The Other Side of Tomorrow

by *Stars*

Email:   stars91@gmail.com

Disclaimer: Nope, still don’t own any of it!

Distribution: Anyone who wants it can take it, but please let me know where it’s going!

Spoilers: None.  This is an AU fic, written in response to a challenge by Rozlyn14.  I will post the challenge at the end of the fic.

Pairings: B/A.  Mention of B/S and B/R.  Also X/C, W/O, G/J

Summary: Most characters are either a God or Goddess, with some being Demi-Gods and others being human.  Buffy, the Goddess of Home and Family is desperately lonely and longs for a family of her own. 


Chapter 1 ~ Silent Prayers

Setting upon the balcony of her family’s palace high on the hillside, Buffy watched in awe as the humans living down below bustled through their daily chores.  As she pulled her legs up in front of her, Buffy rested her chin on her knees. 

She wasn’t really sure why she put herself through this daily ritual.  It wasn’t as though watching these lower creatures, as her father called them, made her feel any better.  In fact, she always felt more alone and isolated afterwards.  She didn’t actually wanted to be one of them, a human that is, she just wanted what it always appeared to her that each of them had – love.

Buffy’s entire existence had been plagued with an ache in her heart for the one thing she had considered missing from her own life, the love of another.  Her fondest wish was to be loved, have a family and yet even after all this time, she was still denied such things. 

Her mother and father were always much more involved in their social status within their Kingdom or tending to their youngest and obviously more favored daughter Dawn to give her any of the attention and love she had so desperately wanted.

So, how ironic was it then that she, of all the Goddesses in her Kingdom, be the one ordained as the Goddess of Home and Family?  Giles, The God and honored Ruler of their Kingdom, along with his life’s consort, Jenny, had insisted that she was the ‘one’ to carry this responsibility.  They had to practically beg her to accept such a bestowement.

Buffy never felt she was worthy of the honor.  How could anyone expect her to be the guiding light behind a person’s happiness, when she herself had none? Besides, it never appeared to her as though the lower beings would need to turn to her for such things anyway.  They seemed to have the whole thing figured out all on their own.

As she silently sat watching those she longed to be like, a single tear slid down Buffy’s golden cheek, staining the silky white dress with golden trim she was adorned in.

“I really don’t understand why you do this to yourself everyday.” Came a male voice from behind her.

Buffy turned quickly to look at the man who had interrupted her daily ritual.  It may make her sad and long for what she didn’t have, but it was a private moment that she shared with no one, not even her father.  No, make that especially her father.

“I don’t believe it to be any of your business.”  Buffy said flatly as she gracefully rose from her spot off of the cold marble balcony floor, brushing past her father, she retreated inside her private wing of the palace.

“It is my business.  You are my daughter, and everything that concerns you is my business.”  Hank replied sternly, following his daughter inside.

“Why do you insist on continuing this charade?  Everyone in this house knows I have never been of any concern to you, or mother for that matter.”  Buffy asked.

“Charade?  I’m sure I do not know what you are talking about.”  Hank answered with his usual reply.

“I know father, you never know what I am talking about.”  Buffy said over her shoulder as she walked to her favorite red velvet chaise to lie down.

“I really don’t have time for your games today Buffy.  That isn’t why I’m here.”

“Then please father, quickly explain yourself so that I may return to my rites.”

“Yes well, I would certainly not want to interrupt that.” Hank replied with a sarcastic tone ringing in his voice.

“So?”  Buffy asked, staring poignantly at her father.

“Oh, of course.  Mr. Giles has requested all of our presence at a gathering at his palace this very evening.  He asked specifically for your attendance.”  Hank begrudgingly admitted the latter.  Although he had never admitted his true feelings to anyone, Hank was quite jealous of the relationship his eldest daughter shared with their Kingdom’s Ruler, Mr. Giles and his partner, Jenny.  It was as though his daughter thought of them as her parents more than she did he and Joyce.

“Very well.  But I will attend alone.”  Buffy answered.
“As you wish.”  Hank replied.  He really could have cared less whether or not Buffy went to the gathering at all, but if she had to attend, it would be just as well if she went separate from the rest of the family.

“Are we finished?”  Buffy asked curtly.

Hank threw his eldest a cross look before nodding and then excusing himself from her chambers. 

Buffy turned to her side, resting her head on her arm, she sighed.  ‘Another gathering…. wonderful.’ She mused to herself. 

Buffy was beginning to suspect that all of these “gatherings” were the work of Jenny, who was trying as inconspicuously as she could to play cupid with her favorite goddess.  And although Buffy truly appreciated Jenny’s attempts at bringing love into her life, she was also certain that it was all a big waste of time. 

No matter how many men she was introduced to, she just couldn’t find common ground with any of them.  Too many of the gods in her kingdom were boring louts with over inflated egos.  She simply couldn’t spend any amount of time with someone who could talk only about themselves. 

With a deep sigh, Buffy rose from her chaise and walked with graceful ease towards her enormous wardrobe to dress for the evening’s affair.  She sifted through her many gowns, immediately choosing her favorite.  The cream colored silk gown was decorated with gold and silver threads, and accented by a long flowing train of the same material.

Jenny had presented Buffy with this gown on the evening of her ordainment ceremony, and so besides being the most beautiful thing she had ever seen, Buffy held it dear to her heart.  No one had ever given her such a wonderful gift before, not even her parents. 

So as she carefully slipped into the soft material, tears welled in Buffy’s eyes.  She was uncertain how many more of these gatherings she could force herself to attend with the knowledge that after each one she would leave alone and Mr. Giles and Jenny would be disappointed once again.  Looking in the mirror and dabbing at the wetness in her eyes, Buffy slowly gathered her composure.  She was determined to make the best of the evening, even if it was only to please others.

Turning away from the mirror, Buffy wrapped herself in the matching gold and silver shawl and headed out of her room.  Floating effortlessly down the marble staircase that lead to the main foyer in her parent’s home, Buffy noticed the unusual quietness. 

‘I’m surprised the man had time to invite me before they left.’ Buffy thought silently.  She had figured as much would be the case after her father darted out of her room.  Shrugging, as if to signal to some unknown observant that she didn’t really care, Buffy quietly exited her home, and began the short journey across her Kingdom to Mr. Giles Palace.
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Chapter 2 ~ Unexpected Encounters

Buffy was taking her own sweet time on her journey down the cobblestone streets of the Kingdom.  She was certainly in no hurry to join a gathering that she didn’t want to be a part of in the first place. 

Buffy had been distracted, thinking back on a sweet young couple that she had been watching for the past few days in the City down below.  And that’s when it happened.

“Hey!  Why don’t you watch where you’re going!”  Buffy grumbled as she struggled to regain her balance.  She couldn’t believe that one of her fellow Gods would be so careless as to walk right into her, nearly knocking her to her knees.

“Maybe if you were paying more attention, you wouldn’t have walked right into me!”  The young man growled.

“Excuse me?”  Buffy shot back.

“You heard me.”  The man replied as he stared down at Buffy, an angry scow marring his otherwise handsome face.

“I’m sorry sir, but you were the one who practically ran me down into my final death.  I think it is you who should bring forth the apology.” Buffy answered.

“You madam, are more full of yourself than even the wildest of rumors would have one believe.”

“Rumors?  There are rumors….. about me?”  Buffy asked, a hint of sadness in her voice.

“You are Miss Summers, are you not?”  The man asked.

“I am.”

“Then yes.  There are rumors, and apparently, they are not as wild as I had once thought.”  The man stated matter-of-factly.

“But… but…. I… I haven’t done anything to cause….”

“I’m sorry Miss Summers for interrupting your evening, but I’m already late, so if an apology is what it will take to free myself from you, then I’m sorry for running into you.”  The man said sarcastically, putting extra emphasis on his “apology”.

Buffy smiled half-heartedly and nodded so the young man would be on his way and leave her alone.  She wished to be back at home mulling over the fact that those who visited the streets of the Kingdom spoke badly of her, but unfortunately, she couldn’t force herself to skip a gathering of Mr. Giles and Jenny. 

Regardless of how unhappy she was at that moment, she couldn’t stand the thought of letting down the only two people in the Kingdom who showed her any kind of love at all.  Before she realized it, Buffy was standing at the top of the grand staircase in the gathering room of Mr. Giles’ palace.

“Buffy!  Oh how good of you to come.”  Giles said as he greeted his newest, and most favorite guest.

Grateful for his warm reception, Buffy embraced Giles in a hug.  A sight that attracted several stares from those in the crowded room.  It was quite uncommon for anyone in the Kingdom to give such a personal gesture towards their Ruler.  It was simply unheard of.

“My dear, is something the matter?”  Giles asked sincerely.

“Nothing of importance Giles, I’ll be fine.”  Buffy answered.

Buffy had no sooner finished her sentence when she heard Jenny’s soft voice calling to her from behind.  Turning her body away from Giles, Buffy was in shock to see Jenny on the arm of another man.  And it wasn’t just any other man.  It was that obnoxious jerk from earlier.  The one who plowed right into her and then blamed her for the encounter.

“Buffy, I’d like you to meet….”  Jenny began, but was interrupted.

“You!”  Both Buffy and the young man exclaimed at the same time.

“You two…. know …. each other?”  Jenny asked.

“Yes.”  They both spat in unison, glaring intently at each other.

“Well, uh, then… Giles, maybe, uh, maybe we should leave Buffy and Angel to talk.”  Jenny said hesitantly.  She wasn’t really sure leaving these two together, alone, was a good idea.  But it had to be done.  She had to try and get them together, her Seer had told her they were the ones.

“No thanks.”  Both Buffy and Angel answered simultaneously, turning on their heels they each headed in opposite directions.

“Jenny, I know you mean well, but this obviously wasn’t a good idea.”  Giles said.

“Give them time Giles.  It has been foretold to me that they are the chosen ones.”  Jenny answered as she watched Buffy at one end of the gathering hall talking to Riley Finn. 

Although Jenny had to admit that he was a nice enough young man, she knew he would never be up to the challenges that were in store for Buffy in the future.  But Angel, he was her destiny.

“Well Miss Summers, you look stunning as usual this evening.”  Riley Finn complemented as he gathered her small hand in his and kissed it.

“Thank you.”  Buffy replied automatically.  She had spent the last gathering being hounded by Riley, and she wasn’t excited about spending another talking with this boring man. 

“Why Miss Summers, don’t you look exquisite this evening!” exclaimed William Laverty, better known to the Kingdom as Spike.  She’d heard how he earned that nickname during battle, and was not the least excited about spending any quality time with a man of that violent a nature.

“Thank you.”  she again replied without much thought or feeling behind it.

“Excuse me Spike, but I was here to court Miss Summers first.”  Riley explained is his most gentlemanly of tones, the one that was just above his child-like whiny voice that Buffy was far more used to.

Spike turned toward Buffy, flashing her his trademark devilish grin and cocked eyebrow and began to talk to her as if their fellow comrade was not even there.

“Miss Summers, or Buffy, if I may, I would very much like to escort you to the dance floor and share with you this most romantic ballad.  I do believe that given an opportunity, I could show you that I do possess within me a deep romantic side, which I’m sure would please you.”  Spike persuaded, taking Buffy by the hand and leading her to the dance floor.

Riley was left at the edge of the floor stunned.  He couldn’t believe that Buffy Summers, the enamored Goddess of Home and Family would be so easily swept away into the arms of Spike, the God of War.  He was dangerous, and nothing but a conniving warrior, who would do whatever necessary to conquer and win his prize.  And this he knew was Miss Summers’ body, and that alone.

Well, she would see.  Riley would make sure that Buffy saw Spike for who he truly was.  He would also make her see how truly perfect they were for each other.  He could love her, no, he would love her, and she would eventually love him in return. 

The Seer had prophesied to him that his time was now.  His time to win a consort and begin his family was now.  He would make Buffy understand that he was right for her, he was the one that could provide the sort of life she was used to. 

Riley turned away from the dance floor and made his way out of the palace.  He had arrangements to make, and every second he spent watching Spike float around the dance floor with his beloved, the longer it was going to take him to put his plan into motion.  With a smile on his face, Riley walked along the stone streets of the Kingdom.  Everything was going to work out.  Soon Buffy Summers would be his wife.

Chapter 3 ~  The Battle

“BUFFY!  Buffy, where are you?  That dorky Finn guy is here to see you again!”  Dawn yelled from the hallway.

“I’m in here.”  Buffy sighed from her bed.  She’d been lying there all day staring out her open window, daydreaming about the life she wished she had, instead of the one she did have.

“Why are you lying in bed?  You’re not supposed to be in bed, you’re supposed to be doing…. well, I’m not sure what you’re supposed to be doing, but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t involved moping around in bed all day.  Besides you have to go downstairs and tell Riley that you don’t like him.”  Dawn finally rambled out.

“I can’t just tell him that I don’t like him Dawn, that would be….”

“The truth?”  Dawn questioned.

“I was going to say rude, but it doesn’t matter, it isn’t that easy.  I wish it were.”  Buffy explained, lazily drawing herself up from the bed.

“Well, if you don’t tell him something pretty soon, Dad’s going to offer him a room to stay in since he’s here all the time to see you.”  Dawn countered.

“I know Dawnie, it’s getting kind of old isn’t it?”  Buffy asked her sister sincerely.

“Yeah, between him and that Spike guy, I don’t know how you have a minute alone.” 

“Such wisdom from such a young….”

“Don’t say it!  Don’t you dare say it!  I know I’m younger than you Buffy, but any moron can see that you don’t like either one of those two goons, so why not just tell them both to take a hike.  Besides, you keep allowing them to court you like this, and pretty soon there won’t be a guy left in the Kingdom that won’t think you are already involved with at least one of them.”  Dawn shot back.

“Thanks for the advice Dawn.  I’ll think about it, but in the mean time, could you go tell Riley that I’ll be down to talk to him in a minute?”  Buffy asked, grateful that she and her sister had become somewhat closer over the past couple of months.

“Yeah, whatever.  Just hurry up, he’s such a bore to talk to.”  Dawn replied.

“I will.”  Buffy answered to no one, as her sister had already left the room. 

With great dread, Buffy moved in her usual effortless grace across her room.  Picking out a more conservative gown, she changed quickly.  Not wanting Riley to have any more time than was necessary to think of yet *another* reason why they should be together.

As she slowly made her way down the long hallway that lead to the grand staircase in her family’s home, Buffy was shocked to hear a loud commotion going on in the room below.  When her eyes were finally affixed on the scene, Buffy was beyond shocked, she was steam rolling straight for firing mad.

“I told you to take a leap there mate.  She doesn’t want anything to do with you.”  Spike snarled from his fighting stance.  A crimson stream of blood dripping from his obviously broken nose. 

Apparently Riley got in a cheep shot at some time, because Buffy was certain had Spike been prepared, something like that would have never happened.  He was the God of War after all.

“I was here first!”  Riley demanded, clutching his side, and grimacing in pain with each huffing breath.

“’I was here first?’  Is that all you got mate?  ‘Cause if it is….”  Spike stopped in his tracks as he noticed a very angry goddess marching down the stairs towards them.

“Hey!  What are you waitin’ for?  Hit him again!  Hit him again!”  Dawn sung from her spot at the edge of the action.  She really didn’t like either man that much, but she liked Riley the least, and so she had been enjoying her position as spectator in the ‘Kick the crap out of Riley’ show.

“Dawn!”  Buffy warned. 

Taking the stern warning, Dawn retreated to another room and left her sister to deal with the two testosterone filled lug heads.

As seemingly everyone’s attention was now on Buffy, Riley took the opportunity to take another shot at Spike.  He may not be able to physically out do him, but he would be damned if he’d let him just win.

“Oh, that ‘s it mate!”  Spike yelled, clutching his sore jaw in the process.

Spike tackled Riley, sending them both sailing through the large glass partition that separated the foyer area from the formal dining room.  With blow after blow, Spike attacked Riley.  Not letting up for a second.  He’d make sure that son of a bitch didn’t take a swing at him again.

“Stop it!”  Buffy screamed.  She’d had enough.  Everything had gotten so far out of hand, and it was all her fault. 

She realized in that moment, that because of her Riley had become Spike’s personal punching bag.  Not that she really cared that much, but it still wasn’t fair.   It wasn’t fair to her, and it certainly wasn’t fair to either one of them.  She had to put an end to all of this nonsense now.

“I said stop it, NOW!”  Buffy demanded again.  She apparently got their attention this time, because both men stopped in their tracks.

Spike got to his feet, walking towards Buffy, he took her tiny hand in his, “I’m sorry love, I was just….. you deserve better than him pet.  You should be with me.  I can give you the world.”

Buffy retracted her hand from Spike’s immediately.  She couldn’t stand the feel of his icy cold hands touching any part of her.  The things that she knew he had done in the past made her skin crawl, and watching him beat Riley to a pulp was just another mark against him.  Besides, she might be inexperienced, but she wasn’t stupid.  She knew exactly what Spike Laverty was after, and it certainly wasn’t her heart.

Riley saw Buffy’s reaction to Spike’s gesture, and decided to seize his opportunity.  Pushing Spike out his way, Riley gently cupped Buffy’s face and looked deep into her emerald green eyes.

“Buffy, I love you, with all of my heart.  I could give you the love, the family…. everything your heart desires.  If you would be my wife…”  Riley let his words trail as Buffy turned out of his grasp.

“Looks like she’s not to keen on ya mate.”  Spike chastised.

Riley didn’t say a word.  Without warning, his right fist went flying again.  This time Spike was expecting what Riley thought would be an easy blow.  Countering with his own left hook, Spike sent Riley to the white marble floor for a second time.

Before Spike had a chance to pounce, Buffy stepped into his path.

“What is wrong with you two?  Don’t you get it?  I’m not in love with either of you, and I never will be.”  Buffy choked out.  Tears streaming like rivers down both cheeks.

“Well pet, I don’t really care if you love me or not.  Mostly just interested in you being good in the sack.  You know a warrior needs a good goddess to come home to after a long war.”  Spike said casually.

Buffy glared into his icy blue eyes.

“What?  What’d I say?” 

“Get out!  Both of you get out, and NEVER come back here again!”  Buffy demanded with fierce determination painted on her face.

Both men, took the hint.  Hobbling their bloodied and broken bodies out the front door.  When everyone had gone and Buffy was left alone, she sank to the floor and sobbed. 

“How could I have let my life get in this mess?”  she cried out loud.

Chapter 4 ~ The Wish

  It had been over a month since Riley and Spike fought for Buffy’s love, or in Spike’s case her body.  But not a day went by that either one or both of the men would show up at her door begging to see her. 

Buffy was becoming increasingly frustrated with each passing day.  It was getting harder and harder to tolerate their persistence, and finally Buffy reached her wits end. 

On the thirty-first day past her refusal of their affections, Buffy Summers waited patiently until the evening reached it’s eleventh hour.  Then creeping quietly out of her family’s palace Buffy walked slowly down the cobblestone roads of the Kingdom until she was only a few feet away from the main door to Mr. Giles’ home.

Feeling the sickening taste of bile rise in the back of her throat as she ascended the last remaining steps, Buffy swallowed hard before rapping lightly on the large wood door.  She hoped she wouldn’t be outcast for this late intrusion, yet at the same time feeling as though that was exactly what she wanted, she waited hesitantly for someone to answer her knock.

“Buffy?  Is something wrong?”  Giles asked as he opened the door and saw her standing before him, concern penetrating his normally steady tone.

“Oh Giles…”  Buffy cried as she collapsed into her most trusted confidant’s arms.

Giles immediately gathered his dear friend and ushered her inside.  He had known for sometime that she was under a great amount of stress from the continual courting of Mr. Finn and Mr. Laverty, but he had no idea that it had rendered her into such an emotional state. 

Buffy took the offered seat on Giles modest looking couch, and tried to garner any resemblance of composure she had within her body.  It had taken every second of this past month for her to reconcile within her heart what her true destiny was.  She knew that once she asked Giles for this one wish, she was sealing her fate permanently.  She had no choice.  She had to go through with it.

“Buffy dear, please tell me what has upset you so.”  Giles pleaded as he gathered her tiny frame into his arms once more.

Buffy pulled away from Giles’ embrace so that she could look at his face.  She knew that above all, this request was going to crush him. 

“Giles, I need to ask of you a favor.”

“Anything my dear.  You know I will grant you anything that you wish.”  Giles answered sincerely.

“Then… then I ask that you perform the Rites of Chaste… on me.” she added softly.  Her heart sank as she saw the sadness that was invoked in her friend’s eyes.  She knew what she had asked of him, now she could only hope that he would grant her the wish.

“Oh Buffy…”  Giles began, but found it impossible to find the words.

“I can’t take this anymore Giles.”  Buffy began, tears flowing freely down both cheeks.  “I can’t take Riley and Spike’s constant harassment.  I can’t stand to know that they are the only two men who have interest in me.  I just want them to go away so that I can do the job that you have asked of me.  I have come to understand that I was not meant to marry and have a family, my sole purpose is to help others with such things.”

“Buffy that is simply not true.”  Giles countered.

“No, it’s okay Giles, it really is.  I need for you to do this.  I need for Riley and Spike to understand that I don’t belong with either of them.”

“But Buffy, the Rites are….  and once they have been performed…”  Giles words trailed.

She didn’t need to hear his argument anyway, Buffy knew the ramifications of what she was asking.  She also knew that at this point, her sanity was much more important to her than a possible life with the man of her dreams.  Besides, wasn’t seeing others fulfill their life’s dreams the most important thing anyway?

“Giles please?  It will be the only way I’ll ever have reprieve from Riley and Spike.” She begged, a look of stark determination on her face.

“If you are sure this is what you want.”  Giles relented.

“It is.  There is no other way.”  Buffy answered sadly.

“Then follow me to my chambers.”  Giles said as he rose from the couch and headed down a long marble staircase to a lower level of the palace.

As Buffy followed her friend, her heartache grew.  All of the dreams she had for a loving husband and children were never to be after this night.  It didn’t really matter, she reasoned with herself, they had only been dreams anyway. 

In all of her lifetime, she had never once met a man who was interested in her for anything more than her body.  Mostly they would court her and try to entice her into marriage just because they wanted someone to lay with at night or on occasion laugh at their ridiculous jokes and the worst ones just wanted someone to listen to them rave about how wonderful they were.  Yeah, that was exactly what her dreams were made of.

“Take a seat over there.”  Giles instructed solemnly when they entered his private chambers. 

Buffy quietly followed his instructions, then watched intently as Giles slowly moved around the dimly lit room gathering his supplies.  Soon he was marching in slow methodical steps around the chair that Buffy was seated in, chanting and sprinkling some sort of herbs in a circle as he went.

Buffy closed her eyes tightly when the first flashes of pain struck her tiny body.  She had known from her readings that this ritual could be painful, but she was ill prepared for the kind of  knife stabbing pain that was welling deep within her.  She could feel her insides meshing together, moving from their original child baring stage to one of solid tissue. 

Buffy let out a scream that could have deafened the entire city below her Kingdom had it not been for Giles’ carefully constructed palace walls.  The pain was making her body convulse uncontrollably, and regardless of how hard she tried, Buffy couldn’t contain the painful screams from leaving her mouth.

When Giles had finally uttered his final words, Buffy tumbled to the floor clutching her stomach.  Her body riveting with pain, she wasn’t even aware that the room was suddenly filled with two tiny lights floating around like balloons. 

Giles was awestruck for a moment.  Jenny had tried unsuccessfully to convince him of Buffy’s future, but he had been too hardheaded to listen.  He knew in that instant that Jenny had been right all along.  Now, he only hoped that Buffy had been too consumed with her pain to notice the two tiny balls of light and energy floating around the room. 

The two balls of light that would have been her children.

Seconds later the balls of light dissipated into nothing, and Giles’ trance was broken.  The tiny blonde lying on the floor, shaking in pain quickly brought his mind back to the present and the sudden second thoughts he was having about granting this wish. 

What was he going to do now?

Chapter 5 ~  Declarations

Hank Summers was furious when his eldest daughter walked gingerly through his front door early the next morning.  He was mad that she had dared to sneak out of his house, and even more infuriated when he realized what had happened to her.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” he spat at Buffy, his face red with anger.

Buffy tried to ignore him, all she wanted to do was get to her room, her bed, so that she could sleep.  Sleep the day away, or maybe even eternity, she wasn’t sure which.  Her body was still racked with pain.  Even after six hours and several doses of  Giles’ healing potion, she still couldn’t move a muscle without feeling as though she was going to die right there on the spot.  If she could just go to sleep, maybe this would all end up some terrible nightmare.

“I want to know what the HELL you think you’re doing?”  Hank screamed as he grabbed Buffy’s arm and spun her around to face him.  He looked at her with callus concern as he watched her flinch violently from the pain.

“I… I can’t…”  Buffy choked out as the tears came flooding back.  She wasn’t sure if she was crying because of the pain or because of the fate she was now doomed to.  Regardless, all she could do was stand in front of the man who had raised her and pray that he would understand.

“You don’t have to tell me WHAT you’ve done you selfish brat.  I can tell just by looking at you.  Everyone will be able to tell by looking at you!  How dare you chaste yourself without my permission?  No man in this Kingdom will have you now!”  Hank screamed through gritted teeth. 

“Father.. I…” 

“To Hell with you!  If I have raised a daughter to be such a selfish, disobedient, imbecile, then to Hell with you!  I want you out of my home, and I forbade you to receive any help from Mr. Giles as well!”  Hank continued, “And don’t think he or Miss Jenny will be able to save your sorry ass this time my dear.  No… there are laws in this Kingdom, and as you are my daughter, I can forbade his help to you, and he will have to respect it.”

Buffy knew her father was right.  She might not be as well versed in the laws of the Kingdom as some, but she knew the basic ones, and that included the declaration of a father or husband.  She was bound by her father’s declaration to make her life on her own, with no help from Mr. Giles or Jenny.

Buffy turned to retreat to her room to gather some of her things before she left, but was halted by a strong arm and snide comments.

“I don’t think you will be needing anything from your room.  Since you feel that you do not need the company of a man to fulfill your life, then I’m quite sure that you will no longer need any of the gowns in your room that most women with half a sense in their head would wear to attract them.” 

Buffy lowered her head in defeat.  She knew there was no use arguing with him, it would get her nowhere and fast.  She turned as quickly as her body would allow and headed for the door.  She didn’t know where she was going, but she was almost relieved that she wouldn’t be forced to live under the same roof as her father for one more day.

She extended her hand and took hold of the large gold ring attached to the door.  With a gently tug, the beautiful slab of mahogany wood creaked open.  Before she could make her quiet exit, she was halted with her father’s final wounding words for the day.

“And Buffy…”

She refused to look the man in the eyes.  She simply held her position, her eyes transfixed on the door.

“I know that all of the men in our Kingdom will consider you a ‘lower being’ now that you have ‘fixed it’ so that you can no longer pleasure them sexually or bare their children, and since you obviously felt that no man here is worthy of your body, then maybe you will be able to find one that will accept you in your new predicament in the City below.”  Hank declared, then turned and walked out of the room.

There were probably not enough words that were adequate in any language to describe the absolute mortification Buffy felt when she heard her father make his final vow.  He was banning her to live in the City below.  She would not even be able to stay in her Kingdom.  Her father had been right, Giles and Jenny would have no power to help her in the mortal’s City.  She was on her own.

Pulling the door closed behind her, Buffy Summers took her first steps into freedom, and into her new life.  She had wanted to be free from her father, free from Riley and Spike, and now she was.  There would no longer be pressure on her to find a suitable husband and marry so that her father could get her out of the house.  There would be no more fights between courters who were trying to win her heart or her body.

With a grimace, Buffy sucked in a cleansing breath.  Sure she was hurt by her father’s slicing words.  And sure she had no place to live, no clothes to wear, but she was finally free and it felt… good.  Really good.  Pulling her cream colored shaw back up around her shoulders, Buffy began the long march through the Kingdom and down the mountainside to the mortal’s City below.

Chapter 6 ~ A New Life

When Buffy Summers finally made it down the steep mountainside, she was exhausted.  The climb down had been treacherous, and with her already ailing body, she was barely able to stand upright.  Grasping the side of the nearest building to steady herself, Buffy looked around the crowded City streets, wondering what to do next. 

“Ma’am… are you okay?”

Buffy turned her attention to the sweet female voice that was floating in her direction.  As her eyes finally focused on the owner, Buffy gave a small smile.  She knew she looked awful.  Her clothes were torn, her hands and face were dirty, and she reeked of sweat, blood and tears.  Was she okay?  Hell no she wasn’t okay.

“I’m fine.  Thanks for your concern.”  Buffy answered politely.  She couldn’t really tell her the truth now could she. 

The young redheaded woman who Buffy deemed to be about her age apparently wasn’t buying the ‘I’m fine’ routine.  Instead, she closed the distance between them and put her arm around Buffy. 

“No, you’re definitely not okay.  You’re in pain, a lot of pain.  I can feel it.  Wait here.  Just let me get my husband, and we’ll get you some help.”  The woman said before she stepped forward, scanning through the crowd of people.  Suddenly, a quiet young man appeared as if out of thin air.

“Oz!  Here help me.”  the young woman beckoned as she hurried back to Buffy and began to gingerly urge her to walk forward.

“You’re very kind, but you don’t ha…”  Buffy didn’t get an opportunity to finish her sentence as her head suddenly began to spin and she felt her legs giving out from under her.

“See, I told you that you weren’t okay.  Do you live here in the City?  Is there someone we can contact?” 

“No.  I… really…”  Buffy’s words trailed as she began to lose consciousness.

Oz scooped Buffy up in his arms and motioned for his beloved wife to follow him as he briskly walked back to their small home.  Though he wasn’t sure who this woman was, he was sure of one thing.  She was above them.  Judging by her torn and tattered garment, and the direction from which she entered the City, she had to be from the Kingdom above them.  She had to be a Goddess.

Oz’s loving wife scurried in front of him to open the door to their tiny cottage.  She could tell by the twisted brow on her lover’s face that he was deep in thought.  Without hesitation she questioned him.

“What’s wrong love?”

Laying the young woman down carefully on their spare bed, Oz turned to his wife. 

“Can you not tell what she is Willow?”  Oz whispered quietly.

Willow stood studying the unconscious figure carefully.

“Oz, she can’t be.  They don’t come down here, especially in this condition.”  Willow argued, even though she knew that her husband was right in his ascertation.  The woman lying before them was a Goddess, and Willow knew it.  She had known it the second she touched her.  She just didn’t want to believe that something awful like this could happen to one of ‘them’,  it wasn’t supposed to be like that.

“Whatever the reasons for her being here are of no concern to us.  It is our duty to help heal her.  Give her a place to stay and food to eat.  She is our responsibility now.”  Oz replied in his usual even tone.

Willow nodded, then exited the room to retrieve her healing materials and a fresh change of clothes that she was sure the woman would want when she finally returned to consciousness.

As Willow entered the room, she found Buffy’s eyes fluttering open. 

“I…where am I?”  Buffy asked groggily.

“You passed out.  Oz and I brought you to our home.”  Willow answered as she sat on the edge of the bed and began to softly wipe at the dirt that was covering Buffy’s face.

Buffy began looking around the room.  The young man that she was sure she had seen just before she blacked out was missing.

“He went to see someone about getting some healing herbs for you.  I seem to have run out.”  Willow answered without even hearing the question.

Buffy looked at the woman in shock.  The redhead sitting in front of her had answered her without Buffy even saying a word out loud.  Who or what was she?

“My name is Willow.  Oz and I are Kattarrs, or demi-Gods.  You may be more familiar with that title.”  Willow added as she continued to clean the dirt away from the deep thorn scratches on Buffy’s face and arms.

“I have heard of Kattarrs, but I was not aware that you really existed.  Why do you not live in the Kingdom?”  Buffy asked, her face scrunched in confusion.

“They do not allow Kattarrs in the Kingdom.  We are tarnished, half-breeds they call us.  We do not live up to their standards.”  Willow answered honestly.  The hurt she had carried in her heart for so long because of this discrimination finally gone from her voice.

Buffy looked away in shame.  She had no idea that the legend of the Kattarrs had been true.  That they were real people, and that she was a member of those who discriminated against them. 

“I didn’t catch your name.”  Willow finally said.  She knew this poor woman had enough troubles without making her feel bad for something she had no control over.

“Buffy.” 

“Well Buffy, if you feel up to it, there is a bathing tub in that room.  And I brought you a change of clothing.”  Willow stated as she pointed to Buffy’s private changing room.

“I can’t.  I mean, you’ve been much too kind to me already.  I should just leave.”  Buffy replied as she struggled to sit up on the bed.

“Nope, sorry. You have to stay.  It’s the law.”  Willow replied evenly, sporting her best resolve face.

Buffy began to get worried.  Right out of the frying pan, right into the oven she thought. 

“You… you own me now?”  Buffy asked hesitantly, she had only been partly familiar with the laws of the Kingdom, but she knew nothing of the laws of the mortal’s City.

Willow cracked an enormous grin and then began to giggle uncontrollably.  She was practically rolling on the floor when she noticed Buffy’s mortified look.  Scrambling to gather her composure, Willow finally managed to utter a response.

“I’m sorry.  That was just…funny.  But to answer your question, no, we don’t own you.  There is no ownership here in the City.  You are free to do as you wish.”

“Then why did you…”

“I’m sorry, I was just teasing.  I do that some times.  I… I just wanted you to stay.  I mean you look like you could use a friend right now.”  Willow replied, studying Buffy for any signs of her answer.

Buffy pondered her response for several long and drawn out minutes.  Or at least they seemed like long and drawn out minutes to Willow.  All she knew was that she had an instant liking for Buffy, and really wanted to get to know her better. 

She was anxious to have a new friend to talk to, share her secrets with, especially since her best friend Xander wasn’t able to spend much time with her anymore.  How could he have any time for anyone when all he could do was fall all over Cordelia.  She really didn’t understand what he saw in that stuck up snot of a female anyway. 

Up until last week, Willow had been convinced that Cordelia was the spawn of one of those Hell Gods.  It had only been the logical and adamant reasoning of Angel, God of Intellect, and the only one of ‘them’ to ever reside in the City, that she finally relented and admitted that Cordelia probably wasn’t the demon spawn of some Hell God like she thought.  No, she was just simply a bitch.

Jolted out of her reverie, Willow was excited to hear Buffy say that she would stay. 

“You don’t have to tell me now, or even ever if you don’t want to, but if you do decide that you want to talk… about what happened to you…. I’ll be here.”  Willow said as she rose from the edge of the bed. 

“Thank you.”  Buffy answered sincerely as she began to feel tears welling just below the surface.  In all her years in the Kingdom, only Giles and Jenny had ever been kind to her.  Now, here she was with her new life, and Willow, the first person she meets, is offering her a shoulder to lean on.  She took in a deep breath to help her savor that thought.

“The healing herbs are in the changing room next to the bathing tub.  Just sprinkle the contents into your bath water.  It will help ease your pain and speed up the healing process.”  Willow said smiling warmly at her new friend.  She slowly backed out of the room pulling the door shut as she did.  She knew that Buffy would need some time alone.

Buffy just sat there, trying to get up the energy to move her tired muscles.  It was then that the strange thought crept through her mind.  How did the healing herbs get into the changing room?  She hadn’t seen Oz come through the room again.  She would have to have a talk with Willow about what exactly a Kattarr was capable of, though she was pretty sure she already had a good idea of a couple of things they could do.

Smiling, for the first time in what seem like forever to Buffy, she slowly hobbled into the next room to take her bath.  She wasn’t sure how she knew, she just did, things were going to be much better down here.

Chapter 7 ~  Looking Through a Different Window

Three days after making her initial appearance in the City, Buffy Summers was finally healed enough to be taken on ‘The Grand Tour’ as Willow so eloquently put it.  Her friend had taken leave from her work at the IoK (Institution of Knowledge) so she could spend the day showing Buffy the City in all its glory.

Although Buffy tried to convince Oz to join them, he declined.  Instead he insisted that this was a girls’ day and that they should enjoy themselves, which he was sure they would since he knew that the two women had been having marathon girl talks each night since Buffy’s arrival.

All through the morning Willow weaved them in and out of all the local merchants’ shops.  Insisting on at least one occasion that she be allowed to purchase a new outfit for Buffy.  Something that would fit her better than the ‘old rags’ that Willow had loaned her. 

Buffy finally relented and picked out a conservative white blouse and cream colored slacks.  She was really into the wearing of slacks.  As a Goddess living in the Kingdom, the females had never been allowed to wear such things.  Long flowing gowns were the only garments of choice.

It had been through this shop window that he saw her. 

Angel had to take a second look just to make sure that his eyes were not deceiving him.  She certainly seemed to be the same blonde goddess that he practically ran over without a second thought over a month ago. 

It hadn’t really been his fault though.  His night had been ruined long before he ran into her, which was the reason he hadn’t seen her coming.  He was sure of that.  Besides, she hadn’t been paying any attention to where she was going either. 

And she had such an attitude that night, ordering him to apologize.  No, he thought, she had been just as he had been told by his half brother William, a self-righteous bint who always thought she was right. 

So it didn’t really matter that she had an incredible looking body that screamed to him, with golden hair that looked as if it had been kissed by the sun itself.  Nor did it matter that the enticing aroma of vanilla and honeysuckle drifted off of her body in waves.  Or that her eyes were the color of emeralds, so deep and so soulful one could get lost in them.  Angel shook the thoughts away.  He had to remember that she was not what she seemed, his brother had said as much.

But she looked somehow different to him now.  He wasn’t sure why, but there was just something…he couldn’t seem to put his finger on it.  But how would he really know what she was like anyway.  He had hadn’t been back in the Kingdom since the night of Mr. Giles’ party.  In fact, he would never have been in the Kingdom in the first place had he not agreed to this special favor for his long time friend Jenny. 

Although he loved Jenny and even had a great deal of respect for Mr. Giles, Angel still disliked the Kingdom itself, and everything it stood for.  They as Gods were not here to rule each other or any of the cities below.  They were there to give guidance and help when needed. 

The previous Rulers had been too power hungry to abide by these unspoken laws.  Instead they developed a written creed of their own, making it impossible for the Rulers that followed to change things.

That was why Angel left as soon as he was able.  The creed had stated that a man in his twenty-fourth year was considered free from declarations.  Men of this age could no longer be controlled by their fathers’ wishes.  Instead, in this year, they were given reign to make declarations of their own, take a wife, and rule as they saw fit.  It was on that day, over five years ago, that Angel made his one and only declaration as a God in the Kingdom.  He declared he was leaving.

Angle’s musings were disrupted when he heard Willow’s gentle voice wafting through the morning air.  He decided to blend in with a crowd of people gathered around the produce stand.  His last run in with Buffy had been quite heated, and there was certainly no need to start a disturbance in the middle of the City. 

He vowed to keep a close eye on the beautiful blonde goddess.  He wasn’t sure what she was doing down here, and more importantly what her motives were behind befriending Willow, but he would find out.  He simply adored Willow too much to let her be used and discarded by a conniving goddess such as Miss. Summers.  At least he thought that was the word William had used described her.

Cocking his head slightly, Angel studied Buffy carefully.  It was strange.  William’s insistent description just didn’t seem to fit the glowing figure before him.

Buffy stopped just outside the shop’s entrance and began scanning the crowded street.  She wasn’t sure why, but she had the strangest feeling that someone was there, watching her.  Well, obviously people were there.  They were everywhere.  Some were even staring at her, but this tingling she felt deep within her body told her that it wasn’t just anybody’s eyes watching her.  No, it was a ‘certain’ somebody that was out there watching, and it made her cringe.

What if her father had sent someone to spy on her, to make sure she wasn’t receiving any help?  What if that put Willow and Oz in danger?  She couldn’t allow that to happen.  She began to get nervous.  Her breathing became rapid.  She was starting to hyperventilate.

“Buffy… what’s wrong?”  Willow asked.

“I… I… need to go Will.  Someone’s watching me.  I can feel it.  I can’t put you in danger.  I’m sorry, but I have to go.”  Buffy cried as she grabbed Willow in a tight embrace before she stepped back.  Her eyes pleading with Willow’s to understand.  Then she turned and took off down the crowded street.

“Buffy!  Buffy wait!  Come back!”  Willow cried after her friend.  She tried to follow Buffy through the maze of people, but was unable to keep up.  Soon she was wondering aimlessly through the City, still clutching the bag that contained Buffy’s new outfit.

~~~~~~

Angel stepped back further into the crowd.  He was sure she had seen him.  She looked directly at him.  He could feel it, feel her.  Then suddenly she became upset.  Telling Willow something that he was too far away to hear.  He could see the tears streaking down her face just before she turned and ran.

He watched as Willow gave chase, but soon lost both of the young women on the crowded City street.  Had she seen him and thought him to be following her?  No.  He reasoned.  He had kept well hidden from both girls.  There had to be something else, something more to cause her strange actions.

Silently he deliberated what he should do next.  Maybe he should go after Willow.  She was after all a dear friend, not to mention one of his most valuable teachers at the Institution.  On the other hand maybe he should give chase to Buffy.  He certainly had no intention of allowing her to start trouble down here in the City.

Angel had made it a point to personally keep all the Gods and Goddesses from the Kingdom out of the City’s limits.  He wanted to prevent them from causing chaos among the mortals, especially since he had known his share who enjoyed doing such things for fun, William being one of them.

It was during this silent argument with his self that the petite blonde woman snaked her pale arm around his waist. 

“Hello lover.”  she purred in his ear.

“Darla.”  Angel sighed, he really didn’t have time for this.

Chapter 8 ~  No Way Out

Buffy Summers ran.  Ran like there were rabid wild animals biting at her heals.  She had to get away.  She had to put as much distance between herself and Willow as possible.  She was the one who had angered her father, and she’d be damned if she would allow the one person in her lifetime who had been nice to her to be dragged down in this sordid mess with her.

Buffy continued to dodge the masses of people who stood between her and the City’s outer limits.  She didn’t know where to go, just that she had to be somewhere other than here.  When she finally stopped running, Buffy sucked in as much air with each breath as her body would allow.  She still wasn’t completely healed, and all that physical exertion was taking its toll on her body.

Slowly turning in circles, Buffy tried desperately to figure out where she had ended up.  The whirlwind tour that Willow had taken her on this morning through the City wasn’t of much use.  The last turn she had made down the street next to the IoK building had lead her straight into a dead end.  There was nothing but a very high stone wall to her right, which angled into the very high stone wall directly in front of her.  To her left was a door that led into a small shop of sorts, and behind her was…well, the one place she didn’t really want to be.

Hoping that this shop had some sort of back entrance that would allow her to escape into the outside world, Buffy held her breath as she pushed the small wood door open.  The bell above the door caught and began to ring loudly.  Upset that she was bringing even more attention to herself, Buffy was unaware when a small brunette woman approached her from behind.

“May I help you ma’am?”

Startled, Buffy jumped at the woman’s greeting.

“I’m sorry.  I didn’t mean to frighten you.”  the woman apologized.

“No, it’s okay.  I was just trying to be quiet, and it doesn’t look like I’ve done a very good job.”  Buffy replied through her still ragged breaths.

“Can I get you something?  Something to drink maybe?”  the woman asked as she observed Buffy’s obvious condition.

“No.  I’m fine.  But… I was wondering…”  Buffy trailed her sentence, not sure whether to ask the shop owner or not.

“Anything.”  The young woman offered gleefully. 

‘She apparently didn’t get much business back here in this corner of the City,’  Buffy mused silently.

“Well, I’m new here in the City, and well… I was looking for a way…. out.  Do you think you could give me some directions?”  Buffy asked, hopeful that the woman would be able to help her.

“Oh.”  The shop owner answered solemnly.

“Is there a problem?”

“Well, sort of.”  The young brunette replied, scrunching her nose and brow in unison at this new dilemma.

Buffy stood there expectantly, waiting for the reason why the woman couldn’t help her.

“The only exit out of the City is the way you came in.  You would have to travel back up the mountainside to the Kingdom, and apply for re-admittance with an audience before your father.”  The woman answered.

Stunned, Buffy backed herself against the door to steady her now shaking body.  She was trapped.  There was no way she could go back to the Kingdom, and she could never stay here in the City.  At least not close to anyone.  And how did this lady know so much?

“My name is Fred.  Well, actually its Winifred, but people just call me Fred.  Anyway, I’m a Kattarr like your friends, and I get visions…. sometimes.  That’s how I knew where you came from.  Well, that and the fact that Oz came in here to get the healing herbs for you.”  Fred answered Buffy’s unspoken questions.

Buffy unconsciously cringed, she was never going to get used to having people reading her thoughts.

“You can block us, from reading your thoughts I mean.  Its just you’re obviously very upset, and so your emotions are kind of betraying your thoughts right now.  They’re spilling out of you like you’re an open book.”  Fred answered again without oral prompting from Buffy.

“Oh.”  Buffy said dryly.

“I don’t think you have to worry about your father though.”  Fred added.

“Why is that?”  Buffy asked.

“Because Angel doesn’t allow the Gods or Goddesses to play in the City.  They may only visit when given special permission. Though it is sort of confusing how you got in.”  Fred said, pausing to ponder how Buffy had managed to gain access to the City without Angel’s consent.

Before the petite, blonde goddess could ask anything further, Fred began again.

“How ‘bout I take you back to Willow and Oz?  I know they are worried about you.”

Fred could tell without even reading Buffy’s thoughts that she was hesitant to return to her friends’ home.  She knew she had left to keep them safe, and wasn’t too sure that her return would grant that.

“Come on, it’ll be okay.”  Fred assured her.

Buffy finally relented and followed Fred out the door and down the City street.  She still wasn’t sure that this was a good idea, but what choice did she have?  The only way out of the City was back the way she came, and she couldn’t do that. 

Looking ever more dejected with each passing step, Buffy listened intently as Fred pointed out every reason possible why she would be safe here with Willow and Oz.  Then there were at least another fifty reasons why Angel wouldn’t let anything happen to her.

The more she heard the name Angel, the more that nagging feeling at the back of her brain kept tugging at her.  She knew she’d heard of him before, but for the life of her she couldn’t remember where.

The nagging feeling was quickly replaced by an intense need to breathe.  At the first sight of Buffy, Willow ran to her full steam ahead and put her in what Buffy would later refer to as ‘Willow’s death grip’.

“Ne..ee..d…….to…….br..eeea..theee.”  Buffy finally squeaked out.

Willow stepped back to give Buffy some breathing room, and smiled at her with sad eyes.  She had known, the instant her friend darted down the crowded street what the problem was. 

“It’s okay Buffy.  You don’t have to run.  No one can hurt you here”  Willow reassured.

“So I’ve been told.”  Buffy replied sheepishly as she glanced in Fred’s direction.

The shy shopkeeper smiled brightly knowing that she had helped….at least a little.

“Come on, let’s go home.  I’m starved.  Fred?” 

“Thank you Willow, but I…I don’t want to intrude on you and your new friend.”  Fred replied unconvincingly.  Though it was true that she didn’t want to intrude, the fact of the matter was she was desperately lonely, and was craving some friendly conversation.

Willow flashed Fred a poignant look.

“Well, if you put it that way.”  Fred answered with a smile.

The three young women, arm in arm, turned and followed Oz, their quiet leader, home for an evening of friendly chatter, and good food.  There would be time enough later for Willow to explain to Buffy the rules of her new life…..

---------------

It had been well over two hours, and Angel had yet to find success in any of his attempts to wrangle free of the viper who currently had her talons dug deep into his skin.  Darla had always been like that.  Once she sank her claws in, any attempt to leave before she was done with you was frutile.

That was until he saw *her*….again.

Watching the small group, which included Buffy Summers, walk arm in arm towards Willow’s home, Angel suddenly and very abruptly ended his lengthy and extremely tiresome conversation with Darla.

Without giving her time to protest, Angel dislodged his arm from Darla’s grasp, and took off across the City’s street to tail Willow’s group.  He would find out sooner or later what the Goddess who had disobeyed his written law wanted with Willow and her friends. 

As Angel continued to watch them, careful not to be seen, he kept trying to come up with a reason why he shouldn’t just approach the young woman and demand that she return to the Kingdom, leaving the City, it’s occupants and himself alone.

She was a Goddess from the Kingdom, and they were banned from the City unless they had special permission to enter.  And Buffy certainly had not asked for permission to enter after all, so why not demand that she return? 

Could there really be any plausible explanation for her to be here other than to cause chaos as did every other God or Goddess that had ever gained entry into the City without his consent?

As the God of Intellect, Angel chuckled to himself.  He had asked himself all of the questions as to ‘why not’ insist she leave.  But for some reason he couldn’t bring himself to expel the answer that would grant him reason to follow through.

There had to be something more.  Something more to her than he knew.

----------------

Buffy stopped suddenly.

Angel stopped and backed into the shadows.

“Buffy?”  Willow asked concerned.  This seemed to be déjà vu from this morning.  She wasn’t sure if she could take her friend darting off …..again.

Buffy looked around, straining her eyes to see.  She knew someone was there.  She could *feel* them, at least she thought she could.  That same tingling feeling that’d ran through her body this morning was making a fluttering mess out of her insides again.

Willow and Fred exchanged nervous glances.

“Buffy?”  Willow prodded again.

“Nothing.  It’s nothing.  I just thought….never mind.”  Buffy answered reluctantly, shaking off the funny feeling she had as she began to walk again, pulling her friends with her. 

Although she wasn’t satisfied with the knowledge that her sight had failed where her senses had not, Buffy relied on the reassurance that Fred had given her earlier that she and her friends would be safe here. 

Whatever was out there, following her…them, could wait.  She’d find a way to deal with it later.  No matter what the consequences, she would keep her friends safe.  But for now she just wanted to enjoy the company of her friends.

When Oz, Willow, Fred and Buffy turned the corner that would lead them to Willow and Oz’s home, Angel stepped out of the shadows.  He wasn’t sure what it was about that girl, but she always seemed to know when he was there…watching her.

“Another time my love…”  Angel mumbled to himself.

Wait.  ‘Love’?  Where did that come from?

Shrugging off the accidental slight of tongue, Angel turned and began the journey back to his home.  With each long stride he continued to ponder his blonde Goddess.  Yeah, that’s right, *his* Goddess. 

Angel smiled.

Chapter 9 ~ Games

Willow sighed as she felt the first rays of the morning light dance lazily across her bare arm.  She’d stayed up far too late into the evening talking and laughing with Buffy and Fred, but now it was time to rise.  She still had her duties at the IoK to attend to, and now that she was fairly certain Buffy was okay to leave alone, she knew that there wasn’t really a reason to deny her students the presence of their teacher another day.

Drawing herself quietly out of bed so not to disturb her still sleeping mate, Willow retreated to her private changing room to ready herself for the day ahead. 

“Did you really think you could sneak away from me that easily?”  Oz whispered as he pulled Willow into his body.

Turning to meet his husky gaze, Willow answered her lover’s question.

“As fairness is how these games are supposed to be played, you my dear are a cheat.”

“But I believe the saying is ‘All is fair in love and war.’”  Oz rebuked before leaning in to nibble on his wife’s ear.

“We are not at war!”  Willow playfully demanded as she suppressed a giggle that threatened to escape her freshly painted lips.

“No, but we are in love….”  Oz’s words trailed as he took a moment to devour the site of his mate.

“In that, you are correct.  But, it is still considered cheating to use your inner connection in order to wake when I do.  I was trying to let you sleep.”

“Maybe, but it is only right that I see my beautiful wife off in the morning.”

“Okay, you win.”  Willow conceded, planting her ritual morning kiss on her husband’s lips before gathering the essentials she would need for her day at the IoK.

Oz grinned, knowing in his heart that he could play this game with his love everyday for eternity, and still not tire of it.

“Please tell Buffy I’ll see her this afternoon.”  Willow said in a hushed voice as she scurried out the door.

~~~~~~~~~~
  
Angel looked up as if on cue to see Willow happily jaunt through the large IoK doors.  On a regular day, Angel would have politely said hello and then excused himself to his private chambers so that Willow could conduct her classes as she saw fit.  But this was no ordinary day, and Willow seemed to sense it immediately.

“Have I done something wrong?”  Willow asked hesitantly after seeing Angel’s brooding scowl.

“Pardon?” 

“Have….have I done something to upset you?”  Willow asked, terrified that she had somehow upset her boss….her friend.

Shaking his head, Angel rose to his feet, closing the distance between himself and Willow.

“Why do you think you’ve upset me?”  Angel asked.

“Well….I’m getting weird vibes from you.  I…I mean you normally smile, say hi, then go to your chambers.  But you didn’t smile, or say hi when I came in.  You just looked at me funny.”  Willow rambled in her typical nervous fashion.

Angel nodded toward the large wingback chairs situated close by and Willow obeyed taking a seat within one as Angel joined her in the other.  Leaning towards his employee with his forearms resting on his thighs, Angel contemplated how to begin.

“Willow, you know that….that I like you, and that I care for you deeply.”  Angel finally began.

“Uh…yes.  I mean….I like you too, but….Oz…”  Willow replied.  Trying to tactfully as she could let Angel know that she did like him, but only as a friend.  She was happily married and was not really interested in taking on another mate.

For a moment Angel was puzzled.  Oz wasn’t involved in this, why would she….

“Oh Will, I’m sorry.  I didn’t mean….well, I did mean what I said, but not like that.  My feelings for you are as a friend….” 

“Thank the goddess!”  Willow exclaimed, wiping her brow with the back of her hand, relieved that the very awkward situation was passing as quickly as it came.

Angel smiled.

“Okay, so you don’t want to be my passionate secret lover….”  Willow teased, an evil grin dancing across her sweet face, “then why with all the mushies?”

Angel blushed from Willow’s not to subtle ribbing.

“Well…I….I know about the Goddess staying with you.”  he said bluntly.  Tiptoeing around the matter had only gotten him into an embarrassing conversation.  Enough of that.  Straight to the point would be the better route.

“Oh…you know about Buffy?”  Willow asked with a smile.  She was quite proud of her new friend, and the longer those thoughts flowed through her head the more she began to consider all of the possibilities it had.  Willow was friends with Buffy.  Willow was friends with Angel.  Buffy and Angel were both Gods.  Buffy and Angel should get to be friends with each other.

“Yes. That’s what I wanted to talk to you about.”  Angel answered solemnly.
“Okay, shoot.”  Willow said seriously, not wanting to appear overly anxious about fixing her boss up with her new best friend.

“Willow, I’m worried about you and Oz.  I don’t want to see the two of you get hurt by her.”

“Huh?” 

Now that came out of the Heavens.  Willow hadn’t been expecting that one at all.

“She’s here without my permission Willow, and you know that ‘they’ only come down without my knowledge when they are trying to amuse themselves by reeking havoc on the City.  Nothing good can come from her being here.”  Angel said seriously. 

Willow stood from her chair.

“No!  Buffy would never do anything like that.  She’s not here to cause trouble.”  Willow defended.

“Willow, I know how she must be presenting herself to you, but you have to understand….”  Angel was cut short.

“No, you have to understand.  She’s been through something terrible.  When I found her she could barely stand on her own.  She was battered and broken.  She was dirty, bloodied, and tear stained.  She didn’t want to accept our help, I forced it upon her.  She even ran away, trying to keep whatever it is that she fears away from her friends.  She isn’t here to cause trouble Angel, she’s here to hide from it.”

Angel didn’t know what to say. 

Silence.

“I’m requesting a meeting with her.”

“But Angel….”

“Willow, if she’s going to be staying within the City, it is my duty to….”

“You don’t have to protect us from Buffy.  She’s the one that needs your protection!” 

“I’m just trying to…”

Willow laid her hand on Angel’s shoulder.  She knew he meant well. 

“When do you want to meet with her?”

“Tonight.  At my home.”
Willow nodded.  She could not argue with him.  It was the City’s law, and she knew that this moment was coming sooner or later.  She had just been hoping that it would have been much later, after Buffy had time to adjust to her new life.

Chapter 10 ~ The Meeting

This had not been the way it always worked in her head.  From the moment Willow figured out who Buffy was, she had been mentally fixing her up with her tall, dark, and hottie boss.  It had always worked out wonderfully with her two friends falling madly in love with each other, and they would continue to spend time with her and Oz as couples. 

She’d had the same hopes for Xander and his eventual girlfriend, but when he’d chosen Cordelia as his mate, all hopes and dreams of being two happy couples had been demolished in the bat of one of Cordelia’s heavily made up eyes.

So, it was with great regret that Willow walked into her home to deliver the not so good news to Buffy. 

“Hey Will!  How was your day?”  Buffy asked casually as she continued to pick up the various nick-knacks sitting around the living room, dusting them.

“It was….okay I guess.”  Willow answered.

“I hope you don’t mind me doing this.  I want to help out and all, but I wasn’t sure what I should do, so I just started dusting.”

“Buffy, we need to talk.”

“I’m sorry….I thought dusting would be an okay thing to do.  I didn’t mean…I’m sorry…”  Buffy pleaded, the old dust rag falling from her grasp as she did so.

“Oh no….the dusting was fine.  It’s just…I’ve got some news for you.”

“News?  For me?”  Buffy asked confused.

“Yeah.”  Willow answered as she took a seat on the couch.  Buffy followed her friend, sitting down next to her.

“I talked to Angel today.”  Willow began, “And he wants to meet with you, tonight.”

“Oh.  But that’s a good thing right?  You and Fred both said that he’d make everything okay.”  Buffy replied, trying her best to reassure herself that everything actually was going to be fine.

“Buffy, he thinks that you came here to cause trouble.”  Willow said solemnly.

“But….”  Buffy started, but not knowing what to say she closed her mouth and began staring at the floor.  What was she going to do now?

“I know, I told him that wasn’t the case, but he still insists on meeting with you.  You can’t deny him Buffy, it’s the City’s law.   If a God or Goddess from the Kingdom is caught within the City’s limits without permission from Angel, then they must meet with him and explain why they’re here.”

Buffy looked dejected.  How could she explain why she was here without getting into all of the sordid details?  Maybe it would be better for her just to try and…. and what?  She had no place to go.  It was either here and explain, or live in one of those caves on the mountainside, because she certainly wasn’t going to be allowed within the Kingdom.

“Buffy….no!  No matter what, you can stay here.  I know that whatever happened to you in the Kingdom was bad, and I’m sure that if you just told Angel what was wrong, he’d help you.”  Willow interrupted Buffy’s mental musing.  

Buffy’s eyes shot up at her friend immediately, she was never going to get used to her friend doing that.

“Sorry.”  Willow apologized. 

“No Will, it’s okay.  Please don’t worry.”

“Everything will be fine Buffy, I promise.  Angel’s a really sweet guy, and I know that once you explain to him what happened that he’ll be fine with your staying.  He’s just a little suspicious of your motives.  But, he sort of has to be like that, it’s kind of his job.”  Willow explained.

“I know, but I’m not sure if I’m ready to talk about what happened yet, and especially to a complete stranger.”  Buffy answered.

~~~~~~~~~~~

Two and a half hours after Willow came home and told her she had to meet ‘his majesty’ as she now liked to refer to him, and tell him her life’s story, Buffy was standing outside his home trying to get up the nerve to knock on the door.

Finally. 

Knock. 

Knock. 

Buffy waited.

“Guess he had other plans.  Have to come back some other time.”  Buffy said aloud as she turned to head back down the street to Willow’s.

Then she felt it.  That feeling again.  Suddenly the door opened.

“Miss Summers.”

Turning back to face the body from whence that deep voice came.

“Oh you’ve got to be kidding me!”  Buffy sighed exasperated.

Nope, she hadn’t forgotten him either.

“I knew when Willow said the name Angel that it sounded familiar.”

Yep, she was definitely headed back to the mountainside now.

Angel opened his mouth to reply, then stopped, thought for a moment, then decided on a different route of approaching the incredibly beautiful woman standing in front of him.

“I think we got off on the wrong foot before.  Please accept my apologies for being rude on our previous meeting, and if you would join me, I’d like to discuss your present situation.”  Angel stated evenly, trying not to give away the true emotions that were flying through his body like wildfire. 

Buffy decided it was in her best interest all the way around to take the olive branch.  She had promised Willow to do the best she could to appease Angel’s suspicions of her so that she could remain with them.

“Okay.”

Angel smiled, stepped away from the door and gestured for his new guest to come in.

Buffy quietly followed Angel though his foyer, down the hallway and into his small, but cozy living room.  His home was certainly larger than what Willow and Oz lived in, but in no way did it compare to the monstrosities that most Gods favored. 

Okay, so maybe her opinion of him was changing ever so slightly.  But the night was just beginning, and he still had plenty of time to make her hate him as much as she did every other God from the Kingdom.

Angel nodded to one of two black leather chairs sitting side by side in front of a roaring fire.  Had this not been a purely business meeting, Buffy might have thought the place romantic.  At least a little.

“I know this is a little awkward for both of us, but as it is a written law within the City, I must have full knowledge as to why you have decided to take up residence here.”  Angel began once they were both comfortably seated next to one another.

“Wow, you’ve got a really nice home.  Not quite what I was expecting at all, I mean any of the Gods that I know have these horribly huge things that would be a horror to clean, and …”

“Miss Summers…”

“Buffy.  Just call me Buffy.”  She answered as she stared straight ahead at the fire.

“I’m sorry, but I need to know…”

“Why I’m here.  I know.”

Angel nodded but didn’t press the issue further.  He wanted her to feel comfortable.  If he was ever going to get the absolute truth out of her, he couldn’t force the matter.  She would have to want to tell him on her own.

“It’s a long story.”

“Take as long as you need.”

“It’s….well…I kind of….”  Buffy started but was quickly interrupted by a loud argument that had just made its way through Angel’s front door.

Angel stood quickly, turning towards the foyer area to see what was going on.

“Hey Peaches!  Found your blonde bimbo here sneakin’ a peek though the side window.”  Spike called down the hallway as he held tightly to Darla’s wrist.

“Spike?”  Buffy whispered.

No. No.  No.  This couldn’t be happening.  Not Spike.  Not here.  Not now.

“William, what do you want?  I’m sort of in the middle of something.”  Angel asked as he met Spike halfway down the hall.

“Told ya, found little-miss-can’t-keep-her-bloody-nose-out-of-your-business in your bushes.  Thought you told the witch bag here to take a hike months ago?” 

“Bite me.”  Darla spat.

“Oh, you’d like that wouldn’t ya pet?”  Spike cooed in Darla’s ear.

“This really isn’t a good time, for either of you.”  Angel stated plainly.
Spike and Darla were now separately convinced that Angel had someone, most likely a female, in his living area.  Now, the trick was going to be catching a glimpse of her.  Spike, not one for beating around the bush, pushed Darla towards Angel, simultaneously freeing himself of her and tangling Angel up in her grasp all at the same time.  Brushing past the two, Spike strode confidently down the hallway until he was face to face with Angel’s “middle-of-something”.

Buffy’s features went from panic too frantic in the matter of seconds.  Tears began to flow like raging rivers down both cheeks, and her body was shaking almost uncontrollably.  She stood from the chair and began backing up across the room, and away from Spike.

“Oh, this is bloody perfect!” Spike spat at Buffy as he physically closed the distance between them. 

“Spike, I…”

“What could you possible say that would explain what you’re doin’ here?  Huh?  You play hard to get.  Have me fightin’ with that lout Finn for you, then you brush us both off so you can come down here to the City and fuck my brother?”  Spike’s voice grew louder and angrier with each word. 

“Spike..no..I..”  Buffy cried, her back now firmly against the far wall, with nowhere left to go.

“NO?  No seems to be the only word you do know you little tease.  I did everything I was supposed to.  Courted you the way you bints expect to be, and what do I get for it?  Huh?  I catch you down here makin’ it with my brother!”  Spike roared in Buffy’s face. 

The anger and hatred he savored during battle was overwhelming him in the heat of passion unrealized.  Spike raised his hand to strike, but it was caught mid swing.

Angel spun Spike around, glaring at him though rage stricken eyes.

“Get.  Out.”  Angel spat through gritted teeth. 

“Both of you, get out NOW!” he roared.

Spike glared at Angel, but knew his limits.  He jerked his wrist out of his brother’s grasp.  He may be the God of War, but there had always been one God within the Kingdom that could firmly kick his ass, and he knew better than to try him, regardless of what he wanted to do to the bitch.

“This isn’t over cutie.”  Spike grinned evilly at Buffy.

She couldn’t take it anymore.  Buffy’s legs gave way to her terror and grief, and she sank to the floor, hiding her face behind her knees and covering her head with her hands as she cried. 

She cried because she was scared of Spike. 

She cried because of what she had done to try and rid herself of him. 

She cried for what she had lost in the process. 

She cried because she knew that now she had nothing.  That now, even Angel would hate her as much as her own father had.  She was going to be cast out of the only place she could go.  What had she done?

Angel didn’t respond to Spike’s last threat to Buffy.  He knew that antagonizing the bastard would only make things worse.  Instead he watched Spike and Darla’s retreating forms, until he saw the front door close behind them.

He turned and knelt to the floor in front of the blonde goddess’ shaking form.

“Buffy?”

Chapter 11 ~ After Effects

Buffy flinched when she heard her name.  It was him.  It had to be him, because who else would utter her name besides Spike, and then he would only do so in disgust.  She felt a large hand gently caress her shoulder.  She flinched again. 

Didn’t he understand?  Didn’t he get it?  She hadn’t been teasing him.  She hadn’t been leading him on in any way.  In fact she had tried as politely as she could to get him to leave her alone, but he had refused.  She’d only went to Giles as a last resort.  The only direction she felt she could go so he would leave her alone.

“Buffy?”

She hugged herself tighter, hoping that the further she shrunk into herself and her surroundings the less visible she would be to ‘him’.

“Buffy?”  Angel asked again in a whispered tone.

Please go away. Go away. Go away. Please….

“Buffy, its okay now.  It’s just me…..”

She didn’t answer.  Instead she continued to hide her face, hugging her body, trembling ever so slightly.

Angel was beginning to worry.  The petite blonde cowering against the wall before him had had a very bad knee jerk reaction to Spike’s presence.  So that could mean only one of two things.  Either that son of a bitch did something to her directly, in which case he would pay for it with his life.  Or, she experienced some tragic event that she associates directly with Spike, in which case he would still pay for it with his life.  Either way, Angel was soon to be less one pain in the ass sibling.  He never liked the bastard anyway.

“Lilly.”  Angel called out.

“Sir?” 

“I need you to go to Willow Rosenburg’s home.  You must tell her that she and Oz are needed here at once.”

“Yes sir.”  The tall, blonde housekeeper that Angel kept employed simply so the young woman would have a stable job scurried out the front door, eager to deliver the urgent message.

When Angel heard the door shut behind her, he turned his attention back to Buffy.  He wanted to touch her, to hold her and make whatever pain she was feeling vanish, but each time his hand brushed her delicate features, her tiny frame shook with even more force than it had before.

The regret slowly began to creep into his system.  Why had he insisted that she meet him?  She hadn’t done anything yet to cause any concern.  She would have already caused trouble and been halfway back to the Kingdom by now if that was why she was really here.  Wouldn’t she?

The mental lashings that Angel was giving himself seemed to go on for eternity before they were abruptly stopped by a very upset friend.

“What did you do?”  Willow screamed at Angel as she burst into the room and saw Buffy huddled on the floor next to him.

“Will..”  Oz was going for the peace keeper part in this obvious drama, but he’d seen before what his wife was capable of when she was like this, so he was cautiously keeping his distance from her.

“No.  Don’t Will me.  I trusted him.  Convinced Buffy that he was the good guy, that she could trust him with whatever problems she’d had, and look what he does to her!”  Willow spat out, then crouched down beside her distraught friend.

“Buffy?  Buffy, it’s me Will.  Talk to me sweetie.” 

Willow’s pleadings went on and on but to no avail.  Buffy had erected such a mental barrier, that Willow couldn’t even read her.  Which was even more disturbing than the actual site of her shaking form.  Usually Buffy’s thoughts and emotions poured off of her in rivers, but not this time.  No, this time all Willow saw was black, and that was bad, really bad.

Angel finally resolved that there was only one person left who may be able to reach Buffy, where ever she was now.  Crossing the room, Angel went to his enormous desk and scribbled a few words on a piece of paper.  When he was finished he called once more for his trusted employee.

“Lilly?”

“Yes.”  Lilly answered, reappearing from the kitchen area where she had returned to after retrieving Willow and Oz.

“I need for you to deliver this to Mr. Giles.”  Angel stated evenly, handing Lilly the folded piece of paper as he did.

“But I’m…”  Lilly started to object, knowing she wasn’t allowed inside the Kingdom.

“He’ll be expecting you.  He’s always watching you know.”   Angel smiled reassuringly and nodded towards the door.

“Okay.”  Lilly answered quietly, then turned and headed for the exit.

“Lilly?”

“Yes?”

“Please hurry.”  Angel asked with pleading eyes.

Lilly nodded, turned and hurried out into the setting sun’s last rays.  She’d have to hurry if she was going to beat the darkness.

* * *

“I may be a little out of line here, but do you really think it’s a good idea to involve the Kingdom’s Ruler in this?”  Oz asked Angel.

“Honestly, I don’t know what else to do.”  Angel answered flatly.  He knew that Rupert and Jenny would not decline his plea for help, he’d known them long enough to grasp the extent of their loyalty to close friends.   

* * *

Angel watched as Buffy’s excruciatingly tense body finally eased and slumped against her friend.  Not certain whether she had passed out or simply fallen into slumber, the three friends agreed that regardless, the floor was not a comfortable resting spot. 

Angel carefully gathered Buffy’s limp body is his arms, careful not to disturb her, and carried her to his room.  Gently he laid her out onto his massive bed and then watched as Willow hurried to cover her unconscious friend.

When the redhead was finally satisfied that Buffy was adequately tucked in, she moved to the doorway to join her husband.  Oz affectionately draped an arm around her waist, pulling her closer to him.  Though he was certain that this small gesture was appreciated, he was just as certain that it wasn't helping much.  His wife’s entire body was tense with stress and it was slowly seeping into his tired body as well.

The silence that had fallen over the group was interrupted as Lilly, Giles and Jenny entered through the front door.  Meeting his new guests in the foyer, Angel sighed with relief, knowing that his longtime friends would help to make things right again.

“Giles.”  Angel greeted with as much sincerity as one could possibly muster under the circumstances.

“Angel.”  Giles returned the simple greeting.

Jenny wasn’t in the mood for this formal nonsense, instead she rushed past Giles and embraced Angel is an emotional hug.  She’d been terribly worried about her friend since the moment she’d read his note.  Seeing now that he was okay, she stepped back away from him with questioning eyes.

“Follow me.”  Angel directed and led them back to his room where Buffy still lay unresponsive.

As Angel and his guests entered the room, Willow and Oz moved to the other side to accommodate the new arrivals. 

“Buffy?”  Giles gasp upon seeing her tiny form wrapped up in the huge blankets.

Though Jenny had a similar response, she did so inwardly, not wanting to make Giles feel any worse than she knew he already did.

“Something is wrong, but I don’t really know what…..exactly, so I was hoping that you would be able to help.”  Angel began.

Giles sighed, dreading actually speaking the horrible words that he had no choice in.  Jenny knew what was to come and turned to stare into her husband’s eyes, pleading with him to do something….. anything….. to help Buffy.

The Ruler of the Kingdom gave a regretful smile to his consort.  He knew what she asked of him, and he knew if there was some way around the laws he would obey her wishes.  But there wasn’t, and he had no other choice.

“I’m sorry Angel, but there is nothing that I can do here.”  Giles answered, regret and pain clear in his tone.

Angel’s eyes darted between his friends, pleading for answers, pleading for help, pleading for just a morsel of something that could explain what the hell was happening….

“She’s a Goddess Giles!  You have to help her.  She’s your responsibility!”  Angel demanded as he closed the short distance between Giles and himself.   He might be the God of Intellect, but right now Angel couldn’t think of one damn intelligent thing to say.  Instead, base instinct took over and with it out came every God’s true persona.

Dominance.

Dominate the other with any means necessary until you achieved your ultimate goal, and in this instance, Angel’s ultimate goal was to help Buffy.  And if physical violence was what it was going to take to get Giles to cooperate, then so be it.

“I’m sorry Angel, but there is nothing I can do.”  Giles looked past Angel to Buffy and then continued, “Her father…it’s his… he has forbidden Jenny and I to help her.”

Angel glanced back over his shoulder at the sleeping Goddess in his bed, then abruptly left the room.  Giles, Jenny, Willow and Oz were left to stare at each other and listen, as the loud noises of shattering glass and porcelain filtered though the hallway and into the room.

“Giles….”  Jenny said simply.

Her husband nodded and ducked out of the room, making his way cautiously down the hall to where the sounds of the latest bit of breaking glass were coming from.

When Angel felt Giles’ kind eyes on him he spun around.  Although he now realized that this had been as painful for Giles to say as it had been for him to hear, he now at least understood ‘why’ his friend had denied Buffy his help.  It hadn’t been a refusal because he was unwilling, but a refusal because of the law.  The Gods’ damned LAW!  With that thought, Angel picked up his latest victim and flung the glass vase against the wall.

Breathing heavily from the physical ransacking of his own house, Angel fell into the chair he had been sitting in when all this first started.  The chair that had been facing the one that Buffy had occupied.  Buffy….

“What’s going on Giles?  What’s wrong with her?  Why would her father….”  Angel’s final question trailed. 

Giles set down in ‘Buffy’s chair’, taking in a deep breath, he began the story.  He detailed every moment of his favorite Goddess’ life, including the good, the bad, and what he now considered to be the ugly.  His ugly.  The deed that he had done only at her request, but it was still the ugliness that cost Buffy not only her present family, however lousy they might be, but her future one as well.

Angel stared blankly into the fire which was quickly dying into barely there embers.  He said nothing.  Silence stilled the entire house.

Suddenly, Angel stood.  Surprised that he hadn’t thought of it sooner.  He began pacing around the room, deliberating how he was going to pull this off.  It was the perfect way to get around the Law.

Stunned at his quick change in demeanor, Giles questioned, “Angel?”

“I want you to marry us.”  Angel stated abruptly.

“What?  Have you gone mad?  She’s not even conscious!”  Giles retorted, baffled at Angel’s ‘out of no where’ request.

Angel slipped into his chair once more, sitting on the edge, his forearms on his thighs, leaning forward so that he would be closer to Giles.  He spoke in almost a whisper, as if he was afraid the wrong person might be listening to his plan.

“If you marry us, then her father’s declaration will be void.  I will be the only one who could make a declaration for her then.  Her family would have no say, and you and Jenny would be free to help her!”

“Angel, as much as I adore what you are trying to do for Buffy, I cannot perform a ceremony for the two of you.  In the state that she is in now, she is unable to agree to such a thing on her own.  As such, you would need her father’s blessing, and I’m all but sure you will not receive it.”  Giles answered.

“Has he not disowned her?”  Angel asked evenly, raising his eyebrows as he did.

Silence.

“Technically, I supposed he has.”  Giles finally replied, with the beginnings of a smile creeping across his face.  He was beginning to understand where Angel was going with this, and he knew that if they played their cards right, this might just work.

Angel smiled.  He had a conspirator, now if the others would go along with this…  He turned to make his way to his bedroom where his future bride lay in wait, but before he had taken two steps, Giles grabbed his arm.

“Are you sure you want to do this?”  Giles asked, concerned that his dear friend had not thought this trough properly. 

“I am.”

“You do remember the problems that will lie ahead, even if I am able to help with her present state?”

“I do.”  Angel answered with a sad smile.  They would cross that bridge when they came to it.

“Then let us proceed.”  Giles answered, gesturing towards the hallway.

Chapter 12 ~  The Healing Begins

Less than an hour after their initial plan had been formed, Angel and Giles together cradled Buffy’s limp body between them on the bed.  With Willow and Oz as witnesses, and Jenny as the Official presiding over the union, the unusual wedding began.

“Does anyone here object to this union between Angel and Buffy?”  Jenny asked the customary question.  She watched closely as both witnesses shook their heads no before she continued.

“Angel, God of Intellect, do you take Buffy, Goddess of Home and Family to be your consort, and partner for this lifetime, regardless of what your future may hold?”

“I Angel, God of Intellect, do take Buffy, Goddess of Home and Family, to be my consort and partner for this lifetime, regardless of what our future may hold.”  Angel answered sincerely, holding Buffy’s delicate left hand as he did so.

“Rupert Giles, Ruler of the Kingdom, and official voice under the Law for Buffy, Goddess of Home and Family, do you consent to Buffy becoming Angel’s consort and partner for this lifetime, regardless of what their future may hold?”

“I Rupert Giles, Ruler of the Kingdom, and official voice under the Law for Buffy, Goddess of Home and Family, do consent to Buffy becoming Angel’s consort and partner for this lifetime, regardless of what their future may hold.”  Giles replied, wiping at a runaway tear as he did. 

Though he was truly grateful for what Angel was doing for Buffy, and he had no doubts that she would be well taken care of, his heart still ached for what he had taken away from them both. 

“As there have been no objections to this union, and as both parties have given their consent, I Jenny, Goddess of Love, and the Official presiding over this union under the Law, hereby pronounce Angel and Buffy to be husband and wife.”  Jenny smiled with teary eyes at Angel. 

This union had been what she’d wanted for the two of them from the beginning, though certainly not under these circumstances.  But she had faith in the Powers that where greater than any of the Gods and Goddess of her Kingdom, things would work themselves out.  So she looked on in quiet sadness as Angel gathered Buffy in his arms wholly, and brushed a sweet kiss to her forehead before laying her back down and wrapping her petite frame back up.

Angel took one last glance at his new wife, breathed a sigh of relief that at least the easy part went off without a hitch, then turned to Giles.

“As Buffy’s husband, and the only one under the Law to have power over her, I ask for your help in healing her.”

Giles gave a kind smile to his friend.

“It will be my honor.”
  
Giles motioned for all of the occupants of the room to step out into the hallway.  Closing the door behind him, he led everyone into Angel’s kitchen.  He figured it would be safer than dodging all the broken glass that was sure to still be scattered throughout the living area.  After everyone had taken a seat at the small kitchen table, Giles explained what he was going to do to reach Buffy and what he needed from each of them in order to accomplish that task. 

After Giles’ instructions, Oz quietly slipped out the front door and made his way down the City’s streets to Fred’s shop.  He had been told by Giles to retrieve the healing herbs that would be required in the ritual. 

Willow had been assigned to assist Angel in cleansing his living area where the ritual would be preformed.  Lilly had already cleaned the broken glass from the area, but a true cleansing ritual still needed to be done to insure the proper transfer of energy from Giles to Buffy.

Jenny accompanied her husband to Angel’s spare bedroom to help in his preparation exercises.  Breathing.  Concentration.  He was going to need all of the spare energy he could take in to help heal his friend.

“This was the right thing to do you know.”  Jenny said as she sat crossed legged on the floor opposite her husband.  She was sitting straight up, stiff as a board, with her finger tips touching Giles’ finger tips, hoping to transfer as much of her energy into him as she could.

“I just hope that Angel will not regret what he has done.”  Giles answered solemnly.

“Why would he?”

“Jenny, I know that you only have positive thoughts for these two, but the road that lies in front of them is paved with more obstacles than….”  Jenny placed her slender finger on Giles’ lips, shushing his remaining words.

Leaning forward, the Goddess of Love planted a soft kiss on her husband’s full, warm lips.  Whispering against them, she said, 

“It will all be as it should.  The other side of tomorrow will be brighter than the dark side of today.  Have faith.”

Giles pulled back from Jenny’s soft touch, admiring not only her obvious beauty, but also her insight into what was clouded from other’s views.  She was full of love and hope and faith, everything that Buffy needed at this moment.

“I love you.”  Giles professed most sincerely.

“And I you.”

A soft knock on the door interrupted the two lovers’ thoughts.

“Yes?” 

Angel slowly opened the door and peered inside.

“Everything is ready.  Shall I get Buffy?”  he asked, stepping fully into the room now.

“Please.” 

Angel nodded and then quietly exited the room, pulling the door closed behind him.  Long strides took him to his own bedroom door.  Taking a deep breath, he turned the knob quietly, unlatching it, but not opening it to his full view.

‘Am I ready for this?’  ‘Is she ready for this?’  ‘Will she hate me for what I’ve done?’

Angel’s thoughts were interrupted as he felt a small, but reassuring hand on his shoulder.  Turning to look at the owner, he found his longtime redheaded friend and employee.

“You are ready, and I think she probably is too.  And I know she would never hate you for what you did for her.  I think in time it will only make her love you more.”  Willow stated with a tried smile.

“Thank you.”  Angel said, placing his large hand over her smaller one. 

Although he still had his doubts about how Buffy would react when and if Giles was able to reach her, he was sure in the notion that he was in fact, doing the right thing.  She had been through far too much in her lifetime, receiving little of the love and affection she so rightly deserved.

With a gentle nudge from Willow, Angel finally opened the door to find Buffy still lying in the same spot as when they’d left her.  The redhead dutifully helped pull back the covers that were hiding their Goddess’ small frame.

“Could you give me a moment with her alone?”  Angel asked.  His sad eyes burning holes through what hope Willow had left in hers.

“Sure.”  Willow answered, putting her hand on his shoulder once more.  Mocking his gesture from before, Angel returned the supportive touch before his friend departed.

Now, alone, Angel sat on the edge of his massive bed and stared at the imp of a woman who lay before him.  Brushing a stray golden lock away from her face, he sighed.

“From the moment we ran into each other on the Kingdom’s streets, I knew that I loved you, or at least my soul knew.  You were physically stunning, and I have not the words to express how beautiful I thought you were that night.  Unfortunately, I had allowed my mind to be jaded with rumors and gossip of you from people who did not truly know you and never will.  Instead of following my heart I listened to those around me who only wanted to own you as a possession instead of loving you as their equal.”

Pausing his confession, Angel took Buffy’s left hand and carefully slipped a delicate silver band on her ring finger.

“This band symbolizes my eternal devotion to you.  It belonged to my mother, and I know deep within my heart, that she would want you to wear it now as my wife.  I promise to you on this night that I shall never again allow others to sway my true feelings for you.”

Angel leaned over Buffy’s body and gently kissed her full lips.  Drawing back away from her body, he had one last thing to say before taking her to the living area.  Fighting back tears that were ready to pour out of both eyes, Angel started…

“I’m sorry for treating you the way I did all those nights ago.  I’m sorry I didn’t protect you from William’s advances.  I’m sorry you felt that you had to take such drastic measures to rid yourself of him, and I’m sorry for dragging you here tonight, I should have never…  I’m just sorry Buffy, and I promise if it takes eternity to make it up to you then I shall, just please…please come back to us.”

There was a light rapping on the door.  Angel wiped at both eyes, trying to dry his tears.

“Yes?”

“Everything is ready.”  Willow whispered.

“Thank you.”  Angel answered in a hushed voice.

Willow ducked back out of the room, leaving her friend one more moment of privacy with Buffy.  Angel kissed her sweet lips once more before gathering her in his arms.

With his final ‘I love you’ whispered secretly in her ear, Angel carried his sweet goddess to the living area  and gently laid her small body on the floor in front of Giles.

Everyone took their places in the circle around Giles and Buffy, and silently prayed to themselves that he would be able to reach their friend.

“It is time.”  Giles stated evenly.

Chapter 13 ~  Promises

It took Giles a relatively short amount of time to find Buffy hiding in her subconscious.  She sat on the floor, back against the wall, knees pulled up tight to her chest.  She looked at her trusted friend and confidante with sad eyes, it was obvious she knew why he was here.

“I’m sorry.”  She whispered.

“Oh, my dear Buffy, there is nothing for you to be sorry for.”  Giles assured as he sat down on the floor next to her.

“But I have failed everyone…you, Jenny, my father…and now Angel.  He shouldn’t have done it, I can never make him truly happy.”  Buffy admitted as she tried to hide the hurt and disappointment in her voice.

“He did this to help you.  He wants you to come back, we all want you to come back.”

Buffy sat quietly for a moment as she fought back tears.  She couldn’t help but remember all of the sweet things that she’d heard Angel saying to her right before Giles showed up.  If she followed her heart, she’d go with Giles this second.  She’d forget the mess she’d made of her life, and try to start over with Angel.  Her soul ached to be with his, her body only feeling complete when he was near.

“Buffy?”  Giles asked, concerned about her continued silence.

“I’m sorry Giles, but I can’t.  My future is too great of a burden, I will not drag anyone else down with me.  I ask that you please take my body back to the Kingdom, to the asylum, and leave me there.  That is the only suitable option for everyone involved.”  Buffy answered evenly.

“NO!”  Giles roared, startling the subconscious Buffy.  It was even more disturbing to those in the circle around him who were not privy to the actual conversation, instead hearing only Giles’ sudden outburst.

Jenny tried to send reassuring energy to both Angel and Willow who had obviously become even more frighten for the future of their wife and friend after Giles’ loud protest than they had been before.  Even though she too was unaware of the actual events taking place between Buffy and Giles, she was getting the distinct vibe from her husband that Buffy was being somewhat stubborn in her return, but that she was not in any real danger.

“Giles, please.”  Buffy pleaded.

“Absolutely not!”  Giles exclaimed, rising to his feet, pulling Buffy with him as he did. 

“You have been given the responsibility of a Goddess.  You have friends that love you and want very much for you to return to them.  And you now have a husband that needs his wife by his side.”

“But Giles, I can’t go back to Angel the way I am.  And how and I supposed to continue my duties as Goddess of Home and particularly Family, when I’m incapable of even having one?”  Buffy cried.

“Angel loves you regardless, and if you return with me, I promise that I shall find a way to resurrect the problem that I helped to create.”  Giles said seriously, looking deep into Buffy’s emerald eyes.

“I’m not sure that I can…”  Buffy’s words trailed off as she stepped away from her friend.

“I will always be there for you Buffy.”  Giles answered.  He extended his hand for Buffy to take. 

Hesitating momentarily, Buffy finally reached out, taking Giles’ hand in hers.  She instantly felt the warm and loving energy flow from his hand to hers.  The darkness and bone chilling cold that had taken over her body was quickly being driven out as the warmth, love and light poured in.

“Oh, oh, I think it worked!  I think it worked!”  Willow screeched as she watched her friend’s eyes begin to flutter open.

“Buffy?”  Angel asked cautiously.  He was too afraid to move from his place in the circle, not wanting to destroy what might be his only chance at getting his new wife back.

Giles’ exhausted body fell back into the mound of pillows that had been situated behind him for just such a reason.  He had used every last bit of energy he had built up to warm Buffy.  He had wanted her to know just how much those around her truly cared and loved her. 

Knowing it would take him a couple of days to recuperate from such an effort, though certain in the knowledge that he would do it all over again, Giles sighed with relief when he heard the soft whispers of Buffy’s voice floating through the air.

“Angel?  Willow?”  Buffy asked quietly.  The fuzzy images of her husband and friend were slowly coming into focus.

“Buffy?  Oh my god, Buffy!”  Angel cried as he crawled from his place in the circle to Buffy’s side.  Cupping her face with both hands, Angel stared deep into her eyes, he wanted to make sure that what he said next got through to her.

“Buffy, I love you.  I want you here with me.  I promise my sweet, that I will do everything in my power to make certain that you are happy.”

Buffy’s eyes began to tear.  She wanted more than anything to believe what Angel was promising her, but she’d known too much disappointment in her life.  She knew that he could not possibly comprehend what he was saying.  She placed her small left hand over his.
“You know not what you have done.”  She said simply, the tears now streaming freely down her cheeks.

“I know exactly what I have done.”  Angel answered as he fought back his own tears.

“And I shall now begin to show you.”  He continued before kissing her forehead.

Everyone else in the room stared on in silence as Angel gathered Buffy’s exhausted body in his strong arms and started back to his room.  He stopped just short of the living area’s edge, turning his body so that he could look his friends full on.

“Thank you.”  he said, grateful for all the help that each one of them contributed.

Without waiting for a reply, Angel headed back down the hallway with his Goddess held tightly to his body.  The last sound anyone heard was Angel’s bedroom door clicking shut.

Chapter 14 ~  A New Beginning

Angel knew that he and Buffy had a long hard road laid out in front of them, but he was determined to make it.  That wasn’t to say that he wasn’t scared of what was to come, but the one thing he wasn’t scared of was the beauty that was deep in sleep, snuggled in close to his chest.

It had taken him well over two hours of heart felt pleading to convince Buffy that he did indeed know what he had gotten himself into, and that he had done it because he loved her.  His heart had been one shred shy of being completely torn apart as Buffy had sobbed in his arms until her exhaustion finally got the best of her.  But this, this was the end to all of that.  Angel whispered promises of love and devotion to his new wife as she slept, and of a new beginning that awaited both of them when the morning arrived.

* * * * *

Buffy wasn’t sure how long she’d been asleep, but she was certain that she hadn’t felt this relaxed in her entire life.  Snuggled up close to Angel’s massive form, she could feel his arms protectively encircling her petite body.  It was now that Buffy felt the completeness that only Angel could bring her. 

She smiled.

It was a brief moment of euphoria that engulfed the young Goddess.  A moment in which she finally, after her dreadfully long existence in her father’s home, felt loved.  Really and truthfully, down to the very last being of her soul, loved.  Then it happened.  As she took in a deep breath, inhaling the unique scent of her new husband, Buffy felt the familiar tinge of pain, which always accompanied such a seemingly meaningless task.  It was an all to painful reminder of what she had done.

Her body automatically stiffed with the sensation.  Buffy held what little breath she had taken in before the pain had hit, hoping beyond all hope that it, along with all the memories of that night would fade away.  It didn’t seem to be working. 

The light sleep that Angel had finally drifted off into was quickly broken when he heard the muffled sobs of his love.  She was obviously trying to be quiet, not wanting to disturb him.

“Buffy, my love, what’s wrong?”  Angel asked as he loosened his embrace, leaning back away from his beautiful wife so he could look into those magnificent emerald eyes.

“Noth…nothing’s wro….wrong.”  She stuttered in between sobs, and her best attempts to hide her tear stained face from her mate.

“It’s okay.  No matter what it is, it’s going to be okay.  Just tell me what’s wrong, and what I can do to make it all better.”

“No.  Me. Can’t.”  She mumbled back.

“Yes, it is going to be okay, I promise you that.  And whatever is wrong with you, I can and will make it better.”  Angel answered confidently.

“Now, tell me what exactly it is that upset you so.”

“Angel, I can’t.  I can’t put you through this.”  she pleaded as she finally lifted her head, meeting Angel’s gaze for the first time since she’d awoke.

“Buffy, I explained all of that to you last night.  Remember?”

“I know what you said, but you just don’t understand.  I’m in pain, and all I did was breath.  One simple, deep breathe.  All I wanted to do was inhale your unique and incredibly enticing scent, and I end up in pain.  Pain.  Pain that reminds me of what I did to myself, and what I did to any chances of ever making you truly happy.”  Buffy explained tearfully.

Angel rose to a sitting position, carefully cradling Buffy in his arms. 

“Where does it hurt?”  He asked softly.

“Angel….” 

“Where does it hurt my love?”  He asked again as he cupped the side of her face with his right hand.

Buffy shook her head ‘no’. 

A soft smile crept across Angel’s handsome face.

“Now my sweet….if you don’t tell me where it hurts, I’m just going to have to start guessing.”

“Angel…”  Buffy cried.  He was just being too damn sweet. 

Angel leaned over and planted a soft kiss to the tip of his love’s nose.

“Is that where it hurts?”  He whispered.

Buffy lifted her slender hand and traced Angel’s brow and cheek.  She just couldn’t understand why he was doing this, he couldn’t possibly be real.  It was all a dream.  He just had to be a dream, because no one had ever treated her with such love and affection before.

Angel caught her tiny hand in his, turning it so that he had access to her palm.  He kissed it not once but twice, then a third and fourth time.  Making sure to cover every last inch of the  sensitive underside of her hand, before turning it over and proceeding to provide the same attention to it’s back.

A slight moan escaped Buffy’s lips at Angel’s gentle ministration.

“Ahhh….it must have hurt there…”  Angel grinned coyly, hoping that Buffy would admit otherwise. 

Although Angel knew that his love was in at least a little bit of pain, or had been a few moments earlier, he was praying that she would push it out of her thoughts, for a few moments anyway, and join him in this game.

She wanted to halt him.  She wanted to stop him from making her fall even more in love with him than she already was, but the sweet touches that her body was receiving just wouldn’t allow her protest.  Well, except for the slight shaking of her head to indicate a ‘no’, but that wasn’t really a protest, or an indication for her love to actually stop what he was doing, and he knew it.

Angel took Buffy’s ‘no’ as a good sign and began to carefully rearrange her tiny form on the bed, so he would have better access to all of her.  As he hovered over her small form, Angel moved his attention to Buffy’s slender arm.  Trailing kisses from shoulder to wrist stopping only momentarily to provide extra attention at her elbow.  

“Now, that must have been the problem area.  But I’m sure it’s all better now.”  Angel proclaimed like a proud child. 

Glancing at his love’s eyes, he was thrilled to see that she was not only enjoying his attention, but enjoying it enough to keep playing his little game.  Buffy shook her head ‘no’ once more, smiling every so slightly as she did.

Angel returned his Goddess’ smile before quickly moving to her other arm, repeating the same sensual kisses from shoulder to wrist.  But this time he lingered longer at her elbow, sucking bits of flesh into his mouth.  The sensation of his hot swirling tongue sent shivers down Buffy’s spine.  God, he was amazing, and he was just kissing her elbow!

“Are we all better now?” 

Buffy shook her head once more.

Angel leaned back on his haunches, trying to decide which delectable piece of flesh to attack next.  His dark chocolate eyes landed on his mate’s full lips.  How could he have went this long without attending to them?  Covering his love’s body with his own, Angel began his subtle attack. 

Buffy’s body seemed to melt into it’s other half, knowing instinctively that what was happening was ‘right’.  The pain that she’d felt earlier was a far thought, buried deep in the back of her mind.  Instead, she concentrated on the warmth, love and completeness she felt with her husband’s body on top of hers.  Snaking her arms around Angel’s neck, Buffy deepened the kiss that her soul mate had begun.

Angel fought hard to suppress the tears that were threatening to fall.  Finally.  Finally, she was beginning to accept him…them.  Whatever was to come in their future, Angel was certain that it would have no bearing on his feelings for Buffy.  As their passionate kisses began to slow, Angel gently flipped their position, so that his blonde Goddess would be resting comfortably on his chest.

“Are you better now?”  Angel asked sincerely.

“Yes, all better now.”  Buffy answered with a smile.

“I love you, in this lifetime and next.”  Angel vowed, hugging Buffy closer to him.

“And I love you, in this lifetime and next.”  Buffy affirmed with a final kiss to her sweet God’s lips before snuggling back into his body.

Chapter 15 ~ A Wish Revisited

Two of the happiest months of her entire existence passed for Buffy.  After that first difficult evening with Angel, she had quickly fallen into a comforting spot by his side.   Having the love of the most giving and caring God in, well, anywhere, and having some of the kindest and most trustworthy friends a Goddess could ever dream of having, Buffy was in Heaven.

Every morning that Buffy awoke after Angel had already risen for the day, she was greeted by the perfumed scent of a new wildflower on her husband’s pillow.  Angel made sure that if he wasn’t there to witness his love in her first waking moments of the morning, there would be something special there that would let her know just how much he loved her.

She had almost thought she was a normal Goddess again.  No problems, just love and family and friends.  That was, until the pain began again.  She had been at the IoK assisting Willow with her class when it struck her with force.

Struggling to keep her composure, Buffy quietly exited her friend’s classroom and headed down the long corridor to Angel’s office.  She knew that he had been called to the Kingdom today, and therefore his office would be empty.  Gingerly, she lowered herself onto the black leather couch that took up a great deal of space in Angel’s small room.

Buffy fought the urge to scream as the pains increased with strength.  Instead of falling to her natural urges, the strong willed Goddess rolled onto her side and bit her bottom lip as the tears flowed freely down both cheeks.  She didn’t understand what was happening to her.  She hadn’t felt pain this severe since that night. 

It had taken only a couple of minutes for Willow to realize that her friend wasn’t coming back.  Quickly dismissing her class for the day, the redhead hurriedly walked to Angel’s office, figuring if something was wrong, that would be the most likely place to find her.

Buffy’s best friend was shocked to find her thrashing wildly on the couch, internal, physical pain the obvious cause. 

“Oh God Will!”  Buffy cried, reaching out for her friend.

Rushing to Buffy’s side, Willow knelt on the floor next to her.  Buffy immediately took the offered hand of support, crushing it in her grasp when another bolt of lightening pain began to overtake her body once more.  Willow winced, but said nothing.  She knew that what little discomfort she was feeling was minor compared to whatever was happening to Buffy.

“Buffy, what’s going on?” 

The blonde Goddess did not answer, instead she let out the most bloodcurdling scream Willow had ever heard.  Knowing this was a serious matter, and way beyond her field of expertise, the redhead quickly contacted her husband.

“Oz!”

Willow’s other half stopped his daily ritual of chores immediately to listen closely to the soft voice ringing clearly in his mind.  Being a Kattarr clearly had its advantages in an emergency, allowing Oz to be out the door and on his way to the Kingdom within seconds of his wife’s desperate plea for help.

As Buffy’s continued cries of pain increased in frequency, Willow began keeping tabs on her consort’s progress towards the Kingdom, and more importantly towards help.  She was surprised to find that Oz had no difficulty entering the Kingdom, but was instead ushered through the gates as though he were expected.  Something about this picture was wrong, and it just kept getting worse, as Willow suddenly lost contact with her mate.  That had never happened before.  Regardless of the distances placed between the two, they were never without contact.

Panic began to take over the redhead’s thoughts.  Fear for her husband.  Fear for her friend.  Fear of the unknown.  Her entire world was being turned upside down in the matter of a few minutes, and she wasn’t handling it too well.  Her heartbeat quickened to an alarming rate, and her breathing became rigid.   Willow was on the verge of a nervous breakdown, that was, until the darkness hit.

“It is all as it should be.”  Jenny hummed in her mind after releasing her touch to Willow’s shoulder.

“Very well.”  Giles hummed back as he gazed over Angel and Oz’s unconscious bodies laying before him.

Speaking out loud, in unison, Giles and Jenny began the ritual, waiving their sacred amulets as they did so.

“As it once was, so shall it ever be.  What was taken yesterday, shall be returned today and what was unrightfully withheld shall be dutifully awarded.  Two shall come together to make three.  Two shall come together to make three.  All will be as it should.”

Giles leaned down, placing his palms on Angel and Oz foreheads separately.  At the same moment Jenny mocked his actions, doing the same to Buffy and Willow.  Though it was not known to anyone but themselves, Giles and Jenny were not only undoing the wrong that Giles had helped to bring forth unto Buffy, but the wrong that was an unfortunate custom, up to that very moment, which was placed on all Kattarrs who united in marriage.

Giles wasn’t certain whether he was going to have two grateful men on his hands or whether he should run for his life now while they were still unconscious.  He had known that neither would have voluntarily agreed to participate in such a physically painful ritual, for their mates’ anyway.  Angel and Oz’s part in the whole thing was relatively simple, but it still wasn’t going to make the whole mess any easier to explain, and he knew that his wife was facing the same dilemma.

Giles watched cautiously as a groggy Angel finally began to come around.

“Wha….what happened?”  Angel asked as he sat up and rubbed the back of his neck.

There was no answer.  Angel looked on as Giles’ attention was held firmly on the other young man who was just now beginning to stir.  When he was certain that both men were coherent enough to understand him, Giles began.

“I’m sorry to have caused both you and your consorts pain, but some things that needed to be done could not have occurred without both of you here.”

“Pain?  Buffy…is….what did you do to her?”  Angel asked, protective rage controlling his behavior as he rose from the floor and stalked towards his Ruler.

“You must understand Angel, I promised Buffy that I would fix things.  That which I helped take from her has now been restored.  It wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t without sacrifice, but it is all as it should be now.”  Giles answered truthfully.

“So what did Willow and I have to do with this?”  Oz asked, piping up for the first time.

“It is a long and complicated matter.”

“Then you shall tell us on our way back to the City!”  Angel growled, grabbing his onetime friend by the arm and dragging him forcefully towards the door.  Oz shrugged and followed. 

As the three men headed down the mountainside, Giles explained the entire ritual from beginning to end.  He took special caution in explaining Angel’s role as Buffy’s strength and support during the painful reversal, and Oz’s similar role with Willow.  Noting next that a Kattarr was needed for their extraordinary fertility in order to replenish Buffy’s lost lights.

“But Kattarrs cannot conceive.”  Oz stated frankly as the three men continued on their journey.

“Kattarrs can conceive.  It has been ancient custom in the Kingdom to forbid reproduction between two Kattarrs united in marriage, only Kattarrs who are united with other demi-gods are allowed reproduction, except under special circumstances.  It is a custom that will no longer be in effect after this day.”  Giles explained.

“I still don’t get it.  Why would you need…..” 

“Because Jenny knew that this was all going to happen…..didn’t she?”  Angel asked, the sinking feeling that his friend had known all along began to weigh him down.

Silence.

“Didn’t she?”  Angel asked again, his voice louder this time, his glaring eyes dark with disdain for his friend.

“Yes.  It was foretold to her.  But she kept it even from me.  If she had interfered more than she already did, things would have gone horribly wrong.”  Giles defended his wife.

“She had no right!”  Angel spat loudly.  Stopping in mid stride, Angel faced Giles once more.

“She took a great risk Angel.  She bent the rules as close to breaking as she could to save you what she knew I was going to take away.  She interfered with my ritual and moved your’s and Buffy’s lights to Willow.  The four of you, along with your children are the Kingdom’s future.  She knew that and she did what she had to do in order to save it.” Giles admonished before turning back towards the City to continue his hike down the rest of the mountainside.
Stunned by Giles’ admissions, Angel just stood there as their Ruler walked ahead.  Oz put a reassuring hand on his friend’s shoulder.  He finally ‘got’ what had just happened.

“Come on, let’s go make sure the girls are okay.  There’ll be time enough later to ponder the big picture.”  Oz said matter-of-factly before heading down the mountainside behind Giles’ quickly disappearing form.

“Children…”  Angel whispered to no one now but the trees.

Chapter 16 ~ Revelations

Jenny sat in the deafening quiet as she waited for both young women to return to consciousness.  It had been more than a few minutes since the ritual had been completed, and the Goddess of Love was now beginning to wonder if she had somehow botched her end of the spell.

“Great goddesses, what happened?  I feel awful.”  Willow groggily complained.  Rubbing her head and slowly rising to a sitting position, the redhead looked around the small office to find Jenny quietly watching Buffy’s still unmoving form.

Jenny kept silent as she steadied her focus on Buffy, since she had been the recipient of the brunt of the spell.  To the elder Goddess’ great relief, it took the petite blonde only seconds longer to begin to revive.

“What….what happened?” 

“Yeah Jenny….what did happen?”  Willow asked accusingly.  The pieces of this crazy puzzle were slowly beginning to fit together as Willow once again picked up her husband in her mind.  The gentle whispers of their favorite poem from Oz was a comfort, but not enough of one for the redhead’s well known temper to be silenced.

“I think it may be best if we waited until….”  Jenny began, but was quickly interrupted.

“Excuse me?  You ‘think’ it would be best if we waited.  Waited for what?  Waited until you tricked us again?  Waited until Buffy is lying there racked with pain again?  No.  I’m not waiting another second.  You did something to both of us, and you’re going to tell us what it was!”  Willow spat.  The Kingdom’s second in charge or not, she’d had just about enough of Jenny.

“Will…I’m sure Jenny is just here trying to help.”  Buffy interjected.  She would not believe that her friend, one of the few friends that she had, would have done something to her.

“No Buffy, Willow is right.  There have been some things that have transpired in the last few hours that you both should know about.”  Jenny said evenly.  Taking a deep breath, the dark haired Goddess of Love began to reveal all that had happened. 

She told the girls of the prophecy that had been foretold to her about Buffy’s future, and the elaborate steps she took not only to try and avoid it altogether, but also the ones that she took to ensure that what was to be taken from her would and could be restored.   Like Giles, Jenny explained in great detail the ritual from beginning to end, and what each of their involvement’s were. 

There was silence in the room when Jenny finished.  It took Buffy and Willow several long minutes to digest what had happened, and what it meant to both of them.

“So you mean that I….that Angel and I can….”  Buffy began to ask, but somehow the two words that she had resigned never to utter again just wouldn’t come out.

“Make love.”  Jenny finished for her with a smile.  Nodding her head in assurance that yes in deed, Buffy was now whole again.

It was all she needed to hear for the rush of contentment to finally wash over her.  The feelings that she’d had all those months ago of wishing never to be burdened with such a task was released, and joy of knowing that she could finally indulge in the intimacy that most couples shared filled her.  Her insides were dancing in anticipation of telling the man that had given up so much to be with her that she could finally give him the true happiness that he so rightfully deserved.

It was within that quiet moment of personal revelry that the three men strode quickly into the room.  Each seeking out their partner, and forgetting any prior distaste for their fellow man.  Giles escorted Jenny in haste from the small office, preferring to allow the two young couples to reacquaint themselves without their presence.  There would be time enough later to discuss the futures of the four young people.

* * * * * * *

It had taken Angel and Oz little time to decide that there were better places to begin the rest of their lives than in the tiny office.  After checking to make sure that their wives were actually okay, they quickly whisked them away to their respective homes.

As Angel carried Buffy through their house, his anticipation grew, along with his arousal, which was becoming painfully swollen.  He had restrained himself from even dreaming that this day would come, that he would finally be allowed to show is soulmate how much she meant to him in every facet of the imagination.  He couldn’t wait.

Lying his beauty on their shared bed, he stepped back to admire what was lying before him.  How incredibly lucky he was to have seen the light that was Buffy and to have realized that whatever his original misgivings had been about her, she was his ‘it’. 

Buffy lay quietly on the bed, not moving a muscle.  Now that she was actually in the position to do what she had not dared to dream of, she wasn’t so sure.  In reality, she knew that this was what she should want, and she did want it, but she was scared.  She had never been close with her mother, nor had any real friends besides Willow and Jenny to speak of, so her knowledge of making love was pretty limited.

Thought after thought ran through Buffy’s head.  All she could think of was how ill prepared she was to please Angel.  As she caught sight of his obvious arousal, Buffy’s eyes began to well with tears.  He was obviously excited, and ready to make love to her, but here she was lying on his bed, only to disappoint him once again.

Angel immediately noticed that his beautiful princess was crying. 

“My sweet, are you still in pain?”  Angel asked as he sat down on the edge of the bed, concern evident in his tone.  Brushing a runaway strand of blonde hair out of her face, he grabbed her left hand, bringing it to his lips for a tender kiss.

Buffy couldn’t answer him.  He was always so sweet, so caring, loving….concerned.  How could she do this to him?  How could she disappoint him once again?

“If you’re still hurting, I can go get Fred.  I’m sure she will have some healing herbs that would help.” 

“No.  I’m…..I don’t hurt.”  Buffy finally admitted, before looking away.

“Then what is it my love?  What is making you cry if you are not in pain?”  Angel asked, longing to know what was in his lover’s thoughts.

Buffy pulled herself up to a sitting position, drawing her knees up to her chin she wrapped her arms around them.  Not daring to take a peek at Angel, Buffy stared straight ahead.  Sighing deeply she began.

“I’m sorry Angel, but I can’t.  I can’t make you happy.  Not now, not ever.  I thought this spell would fix everything, and make everything right between us, but it won’t.  No matter how much…….Angel, I…..I just can’t.” 

Angel was shocked into silence.  She had taken the ultimate swing, and landed the punch firmly in his gut.  With the wind now totally out of his sails, his shoulders slumped.

“You….you don’t love me?”  He asked hesitantly, not really sure his heart could take the truth if she answered in the affirmative.

“No.  Oh god Angel no.”

“Then….what?”  Angel asked sullenly.

Buffy moved slowly across the space on the bed that separated her and Angel.  Taking his large, strong hand in hers, she breathed deeply before looking her mate in the eyes.

“It is not you, nor my lack of love for you.  I love you with all that my being will allow, but I cannot make you happy.  Not truly happy anyway….I do not know how.”  Buffy admitted honestly, reaching up to cup his face with her free hand. 

“And that is all that I want for you my sweet Angel.  I just want you to be happy, and I….I just don’t know how to do that.”  She continued tearfully.

As the dawning of Buffy’s words finally hit Angel like a large boulder from the mountainside, he tried desperately to hide his amused relief.  It wasn’t that she didn’t love him, or even ‘want’ him, it was that she had never had sex before and she was scared out of her mind.  Gods, he had to be the densest man in the universe.

Pulling Buffy into his engulfing arms, he kissed her forehead gently, then her nose, before working his way down to her soft and scrumptious lips.  When he finally pulled away, allowing them both to catch a needed breath, Angel smiled.

“What?” Buffy asked quizzically, not sure what he could possibly be smiling about.

“It’s okay my love.  We don’t have to do it tonight, nor tomorrow, nor the day after.  Only when you are ready.”  Angel promised as he wiped the trail of wetness left by Buffy’s tears from her cheek.

“But Angel….you were…I saw you.  I just….I can’t.”  Buffy confessed again.

Angel shifted their positions, so they were lying face to face with one another on the bed.  Pulling his blonde Goddess closer, he made a confession of his own.

“Buffy, I get aroused at just the mention of your name.  You are the most beautiful creature I have ever seen.  You wear your heart on your sleeve for everyone to see, and I love you because of it.  I want to make love to you, but only when you are ready.  We’ll take our time, and when you feel comfortable, we’ll take the next step.  I’m not going to lie to you, I want you with an incredible fire that I’ve never felt before, but I won’t rush you.  I can wait.”

“Oh Angel…”  Buffy cried as the tears began to flow freely again.  How had she ever become so lucky?

“No tears now my sweet, only some well deserved rest.”  Angel purred as he hugged Buffy to him tighter.  Kissing the top of her head, he pulled the blankets up over their bodies.

“I love you Angel.”

“I love you too my sweet.”

Both reaffirming their love for the other, before drifting off to sleep.

Chapter 17 ~ All I Want
(Rated:  NC-17)


Four long weeks after the reversal ritual had been preformed, Buffy decided that she was over being scared about being with Angel.  He was her husband after all, and this was a totally natural thing to do when you were husband and wife, so she made up her mind, that tonight was going to be the night.

Although the IoK was closed today, Angel still went in to make preparations for a new teacher he was brining in.  This gave Buffy the perfect opportunity to put together her well thought out plan.  After dropping by Willow’s for a hot cup of tea and some moral support, Buffy set out to purchase her needed supplies.

Willow had given her directions to a quaint little clothing store in the center of the City called “Chase’s”.  Although the redhead despised the owner with a passion, she had made it clear to Buffy, that if anyone in town would have something nice and sexy for her to wear on her special night, it would be Cordelia. 

Standing in front of the store, Buffy inhaled a deep cleansing breath.  She was ready to do this.  Grasping the elaborately carved handle, Buffy pulled the door open and stepped quietly inside.  Gazing around the store, she was stunned by the numerous flowing gowns decorated in so many vibrant colors.  She had never seen anything so beautiful.

“Hey.  You need something?”  A young brunette woman asked.  She was quickly shoved out of the way to be replaced by a taller, brunette who was obviously agitated by the gruff welcome.

“Sorry about that, she’s uh…..new.  Welcome to Chase’s.  Can I help you find anything in particular?  An evening gown perhaps?” 

“I’m not either new.”  The younger woman spat, then continued,  “Jeez, what crawled up your ass today Cor?”

Cordelia forced a pleasant smile at Buffy before turning her attention back to her irritating employee.

“I’ll help this nice customer Faith.  Why don’t you go back to the storage room and check the inventory.  We wouldn’t want to run out of anything, now would we?”

The younger woman begrudgingly took the hint to leave.  In a huff she turned on her heels and stormed to the back of the store, disappearing behind a white curtain.

“I’m sorry about that.  Now, are you looking for something special? Or just a casual gown?”  Cordelia asked as she turned her attention back to Buffy.

“I’m looking for something special.  Nothing too fancy, but something that will make him say ‘wow’.”  Buffy answered confidently.

“Well then, if you will follow me, I think I have just the gown for you.”  Cordelia replied over her shoulder as she began to walk to the back corner of the store. 

Pulling a long, sleek black dress from its display, Cordelia expertly held it up for Buffy’s inspection.  From its small spaghetti straps, to the lengthy slit up one side, the blonde Goddess was mesmerized.  The women in the Kingdom had never been allowed to wear such revealing things.  She wasn’t sure if she would be able to or not.  Besides, what if Angel didn’t like such garments?

When Buffy did not speak, Cordelia began to get worried.  She had known who the woman was the second she entered her store.  Not only did ‘higher being’ radiate off of the petite blonde in tidal waves, but Cordelia had heard all the gossip.  She knew exactly who Angel had married, and what she looked like in great detail.  News traveled fast in the City, especially news of this magnitude.

“Is…is there something wrong with it?  I can find you another one if you are not satisfied with this one.”  Cordelia stammered.  Pissing Angel off because of something she said to Willow was one thing, but making him angry because of something she did to his wife would be quite the social ‘no-no’.

“No, it’s beautiful.  It’s just….”

“Not long enough?  Short enough?  Oh, I know, you want one with a higher slit.  I think I have…”  Buffy cut her off mid ramble.

“No. No.  It’s not that it’s….it’s just that I’m not sure my husband would approve of me wearing such a…..revealing gown.”

Cordelia smiled, simultaneously releasing a breath she hadn’t realized she was holding.  ‘Still living in the dark ages of that ridiculous Kingdom are we?’

“Trust me.  He’ll love it.”  Cordelia replied with a wink.  If he didn’t, then the man was undoubtedly gay.

Buffy studied the dress for another long moment, keeping Cordelia on pins and needles, before she finally agreed to take it.  Thankful that the sale had went well, Cordelia threw in the perfect shoes, along with some sexy undergarments for Buffy to wear with it.  All the while explaining how men loved the ‘accessories’ just as much as they loved the gown itself. 

Buffy smiled and thanked Cordelia for her help after the transaction had been completed.  Taking her newly purchased items, she headed out of the store and down the street to the open market set up in the center of the City.  Fred had agreed to meet her there with the candles and incense she had requested from her shop.  She didn’t want to risk Angel seeing her out, and she would have had to walk right past the IoK building to get to Fred’s store.

After the brief meeting with Fred, Buffy was back at home.  She had less than two hours before the sun began to set and Angel would return from the IoK.  Smiling, Buffy laid her new gown out on the bed, then hurried off to the kitchen to see how Lilly was progressing with their special dinner.

* * * * *

As Angel opened the front door to his home, the mixed aroma’s assaulted his senses.  From the obvious smell of glazed chicken cooking in the kitchen to the faintest hints of lavender and vanilla wafting down the hallway from his bedroom, Angel was immediately curious.

The house was dimly lit with candles scattered about.  He was unsure of which direction he should investigate first.  Kitchen or bedroom?  Bedroom or kitchen?  Finally his stomach made the decision for him.  Since he had been swamped with paperwork for his new employee, he hadn’t taken the time to have lunch, and he was starving.

As he hit the doorway to the kitchen, he was positive that he had made the right choice.  Sitting patiently in her chair at the kitchen table, face illuminated by the soft glow of the two tall white candles perched perfectly in the center of the table, was his wife.  Dressed in a black evening gown and matching heels, her hair swept up minus a few loose strands that framed her face,  Buffy looked at him, smiling seductively.

Angel returned the smile with a gentle, admiring one of his own.  She’d obviously been to see Cordelia today he mused to himself. 

Buffy rose to her feet, and sauntered towards her husband.  She intended to great him properly.  Snaking both arms around his neck and standing on tiptoes she lightly brushed his lips with hers before pulling back to look him in the eyes.

“So…how was your day?”  she purred up at him.

“Obviously not as eventful as yours.”  He answered.  Resting both hands on Buffy’s silk covered hips, he smiled.

Leaning in to Angel more fully, Buffy kissed him again, with more passion this time.  She ran her tiny fingers through his dark hair, scraping his scalp ever so lightly with her nails.  Angel moaned at the sensation.  Moving his large hands from her hips to her back, pulling her closer, he moved his kisses from her lips to her cheek, down her jaw line, stopping his attentions at her sensitive neck. 

Panting, Buffy squeezed her eyes shut, she needed to get control of herself, or all her plans and Lilly’s hard work preparing Angel’s favorite meal would be ruined.

“An…gel…”  Buffy moaned when he hit just the right spot on the back of her neck.

“Mmmmm?”  Angel mumbled between kisses.  He really didn’t want to give up the ecstasy of making out with his beautiful wife while she was wearing that oh so sexy dress.

“An….Angel, we….din….dinner...” 

“All I want is you baby.”  He whispered in her ear before beginning to nibble teasingly on the outer lobe.

Buffy tried to tell herself that if she wanted the evening to be perfect, that she needed to stop right now and force both of them to sit down and eat.  But she couldn’t.  She had worked herself up into a sexual frenzy for the past couple of weeks.  Between her deep and informative talks with Willow to the passionate make-out sessions with Angel, she was well aware that she ‘wanted’ to do this more and more each day.

When Buffy finally pulled away, she looked long and hard into her mate’s eyes.  Seeing nothing but the passion and love that she felt for him returned, she decided that dinner could wait.  Besides, Willow said that she was always hungry after a night of love making with Oz, so it would just be there when they finished.

Angel tried to hide the disappointment he felt when Buffy pulled away from him.  He had been waiting, and waiting for his mate to overcome her fears of making love with him, and he had really thought that tonight might be the night.  She certainly looked as though she had an agenda already planed for the evening. Looking deep into his wife’s eyes, Angel spoke softly.

“I’m sorry my sweet.  I didn’t mean to get so carried away.”

Buffy just grinned.  Taking Angel’s large hand in hers she led him out of the kitchen and down the hallway towards their bedroom.  Stopping just outside the closed door, Buffy turned to face him.

“Close your eyes, and no peeking.”  She demanded.

“Buffy…love….you don’t have to do this.  It’s okay.”

With the heated feelings of desire raging through her body, Buffy stepped closer to Angel and repeated her request again.  This time adding more authority to her voice.

“Close your eyes, and no peeking!”

When Angel saw the devious smile cross her face, he realized that she was serious.  Not only did she ‘want’ him, but she wanted him in her way.  She was being assertive, and that was turning him on even more than that little black silk dress had.  Leaning down to meet her lips, Angel kissed them, the obvious need he felt transferring to her as he did.

“Anything you want.”  He whispered then closed his eyes.

Angel heard the soft click of the bedroom door, then the gentle tug on his hand from his mate.  He walked gingerly, trying to gage his steps to his memory of the room.  He really didn’t want to run into anything, or possibly knock something over and ruin the evening for both of them.  After just two steps into the room, Buffy halted his movements.  Leaning her back into his chest and wrapping his strong arms around her body she sighed at the sight, before remembering that Angel still had his eyes closed.  She began to giggle.

“Hey!  What’s so funny?”  Angel asked, a smile dancing across his face as well.

“You still have your eyes closed.”  Buffy answered tilting her head back so she could look up at him.

“You told me no peeking.  Remember?”  He teased.

“Okay, so open them.”

Angel slowly opened his eyes, trying to adjust to the light in the room.  Looking around, he noticed dozens of tiny candles lit everywhere.  The bed was made in his most expensive red silk sheets, with several vases full of the wildflowers scattered around the room.  Two sticks of vanilla incense were burning on the dresser with lavender petals tossed haphazardly on the floor. 

The scene was something close to what he figured was Heaven and the aroma floating throughout the room was both relaxing and arousing all at the same time.  Buffy turned in his arms so she could face him.

“You like?”

“Oh Buffy, this is….”  He paused as the appropriate words would not come to him.

“I take that as a yes?”

“Yes.  Definitely a yes.”  He answered.

Buffy smiled, proud of her accomplishments.  She stood on tiptoes again so she could more evenly reach her lover’s lips.  Cupping his face in her hands, she began her impassioned assault.  After all this time just waiting, Angel was suddenly overtaken by Buffy’s confidence and the obvious thought she had put into the evening.

With his fire raging dangerously out of control, Angel pulled away from Buffy’s embrace.  Frightened that he might not be able to stop himself once he started, stepping back, he looked away until he had a better grasp on his desires.

“Angel…What…what’s wrong?”  Buffy barely managed to squeak out, the tears of her disappointment welling dangerously close to the surface.

When Angel faced her again, he could see the distraught look on his beloved’s face.  He had hurt her feelings without even meaning to.  Taking that delicate heart she so generously offered up to him, he had thrown it to the ground and stomped it into pieces without even realizing he had done so.  Wiping at the tears that finally flooded down both cheeks, Angel began to apologize.

“Oh, Buffy.  This is beautiful.  So beautiful, just like you.”

“Then…what, what did I do?  Why don’t you want me?”  she choked out.

“No, my beloved.  I do want you.  That’s the problem.  I want you too much.  I’m just afraid that once I start, I won’t be able to stop until I have you, all of you.”  Angel answered honestly, pulling Buffy into his body as he did.  

“But Angel, that was the whole point to tonight.  I don’t want you to stop anymore.  All I want is you, all of you, and I want you to have all of me.  It’s okay, I’m ready for this.  I ‘want’ this.”  She assured him through her still teary eyes.

“You’re sure?”  He asked.

She nodded her assurance.

Sweeping his mate off her feet, Angel carried her the short distance to their bed.  Lying her gently on the soft sheets, he immediately covered her body with his.  Hungrily delving into the depths of her mouth, his tongue seeking out hers, he balanced his upper body expertly on one forearm, as he pulled at the delicate clip that held her beautiful golden locks hostage on top of her head.

When the clip gave way and her hair finally fell to one side, Angel released her lips, beginning his needy trail down her neck until he reached the last bits of skin still exposed above the neckline of her dress.  As his trails from one side of her heaving chest to the other continued, Buffy began to moan softly.  The heat that he was stirring within her coming to the surface.

Angel paused his ministrations briefly. 

Buffy’s eyes quickly snapped open at the loss of her lover’s gentle touch.  At Angel’s unspoken question, Buffy nodded.  She still very much wanted to make love to him.  Satisfied that she was in deed okay, Angel slowly began to lower the small spaghetti straps from Buffy’s shoulders, gliding them effortlessly down her arms.

Wanting to be an active participant in tonight’s new adventure, Buffy wiggled both arms out of the straps so that she was free to explore Angel’s broad chest.  Keeping in mind a few of the tips that Willow had shared with her about disrobing her lover, Buffy gracefully began unbuttoning the black cotton shirt that Angel had worn to the office that morning.

As his blonde Goddess finally undone the last button, Angel’s body tensed as her small, warm hands glided across his muscular chest.  Tracing a pattern known only to her, Buffy moved from each shoulder down, tracing an intricate design over his heart, then moving on to his abdomen, where she lingered for long moments before sliding her hands around to his back.

As his too long neglected member began to swell, so did Angel’s heated desires to have more of his wife.  Sliding the silky black dress the rest of the way down his mate’s slender body, Angel gasped at the sight of her in the delicate black lace undergarments she wore underneath.  He was ill prepared for the reality of seeing his sweet’s almost-nude body displayed before him.

Her eyes were filled with the want and desire he had been dreaming of, and her body language was screaming ‘take me’ to him.  Angel gave his love a mischievous grin as he leaned down to pepper kisses across her flat stomach.  Closing his eyes, he began to imagine how sexy this part of her body was going to look when she was with child.  Hopefully that would be soon.

Buffy’s heart rate increased with her breathing.  The gentle kisses from her mate was making her blood surge through her body at lightening speeds.  She urgently wanted more from him.  She needed more of him.  And as if her lover was reading her mind, Angel moved back up her body. 

Reaching under his beloved’s body, he easily unfasten the restraint that was keeping her voluptuous breasts from his gaze.  Tossing the small lace garment to the floor, Angel gently began to kneed one of her pert globes in his hand as he simultaneously began tracing slow torturous circles with his tongue around the edges of the other.  Finally, at Buffy’s moaning request, Angel suckled it, drawing it deep into the warm depths of his mouth.

Digging her nails into his back, Buffy let out a deep moan.  The feel of his hot mouth and tongue sucking needily on her breast was more than she could handle.  Moving back up her body for a quick but deeply impassioned kiss, Angel quickly shrugged off his shirt that had been hanging loosely on his arms.  Leaning back into his wife, he began teasing her neck with light kisses, enjoying the feel of her soft skin pressed snuggly against his own.

“I love you my sweet.”  Angel murmured in her ear between kisses.

Arching up into her mate’s body, Buffy purred the same endearment.  With her hands roaming wildly over her lover’s muscular form, she could begin to feel the wetness seeping from her center.  She realized that Angel was only trying to make her feel comfortable before he initiated her body further, but the growing need deep within her belly wasn’t wanting to wait.

Feeling the urgency radiating from Buffy, Angel released his embrace.  Kneeling above her now, he allowed his eyes to visually ravage her sleek form once more.

“An…gel..”  Buffy whined, wanting to feel her lover’s hard body pressed against hers again.

“Be patient my love.”  Angel cooed as he began removing the one remaining article of clothing that Buffy was still wearing.

When she felt the tiny lace panties slide down her legs, Buffy sucked in a deep breath.  It was as if all the weight she’d been carrying around with her had been lifted with that one bit of cloth.  It felt so good to be free.  Free from all the restraints of her life.  Finally free to enjoy the natural pleasures of her husband.

Angel gently nudged her slender legs apart with his hands, massaging the soft skin as he did.  Buffy closed her eyes tight at his touch.  The tingling sensation it was sending through her body delighted her.  It was within that glorious moment that Buffy felt Angel’s warm tongue dance across her nether lips.  The sweet moans of ecstasy wafted through the room.

Encouraged by Buffy’s immediate response to his ministrations, Angel continued his attentions to her dripping sex.  She was hot and wet and sweet to the smell and taste.  In any of his previous liaisons, Angel had never had anything so delectable.  It was as if the most desired dessert had been laid before him and all he could do was gluttony himself.

When it was obvious that the first wave of orgasm hat hit his mate, Angel knew that it was now time to progress in his actions.  Paying close attention with his tongue to Buffy’s swollen nub, Angel gently eased one finger, then a second into his mate’s tight passage.

“Oh God…Angel…yes.”  Buffy moaned while in the heat of her second orgasm.

Grasping the red silk sheets tightly in both hands, Buffy raised her hips to meet her lover’s talented mouth.  Her body shuddered as she came yet again.

As she finally began to calm from the storm of climaxes her body had never before endured, Buffy felt her husband rise from the bed.  Looking lazily through half shut eyes, she watched him carefully has he made quick haste of his pants, so that he could join her in her evening of bliss.

“I love you.”  she purred when he was once again hovering over her.

“And I you, my sweet.”

Kissing her firmly on the lips, Angel traced the silhouette of her body with his right hand, from the tip of her head to her hip, before moving it between their bodies so that he could help guide his painfully swollen member inside.

Knowing from her talks with Willow that there would be some pain before pleasure, Buffy lifted her head off the pillow, reaching for her lover’s lips.  She wanted to be lost in the ecstasy of Angel’s tender kisses.  Denying his mate nothing, Angel eagerly returned her neediness as he gently slid the tip of his sex inside. 

Realizing his next thrust would be the most painful, Angel slid his hand away from his love’s wet center to find the still swollen bud.  He began to massage.  Buffy’s arousal grew ten fold.  Between the anticipation of feeling her husband fill her with his length and the direct attention she was receiving from his talented hand, her need and want consumed her.

Angel pulled away from his wife’s lips to whisper his final words of endearment to her before he continued with their ultimate act as lovers.

“I love you, in this life and next.”

With his final words he felt Buffy’s body shudder in her fourth climax of the evening.  Thrusting forward while his beloved was still in the midst of orgasm, Angel finally found the fulfillment he had so eagerly anticipated. 

As he continued to slowly thrust in and out, words were not spoken between them.  They were simply not needed.  Fate had seen to it that they were brought together, and with time and circumstance, they learned what their souls had known from the beginning.  They were the other half of the one that they were together.  Looking into each other’s eyes, they simply ‘knew’ unequivocally what others so often had to say.

Angel fought to control his own need to find release, to sustain this ultimate pleasure for as long as possible, while Buffy was making it more difficult for him to do so.  As his thrusts quicken, so did her responses.  Since the initial pain of her first coupling subsided, Buffy was quickly falling into rhythm with her husband.  Arching her hips to meet Angel’s thrusts, she was now finding as much pleasure, if not more, than her mate.

When Buffy finally found her ultimate pleasure Angel could hold back no more.  Crying out his mate’s name, Angel finally found the release that he knew he had been waiting his entire lifetime for.  He had never found a pleasure comparable to this one.

Engulfing his mate’s small form, Angel rolled them over on the bed so Buffy’s sated body lie atop his own.  With her head resting on his chest, Angel smoothed her long golden locks away from her face.  Resting quietly for a moment, Buffy listened contently to her husband’s heartbeat resonating strongly into her ear.  Lightly tracing the well-defined muscle of Angel’s arm, Buffy quietly spoke.

“I’m sorry I kept you waiting so long.”

Angel kissed the top of Buffy’s head.

“There is nothing to be sorry for my sweet.  I would have waited a thousand lifetimes to experience that moment with you.”  Angel answered, hugging his wife a little tighter as he did.

Buffy lifted her head and smiled up at her husband.  She had never felt happier than in that very moment. 

“What about dinner?”  Buffy asked as an afterthought.

“All I want is you baby, just you.”  Angel answered honestly, leaning up he captured his beloved’s lips with his own.

Epilogue

Standing in her garden, Buffy took in her colorful surroundings as she watched her husband dutifully show their five-year-old son Connor how to properly care for his mother’s favorite flowers.  She smiled, grateful for the life she shared with Angel and the joys that having his child had brought her.

Tiring slightly, Buffy took a seat on the stone bench next to the lavender bush.  Inhaling deeply, the scent once again took her back to their first night together.  She treasured that memory.  Not only had it lifted a great weight from her shoulders, bringing she and Angel to the ultimate closeness a couple could share, but it was what had blessed both of them with Connor.  Unconsciously she began to rub her now protruding belly.  

“He’s such a cutie.” 

“Will, hey.”  Buffy greeted her best friend.  “I know, he thinks he’s such a big guy when he’s helping his dad.”

“Actually, I was talking about Angel.”  Willow replied with a devilish grin.

“Hey now, you have your own cutie to oogle.”  Buffy replied playfully. 

“Speaking of, where is Oz?”

“Oh, he took Jordy down to the market.  Shopping there suits them much more than it does me.  Besides, I had some news to bring you.”

“I don’t suppose said news has anything to do with the extraction of the kicking wonder inside of me does it?”

“Sorry.  You and Gracie are going to have to work that departure time out between yourselves.”  Willow answered with an amused smile.  Buffy had been confiding to her for the past couple of weeks that the young one that she was now carrying was most definitely a girl, who was intent on kicking her way out. 

“Yeah well…”  Buffy trailed her words.

“Anyway, my news.”  Willow continued with a smile, “The Council met this morning.”

“And?”  Buffy prodded.

“And, Angel has been elected to be Giles’ replacement as Council President.”

“That it?”  Buffy asked quizzically.  She knew that Angel had been confident that he would be elected to take over for Giles who had decided to step down from his elected office to spend more time with Jenny, so that wasn’t much of a surprise.  She was actually hoping that Willow had some other ‘news’ for her.

“Hmmm…let me think.  Yeah.  I think that’s it.”  Willow answered evenly as she took a seat on the bench next to her friend as they continued to watch Angel and Connor.

“Oh.”  Buffy sighed.  A hint of disappointment evident in her response.

“Well, there was ‘one’ other bit of news from the Council meeting.”  Willow added as if an afterthought.

Buffy raised an eyebrow.  Her interest now piqued.  An evil grin began to form on Willow’s face as she continued to avoid her best friend’s stare.  She knew that ‘this’ news was what Buffy really wanted to hear, but they had a habit of torturing each other by holding out information, just for fun of course.

“Spill it Will.  I want to know if she got it or not!”  Buffy demanded, finally having all she could take of the redhead’s refusal to voluntarily give up the information.

“Okay, okay.”  Willow replied as she turned to face her friend.

“The Council voted nine to nothing to keep her at the Asylum for the duration of her lifetime.  They didn’t feel that it would be wise to have her walking the streets, especially since Angel will be taking over the presidency.”    The redhead concluded.

A smug grin crept across Buffy’s face.  This was definitely good news.  She had waited well over a year to hear this, and had spent countless nights worrying that Darla would once again be allowed to roam free. 

After Darla’s vicious attack on Angel that had left him confined to bed for most of Connor’s second year of life, Buffy was relieved that the ordeal was finally over.  As the birth of their second child rapidly approached, she could finally breath a sigh of relief.  Darla and that whole mess was done with, well almost.

“What about William?”  Buffy asked when her mental musings about Darla’s fate ended.

“The Council found that since he had cooperated fully with their investigation that leniency was only fair.”  Willow answered.

“So, what does that mean?”  Buffy asked, not sure that her idea of fair and the Council’s idea of fair were the same.

“His punishment for his part in Darla’s attack on Angel and yourself requires that he be stripped of his title as ‘God of War’ and all power that had accompanied it.  He has also been resigned to live out the remainder of his life at the Work Farm, where he will be allowed only supervised visits with any outsider and shall have absolutely no contact with Angel, you or anyone in your family.”  Willow replied, proud that she had been instrumental in William’s strict punishment.

As one of the eight members of Council, aside from the President, Willow had argued tooth and nail for both Darla and William’s sentencing.  She had seen firsthand the impact that the attack had had on both Angel and Buffy, and felt that it was her duty, not only as a friend, but as a leader within the community to seek the ultimate punishments for both parties.

Buffy took Willow’s hand in hers, squeezing it tightly she smiled her ‘thank you’.  No words needed to pass between the two friends.

“So, what’s on tap for the rest of your day?”  Buffy asked after several long minutes of silence.

“Xander invited us to diner.  Apparently Crapdelia, I mean Cordelia, has learned to cook.”  Willow answered with the usual enthusiasm she showed when Xander’s wife was mentioned.

“Well, have fun.”  Buffy replied, trying to suppress a giggle.  She knew that Willow only tolerated Cordelia’s existence because she had been longtime friends with Xander. 

“Yeah.  I’m sure it’ll be great.  Hey, I know, You, Angel and Connor could come with us.  I’m sure Xander wouldn’t mind, and you could make sure that I don’t accidentally use my salad fork as a deadly weapon.”

“Sorry Will, you’re on your own tonight.  Angel’s cooking, and I plan on kicking back and relaxing.  With Connor starting classes at the IoK next week, and Angel’s new position as the Council’s President, I need a few days to just enjoy the peace that we have together.  Well, at least the peace that we’ll have for a few more days anyway.”  Buffy answered honestly.

“Not to mention the pending arrival of Gracie.  Babies always have a way of turning your life completely upside down.”  The redhead added.

“No kidding.”  Buffy said with a smile.  Though she knew how utterly right her friend was, she was still more than excited about the arrival of her second child.

“Well, I need to go…diner and all, but take care of yourself.  Oh, and tell the cutie if he wants to take care of my flowers, I’ll let him.”  Willow said with a smile as she rose from the bench to leave.

“I thought I told you Angel was off limits.”  Buffy teased.

“I was talking about Connor.”  Willow answered.  She gave Buffy a playful wink as she walked away.

Buffy shook her head and turned back to admire her family.  She certainly was lucky.  Never in her wildest dreams as a child could she have envisioned such a life for herself.  She was married to the most wonderful man in all the universe and had experienced the joy of having his child with their second one on its way.  She had a best friend like no other, and had even managed to mend the fences with her family.

Allowing her parents and sister back into her life had not been something that had come easily as she had little respect left for them, her father especially, but with a great deal of intervening from Giles and Jenny, she had eventually gave in to their sincere apologies. 

And with the merging of the Kingdom and the City into one equal New Community, Angel had managed to forge a respectable relationship with his father as well.  Buffy had to admit that she was more than thankful for that, as Liam had been a great deal of help to her and Connor when Angel was recuperating from Darla’s attack.

Buffy’s musings were short lived as her son demanded her attention.

“Mama!  Mama!  Flowers for you.  They’re bunnysuckle.”  Connor exclaimed proudly as he handed Buffy the small bunch of flowers.

“Honeysuckle Connor.”  Angel corrected with a grin.

“That’s what I said!”  Connor replied, exasperated that his father had corrected him for no reason.

“Thank you sweetheart.  They’re beautiful.”  Buffy said, taking in the sweet aroma of the flowers.

“Hey,  Bunnyfly!”  Connor screeched as he pointed to the colorful creature fluttering in the distance.

“Butterfly Connor.” 

“That’s what I said!  Gods daddy can’t you ‘ear?”  Connor shot back before running after the floating rainbow that was dancing in the cool afternoon breeze.

“Hear Connor, it’s h..h..hear.”  Angel yelled after his son.  He simply received a annoyed look from the youngster for his efforts.

Angel turned his attention to his voluptuous wife who was sitting with one arm draped unceremoniously over her swollen stomach and the smile of a Cheshire cat on her face.

“What?” 

“Nothing.”  Buffy answered with a teasing grin.

“Now, you don’t have nothing face.  You definitely have something face.”  Angel retorted, sitting down next to his wife, pulling her unusually large form snug into his body.
“I was just thinking how lucky I was to have you and Connor.  I’m so happy Angel.  I never imagined life could be so good.  I finally have the home and family I’d always dreamed of.”  She answered truthfully.  Those thoughts always brought a huge smile to her face.

“I’m the lucky one my sweet.”  Angel responded, planting a soft kiss on the top of his wife’s head.

For long moments they sat in companionable silence, just enjoying the other’s presence. 

“Willow stopped by.”  Buffy finally said.

“I saw her.”  Angel answered evenly, knowing that the redhead had probably brought news of the Council’s morning meeting with her.

“She said that the Council unanimously voted to elect you as Giles’ replacement.”

“Good, I’m glad.  I’ll do my best to make you proud.”  Angel answered, hugging his wife to him tighter knowing that wasn’t all that the Council had to vote on today.

Buffy paused.  She knew that Angel was aware of what else had to be voted on today besides his election, but she didn’t know exactly how to broach the subject.  Angel had been completely honest with her about his past, including Darla, the night after they had made love for the first time, so Darla’s later attack and his brother’s involvement in it had not come as a total shock to either of them.  But it still remained something that neither Buffy nor Angel liked to bring up unless necessary.

“Its okay Buffy, you can tell me about Darla and Spike.”  Angel said, breaking the ice for his wife.

Repeating what Willow had told her earlier, Buffy explained to her husband the Council’s decision.  Relieved that she had made it through the explanation without breaking down as the thoughts of those many months when her husband lie injured in their bed flooded her, Buffy sighed.

Sensing the weight that had been lifted from both of their bodies with this news Angel shifted his wife in his arms so she was facing him.  He looked deep into the emerald pools that were Buffy’s eyes, before leaning in to kiss her passionately.   As the two soulmates nipped at each other’s lips and dueled their tongues for playful dominance the rest of the world seem to slip away.  It was just the two of them.  For a moment anyway.

“Ewww!  That’s ‘ross!”  Connor interrupted.

Buffy and Angel looked up at their son sheepishly, somewhat embarrassed that they had been caught in such a passionate moment by their young son.

“Gross Connor.”  Angel tried correcting his son again.

“That’s what I said!”

With the look that Connor was shooting his father Buffy couldn’t help but laugh.  He looked so cute.  Angel soon followed suit with his wife as the cuteness of his son finally got to him as well.  Not to be outdone, Connor joyfully began rolling on the green grass in front of his parents laughing wildly. 

It was a scene to match no others.  Two individuals who had wanted nothing more as children than to be a part of such a family were finally able to share one of their own with each other. 

* * * * *

In case anyone is interested, Angel took over as Council President the following week.  He divides his time between Council Headquarters and his office at the IoK, but prefers to spend the majority of his time with his beautiful wife and family. 

Connor began his studies at the IoK that same week along with his best friend Jordy.  The boys are progressing nicely, at least according to their new teacher Cassie who seems to have an overload of patients when dealing with the ‘partners in crime’ as Oz affectionately refers to them. 

Buffy gave birth two short weeks later to a little girl.  They named her Gracie after Angel’s deceased mother.  Buffy and Gracie are enjoying their quiet days at home, preferring to catch up on their beauty sleep while Angel and Connor are out. 

Willow Rosenburg spends much of her time in the same way as Angel.  As a member of the Council she divides her time between her duties there and her job as a teacher at the IoK.  Her husband Oz cares for their son Jordy and continues to do whatever it was that he was doing to begin with.

Winifred, the quiet owner of the herb shop still maintains her business and her friendship with Willow and Buffy.  She has not found a significant other at this time.

After Giles’ retirement from the Council, he has been spending the abundance of his time with his wife Jenny.  The two occasionally indulge their adopted grandsons Connor and Jordy in a day at the park with a picnic lunch. 

Both Buffy’s parents and Angel’s father are doing what they can to make up for the lost time they had with their children.  Spoiling their grandchildren has been a big part of the plan.

Buffy’s sister Dawn is now attending the IoK.  She one day wishes to teach there.

Xander Harris still runs his building company while his wife Cordelia continues to own and operate ‘Chase’s’ clothing store.  No children are in their immediate future.

Riley seems to have disappeared into the vast Universe somewhere.  He hasn’t been seen since Buffy’s marriage to Angel was made known.

Darla spends most of her days and nights locked in her nice padded room at the Asylum.  She continues to claim that William is responsible for the attack on Angel and that she was simply a by standard.  Her doctor has deemed her mentally insane.

William spends his days at the Work Farm in chains tending to the New Community’s animal population.  It is rumored that he has a seductive looking dark haired visitor once a month.  No one at the Work Farm is officially allowed to comment.


The End!

The Challenge
AU Everyone’s a God or Goddess.
Buffy is the goddess of family and home.
Riley and Spike must compete for Buffy’s love.
Buffy makes a wish to ******** to keep her virginity forever (therefore she can’t marry or be with Riley or Spike)
Angel falls in love with Buffy.
Buffy hates Angel at first, (they have to have at lest one fight).
Some time after the fight they have to fall in love.
Buffy asks ********* if she can take back her wish. (Whatever you want to do here is fine, if ******** doesn’t want to give back the forever part then you have to find away around it).
Buffy is afraid to give up her virginity when they get married.
They have to get married, and have at least one child.
Story rating should be NC-17.
You can add any other couples you like to the story I don’t care. Any other characters you use if they are gods or goddesses have to be the gods of something. Challenge issued by Rozlyn14.