are you feeling?”

Buffy gave a shaky laugh. “Ready to slay a demon.”

Keeping her hand in his, one reached out to cup her face. “Buffy.”

Buffy sighed, closing her eyes momentarily. “I’m tired Angel.”

“I know, Baby. But it’s worth it, isn’t it?”

Buffy gave him a tight smile. “Definitely.”

“All right Buffy, here comes another contraction,” interrupted the doctor, standing at her feet. “I want you to keep deep breathing, but this time, I want you to try and push, all right?”

She gave a tight nod, holding on tighter to Angel’s hand as the pain came.

Angel watched as Buffy concentrated solely on her breathing, gazing straight at him. Suddenly a high-pitched beeping sounded in the air, and he broke the gaze as the medical staff hurried around in organized chaos. He turned back to look at Buffy, whose eyes had gone wide and whose breathing had lost its pattern and had become shallower.

“Angel? Wh-what’s going on?”

He watched almost as if he was in other body as he was directed out the door with the others.


He fell back into awareness at the terror in her voice, just as he was pushed into the hallway. Beginning to struggle, he called out for her. “Buffy!”

Doyle’s hand clamped down on his shoulder, keeping him from rushing back into the room. “Come on man. You can’t do anything more in there.”

Distracted, Angel allowed himself to be led to the nearby waiting room, where the others had already gathered. Sitting heavily into one of the uncomfortable chairs, his head fell down to rest in his hands.

The five of them, Doyle, Cordelia, Spike, Anya, and Angel, waited silently for the long half hour that stretched out in front of them, until the scrub clad doctor made her way to stand in front of them.

Angel was the first out of his seat to approach her. “How is she?”

“Both Buffy and her son are fine.” A collective sigh of relief was released from the entire group of people. “They are both resting comfortably right now.”

“What happened, Doctor?” asked Cordelia.

“The baby underwent some stress, and it began to put Buffy in danger.” The doctor looked around at the worried faces. “Her heart stopped just as her son was delivered. We were able to resusitate her, and she should be fine, but we want to keep them both here for the next couple days, just to be sure.”

“Can we see them?” asked Angel.

“One at a time, and not for long.”

Cordelia looked at the people that had come to mean so much to each other, and then looked back at Angel. “You go first Angel. We can wait.”

“Buffy?” Angel’s voice was a whisper as he approached her.

Slowly, her eyes opened, a contented smile on her face as she saw him. “Hi Angel.”

The bed dipped a little as he weight settled beside her, one hand resting on the other side of the bed across her hips to give him balance. “How are you feeling?”

“Happy, content. Extremely worn out. I’m glad you came Angel.”

“I am too,” he replied, smiling at her. “I love you, Buffy. My leaving never changed that.”

“I know. I love you too,” she said. “It was hard accepting it, but I knew that you had to do what you felt was right. Not for me, but for yourself. If you hadn’t left, I might not be here, and I mean that in the best possible way.”

“I’m forgiven?”

“Always.” Buffy smiled softly, gazing down at the sleeping face of the little boy in her arms. “He’s perfect, don’t you think?”

“He’s going to be a lady’s man when he grows up,” agreed Angel, a large finger caressing the soft cheek.

“Just like his father.” Her comment took him off balance, and she grinned at him. “I promised you I’d never forget.”

“Oh, god Buffy. I’m so sorry,” he choked out.

Buffy just smiled serenely at him, reaching out to clasp his hand in hers. “I forgave you, remember. It doesn’t matter anymore. I realize you might not want to be with me anymore, after the way I’ve acted, but I want you in our son’s life, and I love you so much I’ll take you any way I can get you. Selfish or not.”

“I’m always going to want you Buffy. And that’s the problem.” Buffy’s face fell, but she was reassured by his next words. “But we’ll figure something out. Even if we have to have a stock of Orbs of Thesselah’s around to ensure my soul stays safe.”

“No need Warriors.” The new voice was accompanied by a bright glow in the room that preceded the appearance of the female oracle.

Without even meaning too, Buffy held her son just a little bit closer, just as Angel moved to face the newcomer, his arm in a protective hold around his small family. “What do you want?” asked Buffy.

“What do you mean ‘No Need’?” asked Angel.

The Oracle gave them an approving smile. “I’m here simply to pay humble homage to the side of Good’s most powerful warriors, and give redemption to those who deserve it.” Buffy’s eyes flickered with a small flame of hope, which she didn’t allow to burn too brightly, just in case things didn’t work out. “Slayer, you have twice cheated death, and have lived to achieve more than any of your sisters. No other shall be called when you die again, which will be many years in the future. For now on, you are one of the prophesied Warriors. A band of six blessed and hand-picked by the Powers that Be.

“Angelus, you have sought and earned your redemption in acceptance of yourself. For this, you are souled vampire no longer. Instead, like your soul’s mate, a human Warrior.” Angel opened his mouth to speak, but was cut off by the Oracle. “Your strengths shall remain, as well as some given into you by the Powers, so you may protect your family.”

A gold light passed through the both of them and there was silence for a moment as Angel’s steady heartbeat seemed to deafen the room. As it quieted, Buffy turned tear-glistened eyes to the Oracle. “Thank you.”

“No, my young one. Thank you for protecting this dimension. Your reward is well-deserved.” She began to fade, but her voice spoke once more. “Live happy, Warriors, and excuse me, as I have four more friends to bestow gifts on.”

As she disappeared, Buffy and Angel looked at each other, almost drowning in the other’s eyes. Slowly, entranced, they drew closer, intent on having one of their soul searing kisses, but jumped back at a wail. Automatically, the couple turned to the baby in Buffy’s arms, but found him still sleeping.

ce="Arial">Just then, Spike burst into the room, followed by sounds of laughter. He turned an angry gaze at the both of them. “Your bloody friend just turned me into a bloody human!”