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 Angel's Secrets

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Treats

By Eliz
ealutz(at)hotmail.com

Summary: A response to a challenge to write a fic about Angel dealing with his kids during Halloween.
Disclaimer: Joss owns all. Please don't sue.
Author's Notes: This is in response to the challenge from Garnet on Buffy_Angels_Kids @ onelist.com to write a fic about Angel dealing with his kids during Halloween. It had to include the following:
~ a sticky lollipop
~ reference to "Halloween" the episode
~ busy-body neighbor
~ one kid either needs to be changed or has to go to the bathroom (mundane I know, but think of having to change a baby while out in the neighborhood trick or treating and your house is a ways back)
~ a black cat (of course)
~ a Witch (naturally) --- can not be Amy, Miss Calendar, or Willow
~ pumpkin pie
~ a ghost (need that one)
~ one of those tapes of spooky noises (door creaks, footsteps, etc.)

Dedication: this is for Beth, whose favorite holiday is Halloween, and never let me sit at home moping, but dragged me out, in costume if possible, and made me look at the freaky Hillcrest nightlife. Those Toy Story soldiers were the BEST! :)
Feedback: Feedback is received with ecstatic squeals at: ealutz(at)hotmail.com

.

What was it about Halloween?

Angel was sunk deeply into thoughtful contemplation of the holiday when the doorbell rang. "Huh?" He looked up quickly, seeing a flash of blonde hair as one of his offspring streaked by the door to the den on the way to the front porch.

"Mom! Where's the candy?"

Angel sighed, standing up and switching on the desk light.

A small, tanned face appeared in the doorway - bright mop of straw-colored hair mussed. "Dad? I didn't see you in there." Angel's son looked a little perturbed. "There's trick-or- treaters at the front door. Where's Mom?"

"I'm thinking it has to do with your sister," Angel said mildly, walking towards the foyer. He found the hidden bowl of candy - Buffy knew their little urchins so well - and carried it to the waiting hobgoblins outside. They stood about knee-high to him, decorated ferociously. He smiled and distributed the chocolate, then watched them disappear back into the night... towards their parents at the end of the drive. He closed the door of their comfortable, four bedroom suburban home with a flourish... then hid the candy again when his son wasn't looking.

"Daa-aad!!"

Immune to such transparent pleadings, Angel snared his son with a stern look. "You'll get your share when we go out. Now, are you going to be ready?"

As if in reply, Buffy's voice rang out from the upstairs of the house. "Michael! Do you have your costume on yet?"

"Almost, Mom!" Michael flashed his father a smile. "I'll be ready in a few minutes, okay? Don't leave without me?"

"Not a chance," Angel replied, ruffling the boy's golden locks. Michael was eleven, but he'd obviously inherited his father's height and his mother's quick mind, because to Angel, he seemed quite a bit older. "And make sure Gabe is ready, too."

Michael flapped his hand dismissively. "His costume is so EASY. Geesh. Where'd he get that idea, anyway?"

"I remember it having something to do with something your godmother once dressed up as," Angel said, biting back a smile as he remembered a Halloween so long ago.

A moment or two after Michael disappeared in a foot-pounding retreat up the stairs, soft footfalls could be heard descending those same stairs. Angel looked up eagerly.

His wife appeared, flushed and beautiful, their tiny, golden daughter held in the crook of her arm. "My ladies," he murmured, rising quickly to move to Buffy's side, hovering over her with a warm smile.

She grinned up at him. "One lady... and one lady bug."

"Excuse me?"

She held their daughter Sera out for his inspection. Sera cooed up at her father and kicked a little with one petite, red, spotted bootie. Angel examined her, then looked back at Buffy. "Pretty big lady bug, if you ask me," he teased, tickling his daughter's belly with a finger. She screeched with delight, kicking strongly and grinning toothlessly.

He leaned down to kiss his wife, who sighed as their lips met, stroked, and melded. Only the insistent gurgling of their third child was enough to separate them finally. Buffy pushed her forehead against his chin, warming the hollow of his throat with her breath. She was always telling him how she'd never get tired of how cool to the touch his skin was. She kept saying it made her want to warm him. She was awfully good at it.

"Are you looking forward to this?"

"I'll tell you after I see how bad it is THIS year," he said in a light tone.

Buffy giggled, which made Sera giggle, too. "You'll make it," she proclaimed. "Is taking Sera going to be too much?"

Angel tilted his head, dipping to catch her mouth in another, all too brief kiss. "The kids will never be too much for me."

"Want to have a fourth?"

"Uh..."

"Just kidding." Buffy kissed the tip of his nose, then bounced Sera on her hip and backed away, heading towards the kitchen. Angel raced to catch her.

"I'd love another baby," he blurted out, skidding to a stop in the doorway.

She paused from removing a bottle from the fridge for Sera, and smiled over her shoulder at him. "I know, Angel - it wasn't supposed to be test. After three kids, all of which you enthusiastically... uh... lobbied for, I think you've passed."

"Really? Great, that's great," Angel said fervently, waiting for her to continue. When she didn't, he silently helped her with warming the bottle, and tucking in inside an insulator, so he'd have something to feed Sera if she got too cranky on the candy-rounds. He remembered their first year with Michael, when he and Buffy couldn't wait to dress him up as a peapod... which he'd promptly spit up all over. They'd cleaned their son up carefully, then taken him out, basking in the oohs and ahhs over their adorable, perfect child. In retrospect, Angel supposed that it had been kind of a silly thing to do. Halloween was a holiday for older kids... toddlers at least, and kids who could actually eat some of the candy they collected. But Buffy would see a baby costume, and bam! They'd be taking an infant on the rounds. This was the first year for a lady bug. Though Angel would never had admitted it to Buffy, he wouldn't have wanted his sons to be dressed in anything so... girly. For his daughter, though, it was perfect.

Buffy rigged him out with a diaper, the bottle, and some pacifiers in his coat pockets, then waited while he donned the black leather garment before handing Sera to him. She gurgled, little hands grabbing at his fingers. He thought for maybe the thousandth time that she was the most amazing thing EVER.

"Boys! Are you ready? Your father is waiting!" Buffy called up the stairs, listening with satisfaction to the thudding feet responding with acclarity. Gabe appeared first, carefully holding onto the stair's banister as he swayed down. He was dressed in the classic ghost costume, complete with a sparkly 'boo' across the front. His Aunt Willow had made it for him, and he couldn't have been prouder to wear it, no matter what his jerk of an older brother said. He'd told his mom so on several occasions, with exceptional poise for a six year old. Now Buffy believed him. He carried himself straight, and stepped with definite authority. A specter to be respected. She crouched down and grinned at him. "When your Auntie comes over later, she's going to be so excited that you're wearing that costume," she praised.

She thought she could detect a smile under the sheet. "I's the bes' cos'ume ever," Gabe said emphatically. He'd just lost his two front teeth in a scuffle for which his brother had been grounded, but they'd been more than ready to come out on their own, so Buffy and Angel had gone pretty easy on Michael.

Michael appeared next, making a production out of growling and methodically swiping the air with heavy paws. A werewolf had been his Uncle's suggestion, and his parents had acted oddly, but acquiesced. It was kind of a warm costume to be wearing in balmy Sunnydale, but he was dedicated to doing it right. Every time Angel suggested to him that he might want to take it easy on the fake fur, he scoffed. A wolf took no shortcuts.

"My sweet little werewolf," Buffy cooed, adjusting his ears, and dotting a finger on his nose.

"Mom! I'm not sweet, I'm ferocious!" he objected. But he let his mother have her way.

After she'd sufficiently coddled her two sons, and brushed a last, loving kiss across her daughter's rosy cheek, she hustled the foursome out the door. "Don't eat any candy until your father or I have okayed it! Look both ways before you cross the street! Listen to your father!"

Angel heard the door click shut behind them, and realized that he was on his own. A long time ago, he and Buffy had decided that since she was still the Slayer, and historically, the Slayer did not have to work on Halloween, and since she still protected the world 364 days a year, otherwise, that it would be HIS job to take their offspring trick-or-treating. And every year it was more of a challenge for him. Last year, two. Now, three. A good deal of bravado was involved on his part, because Buffy always tried to give him an out, and he always puffed his chest out and assured her that he could handle it. And every year it seemed like he got through by mere inches. Ah well... this year would go smoothly.

.

"Trick or treat!" his boys bayed up into the face of a smiling neighbor. Mrs. Crandle adored Michael and Gabe, and if she had very vocal concerns about why she never saw there father out and about during the day, he knew that his sons were always safe in her care. He and Buffy occasionally went out during the evening when Willow, Cordy, Oz, or Doyle weren't available to take care of the kids, and Mrs. Crandle was the perfect solution.

She lived in a modest home on the other side of the block, so her backyard met the Summers' backyard. From her upstairs windows, Angel had no doubt that the old woman could see his and Buffy's windows painted black. It would have taken a supreme act of will not to comment on that at SOME point, and Mrs. Crandle never actually bothered to restrain herself. She was at it, now.

"Ah, and Mr. Summers! So good to see you... after such a long time. I'm over all the time, checking up on your sweet wife, and you're never around during the day."

"Well, I have a job, you know," Angel said, getting uncomfortable about lying in front of his children. They didn't exactly know about the vampire thing. He and Buffy were planning on telling Michael when he turned 12, but people like Mrs. Crandle made that hard. Well, the boys knew that their father tended to have to be alone all day, but Angel made it clear to them that most of the time he was working... and he was - researching whatever ooglies he or Buffy might have met up with on patrol. Besides, they were at school now for a lot of the day, and they always got to spend lots of time with their dad after dusk. And usually, after they got home from school and they'd had a snack, Buffy would tell them where Angel was holed up for the day, and they'd come en force, usually to the basement, to play with him. It was one of his favorite times of the day.

Mrs. Crandle obviously wasn't finished yet, and was portioning out the candy with aching slowness to increase her meddling-time. "And of course, every time I invite you and your wife over for tea on Sunday, you're never able to come," she chided playfully... with one beady eye fixed on him for his response.

"Look - " he thrust his daughter towards her, "isn't Sera's costume...?" words failed him, so he just let Mrs. Crandle explode into adjectives of her own, ranging from 'sweet' to 'divine'.

"Daddy," Gabe was tugging on his jeans with dogged persistence. "Daddy."

Angel pulled Sera away from Mrs. Crandle and crouched down to his son. "What is it?" he asked gently, leaning close.

A moment later he was smiling with breathtaking charm at Mrs. Crandle. "I wonder if we could impose on you for a moment?" he said smoothly, with a nod towards Gabe.

A parent herself, she understood immediately. "Of course, do come in." She waved them into the house, and Angel thanked his lucky stars for the invitation she'd unthinkingly uttered. It could have been awkward, otherwise. Michael tromped in, growling and sniffing as he walked with familiarity into the living room. Angel was a little surprised. Has his son been over here that often? He handed an angelic Sera over to Mrs. Crandle to further dote upon while he helped Gabe take his sheet off, then watched his son scuttle towards the bathroom.

When the doorbell rang, Mrs. Crandle was forced to surrender his daughter back to him. "Oh dear, I'd better get that. Do make yourselves comfortable - I'll be right back."

Angel busied himself with checking Sera over to make sure that she was dry and happy. She gummed on his fingertips for a few minutes, apparently content. Michael roamed the living room. Gabe appeared in a few minutes, looking much happier. "All done, Daddy."

"Great. Now..." Angel turned to see Michael looking sadly guiltily. Uh oh. "What's going on?" he asked suspiciously.

Michael moved aside at his approach, allowing his father to see that in his ramblings through the room, Michael had managed to get a lollipop stuck to Mrs. Crandle's cream linen couch. A red lollipop. "Oh... great. Michael, didn't your mother tell you not to eat any candy until we'd okay'd it?" he asked sternly, pulling the sticky scarlet mass off the fabric, wincing at the stain.

Visibly upset, Michael hung his head. Angel wiped at the gummy stain for a moment, then just plopped a throw pillow over it, sighing. "Don't ever tell your mom that I did that, okay?" he said, and Michael attempted a small grin of conspiracy. "Just don't eat anything else until we get home, okay?"

"Sure, Dad. I promise," Michael said, eager to reconcilliate.

Angel helped Gabe on with his costume again as Mrs. Crandle returned from the front door. "Well, it looks like we're ready to continue," he announced heartily, hoping that she'd let him go easily.

As she walked them to the door, she took a parting shot. "Tell your wife how nice it was for me to see you all - during the waking hours."

"I'll be sure to do that," he choked out, shepherding his children away from the house. Back out on the street, he checked his crew over, verifying their readiness to continue. Only halfway around the block, and it already felt to him like he'd been away from Buffy for days. He couldn't wait to get back. His sons were going strong, though, and he refused to shortchange them on a holiday they enjoyed so completely.

The house next door to Mrs. Crandle's was dimly lit, although a herd of departing trick- or-treaters twittering excitedly amongst themselves convinced Angel that the occupants were distributing candy. Michael and Gabe strode confidently in front of him as they walked up the driveway.

A screeching sound brought the party up short. There was a long, drawn out cackle... then a woman in a pointy hat and an absolutely hideous plastic nose appeared, brandishing a broomstick. "And you, my pretties? Have you come to be frightened?" she grated out, pointing a boney finger at Gabe and Michael. She gestured towards the garage, which was obviously done up as some kind of mini-haunted house. Angel watched his kids uncertainly as they listened to a host of terrifying noises issue forth - groans, creaks, ghoulish laughs. Two seconds later, Gabe was attached to his thigh like a leech, eyes huge, and Michael was hightailing it down the driveway. Angel followed him as quickly as possible with his other son hanging on to his leg, and caught up at the street, where Michael was obediently waiting as he'd been taught... not about to cross the street alone, despite his terror.

"Eh, that place didn't look interesting, right?" he asked his older son casually.

"Nah... we could do better," Michael responded with a shaky smile.

"Right. Maybe next year you and I can put together something like that in OUR garage - scare everybody, huh?" Angel asked, knowing that once Michael was involved in setting up something similar himself, it wouldn't be as mysterious to him.

"Okay, Dad."

Angel turned his attention to his younger son. "Gabe..."

"I's okay, Daddy. I'm fine here," Gabe whispered.

"Are you hanging on tight?" Angel, from past similar experiences, fully realized the futility of urging his son to let go too soon.

"Uh huh." And that was about as much as he was going to get out of Gabe until he was good and ready to continue on his own. Gesturing for Michael to follow, Angel continued down the street, now carrying two of his children. He figured trick-or-treating was pretty much over.

.

They were almost around the block, Gabe still clinging to Angel, when a black cat darted across Angel's path, disappearing into the bushes next to him. Startled, he froze for a moment, glancing around to see what had spooked the cat.

"That's bad luck," Michael informed him in a hushed tone.

"You're right, mate," a voice said from the darkness. "It sure is."

Every muscle in Angel's body tensed. Oh god. Not here. Not with his kids around him, and his wife not here to help. Not this. "Leave," he demanded to the silent night around them, aware of the look of confusion that Michael was giving him.

Spike stepped out from behind a fence, platinum blonde hair gleaming in the light from the streetlamps. "Not a chance of that, old boy," he said. "Not til I've said hello to everyone."

"Congratulations. You just did." Angel shifted Sera a little, wondering frantically if Buffy had thought to include a stake in his pockets with the baby supplies. Normally she would have, but they both took for granted that on Halloween night, vampires stayed IN.

Spike grinned around a mouthful of fangs, and Angel fought desperately to keep his gameface hidden.

"Daddy! What's happening?" Michael wailed. Gabe was still clutching his thigh like a tree- monkey, and sniffling like he might start crying at any moment. Sera was unexpectedly asleep in her father's arms... unconcerned.

Angel straightened. She had no reason to BE concerned. Angel was a man who protected his family.

At Michael's words, Spike stared incredulously at all four of them, then turned away for a moment, briefly running his hands over his face. When he turned back, his skin was smooth, his eyes brown. "Daddy?"

He crouched down to Michael's level, staring the boy in the eyes. Angel's eyes.

"By god, it's true," Spike exclaimed, hopping to his feet. "And from the looks of that hair, it's with the Slayer. Guess you got around that ridiculous curse, eh, mate?"

"Leave, Spike. I won't tell you a third time."

"Come on, now... this is all very interesting, but it doesn't change my reasons for being here. Hear me out, old man."

Angel gritted his teeth in frustration, but Sera didn't respond at all. Ignoring Spike for a moment, and gazing down at her tiny, sweet face, he realized he couldn't start anything here. Better to get Spike back onto Angel and Buffy's territory, where Buffy could help him deal with this.

"So talk."

.

When Buffy opened up the front door to greet her returning brood, she certainly didn't expect to see Spike with them. She smiled sweetly over her consternation, and casually reached for the stake sheathed at the small of her back.

"Whoa there!" Spike started, holding up empty hands as Michael raced inside and Angel heaved Sera into Buffy's free arm. Gabe, by this time tired of hitching a ride on his dad, let go and ambled into the house behind his older brother.

With his kids safely inside his home, where Spike couldn't enter, and Buffy armed and dangerous, Angel felt a good deal more secure. "This had better be good, Spike," he grated out, his eyes hard.

"Hell," Spike sighed. "Seein' as how it was Halloween... it got me to thinking about the last time the three of us celebrated it together. Nice change of pace from doing nothing, I thought."

"And...?" Angel felt the change come over his face, fangs prodding his lower lip. "That's reason enough to terrify my family?"

"Well, I didn't mean to, see?" Spike said in a conciliatory tone. "I just wanted to see how you and the Slayer were doing... I certainly didn't expect you to have settled down... and have kids..." Spike smiled in a patently non-threatening manner. "Just thought I'd pay my regards. We separated on well-enough terms last time, right?"

"Right." Buffy didn't sound convinced, but she didn't sound hostile, either. Angel let his face relax into it's usual features.

"There, there, that's right... we'll all calm down," Spike said, "and I've brought something, too." He opened the bag at his side and pulled out an aluminum tin. "Pumpkin pie. I know the Slayer likes it."

"Pumpkin pie!" Little voices took up the cry from just inside the door, and Angel realized with a sigh that his sons had inherited their love of the gourd from their mother. Buffy was looking at him hopefully, and he decided on a truce.

"Fine. But I'm not happy about this. You make one false move and the neighborhood cats will be utilizing you as a rest stop."

Spike grimaced. "Now THAT'S an unappealing thought. Who wants pie?"

.

And so they ate pie with their mortal enemy. Buffy and Angel sat outside on the front porch with Spike, while Michael and Gabe sat just inside the threshold of the door, and Sera slumbered in her cradle in the living room. To Spike's joking "You'd think the two of you don't trust me, or something," he'd received only level stares from the Slayer and his sire.

When they'd finished the treat, Buffy and Angel sent their sons upstairs to get cleaned up for bed, with a stern warning not to eat any candy before tomorrow. Then they chatted for awhile with Spike. He seemed to genuinely enjoy their company, and regaled them with stories of what he'd been up to the past ten years or so. When Sera started crying at about midnight, Buffy excused herself to go in and tend to her. "Good-bye, Slayer," Spike said as she went inside. "You have beautiful children."

"Thanks, Spike. It's been... nice," she finished doubtfully, then disappeared. Sera's cries soon quieted, and Angel could hear Buffy singing to their daughter as she carried her upstairs to be changed and put to bed.

Angel stood up, watching Spike scramble to his feet as well. "So."

"So."

The two vampires stood outside Angel's house in the darkness, eyeing each other. "So what happens now?" Angel finally asked.

"I guess I'll be going," Spike replied. "Have to get moving, you know. I didn't intend to stay here long... just stopped on my way through."

"Good."

"Yeah... well... take care of yourself, Angel," Spike said, surprising his sire, before leaping off the porch into the darkness.

Angel turned off the porch light and stepped thoughtfully back inside the house, locking the front door. He collected the plates and the pie tin, and rinsed them all before putting them into the dishwasher and starting it. On his way back upstairs, he happened to catch sight of the bowl of leftover candy Buffy had been handing out to trick-or-treaters.

.

"Uhhh... I think I'm gonna be sick."

"I told you not to eat it all tonight, Angel," Buffy admonished, propping herself up on one forearm as they lay in bed later that night.

"It seemed like a good idea at the time," he moaned, clutching his stomach. "You know I love the peanut butter cup things..."

She grinned at his discomfort. "I know. I just thought you might exercise some self-control."

Angel groaned in misery.

After a while, Buffy started rubbing his stomach gently. He quieted almost instantly, letting her soothe him. "That was funny earlier... with Spike?" she finally said.

"Yeah. I wonder what he was up to?"

"I don't know... maybe he was just lonely. You are his sire."

Angel rolled to his side. "I know. He just makes me uneasy."

"Same here. Well, I guess we'll never know."

"I guess not."

They were quiet for a few minutes.

"So... are you feeling better?" Buffy asked in a hushed, inviting voice.

Angel grinned at her in the darkness, then kissed her suddenly, his mouth devouring hers. Pulling away, he nibbled his way down her throat, delighting in her sighs. "You have no idea."

The End

Happy Halloween!

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