Imtheluckyone

I'm the Lucky One

by LJSAngel

DISCLAIMER: Not -yawn- mine. Now or ever. Plus I wouldn't claim to that Darla slut or Riley the Man Bitch
TIMELINE: AtS Season Two. BtVS Season Five. Forget Darla and Angel's gang splitting. It's of the non-important. But no "The Body" or "I Was Made..." Dawn is here though.
SPOILERS: IWRY, Shanshu, Basic ANGEL season two stuff. Into The Woods hence the RF is absent.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: I've been told this needs a tissue warning. So there ya go. I'm warning you to look out for killer tissues.
FEEDBACK: You're kidding right? Of bloody course I want feedback!!
RATING: PG-13
RELATIONSHIP : Buffy and Angel; also Cordelia and Gunn attraction.


Angel sat in Caritas, the karoke bar waiting for a chance to sing. Lately he'd been driven wayward from his destiny and he needed to know where he stood with the Powers.

Then he seen her.

About 20, brown hair tinged with copper high lights, piercing green eyes and about 5ft 7. She looked around the bar, scouring it for something or someone. Angel caught her eye and she held his gaze. He stood up and walked over to her, feeling nervous.

"A-are you looking? For someone?" Angel asked her wringing his hands nervously.

"Yeah. The Host. Where is he?" She asked him not looking directly at him.

"In the corner with a Epah demon," Angel gestured. "Can I.. help you? Are you in some sort of trouble?"

"Nothing I can't handle," she sighed going over to the bar. "Doug, my usual please?"

"You're a regular here?" Angel asked leaning against the bar and sitting on a stool. "I've never seen you."

"I've never seen you either. What are you a new bouncer or something?" She said sipping her blue coloured drink. Angel couldn't smell any blood in it. And she herself smelled like a human.

"No. Just.. a regular."

"On all the nights I don't come here," she mused. "Unlucky."

"Nights would be right," Angel laughed. The Forgo demon was wailing out the first few bars of Bitter Sweet Symphony without tune but with plenty of gusto. "You... sing?"

"Yeah."

"What were you planning on singing tonight?"

"Never Ever by All Saints. You?"

"Wannabe by the Spice Girls," Angel joked.

"Good choice. Very.. peppy. What have you sang before?"

"Mandy."

"Mandy? So.. were you any good?"

"Define good."

"Hitting the notes, holding a tune, not missing any words."

"Then I failed all those categories," he chuckled softly. "What about you? Are you any good?"

"Define great," she challenged laughing. She extended her hand to him. "I'm Kathryn." He shook it and smiled at her comfortably.

"Hi. I'm Angel. I have a um, agency. Angel investigations.. so if you need any help.."

Kathryn jumped and her blue drink spilled all over the counter. Her face drained of all colour and she fled from her seat like she'd been electrocuted. "A-Angel? The Vampire with a soul?" She said shakily backing away. "No.. no. Uhnt, uhnt. No."

"What is it?" Angel asked reaching to touch her arm. She pulled it away quickly. "Sorry. I'm not going to hurt you. I don't do that anymore. What's wrong? I won't hurt you."

"No, you won't," she replied sadly tears flowing down her cheeks. "Please stay away from me. Please. You can't see me again. Keep away," she warned backing up before finally disappearing. Angel was left puzzled and after a seconds consideration, he shot up the stairs taking two at a time. He caught up with her running away in the alley.

He stood in front of her. "Wait. If something's happened.. I can help. I ca--"

"No you can't! you don't get it! You have to stay away from me!"

"Why? I won't do anything."

"No no. It's not you, it's me. For your own safety."

"Why, what's gonna happen Kathryn?"

"Don't look for me, don't try to find me. I'll try and get as far away as possible," she told him pushing past. Angel caught up with her again.

"Tell me."

She closed her eyes briefly and looked straight at him. "You're the Vampire with a soul. Angel, I heard you were called. I have a... destiny," she said nervously laughing. "Crappy one but destiny all the same. Wolfram and Hart are looking for me. I--" she said her voice cracking. "I'm supposed to destroy the only hope humanity has of surviving the coming war between Good and Evil. The souled vampire with wings."

"M-me?" Angel stuttered in disbelief.

"I'm supposed to kill you. I don't have any control. I'm sorry which is why you can't look for me or try to find me. Please don't let me do this. I couldn't-- Please. Help me on this. Stay away," she begged and went the opposite way leaving Angel alone in the alley.


A week later

Cordelia pushed her palms on the concrete and forced herself to sit up. She looked at the flaming building and felt her eyes welling up. She wiped them with the back of her bloody hand. Wesley came behind her and tap her shoulder. Cordelia turned around and cried into his torn shirt.

The war between Good and Evil was over. And their champion, Angel, was no where to be seen. He went in, bloodied and beat up, after a girl. He knew Wolfram and Hart would explode and so did she, but he had to save her. he had to try.

Neither came out. Gunn pulled the shard of glass out from his shoulder and pressed his hand against it. He stared at Wolfram and Hart in all it's post apocalyptic splendour. It was over. Had they won? They fought, he knew that. They fought with everything they had. But had they won? Or had they lost Angel?

Gunn crawled over to Cordelia and Wesley and pulled both of them closer to him. Cordelia enveloped him by putting an arm around his waist and pulling herself closer. She needed to be close to her family. But one was missing.

Angel.

"He'll be in there. Lying about somewhere on his immortal ass, letting us worry," Cordelia swallowed letting more tears break through her lashes. "He's still here."

Gunn looked down at Cordelia. His brave Cordelia and kissed her head caringly. Cordelia looked at his tear stained face thankfully.

"We'll just stay here a little longer," Wesley said, one eye closed and swollen. "He'll come out."


And they waited. Six hours until sunrise. The paramedics - those that were left from the Rising, came and tended to their wounds on site because of their refusal to move to hospital. Finally Wesley suggested Angel could have got away before sunrise and to the hotel. Weary and aching, they all went to the hotel. They didn't get much further than searching for Angel in his room and the reception before they had to realize the worst.

Angel wasn't here. He never made it. Angel was dead.

"Well sure he's dead," Cordelia protested. "Undead. He's got super strength. He could have survived the explosion. He could have. I know Angel. He's a survivor. He wouldn't leave us--" She said verging on collapse. Gunn stepped in front of her providing support. She started to cry again, like she wouldn't ever stop. Like it would never end.

Gunn burst out too, choking on his sobs. Wesley joined in, finding it hard to stay stable. They all slinked to the ground, hugging each other, finding comfort in each other.


Four days later.

"Maybe we should go to Caritas. The Host would help," Cordelia suggested as they all stayed in pretty much the same place for the past few days.

"Maybe. If Caritas wasn't destroyed in the Rising," Wesley told her.

"Right. What about the Host? Is he still kicking around?"

"I don't know. He might have been in contact."

Gunn walked in and Cordelia rushed round the front of the desk.

"Anything? Any word on the streets?"

Gunn looked at her and shook his head.

"There has to be!" Cordelia yelled losing control. "He doesn't just disappear! He was.. *is* someone! People -demons- in LA should know! Poof he's gone. It's doesn't work that way. He doesn't disappear he... "

"Turns to dust," Wesley signed.

"NO! No," she enforced. "He has to be out there. In a sewer. Recuperating."

"The sewers caved in Cordelia."

"Fine! Some pit somewhere!"

"Cordelia," Wesley said touching her arm. "You're in denial."

"Hope. That's not denial it's.." Cordelia said furiously looking at her Wesley and Gunn. "He can't be."

"Cordy," Gunn said softly wrapping his arms around her.

"I can't cry. Not again," Cordelia said defiantly. "I can't--" She said before she broke off in sobs. "He's still out th--"

Her head jerked back and her temples hammered like they were combusting. The images flooded her head.

Angel.

Arguing with a girl. Her pushing him away.

The explosion. The fireball coming towards him, unstoppable.

And then nothing where he stood.

Dust and ashes. And nothing.

"Cordelia.. Cordelia what did you see?" Wesley asked her.

"Am I dreaming?" She asked letting more tears loose.


They all sat and looked at each other, not holding gaze for at longer than a few seconds.

"I suppose we better tell.. people," Cordelia said finally. "Buffy, Willow.."

"Yes, I suppose we better," Wesley sighed. "Excuse me. I have to get something," he said going up the stairs to Angels room.

"No time like the present," Gunn said standing up. He held out his hand to Cordelia and pulled her up.

"I don't think I can," Cordelia said hoarsely.

"I couldn't have got through the Rising, the week, especially the past few days without you. You gave me strength Cordy. You are so incredibly courageous. And I learned something about you and from you like I never have before. So we can tell people together. All three.. And we'll learn from each others strength," he offered. Cordelia nodded and Wesley came sombrely down the stairs.

"What's that?" Cordelia asked of the box he was holding.

"In case anything ever happened to him, Angel told me to take out this box." Wesley opened it and looked at the items inside. There were four envelopes.

Cordelia, Wesley, Gunn and Buffy.

"Oh," Gunn said slowly. Wesley handed Cordelia hers, Gunn his own and took his and Buffy's out.

They all stood looking at the envelopes. "I'm not opening mine just now," Cordelia said running her finger and thumb across the top. "After we take Buffy hers."

"Agreed," Gunn said putting it inside his jacket. Wesley nodded and put his away.

"So off to Sunnydale then."


Wesley, Gunn and Cordelia took breath and stared at the door of the Magic Box. Cordelia grasped each of their hands and smiled sadly. Gunn kissed Cordelia's hand in his and Wesley smiled. They let go and Wesley opened the door. It hit against the door chime with an un nerving tinkling. Cordelia felt her stomach pounding and her breath growing short and shallow. Gunn put a protective arm around her waist.

They walked past the usual magic merchandise and to the top of the stairs overlooking the Scooby Gang in the middle of a meeting. Giles stopped talking when he noticed the stares behind him and turned round.

"Hello," he said nodding, confused. Cordelia tried to smile but miserably failed. "Visiting. Please do sit," Giles said offering Cordelia his chair. Cordelia gratefully sat down, feeling her legs becoming increasingly weak and unstable. Buffy slowly rose out of her chair for Wesley but he shook a hand in refusal as did Gunn. They both stood protectively behind Cordelia.

"Hi," Wesley said breaking the knife edge silence. "This is Gunn. Our associate. Also, we have some news."

The look of terror crossed Buffy's face and affixed itself there.

"I don't know if you know about the Rising.." Gunn started. "There was this thing. A war. With Wolfram and Hart. There was an explosion and--"

"Angel never made it," Cordelia said her throat closing off making her voice sound strangled.

"What?" Buffy said feeling everything in her slow to a halt and scream inside. "What?" She repeated gasping for breath.

"Angel.. never came back. Four days and.. There was a girl prophesied to kill him. He disappeared into the building with her not long before the explosion," Wesley said trying to offer some kind of an explanation. "Cordelia got the vision. Of how he died."

"What?" Buffy screamed. A heart choking, blood curdling scream. A scream that made Willow hold onto Tara and Xander shift back in his seat. One that made Giles's heart break for his Slayer. She stood up, frozen and rigid. The only sound now was off her heart beating furiously as a cold sweat took hold of her and her seat tipping over. "No," she said forcefully but quietly forcing the tears back. She stormed angrily past Cordelia and went straight into the back room. Everyone looked at everyone else and Willow let the tears for Angel come. Silence.

Then Buffy screamed a painful long cry of agony. Giles and everyone ran through to the back to find the Slayer flat out on her back on the floor crying inconsolably and writhing in pain for her love. She let the tears mar her face as she squeezed her eyes shut. She gripped the passing in the floor for training and her fingernails tore through the heavy duty material as she bewailed her beloved achingly. She gripped her head in pain and howled hard, letting it rip through her vocal chords. Her sobs and wails interrupted by no one. She rolled over and cried into the padding. She pushed herself up and hit the nearest thing to her. Luckily, the padded training punch bag. She hit it so fast and furiously, it tore through and broke the chain holding it up. When she was done with that, she fell through and found the brick wall. She punched it, letting her fist go though the concrete.

"Buffy!" Giles yelled running across the room to her. Buffy drew her bloody fist out and gazed at it. She hit the wall over and over and over again, the dust and cement flying everywhere. Then her fist pounded and she cried out again frustrated. She slid down the wall screaming, 'no', repeatedly eventually reducing it to a word said barely above whisper. Giles held Buffy's arms lightly and turned her round to face him.

"Giles," she whimpered and threw her arms around her Watcher. Giles returned the gesture and held her to him tightly. Giles lifted her up, her arms still around his neck and brought her away from the debris of the broken wall and punch bag. He brought her to the centre of the room where she had previously been and held her as she cried out more sore, hurt filled wails and then to her lower sobs.

Xander came rushing through with a blanket for the shivering Buffy. Giles took it and wrapped it round her and held to him. "Buffy, you're so cold," he said worriedly. "Some tea? Xander."

Xander nodded and hands shaking, he went to the teapot. He tried to pick it up to fill it but it dropped on the floor, the sharp sound echoing through the shop. Anya came and bent down with him to pick it up. She reached for Xander shaking hand and he looked at her. She kissed his forehead and picked up the pot and took it to the tap. Xander sat down on the floor, reeling from the news. He felt dizzy and closed his eyes. He dug the palms of his hands into his eyes trying to stop him crying. Anya put the pot on the heat and bent down to him. Xander reached out and brought her to him and she wrapped her arms around his neck trying to calm him.

Willow, decimated by Buffy's heartbreaking pain and her own feeling of loss for Angel, turned to Tara who wordlessly enveloped her, whispering soothing words in her ear.

Overwhelmed, Cordelia stood up and started crying again, with Gunn as her support.

"What the bleeding Hell happened here then?" Spike asked looking at the crying mass of people. A broken and shiverelled looking Slayer wrapped in a blanket rocking against Giles on the floor, Tara and Willow clinging onto each other for strength, Cordelia back with the old watcher and a new guy all crying as well and surprisingly, Xander holding Anya on the floor through the front.

Buffy's head shot up and looked at Spike.

"What's wrong Buff? Lose the family pet?" Spike asked leaning against the door frame. Buffy threw off the blanket and tried to stand up, her legs wavering and unsure under her own weight. Stepping one step at a time, Buffy reached Spike and stared at him. "What? Did I miss something then?"

Willow turned to the bleached vampire and wiped her eyes. "A-a-angel.. was killed."

"Oh. Pity," Spike said void of empathy. "Thought something important had happened but it's just the passing on of the old poof."

Buffy looked as if she had just been struck down hard and blinked twice. Xander leaned on the table and sat down on one of the chairs.

"It.. it is important," was all her tiny voice could manage.

"Really. Hadn't noticed," Spike said. As soon as the words left his mouth, Buffy punched his jaw and roundhouse kicked his stomach to send him flying back to the door. Everyone gazed in shock at the distance. Spike sat up.

"Bloody Hell Slayer!" He growled.

"Never come near me again," she warned. "Next time you do, I'll stake you."

Spike stared at her. "Buffy-- What did I do? It was only Angel."

Infuriated, Cordelia brought out a stake from her jacket and strode up to Spike pressing it against his black shirt.

"Stake him Cordelia," Xander backed up. "Get dust out of the bastard finally."

Cordelia paused and Spike hit the stake out her hand and fled out the door. Numb, Cordelia sat down on the steps burying her head in her hands. "What the Hell am i doing here?"

"Cordelia.." Buffy trailed off.

Cordelia leapt up. "Don't you start with me! You didn't have to see how he died! I did. And don't start with your crappy I will always love him rift because I'm goddamn sick of it!! He did everything for you - GAVE everything for you and you couldn't tear yourself away from your wholesome boyfriend for TWO seconds to see what HE was going through!! You made his life HELL! LITERALLY!" She screamed, shocking the Slayer.

"Cordelia," Buffy said, letting her brain process Cordelia was feeling something similar to what she was feeling at the moment. She wanted to hit out at someone and Buffy seemed as great a target she could find. Buffy pulled Cordelia to her and the two cried together, clinging. Cordelia let go and nodded gratefully after a while.

"S-sorry," she said hoarsely. Buffy closed her eyes letting her numbness phase finish and the fifth phase of agonizing pain start. Phase one - denial. Phase two - crying. Phase three- anger then more crying. Phase Four - numbness. And now more crying and pain.

"We have something," Wesley said pulling out a cream coloured envelope and presenting it to Buffy. "From Angel. If anything ever happened he.. This is yours."

Buffy hesitantly took the envelope and stared at his beautiful hand writing. She stood up. "Privacy. I need to read this," she said stringing the words hap-harzardledy together. She walked through the back and shut the door. She slid onto Giles chair in her training room and stared at the envelope some more. She opened it with great effort and care not to damage it. She slid out the letter and a silver claddagh ring fell out onto the table. She picked it up and inspected it. Without any consideration, she slipped it on her left hands ring finger with the heart pointing towards her.

Then she opened up the letter and began to read.

Buffy, my darling Buffy

If you're reading this, it means I am the lucky one. If you're reading this it means I walk this earth no longer. I want you to know my last thought was, as it inevitably will be, of you. Enclosed is our ring. Since I am no more than dust, it's impossible for me to have a resting place really, so I would ask of you to wear it for both of us, as my dying wish. Please wear it the way I always did; with the heart pointing inwards.


Buffy looked at the ring, already in place without having read his wish and kissed it.

And there's something I need you to know. Something I carried with me I feel you have to know in my absence so the memory can be carried on. I was human. Flesh and blood mortal for a whole day in November 1999, when you came to LA. The Mohra demon's blood mixed with my own and I was regenerated. We were *together* for the whole night in that sense. It was sweet, beautiful and perfect.

Food. We ate in bed. Chocolate peanut butter which I can still taste mixed with Cookie Dough Fudge Mint Chip ice cream.

The demon said that the end of days was coming and the Oracles told of your death when this happened. I sacrificed my mortality and our happiness for your life. Sometimes I regret this, but I comfort myself with the fact you will live longer, have beautiful children and be happy.

I erased the day from everyone's memory but mine. Both a blessing and a curse.


"What?"

I knew you would outlast me Buffy. If you didn't, it wouldn't be for long because my ashes would rest at your head stone.

Together we are powerful, alone we are dead. I truly understand now. We were supposed to fight together, as Slayer and vampire. I was too much of a coward to go back to you and still am. And you have the life that I wanted you to have. I just can't see you live it. In more ways than one.

Remember me Buffy Anne Summers. Please don't remember the bad times that I hurt you. Please God don't. Please remember the times I held your hand, brushed your hair back from your face, protected you (not that you needed it) and the first time (and only in your mind) we made love. Remember how beautiful you were and definitely still are.

Please, still keep a part of your heart for me and if you love me in death a fraction of what I loved you in life, I will be truly blessed.


"Oh you have my whole heart Angel," Buffy murmured softly.

I wish I could have one more kiss. But I can't.

We'll always have our dreams. Where I am human, we are normal and everything is beautiful and perfect.

Don't let me hold you back from the life you want and the life I thought I wanted you to have. The only place I ever wanted you to be is in my arms. Please know that I never wanted to walk away. It killed me to refuse you but I thought it was for the best.

I write this hoping to comfort you some after I have gone and to say our final goodbyes.

Or so I thought. We'll never say goodbye Buffy. Not you and I. We can't.

Just a look in the distance and walking away. But we'll never say goodbye. Because i'll always be there. Watching and protecting you silently like I used to do.

My love forever,

Angel


Buffy neatly folded the letter up and slid it in the envelope. She kissed it softly and let a tear fall onto the desk. She stood up and emerged back into the shop where everyone was waiting.


Cordelia yawned and settled into Buffy's couch and the sheets Joyce gave her after escorting her own daughter to bed. Cordelia could have gone home except she didn't want to see her parents. or her house. Or her total lack of a bedroom. But Buffy had offered.

She'd been listening to Buffy break down in tears and Joyce rush into comfort her again. Dawn trudged downstairs and opened the fridge, taking our orange juice.

"Hey Cordy," Dawn said leaning on the armchair.

"Hi Dawny. What's going?"

"Buffy's crying again," Dawn said sadly slipping onto the chair. "But no one will tell me what it's about. I can't ask her. You should have seen the look on her face. Sort of hollow."

Hollow.

"Dawny," Cordelia said pushing herself up on the Summers couch. "Angel was killed."

"Angel? Killed?" Dawn said in a low volume, high pitch. "Oh my God... Are.. are you.. doing OK?"

"Not the word I'll use," Cordelia said rubbing her eyes. "But I'm getting there."

"Oh Angel," Dawn said a lump rising slouching in the chair. "You know I never really met him."

"Sure you did Dawn. He was always here and--"

"I wasn't though," Dawn said staring at her feet. "I'm not real. But I'm alive."

"What do you mean?" Cordelia asked.

"I'm the Key. These monks created my memories and yours and Buffys-everyone's. I'm about 6,7 months old."

"Oh."

"Yeah. And I never got to know him. But what I do remember is that he smelled good. And looked good. He wore really great clothes."

"Accurate memory making," Cordelia sighed thinking of him. Dawn and Cordelia could here another loud sob breaking out in the bedroom above them.

"And he was completely in love with Buffy," Dawn nodded. "More than anyone. Ever."

"He was."

"Way more than Riley," Dawn nodded. "Buffy knew it too."

"We all did," Cordelia replied.

"Yeah. He brooded more. He was really great at brooding."

Cordelia laughed heartily for the first time in ages. "Yeah. Worlds Number One."

"Undefeated," Dawn said getting up. "I um, have to go to bed just now."

"Sure. Thanks."

"What for?"

"For helping me laugh for the first time in weeks."

"No problem. What are Key sisters for?"

Cordelia smiled at Dawn, her head spinning.


Dawn crept up the stairs and slowly opened her sister's door. Buffy was sitting on her bed, clutching her silver cross and wrapped in his leather jacket with her head in her hands. Buffy looked up and saw Dawn watching her. Cautiously Dawn walked over to her sisters bed and put her hand over Buffy's. Buffy looked at it and hugged Dawn. Dawn stroked her hair.

"Let it out Buffy," she nearly begged her.


Cordelia reached over to her jacket and pulled out her own letter. She opened it carefully and took the letter out. She sat the envelope on top of her legs and the sheets. Cordelia unfolded and a gold chain fell out and shimmered. She picked it up and looked at the little symbol on it.

An angel.

Exactly the same as the angel that Cordelia chose for the Angel Investigations cards. The same angel that had been mistaken for a lobster and a butterfly among other things. Cordelia smiled and started to read the letter.

My dear Cordelia

If you get this letter it means you've found it while looking for some money I stashed around the place to tease you or I'm not alive.

I know this letter won't be able to help you in any way but I just needed to tell you a few things. Firstly, you're probably the best friend I've ever had. You've been there since day two of Angel Investigations and always there for me. You are a good person with a good heart and you will become everything you want to be.

If you want, you Gunn and Wesley can keep Angel Investigations open using the money I sent up in a fund for you three. Remember you said I never had an investment portfolio? Wrong. I tried to keep the money for if I shanshu or if we really needed it. But now it's to be shared between Sunnydale and Angel Investigations to continue the good fight.


And Gunn. I hope you noticed it too. The way he looks at you. The way he argues with you. You know the way I'm talking about.

You noticed I put I put in something for you. It's not a butterfly. It's an angel. The one you made. When I left Sunnydale, I was slowly decimating myself. But you and Doyle changed that. You told me to get off my "immortal ass" and fight evil. You were always there. You saved me. You made me.

Now you have to take care of the guys, Wesley and Gunn. Make them strong like you made me.

So whenever you look at this necklace, I want you to be reminded of how you helped me and your lowly beginnings at Angel Investigations once you're a big star.

I'll look over your shoulder as your guardian angel every once and a while

I love you Cordelia,

Angel


Cordelia was in floods of tears. She put down the letter and fixed the necklace round her neck. She got up to see if she could find a mirror.

"God I look hideous," she moaned peering into the tv, wiping her eyes. She look at the necklace in the reflection and smiled. She would always have a part of Angel.


Gunn lay back in the motel and stared at the peeling paint on the ceiling. Giles and the others had each offered him a room but he wouldn't feel right imposing. So he opted for the lovely Sunnydale Motel.

He reached over to the bedside table and lifted the letter Angel had written him. He quickly opened it and took out the letter.

Dear Gunn

This is never easy to write or easy to imagine where we will all be when I pass on. But I know you'll still be around.

I hope you'll keep Angel Investigations open, call it Gunn Investigations or something but I'm sure Cordy will have some say over the future of Chase Investigations.

I've seen the way you watch her, look at her. Like I used to look at Buffy. Like there's no one else on this earth that could walk and talk as gracefully and beautifully. I know you love her. Whether you know it is another question. But life is short.

Coming from the guy that lasted 240 plus, it maybe a little satirical but it's true. You need to take opportunity Gunn. Tell her how you feel and if she feels the same, never let her go. Believe me, I know. The pain and the anguish Buffy and i have went through because of love but it really is worth it.

You're the heart Gunn. The heart of Angel Investigations. The driving force, the essence. Don't blame yourself anymore over Alana. Look forward but remember her smiling, not as a demon and you can live your life in peace.

Let Cordelia see that beating heart of yours and she'll know how she feels. (I don't mean the heart analogy in a gross, vampire way.) And if you hurt her you know I'll come back and find you boy.


Peace is all I've ever tried to find and maybe now i have. I can only hope.

You're a good man Gunn. You can become someone. You can take my place.

Take care of Cordy and Wesley (he's a bit fragile) and I'll look over you sometimes as well.

Forever,

Angel


Gunn put the letter done and wiped his silent tears. He glanced at the phone wondering whether to call Cordelia or not. It was a thing that had to be done in person. He knew his feelings for Ms Chase were more than platonic but he realized how much he felt and how deeply he had felt it. Angel had shown him the way.

He picked up the letter and read a part again.

You're a good man Gunn. You can become someone. You can take my place.

"Bru. I ain't never taking your place Angel," he said to the ceiling above him.


Wesley slept at Willow's house in the guest room. About two a.m. he woke up, haunted in his dreams by Angel. If only he had stopped Angel from going in. If only he had talked to him before hand. if things were different.

It was time. He went over to his jacket hanging on the back of the door and took the envelope out of his inside pocket. Staring at it, he went back to bed. Careful not to tear it, he eased it open. He slowly took the letter out and unfolded it religiously.

He took a breath and began to read.

Dear Wesley

I told you where to find these if anything ever happened to me and I knew you wouldn't let me down. Along with this, you'll see letter for Cordelia, Gunn and my darling Buffy. I would appreciate you hand delivering it because I think getting a letter through the mailbox from beyond the grave would be a bit much.

You're probably sitting there Wes thinking you could have stopped me. Did things differently. You blame yourself. Please don't. You couldn't have changed my mind. I had a lot to live for so I wasn't going on a kamikaze mission. I probably truly believed I had to do what I had to do.

So you couldn't have talked me round or got me in a different place. It's fate and destiny.

I guess if I died a vampire I never got my destiny, my reward. To Shanshu.'

But you know what I realized? I'm not doing this for the toy surprise at the end. I'm not doing it for me so I can feel better about what I did back in my heyday. I'm doing it because it means something to someone, somewhere. That's my destiny.

And you have a destiny too Wesley. Everything you do matters. To Cordelia and Gunn, but also to the One. The reason you were put here. Buffy was the reason I was put here. You'll find her. And you'll be happy.

You brought me through the times I never thought I could make it through. My right hand man. Everyone never got to see the true hero; you.

Take care of Cordelia and Gunn. All three of you take care of each other. Keep fighting the Good Fight in whatever way you can. Follow your heart and you'll end up where you're supposed to be.

I didn't. I used my head and went against my heart and left Sunnydale. But you'll know what to do. You are always the best when it comes to head stuff.

And if you need me, I'll be around.

Forever

Angel


Wesley put down the letter and removed a tissue from his sleeve and tried to dry his eyes only for them to wet again.

He heard a creaking sound and looked up. Willow standing there in her tartan pyjamas. She sadly smiled and went to the bed to hug him, which Wesley was grateful for and held onto her tightly.


A Few Days Later

Buffy sat at the table in the Magic Box uncomfortably in the first Slayerette meeting since the news of Angel. She avoided eye contact and mumbled 'hi'. Cordelia, Gunn and Wesley were still around to see if they could help any. Cordelia was clutching the pendant on her gold chain and Gunn had a hand on her shoulder.

There was silence and there was no need to call the meeting to order. All eyes were averted away from everyone else's.

"He needs a resting place," Buffy said finally. "We d-don't have a body, but we need a resting place."

"Like a headstone?" Xander asked.

"Yeah.."

"He deserves one," Xander swallowed.

Buffy nodded.


Gunn lay back on his bed. Buffy had announced she was going to arrange to put up a weeping Cherub with outstretched arms in this place Angel loved. Nothing else at the meeting had happened so he was on free time. It wasn't dark so there was no monster fighting fun to be had.

So he lay. Staring at the ceiling and thinking of Angel. Thinking of his words.

Like there's no one else on this earth that could walk and talk as gracefully and beautifully. I know you love her. Whether you know it is another question.

Oh he knew. He knew. And he didn't know how or when or what to tell her.

Then someone knocked at his door. Probably the owner looking for rent. Gunn searched for a twenty dollar bill in his jeans and found one. He went to the door and opened it.

"Cordelia," he greeted. "Come in."

"Thanks," Cordelia said walking past him and looking around. "You should have let Giles put you up. Or Xander. Xander's is better than this place."

"I wouldn't feel right. I hardly know them Cordy."

"You know that doesn't matter. You wanted to be alone," Cordelia said in a low voice. She knew him too well. She sat on his bed and looked up at him. "How are you going?"

"Fine, fine," he said swallowing, "fine."

"Are you?"

He caught sight of the glistening gold chain around her neck. He reached forward and touched it gently.

"An angel," he remarked. Cordelia nodded.

"Angel told me some stuff in his letter. I needed to tell someone about but wasn't ready."

"We've all been too apart the past few days. Angel told us to stay together," Gunn said putting his hand over hers.

"To help each other be strong," Cordelia said squeezing his hand. Gunn nodded and kneeled down to her eye level.

"Cordy... This is probably all wrong timing. And all wrong scenery. But i need to tell you.. That.." He stammered. Her eyes smiled at him and she held both his hands.

"I love you," she said.

"Damn girl, you beat me to it," Gunn laughed nervously.

"I was always faster than you," she laughed with him. "You don't do this often."

"No. Not really."

"So you're supposed to kiss me now," she reminded him tracing circles on his shoulder.

"Thanks for that. You be my 10 steps guy," he smiled. He leaned forward and pushed her hair back with his hand. Then he lightly touched his lips with hers. He drew back. "Was that.."

"Perfect.." Cordelia grinned. "Though you could kiss me again."

"OK," he agreed and deeply kissed her again as she wrapped her arms around his neck.


Two Days later

Buffy stood on top of the hill in the park and watched them put up the stone Cherub statuesque headstone at the under the shade of the tree. She shaded her eyes with her hand as she watched Giles thank the men and look at the headstone. Buffy walked down and stood beside him.

Giles smiled comfortingly and nodded. He kissed the top of her head and left her alone.

Buffy bent down, smelling the rose she had brought to place on the grave. She read the inscription on the shiny black plaque that was at the Cherubs feet.

Angel

Beloved Soulmate
Precious Friend
Protector of the Innocent
Champion, Even In Death

Taken Cruelly Away from Us
May You Find Peace And Still Have Time To Look Over Us From Heaven


Buffy brushed her tears away. She chuckled at the last part of the last line which was Cordelia's idea. She placed a soft and delicate kiss on the red rose and lay it at the foot.

"I love you Angel," she said in a hushed voice for fear of breaking down. "I'll never say goodbye."

Buffy took in a breath standing upwards, drying her eyes.

Then she felt it.

The wind whipped across her face but she felt it. Inside. The feeling. The bubbly, completed, incredible, passionate, lust filled, loving, sacrificial, feeling that throws her.

The feeling.

Buffy spun round and searched the lush green grass desperately. She held her head in her hands when she realized how stupid she was.

She cast an eye up again and saw.

He walked over the hill, standing at the top, looking at her. Then he continued to walk over. His blue shirt blown against him in the wind. His deep brown eyes sparkling, smiling uncontrollably. He reached Buffy and slid an arm around her waist and one touching her face. He bent down and kissed her tenderly, then more passionately, as he held buffy up to him, keeping her close. Then finally, the lovers broke.

"Angel," Buffy gasped touching his lips. "Am I dreaming? Y-you're dead," she said softly.

He shook his head and laughed softly. "I have never been more alive." He took Buffy's petite hand in his and slide it over his heart. A smile spread over her face and she lost breath, excited.

"Angel! Your heart! It's beating! And you're warm! How? Why? How?" She nearly shrieked.

Angel laughed. "The Powers. To Shanshu, the prophecy, I had to die. To completely give myself to the Good Fight and it was after the Rising so.."

"Human! Forever?" Buffy asked.

"Forever. With you," Angel told her leaning their heads together. Buffy reached up and kissed him with such fever and need again.

"I thought I lost you," Buffy cried clinging onto his shoulder. Angel stroked her hair.

"You don't get rid of me that easy, Buffy," Angel laughed pulling her as close to his warm body as possible.

"I'm serious!" Buffy said pulling back and hitting his arm. "I was falling. Apart. Down. Into nothing. You name the kind of falling, I was there."

"What if I promise never to do it again and spend my life at your disposal?" Angel offered.

"Sounds intriguing Mr No Curse," she grinned. "But Cordelia. And Wesley and Gunn. They're over at the car. They were giving me five minutes before they appeared."

"Cordelia, Wesley, Gunn. Are they OK?"

Buffy shook her head. "No one is Angel. Everyone.. If you had been there when everyone was told," Buffy swallowed thinking back. Angel took her knuckles that she drove through the wall.

"I seen. The Powers let me see," he said kissing them. "I wish you hadn't of done that."

"I was gone Angel, I couldn't control me," she said tears flowing unchecked.

"But you won't do that anymore?"

"I will if you don't let me have the tv remote," she said with a wicked grin.

"Deal." He put an arm around Buffy and they walked over the hill to see everyone else.

This was the first day of the rest of their lives.


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