Daughter Dearest
By
Samantha Gold

Disclaimer: I don’t own Buffy or Angel or any of them. I do own Angelina and the plot, though.
Spoilers: Up to Graduation part 2
Feedback: Otherwise I send bad-fics…
Author’s Note: Set sixteen years after Graduation part 2.
Second Author’s Note: Companion Piece to "Daddy Forever." This one’s from Angel’s point of view.
Dedication: To everyone who gave me feedback for "Daddy Forever," you guys all rule! I love you all, thank you!

I walk down an alley just a little north of my apartment, my every sense on alert, honed to sense evil. I feel it, about a block away…and I smell fear. A girl’s fear.

I run towards it, being careful not to make a sound. I get there to find a young girl, no more than twenty-five years old, pinned against a wall. The vampire pinning her is in full game face, prepared to bite her. She is crying, begging him to release her.

I walk up quickly, quietly, and throw a roundhouse punch at its head. He drops, growling. The girl shrinks back away from us both and watches fearfully. The vampire stands up and comes at me. I easily block, punch and stake him. He explodes into dust. I turn back to the girl.

"Go home," I tell her. "You’re safe now. But you shouldn’t walk around outside at night any more." I think she has an idea of what I mean now.

She nods. "Thank you," she whispers, before she runs away.

I turn around and a figure emerges from the shadows. It is a young girl, probably around fifteen or sixteen…she reminds me of Buffy and I feel myself become defensive immediately.

"Hi," she says. Her voice sounds just slightly off-pitch, meaning that she’s probably nervous. The question is why?

I look her over. What is she doing out here? "You shouldn’t be out this late," I tell her. My voice sounds condescending to my own ears but it’s the truth. Young girls do not belong outside in LA anymore than they do in Sunnydale. Sunnydale…the name brings with it painful memories. I push it out of my mind for the time being.

"I can handle myself," she says evenly. I just stare at her. After a few seconds pass she comments, "You seem to be able to handle yourself well."

Here we go again… "I’m too old for you," I inform her. Talk about your understatements! She looks down, probably thinking. Hopefully she’ll heed my words. I turn and begin to walk away.

"Don’t you walk away from me, Angel!"

Her voice stops me and I turn around to face her. "Who are you?" I ask. "And how did you know my name?"

I notice her eyes begin to shimmer. Tears. "I’m your daughter," she whispers. "I am your daughter. You are my father."

This can’t be true. I’m a vampire. What kind of game is this?! "I don’t have any kids," I tell her. It comes out harsher than I intended. "Who’s your mother?"

She looks up at me sadly. "Her name was Buffy," she murmurs.

Buffy? This girl is Buffy’s daughter? She thinks she’s mine? I look at her, examining her carefully. I remember how she reminded me of Buffy when I first saw her and I understand now. I can see the resemblance.

"You are Buffy’s daughter," I admit. "You have her expressive eyes…and you have her lips." I remember those eyes, how warm and caring they could be. You could see the world in them…and you could drown there. And those lips…soft as petals, always tender and warm…

She nods.

"But you’re not my daughter," I finish, shaking my head. "I cannot have children." Buffy must be mistaken. As much as I’d love to believe that she is mine, I know that she cannot be, my undead state has made sure of that.

"Well, obviously you can because here I am," she replies calmly. She shrugs and smiles softly as though nervously presenting herself to me.

I shake my head again. "I can’t have kids," I repeat, firmer this time. "It’s not possible for you to be mine."

"No, I am! Nonie and Mom explained it to me," she insists. She tells me something about my biting Buffy bringing my sperm back to life and impregnating her somehow. It’s a little confusing, but logical.

"Look at me," she tells me, her voice barely above a whisper. "Really look at me…I’m your daughter."

I comply. I search her with my eyes…I’ve never seen her before in my life and yet I feel as though I know everything about her…she is so much like Buffy and yet I see a part of me in there also. It’s confusing, but I hide that.

Finally, I nod. "You’re mine," I state, though it doesn’t sound like a statement, more like a question. "You have my hair," I whisper, running my fingers through her dark hair. It’s so beautiful. She is so beautiful.

She nods and I continue. "You have my nose."

"I can’t believe I’m finally found you," she whispers in a shaky voice.

I need to touch her. This is my daughter…mine! I pull her into a hug and she squeezes me back. Tight. A little too tight. Painfully tight, actually. She’s strong! I hadn’t realized that I had groaned until she relaxed her grip and muttered, "Sorry."

I release her. "No, I’m sorry. What’s your name?" There is a purity about her. She has nothing to be sorry for.

"Angelina," she says quietly. "Mom named me after you."

I nod and ask the question I’ve been dying to ask since she told me that she was Buffy’s daughter. "Where is your mom?" I haven’t seen her in over a decade and a half! I hope she’s happy with that normal life…

Her lower lip begins to tremble slightly, not a good sign. Then she wraps her arms around herself tightly and shakes slightly. This can only mean one thing. No, please don’t let it be true!

"Mom’s…" She tries to speak but a sob escapes her She tries again. "Mom’s dead."

The breath I don’t have runs out of me. No, she can’t be serious! Obviously she is but…No! Buffy, she was my reason for living! If she’s gone…what do I have to live for? "H-how?" I manage to croak.

"Vampires," she answers in a small voice. "It was last year. We were out patrolling together when we were ambushed…completely ambushed. They – they had too many on me, they were going to kill me. The biggest guy, I guess he was their leader, he pulled out this big sword and he was going to stab me with it. There was nothing I could do. Mom –" She pauses and begins to close her eyes as though trying to shut out everything. I stand patiently and wait. She continues.

"She fought her way to me," she whispers, tears streaming down her face. It’s taking everything I have not to let mine fall. But I don’t deserve to cry. "She took the blow for me," she goes on, her voice is hoarse. "It killed her. …That was when the others got there, Uncle Xander managed to get me away while the other fought the vampires off, but they were too late." She looks up at me. "Please don’t be mad?"

I look at her in disbelief. She thinks Buffy’s death is her fault. Can’t she see that it’s mine? But my guilt’s not important right now, hers is. Suddenly she begins shaking and crying harder. I wrap her in my arms and hold her. "Hush, Angelina," I murmur. "You did all you could. It’s not your fault. Your mother chose to do what she did. Obviously she loved you very much and that was why she was willing to give her life for you. It’s not your fault, Angelina, not your fault…"

I feel her calming in my arms. She looks up at me and looks into my eyes, searching them. She has beautiful eyes and tears don’t belong there. Just like they never belonged in Buffy’s. She looks away after a few minutes and I hold her head against my chest.

Finally her tears stop. She pulls away from me and I release her. She mutters "I’m sorry."

"It’s okay," I tell her. I’m disgusted with myself. I’ve caused this young girl who is my daughter so much grief, just as I caused her mother grief. But she needs a place to stay for now. She can stay with me; I owe it to her. "We should get you inside, you need your sleep."

"Okay."

"Let’s get you back to my place, okay?"

She nods and I take her hand in mine, leading her down the alley.

I walk with her to the apartment. I wave at Benny, our guard and he lets us in. We ride the elevator to the sixth floor, where my apartment room is, well the one I use the most, anyway.

It’s surreal. I have a daughter with Buffy. Buffy, the only woman I’ve ever loved, who has been dead for a year…maybe that’s the cause of my "heart attack" last year? I suffered a heart stroke of some sort last year, which doesn’t really make sense, considering that my heart doesn’t beat. But I couldn’t work for two weeks. We never did find out what caused it…

It almost surprises me when the elevator stops. We walk down the hall and I unlock the door. She follows me in.

"Who else lives here?" She asks.

"There are only two other people in the entire building," I respond. It was nice of Cordelia to let Doyle and I move in here, for free no less.

"That’s a lot of space for three people…" She says in disbelief.

"Have you heard of Cordee Chase?" I question with a smile. Cordelia’s a big actress now and she bought the building when she first started to make it big. She uses "Cordee" as a stage name though I never completely understood why.

"Of course I have! She’s my favourite actress!" She exclaims. I smile at this. "But what does Cordee have to do with the building?"

I tell her about how Cordelia and Buffy were friends back in high school and how it’s her building. I also tell her about Cordee’s generosity in letting Doyle and I stay here and helping us out from time to time. Time has really changed her.

She thinks about this for a few seconds, then nods, accepting that.

I look at her and notice the knapsack she’s carrying for the first time. "Is that all you brought?" I ask.

She nods "I didn’t know how long I would be staying down here," Angelina explains.

"Why don’t you change into your pajamas and in the morning we can talk some more? You can sleep in the spare room, okay?" She’ll probably like it better than my room anyway. My room’s a little on the dark side and is heavily curtained. The spare room is much brighter and open.

"Okay," she agrees. I point it out to her and she goes in, closing the door behind her.

I go into the kitchen and take a package of blood out of the freezer; I have to eat, after all. I pop it into the microwave for about a minute, then take it out. Pouring it into a coffee mug, I take a sip, then leisurely drink it.

After a few minutes I finish it and wash the cup. I dry it and place it in the cupboard. Then I start walking to my bedroom, I’ll probably read or something for a couple of hours. I stop in front of the spare room, where Angelina’s sleeping. I can hear her peaceful breathing; it’s such a pleasant sound.

I open the door quietly and slip in. I hear the change in her breathing. I woke her up…oops. But she doesn’t move. With my ability to see in the dark I see her open her eyes and look at me, then close them again, pretending to be asleep. I let her think that I don’t know.

I gently tuck her in, then kiss her lightly on the forehead. That’s what fathers do, right? I creep back out quietly. "Goodnight," I whisper as I shut the door softly.

I continue on to my room and collapse onto the bed. I hadn’t realized how exhausted I was! That’s when it all catches up to me…

I shut my eyes tightly, pretending that it actually helps. Buffy is dead, my fault. I wasn’t there when she needed me… I didn’t help her raise our daughter. I abandoned her and now she’s gone…forever. I’ll never see her again, not in this lifetime, nor in the afterlife… What do I have to live for now?

Even when I wasn’t around her, she was still what I lived for. She was my inspiration and my redemption. She was my everything. I wished to redeem myself for her and without her there is nothing.

I don’t even feel the tears on my cheeks.

I have a daughter! She’s only one door over, peacefully sleeping. She’s fifteen, for God’s sake! Why does she care about finding me anyway? I wasn’t there for her. I don’t think there’s anything that kills me as much as knowing that.

But on the other hand, how could I have stayed? Buffy got to have her normal life when I left, didn’t she? Of course, being a single mother must have put a bit of a damper on that. If I’d only known…

I shake my head and look down at my hands in shame. A glint of shiny metal catches my eye. My claddagh ring. I’ve never taken it off, never turned it to face the other way. It always faces in because I’ll always belong to her, my precious Slayer… My only love.

Before I realize it, I’ve already drifted off to sleep.

*****

I wake up about half an hour before dawn, due to my vampiric instincts. They won’t let me sleep past the dawn; it’s the fear of the sun. I wonder if there’s a term for it…

Slowly, I sit up, running a hand through my tousled hair and orienting myself. Then I bring myself to a standing position and head for the shower, reviewing my dream in my mind.

I was with Buffy and it was just like old times, "the good old days," before I left. This isn’t uncommon, I dream about her a lot. However, this dream was different than the others.

She was dressed very formally. A long black frock, slightly old-fashioned, which struck me as strange seeing as she had always been so high on fashion. But then again that was when I knew her, before she became a mother.

I strip down quickly, tossing the clothing I wore last night in the laundry bag hanging from the door. I turn on the faucet with one hand, then slip the other under the water, waiting for it to warm.

At first, Buffy seemed so sad, almost as though she was lost even. I held her to me and we cried together. I told her how sorry I was that I left and I asked for her forgiveness, which, looking back on it, is stupid because she was probably better off without me anyway. She got to live the normal life she always wanted.

She turned away from me and pointed towards Angelina, whom I had just noticed. My daughter – such a weird thing to hear myself think, that – was dressed just as formally as her mother. Her long chestnut hair was down and styled neatly, a contrast to her fair skin, and it complemented the short white dress she wore. Her dress had a rounded neckline and long, tight sleeves. A thin silver chain hung on a slant around her hips almost as though it was anchoring her.

Suddenly, I pull back my hand with a jerk. I realize that I had continued to turn the hot water knob accidentally. I almost burned my hand off! Sighing, I turn the hot water down. The water reaches the perfect temperature almost immediately and I step in. As the relaxing water hits me, washing over me, I fall back into my own mind.

Buffy saw me looking at Angelina and whispered to me, "She’s beautiful, isn’t she?" Wordlessly, I nodded. "She’s ours," she breathed in my ear. "We made that young woman."

"I’m sorry –" I started, but she shook her head telling me to hush.

"Take care of her, my Angel. And do not be afraid of her." I began to protest but she just flashed me that warm smile of hers and murmured, "I know you, Angel. Don’t hide from me."

Wordlessly, I nodded. As I turned to gaze at Angelina, Buffy kissed me lightly on the lips. I turned back to face her, but she was already gone.

Her voice echoed around Angelina and I. "Be happy, my loves."

I found myself smiling softly. "Come on, let’s go," I whispered to my daughter. She smiled back and nodded quietly, taking my hand.

Which was when I had woken up. I rinse the shampoo I had subconsciously lathered into my hair out, then turn off the water. As I step out of the shower and wrap a towel around my waist, I can’t help but wonder what life would’ve been like if I’d stayed.

Stop that! It won’t do any good… You left. What’s done is done. You cannot change the past! I chide myself, towel-drying my hair with a second towel.

I walk back into my bedroom and quickly dress. After getting dressed in a pair of black pants and thin black v-neck sweater, the type of outfit I’ve worn for years, I leave my room for the kitchen.

I head straight for the refrigerator, and grab one of my blood packages from it. I warm it up the same as I did the night before, then chug it quickly. Again, I wash the mug I used and put it away.

I feel the little tingle under my skin that lets me know the sun is rising. I walk over to the window in the sitting room, the only one left uncovered during the day thanks to that special glass in it that filters the suns rays. Technology truly is a wonderful thing! I sit down in the chair in front of it and watch the sun come up, always a beautiful thing to see.

My thoughts quickly become darker. Who am I to see this sunrise when Buffy, the perfect Slayer whom cared only for others, is gone and will never see another? This is so much more than I deserve.

I’m not seeing it by this point; my eyes are staring ahead blankly. I am lost in my thoughts.

I can’t stop myself from picturing her. She was so beautiful…my sunrise. A tiny smile flickers at my lips at the thought of the woman who was my redemption. Only now she’s gone and I can never be redeemed. The smile dies on my lips.

But maybe I should have stayed… Shouldn’t have listened to Joyce… Should’ve listened to my heart… No. Buffy surely must have found happiness with someone else. She was so special; men must’ve been lined up for miles for a chance to love her! Normal men, men whom she could do things with that we’d never been able to do…or only able to do once. My thoughts carry on along this path.

"Dad?"

A voice pulls me out of my brooding. How long have I been thinking? Minutes? Hours? I honestly don’t know. I turn in the direction of the sweet voice and see Angelina, my daughter. I smile at her. She could possibly answer my questions, couldn’t she?

"Good morning," I greet her. I aim for casual, though my mood makes that pretty difficult.

"Good morning," she echoes. She seems to have something on her mind as well. I can imagine!

"Why don’t we go in the kitchen and you can have some breakfast?" I suggest standing up.

She agrees with a nod and follows me into the kitchen. I search around and find the best breakfast I can think of to offer her. Thankfully I like the taste of regular foods as well and keep a modest supply of food.

I get a bowl of fruit, a bowl of cereal, and a glass of juice out and set it on the table where she is sitting.

 

She eats, then takes the dishes to the sink and begins to wash them. I furrow my brow in confusion and quickly stand up. "You don’t have to do that," I tell her.

She shrugs it off and tells me that she wants to do it, then smiles. It’s a half-smile though and she seems almost uncertain. Perhaps this is her way of taking her mind off of the larger issues we still have to discuss.

She finishes drying the dishes and sets them on the tea towel to dry. Then she turns back to me and regards me expectantly.

"Come on, let’s go to the sitting room," I tell her. She nods and follows me there.

I sit down in my chair, which is the first thing I bought when I came to LA. It’s black, leather and more than I deserve. But I won’t think about that at this time. She sits across from me on the matching couch.

Finally I find my voice and speak. "Can you tell me a few things?"

"What do you want to know?" She responds, almost eagerly, with a nod.

I hold back tears. "Tell me about your mother," I whisper softly. "Was she happy?" She has to have been happy, I had to have done the right thing…but I don’t know that.

She looks into my eyes, and begins to answer me.

"Mom was a very special person," Angelina begins and I feel my head nod because her words are so true. "She always placed everyone else and their feelings above hers. When she was sad, no one ever knew. I remember walking in on her when I was five. She wasn’t able to hide it anymore. It was the scariest sight in my life." She pauses. "She was in her bedroom. There, on the floor, was Mom, my hero, curled up in a ball, crying like a little kid.

"It was hard for me to accept that she wasn’t infallible. I remember walking over to her quietly, timidly, so scared, she seemed so fragile. I slowly knelt beside her and put my arms around her gently. I was afraid that if I touched her she’d break!"

What is she talking about? Buffy, my strong Buffy almost breaking? But I left to give her a normal life. That’s what she wanted! That’s what she deserved!

"She looked up at me, tears running down her face, and I remember saying. ‘Don’t cry, Mommy. It’s okay.’ But she just cried harder. I didn’t know what to do; I was so scared, so I asked her what was wrong. She told me that she was lonely," Angelina goes on. She looks up at one point and I know that she sees right through me, but I feel too distraught to care.

"At the time I didn’t understand. I mean, she had me, Uncle Xander, Aunt Willow, Uncle Oz, Granny, and Nonie. Even Uncle Spike! Why was she lonely? By about the time I was eight-years old, I realized what she was lonely for." Her gaze pierces mine. "She needed love, real love. The kind of love you only find once. The kind of love she was missing.

"We couldn’t give that to her," she informs me with a shake of her head.

"She pretended that everything was okay, that she wasn’t affected. She was really good at that. Pretending. She had everyone fooled, but she could never fool me. I knew her too well; I’d seen her too many times when she couldn’t hide it. I think it was part of what made us so close," her voice seems to be getting quieter and quieter, or maybe my brain’s simply not able to work at the moment.

"She never moved on you know."

Her words hit me out of the blue. She must have! I know how Buffy was, she must have dated; she must have tried! I try to tell Angelina this, but she cuts me off before I get a word out.

"Yes, she went out with other guys, but she never fell in love. I don’t think she ever would have." She stops speaking. It’s an abrupt halting that feels incredibly unnatural. "Any other questions?"

I nod. I have so much I want to ask her…but now I’m not sure I want her answers. It’s too painful, I don’t think I can take this much. For now, maybe I shouldn’t. "Where is everyone else?" I question, though it’s not what I really want to know it’ll do for the time being.

"You mean Aunt Willow, Uncle Oz, Uncle Xander, Uncle Spike, Nonie, and Granny, right?"

"Who is Nonie and Granny, by the way?" It’s been bugging me for some time. I think I know who ‘Granny’ is. But Nonie…it’s a term I’m unfamiliar with.

"Granny’s Mommy’s Mom and she’s the only one I’m actually related to," she tells me, smiling.

"Joyce," I state, old memories resurfacing. She was the one who convinced me to leave, decided that Buffy needed a normal life. Now I see that that was something she could never have.

She nods, acknowledging my statement to be truth. "Nonie used to be Mom’s watcher. She always called him by his last name, Giles. They’re all back in Sunnydale. I told them that I wanted to know more about myself; that’s why I came. They wanted to come with me, but I insisted that I was fine. They know I can take care of myself, that’s why they let me go by myself," she explains. She is quite thorough in her explanations, I notice. Buffy seems to have weaved herself a close-knit "family" for herself and her daughter…well, our daughter…

She mentioned that she can take care of herself very well, not for the first time, I wonder just how much the slayer and vampire genes have improved her strength and senses. I wonder if I’ll ever get to find out.

I think of another question. I inquire, "You mentioned patrolling with your Mom last night, did you patrol with her often?"

"When I was younger they were always testing out my strength and all those other special abilities I inherited from the two of you," she begins with a nod. "Originally, Mom didn’t want me to get involved with slaying, but Nonie pointed out that that I’d be in more danger if I was ignorant because the vampires would know about me and would come after me. So I trained with Mom and she took me patrolling with her so that I could understand. She only started taking me regularly when I turned eleven though."

I ask her how long she plans on staying here in LA.

"Not very long," she replies with a shake of her head. Her voice grows hopeful. "I was hoping that you’d come back to Sunnydale with me."

Sunnydale. That’s where Xander is, where Giles is…where Joyce is. …Where my memories of Buffy are the most vivid. I can’t go there, I can’t go back. It would be too much. Besides, I know how they all feel about me and Angelina shouldn’t have to put up with me and all the problems I bring with me. No, it’s best for everyone if I just stay here as though she never found me.

"I don’t think that’s a good idea," I mumble half-heartedly. If she only knew…

"Why not?" She questions. She’s so like Buffy, always wanting to know the reasons.

But she can’t know them, it would be wrong to tell her. "It doesn’t matter anymore," I supply simply.

She sighs. "If it’s enough to keep you from going back to Sunnydale, it matters," she tosses back lightly.

Yes, it does matter, but she can’t know. I hold back a smile. My daughter is quite intelligent; she knows how to ask the right questions. "I’m not welcome there, I’m not going. I’m sorry," I tell her firmly, trying to muster up as much authority as I can into my voice.

"Not welcome?" She repeats questioningly. "By who?"

"No one, sweetie," I whisper softly. I don’t want her to think I’m corrupting her against her grandmother. It’s best that she just think that I’m being unreasonable, right?

"Did Granny send you away?" She asks the question so suddenly that it catches me completely off-guard. My head shoots up in surprise and I see her smack her hand over her mouth, but it’s too late, her words are already out.

"Whatever gave you that idea?" I ask at last. She just stares at me and again, I know that she can see right through me. Only one person was ever able to do the same… When she persists at staring me down, with no signs of letting up, I sadly nod, sealing my fate.

"Why?" She asks, there’s pain in her voice.

I look down, wallowing in my hurt. Because of what I am, that’s why. No mother in her right mind would want a bastard like me to love their daughter…to have their daughter love me. I feel tormented by everything that I’m going through, but I have a young girl sitting across from me and she’s in pain. Her pain matters more than mine, like her mother she is more important. Perhaps I can share a bit with her.

With a sigh, I look up at her and begin to answer her. "Joyce was never…" I pause a second, searching for the right word. "Fond of the idea that her daughter was the Slayer. She was even less pleased at the idea of her dating a vampire. You know the whole story, right?"

She indicates that she has and murmurs that Buffy told her everything up until the day I decided to break things off for apparently no reason. Then she asks me, "Why did you leave?"

"It doesn’t matter anymore, it was a long time ago anyway," I respond uneasily.

"If it doesn’t matter and was such a long time ago then why are you still letting it affect you?" She counters.

"Because…" I’m not sure exactly how to answer that. I realize that I’m using a bit of a double standard here, but… "Because it’s not important what was said, just the results." I attempt. It’s flimsy; she’ll never buy it.

I’m right. "Well, the results are affecting me, I think I at least deserve to know why I’ve got to suffer with them," she tells me in a no-nonsense voice.

Am I wrong? Am I forcing her to suffer with my foolishness? Maybe, just maybe we can be a family? That would certainly be nice. I begin to soften.

Out of the blue, Joyce’s words come and hit me upside the head. You’re older than her…She’s just a young woman in love…There will be tough decisions ahead and she won’t be able to make them. Will you be strong enough to make those decisions, Angel? No. I can’t go back, I have to be strong.

"All you need to know is that Joyce pointed out a few things to me and they’re the reasons why I can’t come back," I snap.

She appears to debate something in her head before sighing.

"Fine then," she replies coolly.

I shake my head in disbelief. I can see Buffy doing just that. "So like you’re mother," I murmur in a voice that is barely a whisper. She smiles. She must’ve inherited the supernatural hearing because I can see that she heard me and a normal girl wouldn’t have been able to.

I want to make things up to her. I want to spend at least a bit more time with her before she has to return home. "Why don’t we go out together?" I suggest. "Would you like to go shopping or something? Or-" I glance at my watch, checking the time, it’s twelve thirty already! "Maybe we could go for lunch?"

"Okay," she agrees happily.

"Come on."

**********

We arrive back at my place close to dark. We had a lot of fun and I am glad. We had lunch together, and then I took her shopping. I think I spoiled her. I watch as she collapses on the couch, looking very tired. I wonder if she realizes just how precious she is. There is this aura around her that just draws you in to love her. The thing is that I don’t just love her, it’s been said that all parents must love their children so it doesn’t seem to mean much. I like her too.

But now its dusk and I have to leave to patrol. I open the counter drawer and pull out a few stakes, then conceal them. One up each sleeve, a few in my trench coat’s pockets, some in my boots…and so on.

Angelina watches me, then she asks, "Getting ready for patrol?"

I nod.

"I’m coming." She stands up.

She’s not going patrolling. It’s too dangerous! I’m not going to put her in danger. I tell her, "I don’t want you to get hurt."

"I won’t," she informs me. "Come on, I’ve been patrolling regularly for the past four years, I’ll be fine."

She’s been patrolling with her mother, with Buffy whom is the greatest slayer yet. I don’t know if I’d be able to protect her as well as she did.

"Tell you what, we’ll arm wrestle. If I win, I get to come. If not, then I’ll stay home, no troubles," she suggests.

I almost laugh. Is this a joke? "I’m an old vampire," I caution her. And I’ve fed from a Slayer…Buffy, no less. Is she really sure she wants to do this?

"Then you have nothing to worry about, right?" She says easily with a shrug.

She’s got something up her sleeve! So I laugh. "You are definitely Buffy’s daughter," I admonish. And Buffy’s gone…No, I won’t think of that. I push the thought clear out of my head. "All right then," I say with a grin.

We sit down across from each other at the kitchen table. I place my elbow on the table and take her hand in mine. It dwarfs hers! She looks into my eyes and gives me a look, asking me if I’m ready. I nod and she begins pushing against my arm, quite lightly. I start pushing against her, trying to force her hand down, surprisingly, her hand isn’t moving. Then my hand begins to descend to the table.

I’m dumbfounded! I double my efforts, but she keeps on pushing and even though I’m using all my strength, the next thing I know my hand is within an inch of the table. I look up at her face and am consoled to see that she at least is concentrating. Then my hand touches the table. There was nothing I could do.

"I win!" She cries happily.

I can’t help but laugh and shake of my arm. "All right, all right, you can come." If she’s stronger than I am, she should be fine. Of course, I still don’t know what her fighting technique is like. I’m sure I’ll find out soon enough.

She grabs her jacket excitedly and pulls two stakes out of her bag, then hides them on her body. I open the door and let her through before closing it and locking it – just in case. She pulls her long hair into a ponytail with an elastic.

She smiles. "You didn’t think I could," she states.

"No," I admit. "I sure didn’t."

*****

The two of us are creeping through the shadows, searching the streets for them. I feel the hair on the back of my neck stand up and I know that there is one nearby.

"Dad?" Angelina whispers.

"You sense it too?" I whisper back. Of course she senses it, she’s been trained to. I’m still quite impressed though. We must have sensed him at the same time.

"Yeah, it’s about half a block away."

We head towards it together, quietly and quickly. She must be very fit, for she’s keeping up with me quite easily. I pull a stake from my pocket and jump out from the shadows at it at the same time that she does.

Then I stop.

She throws a fast one with her left fist, then does a reverse strategy and kicks it with her right in a swift front kick. As she brings down her foot, she brings her right hand forward, the one with the stake, and dusts it.

She turns to face me, looking a little confused that I didn’t attack. It was only one; I wanted to see her technique. She’s a skilled fighter. I can’t help the surge of pride that goes through me.

"What?" She asks.

I smile. "You’re not going to entertain us with some witty quips?"

"That’s Mom’s thing. I fight, slay, and get it over with. I only talk if they piss me off," she tells me, smiling back.

I shake my head in amusement and we continue on our way.

*****

We’re stuck, in deep. I shouldn’t have let her come. We’re surrounded by a large pack of vampires and my back is against hers.

I’ve already scoped the situation. There are ten of them, all armed with large swords. The swords have a small emblem on the hilt. I’ve seen it only twice before. Needless to say, the situation does not look good.

"I thought this stuff only happened in Sunnydale," she mutters.

I ignore the comment; my mind focused on getting her out of here. "Angelina," I tell her. "I’m going to make an opening, then I want you to run. Do you understand?"

"No, I’m not leaving you, Dad," she tells me flatly.

"Angelina…" I threaten warningly.

"Dad…" She shoots back, mocking me.

All of a sudden she has pushed me flying forward into the vampires in front of me with her bottom. It takes me a second to catch myself and then I quickly throw myself into the action realizing that she must have been attacked.

I grab the arm of the vampire I flew into and flip him over, then pin him with my foot. Vamping out, I reach out for a second’s arm as he swing his sword at me and catch it in a one-handed arm bar. A third approaches and I ram my elbow back into its stomach, then slide my stake down my sleeve and shove it up into its chest. It turns to dust.

 

Reaching up with the now free hand, I twist the sword away, the flip the vampire under siege over so that he falls parallel to his counterpart. Before he can react, I swing the weapon, beheading them both in a single fluid motion.

I spin the sword in my grasp, to help to get used to the feel of it. Another one of the bastards comes at me with a sword of his own. I parry the overhand strike he sends at me, throwing a crescent kick at his midriff. He grunts as the kick connects but, a trained fighter, does not dwell on it and comes at me with his sword again.

 

I block his sword with mine, then thrust it forward for his abdomen. He brings his sword down to stop it and I pump a fist into his nose. He’s sent reeling back and his sword is sent flying up into the air from the clash. I reach out and catch it easily. As I prepare to finish him off, a second hits me from behind.

I cross the swords in front of me and roll with the blow, landing in a crouch so that they are both in my line of view, one to my right and one to my left. I stand up to my full height as a third steps between them. I begin swinging my swords in circular motions, quickening the speed of the spinning, I make myself nearly impossible to attack.

 

The first of the vamps, the unarmed one, attacks me and I quickly slice through his neck. The other two will be a bit more challenging, but a few quick fencing strokes and one is dust and the other’s sword has flown a good ten feet away.

 

I kick him with a strong sidekick, driving through him, and he flies backwards. He is sprawled out on the ground, backing up in terror. I drop the swords and take out a stake. I throw it and it sails home. With a cry, he is no more than dust on the ground.

I look around, suddenly alone. Angelina…where’s Angelina?!

A small, muffled noise catches my attention. I turn in that direction just in time to see a foot disappear. A foot that is wearing an expensive blue runner. A shoe that is part of the pair I bought today. Angelina!

I approach the corner carefully and see Angelina being dragged away by a dark figure. They are surrounded by a few other vampires that are more heavily armed then the vampires I just finished fighting. It’s too dangerous to just run in on them and I’m no good to Angelina dead, so I follow them stealthily.

As they turn one of the corners, I see the face of the vampire doing the dragging and I recognize it. Jeremy! This is bad, very, very bad.

*****

I followed the vampires here, to some sort of complex. It’s getting close to dawn, I need to find shelter, but there’s no way that I will leave Angelina! Somehow I manage to sneak into the building.

It’s strange, but I can sense her. It’s a little tickle in my body and I know that she’s here and that she’s all right…for the time being, anyway. Not exactly a comforting thought.

She’s up a few floors, I’m not sure how many. I’ll have to try the stairs, see if I can sense her better as I go up. I find the stairwell and, thankfully, as I reach each floor I can feel her just a bit stronger. I reach the fifth floor and I know that she was here, but she’s not anymore.

I go up one more level. She’s nearby, I know it! I exit into the hallway, which is deserted. Good for me, bad for Jeremy. Still, I’m not exactly one to push my luck, so I step quietly, creeping around in search of her as lightly as possible.

I’m halfway down the hall when all of a sudden the door near me bursts open and a strong kick sends me sprawling. Shit! That hurts like hell!

"Dad!" It’s Angelina! She’s safe! …And really strong.

"Angelina, you escaped!" I cry, though I’m careful to keep my voice down. I stand up, holding my side where I was kicked. It’s going to be sore for a few minutes…

"What are you doing here?" She questions, throwing herself into my arms. I receive her eagerly, glad to have her safe.

"Coming to save you. I turned around just in time to see him drag you around the corner. I followed them here, then set about finding you. You’ve got a strong kick," I answer, recounting my story shortly. "Come on, we have to get you out of here."

"Dad, who is he? How does he know you and Mom?" She questions worriedly.

"Doesn’t matter right now, sweetie," I tell her soothingly. Oh God, if she only knew! "Come on, let’s go."

She nods and follows me. I lead her back down the stairway all the way to the basement from where there is sewer access. I lead her home through the sewage. By the disgust on her face, you can see that she doesn’t appreciate the surroundings. I don’t blame her.

Fifteen minutes into the sewers she asks, "How far from your building are we?"

"Not too far, it’s just a bit farther. About a block," I reply.

And sure enough, after a block of walking, I’m letting her into the lounge. She climbs in and I follow her, then close the port by which we came.

I look at her and she looks at me. The silence surrounds us.

"So what do we do now?" She inquires in a soft voice after a few minutes.

"We get you out of LA," I reply immediately.

"I’m not leaving without you." It is a statement. It is also foolish.

"It’s not up for discussion. While you’re here, you’re in danger. I refuse to endanger you," I respond. I remember the kind of things Jeremy did. He has a personal vendetta against Buffy and I and he knows the only way to get Buffy, even in her grave, is through Angelina. He also must know what a daughter must mean to me. And of course, there is his power obsession that must be taken into consideration. My daughter is powerful, she is definitely appealing to him.

"Dad, he said that he wanted my powers and my life…and yours. What’s going to keep him from following me to Sunnydale?" She tries.

"In Sunnydale you’ve got all your friends to protect you," I answer. "You’ll be safer there. I have to stay here."

"Because of what Granny said?"

"That too," I admit with a nod. That and my guilt, anyway…

"Well, whatever she said must’ve been pretty important if it’s worth risking my life over, right?"

Ouch. I can’t help wincing at her words. Her face betrays no emotion. Darn it, I thought I was the only one who got to have that ability! "You know that I’d never want to endanger you-" I start, but she cuts me off.

"Funny, that’s what you’re doing now. You’re so hung up on yourself and your problems and what someone told you fifteen years ago that you’re willing to put me at risk just so that you don’t have to feel bad," she says coldly. Her words cut like a knife. If only she could understand…

"Look, I know that you’re having trouble understanding…"

"How could I possibly understand? You won’t tell me anything!" She snaps.

Then I do too.

"Look, Joyce feels very strongly about my vampirism. She was right when she told me that Buffy deserved someone better than me, someone who could take her into the daylight and all that," I inform her quickly, rationalism beyond me by this point. "I didn’t leave so that you’d have to suffer having me around later!" Oops. Didn’t I promise myself that I wouldn’t let her find out about all that?

Her eyes start to water. "She said that?" Her voice is barely above a whisper and it is pained. Her eyes finally betray her emotions. "Dad, don’t you think I’m suffering just a bit more not having a father? Whether you come or go, you’ll still be Dad. You’ve been my Dad since I was a kid, even though I didn’t know you…and even when I’m long gone and you’re still around, looking like your twenty-five, you’ll be my dad then too."

"Angelina…" Somehow, I can’t seem to put my heart into this argument. I love her so much and I want to be there for her…but does she really know what she’s getting into? Would it be right for me to do that? To get involved?

"You’re my Daddy forever." She is crying now.

Her words touch me on the deepest level, for her words are true. I cannot fight it anymore…I don’t want to be alone any longer and I don’t want to leave her without a father for a second more. "Okay," I concede softly. "Okay…"

"Good," she says in a soft, happy voice. She offers a tiny smile. "You have no idea how much this means to me."

"No…" I counter. I pull her into my arms, needing to hold her. "You have no idea how much this means to me."

As she hugs me back, I wonder what lies ahead for us now that I’ve made the decision to return where I’m still not sure that I am welcome. And is Jeremy so intent in his revenge that he will follow us? And how will I face Joyce… We’ll leave next sundown, so I’ll find out in enough time, won’t I? All that matters now is that I’ve finally learned.

I once asked myself the question of what would I have to live for if Buffy was dead? Now I have my answer. I have my daughter…my daughter dearest.

The End

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