Sweet Dreams, Caged
brutti ma buoni
At a family barbecue with Connor Reilly, Buffy and Angel's relationship is
explored. Is this just a happy family tale, or is there something lurking behind
the curtain? (Apart from Angel, of course. What? He can't go out in the sun!)
The barbecue smelt good,
even to vampire senses.
Angel lurked, perforce,
because the day was perfect for barbecue, and also for vampire death. He could
see Buffy making awkward conversation with the Reillys' next-but-one neighbours
on the left. They were car enthusiasts. He hoped Buffy was using some of the
stuff he'd told her over the years, and not the truthful No one, but no one,
will let me drive an automobile. Even in Egypt, where they didn't even have
drivers' licences till, like 1995. So I choose not to care about vehicles,
unless required for slayage purposes.
No. She wouldn't be
saying that. They were undercover, more or less, or at least Passing For
Normal, for the sake of Connor and his world.
Connor was sitting just
outside the kitchen window, with the new girlfriend, and a couple of college
buddies. They played hockey together, which made Angel almost too happy. He'd
watched them at games, this past spring, enjoying Connor's speed and skill, and
the way the bruising challenges left him basically unmoved, with bigger guys
staring baffled after him. Hey: the Angel genes are not to be messed with,
"So, who's the
babe?" asked College Buddy A (probably Deck, though possibly Donnie).
Connor said it carefully, not too eager, because this new girlfriend was
definitely a keeper, and it would be rude to sound too babe-interested while
Jenna's head was actually on his shoulder. But also, a little interested, on
account of the guy code, and the fact he was only, at bottom, human.
"The little blonde
with the great ass. Talking to those petrolheaded bozos," said Deck. And
Angel looked over, to realise, outraged, that they were talking about Buffy.
"What? Oh, no,
that's my stepmom," said Connor. Like it was the simplest thing in the
The college boys exploded, disbelieving. "But, your folks are
married!" Indeed they were: the Reillys holding court by the grill, still
deeply in love.
"Dudes, seriously? I have a bio dad too, right?" And Jenna gave a
little murmur of agreement, and sympathy for the complexity of the backstory,
as any sympathetic girlfriend might.
"I did not
know that," said Donny. "I swear. You're adopted?"
"Yeah. My dad
couldn't keep me-" and that little line, full of truth, sent a pang
through Angel. I would have, son. I would have, despite everything. And if I
had, you'd be five now, and not looking at hot babes who are my wife.
"And my parents wanted kids, so-"
"Hey, but your
sisters look exactly like your mom-"
"Yeah. It's a
thing. Seems like I magically cured their sex life," said Connor, with
laughter in his voice, and the expected chorus of Gross, man and I so
did not need to think about your Dad's dick today and all the rest burst
beneath the window. Angel flicked a glance over to Buffy, obliviously looking
more gorgeous than ever, and at the Reillys, not noticing their disgusting
not-even-teenage-now son. But he was smiling, all the same. Connor was okay
with his past and with Buffy now. Even Stephen, hidden Stephen, seemed okay.
This story, with just enough truth, worked for them all.
"So, the amazing
stepmom must be, like, a child bride? Unless your bio dad was a teen dad,
paused. How much truth? "No, he is older than her. Quite a lot. But
they've known each other ten years, I think. So, you know, history."
"We get to meet him
too- Whatever his name is?"
"Sure, if you want.
He's inside, doesn't like the sun. But he'd be glad to say hi to my
"Definitely. I have
to meet an older guy who scores a babe like that!"
And Angel should have
hated them, but, no. Dumb kids, sure, and more than a little rude. But they
were the cement for Connorís story, and they bought it. Besides, it sounded
like Jenna just threw something wet over Donnie, which helped Angel's feelings
Jenna talking now.
"They don't have kids, right? But Buffy's really young. Maybe you could
get a little halfbro?"
Angel could hear Connor thinking aloud. Just enough truth. "Yeah, I donít
think it's that simple for them. It'd be cool, though." And that last
part? Audibly not a lie. A warm and happy thought, of Buffy, pregnant somehow
(hell, Angel'd track down a Mohra demon and humanise himself for a month to do
it, find a way to switch back later; or maybe, finally, this would be his
shanshu: he would be dead, but a living child, uncursedÖ And Connor would be
happy with it. Like a family.).
He could feel the tear
in his soul before it left completely.
"No, no, not-"
baby," said Angelus. And Angelus then opened his eyes to darkness. Chains
and bars. A tattooed monk. The old routine. Plus Hot Stepmom herself, in short
shorts, which explained Angel's little outdoor fantasy. Cute. Very cute.
afternoon," said the vampire Slayer. "We need some information from
you to save the world. We'll pay you, or find some way to reward you for a few
days if you co-operate. No killings."
sweetheart," said Angelus, slowly. "I don't think you have anything
"I wouldn't say
that," the Slayer purred. "We can negotiate."
fuck the devil to save the world?"
She shrugged. "If I
have to. The world's in, like, extreme danger. Angel won't like it, but-"
will." He actually licked his lips, looking at her. Remembering that scar,
the taste of her in his mouth, near-fucking that time if only his good self
hadn't been too gentlemanly and concerned.†
But meantime, since she'd never give it up so easily, he had time to
kill, and dreams to crush.
"You want to know
what did it for Angel this time? Soul-wise, I mean? He wants you to be the
perfect stepmom to little Connor, and get making babies yourself. Man, that guy
watches too much Lifetime. Have you heard anything sappier, in your life?"
She should have looked
distraught. Because their life was so far from perfect, with Connor caught in
semi-denial of his old life and semi-resentment of the renewed connection
between Buffy and the sap. Because marriage and babies were still so very far
from likely. Because Buffy and Angel these days were mostly about saving the
world, one day at a time. And looking to the future hurt too bad to
But she didn't. Just
smiled. "Really? That's what you got?" She moved closer to the cage,
close enough that Angelus could catch the scent of her with every beat of her
pulse. "Baby," she breathed, Monroe-hot and sexy. "Baby, that's exactly
what I dream of too."
And she walked off,
leaving Angelus in his cellar, alone.
Damnation. He would try
to get free. Of course he would. He would try to kill and maim and blight their
plan to save the world. Definitely try to ensure his pesky soul never made a
reappearance in his equally pesky brain. And he would continue to try to thwart
those two damn star-crossed lovers.
But there was a small
part of Angelus that wouldn't bet against those shared dreams coming true