I don't know how much more of it I can take. The fighting, the yelling, the hurt. I have to get away. I know he'll come after me, but I don't care. He doesn't love Damian, not at all. He wouldn't care if he left, but he'd miss his little slave.
"Women! God damn it! Where the hell are you?!" An outraged male voice cut through my thoughts.
"I'm right here Riley," I say as I walk into the kitchen.
"Where's my dinner?" I can tell he's drunk. It's really not that hard. He's almost always drunk these days.
"Well, um, I haven't started it yet. Damian was colicky and."
"God girl! I come back from a long day of work and all I expect is to be greeted by my wife with supper on the table. Instead, I come home hungry, don't know where my wife is, and find that my supper isn't ready because she spent all day with some God forsaken bawling brat!" He grabs my arm and slaps me in the face. I wince in pain as he hits me again and again with his hand.
"Stop, please stop." I whisper. He either doesn't here me or chose to ignore me.
"Now make my dinner!" He bellows, going to sit at the table.
I quickly make him dinner, squinting through quickly swelling eyes. He takes it into the den to eat. He grabs another beer on the way.
I go to the freezer to get some ice for my eyes. Then I walk to the den and look at Riley. He's out, either unconscious, or sleeping. I quickly pack a suitcase for me and then go to Damian's room and back clothes and a diaper bag for him. then I walk out the door.
And she takes another step
slowly she opens the door
check that he is sleeping
pick up all the broken glass
and furniture on the floor
been up half the night just screaming
now it's time to get away
pack up the kids in the car
another bruise to hide
another alibi to write/
I walk to the bus station, Damian cuddled against my chest, and say the first city that comes to mind. "One ticket to Los Angeles please."
Another ditch in the road
you keep moving
another stop sign,
you keep moving
and the years go by so fast
wonder how I ever made it/
"One for LA? One way, or there and back?" The ticket person looked at me, asking his question again.
"What? I'm sorry, I didn't hear you." I blush slightly, I wasn't listening.
"One way or there and back?" He asked me again.
"Um, one way," I mumble.
He arched an eyebrow at me, taking in my bruised face and old clothing. Riley never gave me money to by clothes. "One way it is. That comes to
7.27." I gave him the money, take the ticket, and walk to the bus.
And there are children to think of,
and babies asleep in the back seat
Wonder how they'll ever make it through this living nightmare
but the mind is an amazing thing
Full of candy dreams and new toys and another cheap hotel
Two beds and a coffee machine
But there are groceries to buy
And she knows she'll have to go home/
I'm on the bus, Damian now asleep, cuddled in my lap. He's so beautiful. So perfect. He doesn't look a thing like Riley, and I thank God for that. He's a miracle. I was scared when he was born, for I had taken a beating from that drunken bastard right before hand. He was two months premature, but came out of it fine.
"He's very cute." Came a soft voice.
I glance up. "Thank you." It was an elderly lady who was sitting next to me.
"Where are you headed miss?" She asked.
"No where." I didn't want anybody to know for sure where I was going, just in case Riley came to ask if anyone had seen me.
"Really. I would have thought you were going to LA considering that's the bus you're on." She smiles lightly at me.
"Yes, I suppose that would make sense. Excuse me, but I think I'm going to try to go to sleep."
"Of course dear."
It had finally hit me. I'm going to LA! I can't believe that I said that! I don't know why I did that. I don't remember anybody living in...
"Angel," I whisper quietly.
"Excuse me dear, but are you sure you're okay?" The old lady was looking at me strangely. I quickly nod my head and go back to sleep.
What the hell am I going to do! I haven't seen him since that day on thanksgiving, and I was only there for a few minutes. What if he doesn't love me any more? What if he doesn't remember me? What if he doesn't want to see me? I have no where to go. My mother has been gone for years, finally giving up on having a normal daughter, and leaving without a trace. Giles died years ago. I lost touch with Willow after Riley started getting the mail, and couldn't call her because he used the phone to hit me, then got rid of it when I called the police, and never got a new one. Cordy left to become some big actress, and God knows where she is. Xander and Anya also died. They were attacked by vamps before I could get there. Oz was killed by a werewolf hunter.
The bus had stopped. I'm in LA.
Another ditch in the road,
you keep moving
another stop sign,
you keep moving
And the years go by so fast
Wonder how I ever made it/
I find a cheap hotel. I'm dead tired and terribly sore. Damian is also hungry and crying himself hoarse, so I give him a bottle. He quiets and falls asleep on the floor, surrounded by blankets. I gather my courage, pick of the phone book and look for the number for Angel Investigations. I hold my breath and dial. It rings and someone answers.
"Angel Investigations, Angel Speaking," A deep, rich voice says.
Oh my God. It's him! I finally speak.
"Angel?" I whisper.
"Yes?" He asked.
"It's me. Buffy." I am barely able to breath.
"Buffy?" He asked breathily.
"Yes." I'm barely bale to choke out an answer, so overcome with emotion.
"Why are you...where...how are..." I listened to him stutter and a smile lit my face for the first time in years. The ever so suave Angel could barley get a sentence out.
"I'm not in Sunnydale, Angel."
"Then where are you?
"I can't tell you, I-I'm sorry." Now it is I who stutter.
I cut him off. "I can't Angel, I just can't. I, I have to ask you a question though. Please Angel, Do you still love me?" I am crying now.
"Of course I do Buffy! Always."
"Thank you. I have to go. Good bye Angel."
"No! Buffy! Wait!" Angel shouts into the phone.
I hung up. I had to. I couldn't help it. I walked over, kissed Damian God night, and went to the bed. I curled up into a ball and sobbed.
*************************The Next Day************************
I woke up the next morning to a beautiful sunny day. I checked on Damian and found he was sleeping still, so I went to check out the "Continental Breakfast." It consisted of stale donuts, coffee, mile and some crackers. I took crackers and milk for Damian and coffee for me. I went back to my room, got Damian and took us to the park across the street. Damian ate the crackers and milk, then went on to chasing birds. I drank my coffee and watched him. He had just learned how to walk. He was still a little wobbly, but he should be fine on grass.
My mind wonders to the time when I was still dating Riley. It had started out perfect. Everything Angel had ever wanted. He could take me out into the day, could give me children, would grow old with me and die with me. He didn't even say ick when I told him I was slayer. He himself fought vamps and other big bads. Then we got married sophomore year. We had only had sex once. That's what it was. Sex. Not making love like it was with Angel. I had Damian my junior year in August. He had blondish hair and dark, deep chocolate brown eyes and I love him with every once of my being. That's when things turned bad. When I was pregnant. He started drinking and just changed. He was as mean as a stepped on snake and hit me whenever I did something he considered wrong, which was an awful lot. I went through tons of makeup. Not only did he hit me, but he punished me emotionally. I had thought I could take him, slayer strength and all, but I couldn't. I suspect he's taking drugs, but I never went to ask him. I wouldn't live if I did. So I left. I couldn't take it anymore. Two years of living hell. I had to go.
Another ditch ion the road,
you keep moving,
another stop sign,
you keep moving on/
I picked up Damian and we went home. Or back to the hotel really. I was giving him a bath when I heard a knock on the door. I wrapped Damian in a towel and went to answer the door. I opened it and came face to face with a pair of soulful brown eyes.
"Hello Buffy," Angel said.
"Angel! What-What are you doing here?" I can't believe he's here. I almost lost my grip on Damian's wet body. As it is, he slipped to the floor and began running around, happy to be free of clothing.
"Why don't you finish up what ever it was you were doing, and then we'll talk." He was smiling and watching Damian run in-between the bed and the wall.
"Okay, um, just a minute then." I collected Damian and got him dressed, much to his disappointment. I got him situated with toys in a corner and motioned to Angel to sit in a chair.
"You're very good with him," Angel said and lifted a hand in Damian direction.
"Thank you, but why are you here Angel?" I was irked that he had the nerve to come and find me.
"I was worried," Angel said.
I was beginning to get pissed. "Dump the damn cryptic Angel. I want the truth."
"That is the truth Buffy! When you broke down on the phone the other day, I was so scared." I knew Angel was never one of many words, so I was content with what he said.
"How did you know where I was staying?" I was curious as too how he knew where I was.
"Right after you hung up on me," I wince, remembering "I asked, okay told, Cordy to find you."
"You work with Cordelia?" I was shocked. I never knew.
"Yes. I made her find you. I knew you weren't in Sunnydale, so I checked around. I figured you wouldn't use your real name, so she checked under Anne. As it was, we found listings for hundreds of Anne's, but only one Anne O'Conner."
He was right. that's the name I had used. I never even thought about it at the time, but I just spit out Angel's name like it was my own. He continued speaking.
"When I saw my last name under a hotel name in LA, coupled with you middle name, I knew it was you. Willow had once told me that you used Anne when you ran away the summer you sent me to hell." How he could talk so easily about it was a mystery to me.
"But why did you try and find me? How come you didn't just leave me be?"
"I told you, I was worried! You aren't the type to cry over everyday things Buffy. Tell me what's wrong. Please." His eyes did me in. I never could resist those eyes.
"I-I don't know how to start. I married Riley in my sophomore year. I had Damian the summer before my junior year. That's when Riley...turned." I had sunk to the bed from my previously standing position. "He started drinking, and I think he was taking drugs. That's how he overpowered me. He hit me, he hit me everyday Angel." I picked up a washcloth and swiped it over my face. The bruises on my eyes and cheek bones were visible now. "See Angel? This is what I had to go through, every day. Every week, second, minute and hour!"
"Oh, Buffy," He looked like he couldn't chose between coming to me and staying put. He chose the stay put option.
"I never meant for this to happen Angel. He was all you ever wanted for me. He could go in the sun, could have sex-that's all it was, was sex, not love-he didn't mind me being Slayer. He would grow old with me. But then I got pregnant. I don't know how. He was the only one I had slept with, the only one it made sense in. But the doctor said I was to far along for it to be Riley. He must have found out. He started drinking, and hitting me. It was only once in a while Angel, not everyday. But with every month, he got worse, hitting me more and more until it was every day. It hurt, it hurt so bad, but I rather it was me than my son."
"I'm so sorry Buffy. Is there anything that I can do?" Angel hadn't said a word till now.
"Help? Help! HELP! This is all your fault in the first place!" I couldn't stand it any more. "If you wouldn't have left me, this would never have happened! I wouldn't be here, in a crappy hotel with my son, not knowing who his father is, not making him live of crackers and milk, or not having toys-"
"It's me," Angel said.
I was surprised. Angel never interrupts. "What?"
"It's me. I'm Damian's father," Angel told me.
Stunned does not describe what I felt. I couldn't move. I was stuck in place. Finally, my head cleared and I was able to think. "You? You're his father? But, it was so long ago that we..." I trailed of, not being able to think and talk at the same time.
"No, Buffy, it wasn't that long ago. You came to see me on thanksgiving your second year of college. You were mad at me for watching you without your permission, or your knowledge. You came to yell at me really. While we were talking, a demon came through the window. I killed it, but it's blood mixed with my own, making me human. The PTB said that it was permanent. We spent the entire day together, laughing and eating ice cream, kissing and making love. As it turned out, the demon that I had supposedly killed had revived itself and come back." Angel had started to pace, his hands behind his back, the words coming continuously out of his mouth. "I went to fight it, leaving you to sleep. Being human, I had lost my vampire strength and wasn't able to fight. You came just in time to save me. Later, I went back to the Oracles. I ask them what would come of you if I stayed human. The said that you would die, as any mortal being would. I asked them to change me back, so I could protect you and you would live. They did, and in doing so erased our one perfect day together. They said though, that not all would be erased. I believe that Damian is the part that didn't get erased. So you see, I am his father." He looked up at me, bloody tears welling in his eyes.
"It's you. It really is. I should have known. His eyes, they're just like yours, and his hair. It's so dark, and silky smooth, just like yours. I should have known, I should have known, I should have known, I should have know..." I start mumbling to myself, not able to absorb all that he has told me at the same time.
Damian walked over to Angel, and lifted his arms up to him. "Daddy?" Angel looked stunned, but picked him up anyway.
"Yes, Damian, me Daddy," Angel said.
"Angel, would you mind taking him out to get something to eat, please?" I was dazed. I needed time to think.
He looked me strangely, but complied and took Damian and his diaper bag out to find something for lunch. When they were gone, I sat on my bed and thought. It all makes sense. Perfect sense. I understood now. Damian had never liked Riley, not at all. He cried whenever he held him, never called him daddy, always avoided him. Now that I think about it, Damian looks so much like Angel. How could I ever think that he was Riley's? I was getting a headache from thinking so much. I had to go to sleep.
********************an hour later**********************
A while later, I was awaken by a knocking on my door. "Just a minute!" I called. I figured it was Damian and Angel back from lunch. I went to open the door.
"Riley..." my eyes widened in horror, and I wasn't able to breath "no..."
"What the hell did you think you were doing, you stupid bitch? What? You didn't think that I'd find you? I have the most updated tracking available! I found you in a heart beat! And now you're gonna pay for it!" He raised his hand to hit me, but before it could connect with my face, it was pulled away by another hand.
Angel had set Damian on the floor, and now his face was so contorted in rage that I hardly recognized him. "Get a way from her, you bloody drunken Bastard," He said in a low and deadly voice.
"I said get away from her." Angel's eyes weren't the kind, loving eyes that I knew, and I could tell that he was letting a little bit of Angelus out.
"Angel..." I was awe struck. I wasn't used to seeing him like this.
"Buffy, take Damian and go outside." He hadn't moved at all, his gaze fixed on Riley's face, his body tensed and ready to fight.
"Buffy, go. NOW!" I left.
"How dare you tell my wife and son what to do!" I was standing outside the door, listening.
"You don't deserve Buffy, or MY son." Angel's voice was still incredibly low.
"Your son?" Riley sputtered.
"Yes, Mine. Now you better get your drunken ass out of here, or else," Angel growled.
Riley smirked. "Or else what? You think that you, some wimpy little human can take me, who's been trained in fighting for the past five years?" He raised his fist to punch him.
Angel caught his hand. "No, well yes actually, but lucky for us, I'm not human," He slipped into vamp face looking more pissed than ever, "and I've been training for the past 250 years."
"I'm not leaving without my wife." Riley was trying to look tough and unafraid, but was failing miserably.
"Fine, I guess I'll have to help you out." Angel punched Riley in the face, then his nose. Then he kneed him in the stomach, then the groin. He hit him hard on the head again, and Riley passed out cold.
"You can come back in Buffy," Angel said as he reverted back to his human image.
I walked in and took one look at Riley and know it was over. I did the only thing that I could think of.
"Oh, my love," Angel was next to me in an instant, holding me and Damian-who I had forgotten I was still holding until then-in his arms. I scrunched up against him, and for the fist time in forever, I felt safe.
Another bruise to hide
another alibi to write
another lonely highway in the black of night
but there's hope in the darkness
you know you're going to make it/
Riley and I were divorced a day later. He was put in jail and sentenced to ten years for abusive behavior and attempted murder. I will never forgive Riley for what he did to Damian and me, but I am stronger because of it.
Angel and I talked for a long time that day. I discovered that he was now only half vamp, and could go out in to the sun, eat human food, and have only a slight reaction to a cross and holy water. I would've noticed, had the timing been better. Damian and I moved in with Angel. We both agreed that Damian should see his mother and father being together. A year later, we were married, and ten months after that, Damian had a little sister named Katarina. I had officially become Buffy Anne O' Conner.
The best part of about this is that I'm not scared anymore. I know Angel would never hurt me, or either of our children. I don't have to be worried about not having dinner ready, or taking care of a colicky baby. I can go to sleep, feeling safe, and wake up in the arms of the man that I love.
I've made it. I have won.
Another ditch in the road,
you keep moving,
another stop sign,
you keep moving
and the years go by so fast
silent fortress built to last,
wonder how I ever made it./