Maximum rating: NC-17 is fine
Genre/tone: Romantic/Schmoopy... teensy angst is acceptible.
3 things would like to see in fic: Either a new relationship forming, or a happy settled relationship, Buffy announcing a first or second pregnancy, adult friends.
3 things don't want to see in fic: Character bashing/death, Wimpy William
A/N: Ok, I think I managed to get it pretty close to right. Maybe it's slightly more angsty than it should have been, but there is a happy ending. Hope this is enjoyable, and please let me know what you thought with a review.
"Ugh. Dirt roads, definitely something not so beautiful about this place," Dawn mumbled, coughing again as more dust swirled up in the car.
"Well it's too hot to go without the windows or the vent, just wait we're almost there, and this is definitely going to be worth it."
"Yeah, because when I hear South Dakota, I think, exotic vacation locale."
Buffy glared at her sister and partner and turned back to the road. She and Dawn were getting ready to finish their first book. They'd been doing a travel column for a few years in a magazine L.A. and now they were finally ready to publish something on their own.
They were still looking for a final and not too obvious choice in their tour across the country when Willow finally settled down with Tara and invited them out for a visit. It turned out that she'd gotten a job at a school on a reservation.
She claimed that the Black Hills and the Badlands were definitely something to write home about, so here they were, winding down a dirt road on their way to Willow and Tara's new home.
Finally, they pulled up to the driveway and parked. "I guess we can come back for the equipment?"
Dawn nodded. "I'm too tired to grab it now anyway, let's just get inside and sit still for a moment."
They walked up to the door and Buffy rose her hand to knock, but before her knuckles came down the door opened to reveal a man a head or so taller than Buffy. His hair was curly and a soft brown. His wire rimmed glasses were the only thing that kept it from falling into his eyes. He wasn't entirely remarkable as men went, and Dawn would have labeled him a geek, but Buffy was smitten. The pair stared at each other for a moment, unable to tear their eyes away until Dawn cleared her throat none too subtly and the man blinked, averted his eyes and stepped aside.
"I'm sorry, you must be Buffy and Dawn. Come on in."
Dawn rolled her eyes as Buffy and the man who still hadn't revealed his identity blushed and stammered, trying to get past each other.
"And you'd be?" she asked when she couldn't take it anymore.
He looked up and blushed even more if that were possible. "Oh, excuse me, I'm terribly sorry. My name is William, I work with Tara and Willow."
He offered his hand and Buffy took it after Dawn's brief but polite shake. "Hi, I'm Buffy, I guess you already knew that."
He smiled at her warmly and didn't let go of her hand. Buffy was starting to like the idea of coming all the way out here more and more.
"What is it you do exactly?"
He cleared his throat suddenly and pulled back his hand. "I.. actually, I run the school here."
"I thought it was run by nuns."
William let out a short chuckle and looked up at Buffy, shoving his hand in his pockets. "Yes, well... nuns and priests. I guess I should have given you a full introduction. It's actually Father William Giles."
Buffy stared at him for a moment in shock but then forced a smile. "Nice to meet you."
He smiled back but the tension was unbelievably thick now.
Yeah, loving this plan more and more, she thought darkly as she allowed him to lead her into the living room.
"So Buffy, you write, and Dawn, you take the pictures?"
"Right, but we've never been here, so it would help if you guys had some time and could show us some of the best sites."
Willow and Tara agreed enthusiastically and William nodded as well. He didn't think it was the best idea for him to be showing Buffy around. They had been here for a few days now, and each meeting with Buffy brought more and more confusion with it.
The more he got to know her, the more he enjoyed her company, and the more he wanted to spend every moment in it.
They decided to take the hike at night and they found a spot high enough so that they could see over a good deal of the landscape. Perfect for Dawn's pictures and Buffy's imagination. The rocks formed a kind of shelter the further back they went so they left their packs there while Tara and Willow led Dawn through the surrounding rock formations so that she could get the best shots.
William and Buffy remained with their equipment as she tried to get a feel for the area, trying to put the beauty into words.
"Is this what you were hoping for?" William said softly from behind her causing Buffy to jump slightly.
She nodded and tried to ignore the tingling feeling she got when he stepped close to her. "Do you come out here a lot?"
He nodded. "Whenever I get a chance. It's a little dangerous to come out alone, but sometimes I need that."
"Yeah, I guess everyone does." She tried to keep her voice steady, but he was so close, and she wanted him so much. Every time she felt this way she realized that she had no chance, it wasn't something she was getting used to.
William watched her frown and duck her head slightly and he stepped away, just then realizing how close he was, and that he was probably making her uncomfortable. He seemed naturally drawn to her, and he couldn't help it. No matter how much he prayed, no matter how many times he reminded himself that he was a priest and she was a beautiful woman who could have anyone she wanted, he couldn't help himself from trying to find a way into her life.
"Is this where you come to write?"
"Willow told me that you wrote sometimes.. poetry. I'm sorry, should I not have said anything, I know that can be a private thing."
"No, it's fine... it's just... well it's bloody awful. I can't believe she even mentioned it. She just found me one day writing and I must have been crazy to tell her what I was up to."
"She didn't say anything about them being awful," Buffy whispered, and William wondered for a second if Buffy had something other than poetry on her mind. He shook his head and averted his eyes.
They were quiet for a moment and she turned her gaze out to the wilderness. William watched her for a moment, helpless against the urge to do so until he finally realized she may be trying to do work and didn't need him, lovesick puppy that he was, distracting her.
"I'm sorry, did you need some time to get some writing done?"
She should have said yes, she did actually need time, and the more she spent with him, the more confusing things got. But she didn't.
"No, you're fine. Can you tell me anything I can't see for myself?"
He swallowed hard and tried to stop from moving closer to her. She doesn't want you like that, you pillock, and besides, you have another calling to be worried about.
"I could tell you about the stars," he looked down at his boots and shook his head. "Never mind, that's stupid. I don't really know much else about the landscape. I take care of the kids and I come up here to think, but all my knowledge is pretty archaic."
She had moved closer to him during his tirade and touched his hand lightly, pulling it toward her. "No, tell me about them. I've never really learned any of that."
William smiled shakily and thanked God for the cover of darkness that made it less likely for her to see all of the emotions playing across his face. "Turn around then," he said, his voice lower than usual.
Buffy turned and felt him step up close behind her, running his hand down her arm until it came in contact with her own and lifted it up with his.
William tried to convince himself that the lingering contact he was making with her was essential to the lesson he was about to give, but he couldn't quite manage it. He couldn't help but turn his head slightly and breathe in the scent of her hair.
He began to tell her about everything he could remember from his astronomy lessons. Pointing out constellations and giving their histories. He didn't notice her reactions to his proximity, and if he did, he dismissed them as fantasies of his own.
He knew that his own responses were getting out of control, however. In all his life he'd never felt so much in the presence of any one woman. He'd been a young boy once, and he hadn't forgotten his sexual desires, but it just hadn't come up since he'd really started his life as a priest. Now, he was getting harder by the moment, and every way he turned it seemed like she followed him.
He was content to stay like this forever. Nothing could ever really go past this point, neither of them would, or could, allow it. He could desire her, care for her, but all from afar.
William managed to keep their lower bodies separated, he didn't want to ruin things by embarrassing them both with his obvious pleasure at having her half in his arms.
Of course, he should have known his luck wouldn't have held out. He'd made her laugh and turned her at the same time and they'd stumbled, throwing her back in his arms and connecting their lower bodies in a way that would have had William groaning into her ear if he hadn't been so mortified.
She stiffened for a moment and he felt his stomach drop. He stepped back quickly and cursed himself before attempting to meet her eyes but finding himself unable to do so.
"I'm.. I'm sorry, Buffy- I didn't-"
She turned touched his face, effectively shutting him up. "William, I didn't think..."
She leaned forward and he moved his hand up to touch her cheek without thinking. "Buffy, I-"
Her lips met his hesitantly and he was too shocked to move.
Buffy misinterpreted his shock and pulled back, her face flaming. She opened her mouth to apologize but he pulled her back into his arms and pressed his lips to hers, desperate to reassure himself that this was really happening.
She licked along his lips begging for entrance and he moaned, allowing her tongue to slip inside and tangle with his.
William hadn't kissed anyone in anything but an entirely chaste way since he was seventeen, and then it had been another teenager, just as confused as he was about everything, and not really into him in the first place.
Buffy's kisses were passionate and demanding, but with an overall sense of tenderness. They slowed things down and moved their lips against each other in a way that would allow them to feel each touch. He allowed her to lead and followed, trying to give her as much pleasure as she was giving him.
His hands slid down her arms and around her back before he pulled her against him, allowing her to know exactly what she was doing to him without any embarrassment.
She groaned into the kiss and he moved his lips from hers to her neck, finding her pulse point and sucking lightly.
She ground her hips into him and he gasped into her neck, holding her close to him. "God, Buffy, I-"
Suddenly, she was pulling away and smoothing down her shirt which had somehow ridden up as he'd stroked her lower back. He stood, still gasping, wondering what had happened.
Before he could finish he heard Dawn and Willow's excited voices as they turned the corner and stopped in front of them.
"Get anything done, Bu-" Dawn stopped talking suddenly as she took in the picture in front of her. William was shifting and looking anywhere but at them, while Buffy was smiling too brightly and wringing her hands in a gesture Dawn knew all too well.
"I think we should head back, don't you?"
William cleared his throat suddenly and nodded, the gravity of the situation finally breaking through the haze that had settled around him the second he began touching Buffy.
He started back toward the bags and gathered some together as he tried to clear his mind. She wanted him, he more than wanted her, and where did that leave them? She had a big life in L.A. outside of this, and he was a priest. He had a responsibility to the school and to his faith.
But a large part of him that was growing every day really didn't care. He wanted to be with Buffy, no matter what. He glanced back at her and saw her conversing quietly, but violently, with Dawn.
"Oh, luv, what are we doing?"
The hike back was tense, and although William and Buffy were fairly certain Dawn was the only one who suspected anything, Willow and Tara knew something was up with the group.
William made a weak excuse and hurried back to his room. He couldn't be selfish, he couldn't expect Buffy to stick around while he sorted his life out. He couldn't abandon all the work he'd done at the school because he had some infatuation with a girl that he barely knew.
But it wasn't just that. There was something about Buffy that went beyond the usual attraction to a beautiful woman. He loved hearing her laugh and he loved her quick mind. He'd read her column and was impressed. Poetic and informative, she made him feel like he was with her wherever she was.
He flopped back onto his bed and kicked his boots off. There was no denying the physical attraction, that was for sure. She turned him on more than anyone ever had, even before he took his vows.
He was hard again thinking about her, and for the first time in forever he had the urge to masturbate. He allowed his hand to travel slowly down his chest and settle on the growing bulge in his pants. He stroked himself lightly a few times before bringing his hands back up to his face and rubbing his eyes.
What the hell was he doing?
His door opened suddenly and he sat up, pulling a pillow to cover his lap. Buffy stood in the doorway and he swallowed hard, suddenly unable to speak.
She closed the door softly behind her and moved until she was standing in front of him. She moved the pillow from his lap and removed his glasses before cupping his face in her hands.
"What are we doing here, Buffy?" William cursed himself as his voice cracked on the last word.
"I don't know," she whispered before leaning in to kiss him. When she felt his hand come up to rest on her waist she pulled back. "But I know I want this, whatever it is. Can we just... see what happens?"
William didn't think, he just pulled her back into his arms and crushed his lips to hers. She moved her hands between them and pulled his shirt up, tickling his abs as she did so, and causing him to tremble beneath her.
They separated just long enough to remove his shirt and then she was on her back on his bed. His mouth moved from her lips and trailed down her neck to her chest. He fumbled with the buttons on her shirt before she stilled his hands and unbuttoned the shirt herself before shrugging it off.
He laughed nervously and closed his eyes. "I'm sorry, luv, I-"
Buffy smiled and kissed him. "Shh.."
He managed to unhook her bra, amazingly enough and before he knew it, his hands were full of her soft breasts. He moved his mouth to her nipples and she moaned underneath him. He kissed a path between her breasts and started to move down her body. He reached her pants and glanced up at her for permission before unbuttoning them and sliding them, along with her panties, down her legs.
She gasped as he kissed and licked his way back up her thighs and finally spread her legs. He stared for a moment, he'd never seen a woman like this, it took his breath away. And the enormity of what he was doing was suddenly too much for him.
He looked up at her face. She was flushed and moaning, his hands had a mind of their own and where stroking her lightly, just keeping her on the edge. She was the most beautiful thing he'd ever seen, and he wasn't sure he could pull her down into this sin he was committing.
Buffy noticed that he'd seemed to tense and she opened her eyes to find him looking at her with so much confusion and longing that her heart clenched. She sat up and cupped his face in her hands.
"William.. what is it?"
He sighed and leaned forward, kissing her softly then burying his face in her neck. "I don't want you to get hurt."
Buffy wrapped her arms around him and stroked his back. "What are you talking about?"
"We shouldn't be doing this, and I wouldn't be but," he pulled back and looked into her eyes. "I've never felt this way about anyone before, not even close."
He put a finger on her lips and smiled sadly. "I know, this isn't as important to you. That's ok, you've probably had relationships before and you're not actually committing the big sin here."
"This is important to me."
He searched her face for a moment and then kissed her, she could tell everything from that kiss. He was nervous, confused, excited, and he didn't really believe her that she felt something for him. She'd have to remedy that.
She pushed him off of her and back onto his feet and he seemed resigned to stopping until she undid the button of his jeans. He covered her hands with his and forced her to meet his eyes. "Are you sure?"
She just stared at him for a moment before nodding solemnly and continuing to unbutton them until she could slide them down his legs. He stepped out of them and Buffy could see his cock straining against the material of his boxers.
She leaned forward and kissed the fabric covering him and he shook with desire, his cock jumping against her lips. She grinned and made eye contact with him as she slowly peeled the final layer of clothing separating them off of his body.
She lay back and he crawled between her legs, making sure she was comfortable before settling in the cradle of her thighs. She reached between them and gripped his erection, positioning it at her entrance.
"Buffy, I've never-"
She tilted her hips up and the head slid inside her. William gasped and tried to control himself, as he slid further inside her he tried to do multiplication tables in his head, a trick he'd read about as a teenager.
"Oh Jesus, Buffy!" he cried out as her muscles clenched around him. He raised his head and kissed her deeply as he began moving inside her. He pulled back and looked into her eyes, trying to determine if she were getting as much pleasure.
She reached for his hand and placed it between them, encouraging him to rub her clit. He glanced between them and watched his cock disappear inside her and had to clench his jaw to keep from cumming at the sight.
He felt her begin to tighten around him and thanked God as he didn't know how much longer he could last. He kissed her again, tenderly now, trying to convey just what she meant to him with his lips on hers.
Finally, he pinched her clit softly and she cried out his name, cumming around his painfully hard cock and bringing him after her.
He collapsed on top of her but quickly realized that he was crushing her and rolled onto his back, bringing his arm up to wrap around her waist.
Buffy rolled so that she was molded to his side and kissed him sweetly. They smiled before settling in for sleep.
William woke hours later and reached for Buffy but her side of the bed was cold. He sat up suddenly and wondered if it was all a dream but the satisfaction he felt running through his body begged to differ. He heard shuffling on the other side of the room and put on his glasses before looking over, waiting for his eyes to adjust to the darkness.
She walked over to him, her clothes in her hands. "I didn't mean to wake you," she whispered.
His heart clenched painfully as he figured she was trying to make a quick escape after her mistake of a night with him.
Buffy looked at him for a moment and realized what it must have seemed like to him. She grabbed a piece of paper and put it into his hand.
"I wrote you a letter, I didn't want you to think that I'd just left."
He swallowed. "I'd rather you just let me down easy to my face."
"William..." She reached a hand up and touched his face. "I wasn't saying goodbye." He glanced up at her and she smiled before kissing him softly. "I just didn't want you to get in trouble. I thought I should go back to my room before someone finds us here together."
He let out a relieved sigh and kissed her again. "I'm sorry I assumed-"
"No, I know what it must have looked like. I'm sorry for worrying you."
They sat for a moment their hands clasped together lightly. The enormity of the situation was hitting William all of the sudden and he tried to keep his fears from showing on his face. He didn't want Buffy to worry, he was the one in trouble here, not her, and she didn't need to be faced with it.
He pulled her close to him and kissed her shoulder.
"William, it's going to be ok."
He let out a ragged breath and pulled back, smiling shakily.
"Yeah? It seems we're well and truly buggered to me."
"We can figure something out. I care about you, and I want you to be happy."
He covered his face with his hands and laughed mirthlessly. "And I want you to be happy. This is quite possibly the worst situation I can imagine myself in. I thought I had everything figured out, I thought I was happy, but then you came along, and I realize that I was so wrong about everything."
"Not everything, you're a good man. You didn't see this coming and it's not your fault. I want to be with you, I do, but I want you to make the decision that's best for you. If leaving this will make you resent me, then I want you to stay, and I'll still care about you."
He sat silently and Buffy stood. "I'll see you later," she whispered before kissing his forehead and leaving the room.
William remained sitting and began to pray.
It had been a month since their first night together and Buffy was terrified. She and William had decided to go along as if nothing had changed between them in public, but they continued to try to find time alone together as much as possible. Dawn wasn't stupid, and Buffy was sure she knew what was going on, but if her sister had a problem with it, she hadn't mentioned it since their first argument when she had caught them in the hills.
William was making progress toward making peace with himself and his faith. He promised her that eventually he would make his decision public and leave the priesthood, but that was weeks ago, and he still hadn't made a move.
And now Buffy was late. Late in the worst possible sense in her current position. Her hands trembled as she picked up the pregnancy test on the sink.
It felt as if all the air left the room and she sank to her knees against the counter trying to understand how things had gotten so badly out of control. She and William had only forgotten protection their first time. She hadn't realized it until she left his room and took a shower. It was a stupid mistake, especially as her cycle was never predictable. But she didn't sense that it was the right time. She was sure that they'd get away with it.
She wasn't sure whether to take this as a good or bad sign about her relationship with William. Was God punishing them? Was he encouraging them to make a clean break and start a life together?
None of it made sense to her, and William's reticence to make a move was only making things harder.
They decided to go away for the day. There was a small town near the school and no one really knew them there. They could go and have fun without any consequences. William took her to the movies, and they ate dinner, and finally he wanted to take her for ice cream.
It all seemed so normal, so much like something an ordinary couple would do, and it was killing her. She didn't want to tell William, she knew he would be terrified, he wouldn't be able to cope at this time. She couldn't keep it a secret forever though. And the other problem, the one they'd steered clear of, the one that really was inevitable, the fact that she'd need to eventually go back to L.A., and sooner rather than later.
Dawn was already itching to get out and finish the book, but she'd managed to convince her to stay and take some day trips around for the past month. It wasn't going to work forever.
William sat Buffy at a table and went to order them something. She didn't quite hear him and when he came back and slid into the booth, wrapping his arm around her, she nearly burst into tears.
"Are you ok?"
She nodded and took her first look at their sundae. It had nuts, she was allergic to them, he didn't know that. He barely knew anything about her. There was no way they could raise a child like this, no way he could be expected to give up his life to be with her. No way for any of it.
Finally, (and Buffy was surprised she'd lasted this long) the tears came.
William turned to her and touched her face, turning her toward him. "Buffy, what is?"
She could barely speak through her sobbing. "I'm... oh God, I'm allergic to nuts!"
William was more scared than confused, he'd never seen Buffy so upset.
"We can get it fixed, I'm sorry, I didn't know. It'll be alright. Buffy c'mon."
He tried to pull her into his arms but she pulled back.
"Buffy, please, tell me what it is."
"This can't work."
He froze, his heart nearly stopping. "What?"
"I can't do this anymore, William. This is wrong, for both of us, we need to just make a clean break. I'm going back to L.A."
She stood up and William reached for her. "Buffy wait, please talk to me. I'm working this out, I just needed time, don't do this."
She sighed and turned toward him. "It's not that. We barely know each other and you want to give up your entire life. I can't ask that of you, and you can't ask that of me. I'm sorry, William."
She walked out quickly and made her way to a pay phone, refusing to turn back and see his heartbroken face.
She moved to put a quarter in when he spun her around and looked into her eyes. "I know there's something else. There has to be something you're not telling me. All of the sudden we don't mean enough to each other? Buffy," he said, looking straight into her eyes, his own wet with unshed tears, "I love you."
Her world stopped for a moment. She'd been waiting to hear those words from him for a while. She was sure he felt it, she could tell every time he touched her, every time he looked at her. But she wasn't completely certain that she loved him back. She felt something for him, and it was big, but she wasn't sure yet.
She couldn't let him leave for someone who wasn't even sure he was the one. She closed her eyes and swallowed.
"William, I'm pregnant." She tried not to watch the flurry of emotions cross his face, but she caught some, and it was too much. "And I'm getting rid of it. I don't love you, and I'm not ready for any of this, and neither are you."
"Don't, just... just forget about this."
She ran then, as fast and as far as she could. She couldn't see him, she couldn't bear to think that she'd done everything wrong. By the time she reached another pay phone she couldn't feel anything anymore. It was clear to her then, that she'd lied to him, but it was too late now, and anyway, it really was for the best.
18 Months later
Buffy thumbed through the stack of photos Dawn had given her to go over for their next article. Their book had done as well as a travel book could and now she and Dawn could afford to live back in their hometown of Sunnydale, where the rent was cheaper and life was slower. They kept their article going and sent in their work from Sunnydale, only flying out for locations every month for a week.
For the first few months after William, Buffy had a hard time keeping going, but Dawn and Xander had pulled her through. They never questioned her decisions regarding William, and stayed supportive through everything.
Now she was finally starting to move on with her life. She could pretend a lot easier now that she had done the right thing.
Even if she was reminded of her mistakes every time she looked at her daughter.
William pulled his car over to the curb a few houses away from his destination. For the past year and a half he'd tried to find Buffy. At first he'd tried to go back to the way things were before Buffy. He'd tried to atone for his sins and he worked harder to forget.
It hadn't worked. Finally, Tara and Willow confronted him about it. He'd gone through the painful process of leaving the priesthood then. He'd faced the stares, both sympathetic and disappointed, and he'd made it through.
He'd found a job in Los Angeles and tried to find Buffy, but she'd apparently moved out of the city and the magazine she wrote for refused to give him any information. Willow and Tara wouldn't tell him either, wouldn't even give him a phone number.
Buffy apparently wanted nothing to do with him.
He had started to get over it. He'd grieved for his lost child alone, and he'd cursed Buffy half heartedly for everything she'd done to him. Hadn't she realized that nothing would be the same for him after he'd met her? Didn't she understand that there was no way for him to go back?
He finally gave up. He stopped asking Willow for information, and he put his one and only picture of he and Buffy away. He didn't try to date, but he tried to be more outgoing, though that was never really in his nature.
The only thing he couldn't seem to give up was his poetry. All of them were about her, about the family they could have had. He knew they were awful, but they were true for him. After all this time he'd realized she was right. He may have been a bad poet, but he was a good man.
And that's when it happened. He'd finally given up on her and he got a call from the last person he ever expected to hear from: Dawn.
She told him that she was sorry about Buffy, but that things were crazy for a while. She wanted to give William a chance at something, even if it was just closure.
So here he was, in Sunnydale, a place he'd never even heard of. He was about to see the girl that had changed his life utterly and left him heartbroken. He couldn't quite understand what he was feeling. He loved her, he was sure of it, but part of him couldn't forgive her for, not just leaving him, but for getting rid of his child without a second thought.
He shook his head and walked slowly up to her door. And before he could knock it was open, and she was standing there, looking just as beautiful as the first time he'd seen her.
They were silent. She looked scared, confused, and maybe even happy, but he didn't give himself the benefit of a doubt.
"Hello, Buffy," he said quietly, his voice not quite as strong as he would have liked it.
"William," she whispered, not believing what she was seeing. "How did you find me?"
He swallowed, sure he was making a mistake. She obviously didn't want him there, and now he just looked like some crazed ex unable to let go.
"I'm sorry, I shouldn't have-"
"Who is it, Buff? I think someone wants their mom-"
Xander cut himself in mid-sentence. He pulled the baby back into his arms instead of depositing her in Buffy's as he'd intended.
Buffy looked panicked for a moment and her eyes flashed from William to Xander and back.
"I see," he said tightly, his fists clenching at his sides. "Sorry to have interrupted, I won't be back."
He turned quickly and began walking back to his car, refusing to listen as Buffy called his name. Dawn couldn't have told him that she had shacked up with some other bloke and started living the life that should have been theirs with him? She couldn't even-
He was pulled out of his thoughts by a hand on his arm. He turned and saw her standing there, tears in her eyes.
"William wait. Please."
"Why, so you can throw it in my face that you've moved on so easily with someone else? That you could raise their child but not mine?" He shook his head and tried to hold back his tears of frustration and betrayal. "Have a nice life, Buffy."
He pulled his arm out of her grasp and turned around.
"She's yours." He stopped suddenly but didn't turn. "I didn't... Xander's just a friend. I couldn't do it, I never really intended to, I just wanted you to forget about us."
William let out a sound somewhere between a sob and a laugh. His hands came up to run through his hair and he took off his glasses to rub at his eyes.
"It didn't work."
"I know, I'm so sorry."
He turned to look at her and smiled bitterly. "How could you.... Didn't Willow tell you anything? I searched for you, I just wanted to talk to you and no one would give me an inch."
"I'm sorry, I couldn't talk about you. I had to look after my child and Willow didn't bring you up after a while. It hurt too much."
"You kept her from me. My child, I thought she was dead, I thought you hated me. I thought-"
Buffy put a finger to his lips and looked into his eyes. "I lied. About everything."
He grabbed her hand and held it to his face, fear in his eyes. "Please don't give me hope if you're going to rip it away."
She kissed him, hesitantly at first until he deepened the kiss and pulled her into his arms. Finally, they pulled apart.
"Can you forgive me?"
William pulled her against him and nodded. "Eventually, I could forgive you anything. Let me see my daughter."
She pulled him back toward the house and for once Xander kept his mouth shut as he handed her the baby and motioned that he was leaving, she nodded and turned back toward William.
His hands trembled as he reached for her and he let out a breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding until then. She was warm and so small. He couldn't believe that she was his.
"What's her name?" he whispered, his eyes never leaving the bundle in his arms.
He looked up at Buffy then, "that's-"
"Your mother's name. She reminded me so much of you. Her curly hair and blue eyes. She's beautiful, like her father."
"But with your nose, and your pouty mouth. She'll drive the boys crazy."
He started laughing and crying at once. "I've missed so much of her life."
Buffy stood next to him and covered his hand supporting the baby's head with hers. "But we can make up for it."
He heard the question in her voice and he looked down at her. There was a lot to get past, so much that she'd done wrong, but he did still love her, and he really could forgive her anything.
He leaned down and kissed her softly, reassuringly, and she smiled back at him.
"Yeah, we can make up for it."