liliaeth and I answer a few more of your questions with this interlude of Beloved, immediately following Angel’s evening a’bed. Please follow the Warning Alert System.
William is still just ten years old.
Yakkety yack, more talk.
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Beloved – Interlude 16-17C – Bound by Love
Angel stilled at the sight of the girl who had first stolen his non-beating heart all those years ago. She appeared to be translucent; he could barely make out the outline of the furniture across the room through her shimmering body. Did he dare move? Would she vanish?
He was startled to find himself still clutching Paddy bear as he attempted to wipe the sleep from his eyes.
“Take a picture, Angel. It’ll last longer.” His little fantasy stuck out her tongue and rolled her eyes at him.
Is it really you? He closed his own eyes, still unwilling to believe the vision before him.
“It’s me in the not-so-fleshy flesh. Sorta sitting on your bed and you don’t have a clue. I could sit on your lap and you’d still be all… clueless.”
She tossed back the golden mane of hair he remembered running his fingers through when they’d first begun… and began a slow crawl up the bed, not making the slightest impression on the bedcovers.
Oh my God! I’m still dreaming… it’s the only explanation. He looked guiltily over at his sleeping wife. Just what he needed – everyman’s fantasy. A wife and a nymph in his bed at the same time.
“I wish you could hear me, Angel,” she murmured, straddling his legs in a fairly intimate position. “It’s been so long since she’s granted me freedom… since I’ve been able to roam around, and now I find that our Will is gone. We have to get him back!”
She’s a ghost! She’s a ghost! She’s a ghost! Huh? “Buffy?” His voice cracked with uncertainty, but he had to try.
Buffy continued as if he’d not spoken. “I miss him so much. Will’s such a good boy.”
“Buffy,” he tried again, louder this time.
The surprised look on Buffy’s face was priceless. “You… you can hear me?”
“And you can see me?”
“Of course not. This is just another dream. A weird dream that’s part of the other dream and I can’t seem to wake up.”
She eeped shrilly and leapt away from him in a totally graceless move. Had she been solid flesh, her flight would have landed her on the floor.
“Oh my God! You can!! It’s about damned time.”
Angel grabbed the comforter and held it to his chest in an odd display of modesty.
Buffy laughed. “Who are you kidding, buster. You’re wearing… silk? jammies. What do you think you’re hiding that I haven’t seen before, anyway?”
“God, Buffy… you’re really here.” He reached out to stroke her face and gasped as his hand passed right through her.
He felt sick with disappointment. “I knew this was too good to be true. Damned hallucinations. I’ve gotta be mad if I can’t tell what’s real from a figment of my imagination.” He looked at the bear in his hands before bringing it up to his cheek. “Nothing is real anymore, Paddy. My boy’s missing, and Buffy’s been gone for so many…”
“Damn it, Angel. I’m real! I’m as real as you and your wife. I just don’t have a solid body and… Gods, I should have listened to Wes and stayed away from you.”
Great. Now my ghosts are arguing with me. Haven’t I been through this once already with Spike? “Go away, Buffy,” he sighed tiredly. “I can’t do this anymore.”
She snorted her displeasure. “Well, that’s just ducky, Angel. Maybe you can give up, but I can’t.” She climbed back on the bed, anger flashing brighter in her hazel eyes.
“Why don’t you just leave me to my insanity? I’d like to know what I did that I’m always saddled with the annoying ghosts.” Looking up at the ceiling, Angel begged: “Haven’t I earned something better than this? Than being haunted by the annoying ghosts? First Spike and then… and could you keep it down a bit? My wife is sleeping.”
“I doubt she’d be able to see or hear me. And… and now I’m annoying?” The infamous Buffy pout made its presence known.
This time, Angel rolled his eyes. “You’re a figment of my imagination that’s keeping me awake when I should be sleeping, so I’d say… yes.”
“Were you always this thick?”
“My Buffy would never be so hurtful to me.”
“And just what would… and hey! What do you mean, your Buffy?”
Now I’m arguing with a ghost. Angel held his hands up in a placating gesture. “Fine, you’re real. Just say your piece and let me go back to sleep.”
“Listen to me, bucko. We could argue about my metaphysicalities all night long… can’t you just accept that it’s me? Really me?” Buffy whined. “I haven’t been around much since Giles…”
“Giles! Did he have something to do with turning you into a statue?” The mere mention of the Watcher’s name fanned the vampire’s rage. “If he’s responsible for you as well…”
“No, dumbass. Remember the garden? The spell? Buffy go poof? How about Dawnie, when she found out what a big liar guy you really are? I should be furious at you for lying to my baby sister, you know.”
Angel had the good graces to look embarrassed.
“Why do you have so much trouble admitting you cared about Spike?”
Huh? “What are you talking about?” he hedged, wondering at her non-sequitur.
“I mean, you spent so much time being angry at a baby because you couldn’t admit you cared about Spike.”
“I’m not angry at William. I’d give anything to get him back.”
“That I believe, Angel. I’m not questioning how you feel about your son now… ten years post being Spike. It took you long enough, buster – and you still haven’t answered my question,” she said, arms held tightly against her chest. “I’ve been here since his first birthday. I watched his little face crumple when you wouldn’t give him the time of day and he couldn’t figure out why.”
He was stunned. How could she have known… have seen…? “And you’re telling me you saw all this? How is it possible with you being a statue and all?”
“My prison is exactly where you put it five years ago. Do you remember the night Little Miss Insano-vamp came to take Will away? That’s the first time I was free. Stuck in the garden, but free.”
“But nobody could see you.”
“William saw me, Angel,” she said softly. “He saw me the day you took me out of the box. And I saw him.
There wasn’t anything for him to say. Angel remembered the strange affinity his son had for the statue.
“I saw everything, buster. And I’ve gotta tell you… I’m awfully proud of you.”
Buffy smiled and unwound her posture, seeming to lean back on her arms. “Uh huh! Who’da thunk it, but the Mighty Angelus turned into a wonderful papa to two fine boys.”
Buffy rolled her eyes. “Duh? Connor and William? Can’t you count to two after all those years of Sesame Street under your belt?”
“But… I keep doing things wrong, Buffy. I keep messing up.” Angel sighed, remembering Dream Drusilla’s words. “I can’t keep my children safe. No… I can’t save my children.”
“Pffft!” Buffy waved her arm in dismissal. “That’s just crazy talk. Besides, do you think my mother did everything right? Parenting means heartache and fights – believe me, I gave my mother hell, and that’s without all the Slayery badness. But when you get it right… it’s marvelous. And I’ve seen you get it right. Well, mostly, anyway.”
She reached out her hand and ghosted it along the side of Angel’s face.
“But you try,” she insisted. “That’s what makes a good parent. No matter how wrong things go, or how bad the fights get, you just don’t give up.”
Buffy stood up, and began to pace back and forth in front of the bed. “But just so you don’t get a swelled head or anything, you make a craptastic almost father-in-law. Have you heard anything from my sister since she made with the leavage? And how long has it been exactly? I tend to get a bit fuzzy on the details.”
“The last time I spoke with…Giles,” he said, gritting the name out between clenched teeth, “he said she was fine. On her orders, he won’t give me any more information, but I worry. Connor worries. She still won’t talk to him… won’t let him explain he didn’t know about the lie… my lie.”
“I know she’s been writing to Will,” Buffy said, softly. “I hadn’t been able to talk to him since I came back, and I don’t know if he could sense me anymore, but I could see him and hear him. He lived for her letters, Angel. He misses her so much.”
“Will’s only ten years old, Buffy. Still a baby in the ways of the world.” Angel sniffed. “He’s a wonderful boy and I miss him. We miss him… me and Nina.”
“You do realize you’re cuddling his Paddy bear?”
“Yes? And?” Angel grew defensive, but refused to put the bear down.
Buffy looked over at Nina, then back at Angel. “You do realize you have better things to cuddle, don’t you? Someone who’s as deep into this as you are?”
“Oh God… Buffy, Nina… she’s… I love her. I never thought I’d love someone else so…” his whispered words trailed off.
“It’s all right, you know. That you’ve moved on.” Again, Buffy smiled, no trace of hurt in her expression. “She’s a good lady, and she loves Will.” A mischievous grin lit up her face. “And when he comes home, you guys can make with the whoopee and give him a whole litter of puppies!”
Angel shook his head in amazement. “It’s really you, isn’t it?” he murmured.
“Well, duh!” she replied. “What have I been saying all along? And now that we’ve established my real non-corporeality… why aren’t you on a plane to England to tear apart the Council with Giles in person?”
“I thought you saw everything.”
“Don’t play Mr. Smart-vamp with me, bucko. I just know if it were Dawn in Will’s place? I wouldn’t be sitting here and crying about it. I’d be on the next plane outta here and ripping up the Council stone by stone.”
Sitting up straighter, Angel’s anger began to seep through. “I was ready to go, damn it. I’d packed and called in favors… and then that letter arrived.” He stabbed his finger in the direction of the dresser.
“Well, are you gonna tell me what’s in the letter? It’s not like I can pick it up and read it,” she said, a mite testily. “Well, not so much anymore.”
“Those Council bastards scented the letter with Will’s blood! With Will’s terror-laced blood.” Angel lost control of his tears and they fell silently down his cheeks, staining his silk pajama shirt a darker maroon. “They promised his death would be on my hands if I set foot on the continent, and they’d send video as proof.”
Buffy’s eyes blazed with an inner fury. “So where the fuck is Giles? And what is he doing to get Will back?”
“Who knows? The bastard probably threw in his lot with Chalmers and that other idiot,” Angel fumed quietly. “Watchers of a feather sticking together. Because don’t think I don’t know what he tried to do to Spike. He told me, you know. They both told me… at different times. ”
After a moment’s hesitation, Buffy refuted his statement. “Against Spike, yes. It would have been an act of cold-blooded murder. But Angel, he could never harm an innocent child. Especially Will. You should know that. He adores the boy.”
“Like he wouldn’t have killed Dawn… the year you… you… died?” At her incredulous look, he continued. “Spike, remember? Drunk out of his gourd Spike? We had several long nights talking about what went down in Sunnydale. He told me about the threats he made against your sister in the name of ‘doing the right thing’. Buffy, I don’t trust that man.”
“Well, I do. To a point, anyway,” she amended. “Angel, you have to trust this: Giles adores the boy. You can’t deny it. What possible reason would he have for being complicit in kidnapping his grandson and threatening you? Show me some proof, and I’ll back you wholeheartedly, but until then…”
Angel refused to be swayed by her words, and held stubbornly to his convictions. “He let a friend of mine die, Buffy. I called him and begged for his help to save her life. He let his distrust of me kill an innocent young woman. And he tried to take control of Spike once before when...”
The sight of Buffy flickering in and out of sight caused Angel to stop his diatribe mid-rant. Slowly, her form began to solidify enough for her to be heard once more.
“We have to hurry, Angel,” she gasped, panting as if she’d been running for hours. “I don’t think we have the time to argue.”
“What’s wrong? What’s happening to you?” Angel was on the verge of panicking. He hadn’t seen Buffy for over ten years, if you didn’t count the momentary appearance in the garden five years ago and didn’t want to lose her again.
“No, please! I need more time,” Buffy cried out, obviously in pain and being pulled somewhere against her will. “The boy… you promised me…!”
And then she was gone.
Angel fell back against his pillow, still in shock at Buffy’s appearance and sudden exit. What did it all mean? Would she be back?
The alarm on the clock radio turned on, music filling the room as Nina stretched and rolled over towards her husband, reaching out for a morning cuddle. The words of Wilson-Phillips’s “You’re in Love” washed over them both.
You’re in love / and it’s enough for me to know / that you’re in love / so I’ll let you go.
Sometimes it’s hard to believe / that you’re never coming back to me ‘ I’d always dreamed of you by my side / until I would die / But now I see that you’re so happy / and it sets me free / and it’s enough for me to know / you’re in love/ so I’ll let you go
Something clicked in Angel’s heart. Something he’d not known he’d needed, or wanted. Or missed.
They’d both moved on.