By Carla Kozak
Summary: Angel discovers some signs of life.
Part of The Believer Series
Disclaimer: All of the characters from BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER are owned by Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, 20th Century Fox Television and the Warner Brothers television network. I am merely a BTVS enthusiast who has woven these characters into stories of my own.
Author's Note: All of my stories relate to each other in some way.
He was troubled by dreams. Troubled, because--like those of the Slayers--his dreams were often more than just the stirrings of a restless soul.
There was the dream that showed him, briefly, what might have been. He stood at the bow of a galleon, weary from a long, rough journey, but exhilarated, too. His arm circled the woman at his side, someone so dear to him, and her hands steadied the shoulders of two small but sturdy children, twins, a boy and a girl. The four of them gazed at the approaching shore of a wild new land, all sharing a look of hope and anticipation.
But the sweet image always faded, as if with a sigh of regret. That didn't surprise him. He'd first had that dream in Hell, and he knew it showed him a life he might have lived, had he not failed to earn it. Nor was he surprised by the flash that followed, which encapsulated all the horror and soul searching of the past two centuries. He had lost count of how many times he'd awakened, gasping in terror, from that dream.
Lately, though, there was a new dreamscape following the old images of longing, loss and sorrow, and it made him wonder. In just a few seconds, it seemed to imply another chance, and he found himself gently drifting awake, with an unaccustomed sense of peace and euphoria.
"This is nuts," he whispered savagely. "I'm not human. I'm not alive."
And yet, according to some dimly remembered agreement, he was aging. The outside signs were scarcely noticeable, as yet. Just what was going on, inside?
He made arrangements to meet Willow at the biology lab. He'd explained in the e-mail that he didn't want Buffy to know he was in town, and it wasn't that he didn't want to see her. He was longing to, but he knew it would mean emotional setbacks for both of them. "I've got a few theories I need to test," Angel had said to Willow. "If they are what I think, they might be good news, and I'll need to talk to her about them. But I want to know for sure, first. If not--well, there's no sense in setting up false hopes. I don't want to disturb her."
Again, he was grateful for the miracles of modern technology. Willow would help him, of course--especially if it might help Buffy, too. And she'd understand his reasons for secrecy.
"How is she?" he'd asked, when they met.
"She's not dating anyone," Willow answered, never one to beat around bushes. She grinned at the subtle change in his expression. "I guess you're not, either."
"What would be the point, for me?" he said. "But Will, I shouldn't be happy about her situation. She ought to be having fun, getting to know people."
"Oh, she is, kind of. Having fun, meeting people, slaying the odd demon. She goes out. She's just not doing any steady dating." Willow eyed him again. "I'm sure she would, if she met anyone she liked as much as you."
"Liked?" Angel questioned, softly.
"That's the problem, isn't it? Buffy likes plenty of people. But you're the one she loves." Willow shrugged. "Some habits are hard to shake. But hey, I still believe in miracles."
"Good," he said. "Keep on believing."
Willow set out some slides, and switched on the microscope. "What d'ya want me to look at?" she asked, and he handed her a vial. She pipetted out a bit of viscous liquid, let it drip onto a slide and covered it.
"I feel like I'm Dana Scully," she said, in the breathless voice that was an indication of Willow-excitement. Angel's smile masked his nervousness, or so he hoped.
She adjusted the microscope, focussing it. "Well, Mulder, I can tell you this much. Whatever it is you've brought me--it's alive."
Willow wouldn't have believed that Angel could go pale, but he did. "It's alive?" he echoed.
"Yeah--take a look. These little buggers are swimming all over the place." Willow giggled. "They look just like..."
Suddenly she snapped around to look at him, with a whip of red hair. "Angel, what is this?" she whispered.
He swallowed, then coughed, embarrassed. "Well...it's sperm."
Willow socked him in the shoulder--hard. "Whose sperm?"
Angel ducked his head, involuntarily rubbing his arm. But he managed to look up at her.
"It's mine," he said.
Willow let this sink in for a while. "But how...I mean, I thought...Buffy told me..."
"I know. It doesn't make sense. But I've had these weird dreams, and like I said in the e-mail, I've got a few theories. It might have something to do with why I got out of Hell. Or maybe getting Buffy's blood triggered it. But those are just theories--I don't have any answers."
"Have you talked to Giles?" Willow asked.
"Not yet. I will now that I have proof I'm an undead vampire with more than just a soul. I wish I could talk to Whistler, too, but that's one guy I can't contact via e-mail."
Or any other way, Angel thought. Whistler showed up when and if he wanted to.
"What about Buffy?"
"After I talk to Giles, and depending on what he thinks, I'll talk to her, Willow. So I'm going to ask you to keep this secret a while longer. I'm sorry," he apologized.
"No, it's okay," she said. "I know you couldn't go back to her, unless you could offer her some sort of a normal life."
Thank God for Willow, Angel thought. She was the soul of perception. "That's it exactly," he told her. "And I'm not positive that I can. Besides, there's still that little clause on the curse, as far as we know."
"Angel, I've been wondering about that for ages," Willow said. "I don't know if it was part of the curse I did. Maybe it was something that got tacked on the first time, but not when I put the whammy on you."
"I'm not about to test it and see," Angel replied. "That would be just a little too risky for too many people."
"I can look into it," she offered. "Run some translations, pull up some similar spells and check for specifics."
"I'd appreciate that, if you could," he said, sincerely.
"Sure," Willow said. "Remember, I still believe in miracles."
"Do me another favor, Willow? Keep on believing in me."
Willow did something she'd never done before. She gave Angel a hug. "I believe in you and Buffy," she whispered. "I can't help it. I'll never stop hoping things will work for you."
He returned the gesture. "That makes two of us," he said.
Then he let go, and turned to the microscope. Angel looked at the magnified image, grinning. "And maybe a few more."
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