Alternate Universe: Unexpected
Story Title: I Run to You
Chapter Title:




Time line:

July, 2004



Joshua "JJ" Harris was born on April 21st, 2004

The twins (Danielle, "Dani" and William, "Billy") were born on February 12th, 2004

Annie turned five on February 14th (she was born in 1999)

Spike and Buffy have been married five years in February. (seems longer, doesn't it?)

Buffy turned 23 on January 19th.


All the Potentials were endowed with full Slayer power in February 2003.

Buffy and Spike learned of the other dimensions in May, 2003.



Angel’s back in Sunnydale … what will Spike do when Buffy tells him?  Will Buffy tell him?


Notes: Heartfelt thanks to my "ET" and wonderful Beta, PaganBaby, for her wonderful suggestions, much needed corrections and always appreciated encouragement!!  


Music Referenced:

Honesty, by Billy Joel



ScreenCaps courtesy of ScreenCap Paradise:


Rating / Warnings:

NC17. Content is only suitable for mature adults. Contains explicit language, sex, adult themes and other adult situations that some people may find objectionable. If you are under the age of 17 or find any of these themes objectionable – GO AWAY. Parents, it is up to YOU to control what your children are reading.

  If you search for tenderness
It isn't hard to find
You can have the love you need to live

But if you look for truthfulness
You might just as well be blind
It always seems to be so hard to give

Honesty is such a lonely word
Everyone is so untrue
Honesty is hardly ever heard
And mostly what I need from you

I can always find someone
To say they sympathize
If I wear my heart out on my sleeve

But I don't want some pretty face
To tell me pretty lies
All I want is someone to believe

Honesty is such a lonely word
Everyone is so untrue
Honesty is hardly ever heard
And mostly what I need from you

I can find a lover
I can find a friend
I can have security
Until the bitter end

Anyone can comfort me
With promises again
I know, I know

When I'm deep inside of me
Don't be too concerned
I won't ask for nothin' while I'm gone

But when I want sincerity
Tell me where else can I turn
'Cause you're the one that I depend upon

Honesty is such a lonely word
Everyone is so untrue
Honesty is hardly ever heard
And mostly what I need from you



Thursday, July 22nd, 2004


Buffy left Angel in the storeroom in the basement of the high school and rushed home. She dropped her clothes in a garbage bag and tied it up tightly then jumped in the shower and scrubbed head to toe with every type of scented soap she had in the bathroom.  She hoped it would be enough to keep Spike from smelling Angel on her … she had to find a way to tell him, but Spike smelling him wasn’t the way.


After her shower, she took the garbage bag that held her clothes outside and put them in the neighbor’s garbage can in the alley.  She was sitting in the kitchen eating a bowl of ice cream when Spike came in from his poker game.


“Hey,” Buffy called lightly as he walked into the kitchen. “Didya win?”


“’Course … them gits think they can cheat a cheater … bloody pathetic it is,” Spike told her with a grin as he reached down and took a spoonful of ice cream for himself.


“Hey! Mine!” Buffy exclaimed in mock anger, pulling the bowl closer to her.


Spike lifted her up out of her seat and held her against him as he dropped his mouth against her neck and covered his bite marks with his lips. “Mine,” he murmured against her neck as he outlined the scar with his tongue.


Buffy held her breath momentarily, but when he didn’t seem to notice anything unusual, she moaned and dropped her head to the side to give him access to her whole neck.


“Mine,” she mimicked as she wrapped her arms around his neck.


“Mama …” Annie called sleepily from the doorway and Buffy and Spike both nearly jumped out of their skin.


“Annie, honey – what are you doing up at this hour?” Buffy asked as soon as her heart dropped out of her throat.


“Thirsty …” Annie mumbled, holding her empty glass up as she staggered sleepily into the kitchen.


Buffy got her a drink of water and sent her back to bed, assuring her that one of them would be up in a minute to tuck her back in.


“Did you get a whiff of the neighbor’s trash bin?” Spike asked as he got himself a beer out of the fridge and sat down at the table with Buffy. “Smells like week old rotten fish …”


Shit! Buffy thought as she concentrated intently on her ice cream bowl and tried to keep her heart rate steady.  “Uhh…no, I generally don’t go around smelling the neighbor’s garbage …” she told him before taking another bite of her ice cream.


Spike rolled his eyes. “Neither do I, pet … but sometimes …” Spike dropped it, that’s not really what he wanted to talk to Buffy about, anyway. It had been long enough since that silly dream … it was time to ask her about getting the Gem of Amarra off the poof’s finger.  With everyone else in the house (hopefully) asleep, now would be a good time to discuss it with her … rationally and without interruption.


“Buffy … ya know you said you wished I do less ‘couch potato’ things with the Niblett, yeah?” Spike started.


“Yeah …” Buffy said slowly, wondering where this was headed. She hoped he wasn’t going to suggest giving their daughter more driving lessons.


“Well, I got an idea on that …” Spike started, taking a sip of his beer. “Well, the thing is … if we were to get the Gem of Amarra back from the poof … Glinda and Red think they can embed it in m’ body, permanent like.  Then, we could just let Clem spread it around that I Shanshued and no one will know any different.”


“Just where in your body are you gonna embed it?” Buffy asked with raised brows, glancing down at his crotch then back up again.


“Not there! Bloody hell! It ain’t a family jewel! That hurts just thinkin’ ‘bout it!” Spike exclaimed pressing his legs together to protect his dangly bits from that idea.


Buffy laughed and took another bite of ice cream while she thought. More coincidences …


“You do know where Peaches is, don’t ya?” Spike asked her.


“Ummm … yeah, pretty sure I can find him,” Buffy hedged.


“So, we get a boat … strap some weights on me … drop me down and I get the bloody thing off him,” Spike suggested.


“And what, just leave Angel at the bottom?” Buffy asked him, knowing the answer already.


“’Course … what else would you have done?” Spike asked, afraid he knew what her answer would be.  He hadn’t waited long enough, apparently.


“Well … don’t you think he’s been down there long enough? I mean, he’s probably learned his lesson by now … maybe we could, you know, bring him up,” Buffy said with a shrug, trying to sound nonchalant.


“That dream wasn’t real,” Spike assured her, taking another sip of his beer.


Buffy looked across the table into his eyes. “I think it was,” she said softly. She didn’t want to argue about this …


Spike pursed his lips together. “How many times are you gonna let the PTB jerk us around?”


“Spike, it was Annie!”


“It was bollocks!” he exclaimed, as he stood up and began pacing across the floor. He really didn’t want to argue about this …


“What if it isn’t ‘bollocks’?” Buffy questioned, following his movements with her eyes. “Are you willing to bet her life on that?”


“Yeah – ‘cause it’s them playing favorites again … wanting their favored son back in the mix – that’s all it is,” Spike tried to convince her. “It’s a bluff …


“Listen … you said it was at the Espresso Pump, yeah?” Spike asked, changing tactics.


“Yeah …”


“Then it’s simple, we just make sure they never go in that place … their coffee ain’t that good, anyhow …” Spike suggested.


Buffy sighed. “Spike, you know it doesn’t work that way.  The warning is real … trying to change things by avoiding that particular place will just change where it happens, it won’t stop it.


“Whether it’s a fire escape in L.A. or a rickety tower built by crazy people in Sunnydale … the place didn’t change the outcome …” Buffy reminded him and he rolled his eyes.


Buffy blew out a long breath and shook her head. She’d never get Spike to understand how she knew that it was real … she didn’t understand fully, herself – it was a feeling in her gut, in her heart, at her core, and she couldn’t ignore it. 


She wished she could bring Spike into the dream with her, but the only Slayer dream he’d ever joined her in was the one about him saving Annie while Buffy went over the edge of the abyss – or the fire escape, as it turned out.  Buffy assumed he was in that one because he was actually part of the dream … not an outsider looking in.


“This isn’t tabby cats you’re gambling with Spike, it’s Annie and JJ. It’s our daughter’s life. Do you hate Angel that much?”


“You don’t know Angel like I do … Angelus like I do,” Spike assured her. “You think I never stop, never give up? Where do you think I learned that? Not from Dru … not from Darla … from Angelus. He’ll never give you up, luv … never stop fucking with us until he has what he wants, which will always be you, regardless of what Vision Girl says.


“Buffy, please … let’s not quarrel over this … I don’t want to fight, pet,” Spike told her as he stopped pacing and knelt down beside her.


“I don’t want to fight, either,” Buffy said quietly as she stirred her ice cream absentmindedly.  She raised her eyes from her bowl and met his. “Please believe me when I tell you that the dream was real – Annie and JJ will be in danger – mortal danger, Angel will save them.”


“Fine …” Spike started and Buffy’s hopes expanded. “It was twenty years in the future, yeah? We’ll let his sorry ass out in, oh, say, nineteen years from now … then drop him back under when the deed is done.”


“Spiiike,” Buffy whined, rolling her eyes.  She should’ve known that was too easy.


Spike sat back down in his seat and took another sip of his beer as he watched her stir her ice cream intently.  She seemed to have more on her mind than just this … first of all, she was playing with rocky road ice cream instead of eating it.


“What?” he asked her.


“What what?” Buffy responded, looking up at him.


“There’s something else on your mind, pet … I can see the little wheels turnin’ in there,” Spike said, making circles on his forehead with an index finger.


Buffy smiled and rolled her eyes. God, it sucked having him as her husband sometimes … he could read her like a book so often.  Of course, that talent was oftentimes beneficial, too.


Buffy looked back down at her rapidly melting bowl of ice cream and said, “What if Angel showed up one day … on our doorstep, asking for help.”  She looked up from her bowl to meet Spike’s eyes before asking, “What would you do?”


Spike raised his brows, then narrowed his eyes and considered her. “What ‘ave you done?”


“Me? Done? I haven’t done anything – it’s just a hypothetical question …” Buffy felt her heart start to race … this was not going well.


“Well, then, hypothetically … I’d take m’ ring off his bloody finger and dust his hypothetical ass,” Spike told her with a smirk. “’Cause that dream is bollocks.”


Buffy nodded slowly. “Yeah, that’s what I figured … hypothetically,” she muttered more to herself than him as she looked back down at her bowl. She was suddenly not hungry anymore.  Rock, meet hard place.


“What if he was … I don’t know – different?  Maybe he didn’t remember doing that stuff to us … didn’t remember us at all,” Buffy ventured. “Maybe he didn’t even remember that he was a vampire.”


“Where is this comin’ from? Another dream, is it?” Spike asked suspiciously, cocking a brow at her.


“Something like that …” Buffy hedged again. She hated lying to Spike, but until she could find a way to convince him that Angel needed to stay un-dusty, she didn’t feel like she had any choice.


Spike sighed heavily and shook his head.  These dreams from the PTB were pure bollocks; nothing more than them manipulating Buffy to make her help the big poof.  All Spike wanted was the ring back – isn’t that what this conversation had started out as? How did it get so turned around and off topic?


“Well, that’s different, innit? If Angel didn’t remember bein’ a vampire …” Spike started, his voice sounding almost sympathetic, “… then it would make it that much easier to get my ring back and dust him,” he finished with a smirk.


Buffy rolled her eyes and stabbed her spoon at her ice cream.  This wasn’t working at all.


“So,” Buffy started, changing the subject, “did you win enough to buy out Ghirardelli’s? Is a trip to San Fran in order?”


Spike sighed at her obvious change of subject. He’d just have to bring it up again later … maybe in another few days when that Angel dream crap faded more …


“Not quite yet, Slayer … give me time.  You know, once I start somethin’ I don’t stop ‘til it’s finished.”


“Seems to me you’d started something earlier and didn’t finish,” Buffy pointed out, as she brushed her hair back and tilted her head to the side, reveling her neck to him.


“Did I now?” Spike smirked as he stood up and moved behind her.


“Well, I’ll just have to fix that, I reckon,” he told her as he dropped his lips against her neck and picked up where he left off earlier.




Buffy was standing on the sidewalk across the street from the Espresso Pump – it was dark out and the small, silent cars drove slowly past.  She looked down the street towards the movie theatre … she could just see Annie and JJ coming out and starting down the sidewalk towards the café.


Buffy crossed the street and started looking around at the patrons in the small place. No one seemed particularly suspicious or nervous looking to her – she didn’t recognize anyone, either.  Where’s Angel? she wondered silently as she walked towards the back door that led to the alley.


As she approached the door, she saw Angel holding it open just a few inches and looking inside.  He touched his ear and then started talking – seemingly to no one.


“They aren’t here! Are you sure this is the place?” he said, his eyes wandering over the café through the crack in the door.


Who the fuck is he talking to? Buffy wondered as she moved closer to him, but stayed off to one side where she could watch without being in the way.


“Ok, Cordy … you don’t need to scream! Vampire, remember?” Angel said. “These ear bud things aren’t really made for vampire hearing … I think they were designed by bored, evil warlocks as torture devices …”


“Yes … yes, I’m looking,” Angel continued with a sigh as he scanned the patrons.


“No, I’m not calling them … It’ll just get Spike all riled up again. I can handle it myself,” Angel told Cordy, as he continued to look over the customers as they sipped their coffee and snacked on sweets.


“Wait! There they are. Ok, gotta go – yeah, I’ll be careful – as long as they don’t have wooden bullets, I should be fine,” Angel said before touching his ear again, opening the back door fully, and stepping inside.


He looked like the old Angel – strong and healthy, not a hair out of place, lucid, and un-smelly. It was a sharp contrast to the Angel Buffy had stashed in the basement of the high school a few hours ago.


Buffy watched Angel move slowly between the tables, he was looking at each patron as he passed – looking for the gun or the shooter, she surmised.


Suddenly, shots rang out from behind Buffy. She ducked and covered her ears, but kept her eyes open. Before she even heard the first shot, Angel leapt across a table towards the table where Annie and JJ had just sat down.  He spread his arms and grabbed them both, pulling them against his chest so that his body was between them and the bullets.


Buffy saw blood spatter in all directions as the shots hit Angel’s back. His momentum took him crashing down atop JJ and Annie as the table they were sitting at toppled over and they all hit the floor.


Buffy turned to see who was shooting, but only caught a glimpse as he ran out the back door that Angel had just come in a few seconds before. The shooting itself seemed to have been in slow motion, but suddenly everything sped up – people were screaming and running, trying to get out. She could hear Annie crying and screaming and JJ cussing as they tried to get out from under Angel.


Buffy rushed over and pulled Angel off them, rolling him onto his back as she’d done before in the previous dream.  Angel moaned when his back hit the floor.


“Angel!” Buffy called, trying to get him to focus.


“Buffy …” Angel moaned, trying to focus his eyes through the pain that was shooting through his body from the bullets.


“Angel – who was shooting? Who’s the shooter?” Buffy asked him.


Angel rolled his head from side to side. “Don’t know … just a vision of Annie getting shot … here … now …” he told her, his body writhing in pain.


Buffy looked down at his hand … the Gem of Amarra wasn’t on his finger any longer. “God, Angel …”




Buffy woke with a jerk in Spike’s arms.


“Wha-what is it?” Spike asked sleepily when he felt her move.


“Nothing … just … just one of those falling dreams,” she lied as she cuddled up closer to him and pulled his arm across her body.  “Go back to sleep.”


Spike pulled her closer to him, spooning against her back with a strong arm around her and moaned his agreement to that suggestion.


Buffy laid awake for a long time, running the dream over and over in her mind.  She still didn’t know who the shooter was, but she did know that it was Cordy having a vision that brought Angel there.  It didn’t sound like much had changed between Angel and Spike in the next twenty years … Angel calling would still rile Spike up, apparently.


She wished the PTB would send her a dream to tell her how to convince Spike that helping Angel now would save their daughter’s … and JJ’s, life, in the future.




Friday, July 23rd, 2004


After dropping Annie off at pre-school the next morning, Buffy stopped at the butcher again for more blood.  She shook her head at the now familiar sign on the door as she entered the shop, “You can beat our prices, but you can’t beat our meat,” it read.  She wondered silently who came up with their marketing slogans … Larry Flynt?


She parked about a block away from the high school and went down into the sewers, following them to the basement of the school.  She didn’t want to get stopped walking through the school with containers of pig’s blood – although she was sure that the students probably carried worse things with them, she didn’t feel like trying to explain it to Principal Snyder.  She had enough trouble explaining things to Annie’s teacher …


“Angel … umm, Liam?” Buffy called softly as she knocked on the door of the storeroom where she’d left him.  When she got no response, she opened the door to find an empty room.


“Fuck,” she muttered half under her breath as she set the blood down and went back into the hallway.


“Liam?” she called turning one way then the other, looking around the dark area.  If he was hiding down here, it would take forever to find him. Spike would start to wonder what happened to her – and she needed to remember to not actually touch Angel if she could avoid it this morning.


“Liam?” she repeated as she started moving slowly around the area.  Buffy sighed deeply when she got no response. She couldn’t have him out wandering the halls of the high school, summer school was in session … and she preferred he not roam the streets of the town, either.


She closed her eyes and tried to feel him – she’d honestly nearly forgotten what Angel felt like to her Slayer senses – but hopefully, any vampire tinglies that she got would be him, not some other random vampire taking up residence in the school.


Buffy started moving when she got a faint tingle down her spine.  It grew stronger as she neared one of the stairways that led to an exterior door.  Christ, he’s outside.


She nearly knocked him down with the door when she opened it and stepped out into the light.


“Ang …Liam, what are you doing? I told you to stay in your room,” Buffy scolded him, using her best ‘Mom’ voice. 


Angel caught his balance against the door facing and turned back towards the sun.


“Sun warm,” he said simply, closing his eyes and lifting his face to it.


Buffy sighed. “Ang … damn it,” she muttered. “Liam,” she started over, “I brought you more blood – you need to come back inside and eat.”


When he didn’t move, she added. “People will see you out here – you know, those bad people …”


Angel’s eyes went wide and he started looking around the area.  There was no one around on the east side of the school just then, but if the girl said there were bad people here, he needed to trust her. She hadn’t led him astray so far.


“C’mon, let’s go back in,” Buffy suggested, holding the door open for him, being careful to not actually touch him.


Buffy left Angel back in his room with a stern warning about coming out where the bad people could see him. She hated doing that to him, scaring him, but she had to keep him hidden until … until what? Until he was lucid and had his memory back? Until she could convince Spike that her dream was real and they needed to help Angel? Who knew how long either of those tasks would take…




Buffy!! Buffy, come down here! Buffy heard Spike calling her through their bond later that afternoon.  She was upstairs getting dressed to go shopping and Spike was in the basement with all the kids.  He and Annie played video games for a while almost every afternoon when she got home from preschool and he set up the babies’ playpen down there, too, so they could all be couch potatoes together.


“What is it?” Buffy asked as she descended the stairs into the “Potato Cave” as she had started to call it.


“Listen! Junior said, ‘Papa’!” Spike told her enthusiastically as he picked Billy up out of the playpen.


“C’mon now … ‘Papa’s Big Bad’,” Spike urged his son.


Buffy raised her brows and folded her arms across her chest. “Spike, he’s five months old … he didn’t say ‘Papa’,” she informed him.


“Bloody hell he didn’t! Tell ‘er, Niblett!” Spike turned to Annie who was sitting in front of the video game still playing.


“Uh-huh,” she confirmed, not taking her attention off the game.


“C’mon, Junior … ‘Papa’s Big Bad’,” Spike repeated and Billy laughed and started making random sounds … including “pa-pa”.


“THERE! Didya hear it? ‘Papa’, clear as day!” Spike smiled and tickled his son’s tummy causing his son to laugh and reach for Spike’s nose with his small hand.


Buffy rolled her eyes. “Yeah, and I heard ‘ga-ga’ and ‘do-do’ in there too …”


“Your mum’s a party pooper,” Spike told Billy as he sat him back down in the playpen with Dani. “Killjoy’s what she is.”


Buffy rolled her eyes again and sighed, dropping her arms down to her sides. She walked over to Spike and put her arms around his neck. “You’re right – I’m sorry.  I did hear it clear as day … he said, ‘Papa’s Big Bad’,” she told him with a smile.


“Too bad he had his fingers crossed when he said it …” Buffy giggled and dropped a quick kiss on Spike’s lips before releasing him and heading back for the stairs.


“I’m going to Kohl’s … they’ve got a BOGO sale on boots,” she told him.


Spike raised his brows. “A sale on go-go boots? Why, Slayer … you’d look right fetchin’ in …”


“NOT go-go boots … a BOGO sale on boots,” Buffy interrupted him, shaking her head. “What happened to that vampire hearing?


“I’ll be back after a while … you guys are ok, right?”


“We’re brilliant,” Spike told her. “I still say you’d be fetching in a miniskirt … maybe with some fringe, and go-go boots … sixties night is comin’ up, ya know.”


Buffy laughed and continued up the stairs. “I’ll keep that in mind …”




Buffy pulled her car into Wally World’s parking lot.  She figured she had a good two and a half hours – she could get Angel some blood, get him cleaned up, and get back home in that time without too much of a problem. But she needed some clothes for Angel to change into – and Wal-Mart was the closest store.


She headed to the men’s department and began pulling out black jeans in Spike’s size before remembering she wasn’t shopping for Spike.  She put the jeans back and went over to the display of slacks – the smallest size they had was a twenty-eight waist … she hoped that was small enough for Angel.  She grabbed a couple of pairs of slacks, a couple of button down, black, long sleeved shirts, a pack of undershirts and underwear and some socks before heading to the shoe department.


What size shoe does Angel wear? she wondered silently as she looked at the selection.  She blew out a long breath and picked up an eleven and a twelve – surely one of those would fit. On her way out of the men’s department, she grabbed a belt, just in case the pants were too big.


Then she ran to the toiletries department and gathered up soap, shaving cream, razors, shampoo, toothbrush and toothpaste … This was getting more complicated than she’d originally thought, she looked at her watch – she’d already used forty-five minutes of her two and a half hours and hadn’t even started on the hard part yet. 


Oh God … hair gel … and scissors, she thought as she hurried around the store trying to get everything she’d need.


After Wal-Mart, she headed to Willy’s Bar.  She parked her car around back and came in the back door.


“Slayer!” Willy called, shoving something under the counter quickly. “Spike’s not here.”


“I know,” Buffy told him with a roll of her eyes. “I need some of your good stuff.”


Patrón?” Willy asked her, reaching for a bottle of tequila.


“Nooo … the really good stuff,” Buffy said, looking up at refrigerated top shelf behind him.




“Are you always this dense?” Buffy asked with an exasperated sigh. “I know you have human blood up there – I need four quarts.”


Buffy knew that Angel could survive on pig’s blood … but she needed to do anything she could … or nearly anything, to get him better as fast as possible, and human blood was the second best thing she could give him.


Her own blood would’ve been the best, but she wasn’t willing to go that far.  It was bad enough having to lie to Spike about Angel being here and her helping him – giving him her blood would be tantamount to sleeping with him – perhaps worse in Spike’s eyes. She wouldn’t go there – at least not before trying every other option first.


Buffy was sure what Spike had done to Angel before when he thought she had slept with his grand-sire would be nothing compared to what he’d do now.  It was bad enough that she was helping Angel at all (and lying to Spike), she didn’t need to give Spike anything further to fuel his temper by giving Angel her blood.


“Human?” Willy asked, shaking his head. “No … no Slayer, don’t got no human …”


Buffy grabbed Willy by the throat and stopped him.  “I don’t have time for games. Four quarts. Human. Now.”


“Oh…human! Why didn’t you say so?” Willy asked her when she released him.  He rubbed his throat and stepped up on a stool to reach the top shelf.  “A Neg do ya? I’m fresh out of O.”


“Fine,” Buffy agreed.


“Spike’s tab is $98.72 … plus the ‘good stuff’ here … that’ll be $200,” Willy told her hopefully.


Buffy raised her brows. “How much?!”


“Uhhh … I mean, um, $150?” Willy balked.


When Buffy just looked at him he shrugged and blew out a breath. “Fine … $98.72 … and the good stuff’s on me …”


“That’s what I thought you said … since that liquor license doesn’t cover plasma.” Buffy laid a $100 bill on the bar to cover Spike’s tab.  Not that Spike couldn’t pay it himself, but it was just a habit of his to not pay it very frequently.


Buffy held up another twenty dollar bill. “And don’t mention this to Spike … it’s kind of a surprise,” she told Willy as she laid the $20 on the bar with the rest.


“Got it!” Willy said before pulling his fingers across his lips as if zipping them up.




Buffy looked at her watch as she hurried through the sewers with her purchases … she only had a little over an hour left to get everything done and get back … this wasn’t going well at all.


Buffy was glad to find Angel in his room where she’d left him.


“C’mon Ang … I mean, Liam,” Buffy said as she sat the blood down in his room. “Let’s go.”


“You came back!” Angel said with a tinge of relief as he got up and followed her out of the room.  “I read all the books you left … I was afraid you weren’t coming back.”


“I told you I would … I’ll get you more books later,” Buffy told him as she led the way out of the basement and to the boys locker room still carrying her Wal-Mart shopping bags.


“I know, but that other girl told me things, too, and she was wrong …” Angel told her as he hurried after her.


“What girl?” Buffy asked as she stopped and turned to face him.


Angel nearly bumped into her when she stopped. “My friend … I keep forgetting to ask her name … she’s peculiar,” Angel told her with a nod.


“Oh … you mean the same one from the other night?” Buffy asked him, relieved that he hadn’t made a new friend.


“Yeah … she’s nice enough, but she says you’re trouble and I keep telling her you’re very nice … the bad men don’t mess with you,” Angel told her with a small smile.


“Right … bad men go poof,” Buffy agreed before turning and starting back down the hallway.


Buffy turned on one of the showers and got the water warm. “Ok – here you go.  Here’s soap and shampoo … don’t skimp, use it!” she told Angel as she handed him the toiletries and stepped out of the shower area and back towards the lockers.


Angel nodded and stepped under the warm spray. 


“Take your clothes off first, Liam …” Buffy called, keeping her back to him.


“Right …” Angel agreed.


Buffy suddenly realized she didn’t have any towels for him, so she went in search of some while he showered. She finally found some in a dirty laundry hamper … they were damp, but would have to do.  While she was rummaging through the hamper looking for the driest ones, Angel walked up behind her.


“All done,” he announced, startling her.


“Shit!” Buffy exclaimed as she turned around quickly to see him dripping water all over the floor, completely naked.


“Here!” she said, averting her eyes, wrapping one of the towels around his waist and tucking one corner in so it would stay on. 


“Ok, sit down here,” she told Angel, indicating one of the benches between the lockers and Angel did as she asked.


Buffy used another towel to dry off his head before retrieving the scissors she bought and starting to cut the long tangle of hair off his head.


She was no barber and she didn’t have any clippers to do it really short, but she thought it came out pretty good by the time she was done.  She rubbed some hair gel between her palms and styled the top up into points like he used to. Then she moved to his beard and cut the longest of if off with the scissors, then shaved the rest with the shaving cream and a razor.


Buffy stepped back and looked at him. He looked more like the old Angel … but not. Shaving the beard made his face look even more drawn and hollow, his bare chest reminded her of one of those old cartoons that showed a bully kicking sand on the skinny guy at the beach … and Angel was now the skinny guy, not the big bully.


But what touched her most were his eyes.  He looked at her with an innocence of a child – he trusted her, he was depending on her to help him, to get him strong again, to get his mind back – to get him ‘home’.  How much he remembered of his past, she wasn’t sure – certainly he knew his name was Liam and that he had a sister, but the innocence in his eyes made him look like he was six years old … a lost little boy who wasn’t sure who to trust.


Buffy sighed and picked up one of the other shopping bags. She pulled out an undershirt.


“Arms up,” she said to him and Angel complied without question as she slipped the tank top on him.


She held one of the over shirts up for him to slip his arms into and watched as he lined the buttons up with the holes and carefully buttoned it up.


“Ok – you get to do this part all on your own,” she told him, holding up a pair of boxers for him.


Angel nodded and stood up, dropping the towel from his waist in one motion before Buffy could turn around. “Geez, Angel!” she exclaimed, turning around quickly. “Give a girl some warning …”


“Liam …” he corrected her as he pulled the boxers on.


“Right … sorry,” Buffy muttered softly, keeping her back to him.


When he was dressed, they went back to his storeroom, stopping first at the library for him to pick out some more books.


“Here … you may want to take a look at this one,” Buffy offered, pulling a book from a back shelf called, “Vampyres, Demons, and Zombies”. Angel looked at the old tome and shrugged, taking it from her hand to add to the stack he already had.


Back in his room, Buffy realized that getting him clean wouldn’t do much good if he slept on those fishy smelling blankets, so she went off in search of new bedding for him.  This was taking way too long … she looked at her watch – she needed to be home in ten minutes to keep with her original plan and match her normal 'shopping at Kohl’s' timetable.


The last thing she did after getting him new bedding was show him the blood she’d brought and tell him to try and space it out over the next few hours and please don’t spill any of it on himself this time.


Angel nodded solemnly, but when Buffy twisted the lid off the first bottle and the sweet perfume of human blood hit him, his demon came up with a growl and he jerked the bottle from her hand.


Buffy jumped back to keep the blood from hitting her … she didn’t know where Willy got that blood and didn’t really want to know. She suspected it was one of those quid pro quo things … you give me a pint of blood; I give you a shot of whiskey.  She was pretty sure there were no tests done on it to make sure it was healthy – which didn’t matter for vampires, but she wasn’t a vampire.


Angel did manage to drink it down without spilling any on himself, for that Buffy was grateful.  When he started for the next bottle, Buffy stopped him. 


“You need to save some for later,” she reasoned with him, but Angel simply growled louder and shoved her away before draining the remaining three quarts of blood that she brought within a couple of minutes.


Buffy didn’t have time to fight with him over it – he’d just do what he wanted when she left, anyway, so she didn’t retaliate when he shoved her.  When he was done, she gathered the bottles up and headed for the door.


“Stay here until I come back,” she told him when his human features appeared again. “I may be a while … just stay in here.”


Angel nodded sadly as he watched her leave, plopping down with a book onto the clean pallet she’d made for him to await her return.


Buffy dumped the empty bottles in a garbage can as she ran through the basement and sewers back to her car.  She prayed that Spike had lost track of time and was still coaching their son on saying ‘Papa’s Big Bad’ and playing games with Annie down in the basement.


Hey – sorry I took so long, be home soon, Buffy sent to him through the bond.


No worries … Niblett’s beatin’ my ass in Chinese, Spike sent back and Buffy let out a sigh of relief as she raced her car through town back to Crawford Street.


Back at the house, she raced up the stairs, stuffed her clothes in another garbage bag and jumped in the shower, scrubbing every inch of her skin raw, then washing her hair with three different shampoos and finally finishing by pouring a handful of Annie’s Tutti-Fruitti bubble bath over her head and letting it run down her body before rinsing off.


Buffy wrapped a towel around herself and headed back to their room to get some new clothes. She was gonna have to figure out a different system if this went on much longer … it was playing hell with her wardrobe. 


Buffy jumped and let out a small squeal when she opened their bedroom door and found Spike relaxing on the bed waiting for her.


“Spike! You scared the shit out of me …” Buffy exclaimed, dropping the garbage bag with her clothes in it down outside their door in the hallway before stepping into the room.


“Sorry, pet. What’s with the wash up?” Spike asked her, sitting up.


“Oh … Uhhh … slime demon,” Buffy told him, avoiding his eyes and moving to the dresser to retrieve some clothes.


“Green or purple?” Spike got up and walked over to her, looking closely at her skin. “Them purple ones leave nasty burns …”


“Green … just a green one,” Buffy assured him as she started pulling on fresh clothes. “Slimed my clothes, my hair … totally gross.”


“Where was it?” Spike asked, concerned.


“Uhh … by the high school – I saw it go in the sewer there so I went after it,” Buffy told him.


“You killed it then?”


“Yeah – you know, they aren’t that hard to kill … just nasty,” Buffy nodded, still not meeting his eyes. “Had to track it through the sewer a while – that’s what took so long.”


“Good … wouldn’t want it slimin’ no kiddies …”


“So … what’s up?” Buffy asked, changing the subject. “Annie kick your ass so much you gave up?”


“Not bloody likely … you know I never give up, luv,” he told her with a smirk.


“Nǐ hǎo …” he said to her with a low bow, his hands together as if in prayer just below his chin. “I may learn Chinese, yet,” he said with a grin as he stood back up.


“Actually, I thought maybe you’d have time to model your purchases before dinner … you know, the go-go boots and miniskirt?” Spike hinted, wagging his brows suggestively.


“Oh … uh, well, see that’s what took so long – I couldn’t find a thing to buy! Everything was just so … last season,” Buffy said with as much disappointment as she could. She suddenly wished she’d taken that drama class at the college that Willow had tried to talk her into.


Spike raised his brows and looked at her with astonishment, placing his hand on her forehead. “You sure you’re feelin’ alright, Slayer?”


“Sure, why?”


“You went shoe shoppin’ and didn’t buy one shoe …”


Buffy rolled her eyes. “It’s been known to happen …”


“Oh yeah … I remember now … the last time was when the Martians landed in the mall parkin’ lot and lured you in with their shiny baubles before making off with you for several hours…” Spike mocked, wriggling his fingers in the air.


Buffy rolled her eyes and forced a smile as her throat tightened. She hadn’t thought this plan through well enough, obviously. 


Buffy wrapped her arms around Spike’s neck and pressed her body against his.  “I could model some old boots for ya,” she offered seductively as she trailed her tongue slowly down his neck. There was one sure way to distract Spike from a conversation…


Spike moaned and wrapped his arms around her. “Reckon that’ll have to do …”



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