Seeing the Other Side

Title: Seeing the Other Side

Fandom: Angel/Highlander
Author: M Edison and Christina A.
Disclaimers: The bunch from Angel belong to their production company
and this particular concept of Immortality belongs to Rysher and co while
Grace belongs to Christina. Jasa belongs to Marianne.
Author’s Note: This particular story has a large chunk that is
interplay between two OCs but those OCs are representations of two fanbases.
After the events of ‘That Old Gang of Mine’ we’re fairly certain there
were a few Angel/Gunn debates. One group siding with Angel, the other
Gunn. So, basically, in that scene? We let the debate play out in our own
way. So, we hope, in that, you will enjoy.

Summary: third in the ‘Destiny’ series


———-

Grace sat on the floor of the gym. She was alone, which wasn’t unusual
given her mood lately. The only person she’d been spending any time
with was Angel. She barely spoke to Cordelia, Wesley, and she definitely
hadn’t talked to Gunn. Being the smart man he was, he was avoiding
her. For his own safety, it was best that he did.

She had never wanted to murder someone out and out like she had wanted
to Gunn. He’d crossed the only true line she’d ever drawn. He’d hurt
Angel. For all intents and purposes, she was finished with him. She
had turned him loose and was no longer his teacher. He wasn’t truly
ready to be on his own, without a teacher. But truthfully, she didn’t
care. Not anymore.

The biggest surprise of all, to everyone, was that she hadn’t even
talked to Jasa. Grace talked to her mother constantly, but she couldn’t
even bring herself to do that. The only person she seemed to be able to
grab onto in any way was Angel.

She was half afraid that her mother would be disappointed. Grace
wasn’t supposed to dance on the dark side like this. Grace was supposed to
stand up for others, take care of everyone, and fight the good fight.
But she couldn’t anymore… and she just didn’t care.

“Having a bad day I see,” Jasa noted from the doorway.

Grace jumped, sword in hand. She had been so zoned out; she hadn’t
felt her mother’s signature. That was dangerous! Not lowering her sword,
she tightened her grip and very softly said, “You could say that.
Though it’s been a hell of a lot more than just a day. Angel call you?”

“Yes. And he told me everything.” Gesturing to the sword, her mother
looked almost amused. “You sharpening that, planning to use it, or going
to put it away?”

She looked down at her blade, almost as if not realizing how she held
it or who she was holding it against. “Just sharpened it, I was
thinking about using it, and no, I’m not going to put it away.” She grinned.
But it wasn’t her usual grin. She wondered if she was even really
herself anymore. “But don’t worry. I’m not going to use it on you. A
certain former student of mine, yes. But not you.”

“No you aren’t. On either count.” Jasa decided firmly, removing her
long coat and tossing it aside, keeping her own sword in her hand.

Grace smiled again. “And who’s going to stop me? You? In case you
haven’t noticed, I’m unstoppable. So Angel told you everything, huh? Did
he tell you that he’s lost faith in everyone?!!! Did he tell you about
how Gunn, in thirty seconds, all but crushed him?!!! Did he tell you
that for a moment, he even doubted ME?!!! I seriously doubt that he
told you that. And if I want to go remove Gunn’s head from his shoulders,
Mother, I doubt that you can stop me.”

“He didn’t have to tell me.” Her mother dismissed. “I knew by looking
at him. And if you’re foolish enough to believe that little girl…
you’re not the daughter I thought you were.”

For a moment, Grace crossed her brows, not really understanding what
Jasa meant. Grace had presented quite a tirade. “Maybe I’m not.
Disappointed, aren’t you?”

“Dearheart, there is nothing you could say or do that would truly
disappoint me.” The Egyptian shrugged. “Compared to who I’ve been… you’re
a saint. And I won’t let you cross that line, Grace. Supposing I have
to knock you on your ass to do it, I will.”

Grace had a smartass, flippant retort, but instead she simply said, “He
hurt Angel, Mother. No regret, no remorse. He’d do it again too.
Hell, he still does it. You think I’m going to let that slide, then you
really don’t know me like you thought you did. Putting me on my ass
won’t stop me. You should know that as well.” She reset her grip,
preparing for her mother to strike.

“No, but sticking a sword in your chest and leaving it there for a week
or two might.” Jasa countered coolly. “And people hurt each other. It
happens. Gunn’s new at this. He’s been through hell himself. If you
think he’s acting without regret or remorse, you are most likely quite
wrong. You are many things, dearheart, but unbiased when it comes to Angel
isn’t one of them.”

“I took Gunn in, Mother. I helped him learn to survive, and he went
after the ONE person who means more to me than my life itself. I can’t
forgive that and I can’t let it slide. I can’t.” She all but hissed
the last statement. The anger not really diminishing.

“It’s not yours to let slide. It’s Angel’s. You are a bystander in
this, Grace. Remember that. The only way you get involved is if Gunn
decided to come looking for your head. He hasn’t.” Circling around the room,
Jasa watched her daughter calmly. “There have been a few times in your
life when I would have been fully justified in killing you. I haven’t.
I care about you. You, whether you will admit it or not, care about
Gunn. I won’t let you make that mistake.”

Grace watched her mother like a predator stalking her prey. Just as
calmly, Grace said, “You would have been justified, Mother, but you know
as well as I do that you can’t kill me. And what hurts Angel, hurts
me. There’s no division between us.” She set herself, ready to go on
the defensive if needs be. “This isn’t the Game. Has nothing to do with
it. It’s not interference, it’s protecting a loved one.”

“Oh yes…” Jasa stopped in place, her voice even. “I can kill you,
Grace. I can kill you very easily. But I won’t. It’s a choice I make.
Angel’s a big boy… if he needs protecting, he does it himself. This is
his wound to deal with. You have no part in it.”

“Bring it on, then. You think you have it within you to take my head,
you do it. And for once in your life, you are wrong. So very wrong,
Jasa, it’s pathetic.” With that, she said nothing else, simply launched
an all out attack. It wasn’t a gradual progression either. It was
fast and it was furious.

At first, Jasa played defense, letting Grace exhaust herself. It was
good for her. Cathartic. She needed it. Then, gradually, she began to
shift strategy ever so subtly reading her daughter’s movements until she
landed a firm kick to her midsection, sending her sprawling. “Speaking
of pathetic… you would never let that through if you were thinking
clearly.”

Grace was tired, but she’d fought even more tired than this before.
And there were a few moves that Grace had learned that Jasa hadn’t seen
yet. Time for a display. “Oh I’m thinking very clearly.” With a move
that was more swift than any Grace had displayed before, she was up and
attacking her mother like she was fighting a master vampire. Jasa was
right about one thing though, and it was something Grace would never
admit to, she wasn’t thinking clearly. Not at all. She was fighting on
reflexes, and suddenly it wasn’t Jasa she was fighting, but one of the
unholy vampires. If she could think, she would be afraid of herself.

“No,” Jasa countered, avoiding a blow and returning with one of her
own. “You aren’t. If you were, you would know better than to try this
tactic with me. Remember, little girl, I’ve been around a *lot* longer than
you. Do you honestly think Angel was the first vampire I’ve ever met?
Or fought?” She swept Grace’s legs out from under her. “Quit hiding
behind the rage and fight!”

“Fuck you,” Grace said, flipping off her back but also taking a step
back and reassessing. She was getting her ass spanked and hard. It was
unacceptable to her. She needed her focus. This time when she
attacked, it was more uniform and more up to her form.

“Sorry, but I’m into men this century.” Jasa countered flippantly, glad
to see Grace starting to return. “However, I will recommend you go jump
that vampire of yours.” Slapping the flat of her blade across her
daughter’s behind, she chuckled. “He might be able to knock some sense into
you.”

Barely able to catch her breath, she was fighting her withheld anger
and the anger from this beating. She’d never been taken to task like
this, not even when she was a student. It hit her then. She wasn’t
fighting her fight. Take a cut to score a cut. Not yet looking at Jasa, she
closed her eyes and breathed. When she faced her mother again, she
exhaled and didn’t respond to the retort just fought. And it was Grace
fighting this time, and she knew it was her mother, which meant she knew
her mother’s weaknesses. She attacked strategically, sliding in and
landing a kick to Jasa’s midsection.

Doubling slightly, the elder Immortal slipped out of reach, giving
herself a chance to recover before laughing. “Good…I wanted this to be a
reasonably fair fight.” Moving back in, Jasa let loose, very cheerfully
putting her daughter on the defensive. “Reasonably…”

Grace once again didn’t respond. She didn’t think about her mother’s
words, just her actions. She countered all of Jasa’s actions, faking a
cut (she had the presence of mind not to cut her mother), she spun and
kicked Jasa in the butt. Her own brand of retaliation, though her face
didn’t show it.

That brought another laugh from her mother as Jasa took advantage of
Grace’s position by moving with the kick, spinning to slam a kick to
theblonde’s closest knee, sending her forward onto the other. “You always
did go for that.” She noted, resting her sword on the younger
Immortal’s shoulder.

“Do I?” Grace asked calmly. “Or do I just know how you’ll react to it?
I wouldn’t blame you for taking my head, not after how I acted.” There
were tears in her eyes, though her voice didn’t show it. “I’m so
sorry.”

“For?” Jasa questioned casually, moving out around her. “It’s a
mother’s job to smack sense into her daughter…though I doubt many have to
physically do it.” She shrugged, holding out a hand to help her daughter
up. “It’s a part of Immortal life.”

“And it’s taken me a millennia to confront that dark side of me. I
knew I was slow, but geez. Duncan only had to wait 400 years.” She
dropped her sword and embraced her mother tightly. It was then that all the
pent up tears escaped her. She hadn’t been able to share this with
Angel because she was trying to be supportive. But she needed to release
it. “I’m still… still angry,” she managed to say.

“Of course you are. You’re allowed to be angry. Gunn’s allowed to be
angry… and hurt. So’s Angel. You’re all entitled to feel what you feel
but bringing Immortal matters into it is another story entirely.”
Setting her sword aside, the elder Immortal adjusted her posture to hug the
taller woman as fiercely as Grace was hugging her.

She moved from the embrace. Wiping at her eyes, she said, “Removing
his head from his shoulders? I don’t know that I could have actually
done that. But I can refuse to teach him anymore. At least for now, I
can’t do it.” She moved to sit back on the floor, pulling her knees to her
chest. “It angers me that Angel will forever have his past thrown up
at him. *I* know he’s not Angelus. *I* know about what he goes through
at night. I may not understand it, but I’ve done what I can to help
him deal with it. I’ve never loved anyone with the depth that I love
Angel. no one. When Gunn hurt him, I felt it too. Right or wrong, I’m
bound to him. I’m in this with him. That doesn’t change simply because
the words were directed at Angel and not me.”

“Our pasts are ours to deal with.” Jasa reminded. “Do you think I’ve
never had mine thrown in my face? It’s going to happen, Grace. We make
choices and we have things unfairly forced upon us. They will eventually
come back to haunt us. That is a given. It hurts when Angel hurts I
know. In a way, you now know what it’s like to be me, watching you go
through something. We feel pain, Grace. It’s a part of loving and a part of
living. It’s not an easy part but it helps us appreciate everything
else.”

Grace looked up at her mother, a visage of pained honesty across her
face. “I’ve never felt this before, Mother. I’ve loved. I loved Vin.
But it’s never been like this. I felt like everything I was had been
ripped out of my body. I’ve never had a man who’s been everything I was.
I’ve never been this out of control. This fierce protectiveness is NOT
typical of me.”

“It’s forever,” came the soft response. “It means as much as Vin but in
a completely different way. Therefore, it’s something you cherish in a
way you didn’t cherish Vin. Not that what you two felt for each other
wasn’t intense and important, it was, but this is different. Drastically
different.”

She didn’t realize she was crying until she reached up to wipe her
eyes. She heard every word Jasa said, but simply repeated, “Forever. I
have forever with Angel. Nothing is going to take him away from me. It is
different. And no, this doesn’t change how I felt about Vin. Vin
taught me how to live, something I thought I couldn’t do without him…
until I found Angel. Gunn hurt him. And I don’t know how to deal with
that. And whether or not it’s for me to deal with, my pain is there and
I have to deal with it.”

“Yes, you deal with your pain. Let Angel deal with the actual
situation. It is between him and Gunn. No one else.” Jasa repeated firmly,
determined to get her point across.

“Right. I deal with my feelings toward Gunn, which are null and void.
You think I can take care of someone who turns his back emotionally on
my soul mate. I can’t. And Angel won’t deal with it. He expects it of
people. He’s a vampire, he’s completely unworthy of loyalty or
friendship. He has no hope of redemption. All of which I think is bullshit.
But I guess I don’t matter here.”

“Grace!” Delivering a swift smack to her daughter, the Egyptian
frowned. “That is not what I meant and you know it. Care to let go of the
self-pity long enough to listen to me? Or would you rather I go back to New
York and come to talk to you when you’re actually planning to listen?
At this point, I think the wall would do more listening than you are.”

Grace stared at her mother in complete shock. They’d sparred, yes, but
Jasa hadn’t lifted a hand to her in anger in centuries. Grace covered
the quickly fading red mark and lowered her head. “I’m sorry. I’m
just so confused. I’m angrier than I’ve ever been. I’m sad, hurt, a
little depressed and I don’t know how to process one damn bit of it.” She
let her hand fall and wrapped her arms around her knees. Resting her
forehead on them, she said, “I don’t want you to leave.”

“Well then I won’t. But the fact of the matter is, Angel will deal with
it. Eventually he will deal with it. It’s his way. You’re just
frustrated because you think that your sword is the method to the solution of
all problems… and now it’s not. You’re an observer in this problem,
dearheart, not a participant. You have to sit back and let them deal with
this. If you interfere, neither of them will have learned a thing and
it will happen *again*…” She touched her daughter’s blonde hair
gently. “And that’s the last thing you want. I know that.”

She looked up at her with tears in her eyes. “But how do *I* deal with
it? But Angel? This is breaking him up so much that there are times
when I’m scared. Gunn doesn’t have to cope with that, *I* do. I know
he’ll have to deal with his part. But I don’t know how to deal with
mine!”

“Fight, love, cry, eat a tub of ice cream…try *something*…don’t sit
there and stew. If you do that, you *will* end up killing him.” Jasa
frowned. “And yes, Gunn will have to deal with it. Do you think you’re
the only one who sees when Angel is beating himself up? You see more of
it but we all see it. The man doesn’t exactly hide it well. And Gunn
will have to watch that. And he will feel guilty because of it. Make no
mistakes there. You’re frustrated because no one sees your pain? Well
imagine how he feels because you’re not seeing *his*!”

“I DON’T SEE HIS?!!! You know, you’ve been wrong in your life, but
never this wrong. He doesn’t see this!! I’ve kept all this inside
precisely because I knew what it would do to him. I’d rather cut my own head
off than cause him an ounce of pain. I have not once dragged my
garbage into this. I have not once told him what I was feeling toward Gunn.
I have a right to be upset. But I am seeing his pain. I can’t believe
you would say that!” She hadn’t been this angry in centuries. Why
couldn’t anyone understand her?

“I’m not talking about ANGEL!” The Egyptian snapped. “I’m talking about
GUNN! Where were you when he was feeling torn between his life here
and the people he’d grown up with? He’s been in a tug of war and his life
here is winning. Most of the time that was all right! But when his
friends threw it back in his face?! It hurt him! I’ve seen it! I tried to
help but I’m not someone he’s close to! He’s focused on Angel as the
source of his problems because Angel was the one who first brought him
here. But it’s not Angel Gunn’s frustrated with! Or hates! It’s the
situation! Stop listening to your anger, Grace, and start listening to your
heart!”

She once again stared at her mother. Softly she said, “I wasn’t
thinking about Gunn.” There wasn’t anything else she could say. She was
always so focused on Angel that she didn’t think about anyone else. “I
don’t know that I can help him.”

“You can’t.” Jasa answered honestly. “Not now. He knows all too well
how you reacted… he wouldn’t believe anything you said now. Perhaps
Duncan… perhaps Angel himself. But not you. Not right now. Believe me,
there’s nothing worse to a new Immortal than being rejected by your
teacher. Be it verbally…or not.”

“I loved him, Mother. As much as I’ve loved any student I’ve ever
taken in, I loved him. With one simple act, everything was destroyed. I
was just as wrong as he was, wasn’t I?”

“Yes. You were.” The petite woman nodded. “And yes. It has been. But
starting from scratch never hurt anyone.” She shrugged. “It will take a
while… but we’re Immortals. We’ve got the time.”

She nodded. If Angel could start over with Gunn, she could too. If
Gunn wanted to, that is. “Are you disappointed in me?” Grace asked.

“No.” Jasa smiled. “You’re human Grace. You must remember that. You’re
not infallible.”

“We can fix this?” she asked. Funny, but a couple hours ago, she was
furious enough to kill. Now, she had to hide from Angel how much guilt
she was feeling. And she was feeling massive guilt over all of this.

“We can fix this.” Jasa affirmed. “So quit feeling guilty.”

“I have tunnel vision when it comes to Angel. He’s all I see. Not
once did I consider Gunn in all of this. A part of me thought I’d be
choosing my student over my soul mate if I did. Weird, I know. But you
know me.”

“Too well.” Her mother agreed. “And it’s not a choice between the two
when it comes to supporting them. Yes, you’re angry with the way Gunn
acted but that doesn’t mean you alienate him and I know Angel didn’t
expect you to do that either. You’ve got to learn to find a medium in your
life Grace… or you’re going to exhaust yourself, or self-destruct.”

Grace offered the first small smile she’d given in days. “I tend to do
that, don’t I?”

“Yes.” Again an honest response. “But it’s an endearing quality. One
you’ve got to work on yes but endearing nonetheless.”

Releasing herself, she leaned over and embraced her mother. It wasn’t
as furious as the earlier one, but it was one she wasn’t going to move
from very quickly either. “Only you see it as endearing. Everyone else
calls it annoying. Mom, I love you.” It was out of the blue, yes.
But Grace was feeling a bit alienated now. She paused… much as Gunn
must be feeling. She started to cry again.

“We’ll help him.” Jasa reminded. “And I love you too, dearheart… now
dry your eyes and go see that vampire of yours. You could both use it I
think.”

She was just about to ask her mother if she would help Gunn. She
didn’t want him alone, even if she couldn’t help him. “Thanks for reading
my mind on both counts.” Before standing, she kissed her mother and
continued, “Thanks for beating the shit out of me… or is that sense into
me?”

“Both.” The Egyptian countered with a cocky grin. “And remember this
one… I can still kick your ass when I need to.”

Grace laughed. “If I said that I’m sorry about all that, would you
accept it?”

“Why bother? I enjoyed it.” Jasa’s grin was shameless. “Proof that even
us elderly folk can still mix it up with the best of you youngsters.”

Grace rolled her eyes. “Go talk to Gunn, will you? I’m going to go see
Angel. I’ve gone almost three hours without seeing him. I’m going
through withdrawals.”

“Ah, young love.” Her mother sighed out, starting for the door. “And I
will talk to Gunn.”

Grace laughed. The love itself was young, though the adults were
anything but. She followed her mother out but went up the stairs instead of
toward the offices. She still didn’t talk to the others, but her
composure was no longer hostile. She needed to see Angel.

*-*-*

He was sitting in the window, foot propped up against the wall, staring
out at the darkness. “It’s a beautiful night.” His voice was low,
appreciative of the night’s beauty as his head turned to allow him a better
view of her. An even more beautiful sight. “And you’re
beautiful…flushed…”

Grace gave him a smile. “Spoken like a man in love.” She crossed
toward him and kissed him softly before moving back toward the closet. “I’m
all sweaty though. Just got a world class beating by my mother, who
just decided to stop by.” She disappeared into the closet and came back
out, clean clothing in hand. “What were you looking at out there
anyway?”

“Stars.” Angel replied, abandoning the window in favor of watching
Grace dress. “I am in love…and your mother’s here? Beat you up? Good…”
He grinned wickedly. “You’re always more fun when you’re all lathered
up from a fight.”

She tossed her sweat-soaked shirt at him, laughing when it landed on
his face. “You know she’s here. You called her. And yes, she beat me up
and then just smacked me around. Mothers are like that.” She put her
clean shirt on and then moved to sit on his lap. “And what do you
mean, more fun? I thought I was always fun!” She snuggled up to him. Her
head tucked into his neck. She’d been doing that a lot more lately…
needing to be close to him. “I love looking at the stars,” she sighed.

“I love looking at you.” He countered quietly, holding her close. “And
I’m glad your mother helped you… You’ve been too tense lately.”

She shrugged with the one shoulder that wasn’t pinned to him.
“Immortals go through phases. I’m worse because I keep things inside and then
explode. It’s weird. And I love being with you… in your presence.”
She’d made it very clear to him that she wasn’t going anywhere and that
he was her life.

“And I love having you here with me…” Angel’s voice was quietly
intent, speaking in such a way that let her know he understood her comment
and was intensely grateful for it.

Her arms went around his chest and she hugged him tightly. Kissing his
neck, she said, “You know, we could just stay here forever. You and me
and the stars. I wouldn’t complain.”

“Sounds perfect to me.” He agreed. “But anywhere you are is perfect.”

She smiled. “I was just thinking the same thing.” She closed her eyes
and just let herself feel him before sighing. “Though I hate to bring
this up, but I’m hungry.” She smiled. “I don’t want to move though,
so it’s such a dilemma for me.” One of many she’d been going through.

“Well I can help there.” Angel informed her with a grin. Picking her
up, he carried her over to the bed and set her down before leaning over
to pull a box out from under the bed. “Cordy brought up some donuts.
Thought you might get hungry.”

Grace smiled brightly. “If you tell me there’s milk in the
refrigerator, there’s no telling *how* I’ll show my gratitude.” She kissed him
and opened the box. It was filled with all her favorites. Cordelia was
worried about them, and this was her way of showing she cared.

“There’s milk. You’ve got a choice between chocolate and the regular
stuff.” Angel got to his feet and wandered into the kitchenette. “Would
madam care to sample both? Or would one beverage satisfy her thirst?”

She giggled. “Mix them. The chocolate by itself is too strong.” At
his look, she shrugged. “I don’t know. My mother started me on it.”
She put the box down in front of her and simply watched him for a
moment. How could anyone not want to be this man’s friend? He would go to
the end of the earth, or beyond, to help someone he considered a friend.
She knew because he’d sacrificed his wants for those of people he cared
about.

“I’m tempted to say she’s crazy but I know better than to get on her
bad side.” Angel joked with a rare smile, once again able to put aside
his demons for a while…to enjoy the presence of his love.

“You know, I don’t want to get on her bad side ever again.” Sticking
out her bottom lip, Grace picked up a glazed donut. “She was really a
bully today.”

“Just today?” Her lover teased, carrying her milk to her. “Tough love I
think they call it.”

Swallowing her bite of donut, Grace said, “No, she was enjoying it way
too much. She bested me. Had me on my knees, sword to my throat. It
scared the hell out of me.” Not as much as the thought of losing him,
but scared nonetheless.

“She got your attention.” Angel corrected. “Which is more than any of
us have been able to do.”

She put down her donut and sighed. “You have never been out of my
attention. I’ll admit, I’ve neglected everyone else, especially,” she
paused, “Gunn. But I haven’t not thought about you. Like I told Mother, I
just get tunnel vision.” She shrugged as if that should explain
everything, even though she knew it didn’t.

“You do.” He agreed. “But we love you for it.” Leaning over, he brushed
a hand over her hair. “Feel like a bath after you eat?”

She closed her eyes at the touch and smiled. “Only if you get in the
tub with me. That and we have lots of bubbles.” And that was all he
was going to say to her about it for now. As close to castigating her
for her reactions as he would come was that tidbit of information. He
knew what she had been doing and had taken steps he deemed necessary to
rectify it. She loved him beyond belief.

He leaned forward to brush a kiss across her forehead. “I’ll even scrub
your back.” He promised in a low tone, glad to have his Grace back and
not the distant woman she’d been since the whole mess with Gunn had a
started. He couldn’t say what the young Immortal had said hadn’t
hurt…far from it. But it had hurt much, *much* more to watch Grace’s
reaction. Having her back to some semblance of normal was a balm for his soul.

Finishing her milk, she set the glass aside and smiled. “Can I style
your hair using the bubbles from the bath?” She loved doing that. He
was always painfully tolerant of her, though he hadn’t been privileged
with much of that lately. She’d neglected this part of their
relationship in trying to make up for what he’d lost when Gunn had so cruelly
ripped away his potential friendship.

Looking pained, Angel nodded. “Yes, you can style my hair using the
bath bubbles” He knew Grace enjoyed playing around in the bathtub and, in
truth, so did he; but that didn’t mean he could let on about that now,
could he?

Kissing him quickly, she jumped off the bed. “Good, you go run the
bath, I’m going to get some strawberries and champagne. I feel like
celebrating.” She was truly coming back to herself… at least around him.

Smiling, her lover nodded and went to do as he was told, grateful for
the fact Grace was back to a fairly normal state and that he was slowly
headed that way himself, holding her just hurried the process along.

Grace came back into the bathroom with not only the food and drink, but
also a CD. She’d listened to this particular song for a while now, and
every time, it made her think of him. “Brought a surprise too,” she
teased, putting in the CD and cueing it up but not starting. She tested
the water. Perfect as always. Putting the food aside, she quickly
began to undress. It had been way too long since they’d done this.

“A CD?” Curious, he helped her take off her clothing. “Do I get to see
what one first?”

She giggled. “No, but as soon as you get in the water, I’ll turn it
on. It’s sort of a gift for you. I know I’m mushy sometimes, but I want
to give you this. Ok?”

“Okay.” He agreed, slipping out of his jeans. “And I’ll take whatever
you want to give me.” That was sincere and from his heart. Be it hate,
love, pity, sympathy…whatever Grace offered, he would take.

“You have all I am.” She pushed play and moved into the tub, her back
to his front. She rarely played this one around him so he wouldn’t
recognize Carolyn Dawn Johnson’s voice, but still he would appreciate the
words.

The sunlight on my shoulders, the smile on my face
My secret weapon, my favorite place
The reason my heart, skips a beat
The broom that sweeps me, off my feet
A gentle inspiration
My weary soul’s salvation
The half that makes me whole
The gravity that grounds me
The arms I want around me
Never letting go
I’ve lived, I’ve lived enough
To know what is, and what’s not
You are– you are

All the love I wanna make
Every breath I wanna take
The rush that’s running, down my spine
The touch that takes me every time
An innocent seduction
I can’t get enough and
I can’t help but let it show
I lose all my composure
I’m totally exposed and
The reason I let go
Is…
I’ve lived, I’ve lived enough
I know what is, and what’s not
You are– you are
My every hope
My every dream
You are my everything
I’ve lived, yeah
I’ve lived enough
I know what is, and I know what’s not
You are– you are– you are
The sunlight on my shoulders, the smile on my face
My secret weapon, my favorite place.

Grace hadn’t realized it, but her head had reclined against his
shoulders and she was singing the song softly. It was everything she felt
about him… like it was written just for them.

Stroking her arms, the vampire summed up the feelings the song had
evoked in him with one simple phrase. “It’s perfect.” Kissing her temple,
he repeated it. “It’s absolutely perfect.”

“It was written for us… about how much I feel for you. My every
hope, my every dream, my everything.” She wanted to cry but held it back.
He was everything to her. She was nothing without him. Her hands took
his and wrapped them around her. “I love you so much.”

“I love you too, Gracie,” Angel murmured, “Always will…no matter
what, count on that.”

Turning her head, she kissed whatever part of him she could reach. “No
matter what. And if you can count on no one else, count on me.” She
didn’t wait for him to respond, simply pulled his face to hers and
kissed him… deeply.

Reaching up to cup her face in his hands, he responded slowly…
savoring the feeling of her mouth against his. Softness beneath his mouth.
Heaven. She was heaven. His sanctuary. The only place he was safe. The
only place he wanted to be safe.

“You’re beautiful.” He whispered when their mouths had parted ever so
slightly.

“You’re my world,” she responded. It was as if she couldn’t reassure
him enough. And she’d been doing it since that fateful night. “You are
definitely worth getting my ass kicked for.” Surprisingly, her pride
wasn’t hurt over that beating either. It was very, very necessary.

He chuckled, repaying her with a kiss. “Bet you looked great doing it.”
Angel’s eyes were proud as he nipped at her lower lip. “And it keeps
you humble…one reason I keep sparring with you.”

She laughed. Moving back against him, she said, “You spar with me
because you don’t want me to get rusty and I need to keep my reflexes up to
fight vampires.” She paused. “That and you like the fact that I wear
skimpy tank tops.”

He did his best to look innocent. “Now Grace, that’s not it at all, you
know I’m not into fighting because of your body…”

She laughed hard and loud at that one. Turning to face him, she dumped
some bubbles on the top of his head. “Let me get this straight… so
last week when you said that my breasts distracted you… THAT was an
oddity? Yeah, right.” She rolled her eyes dramatically.

Angel grinned. “No, that was you breathing heavy in my face….”
trailing a wet finger down through the topic of conversation, his dark eyes
glittered. “They’re very distracting y’know…when they move like
that.”

She watched that wet finger as it traveled down her chest. “They get
in my way sometimes, and are a bit cumbersome to carry around when I
have too move quickly. But it’s all worth it because you enjoy them so.”
She moved her hands into his hair and massaged his scalp. “I adore
that about you though.”

“And we both know I adore you,” he countered quietly, his finger moving
to trace her lips. “You enjoy being a woman but you’re strong anyway…
you don’t mind admitting your weaknesses…unlike some.”

Taking his finger in her mouth, she sucked on it lightly. When she
released it, she smiled and softly said, “It may take a sledgehammer for
me to admit it though.” She placed her hand on his cheek and sighed.
“Thank you for having the courage to call my mother, even though it could
have backfired on you and angered me. I’m not sure what I did to
deserve you and the kind of love we have, but I thank every god ever
believed in for you.”

“You’d’ve calmed down eventually.” Angel grinned at her. “You always
do.” He kissed her again. “And you didn’t do a thing…it’s me that
doesn’t deserve you.”

They argued this point a lot! “I think I’m going to take that back.
We deserve each other. I know no one else could put up with me like you
do. I’m not the easiest to live with. But I love you… every part of
you… even the darkest parts. And I wouldn’t be anywhere else in the
world than in your arms. And you know how stubborn I am.”

“I know…” he agreed with a grin. “You’re the most bullheaded woman on
earth and I love you for it.” Dumping bubbles on her head, he lightly
touched her nose. “I need a challenge….you’re it.”

She giggled as she put the finishing touches on the mohawk she’d given
him. “I should take a picture of you so you can see this new ‘do.” She
wiped the dripping bubbles from her face and continued, “And I’m glad I
could oblige. But just as I’m your challenge, I’m also your strongest
ally.” Her arms wrapped around his neck as she moved herself closer to
him, her lips gently caressing his ear.

“Mmm…and a strong alliance it is.” He agreed, trying to sneak a hand
up to fix his hair. “And no pictures of this please…Cordy’ll never
let me hear the end of it.” This was said with a teasing wink.

Taking that wandering hand before it could reach his head, she gave it
another occupation by placing it on her breast. “Who said I’d show it
to them? It’s you who should see it.” Sucking his ear into her mouth,
she paid it a most pleasant homage before kissing her way down his
neck. “We’re unbeatable and inseparable. A very strong alliance.”

Instantly, his hand began squeezing and playing with said breast while
his head fell back ever so slightly. She truly had a wicked mind when
it came to this stuff. “Very strong…” Angel agreed hoarsely
“Inseparable…”

Hmm… Looked like ‘meaningful talk time’ was over. It was just as
well though. There were ways other than words for her to show him what
he meant to her. Running her hand along his arm, it covered his hand,
which was playing with her breast, for a long moment before it moved to
his chest, caressing his nipple much as he was touching hers. “No
where else I’d rather be.”

Lifting his gaze to hers, the vampire forced his mind clear then
offered a lopsided grin. “Except, maybe, in bed.”

Her hand starting a trip much lower than his peck, she gazed at him
coyly and asked, “Oh yes. Bed is very nice too.” Pulling away, she
quickly moved from the tub. She kissed him hastily and didn’t even bother
to grab for a towel. “You getting out or what?” She walked out slowly,
giving him the perfect view of her nudity.

He cleared his throat and then pushed himself from the tub leisurely,
grabbing a towel as he passed, after all…she was soaking wet and he
had to dry her off. Didn’t want her catching her death… Of course, the
idea of giving her a rubdown had *nothing* to do with it.

When he reentered the room, she was standing before the fireplace,
letting the heat from it warm her slightly chilled body. The plush rug
felt delightful underneath her feet. “A towel? Surely by now you don’t
need to cover yourself around me,” she couldn’t help but tease.

Holding up the towel, he smirked. “It’s not for me.” Walking over with
the promise in his eyes, he let his gaze wander over her. “It’s for
you.”

She gave the towel a questioning look and realized why he’d brought it
but couldn’t help but tease. “Now Angel, by now you have to know I’m
not ashamed of my body. But my back is still a bit wet. Thank you.”

Nodding as if that was his intention all along, the vampire walked over
to run the towel down her back with one hand while the other delivered
a firm smack to her behind. “Brat.” He accused in a loving tone.

She pulled away instinctively but couldn’t help but laugh. “And you
love it,” she teased. “Face it, you love my non-traditional ways. And
just what is it about my behind tonight that makes people think they can
beat upon it?!” She laughed.

“Well I know I love it…You, your non-traditional ways, and your
behind… Same as your mother… except, she’s into the more maternal idea
of love.” He grinned. “Anywhere else, you’re mine…all mine!” His
attempt at maniacal laughter fell short and he shrugged “Never was much of a
comedian.”

Leaning back against him, she let her eyes slide closed. “Me neither.
I was much more into teasing. You make me smile and you make me happy.
That’s enough. But you are right about one thing. I am all yours.”
And he was the only one to whom Grace had ever given up control.

“And I’m all yours.” He echoed lovingly, sliding his hands along her
curves. “Forever.”

“I’ll settle for nothing else,” she sighed, sensing his distraction
with her, she turned in his arms and wrapped hers around his neck. The
coolness of his skin was a perfect contrast to the heat on her back. The
hardness of his muscles a nice contrast to the softness of the rug
beneath her feet. “Eternity is my favorite concept.”

Pressing one kiss to her forehead, another to the bridge of her nose,
the next ones to each of her eyelids then to the tip of her nose, both
cheeks, and finally her mouth, the vampire’s hands weren’t idle either
as he mapped out the familiar curves. “It’s not long enough.” He decided
with a mumbled comment against the skin of her arm.

The absolute devotion he paid to her almost caused her to cry. How
anyone could think this man unworthy of friendship and loyalty, she would
never know? Angel was simply the most devoted person she’d ever known.
When he pledged himself to someone, it was with everything he was…
How could someone hate him based simply on his vampirism? “No, it’s not.
Never long enough to love you or show you exactly how amazed I am by
you.” Her mouth then covered his in a kiss that proved everything she
just said.

Awed by the vigor of her kiss, Angel guided her to the floor in front
of the fireplace, his mouth meeting hers with the same strength and
desire she gave him..He was firmly convinced he’d never do anything that
would make him worthy of having her but he also knew he wasn’t going to
argue the fact now that he did have her and she wasn’t going anywhere.

When his body pressed against hers, Grace sighed contentedly. Never
had she felt so complete as when she’d found him. Or he’d found her. He
had been the one who followed her down that alley all those months ago.
She couldn’t help but chuckle a bit. He’d been kissing her neck,
normally a very erogenous zone for her. “Who would have thought that we’d
be here? I shot you the first night I met you and now I can’t live
without you. Fate… she’s so wonderful sometimes.”

“Fate’s got a strange sense of humor.” Her lover mumbled against her
skin. “But I’m not complaining.” He’d never complain when it came to her.
Never. “It certainly keeps things interesting.”

“Well, interesting is one way of putting it, yeah. I felt terrible
that night. Couldn’t sleep. The amount of guilt was tremendous.” She
sighed as he continued to kiss her neck. Ok, so talking was overrated
anyway. She let herself be overwhelmed by his touch. They both needed
this desperately.

“Guilt is one thing you’re good with.” Was a muffled response then
Angel pulled back to grin at her. “But I can think of another one…” She
was relaxing again and he couldn’t help the rush of relief at the
realization.

Swatting his arm, Grace said, “I’m good at more than a couple things.”
Still, he had her attention. “What one were you going to refer to?”

His grin turned wicked. “Cards.”

Pushing him away from her, her look turned offended. She crossed her
arms across her chest and huffed. “Cards. Cards!!! I’ll show you good
at cards.” He riled her intentionally and she fell for it every time.
“Just for that, you can play solitaire all night. I can amuse myself
doing something else.”

“What? Wesley?” Trailing a hand up her leg, Angel’s eyes danced with
suppressed laughter. She had no idea how beautiful she was when she was
mad. But then, he thought her gorgeous whether she was happy, sad,
enraged, amused, annoyed, frustrated, aroused, whining…no matter what she
was doing, he loved how she looked. Thought her beautiful. “You’re too
much for him to handle.”

“Yoooouuuuuuu,” she growled, pushing his hand away from her leg. “And
if I did do Wesley, he’d think the saints had smiled down upon him.
Have fun with your solitaire, darling. I’m going to make a Brit’s
night.” Like she’d actually do that. The damn man would probably call her
bluff too.

Angel started to laugh. “He’d faint from shock the minute he saw you
walk in the door.” Pouncing, he pinned her to the floor. “Besides, who
said I’d let you leave…” The last was almost growled out, possessive.
He loved playing as much as the next vampire, but sometimes a vampire
had to lay down the law. And the cardinal one in his life when it came to
Grace was that he didn’t share. Not a chance in hell. Not with anyone.
It was one thing to let her fight every night with him. That was
working together. The others were a part of the package and he enjoyed having
them around. But romantically? She was *his*. It sounded very
caveman-ish but he really couldn’t summon up the urge to care about that. He
loved her and he wanted to keep her with him for as long as he could
manage it. Forever. Longer than forever. Forever wasn’t long enough, he’d
said it before and he’d say it again. He wanted her for a thousand
forevers. For as many as they could have…

She smiled and put her arms around his neck. Bringing his lips to hers,
she kissed him in a manner that was nothing if not as possessive as he
had sounded earlier. When they finally parted, she smiled and said,
“Like I’d ever let anyone else touch me in that manner. Yours are the
only hands that will ever touch me, the only lips that will ever kiss me,
the only soul that will ever own me for the rest of my life.” All
teasing aside, life was perfect so long as he was in it.

Angel kissed her again. “You are my soul.” He informed her seriously,
his lips barely separate from hers.

Her eyes locked on his as the soft kissing continued, and she said,
“As you are mine… forever.” And for once in her life, Grace decided
they’d talked enough and it was now time to express it in other ways.

Returning his mouth to her neck, he nipped and sucked at her skin while
his hands roamed freely over her form, claiming, teasing and arousing.
Definitely not the time for talking. Nope. No talking now. Touching
now. Touching good.

She tilted her head, giving him maximum access to her neck. Her body
desperately tried to move into every touch, every caress. Before she
realized it, she was practically squirming beneath him. Her leg roamed
up his as her hips pushed up into him. She wasn’t rushing their
joining, simply stimulating every part of him she could.

He groaned at that, his lips finding her shoulder while his hands
gripped her legs, squeezing and releasing. She was perfect. Absolutely
perfect. Sliding his hands back and forth, Angel let his mouth wander,
seeking what it wanted to as he paid careful attention to pressing their
bodies together, teasing.

She moaned lightly, her hands going into his hair, moving with him
wherever he went. Her other leg moved up his body and even managed to
wander up his back. There was something to say for being flexible. She’d
proved it more than once.

With a growl of pleasure, Angel upped the ante by shifting into vamp
mode and biting down on his favorite spot on her neck, his body pinning
hers in place as he drank his fill.

She called out as she felt his fangs pierce her skin. Her entire body
spasmed as she felt the rush of an orgasm sweep through her. It never
failed, when he bit her, she came. It was the ultimate in thrills for
her, and one she was happy to repeat time and time again. Her hands
grasped onto his hair, trying with all her might to keep him from moving.

His body automatically thrusting against hers, even though he had yet
to take her in that sense, Angel pressed against her harder, as if he
could permanently merge their bodies into one being by mere proximity. He
knew he did this far more than he needed to but he couldn’t help
himself. She was addictive. In every sense she was addictive.

They had yet to join, but what was sweeping through her was just as
intense. She moved against him, though her strength was leaving her. Her
hands no longer able to hold his head as tightly, her world turning a
bit dizzy. But she wouldn’t trade this for the world. She loved the
feeds almost as much as he did… in fact, she craved them.

Sensing her growing weak, he pulled back and, after returning to
normal, claimed her mouth in a kiss as his body sought out it’s home in hers.
Perfect. This was always perfect between them. Always.

She may have been weak from the blood loss, but not so much that she
couldn’t sigh into his probing mouth as he took her. It wouldn’t take
long for her strength to build back up, and when it did, she would meet
him with as much force as he took her. Making love with him was sheer
ecstasy for her. Moving slowly, giving her time to recover, Angel kissed
her deeply, pouring himself into the kiss as he paced his movements. He
loved these moments. When neither of them was really ready for the more
explosive sex they were famous for, and all they could do was savor the
feeling of being with each other. There was a delicious poignancy to it
that they just couldn’t get elsewhere. It was tremendously special.

She responded to the kiss, reading from it everything he was wanting
and needing. It wasn’t surprising to her that it was exactly what she
wanted and needed as well. The way they were so in sync would have been
frightening to some people. It was natural for her. He was her life,
and she couldn’t think or say that enough. Ever so slowly, her hands
paid homage to his body… his perfect body. If he had no one else, he
would always have her, and she did everything she could to make that
very clear.

His mouth almost devouring hers, he began to slowly build up his
movements, upping the tempo slowly and tenderly playing on her body, coaxing
her further along. His own body responding to the movements of hers,
the perfect counterpoint to hers. Their bodies moving like a symphony,
medley and counter medley. Beautiful music.

She could feel herself building toward her second climax of the
evening. He not only filled her, he completed her. Their bodies moved as
one, changes in tempo where done at the same moment. She matched him in
the intensity of the kiss. He didn’t need breath, and she could go long
periods without it, so the duration wasn’t anything unusual… neither
was the power of it. It wasn’t until her climax started to sweep over
her that she showed any desperation. Her legs locked around his waist
and her hands grasped his hair as she increased the intensity of the
kiss, if that was possible.

Feeling her beginning to fall again, Angel let his movements go to full
strength and intensity, his entire focus narrowed down to how she was
making him feel and the sounds reaching his ears. His world became
Grace.

She felt her world turn to light and then her focus became nothing but
the emotions coming from her as she exploded, her cries being swallowed
by her love. She knew he wouldn’t be far behind… he never was.

When she went, he let himself go too. Getting lost together always made
things more intense. More powerful. It was something he treasured. But
then, he always treasured her. There was nothing about her he didn’t
find precious. Some would be surprised that he could have such…
romantic thoughts about a woman but he did… when that woman was Grace. She’d
taught him to move beyond the brooding and the maudlin. What’s done is
done, he couldn’t change the past. He couldn’t change what he’d become.
He hadn’t chosen it. It had been forced on him. Grace had taught him
that it was safe to accept that. To move on. To love.

She brought his head down to her chest and simply held him to her as
she regained her breath. Her hands caressed his face, especially his
forehead and the bridge of his nose. That’s where the visible change took
place, and she couldn’t explain it, but that was so precious to her.
It’s like she always told him… the road they took to get where they
are now was hard, but it had brought them to each other and that was the
most important. She had been lost, lonely, and sad before she’d found
him. He had saved her… and if she was honest, she’d saved him too.
Her fingers still lightly tracing his forehead, she couldn’t hide the
smile of contentment on her face. She was happier than she’d ever been
in her entire life, and he had made her that way.

Leaning down to brush a kiss across her forehead, he smiled, brushing
her hair back from her face. “You’re beautiful.” He said simply, eyes
cataloguing every feature of her face, memorizing each mark and freckle.
Anything that made her face distinctive, he knew. Knew and loved.

“So are you. Everything about you is beautiful to me.” And she meant
the darkness as well as the light. She knew he knew it too. Accepting
one with the other was a necessity. “I love you.” She was
surprisingly short on words, normally she talked his head off.

“I love you.” He responded, withdrawing from her and picking her up. It
was cuddle time and that wasn’t the easiest thing to do when you were
lying on a floor.

Settling into bed with her wrapped in his arms, he rested his cheek on
her hair. “I could stay here forever.” The vampire confessed with a
soft voice. “In this moment.”

“Frozen in time, where nothing can touch us and no one can harm us. I
go there every time I’m in your arms… every time you walk in the room
and look at me… every time you cross my mind when we’re apart.” She
squeezed him tightly. “It took me 1000 years to find this, I’m never
letting you go.” Okay, so she’d found her voice.

“I’m not going anywhere.” Angel assured, his hands sliding up and down
her arms. “And anywhere I go, you come with me.” He wasn’t the type to
do a lot of talking. He’d let her do that first. He preferred to be the
listener. But when he did speak, he spoke with the sparest of words,
not babbling on. Each word was important and held a meaning. Especially
when it came to talking to Grace. Each one had to carry his feelings for
her. Not that there was a word in any language that even came close.

She rolled more closely toward him and sighed in contentment. “You
don’t know how right you are about that. Me going with you, that is.”
They were indeed a tandem… one that nothing could separate. “I’m no
longer certain where I end and you begin. I look in the mirror and see
myself as you see me. I look at you and see all the world has to offer.
And it doesn’t frighten me, not at all. Instead, I get comfort from it.
Neither one of us will ever be alone again, and if anyone deserves
happiness, it’s you. Just like that song says. You are.” What he didn’t
say, she did. It’s simply the way they were. She was awed that he
enjoyed listening to her. After all this time, he still listened. When
others would have tuned her out, he listened. She was very lucky to
have him, and she knew it.

“You are.” He agreed quietly, pulling the covers more tightly around
them, concerned, as always, about her. Always about her. “We see each
other through the other’s eyes…” Picking up on what she’d been saying.
“And it never ceases to surprise us what the other sees… Beauty from
ashes.”

“Light in the darkness,” she smiled. Her eyes were drifting closed,
but she had to confess. “I wanted to kill Gunn. I don’t anymore, but I
did.” She yawned. “Darkness and light.”

Angel wasn’t surprised by her admission. He’d suspected it. This was
just confirmation. “Light before darkness.” He countered quietly,
stroking her arms, guiding her into sleep. “Always before darkness.”

“I didn’t want to worry you,” she cried softly. “But I’m okay now.
Darkness all gone. All I need is you.” She’d half been worried that he
would clam up on her. It was just something that could cause him to
brood. But as usual, he’d come through for her. He always did. “I just
can’t teach or protect him right now. Not for awhile yet.”

“Your friend’ll see to him.” Angel assured. “If not, Jasa can take him
with her to New York for a while. She was talking about that remember?
Taking Cordy & Gunn to New York, introduce them to a few Immortal
friends… get some new perspectives on their training…take as much time
as you need Grace, he’ll be taken care of.”

She buried her head in his chest. “I don’t want him to leave,” she
mumbled. She didn’t want to be around him much, but she didn’t want him to
leave. Talk about dualities. And a bit of a mess, too. The joys of
being Grace Hammond.

Chuckling, Angel rested a hand on her hair. “Well, we have to do
something with him… he’s wandering around here like he’s walking on
eggshells and if he goes back to his crew there’s a chance he’ll be easy prey
for some head hunter. Something’s got to be done, Grace, you can’t
leave him in the dog house forever.”

Glancing up at him, she looked every bit the child as she asked, “What
do you think?” Because, let’s face it, what he thought was most
important. “What he said…” she couldn’t continue with that.

“Is his to deal with…and mine. Not yours. You can’t punish him
forever, Grace, especially not when it’s nothing related to your relationship
with him. He was upset. He’s been through hell lately and if he
*really* hated me… he would have staked me.” Angel reasoned as he continued
to stroke her hair. “He hasn’t.”

She fought exasperation. What affected Angel affected her. When
someone hurt Angel, it hurt her. Why was she the only one who saw that?
“But… Ok, nevermind.” She rolled back into him and sighed. She didn’t
want to have a ‘discussion’ in bed with him. “I’ll talk to him
tomorrow. How’s that?”

He laughed. “Okay…and you can beat me up tomorrow too,” It was
horrible of him but Angel loved it when she got exasperated. She was
positively adorable then. But it was also good to know she was going to make an
attempt. “Just don’t scare him…he’s already expecting you to come
after him with a butter knife…”

“Nah,” she giggled, letting her frustration with her inability to
communicate go, “a spoon. I was thinking of using a spoon. It would take
longer, and he could enjoy some of my maniacal laughter. You know I
have it in me.” He never failed to bring her out of her moods. Jasa had
to kick her ass, Angel merely had to hold her. Funny how all that
worked.

“A spoon…” The vampire mused with another chuckle. “You are your
mother’s daughter…” Tickling her gently, he continued. “Either that or
you’ve been listening to her torture stories again.”

She laughed, trying to swat his hands away. “I think she’d be proud.
I actually thought that up on my own. The ol’ brain is good for
something besides tracking baddies.” She reached out and tickled him as
well. Two could play at that game.

“Oh yeah? And I thought you had a one track mind.” Angel squirmed to
avoid her fingers. “You learn something new every night.”

“Well, when it comes to you, I can’t be held responsible.” When he
found her extra sensitive spot, she all but screamed and began an attack
in earnest. Oh yes, more than anything, this is what she had needed.
She’d needed her life to get back on an even keel. She’d needed her
mother to set her straight and Angel to be her foundation. And hearing him
laugh and having them engage in this type of play was just what they’d
both needed.

Sanctuary.

Finis

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