Death Breeds Life

Death Breeds Life

by Colleen

Note: This is a little late, but I have been working on it for a while. This is in reference to Garnet's challenge about Buffy's death and Angel learning about his child.

Disclaimer: I'm sorry if this story sounds like any of the others. I am a freethinking person.


Thursday, October 23, 2003

"Angel, there is a call for you on your line," Cordelia said softly.

I was very busy working on a case; papers were all over my desk. "Cordy, I'm a little busy in here. Can you take a message and I will call the person back?"

Cordelia peeked into my office and said, "You will want to take this call." Her voice was very low, like she was trying to hold back some emotions.

"Okay," I took the people off hold and said, "Hello, Angel Investigations..." I was unable to finish my usual greeting.

"Angel, it's Willow. I have something to tell you."

My first thought was something had happened to Buffy. "What is it, Willow? Is Buffy okay?"

Willow began to whimper on the other side of the phone. "She was just trying to protect her...mother. They were ambushed at their house. I wanted to tell you that the service is going to be tomorrow here in Sunnydale. I'm sure she would want you to come."

I thought back to everything that had happened just before I left the last time and I wondered if it was best for me to go back. "Willow, I will make sure he is there," Cordelia answered. I thought I heard extra breathing.

"Thank you, Cordelia. I will see you then. If you need a place to stay, you are welcome to stay at my apartment."

"Thank you, Willow. Extend my sympathies to Mrs. Summers," I said.

"I will. Goodbye."

"Goodbye." The phone somehow found its way to the cradle and I left my office for the sanctuary of my apartment.


Later that night

Cordelia drove up to Sunnydale in my car, since hers was in the shop for some minor fender damage. We have said little or nothing to each other since she got me to pack some stuff and said we were leaving after sundown. Cordelia parked below a large apartment complex and ushered me out. She got the luggage out, because I was pretty much a zombie. We arrived at Willow's door and the girls fell to pieces. Still, I don't show any emotion. I listened to Willow talk about my beloved Buffy and I can imagine that she is halfway across town, waiting to go out on patrol.

"Angel, Angel. I'm sorry you didn't get to see her before she was killed. She was planning a trip down to LA to see you in a few weeks."

We had been talking more recently and she had mentioned coming down for a few days to see her father and maybe me. I had been looking forward to her coming. We had lost touch for almost four years and out of the blue, there was a note from her saying that she had missed me and wondered how the demon activity in Los Angeles was. We had been corresponding for a few months, but now there would be no more letters.

"Everytime the door opened, I wondered if it was her. I hoped that she would come see me soon. Now, I'm never going to see her again."

This made Willow burst into tears and I wondered if I said something that had upset her. I moved over beside her and put my arms around her to comfort her. She seemed to calm down at my touch.

"How is Buffy's mom taking all of this? Being killed in front of her has to give her some nightmares?" Cordy asked. I shot her a glare, but she didn't get it.

"Mrs. Summers is doing as well as can be expected. We have been there in support of her since this happened."

"When exactly did this happen?" I asked.

"Tuesday night."

There was a long silence before Willow moved away from me. "I'm sorry, guys. I haven't been sleeping well and the doctor prescribed a sedative, which I took about two hours ago. I'm going to turn in for the night. There is a couch out here and a guestroom next to mine. The service is at sunset tomorrow." Willow went back toward the other rooms while Cordelia and I just sat there.

"I will take the couch. I see Willow has heavy drapes, so I won't burn in the morning light."

"Fine with me. I will see you later tomorrow," Cordelia said as she went down the hall where Willow had disappeared.

I turned on the TV and drowned my sorrows in the late night programming. Before she went to sleep, Cordelia came out to ask if I was okay. I told her I was fine and would be up tomorrow afternoon to show her. She smiled and said goodbye. There was silence in the apartment after Cordelia went to bed. I stayed up until early in the morning watching TV and fell asleep around four.


Friday, October 24, 2003

I woke up disoriented, but suddenly, everything came back to me. I'm in Sunnydale because the only person I have ever loved has been killed only a few months after I have gotten back into contact with her again. Man, I hate the forces of evil.

"Good evening, Angel," Cordelia said. She was dressed conservatively in a black suit. Her hair was pulled back in a braid.

"Hey, Cordy. Where's Willow?" I asked. It was only five o'clock and I expected her to be there.

"She went over to Mrs. Summers' house about an hour ago. She said that she would meet us at the cemetery chapel."

"Let me take a quick shower and get dressed. We can go to the chapel after that."

"Take your time. It's not like there is any rush."

I got my nice suit out of the bag and went into the bathroom. It was in the shower that I began to cry. It always happened that once someone was near and dear to me, something always happened. That's why I had pushed Buffy away almost four years ago. I didn't want her to get hurt by someone who
wanted revenge against me. Despite my leaving, her life was still ended at an early age.

I was able to fix my hair and shave as I had for a long time without seeing my reflection, but I was unable to fix my tie. Cordelia did it for me and surprised me by giving me a hug.

"I have some experience losing someone I love," she said softly.

With all that we had been through, I had forgotten that Cordelia was just getting to know Doyle when he was taken from us. She didn't talk about him a lot, but when she did, it was something that was very special to her.

"Thank you, Cordelia, for everything you have done," I told her sincerely.

"You are welcome. Now, it's about time we got to the chapel. Are you ready?" Cordelia asked.

"As I ever will be." We closed the door behind us and went to the car.


Ten minutes later @ the chapel

In the little chapel at Restfield Cemetery, the friends and family of Buffy Anne Summers gathered for her funeral. She had left detail instructions that if she should die suddenly, that she wanted to be buried at Restfield because she had spent her best slaying nights there.

Cordelia and I walked through the doors and I felt a surge of electricity go through me. I was able to shake it off, but the lasting feeling was there. Cordelia signed the book and told me she would go get us a seat. This left me in the foyer alone. I stepped up to the book and turned the page, not wanting to read what Cordelia had written.

Come to me in the silence of the night;
Come in the speaking silence of a dream;
Come with soft rounded cheeks and eyes as bright
As sunlight on a stream;
Come back in tears,
O memory, hope, love of finished years.


Dear Summers family,
Words cannot describe what Buffy meant to all of us. She will be deeply missed by a great deal of people and remembered in the hearts of the living. My greatest sympathies go out to your entire family.
Love,
Angel

When I was finished, I turned the page, so that the next person would have a clean page. Quietly, I went into the chapel and found Cordelia sitting with Giles, Xander, and Willow.

"Hello, Angel. I'm glad you were able to come," Giles said as he shook my hand.

"There is nowhere I would rather be. Buffy and I had become good friends again. I can't believe she was taken from us so savagely."

Everyone was silent and my eyes wandered around the chapel. Buffy's closed casket had been placed at the bottom of the altar. I wished I would be able to see her one last time, but then I wondered if her killer had deformed her in anyway. I don't think I could stand to see my lover that way. To my right, I saw Joyce and Mr. Summers sitting in the front pew. I debated whether I should go pay my regrets to them and decided I would like to talk to them privately.

"Angel, have you seen that cute little girl in the front pew with Mr. and Mrs. Summers? She looks like Buffy," Cordelia said.

Joyce moved and I was able to see a light brown-haired girl holding onto Joyce's hand. The little girl seemed to be transfixed on the casket. Joyce began whispering in her ear and she happened to turn in my direction. She was definitely related to Buffy. She had her small forehead and nose, but there was something about her that was more familiar to me: her dark, but soulful eyes. They were like my own or how other people described them. Could she be....

Before I could say a word, the priest had come out and began the service. He was talking about how short Buffy's life had been and how these days the young people were dying at an alarming rate. He definitely didn't know about the Hellmouth or he would not have been so surprised. Those who knew Buffy knew she could have died at any time, so we were semi-prepared, but so long after her slaying heydays. Why now?

"Is there anyone who would wish to speak about our departed sister, Buffy?" the priest asked. Everyone looked around before finally Giles went up.

"Hello, everyone. I'm Rupert Giles. I have known Buffy since 1997 and she became like a daughter to me. Buffy would probably say that I was just her school librarian, but most of us know I was a lot more to her. She was stubborn as all hell, but you instantly had to back down. She was a very fun loving person and I will miss her in my life. My condolences go out to the entire Summers family and her closest friends." Giles stepped down, crying, and Willow consoled him.

Everyone sat there solemnly and the priest went on. I wondered why no one else had spoken. Was there something I didn't know?

"Buffy Anne Summers has left behind her parents, Joyce and Hank Summers and her daughter of three years, Lenore Morgana. God have mercy that her mother died so early in her life."

Three years? That was proof enough for me. The service was over quickly and everyone filed out of the chapel. I told Cordelia to go outside and I would be out in a few minutes. She left and I went to the casket.

"Hey, Buffy, it's me. How's it where you are? Did you gain your wings yet? So, what is the reason you kept Lenore a secret? Did she remind you too much of me? How I was or am? I wish I had known I had a child, someone who was a part of someone that I love and wanted to spend my life with. Despite everything, I wish we had been able to be together as a family if only once." I knelt next to the casket and kissed the hard wood.

"Angel, can I talk to you?" I heard a voice say behind me. For a moment, I thought it was Buffy's, but it was the next closest person, her mom.

"Hello, Joyce. I hope that you don't mind that I'm here," I said, wondering if she still blamed me for everything that happened four years ago.

"No, I'm glad you are here. You have every right to be here. You were closer to her than any of us and I am sure she would do something to get back at me if you weren't told. Sorry, I'm still in shock. She was protecting Lenore and that's when it happened."

"Willow told me it was you she was protecting." Not that it made a difference. Buffy always was protecting people in need.

"She probably didn't want to be the first person to tell you about Lenore. She probably thought it was my place."

"So, she is mine, isn't she?"

"Yes."

"She was conceived in November of 1999."

"Yes. She was 3 in September."

"Now, that Buffy's gone, what does that mean for her? Who has custody of her?"

"Angel, I think we should discuss this later. They are about to carry the casket out. It would mean a lot if you would act as a pallbearer." I noticed Xander and a few other men were milling around the chapel. Joyce said goodbye and went outside.

Without a word, I took hold of the front right and we carried the casket outside to her burial spot. The path had been lit because of the time of night. She was going to be buried next to the Alpert mausoleum. We had had some fun times in this area. The casket was put on the platform and I stepped back to be with the gang. Joyce, Hank, and Lenore were all sitting in the seats for the immediate family. My eyes were transfixed on Lenore's head. The priest did the usual 'Dust to dust, ashes to ashes' speech and I wished I didn't have to see her go into that ground. In the past, I had watched as my victims were buried, but this is my true love. When the casket begin to disappear, I turned away, looking anywhere, but straight ahead. The guests began saying goodbye to Joyce and Hank and soon, it was only Giles, Willow, Xander, and I who remained.

"Hank, this is Angel. Angel, this is Buffy's father, Hank," Joyce said as Hank and she came over to me.

"Hello, sir. We shouldn't have to meet for the first time on such a somber occasion. I am sorry for your loss."

"Thank you. Buffy said you were the best thing in her life and you were the one who got away. From what I see, she may have been right."

"Hey there, mopsy. Where's Mr. Bear?" I heard Willow say as she picked up Lenore. The little girl laughed and smiled for the first time all night.

"Gramma wouldn't let me bring him. He's on my bed at her house," Lenore said, quietly.

"You haven't been properly introduced," Joyce told me.

"She seems to be having a good time with Willow. Don't interrupt."

"She asked me who you were and I told her you were a very good friend of her mommy's. She said you were very pretty."

"Sweet child."

"Joyce, I think she's getting a little tired," Willow said as she came over with Lenore in her arms. The little girl's head was resting on Willow's shoulder and her eyes were closed.

"She has had a long day. Give her to me." Lenore was transferred from Willow to Joyce. "Angel, I would like you to come to the house with us if you can."

"Yes. Willow, can you take Cordelia back to your house with you?" I asked.

"Sure. I will see you later everyone." Willow walked away and I followed Joyce and Hank over to the parking lot.

"Meet you at my house in ten minutes. You remember how to get there, don't you?"

I would never forget how to get to Buffy's house. I had been there more times than Buffy had known about. "Yes. I will see you there." I watched Joyce lay Lenore in the backseat and she got in the passenger seat next to Hank. I slowly followed them back to the house.


Eight minutes and fifty-two seconds later @ Joyce's house

Pulling up to Joyce's house, I almost could not contain my tears. I would never be able to watch Buffy climb down her trellis or walk by a window. Hank and Joyce got Lenore out of the car and Hank took her upstairs to bed.

"Angel, come in," Joyce said as I hesitated at the door. I went inside and noticed that in four years not much had changed. A few new pictures, a couple of Buffy and Lenore, that I admired before going into the living room.

"Can I get you something to drink? Coffee, soft drink?" Joyce asked. She was antsy about something, but still she was being a courteous hostess.

"Water, thank you." Joyce went into the kitchen and I picked up a pastel scrapbook with a little bear on it. These have to be baby pictures, I knew I shouldn't be doing this, but I had to know what she looked like when she was carrying my child. I opened to the first page and this was written: May 2003, To Mom (Grandma), Happy Mom's Day Love, Buffy and Lenore. Below was a recent picture of Lenore and Buffy. Both of them looked happy with milk mustaches. Turning the page, I found a chronicle of the past four years. Buffy throughout her pregnancy, just after she gave birth with all the sweat and tears still present, a bunch of baby pictures of Lenore in various outfits, and finally, a picture of the three generations of Summers women. I closed the book as Joyce reappeared. From the redness of her eyes, I knew why she had been gone so long.

"I saw that you were looking at my Mother's Day present. Since she has been gone, I have looked at that thing fifty times. Remembering the good times and the bad times...I want you to know that she was happy when she died. It was quick and pretty painless."

But that doesn't bring her back? I wanted to yell, but I resolved to keep my self-control. "That's good to know. Why is that you asked me to come here?"

"Because of this," Joyce said as she handed me a decorated videotape case and manila envelope. In Buffy's interesting handwriting on both were written To my dearest Angel.

"Buffy made this tape for you about two weeks ago. She wanted to explain everything to you since the two of you were becoming close again. She was planning on sending it the day she was killed."

By this time, Hank had come down and taken a seat next to Joyce. "Joycie, have you told him about the custody issue?"

What? "No, Hank. I just gave him the video and envelope. He hasn't opened the envelope yet," Joyce said to her ex-husband. She turned to me, saying, "I guess Hank just ruined the ending. It was Buffy's wish that if anything should happen to her that you would get sole custody of Lenore. The envelope contains the legal papers as well as some other items Buffy wanted you to have."

Slowly, I opened the envelope and removed the paper-clipped papers. The rest of the contents remained inside until such time that I could be alone. The papers told me what Joyce had already told me: Lenore Morgana Summers-McKendrick was left to Angel McKendrick, her biological father, in the event of Buffy Anne Summers' death or grave injury. Buffy's signatures were already present. I read all the papers and gave my signature. While I had been reading, I thought about what I wanted to do.

"Joyce, I don't want to disturb Lenore's life anymore than it has been. If it is alright with you, I would like to spend a week here with her, so we can get to know each other. If then she feels comfortable with me, I would like her to move to Los Angeles with me. No matter what happens I want to be part of her life."

"I understand. You come up here to say goodbye to the woman you love and learn you have a child together. Lenore is a lot shier and timid compared to Buffy, but at the funeral she was the one who asked me who you were. She wants to know you."

"Is it alright if I go upstairs and watch her sleep? I know what she has been going through. I promise not to wake her up," I asked.

"You're her father and her guardian now, Angel. We are not decision-makers for her anymore, you are," Hank said. This was the first time he had really spoken to me.

"She's up in Buffy's room. I have no doubt you know where that is. We will be down here if you need us." I left the living room and quietly, walked up the stairs. They didn't creak that much, so I probably hadn't woken Lenore up. Opening the door into Buffy's room set off a flood of memories. The day I spent the night, Halloween, some of the memories when I was a demon again. The décor was the same as I remembered. Using the light from the hallway, I made my way over to the desk chair and sat down. Under all the covers, I was able to see Lenore clasping her teddy bear (Mr. Bear if I remember what Willow said earlier) for dear life. She made a soft snoring noise that was like music to my ears.

Suddenly, Lenore began flailing around and yelling, "Mommy! Mommy! Mr. Big Teeth don't hurt my mommy." My little girl was having a nightmare and my parental instinct took over. I rushed over to her bed and gently took her in my arms.

"Lenore, Lenore, wake up. You're having a very bad dream," I said softly. Her eyes opened in fear but once I turned on the small lamp, she relaxed.

"You're the pretty man I saw at Mommy's funeral. What's your name?" I thought this bold of a shy little girl, but the behavior reminded me of Buffy.

"Angel," I simply replied.

"Mommy's an angel now, isn't she?" She was an angel when she was here on earth, I wanted to say, but Lenore would not understand that.

"Yes, she is. Will you tell me about your dream?"

She recoiled a bit and she was quiet for a few minutes. "The big teeth monster got Mommy and pulled her away from me. I screamed and cried, but the monster bit Mommy in the neck. He ran away before Gramma came out."

My daughter had watched her mother be killed. I wished I could reverse time and be there for Buffy and Lenore, but that was impossible. The only thing I could do now was be there for Lenore as Buffy wanted me to.

"I am going to be spending a lot of time with you for the next week. Would you like that?"

Even though it was semi-dark, I could feel her smile. "Yes. Me and you can have fun. I love you, Mr. Angel." Lenore gave me a kiss and closed her eyes.

"I love you, Lenore. Sleep tight," I said as she fell asleep in my arms. The night Lenore was conceived, Buffy had done the same thing. I shed a few tears and they fell into Lenore's hair. She is beautiful, Buffy, but any child of yours would be. When I knew she wasn't going to wake up, I transferred her back into her bed and pulled her covers over her. Before I turned off the light and closed the door, I gave her a kiss on the forehead. With that, I went downstairs to talk to Hank and Joyce.


Early Saturday October 25, 2003 @ Willow's apartment

After leaving Joyce's house, I had some pent-up energy. I drove around Sunnydale for a good two hours, remembering all the places I had gone with Buffy. I went up to the mansion and realized someone had moved in. It was no longer mine. At about one-thirty, I returned to Willow's with my tape and envelope. The front door was unlocked, so I gained entrance without disturbing Willow or Cordy. Both of them seemed to be asleep, so I put in my tape and turned the volume down. I took the blanket from the couch and sat in front of the television.

When I was ready, I pushed Play and Buffy's face lit up the screen. She was sitting on a couch with pictures and other drawings around her. She looked the same as I remembered her, except her hair was a little shorter and it was clipped back in a pin.

"Angel's tape take one. Hi, Angel. No, that sounds childish. Hey, Angel. I wanted to give you something to pass the time until I am able to come see you. The weekend of November 7 is working out good, so I will see you then." Suddenly, she burst into tears and there is two minutes of crying. "I'm so sorry, Angel. There is a reason why I am making this video, a very important one. I will understand if you don't want to see me after viewing this video. I shouldn't have kept this from you for so long. (Taking a deep breath) Angel, you have a daughter, Lenore. She was conceived the weekend I was down in LA with you. I don't remember all the details, but I know the important facts. She was born September 4, 2000 and she weighed 6 lb. 1 oz. The first time I saw her eyes I knew she was yours. No one I have ever known has those deep chocolate eyes that make your heart melt. She is the sweetest little girl and I wish I would have realized we needed you in our lives before now. There is something else that is important to me, Angel. No matter what your initial reaction is, my decision will never change. Angel, I want to know that Lenore is well taken care of if anything should ever happen to me. That is why I want you to have sole custody of our daughter. I have already discussed this with Mom and Giles and they will not stand in your way. The papers have already been pre-signed by me, but I hope we won't ever need to worry about them. 'Mommy, the Little Mermaid ended. Can I have a new DVD?' 'Yes, sweetheart. Can you come here for a second? Say hi to the camera for a second.' 'Hi, camera. Mommy, who are you making the tape for?' 'An old friend. Will you let Mommy finish making the tape and then I will change the disk?' 'Okay, bye camera friend.' If you haven't figured that out, that was Miss Lenore. She does look like a blend of us, doesn't she? Well, as you heard, Mommy duty calls. I hope to hear from you as soon as you watch this tape. I want you to know that I love you and I have not stopped since I first met you. See you soon." Buffy kissed the camera lens and the tape ended. That was the last picture of Buffy I would ever have.

I rewatched the tape over and over again. I ended up staying awake until four in the morning, each time I cried a little more. I left the envelope for another time.


Saturday, October 25, 2003-Friday October 31, 2003

When I woke up on Saturday, Willow and Cordelia were gone. They left a note saying they were at the mall and would be back later. I took that as a sign that they knew I needed to be my brooding self and they were letting me be. The decorated envelope was beside me on the couch and I decided right now was as good a time as any to look inside.

Undoing the clasp, the first item I pulled out was a drawing made by Lenore. It showed a tall person with yellow hair who looked like Buffy, a little girl with yellow and brown mixed hair that had to be Lenore, and a tall brown haired person all in black. I guess someone told her I dressed in black a lot. The picture was dated May 4, 2003. Putting the drawing aside, I removed another piece of paper. This was a letter addressed to me. I wasn't ready to see what Buffy wrote to me, so I placed that off to the side and took out the remaining item in the envelope. To Angel was written on the cover of a small album. Inside was filled with various pictures of Buffy and Lenore from the past four years. It was in scrapbook form, so there were captions and comments to most of the pictures. It was a nice way to show me what I had missed while I was away, but still I wished I had been a part of their lives while I had both of them.

The phone interrupted my thoughts. "Hello, this is Willow's apartment."

"Hello, Angel. It's Joyce. I was wondering if you were coming over tonight."

"I was planning on it. Is something wrong with Lenore?"

"No, no. I think she's just getting tired of Hank and me watching over her all the time. She needs someone new to talk to her."

"Allow me to eat and change. I will be over in about twenty minutes, okay?"

"That's fine. Come over whenever you can. Goodbye, Angel."

"Bye, Joyce." I hung up the phone and focus on the page the scrapbook was open to: it was a picture of Buffy holding a newborn Lenore in her backyard. Both of them looked happy and I shed a few tears before leaving the couch.

I drank a bag and they changed into my gray wool sweater and a pair of jeans. I wanted Lenore to be less afraid of me, so I was trying to wear some of the clothes Cordy had bought for me. Within ten minutes, I was out of the apartment and driving to Joyce's house.

I knocked on the door and Lenore asked who it was. I told her Mr. Angel and she threw open the door and rushed into my arms. Joyce came up laughing saying that she had told Lenore that I was coming over. Lenore took me into the living room and told me to sit on the couch. She sat next to me and explained who everyone was on the Bugs Bunny cartoon. I sat there listening to her intently. I asked her where she had learned everything and she softly said that her mommy had told about it. I smiled knowing Buffy was a closet-cartoon watcher.

For the rest of the night, Lenore and I spend quality time together. Her head was resting on my thigh and I had my hand on her back. She and I watched three hours of cartoons before Joyce told her it was time for bed.

"But Gramma, I'm not tired." The little girl was trying to suppress a yawn. She also put on a pouty face, similar to her mother's.

"Is it okay if Mr. Angel takes you to bed?"

"Alright. Goodnight, Gramma. Where's Grandpa?" she asked.

"In the kitchen. Go give him a kiss goodnight."

"I will." She took off around the corner and Joyce and I exchanged a glance.

"What do you think of her?"

"She's definitely Buffy's."

"And yours. Buffy would often tell me of things that reminded her of you."

"Mr. Angel, I will race you upstairs," Lenore said from the bottom of the stairs.

"I will give you a head start," I told her.

"You are good with her, Angel."

"How could I not? She's my link to my love." I left the living room and went to find Lenore.

For the rest of week, I was able to visit Lenore for a longer time thanks to Giles, Willow, and Joyce. There was a way to get from Willow's apartment to Joyce's house through the tunnels. The manholes were within seconds of the front doors and I protected myself with my duster. It worked out for the best, I was able to spend more of the day with Lenore and she could get to know me better. By Wednesday, we were talking about the different cartoons and shows like old pros.

At a commercial one of the nights, Lenore asked me in her little voice, "Mr. Angel, do you know what Friday is?"

"Its date would be 31st. Why do you ask?"

"It's Halloween. Candy night. Can you come over that night?"

"Yes, if you want me to. What are you going to dress as?"

"A princess. Mommy and Gramma made the costume for me."

"You will be the prettiest princess out there."

"Auntie Willow and Uncle Xander are coming over too. What about the brown-haired lady from Mommy's funeral?"

"Cordelia? I think she would like to come to your Halloween party."

"It's not a party, it's trick-or-treat time."

"Alright."

Every night, Lenore went down for me with no trouble. She usually wanted to hear a story, so I told her various fairy tales and she usually fell asleep about halfway through. I tucked her in and waited a few minutes in case she woke up. She never did, but there was another reason I liked staying. When she was asleep, she reminded me of Buffy with her constant movement and her soft talking. I would leave the door ajar and go downstairs to talk to Joyce and Hank for an hour or so. Back at Willow's, Cordelia and Willow usually were awake and they would ask how our day was and I always answered amazing. I invited Cordelia to the Halloween party on Friday night.

"You know Angel, we have to get back to LA by next Wednesday," she said.

By now, everyone knew I had sole custody of Lenore, but the reality was beginning to set in. "I'm aware of that, Cordelia. I still don't know about ripping Lenore away from the places and people she knows here in Sunnydale."

"Angel, you have to do it some time. We all love her like our own and it will only make it harder if you keep her here for much longer," Willow said.

"After Friday night, I promise I will ask her if she wants to live with me."

"Sounds good to me," Cordy answered.

"Angel, you are going to be a good father," Willow told me.

"Thanks for the confidence, Will."

Friday came and Lenore called me at eleven in the morning. Willow woke me up from a sound sleep and I immediately thought something was wrong.

"Hey, Mr. Angel. Gramma dialed your number, so I could talk to you. Are you still coming tonight?"

"Yeah, Lenore. Auntie Willow, Cordelia, and I will be there about four-thirty. Just in time to see you put on your costume."

"Cool. It's almost lunchtime. Gramma's making my favorite: peanut butter and jelly with the crust cut off. Bye-bye." Just like Buffy.

"Bye, Lenore." I hung up the phone and pasted a big smile on my face.

"What did the little one say to you?" Cordy asked as she came out of the bathroom, fixing her hair.

"She wanted to know if I was coming tonight. I told her all of us would be there."

"That little girl is going to have you wrapped around her little finger."

"Cordy's right. You are going to spoil her rotten," Willow said.

"She's my daughter and she's my responsibility now. I make the decision for her now."

Neither Cordelia nor Willow said a word to me for a while. I knew what I had said was a little over the top, but it was the truth. I am Buffy's Chosen One to take care of her daughter. For some reason, she trusted me with our daughter's life and well being and I don't want to let her down in the first week.

Time flew and we went over to Joyce's house a little early. I lied in the back of Willow's car with a blanket over my body. We got to the house and Willow parked in the driveway, so I wouldn't have to walk so far. Hank answered the door that day and told us Joyce was upstairs putting on Lenore's costume.

"Grandpa, is Mr. Angel here?" Lenore called down from upstairs.

"Yes, honey. Auntie Willow and Cordelia are here too."

"Mr. Angel, come here," she yelled in an authority voice.

"I have been called," I said as I raced up the stairs and snatched Lenore from where she stood in Joyce's doorway. She let out a shriek and then started laughing. All she was wearing was underwear and tights. Joyce had curled her hair and it was all in ringlets.

"Mr. Angel!"

"Hey there, cutey. Where's the rest of your costume? I don't think Gramma and Grandpa will allow you out like this."

"Gramma has it."

"Angel, she has not stopped talking about you since this morning. Lenore, will you put your costume on now that Angel's here?"

"I want him to do it."

"Alright, but you may want to ask him first."

"Mr. Angel, will you put my costume on me please?" Again she put on her pouty face and I couldn't resist.

"What do I have to do?"

"Get her dress over her head, button it up, put her shoes on and that's it," Joyce explained.

"Alright." I took the blue dress from the bed and put it over Lenore's head and she squirmed underneath until her arms and head peeked through. I buttoned the back up and put Lenore up on the bed so I could get her shoes on. Within five minutes, she was dressed and looked like a true princess.

"Do I look like Mommy?" Lenore asked me.

"Yes, you have her button nose and small forehead. Your toes look like hers too," I told her as I touched her nose, forehead, and tickled her toes. She laughed and giggled. That was another thing that reminded me of Buffy.

"Do I look like you, Daddy?" My eyes shot to her in shock. As far as I knew, no one had told her about my true identity. To her I was just a good friend of her Mommy's who has been there every night for the past few days. Joyce sat there speechless also.

"Yes, your eyes are like mine. Your grandma, my mommy, use to tell me that my eyes would make every lady turn to me. You are going to have the affect of boys when you get older."

"Ewww! Boys. Where does your mommy live?"

"She died a long time ago, but I will tell you about her some time. She was a sweet lady."

"Come on everybody. It's candy time," Lenore said in her happy voice. She raced downstairs and Willow caught her.

"Hey, mopsy. Can you give me a hug?"

Lenore settled down enough to give Willow a hug and then she was racing to get away from me. This was her game for twenty minutes: Get Away from Daddy. She ran around the house and never got tired. Finally, it started getting darker and it was time to go out. Joyce took a bunch of pictures before Lenore went out. We asked Lenore who she wanted to go out. Of course, I was her first choice and Willow was her second. Joyce, Hank, Cordelia, and Xander didn't take offense to this, so Willow and I set off with Princess Lenore and her pumpkin pail.

Lenore had the 'Trick-or-treat' down and she received some good candy because of it. Everyone looked at her and then at Willow and me and stared. No, we aren't her parents, I wanted to say to the people. But I didn't let it get to me, after all this was Sunnydale.

In between houses, Lenore said, "Auntie Willow, did you know Angel was my daddy?"

"Yes, I did, mopsy."

Lenore dropped the subject because she had another house to assault. Going down both sides of the block, Lenore had a pail full of candy and we went back to Joyce's.

"What did you get?" everyone asked. Lenore spilled the pail of candy and pointed. Smart girl, I thought.

The adults checked the candy and ate some. When Lenore asked if she could have some, Joyce and I said she could have three pieces before she went to bed. Being her mother's child, she picked the big Tootsie Roll, Reese's, and Snickers. She sat on Joyce's lap and ate her candy.

Bedtime came quickly for the little girl, but she didn't complain a bit. She hugged and kissed everyone goodnight and went upstairs. Tonight, she had asked Hank to tuck her in, because he was leaving for home tomorrow.

Hank was back downstairs within five minutes, saying that Lenore had fallen into a sound sleep once she had gotten into bed. All of us adults talked for an hour or so and then we decided it was time to go. While Cordelia and Willow were talking to Joyce, I snuck upstairs and looked in on Lenore. She was resting comfortably in the big bed and I said a special goodnight to her in my mind.

I got downstairs before they began looking for me and said goodbye to Joyce and Hank. They both thanked me for being there for Lenore and them. I shrugged and said I had nothing better to do. Willow, Cordelia, and me left to go back to Willow's. I had a lot to decide that night like when I was going to ask Lenore if she wanted to move to Los Angeles with me.


Monday November 3, 2003 @ Willow's apartment

Joyce had asked if I wanted to have Lenore come over to Willow's instead of going to her house. I told her that was fine with me. Joyce came over with Lenore about eleven and waited around a while. I think she knew today was the day I was going to ask Lenore.

Lenore was sitting on my lap as she enjoyed doing most of the time I was around her. She had brought her Suzie Dress-up doll with her and she kept taking her shoes on and off.

"Lenore, can I ask you something?" I said, quietly.

She stopped taking off the shoes and looked up at me. "Sure, Daddy. What's the what?" she asked. Her statement made me want to cry for two reasons: the Daddy part and the usage of Buffy's slang.

"You have been having a good time with me over the past week?"

Lenore nodded.

"Well, I have been having a good time with you too. I was wondering if you would like to live with me. Right now, my apartment isn't very nice, but we could find a new one." I looked to Lenore for a reaction. The first thing I got was a smile.

"Gramma, can I go live with Daddy?" she asked.

"Lenore, you can do whatever you want. Remember Grandpa and me will always love you."

"Daddy, can we visit Gramma a lot?"

"Yes, we can come back here often and Grandma, Willow, Giles, and Xander can come to see you as much as they can. I don't want you to miss out on seeing everyone."

"Okay. Does Miss Cordy live with you?"

I laughed. "No, but she works with me. Do you like her?"

"She has nice clothes and smells good."

Those sounded like two pluses in Lenore's book. "Can you be ready to go in two days?"

Lenore nodded quickly and I looked to Joyce. "I still haven't gone to Buffy's apartment to get a lot of Lenore's things. We have been making due with the clothes and things I had at my house."

"Would it help if I went with you?" I asked quietly. I wondered where Buffy had lived, because I hadn't seen a lot of Buffy's things at Joyce's.

"Yes, it would. Maybe Willow and Cordelia could watch Lenore later and we could go to do it tonight. I can't avoid going there much longer."

"I'm sure they would be happy to," I said.

"Okay, Lenore. Let's let Daddy have a few hours to himself. I will bring you back here later, so that Auntie Willow and Cordelia can watch you."

"Alright. Bye, Daddy." She gave me a hug and a kiss goodbye. Joyce smiled at me and waved goodbye. When Lenore and her were gone, I lay down and slept for a few hours. Tonight promised to be emotionally draining.


Sunset that night

The doorbell rang and I rushed to get it. As expected, it was Lenore and Joyce. Both of them were dressed warmly due to the cold front that had moved in. I wasn't sure where I had left my duster, but I would find it.

"Daddy!" Lenore said as she rushed to me. I grabbed her and picked her up. I wondered if this kid was ever sad. The only time I had seen her anything but happy was after her nightmare.

Willow and Cordelia had been pigging out on Chinese food in the kitchen and came out when they realized our guests had arrived.

"Hey, Lenore. It's Girls' Night here. What do you want to do first? Hair? Nails? Facial?" Cordelia asked.

"Can I have my nails painted? When Mommy went out, she would do my nails too."

"Cool, nails it is. Is that alright with you, Angel?" Cordelia asked.

"Whatever she wants. Just don't make her into a beauty queen contestant."

"Lenore, Daddy and I are going to go out for a few hours. You be good for Auntie Willow and Cordelia, okay?"

"Alright, Gramma." She hugged us both and Willow took her into the kitchen. I found my duster on the coat rack and we left in Joyce's Jeep.

"You might be wondering why Buffy was living on her own and not with me. When I found out she was pregnant, I didn't react very well. UC Sunnydale doesn't allow student mothers to stay in their residence halls after they deliver, so Buffy moved into a place in Giles' building. He was able to watch out for her and help her. After Lenore was born and I saw her, I got over my bullheadedness. I came to realize Lenore could be my only grandchild. Buffy had made a home for Lenore and herself and she didn't want to move back into my house. We got along very well since everything got resolved. Lenore would stay with Giles or me every day when Buffy was at school and she worked on campus. I had my daughter and granddaughter in my life and I wish I could have them both again." Joyce broke down and I put a hand on her shoulder.

Thankfully, we arrived at the building not soon after and I saw Giles standing in his doorway.

"Hello, Joyce, Angel. Do you need any help upstairs?" He had to know why we were here.

"No, thank you. Angel is taking Lenore to L.A. on Wednesday and I wanted to get as much as her stuff tonight as possible."

"Oh. If you need anything, I will be here all night." Giles closed his door and Joyce led me up to Buffy's apartment. The key Joyce had stuck in the lock, so I used some brute force to turn the knob.

"I guess that's what I get for not coming here sooner," she said as she walked into the now open apartment. This was definitely Buffy's place. A lot of knickknacks and Lenore's craft projects around the living room. Joyce went down into Lenore's room, which was painted sky blue and had sunflowers on the wall.

"Buffy wanted Lenore to feel safe, not scared."

I nodded and went to the closet. "How do you want to do this?"

"I brought boxes. You can put as much of Lenore's stuff in those. A lot of this stuff she won't miss all that much. I can tell you what she likes. Let me go get the boxes."

Joyce walked out of the apartment and I wandered around. The only other door on that side of the apartment led to Buffy's room. There were clothes strewn all over the floor and her boots in the middle of the room, but her bed was perfectly made. I went over to her night table and found a picture of Lenore and Buffy at Disneyland. Buffy had on Mickey Mouse ears and Lenore had on a Pooh cap that was too big for her newborn head. I estimated that Lenore had to be less than three months old in that picture.

"Angel?" Joyce called.

"Coming." I rushed out of the room and closed the door behind me.

For two hours, Joyce and I went through Lenore's closet and room selecting things that Lenore could not survive without. That filled three big boxes. Another box were things that were mementos and Joyce said she would save those for Lenore for when she had children. Joyce put the three full boxes into the living room and then she went back down the hallway, but this time she went into Buffy's room.

"I know you were in here when I came back with the boxes. This is actually clean compared to a few times I was here. There is a box in her closet I know she wanted you to have. It goes with the letter that was inside the envelope. Have you read it yet?"

"No, but I did watch the video a few times."

"Here it is." Joyce gave me a silver box and we went out to the living room.

"What are you going to do with the apartment?"

"I decided I am going to clear it out. I'm not emotionally ready to go through every thing at the moment. The movers are coming this weekend and they are going to put everything in storage for a while."

"That's a good decision. Do you think I have everything Lenore will want?"

"Besides her mommy... Sorry, I'm still cynical about this goddamn Hellmouth. Why did it have to take her now that she was settling down and raising her daughter?"

I had no answer, so I remained silent. We took the boxes down in two trips and the last time Joyce said to me, "If there is anything you want to take for yourself to remember her by, be my guest."

I went back into the bedroom and took the Disneyland picture, the leather jacket I had gotten her six years ago, and her vanilla perfume. I stuck the picture and perfume in my pockets and carried the jacket over my arms. Seeing only the jacket, Joyce asked if there was anything I wanted. I told her I had enough. She locked up the apartment again and she drove me back to Willow's.


Wednesday November 5, 2003 @ night

I have not physically seen Lenore since Monday night. She had asked to spend her last few days with her gramma. She is the smartest three-year-old I have ever been around. She senses that her life is going through a dramatic change and she has taken it all in stride. So far, I have not seen her shed a single tear over her mother's death or leaving Sunnydale. She's always smiling and she makes the world a brighter place.

"Angel? What are you going to do about your apartment? It isn't exactly kid friendly," Cordelia asked as she drove over to Joyce's. We were going to take her back to L.A. with us tonight, but before Joyce had planned a get together to say goodbye to Lenore.

"I know that and I have been thinking. That spare room can definitely be Lenore's room, but it needs some sprucing up. Do you know someone who could help?" It was dark, but I knew Cordy sensed me staring at her.

"You're going to have to lend me one of those gold cards of yourself. Probably the one with the 10,000 dollar limit," she said nonchalantly, but I could tell she was excited.

"How about 5,000? That should take care of redecorating the room and clothes. Keep in mind she's only three. I think I said this before, but I don't want her looking like a baby model."

"Overprotective father much?" Cordy said under her breath, but I heard her.

"Yes, I am going to be. She is my only connection to her mother now and I don't want to lose her before I have to."

The mood in the car got somber for the remainder of the trip. Cordelia parked in front of the house and immediately, someone opened the door or attempted to.

"Daddy, daddy, daddy," Lenore chanted. I opened the door and she rushed into my arms. I picked her up and she gave me a kiss on the cheek. She was wearing a little red velvet dress and her hair was done in curls.

"Aaaahhhh!!!! That's so sweet," Cordelia said as she joined us on the parkway.

"Lenore? Lenore? Where did you go?" Joyce called from inside the house. I carried Lenore inside, so Joyce wouldn't be worried. "There you are. Lenore, I told you never to go outside alone after night. There are things that like to get little girls like you." Joyce tickled Lenore's tummy and my daughter began laughing. Joyce was being stern with Lenore, but playfully.

"Sorry, gramma. Daddy's here," Lenore answered with her puppy dog face.

"See, Angel. This is what you have to look forward to. This little munchkin and her many faces. It's hard to say no to them when they look like this." Joyce took Lenore from me and we went into the living room where everyone was gathered.

"There you are, Lenore. Where did you run off to? Sorry, Joyce, we got to talking and the next thing we knew she was gone," Giles said as he apologized.

"She went outside to meet Angel and Cordelia. Don't worry, I already told her she was not to run outside after dark without an adult around."

"Good. How are you doing today, Angel?" Giles asked. Cordy and I had taken a seat on the loveseat and Joyce and Lenore were sitting on the ground.

"Alright."

"He is still a man of very few words. I think I speak for him when I say that at first he came up here to attend his only love's funeral and grief in his own way. When he found out he had a child, it changed everything for him. Even if Buffy had not given him full custody, he would have felt responsible to take care of her and be a loving father," Cordelia explained.

"Wait a minute! Buffy gave full custody of Lenore to Angel? I thought Lenore was going to L.A. for a few weeks and then she would be back," Xander yelled.

"Xander, I told you Saturday on the phone. Buffy wanted Lenore to be with Angel if anything would have happened to her," Willow told her lifelong friend.

"How long has this been in place? Did everyone know but me?"

"Since the day Lenore was born. She told me that if she didn't write it down it would be understood by all that Angel was Lenore's father and he would be her guardian. She went to her mom and Giles about it a year ago and they gave their blessings. I told Cordy at the funeral. So, I guess you were the
last to know."

"Uncle Xander don't like Daddy?" Lenore asked. Her eyes went from Xander to me and back to Xander.

"Sorry, mopsy. Your daddy and I have a love/hate relationship. It worked this way for six years and I don't see any reason to change," Xander said to Lenore.

"Well...seeing as we need a change of subject, how about all of you come into the kitchen? I have food and drinks in there."

All of us went into the kitchen to get some food and drink. Giles and I began discussing some creatures that were to come into this world from the sewers. Xander, Cordy, and Willow were reminiscing about high school. Joyce, the odd man out, was looking busy by organizing her bowls. I hadn't asked Joyce how Lenore's living with me was going to effect her. Once I was done with Giles, I moved over to talk to her.

"Joyce, are you going to be okay here?"

"Angel, I have lived alone for three years now. Nothing is different," Joyce replied.

I didn't say a word. We both knew that was right. Buffy was dead and Lenore was coming to live with me. Everything was changing all at once for both of us. Her sobs were what brought me to reality. I took her in my arms and allowed her to cry. She murmured something about Buffy deserving to be rewarded for all the people she had saved, but instead she was killed. Once Willow, Xander, Cordy, and Giles realized Joyce was in tears, they came over to help me comfort her.

"Joyce, remember you will always be Lenore's grandmother. I don't want to take her away from you. You are welcome to visit anytime and I will bring her up here to see you guys all the time. I promise."

"Speaking of the munchkin, where is she? I haven't seen her since we came in here," Willow said.

All six of us looked at each other and panicked. We hadn't heard her at all and that also caused us to worry.

"I will look upstairs," Xander said.

"I'll check outside," Giles said.

"I will check the basement. She likes to play 'Hide and Seek' in there," Joyce said.

"Maybe she's in the bathroom and she fell in. Maybe she was sucked into another realm," Cordy said. Everyone looked at her like she was crazy. "It could happen. Fine, I will look around for the little moppet."

Everyone split up and we searched for five minutes before I found her. On the living room couch, there was Miss Lenore, asleep holding onto her mother's Mr. Gordo.

Softly, I called everyone off the search and we all laughed that she was in the spot we had left her.

"I hate to do this, but I think it's time that we got on the road," I said.

Everyone's expression changed from smiles to resolve faces. They were going to have to let go of Lenore. Joyce had a few more bags of Lenore's things to give me. There was no sense in waking her, so I kept her where she was until it was time for us to go. When it was, I picked her up and allowed everyone to say goodbye to her. Lenore didn't budge from her slumber. All of us went outside and I did another check that we had everything that we needed. Getting in the driver seat, I laid Lenore down next to me. Cordelia got comfortable in the passenger side with Lenore's head on her lap.

"I want you to call when you arrive no matter what time," Joyce said as she leaned into my window.

"I promise to. Bye everyone and thank you for everything," I say.

"Take good care of her," I hear them say to us.

It was time to go and I slowly pulled away. Everyone remained outside waving under the lightpost and soon they all disappeared.


Thursday, November 4, 2003

We got into L.A. around eleven-thirty and were at my apartment by midnight. Lenore was still asleep and Cordy had dozed off around an hour ago. When I pulled into the garage and parked, Cordy immediately woke up and began looking around.

"We're home, Cordy. Why don't you spend the night here? I don't think you should drive home after sleeping for so long. You can have the bed and I will take the couch," I said softly.

"What about Lenore?" The little girl was curled up into a fetal position. She was using Cordelia's leg as a pillow.

"She can stay in her room. I will deal with all her boxes and bags later. For now, we can take her suitcase and Mr. Bear." I gently pulled her over to me and took her into my arms. She made some grunting noises and then settled down again. Cordy grabbed the suitcase and bear and we went into my apartment.

The place hadn't changed all that much in the two weeks we were gone. Same old musky smell. Same old silence. Only now there was going to be a child added to the mix. A child that was part of me. I still cannot get over that I am a dad. Lenore is all my responsibility now.

I took Lenore directly into her room and laid her down on her bed. I knew I needed to change her into some pajamas. In the suitcase, I found a nightgown with a big bear on the front. Carefully, I got Lenore to sit up and I changed her out of her pretty dress and into her nightgown. She was like a rag doll as I did it. I slipped her under the covers and tugged her in. Before I left, I gave her a kiss on the forehead and closed the door halfway. I didn't know if she was afraid of the dark or not.

Cordy was sitting on the couch when I came out of Lenore's room. "I called Joyce for you. She was happy to hear that we had made it here safe and sound. She also told me to tell you that if you have any questions about Lenore, that she is only a phone call away."

"This is going to be a drastic change in lifestyle for me, but I think I am in need of a change."

"Well, if you don't mind I think it's time for me to hit the hay. Try not to wake me too early in the morning."

"Goodnight, Cordy and thank you for everything." I was very thankful that Cordy had been there in Sunnydale with me.

"You're welcome, Boss." Cordy went into the bedroom area and did her own thing. I could hear her going back and forth to the bathroom, but she didn't say anything to me.

I got to thinking about reading Buffy's letter, but I was a dad now and I would have to get up when Lenore did. The letter and the box would have to wait for a night that I didn't have any distractions. I got comfortable on the couch and fell asleep.


Seven hours and twelve minutes later

Tap. Tap. Tap. "Good morning, Daddy."

Huh? I opened my eyes and saw Lenore standing there with Mr. Bear in her arms. Her hair was going in all directions, but she looked so cute. I sat up and took her into my arms. "Good morning to you, too. You fell asleep during your party last night, did you know that? I had to carry you out to the car and you slept the whole ride down in the car too."

"Me was sleepy. Where are we?"

"We are in my apartment in Los Angeles. This is where I live. My work is upstairs. I track down bad guys," I explained to her in simple language.

"Like Mommy did?" she asked.

"Yes, like Mommy. We would sometimes track the bad people down together."

"Did you love Mommy?"

"Yes, very much. Your mommy was very special to me."

"Why didn't you visit?"

I wondered where all of these questions were coming from. "Something happened between your mommy and me and I didn't think she wanted to see me again. She never told me about you or I would have been there with you since you were born. I want to be there for you from now on."

"Can we have breakfast now?" she asked.

"Yeah. You may want to wake Miss Cordelia. She is over in that big bed."

She smiled and tiptoed into the bedroom. "Miss Cordy... Miss Cordy...breakfast!!!" Lenore yelled as she jumped up and down on the bed. I began laughing at Lenore's choice of wake-up calls. Thankfully, mine had been gentler.

Lenore waited for Cordy to come out with her and we all went into the kitchen for breakfast. "You sent the little noisemaker into wake me up, didn't you? I didn't sleep that well last night. You have a lump in your bed."

"She wanted breakfast and I told her that you want some too," I told my employee. I couldn't resist smiling as I was talking to her.

"You're enjoying Lenore a little too much. She is going to be able to do all your dirty work that has been repressed in that mind of yours."

All I could do was nod my head. I wasn't going to exploit my daughter, but I was going to use her when necessary.


Saturday, November 13, 2003

Two weeks had gone by and life was finally beginning to settle down. That first week back was a little hard because I didn't know how I was going to do my work and be there for Lenore. Thank God for Cordelia. She had stepped into the role of baby-sitter when I need to go out. Most of the day, Lenore would color or play with her dolls up in the office. At lunchtime, we would all eat together and then we would resume whatever we were doing. At night, if I needed Cordy to come out with me, Mrs. Monroe, a nice woman from the neighborhood, would come to my apartment to take care of Lenore. She never asked any questions, which was good for all involved. Usually, Lenore was still awake when I got back, so I was able to put her to bed. One of the first nights she had been here, she said she was scared of my place and I told her that if there was something she didn't like that I would take care of it. She said that everything was dark and I told her that we could go shopping and she could pick what she wanted. Cordelia still hadn't taken her shopping for her bedroom and clothes, so we all went out on Saturday night.

After five stores and some minor damage to my bank account, Lenore had some new clothes, a bedroom set that she picked out (Disney Princesses) and some bright pictures and accessories for my apartment. Lenore almost fell asleep on the car ride back, but she stayed awake until we got home. I put her in her room and in a half state of sleep she said, 'I love you Daddy.' My heart just about melted and I kissed goodnight.

Since that night, Lenore and I had a ritual. As she was settling down to go to bed, she would whisper something she was afraid in my ear and each night, I would tell that anything she was afraid of I could fix. Last night, my heart almost broke when my daughter told me what she was scared of.

"Daddy, I don't want to die like Mommy. That monster was mean and I don't want him to bite me," she whispered as she was cradled in my arms. She hadn't spoken about Buffy in a few days and I wondered if she was dealing with her death alright.

"Baby, I promise you, I won't let that evil monster near you. Promise me that you will scream and yell if anyone ever tries to take you away."

"I will," she said softly. She closed her eyes and I took her into her room. I watched her for a couple of extra minutes in case she awoke screaming, but all she did was toss and turn for a few minutes and then she fell into a silent sleep.

Tonight, Lenore went down without any problems. After I went out of her room, my eyes focused on the envelope that unread letter and box that still had not been opened. Tonight was night. Cordelia, who usually stopped by on the weekend nights just to check in, was off on a date. So, I was alone for the night. I brought the two items over to the couch and sat down to inspect everything.

Removing the letter from the larger envelope, I began reading:

July 27, 2003

Dearest Angel,

I have just spoken to you on the phone and I'm writing this letter to gather my thoughts. It has been over three years since I have seen you or heard your voice, but I still get tingly all over just hearing your voice. I don't know why you really called me, but I know I will never forget it for as long as I live. Maybe you knew I needed to hear from you today.

Today had been a bad day for many reasons which I don't think I can get into, but believe me, you helped me forget all that is wrong in my life for twenty-eight minutes. I wished we could have talked for longer, but I understand you having to go to work. I have my own work that has to be done too. I can't wait to hear from you again. Hopefully, it will be soon and for a longer period of time. My heart is bound to you for eternity.
Buffy

August 7, 2003

Dearest Angel...

I looked at the other dates on the page and realized I knew these dates. They were days we had spoken to each other. I realized that this wasn't a letter, but a chronicle of her thoughts each time we had spoken. I scanned to the last paragraph on the page.

October 15, 2003

Dearest Angel,

Okay, I finished the box I have been talking about. If anything should happen to me, Angel, it is in my closet. Remind Mom to give it to you. Everything in there I want you to have. A couple of items have notes on them and I would like you to read them and do what I ask with each item. The key can be found in the bottom of the big envelope that should have been given to you. As I lock it, two tears fall down my face. I am closing up a part of my life.

I looked over to the silver-painted wooden box sitting next to me and wondered what could be contained in this box. There was a lock on the front. The key was at the bottom of the envelope and I inserted it into the lock. Opening the lid, I found a white blanket and a bouquet of dried roses on top. There was a note pinned to this.

Angel: Give this blanket to Lenore when her first child (our grandchild) is born. The flowers were from when I was in the hospital. I saved them because they were from you.

Lenore: Honey, this is the blanket I brought you home from the hospital in. I would like you to use it when you bring home your first little boy or girl home. I wanted an article of your life to be a part of your child's life.
Love, Mom

Carefully removing the blanket from the box, I got to the next item in the box: a jewelry box. There was no note, so I opened it. Inside, I found the cross necklace I had given her the first night we met. Tears began falling from my eyes at the sight of this first gift to my love. I had wondered what had happened to it after all this time. I didn't expect Buffy to return it to me, but I was sure that she wanted me to have it. I put the jewelry box on top of the blanket and brought out the next item.

It was the book of poetry I had given her for her eighteenth birthday. The book was well worn like it had been read a lot. There was a marker in one of the pages and I thought that Buffy probably wanted me to read it. On the marker was written: Angel, always. That was what I wrote on the cover page. I began reading the poem she had flagged.

If thou must love me, let it be for nought
Except for love's sake only. Do not say
`I love her for her smile ... her look ... her way
Of speaking gently, ... for a trick of thought
That falls in well with mine, and certes brought
A sense of pleasant ease on such a day'--
For these things in themselves, Belovèd, may
Be changed, or change for thee,--and love, so wrought,
May be unwrought so. Neither love me for
Thine own dear pity's wiping my cheeks dry,--
A creature might forget to weep, who bore
Thy comfort long, and lose thy love thereby!
But love me for love's sake, that evermore
Thou may'st love on, through love's eternity

There was no explanation needed on why Buffy had chosen that poem. It was her lasting message to me: our love would remain for an eternity. The poetry book was put with the blanket and jewelry box beside me.

Next to where the book was a small wooden music box. Again Buffy had written a message to Lenore and me.

Angel: Remember this tune? Tell Lenore about it when she gets older.

Lenore: This song was special to your dad and me. Ask him to tell you about it sometime.

Opening the lid, it was our song. I could almost hear it playing as we made love that first time on her birthday. I wondered how she had gotten a music box of it, but I knew she would have found a way to remember that night although it didn't end as expected.

The final three items were in a pyramid on the bottom of the box. On top was a book titled 'A Mother's Journal' and below that book were two velvet-covered books. Each had a gold plate across it with Lenore and mine names. I removed the 'A Mother's Journal' and saw the note.

Angel: This is something I wanted you to keep for yourself. You can share parts of this journal with Lenore, but ultimately, it is something I want you to hold onto. Love your soul partner

This was Buffy's personal baby book with all of her thoughts and feelings. Flipping through the pages, I came across an interesting page. The title was 'Let's Talk About YOU!' The first prompt was: When I learned I was pregnant with you, my first reaction was... Buffy responded: complete joy and happiness. I knew that something magical had happened when I had seen your father. The line for the father's reaction was left blank. Memorable events during pregnancy: the first day I felt you move, I thought it was my stomach lurching, but it happened often enough that I knew it was you; seeing you on the ultrasound; and telling Grandma and all your aunts and uncles about you. I flipped to a page with all the ultrasound pictures, ID bracelets, cards, and announcements had been placed. She had decorated it all up with hand-drawn pictures and captions. I put the book aside, so that I could read the other pages at a later date. My curiosity was getting the better of me. I wanted to know what was in the velvet books.

I picked up the one with my name on it. It was dark red almost the color of blood. She must have taken special care choosing it. I turned to the opening page and began reading.

To my guardian Angel, I hope this book contains some answers and insights that I never could give you. My heart, soul, and mind are yours for as long as I live. You are my one and only true love. This is the diary of Buffy Anne Summers from November 28, 1999 to October 14, 2003.

Each page was filled with Buffy's writings. I realized this is what I wanted to fall asleep reading tonight. I looked at Lenore's book, which was also had a velvet cover, but hers was dark green. One of Buffy's infamous notes was on the cover.

Angel: This book is strictly for Lenore. I would like you to give it to her on her sixteenth birthday. Tell her that there was a lot I was unable to tell her during the time we were together. Angel, please remind her that I will always be there for her.

I took all the other items and packed them back into the box as Buffy had. The only thing I left out was Buffy's book to me. I shut down everything in the apartment and went into my bedroom. I changed into my boxers and lay down. Turning on my bedside lamp, I opened to the second page and began reading. My eyes never closed that night.


Thursday, December 25, 2003

It's Christmas Day and everyone came down to L.A. to celebrate the day with Lenore, Cordy, and me. Lenore and I went out a few weeks ago and picked the tree. Cordy helped us with the decorations, which was snowmen per Lenore's request. She told us that her mommy had promised her she could have snowmen and we believed her.

Joyce had called about two weeks ago and asked what our plans for Christmas were. She explained that for the past two years, she had been having Christmas dinner for everyone at her house. But I got the feeling she was not up to it with Buffy's death and Lenore down here with me.

"If you don't mind driving, why don't all of you come down here? I would like you to see my apartment and I'm sure Lenore would be thrilled to see her 'family,'" I suggested.

Joyce liked that idea and she said that she would pass along the invitation to the rest of the gang. I also said I would call and give them each a formal invitation. After I had made all the calls and realized that everyone was coming, I had to plan a dinner for nine people. Thanks to my two helpers, I had everything under control.

Now, the day is here and my apartment is full of 'family.' Giles, Willow and her new boyfriend Marc, Xander, Joyce, Hank, and Cordy were all here. I knew the reason why they were here was support Lenore on her first Christmas without her mother. From what I could see, Lenore was enjoying all the attention that she was getting from her grandma and 'aunts' and 'uncles'. She had received a baby buggy for her new baby doll, a trunk of dress-up clothes, and some jigsaw puzzles all from Santa.

With a little help from Cordy, I made turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and apple pie for dessert. We had a sit down dinner and caught up on each other's lives. The healing process had started for everyone and they were moving on with their lives the best they could. Each of them told me privately that they wished Buffy could have been here with us and to each of them I respond that she was in spirit and in the form of Lenore. They took solace in the fact that they was someone who was a part of Buffy still here on earth.

We started the Secret Santa exchange around six o'clock, because everyone had to drive back to Sunnydale that night. I offered them to stay here, but all of them said they would rather get back to Hellmouth in case some evil came to life. Of course, Lenore got the most gifts and because she was why we were all together, everyone decided to watch her open gifts before we gave out our individual gifts.

Lenore got almost everything she had asked for. We had sent a letter to Santa, which I had forwarded onto his helpers (Joyce and the rest of the gang). She was surprised each time she opened the next gift and it was something she wanted. Of course, being the grandmother, Joyce had to give her clothes, but it was a cute jumper and turtleneck set that was cute.

Instead of staying around while we adults exchanged gifts, Lenore asked if she could go into her room and play. I told her she could and she said goodbye to everyone for the moment.

"She is such a Daddy's Little Girl," Xander said, half-jokingly.

"That she is," I responded softly.

"Okay, I say we start the gift giving. I had Giles. Merry Christmas," Cordelia said as she brought her gift over to Giles. We all watched as Giles brought out a first edition of 'Demons Uncovered.' Giles laughed and thanked Cordelia for the book.

"I guess it is my turn now. I received Joyce as my Secret Santa. Merry Christmas, Joyce." Giles gave her a hug and gave her her gift. It was a picture of everyone with Buffy and Lenore in the center. Joyce broke down and I got her the tissue box.

"Thank you, Giles. This is a perfect gift," Joyce said. After regaining her composure, she laughed, "I swear this was not a setup, but I got Hank. Merry Christmas." Hank and Joyce hugged also and Joyce gave him his bag. Hank took out a coffee mug saying 'World's Best Ex-Husband.' Everyone got a laugh out of that, even Hank himself.

"Thank you, ex-honey. Well, I got Marc as my Secret Santa. Seeing as I had never met you before today, I got a little help from your girlfriend. Happy Holidays." Hank handed the gift to Marc and the young man slowly opened the gift. It was the 'Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus' book.

"Thanks. Willow has been saying I need to get I touch with my feminine side. I got Xander as my Secret Santa." The young men looked at each other and cracked up. It looked like they were good friends seeing as Xander was Willow's best friend. Xander opened the bag and closed it again fast.

"You didn't," he yelled. That made everyone interested in what it was. Marc and Willow began laughing hysterically. Xander opened the bag and removed a videotape. It was 'Charlie Brown Christmas.' Buffy had mentioned once that Willow had told her that Xander knew how to do the Scooby Dance. Xander put down his present and grabbed the gift he was going to give. "This is pay back. Willow, Happy Holidays."

Willow unwrapped the neatly wrapped present and removed a photo album from the box. "To the best friend a guy could have, love Xander," Willow read aloud. She thumbed through the pages before she put it down and began looking at me. "Angel, you're my Secret Santa. Merry Christmas," she said. We stood up and hugged while everyone sighed. I took the bag in her hand and sat down. It was a little heavy and I knew I could count of Willow knowing the perfect gift for me. It was a wooden plaque with this message burned into it: 'To an Angel, May you see the light of day tomorrow and for the rest of your days. TPTB' Meeting Willow's eyes, I began to cry.

"How?" I croaked out.

"They wanted to give you an eternal gift after your tragedy you have experienced. They want to right a terrible wrong," she explained.

"Thank you," I said to both Willow and toward the heavens. "Sorry, Cordy. I had you as my Secret Santa. See, I went to the mall without you. Merry Christmas," I told her.

"I'm proud of you," she said with a smile. Cordy dug into the gift bag I had also bought and removed a lighthouse snowglobe. "There is a switch on the bottom," I told her and she flipped the switch and the light began to turn around and 'You're My Sunshine' began to play. That was the song Doyle had sung to her on occasion. This time, it was Cordy's turn to get emotional. She punched my arm and grabbed a handful of tissues. "You didn't have to do this, you know."

"Yes, but I knew you would it appreciate later." By now, everyone had realized this present meant something special to Cordelia.

"Okay, everyone. I think it's about time we get going back to Sunnydale," Joyce said as she stood up.

"All of you have to take some food home. We can only eat a small fraction of what I made." I went over to the kitchen and began preparing goody bags.

"Angel, it was delicious," everyone said.

"Thank you. Does someone want to tell Lenore that you are about to go?"

Willow volunteered and a few minutes later, she came back with Lenore in her arms. "Daddy my presents?" she said.

"Oh, I forgot, honey. Lenore made gifts for everyone, but she wants you to open them when you get home."

Willow put her down and she went racing into her room to get her presents. She passed them out by the name, which she had written carefully, on the outside. Everyone gave her a kiss as their thank you. I finished the goody bags and gave one to each person. Everyone gathered up their belongings and we moved upstairs and outside. It was rather warm outside for being the end of December, but this was Southern California. The gang had come down in two cars: Joyce's Jeep and Willow's Jetta. Hank had driven his own car seeing as he only had a ten-minute drive from here to home. Cordy, Lenore, and I waved goodbye to our guests as they went home to their everyday lives and the three of us went back to our own. Though, mine was going to be different come tomorrow morning.


Monday, January 19, 2004

Today, Buffy would have been 23. I had woken up at midnight and couldn't get back to sleep. I was starting to get use to human hours now. At three, I tiptoed out of my room, not wanting to wake Lenore, and into the living room. It was there that I had put the diary in between the various books on my top shelf. I opened to the page I had left off. It just happened to be her birthday.

January 19, 2001

Dearest Angel,

You have no idea what it is like to get up at three thirty in the morning to feed a twelve-pound thing when you have just arrived home at three twenty-six. I just got comfortable in bed when the crying started. I allowed her to go on for a minute or so before I actually thought about getting up. I am beginning to wonder if this is going to affect her later in life. Don't allow her to do this to her own children. I did get up and she is happy now. I apologize if this entry is a little mess. I am writing this over Lenore's body and she's about ready to be burped. I will write later. 143

P.S. Happy 20th birthday to me

By now, I knew 143 was the code for 'I Love You' and she never forgot to write it at the end of each entry. I went onto the next page with the next entry.

January 20, 2001

Dearest Angel,

I wanted to update you on the goings on of today/yesterday. Mom came over and made me a special birthday breakfast with all of my favorites. She told me that I had plans for later and that she was going to take Lenore to the gallery with her. All day, I wondered what kind of plans she had beenmade for later. I have been weary of any surprises on my birthdays since the incidents of my 17th and 18th parties. Mom left with Lenore around two-thirty and never gave me any hints. Because I had no idea what was going on, I got semi-dressed up and waited around the building. At three-thirty, a restored old car pulled into the curb. I went outside to see who it was and Xander, Will, and Giles popped out. Will and Xander wished me a Happy Birthday and told me that we were going to the Bronze for a fifties night. My outfit wasn't all that fiftiesish and Willow told me she had bought me apoodle skirt, white blouse, and saddle shoes. She and I went back into my apartment and I changed. Twenty minutes later, we were in the car and going to the Bronze. Giles and Xander were also dressed for the occasion in leather pants and white T-shirt.

At the Bronze, the crowd was a little older than the usual high school bunch. A lot of people from school were there and it was a lot of fun seeing them again. They all asked if I was coming back and I told them I would be back this semester. Everyone was dancing and enjoying themselves. About halfway through the night, Giles and the others gave me my birthday presents. Xander got me a necklace with a sapphire little bootie on it. Willow gave me a book of coupons for a night out and free babysitting. Giles, being the adult of the group, bought me a book of poetry like the one you gave me. I have cherished yours, but I appreciated Giles' effort. A little after eleven, the gang dropped me off and I came home to an empty apartment. Mom left a message on my machine saying that she wanted to take care of Lenore so I could enjoy my birthday in peace. As I went to the dining table, I saw an envelope on the corner with my name and Mom's address on it. I would know that writing anywhere. Thank you for the kind words. All of my immediate hopes and dreams have come true, but there is still something I can not have. It's after twelve and I haven't been sleeping all that well because of our daughter. 143 forever.

I didn't know it, but I had begun to cry. Large salty tears flowed down my face. It had been months since one of Buffy's entries had caused me to cry.

"Daddy?" Lenore had asked as she came out of her room. I had hastily wiped the tears from my eyes and faced my daughter.

"Hey, honey. Why are you up?"

"It's 6 3 8. Sesame Street's on," Lenore said as she climbed on my lap and turned on the TV. I stuck the diary between the cushions and hugged my daughter.

During one of the down parts of the show, Lenore whispered, 'Today's Mommy's birthday.' Buffy must have continued celebrating her birthday after all the problems that surrounded it. I told her, 'I know.' We didn't say much to each other because Sesame Street and then Teletubbies came on.

When Cordy arrived that morning, she found both Lenore and me still in our pajamas. She didn't comment, but instead she asked Lenore a question.

"Lenore, would you like to go out shopping with Auntie Cordy today? She has to go to this big fancy party and she needs a new dress and shoes." I knew what Cordelia was doing and I appreciated it.

"Yeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaa," the little girl yelled. She enjoyed getting out with another girl. I think she misses her mom more than she ever says.

"Go pick your clothes and I will be right in to help you get dressed," Cordy said. Lenore gave me a kiss and went into her room. "You're in no mood to work today and I am taking your only other responsibility away. So now, you can brood for a few hours. I want you presentable by four thirty though, because I have to be ready to party by six." Cordelia had walked behind the couch before she said, "She would have been twenty-three today, huh? You must miss her on special days like this." After that, I only heard the sound of her heels hitting the floor as she went into Lenore's room.

It wasn't until after Cordy and Lenore left thirty minutes later, that I went back to the journal. There was only so much I could read before my eyes once again misted over with tears and put the journal back in its hiding place. I went into my room and took out the box, which I had stowed under my bed. As I had done a few times since I received the box, I took everything out, but today I touched each item and remembered why Buffy had placed it in the box for Lenore and me. The two items I wanted the most were at the bottom, protected from damage by everything else.

The baby and poetry books, both of them were special to Buffy and gave me insight into what was going on when I wasn't there for her. I decided to stay in my room and got comfortable on my bed. I was more interested in reading the journal, so I took a look at it first.

I had left the ribbon marker on 'A Little Bit About Me' section. I was born (date/place): January 19, 1981 in Los Angeles, California. I was named: Buffy Anne Summers because my parents were fanatics of a TV show called 'Family Affair' in 1960s. The little girl's name was Buffy. I remembered that show, but I had forgot the girl's name was Buffy. As a young child my parents said I was destined to be: an ice skater or a ballerina. Some of my earliest childhood memories are: ice-skating at the Ice Chalet, going to the circus, and visiting the Grand Canyon. I skipped to the next page, because mostof the questions weren't answered. I wondered why Buffy hadn't filled in the answers. When I was a child, I dreamed of being: a nurse or a teacher. The first person I had a 'crush' on was: David Spencer in the fourth grade. He was taller than most of the other boys and he let me play kickball with the boys all the time. I started dating when I was: fourteen and I wouldn't recommend it for you, little one. I couldn't help but laugh. I could just see a fourteen-year-old Lenore dressed in the coolest clothes of the day asking Buffy if she could go out with the coolest guy in school. Then Buffy would say no and Lenore would storm off to her room. I had had enough of reading Buffy's thoughts, so I placed the marker on that page and picked up the poetry book.

Reading only a few of Robert Browning's poems to his 'little Portuguese,' I suddenly got tired. Resting my head on the pillows, I closed my eyes and fell into a deep sleep.

"Angel, I'm glad you fell asleep. I wanted to talk to you," Buffy said. There she was as I remembered her. She was wearing that white gown from Homecoming, this was pre-fighting the Master. She was standing next to my bed here in my apartment.

"Buffy? Is that really you?"

"Yes, it is. I'm sorry I wasn't able to tell you about Lenore before my unexpected death. I never should have kept the secret as long as I did. You had no right to be out of your daughter's life for her first three years."

"I'm over it now. It was a shock to me in the beginning, but I want to thank you for giving me custody and the chance to raise her. You know she reminds me a lot of you at times. Her stubbornness, her pouting face...all of these things make me wish that you were here to share our lives with."

"That reminds me, you are human now. Why are you not out with Cordy and Lenore now?"

"Cordy wanted to give me a day to myself to reflect..."

"To brood," Buffy interjected.

I laughed and smiled. "Okay, to brood. Today would have been a special day."

"I know, my twenty-third birthday. Everyone already sang to me here. I got a cake with candles, but they couldn't light the candles because that's fire and fire is a symbol of that other place."

I was happy to know that Buffy was in heaven. I wouldn't like to put anyone through the torment of the underworld, even my worst former enemies.

"Angel, I don't have much time left. This is what I wanted to tell you. I'm surprised I'm saying this, but I think you picked a good female role model for Lenore in Cordelia. Cordy has gone through a drastic change since Lenore has been around. Don't push her away. I don't think Lenore can bear losing another female in her life right now."

"I won't, I promise."

"I know you would never break a promise intentionally. I have to get going back to the big party in the sky. Remember to tell Lenore I love her and give her a kiss for me. I love you, Angel."

"I love you, Buffy." I blinked and she was gone.

It was then that I woke up and heard the elevator door open. Cordy was telling Lenore to be quiet because I was a little moody today. I came out from my bedroom and saw the two girls setting their packages down on the couch.

"I am not moody..." I stopped short and stared at Lenore. She had on black leather pants, dark red velvet shirt and a kid-size duster. She looked like a mini-me. I didn't know if I should smile or cry. I chose to give Lenore a smile and Cordy a look of indifference. "Lenore, did Auntie Cordy buy you that outfit?"

The girl shook her head vigorously. "She said I look cute in it. Do you like, Daddy?"

"I do. Did you thank Auntie Cordy?"

"Thank you, Aunt Cordy," Lenore gave Cordy a big hug and Cordelia smiled down at the child. I thought I saw a tear in her eye as she looked at my daughter.

"You're welcome. Now, I have to go to my apartment to get dressed for my party. Do you think you can handle her for the rest of the night?"

"We will make do. Thank you Cordelia for today. Have a good night," I told her sincerely. I didn't know what I would do if I didn't have her around. Though, it had gotten easier since I was able to go outside during the day.

"See you in the morning, you two. Goodnight." With her packages, she got in the elevator and went upstairs, leaving Lenore and me to see what else Cordelia had brought for my little tyke. Lenore was going to be well dressed until she grew another size with all the clothes Cordy had bought her. After everything had been unpacked and put away, I make spaghetti for the two of us and told Lenore she could pick a movie to watch for the night. Of course, she picked 'Beauty and the Beast.' We ate our spaghetti at the table and moved over to the couch to watch the movie. After I put the tape in the VCR, I lay down on the couch and Lenore cuddled up against my chest. Lenore and I watched the Disney movie that most reminded me of Buffy and mine relationship on the night of her birth.

When I put Lenore to bed that night, I wondered what would have been like to have known about Lenore before Buffy had been killed. I could have been involved in Lenore's life from the beginning and Buffy and I could have been together. We could have lived here in L.A. or anywhere other than the Hellmouth. Buffy's death could have been prevented if only she would have told about our daughter. I gave Lenore a final kiss goodnight and thought, I guess when one door opens another one closes. Buffy's death gave me a life with Lenore. That is something I wouldn't change for the world.

-Fini-

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