Thanks for all the feedback, guys! Keep them coming! (grins) Some of the scenes in this chapter were taken from the show and others were twisted around to my liking.

xxx

Three months later…

He was hallucinating again, this he knew. He couldn’t help but crave for the dream again; at least there he was happy and content. And a beautiful dream it was, his friends, the people he called family, were all there with their smiles and laughter. Wesley, Gunn, Lorne, Cordy, Fred and Connor, all together and they were having fun and enjoying a nice dinner. It was a dream and he knew it was a dream because it was too simple and happy and everything in his unlife was anything but.

He wasn’t sure how much longer he would survive deep down in the dark depths of the sea. It was hard enough to even keep track of time, how long had he been here… days… months… years? Angel could feel his stomach shrinking with every passing second and his veins collapsing with the lack of blood. He parted his lips and a stream of water flooded his mouth, but the liquid did not help any – just as he had known it wouldn’t. He was still thirsty.

Starving…

--

He’s on the roof top this time, with Connor standing next to him. A gang of vampires surrounded them and he’s never been happier to have his son fighting with him by his side. They fight. Connor saves him from a surprise attack. They win and smile at each other. Then he snaps his son’s neck.

Angel wakes from his nightmare screaming in horror.

--

He was dreaming again. But this time, he knew it wasn’t a hallucination. It was a memory, a memory that he held close to his heart even to this very day. A kiss, a walk along the beach in sunlight, peanut butter and chocolate, double chocolate chip mint ice cream and a day that never was. Of all the memories that he had of Buffy, this one was by far the most precious to him. She had been so beautiful, her green eyes filled with happiness and her blonde hair glinting golden in the sunlight as he made love to her over and over again.

It is his most precious memory because even to this day there had been nothing, nothing the came even remotely close to how she made him feel and how happy he had been. Connor’s birth was a close second but that day, he was the happiest he had ever been in his long life. He fights to hold onto it, to hold onto all the details of that special day. Be damned if he ever let himself forget.

He wondered where she was and how she was doing. The last time he had seen her, she had just been resurrected and he could tell just by looking at her that she wasn’t herself. He wondered if he should have tried to make more of an effort to keep an eye on her, but she had seem fine and he didn’t dare press the issue, afraid that he would pack up everything and move back to Sunnydale for her.

He wished he had answers, but then he didn’t even know what questions he had.

Sometimes he swears he can feel her, can feel her concern and worry. But then he snaps out of his dreams and he sees the same sight he’s always seen. The water, the feel of the cold and the fish swimming by dash his hopes and he knows it’s his imagination playing tricks on him again. Buffy is probably at home in her bed, happy and full of laughter and surrounded by people who love her. He imagines himself there among Giles, Willow and Xander. He thinks this because he wants nothing more than to see her alive and happy and to be a part of what makes her happy. And the thought of her is comforting to him.

He imagines this because he knows it’s all he can do. In reality, he can never make her happy or give her what she deserves.

He’s resigned himself with the fact that no one knows where he is.

I miss you Buffy…

xxx

She rubbed her hands together, bringing them to her mouth and blowing on them. The temporary heat on her hands did little to comfort as she walked through the streets of Los Angeles patrolling. It was an unusually cold night and one, at the moment, that seemed rather endless. She had been in LA for three months now and she was still no closer to figuring out what had happened to Angel than when she had arrived.

She had managed to put some pieces together though and she had been beyond shocked when she had learned that her ex-lover had fathered a child – and with Darla, no less. She really didn’t know which news had hurt her more, the fact that Angel had a son or the fact that he had a son with Darla, who had died years earlier and had somehow been brought back. Life sure had a funny way of surprising you.

Buffy sighed wistfully and shook her head. No use dwelling on the past, she thought. She was here to find Angel and that was that. Noises coming from an alley up ahead caught her attention and she quietly ran towards it. Taking a peak around the corner, she saw a skinny brunette woman being pinned by two vampires, a taller African-American man surrounded by at least four other vampires and a younger teenaged boy standing off to the side with a weapon in his hands. Her eyes widened and she felt her breath hitch.

Angel’s team…

In the entire three months, she had not once encountered any member of Angel’s Investigations save for Wesley. Her former watcher had in formed her of all the things he had done, why he had that hideous scar around his neck, how a baby that had been born months earlier had suddenly matured into a teenager, his feelings for Fred, everything that had happened over the past year. Buffy had listened to Wesley’s confession without judgment and surprisingly, the two had become… well, she wouldn’t say they were the best of friends, but he was someone she now had great admiration and respect for. She knew that she couldn’t have gotten through the past three months without his help and not to mention, he was letting her stay at his apartment, rent free. It wasn’t as if she had money to stay at a nearby hotel.

It was mostly for Wesley that she hadn’t tried to contact Fred or Gunn. Angel’s team was still angry with the former Watcher’s actions and while she couldn’t blame them, she also thought it was a little unfair. Wesley had thought he was doing the right thing at the time and had acted accordingly. In her opinion, only Angel really had the right to be angry with him but that was neither here nor there. So she kept an eye on things. Working with Wesley to locate Angel’s whereabouts and making sure that Angel’s friends stayed out of trouble.

But right now, it looked like trouble had found them. They were out numbered and Buffy couldn’t stand there any longer just watching. She ran towards the group and grabbed both vampires that were holding onto Fred. She threw one of them backwards into a wall and with her free hand; she quickly grabbed a stake from the pocket of her jeans and rammed it into the heart of the vampire she was still holding onto.

Not stopping to take note of the surprised look on Fred’s face, she quickly turned and ran towards where Gunn was trying to break free from the gang of six vampires that surrounded him. She flipped over them and landed directly behind the vamp that currently had Gunn by the neck. “I don’t think so,” she quipped as she grabbed it, freeing Gunn in the process. She rammed the stake into the vampire’s chest and then attacked the ones closest too her. She grabbed Gunn by the arm and shoved him in the direction where Fred stood and then came face to face with Connor as Angel’s son suddenly appeared by her side, his face filled with curiosity.

Buffy was surprised by his appearance but didn’t show it as she moved past him towards the remaining vampires. There were only four left and within minutes dust was swirling around her and they were alone in the alley. The other three were staring at her in disbelief as she dusted herself off and turned to face them. She bit her lip, unsure of how they would react to her presence.

It was Fred who spoke first. The skinny brunette woman took a step towards her; gratitude was evident on her face. “That was amazing!” she said incredulously. “I’ve never seen anyone dust vampires so fast before… the only other person I know that can do that was…” her voice trailed off and Buffy was sure that she had been thinking of Angel.

She opted for nonchalance. Angel’s team members obviously had no clue who she was and she wasn’t sure if she wanted them to find out her identity just yet. It was probably better this way – at least until she found Angel. She looked at the people in front of her. “Are you guys okay?” she asked.

“We’re fine,” Gunn answered. “Thanks for your help. If you hadn’t come when you did…” the sentence hung in the air and an awkward silence ensued.

Buffy shrugged. “No biggie.” She placed her stake back into the pocket of her jeans.

Connor took a step towards her, his gaze never leaving her face. “Who are you? And how do you know about vampires?”

How to answer this question? A small smile came to her lips as she thought of the perfect response… talk about a trip down memory lane. She shook her head, purposely avoiding the second question. “Let’s just say I’m a friend.”

“Maybe we don’t want a friend,” Connor’s eyes were full of mistrust and she couldn’t help but think of her own response all those years ago in that alley when she had been sixteen and encountered Angel for the very first time. She shook her head at the memory; Connor had almost said her exact response too. She studied Angel’s son carefully and noticed the way he held himself. Connor was a proud warrior and defensive to the boot. Not to mention the brooding gene that was immediately recognizable. She inwardly sighed. He was Angel’s son alright.

She knew it was her cue to leave. She slowly turned, disappearing into the shadows and leaving the three of them alone in the alley. “I didn’t say I was yours…”

She made her way back to Wesley’s apartment, making sure that she hadn’t been followed. She climbed the three flights of stairs and entered with the key that he had given her the first month she had arrived. Wesley was sitting on the couch, diagrams in front of him as he marked off a section. He glanced at her as she entered and without a word, went into his kitchen and began preparing her a cup of hot chocolate. It was funny how after just three months of living together, he knew what she preferred to drink. Wesley was definitely observant, she’d give him that.

“How did it go?”

“Oh, you know the same old song and dance. A vampire here, a vampire there and then I show up and its dust,” she took the offered cup and reveled in its warmth and nodded her thanks. “I saw your friends,” she said as she took a sip. “I kinda saved their necks tonight.”

Wesley stilled and then continued on as if nothing had happened. “Are they alright?”

“Oh yeah,” she nodded. “Just peachy. I think Fred was a little shaken up and Gunn was almost vamp food, but they’re okay.”

“I’m glad,” the former watcher nodded, no emotion in his voice but she knew better. She decided not to say anything though; it wasn’t any of her business.

”So,” Buffy took another sip of her hot chocolate. She motioned towards the diagrams on the table. “What’s the what?”

He sat back down and pointed to three large sections on what appeared to be a map. “We’ve got these three areas covered and I think it’s safe to say that there’s nothing there.” Wes then pointed to the rest of the map. “The problem is, there are still quite a lot of areas left to cover, assuming that he’s down there.”

She finished her drink and set the mug onto the table. “What are we waiting for? Let’s get too it.” She grabbed the small black bag that was filled with jars of blood, hoping against hope that tonight just might be the night that they would find Angel and he would have the chance to drink them.

Over the past few months, Buffy had come to rely on the connection that she had with Angel to locate him. She knew that they really had no real leads on Angel’s whereabouts and all they had was the feelings she would get through their link. Their connection wasn’t as strong as it had been like in the early stages of their relationship, but Buffy still felt him and on occasion, knew with certainty what he was feeling.

He was lonely and cold and was desperate to feel the warmth of family and love again. Buffy’s heart ached for him, for she knew exactly what he was feeling. He was hungry and almost insane from the lack of nourishment that blood usually provided for him. He was in pain and she knew that he was losing hope with every passing minute. She doesn’t know if he can feel her, if he can understand the feelings she is trying to push through their link.

By now, she and Wesley had arrived at the docks and were preparing their boat to set sail. One night, Buffy had dreamt that she was with Angel and they were in a cold and dark place. She swears that she sees a box and knows right away that it’s made of metal. She remembers floating and seeing fish and waves crashing into the beach. She had woken up and immediately knew that Angel was somewhere trapped at the bottom of the ocean. If there had been anything she’d learned in all her years as a slayer, it was not to take her dreams lightly. And her dream of Angel had been a sign, that she was sure of. Not to mention, she was glad that Wesley had taken her at face value and hadn’t called her crazy.

The boat floated along the ocean, humming as it moved through the murky waters. Buffy pulled her jacket closer to her and wrapped her arms around her waist. It was colder out here on the ocean and she shivered. She and Wesley were standing inside the cabin and she’s anxiously watching the computerized machine in front of her. She doesn’t care about the cold, she only wants to find Angel. The machine beeps and nothing comes up but she doesn’t let it dash her hopes. She knows that Angel is somewhere around. He was definitely close by.

She can feel it.

Hours pass and before she knew it, it’s nearing three in the morning. The coffee they had brought with them is cold by now and she finds that she’s too wound up to even sleep. Its not like she can sleep anyway and she can’t even remember the last time she’s had a decent night’s sleep.

Another hour passes and she decides to use the time to check her email on Wesley’s laptop, seeing if there was any news from Sunnydale. It had been a relatively quiet summer, after Willow’s attempted End-of-the-World domination. Dawn had found a part time job at the local bookstore and was doing fine. Xander and Anya had moved into the Summers’ house for the time being and were doing a little slaying here and there. She felt bad that she wasn’t there but knew that her friends had everything under control.

“Buffy!” Wes’ voice called her name and she snapped away from her thoughts. She stood up and walked over to where he was standing as he turned off the engine, causing the boat to stop and float where it was. The former watcher pointed to the screen where she could clearly see an object lying in the sand. “Solid contact,” he told her. “Definitely metallic.”

As soon as she saw the highlight blue object on the screen, she knew right away that she had found him. Hope filled her and she immediately reached for her wet suit and goggles that hung near by. “I’ll head down and have a look then.”

Nervousness filled her as she swam slowly down into the deep ocean. Please don’t let me run into a shark… the last thing she needed was to be fish food. It was cold down here but Buffy barely noticed it, too busy searching for the large metallic box that had been seen on the monitor above. The chains that she had brought down with her weighed heavily, helping her to sink to the bottom. She shone the underwater flashlight in front of her and after several minutes of swimming around, she finally spotted what she had been looking for.

A familiar tingling ran down her spine and Buffy inwardly let out a cry of relief. It was Angel and he was in that box! She swam towards the box, scaring away the school of fish that were hanging around and looked through the tiny window of the container. The sight she saw made her want to cry and she willed herself to remain calm and focus on the task at hand.

It was Angel, but not Angel at the same time. His skin was pale and waxy and looking more dead than she had ever seen it. There were bruises and cuts along his face, things that should’ve healed instantly but couldn’t, not without blood. Seeing Angel like this scared her more than she would ever admit and this included the time he had been recovering from his trip to hell or the torture Spike and Drusilla had inflicted on him in that church. Angel was always so strong and stubborn that seeing him this lifeless and still tore her up inside.

As quickly as she could, she placed the chains around the box, making sure it was secure so that when they lifted Angel out of the ocean, there wasn’t a chance that the box would slip and fall back in. She then slowly swam up, aware that if she went any faster, the underwater pressure could easily kill her and she definitely didn’t want that.

A half hour later, Buffy stood by on the deck and watched anxiously as the crane holding onto Angel’s prison was slowly lifted out of the water. Her worries weren’t over yet and she could only pray that they weren’t too late.

xxx