What It Means To Be Alive
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Summary: The nature of love and what it means to be human.
Part of The Alive Series
Disclaimer: Joss owns all. No copyright infringement is intended.
Author's Comments: I have been waiting for years to commit these thoughts to paper. I have a few different ideas, so I may write a few other stories OC from the line I've already started.
Now that I am writing, I find that the thoughts and ideas are flowing so quickly I can't really contain them. I apologize for any typos or spelling mistakes, I do proofread vigorously, but I already know what I am trying to say, so sometimes I miss things that are right in front of me. My fingers move a little slow for my brain, sometimes.
The last story didn't seem finished. This is the sequel I started working on the moment the first book was done. I'm very excited to share it and I am very excited to hear what everyone thinks.
Thank you so much, all of those who are reading and critiquing. I appreciate it more than I can say. Hope you enjoy.
There was a hail of applause as Angel stepped from the Stage. He felt as though his internal organs were running on hamster wheels. His hands were shaking. He hated stages. He wouldn't admit that though, so he was hard pressed to find a reason not to speak at the UCLA Law School graduation. Maybe they would get a few good applicants out of it, he reasoned.
Buffy was waiting for him by the car, a huge grin on her face. She was positively giddy. "You did so well! Angel, that was so good!"
He hugged her, still feeling a little shaken. He had awful stage fright. He shook himself from that, though, and kissed his girlfriend. She was beautiful today, more glowing than he had ever seen her.
He excused himself to go into the building designated for after the ceremony to mingle with the crowd of young graduates. Talking to the young men and women had been part of the deal. Buffy made her way to the refreshment table inside. She was glad the building was air conditioned.
Angel didn't mind mingling as much as he thought he would. Some of the graduates were actually interesting. He gave out a standard generic Wolfram and Hart business card to about twenty graduates, hoping two or three would apply to the company. He only wanted the best of the best.
Will would be waiting for him at the office. He was holding down the fort while Angel had been giving his speech. Will had helped him compose the speech, which had helped with Angel's nerves a little. Having someone else tell him what he had written was good had been a confidence booster.
After a few hours, he and Buffy slid into the back of the car and headed back towards the office. She looked a little tired. "We can go home if you want. I'll make you cupcakes."
"Hmmm... cupcakes. No, I'm okay. I want you to go to work. And I should do some work too."
He had assured Buffy that she never needed to work again if she didn't want to, but she had laughed at him, saying a life of ease and luxury was not for her. She wanted to work, to contribute to their lives. Even with his assurances that she contributed just by being her, she had insisted she needed to work.
Buffy had explored other avenues of careers before going to Wolfram and Hart. She had looked at a book store, a coffee shop, a department store. They seemed boring. Normal. Too normal for her. When she had walked into Wolfram and Hart after a couple weeks of searching and watched Grahalix demons walk past her, she knew she had found where she wanted to be. Angel didn't have to think twice about hiring her. She was expecting some low level position, maybe even a secretarial position with some other executive. Instead, she found herself with a small corner office on the third floor of the building.
Angel had seen a position for her even before she had asked him for a job. He had hoped she would want to work there because he knew exactly where he wanted her to work. She was heading up the Insurgent Control division. Angel had been striving not only to erase a good portion of demons from the planet, but to get the ones that could live peacefully or without harming humans to do so. Solving every war that came up between demon factions and families was more than anyone running another department could handle.
He had created the position with Buffy in mind, and for a few months, the chairmanship had gone unoccupied. When Buffy took the helm, a lot of rebellions were squashed with 24 hours. Not many demons wanted to deal with the infamous slayer. Buffy had proven very good at negotiations, though, and once she overcame her first reaction to kill the clients, she was able to reason with them rather well.
More than one war had been stopped because Buffy was sensitive to both sides, and had both sides compromise. Angel couldn't imagine how many human lives had been saved already by her efforts. She was sensitive and could be slow to anger when she wanted to be. And most of the time, she was given a level of respect and deference that no one else Angel could have hired would have been given. Her status in the demon community was often enough to make peace.
Xander had not faired any better than Buffy in the job market. Neither had college degrees, and the only marketable skills either one had were to do with demons and apocalypses. And there weren't many markets for those skills. Xander had found his niche in personnel. It sounded unglamorous, but he had huge amounts of responsibilities.
People that worked for Wolfram and Hart did not only undergo background checks. They were thoroughly sifted until they were judged to be of a high enough caliber to work at Wolfram and Hart. Xander's primary role was to ferret out people who had slipped through the sifting process. Angel didn't want to think of his job as some kind of Orwellian creation, but it sometimes was unsavory.
Xander excelled at unsavory. He found out who was not above approach and then figured out why and what they were doing. He was the internal police of Wolfram and Hart. That meant he traveled a lot, a fact that he liked very much. He couldn't be stagnant for very long. He went to every Wolfram and Hart branch, looking for traitors. He had found quite a few in the five months he had been with the company.
Angel had given him full reign and a long leash. Xander's official title was Employee Wellness Coordinator. He liked he humor in that. He could commandeer anything he needed to, including cars, jets, and the like. He had a practically limitless company credit card, and his disarming smile and easy demeanor immediately put people at ease. Angel had toyed with the idea of giving Xander control of the fate of the employees he found, but had decided against it after careful consideration. He would leave that up to Will. Will was better suited to tasks like that.
Xander had stayed with Angel and Buffy for a month, until he found his own place. Angel hadn't minded his company all that much, and the guest house had afforded both Xander and the loving couple an acceptable level of privacy. Xander liked his anonymity.
He worked under a lot of pseudo names. The only time he used his real name was when he was at the LA branch. That had been about half the time he had worked there. The other half of the time he was traveling the globe. He loved the lifestyle.
Fred was on maternity leave, and had been for two months. For the last month of her pregnancy she had been on strict bed rest. She hadn't followed those orders, but she had taken time from work. She refused to ask Wesley to take so much time off just to make her a sandwich because she couldn't get out of bed to do it herself. No amount of negotiating could move her on that matter. Wesley hadn't protested all that much.
She had given birth two weeks ago to a baby girl. Wes had chosen Allyson for the name. She had a shock of dark hair on her head, even when she was first born, and she had dark eyes like her father. Wes had taken two weeks off, one right before the birth and one right after, but Fred had kicked him out after that. Apparently he was a little too doting. Wes was doing a lot less overtime, now, though.
Gunn had stopped dating Luciana. She was a little too demanding of his time, he said. For some reason, she had felt the need to complain about his seventy hour work weeks. He needed a woman who could understand his work, he explained. He didn't seem in any hurry to find that woman.
Dawn was going to be arriving soon. She had found an apartment, with Angel's help, and would be moved in within the week. She had graduated at the top of her class and the Council had been pushing hard to recruit her, but she wanted none of it. She had her eye on a prize and she could not be dissuaded.
William had been a little apprehensive about Dawn moving to LA. He had managed to deny her for the weeks she stayed with Angel, but he wondered if she would still have her eye on him. He hoped not. That would be more awkward than he could handle. She had already applied for a position in Wesley's department, and Wesley had been eager to have her. She was trustworthy, knowledgeable and worked well with others. His current employees only had two out of three of those qualities. It would be a pleasant change to have someone in his department that had once left the library to have a life.
Angel reached across the car and put his hand on Buffy's rapidly expanded stomach. His joy had outweighed his shock. Apparently, Buffy hadn't been on any kind of birth control, as he had assumed that first day they reconnected. She had forgotten he wasn't a vampire in that regard. Six months later, and he was preparing a nursery. Again.
He was sure he wanted to be a father. If men had biological clocks, his was ticking. Even so, he had been loosing sleep over this baby. He was afraid of a repeat of his previous attempt at parenthood, and swore to have Dawn keep a very close eye on Wesley.
Buffy had been shocked. She had cried for a few days. Then she had been elated. Once he shared how happy he was with her, her joy had doubled. She had bought a dozen baby books within the first week of finding out she was pregnant. Angel had read them too, not wanting to rouse her suspicions. He also figured he could use a little brushing up.
As they pulled into the parking lot of the law firm, he wondered what surprises his job had in store for him today.
Wes was pacing. He wanted to go home. He wanted to hold his baby and kiss his wife. He wanted to tell Angel about the note he had received. His nerves were frayed and he wasn't sure how much more he could take. Someone knew what he had done. They were going to tell Fred, they were going to tell everyone. He would lose his family.
Shaking himself, he decided no one was going to know. He wasn't going to let anyone find out. It was his secret. He hadn't really done anything wrong, he reasoned. It had worked out for the best. No one had gotten hurt; no one was the worse for what he had done. So, how could anyone threaten him with this?
He looked at the note. He had to find out who sent it and why. He knew why, he chided himself. He worked for a formerly evil company that now fought evil. A lot of people had been put out by that. He was an easy target. Buffy's pregnancy was not well known, Will was beyond reproach as far as everyone knew, and Gunn had nothing to be blackmailed with. Wes was the best target. He had this dirty little secret. He could be exploited.
Well, he wasn't going to let that happen, he decided. He was going to find whoever sent the note and he as going to kill them. Then he would destroy all evidence of his activities. He calmed himself. He could fix this. There wasn't a problem he couldn't solve.
Will finished the letter he writing commending the Sedgol leader on his compromise with a neighboring clan. Russia would be a little safer without those two old families at each other's throats. Buffy had sent him a summary of the proceedings and had already closed the file, but he knew the Sedgol leader and knew that the old demon would want a higher up to congratulate his fine intelligence and bravery. The demon needed a little ego stroking.
Looking at the clock, he wondered how Angel's speech had gone. He knew Angel had wicked stage fright, but the speech was good and Angel would pull it together at the last minute, he was sure. He was more worried about Buffy. It was June, now, and the heat wave that hit Los Angeles was brutal. She was over six months along, almost into her seventh month, and she was not dealing well with the heat. The ceremony had been outside, but she had insisted on going to support Angel. She knew he was nervous.
Will knew Angel was excited to be a father. He had never seen the man so on task, so focused, before. He was thrilled for his friend. Will also saw Angel's trepidation, though. That was fair, given his history with fatherhood. Will wasn't supposed to know about that. No one was; Angel had seen to that. Will had his informants, though, and he had ways of finding information no one else could. He was glad Wes had given up that chase a while ago. His budding wife had taken precedence over unearthing Angel's secrets. Will suspected they had a couple of months before Wes was back on the trail.
Dawn's upcoming arrival worried him. She had called him a few days ago to say she would arrive in the next two or three days. She was excited to see him, she said. He was happy to see her, too, but the edge in her voice made him squirm. He knew that tone. Will had almost been happy to see her leave in January when her responsibilities at school had called her away again. She had kissed his cheek and whispered an "I'll see you soon" in his ear. Her voice had been rather seductive.
He had more important things to worry about right now, though. Wes had been spooked all day. Ever since a courier brought him a letter when they first arrived at the office, Wes had secreted himself away and hadn't answered any calls. Will knew when to look into things and when to let things go. This required looking in to. He wouldn't worry Angel yet, and he didn't think Gunn had noticed, which was good. He needed time to sort it out before Wes did anything stupid. Will was more aware than most of what Wesley was capable of. If he felt cornered, he got sloppy. Connor was proof of that.
Picking up the phone, he dialed Wes's secretary and had her set up a lunch date for Gunn and Wes. He had to verbally pet her a little, she needed some cajoling, but she did it. Wes had given her orders that he did not want to be disturbed, but his secretary seemed willing to disobey those orders for an important meeting with . Will then called Gunn's office phone. He put that line on hold while he called the same number with a second line. It went straight to voicemail; the private numbers they all had for each other wouldn't ring at any other phone than the exact one dialed. The second line got Gunn's answering machine. Faking Wes's accent to perfection, he left a message asking Gunn to meet him at his office for lunch and to bring a certain case file. He hung up in the same manner Wes did after he left messages.
Smiling, he answered his phone on Gunn's second ring.
"You called me and no one was there."
"Sorry, mate. I hit the phone with my elbow." Will knew the key to a good lie was not to go into too much detail. It made people suspicious.
"That's okay. Want to meet for lunch?"
"I have a meeting. I'll catch you tomorrow."
"You got it, man."
He was good at what he did, he thought. He had to give himself credit for that.
Buffy wanted to lie in front of the air conditioning vent and eat chocolate cake. She wanted a foot rub and a neck massage. She wanted to have sex with Angel. She just couldn't figure out in which order she wanted to do these things.
Angel had rushed back to his office with a purposeful stride. He had gotten a call while they were in the elevator stating a clan was in his office and they were a tad upset. Upset enough to kill a goat sacrifice on Angel's floor while invoking a few different Gods to smite Angel. Buffy wasn't impressed, but Angel had to go keep the peace.
She walked to her office alone. Fat and alone, she thought. She knew she was going to get bigger still, but for the moment, she wanted to wallow in the fact that she was huge. Angel loved it, he said she glowed. She said she couldn't tie her shoes. They were currently at a standoff.
After calling Giles and expressing the good news, she had asked him about Slayers having children. He had told her there had never been a Slayer that had a child. She was going to be the first. That scared her a little. There was no telling how her body would react to being pregnant. She had never been regular; the stress of her life and the constant strain on her body had done a number on her reproductive system.
It figures, she thought, the one time I ovulate in, like, seven years is the same day I get some. That's my luck.
She was grateful though. She had never thought about being a mom. Well, she had, but fleetingly. She had never thought she would live long enough to have children. Now, she wanted a bunch. She was considering adoption, though, because this was brutal.
When she had a craving, she got violent. It meant that she had been with clients less and less over the past two months, because her hormones were making her emotions unpredictable. Once the morning sickness stopped, which she would be eternally happy about, the cravings had started. It seemed that whatever normal women went through, she was going to experience three fold. She hadn't been sick in the morning; but the baby books all said morning sickness could happen any time. Hers had been all the time.
She had ended up in the med-lab twice to be treated for dehydration. They had given her a prescription for Compazine and that had helped a little with the vomiting. Angel had hovered over her for months. He was constantly worried about her, which she found endearing but also a little annoying. She had finally gotten mad, and in a fit of hormones, thrown him through a wall in her office. The wall had been fixed and he backed off a little.
Dawn was the most excited of everyone, Buffy thought. She went on and on about baby names, and a shower, and being an aunt. Buffy found her excitement contagious. The first few months had been difficult, but Dawn brightened her outlook on the situation every time Buffy thought she couldn't handle it.
Angel had started preparing a nursery only a few weeks after they confirmed she was pregnant. He had spent countless nights painting the spare bedroom across the hall from theirs. There was now an entire solar system on the walls. It was adobe red, with yellows and pinks and blues. It was a beautiful manifesto. It looked like wallpaper, but Buffy knew every line, every dot, had been painted by Angel. He claimed he still needed a couple months to finish it. He only had a couple months, she had told him, she was due in thirteen weeks. She had given him total control over the Nursery project.
She felt she had enough to deal with. She liked her work, but it was challenging. She was on the phone constantly, speaking through translators. She had traveled once, before she had known she was pregnant, but once she had found out, she and Angel had decided that would no longer be a good idea. Some clan leaders wouldn't come to her, so she was forced to telecommute a lot. Not that she minded, it saved her a lot of jet lag.
She looked up at a knock at her door and smiled as Will came in. He came bearing gifts. In his hands were nice little white boxes which she was sure had come from a bakery.
"You shouldn't have."
"Really? I'll just take these back then." He started moving back towards the door.
"Stakes kill hybrids too, I think." He voice was sweet and he laughed. He opened the boxes for her and handed her a huge chocolate cupcake. He knew her well.
Moans of pleasure escaped her lips and he threw his head back and laughed. She had a serious sweet tooth now that she was pregnant.
"How's the rug rat in there doin'?" He sat in front of her desk and pulled a small carton of milk from his jacket pocket for her.
"You're the best. He's good. She's good. I can't call it an it, you know? I want to be surprised. I think Angel wants to know, but he's a control freak. I need to be surprised. He started kicking this afternoon during Angel's speech. I think my bladder's bruised."
She was only half joking. The doctors told her the child would have her strength, or Angel's strength, or maybe both put together. She could be carrying Superman. They told her the child's senses would be enhanced, but probably not as much as Angel's. The doctors also told her she very well might have bruised organs if the child kicked too hard.
So far, though, her and baby, as she called the being inside her, had an agreement. Baby seemed to know just how much he could kick without hurting his mom. He seemed to know how much she could take.
"You look great Buffy." He meant it.
"I feel good. I feel fat, but good."
"You're not fat, you're pregnant. Big difference. And you look beautiful. And that baby is going to be beautiful. You're sure you don't want to know what it is?" He was as curious as Angel.
She laughed, they were incorrigible, really. "No, I don't. And don't go looking for that answer, either."
"Yes ma'am. I've got to back upstairs. I'll see you later?" Rising, he waited for her to nod in between chews and left. He was confident she was going to be a great mom.
He had other things to do than find out the sex of her kid, he told himself. Wesley would be leaving in a few minutes and his opening was small. Making his way towards Wes's office, he hid in a dark corner in the hallway and watched as the two men passed by him. Gunn was talking a mile a minute and Wes looked more distracted than usual.
He ducked into Wes's office as soon as they had rounded the corner. He went to the desk first. Well, the table, he corrected himself. There was nothing particularly interesting there. There wasn't much of interest in the garbage either. He looked around, wondering where Wesley would put a secret hidey hole.
The picture. The only picture on the left wall. Indeed, there was a tiny compartment behind the Asian print. He smirked and entered the code on the touch pad. He was a dangerous man when he wanted to be, and Wes could be surprisingly predictable sometimes.
A compartment in the opposite wall opened. He went to it quickly. Knowing Wes, it closed after a set period of time. There was a stack of papers. He grabbed the most recent just before the compartment closed. Flipping through the file, he found a note wedged in the middle. The file was boring, nothing to hide away, but the perfect place to hide something was within something boring.
Looking at the note, his face paled for a moment. This wasn't good. He reentered the code that opened the compartment and put the file back as quick as he could. The note went back exactly where it had been. He walked at a pace just slower than a jog out of Wes's office and ducked into a corridor just as Wesley ran down the hallway and threw the door to his office open. Will ran silently down the hall and rounded the corner just as Wes turned around.
They sat down in the firm's cafeteria. Gunn was digging into his fettuccine with gusto. Wes ate his tofu pasta a little slower, commenting on Gunn's ideas about the Bradford case. They had been meaning to get together all week to discuss it.
When Gunn looked up and took a drink, he said "I'm glad you called me to have lunch. I thought this was never going to get done."
Wesley froze. "You called my secretary. She said you wanted to have lunch today. I didn't call you."
"I have your message on my machine, Wes. You called me."
Wes was up and running before Gunn finished his statement. He ran to the elevator banks, pushing a few people out of the way to get on. He barely contained himself while waiting to get to his office. When the elevator doors opened, he ran down the hall and flung the office doors open.
He was out of breath, his heat was racing. There was no one save himself in his office. He turned when he thought he heard something, but no one was in the hall. Going to his secretary's desk, he slammed his hands down in front of her. She jumped and looked at him with wide eyes.
"Who called to set up lunch with Charles?"
"Mr. Benson did. He said it was on Mr. Gunn's behalf. I..."
"Why didn't you tell me that?" He was yelling, attracting the attention of everyone in the hall. People were poking their heads of their offices to stare at him. "What are we paying you people for?" His voice boomed down the hallway and everyone promptly went into offices and shut their doors.
Wesley took the stairs to Will's office, two floors above his own. He didn't have the patience to wait for an elevator. He didn't knock.
Will looked peaceful, a little surprised at Wesley's intrusion. "What can I do you for, Wes?"
"What were you doing in my office?"
"Going through your personal files." He leaned back in his chair and gently put his hands on the arm rests. Wesley looked as if he didn't know whether to be shocked or furious at Will's honesty. He looked like he was going to lean towards furious.
"What the hell were you doing?"
"What the hell kind of spell took three witches, combined, that long to perform? I wonder what that was." The last statement was laced with sarcasm; he knew exactly what Wes had hired those witches for. He stood, now, his own anger rising. "What were you thinking? Wes, you could have..."
"Shut up, Will! I know the consequences! I would have done anything at that point, don't you understand? And I would do it all again."
"You're a fool. Now we have to fix this. Not just you, Wes, oh no. This is my problem now too. I'm not leaving you alone on this; you'll f*k it up even more. You've got no faith, that's your problem."
"Faith in what, William?" His anger had turned to grief quickly. Will understood what Wes had done and why, but he didn't approve in the least.
"We're going to fix this. Tonight. Tell Fred you're working late." He took a seat at his desk again and went back to papers in front of him.
Wesley was not used to being dismissed. He wasn't used to people breaking into office either. He suddenly knew what the employees Xander went after felt like. His anger was rising again. How dare Will order him around like that, he thought. He did he think he was? Wesley's superior, technically. Wes didn't fully admit that to himself, though. He didn't think of Angel as his boss either. He was an entity that operated out of Wolfram and Hart. He didn't answer to anyone.
Except Will, it seemed. And Will seemed awfully sure Wes could not handle this on his own. Wesley rebelled at that. Everything inside of him rebelled at that. Will did not know that he couldn't handle it. Suddenly feeling as if the world was turning against him and he was the only sane man left alive, he left the building. He was going to take care of this now, without that annoying ex-vampire.
He made his way to the elevator banks at the same time Will grabbed his things and ran to Angel's private elevator. Will hoped he would get to the ground floor before Wesley did. The elevator was nonstop, though, and the one Wesley was on was not.
Will watched Wes leave. He was standing a few feet away from the security desk, at the coffee stand. His back was to the doors, but he smelled Wesley passed him by. He knew he would do this. All the better, Will though, he wanted to get this over with as soon as possible.
Wes followed Will outside and got into a car he had at the curb. He watched Wes pull out of the garage and pulled out to follow him. He stayed a decent distance away. There were half a dozen cars in between him and Wesley, but with his superior vision, it was going be hard for Wes to lose him. He followed the ex-watcher North on Route 5, through Burbank. Wesley was sticking to the highway, which made Will's job of following him easier. He still kept a respectful distance, at times even switching lanes to make sure Wes wouldn't get suspicious.
Will continued to follow him onto 118. When Wes took an exit, Will continued to the next one. He pulled into the direction Wes would have to be and drove through the side streets. Wes's car was parked three blocks away from where Will was. He stayed in the shade, his sun glasses on. Throwing his jacket into the car, he rolled his sleeves up and started up the side walk. This was a suburban area in Ventura County. This was not where Will thought a trio of witches that had sustained a spell for almost a year would live.
He sniffed the air. Wes was on the other side of the street. He caught his scent on the wind, and followed it to a nondescript house on the corner. Wes was definitely in that house. Sneaking through the gate at the side of the house, he went to the side window. He could hear Wesley speaking with someone who was definitely not a woman.
The next sound he heard was a swishing sound. It was quick, harsh, like a zip sound but not. Will jumped when it happened. He knew what that was. He was around to the back of the house and through the door in an instant.
Wesley was standing over a body of an old man. The gun in his hand was still smoking. Will looked at the scene and knew Wes had just screwed up. The man's body was slowly changing into its natural form. A gnarled and grayish scaly skin replaced the pale white wrinkles.
"It's broad daylight. There are neighbors at home down the street. And he wasn't the source of your problems."
"He was the man I went to. He sent me to the sisters. He was going to..."
He grabbed the gun from Wes's hand and shook the man hard with his free hand. "He wasn't the source. And now he can't tell us who was. The note didn't come from here." They had to go. Will suddenly knew with certainty that they had to go. He shoved the gun into the waistband of his pants and pulled his shirt out.
"Go to your car, get in. Follow me. If you don't do as I say this time, I swear I will kill you."
Wesley knew Will was not exaggerating. He did as he was told. Following Will through the back door and over a fence in the yard, he made his way to the car in a round-about way.
Will snuck through empty backyards. When he came to the house that was occupied, he ran through the few feet in between houses and emerged behind a hedge. He walked behind the hedge a few feet, and then slipped through it and walked calmly to his car. He was still wearing his sun glasses. Pulling out of the street, he watched to make sure Wesley was following him. He got on the highway quickly and drove until they hit Glendale.
That was where he got out of the car and basically dragged Wesley into a small office building. They went in through the back door into an abandoned complex. The windows were boarded up and it was in dire need of a new carpet and a fresh coat of paint, but the building did not look like it had been used as a crack building or gang hall yet. It seemed fairly secure. Going into the basement, Will grabbed a black duffel bag and set it on the table. He put a matching bag next to it.
"Strip." He stood there, waiting for Wes to follow his command.
Wesley weighed his options. Will was going to knock him unconscious and strip him if he had to. He chose to stay awake for the day. Stripping to his underwear, he watched as Will put the clothes into a plastic bag and tied it shut.
"Now stay here. Don't move and don't touch anything." He grabbed a rag and a box and went out to the cars. People had seen them. Wesley was so much more careful when he wasn't panicked. The neighbors would identify the unfamiliar cars that had been parked on the street and the two men that had gone towards the same house a man had been murdered in. He wasn't much of a man anymore, but the cops would treat it as a homicide anyway.
Will put on a hat and gloves and pulled everything from the cars, proceeding to wipe them down. He cleaned the trunk inside and out, the tires, under the seats, the inside of the dash board. Everywhere. He wasn't going to make it easy for anyone to tie this to them or the company. After he had cleaned the cars, he went inside and hauled out a vacuum sweeper. He wondered how long he could keep Wesley done their, mostly naked, before the man started putting his prints everywhere.
When he was sure there were no fibers in either vehicle, he moved everything that had been in the cars into a box and took that inside. He made quick work of the plates, switching them to different plates that were registered to the same car makes and models. He would have to make a few phone calls in the morning to make sure those plates would check out.
Taking the box, which had the hat, gloves, old plates, and possessions in it inside, he went back to the basement. To Wes's credit, he hadn't moved the whole time Will had been gone. Opening the duffel bag, he handed him a set of clothing.
"Go home and change the minute we get back. Don't go to the office."
He changed into the clothes in the other duffle bag and pulled his phone out. He made a few calls. The cars would be in chop shops by the end of the hour. He took out a set of keys he kept hidden in a tiny locked box under the work bench and put the duffle bags in the box with the stuff from the car. There was nothing from either vehicle that couldn't be replaced. He dismantled the gun.
They walked outside in silence. A street away was a parking garage and in the lowest level was a navy blue Toyota Corolla. They got in using the key from the lock box and Will starting driving. He stopped at a funeral home on the way and went in with the box, sans gun parts and license plates. Those were in a bag in the backseat. When Will came back out, he didn't have the box.
It's good to have friends, he thought. He had thrown the box and belongings into the incinerator in the mortuary. Carl had looked at him funny, but he knew the undertaker wouldn't say anything. Wolfram and Hart had kept his son out of jail last year.
Will kept driving. They drove right through the city and on into Palos Verdes. Pulling the car over, he walked through the night air to the edge of the sea. He threw a few pieces of the gun that Wesley had used into the ocean. He threw them with all his might, and that meant they went pretty far.
Getting back in the car, they drove up the coast until they got to Redondo Beach. A few more pieces went to the sea there. The last pieces disappeared at Marina Del Ray. The license plates were slipped through a sewer grate on the street.
When Will finally got back into the car, he allowed himself to go off autopilot. He was mad. He was more than mad. He was going to have to save Wesley from himself, and Wesley wasn't going to make it easy.
Turning to his friend, he found that he just wanted to beat the crap out of him. Will would have to rebuild his secret holes, the one in Glendale was no good to him anymore. He would have to ditch the Toyota, too. And find a new parking garage. The list kept elongating and he kept getting angrier. He had never meant to use these reserves for something so stupid.
"Don't tell anyone. Not even Fred. Dunk yourself in whiskey and say you went out with me. If anyone at the office asks, you had business in Huntington Park. Use Roberts' name, he'll back you up. A long meeting about his aging father's will. And don't be stupid anymore."
He drove Wes to a bar in the city Will knew the other man had sometimes visited. "Go in, spill a drink on yourself, and go home. Fred's probably out of her skull."
Wes got out of the car silently and walked into the bar. Will knew this was going to be a long night.
Buffy and Angel were going home. She was tired, more so than she wanted to admit. He cooked her dinner when they got home, and she found the energy to want him afterwards. They made slow, lazy love that night. She fell asleep not long afterwards.
Angel snuck out of bed. He didn't want her to hear him going to his office; she was a nosey woman. Taking the book out of its locked glass case, he touched the over lovingly. To anyone but Angel, it was a centuries old, falling apart, tome about vampires. Not unlike a few books Giles had in his collection. To Angel, it was a lifeline to his son.
He whispered a word to the book and the pages opened. Connor appeared there. Sitting at his desk, he read about what his son had been up to lately. He had graduated college; he was seeing a girl from Santa Monica. He was happy. Angel looked at his photo, he was smiling, his arms around the people he thought were his parents. He was a well adjusted and soon to be successful young man.
Angel had made sure the Los Angeles County Museum of Art was going to promote Connor soon. Not that the young man hadn't earned it. Angel just thought having an unknown benefactor wouldn't hurt the boy. He was bright, he was ambitious, and he was talented. The art director hadn't had any qualms about raising him in the ranks.
Angel closed the book after a few moments and replaced it in its case. The best place to hide something was in plain site, he thought. No one would dare touch such an antique. It looked like it could fall apart at a slight wind, and Buffy hadn't looked twice at it.
He didn't plan to tell her about his son. This was something that had to be kept secret. She wouldn't understand this. She wouldn't understand where Connor came from, or why Angel had done what he had done. Angel barely understood it. He knew that the son of two vampires was not meant to be an art restorer in LA, though. Connor was meant for greater things than that.
Angel wanted to make sure Connor had some kind of life before all hell broke loose, though. The Powers would call on Connor eventually, enlist him in the cause. Some part of Angel, though, thought that if he did the work of ten men, twenty, if he could bring peace, Connor wouldn't have to be called to battle. It wasn't a conscious thought, but it was there all the same. Angel didn't want Connor to be called up. He wanted his son to have a normal life. He wanted his son to get married, have kids, and grow old.
If he could do enough good, the Powers wouldn't need Connor. Angel could do the work that he and Connor would have done put together. If he did that, Connor could be left alone.
He listened suddenly as he heard Buffy getting up. He went to kitchen quickly and pulled out a tea bag and a cup. He had never made tea so fast in all his life. When she came downstairs, all she saw was Angel dunking a tea bag in hot water a few times.
She smiled. "Couldn't sleep?" She looked a little worried, but not overly so.
"I'll be fine. I just to relax for a few minutes."
She nodded her understanding and sat with him at the table. They talked about their day, something they had started doing at dinner but abruptly stopped when they became distracted by sex. The novelty of being able to make love hadn't worn off. Angel hoped it never would.
When he saw her start to drift to sleep as she sat, he rose and prodded her up the stairs. She was so beautiful, he thought. So perfect. Nothing in the world could make him ruin their relationship as it was now. They had become so close, restored so much faith in each other, he knew he could do nothing to jeopardize that. He rubbed her belly as they lay in bed, wanting to listen to the heart beat of his baby for a little while longer. He fell asleep to the steady and fast rhythm of a fetal heart tone.
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