When in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,
Desiring this man’s art, and that man’s scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, - and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven’s gate;
For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

William Shakespeare
Sonnet 29


Angel sat by the hospital bed, his hand over hers. Buffy lay still and silent, her breathing shallow, but her face at peace. He wondered whether she would wake up again, so that he could say goodbye. So that he could look into her eyes one last time.

They’d never kept in touch after the Los Angeles years. She’d said it would be too painful, and he had agreed. She had gone away, and got on with her life, and he had kept to the shadows whenever he’d weakened and gone to see her, but not be seen. Sometimes she’d looked round, as though she knew he was there, but not often.

She’d married, but that hadn’t lasted long. She’d married again, and that had lasted even less time. Being the Slayer had told on her, as it always had, and there had been times when he’d made the kill for her, if he could do it without being discovered. In the later decades, as she aged, he’d made most of the kills.

Being a friend of the Slayer had told even more. The others were all dead and gone now, long gone in some cases, and there had never been another Scooby gang.

She’d never seemed good at making casual friends either, in her later years, and now she lay here alone and unmourned, except by him.

Perhaps the attachment she had had for him had weakened over time and distance and deeds, but nothing changed for him. He wondered whether the Powers That Be, in their infinite malice, had deliberately planted a hook in him, a hook that was baited by her, and that would never release him until he died. Or perhaps until she died, but he’d long given up any expectation of such unsought mercy.

Whatever the cause, somehow, he’d known that she was near death, and so he had come. So far, she’d given no sign of knowing that he was there.

Elizabeth – that was what the nurses called her – Elizabeth had had a sudden stroke. A very severe one. Her medical records stipulated that she shouldn’t be revived if there were no prospect of a normal life, and for a woman over seventy, this stroke could not be overcome. Palliative care only, then. She would live or die on her own.

He stroked the paper-thin skin. Now her hand was cool against his, the chill of age and approaching death, as his had once been cool against hers. That was something else that hadn’t changed.

There had never been a bolt from the blue, delivering humanity to him, no matter how much he had striven to atone. And he had never found a cure for the happiness clause. Never.

He’d looked hard enough, during his time at Wolfram and Hart. But there had been nothing. If there had been anything to find, he was certain it would be there, and he’d asked himself whether they might have hidden it from him. He’d thought not. If they’d had the answer to the happiness clause, they surely would have used it to bind him more closely to them. He might well have sold himself willingly into eternal perdition, for a lifetime with her.

He’d kept looking. He’d never stopped looking. No one knew how to remove it, how to bind his soul more firmly than it was, how to curse him with a different curse, even. In truth, no one had ever heard of a happiness clause, or knew how one might work, or had found where it lay in the spell. It appeared that the gypsy magic that had made his soul conditional was well and truly lost.

And yet, he’d never quite lost hope that what was lost might be recovered, or at least made anew.

Not until now, when the reason for it all lay dying under his hand.

Dawn was close. He’d been here since sunset. They’d allowed him to stay on, not actually expecting her to live through the night, and because there was no one else.

The room was only dimly lit, but it had large windows facing the rising sun. If he stayed, he would be ashes, and perhaps that would be the best thing. Once she was dead, a new Slayer would rise. He would be faced with the guilt of bringing his cursed help to the new girl, or the guilt of leaving her to face her demons alone. Perhaps he should just fade away, with the last of the old regime.

And then she opened her eyes.

Her hand curled under his, moving until she could return the clasp. Her other hand, her left hand, lay motionless. That was the side taken by the stroke, the side where her eyelid drooped, and her mouth curved downwards, out of her control.

He turned in his chair a little so that she could see full into his face, and he saw that her eyes, even damaged like this, were filled with love. She tried to smile at him, a pale, heartbreakingly damaged version of the smile he’d seen so often in her youth, but she was still beautiful to him.

“I never stopped loving you.”

It came out as a slur, her mouth reluctant to reveal what her heart wanted to say, but he caught the words. He bent over and kissed her on the cheek.

“I will always love you,” he whispered.

She squeezed his hand a little, too frail and weak to do more.

“Always knew you were there. In the dark. Every time. And now.”

He should have had faith.

“Never afraid of the dark, with you in it.”

He blinked back the tears, his throat too harsh to reply. The slur was worse now, her small store of strength utterly spent.

“We did the best we could… didn’t we? After the happiness clause…?”

She’d taken time over the words, trying to enunciate them clearly, so that he would understand. He understood, but he felt the weight of his guilt again. He should have done better. He should have done more. He should have… but should have, would have, none of it mattered now.

And so he nodded for her. “Yes. We did.”

She lay quiet again, as the sky lightened through the window, a dark purplish-grey now, not the deep star-spangled black of a few minutes ago.

“No… Dawn.”

“No. Dawn’s gone.”

Dawn had died, like all the others, her borrowed humanity not enough to tie her to this plane for long. It seemed that Buffy might have forgotten.

But she hadn’t. Her face twisted as she tried to say the words.

“Dawn. NO. Must live… for us.”

She’d known what he was thinking. And she hadn’t given up hope. If they couldn’t have one future, then she still hoped they might earn another. He swallowed back his own doubts and nodded.

She seemed to shrink, then, to fall in upon herself a little, and become even smaller, more birdlike. More deathlike. He couldn’t think of words to say, and so he just sat, smiling for her and holding her hand.

She tried to rally again, and she turned her head partway towards the paralysis. She was trying to say words, but he couldn’t make them out, and she couldn’t make them clearer. Reluctantly, he let go of her hand, and walked around the bed. A small cupboard stood against the wall, next to the bed, and he opened it. It contained only her purse.

She gave that fragile smile again, and so he picked it out, and came back to his seat.


He opened it, and saw the bunch of keys.

“Take… Giles’… stuff.”

He pocketed the keys and put the purse back in the cupboard. Then he came back to hold her hand.

“You’ve got Giles’ books and journals?”

Giles had died suddenly, soon after the Los Angeles debacle. A heart attack, that had been a shock to everyone.

“Xander brought them. Put them in loft. I… I never looked at them.”

It took a long time for her to get that out. He wasn’t surprised that she had never gone though Giles’ books and journals. The journals, at least, would have made painful reading.

“I’ll make sure they’re safe.”

Briefly, he considered burning them, but even as he thought it, he knew that he wouldn’t. Giles’ records of the Sunnydale years would be something with which he could excoriate his soul for centuries to come.

She smiled, then, as best she could, and her face was filled with love.

“No… brood. Live.”

He leaned over again, and kissed her on the mouth.

As he did so, her hand fell slack against his, and he felt her go. When he straightened up, she lay dead. She was peaceful, a small smile still on her lips as if she saw again the one place where she’d been perfectly happy.


He’d had to run from the car to her door beneath the inadequate shelter of a blanket. It had taken long minutes to find the right key for the right lock, and now his hands hurt almost as much as his heart. His hands would heal, but he wasn’t sure about the other.

He undressed and curled up in her bed, drinking in the last scent of her, and he let the tears come. They were the tears of decades, of centuries, if you counted his stint in hell, and they were as bitter and burning as the tears he’d shed in that dreadful place. Eventually, he fell into a troubled sleep, haunted by nightmares of the past. Nightmares of what he’d done to her as both of his selves. Visions of Jenny, of Giles, of the others. Of what life might have been like without the happiness clause. He was still crying when he woke up.

Dressed again, he found the entrance to the loft. These spaces are usually full of the detritus of life, of the things that are too old, too small, too fragile, too broken and yet too precious to throw away. Hers was almost empty. A pile of boxes, thick with dust and gritty specks of mortar, stood in the centre, where Xander had left them.


It would be light for a few hours yet, and so he made coffee, and settled down to read. Perhaps the pain of this would mask, just for these few hours, the pain of her loss. And yet, when he thought about her, he knew that, given a choice, he would never have chosen not to love her. He would even have accepted his status as a dead man, a vampire, because she had. It was the happiness clause, that piece of dark magic, that had stood between them for all these years. But yes, with that in place, perhaps they had done the best they could.

He started with Giles’ last journal, flicking through the pages until he found the last entry. It was close to the beginning of the book. This journal only contained two weeks of entries. The last one was about him.

I have what I have been looking for. The Elder Woman told me out of malice, when she found out that I had been Jenny’s lover, and that I had tried to kill Angelus after her death. Perhaps now I can use that malice for good. I know that Angel will not trust me after what I have done and said to him these past months, how I have said that we don’t trust him because he went over to the enemy, to Wolfram and Hart. How I refused to help him. I couldn’t. I needed to seem to be his enemy. It was the only way.

I’m afraid that, now, he won’t listen to me if I try to call him, or that those demons might overhear the phone call, and somehow change things. I have written to him, explaining everything. I shall post the letter tomorrow, and hope that he gets it. If I have no reply, I shall go myself. I feel too tired tonight to write more.

Tomorrow had never come, for Giles. He’d died in his sleep. Angel riffled though the pages. There was no letter. He wondered what had been so important. Perhaps it was in one of the other journals, because the other entries in this one were daily minutiae, of little importance.

Angel bent down to the box at his feet and lifted out another journal, and then another. There was no letter. And then, when he had emptied the box, he saw it, at the bottom, where Xander must have placed it.

It was a stiff grey envelope, simply addressed to ‘Angel’, with no direction, although there was space. Giles must have intended to write the address on before posting it, and Xander had intended that if Buffy ever went through the box, this would be the last thing to be found. He didn’t dare destroy it, but he must have known she wouldn’t look, and so he’d hidden it here, leaving it for Fate and for Buffy to determine whether it ever got sent. He wondered whether Xander knew what was in it, since it was sealed, but he was charitable enough to think that he hadn’t. He’d simply done his best to protect everyone from the vampire who’d brought them too much sadness and fear already.

Something more than coffee was needed. He found a bottle of brandy that Buffy had kept in the house, for medicinal purposes only, in all probability, and he poured himself a half tumbler of that. Then he sat down and opened the letter that had waited for fifty years.


I urge you to read this before you destroy it, and I suspect that destruction may be your first impulse. But don’t, for Buffy’s sake, if not for your own.

I want you to know that I regret how I have treated you. But you must understand that there was no other way. And I think that you will understand, by the end of this.

Buffy has never stopped loving you, that much is clear to me. And I cannot but accept that you have never stopped loving her. Perhaps you were meant to be together. I can’t say. Instead, you have been kept apart by a piece of gypsy spite, and it hasn’t been the spite that you believed it to be.

Your search for the answer to the happiness clause has not gone unremarked. I’ve heard talk of it myself. So have other people, who have taken delight in it. The Kalderash. I’ve heard talk of that, too. And so, I set out to see what I could learn.

I approached the Kalderash as Jenny’s lover. I wanted to be certain that you would never find a cure for the happiness clause, I told them. They said that you would not, but I couldn’t get anything more from them. I tried several times. I wanted to know what they had done, that they were so certain there was no undoing it. They wouldn’t tell me, because they didn’t trust me enough.

And then there was Dana. I sent a party of slayers to take her away from you to make it clear that I didn’t trust you. And then you asked for help for Fred. I assure you, I truly believe now as I believed then that there was no possible help for Fred. Had I believed otherwise, I should have found a way to try, or I should have thrown what I was doing to the winds. Instead, working on that belief, I refused you help. Word of that spread.

I wrote to the Kalderash again. And then I went to see them in their own country, and begged them to reassure me that you would never find a cure for the happiness clause, because if there were, then the vampire they hated above all might find it at Wolfram and Hart.

There was feasting and dancing that night. And there was a lot of drinking around campfires. That was when the Elder Woman told me what they had done.

You remember what Jenny told us? That her people sent her to watch you? They hadn’t followed you for a hundred years, though. As with your later search for a cure, word had got back to them that a vampire was in league with the Slayer. They learned that it was you, and they sent Jenny. Jenny reported back to Enyos, reported that you were in love, and that you were working for the good of all of us.

Have you never wondered why Enyos was in Sunnydale? It wasn’t because he lived there. It was because he came to see for himself. And he didn’t like what he saw.

Jenny never knew what he intended, I am sure of that. He told her that he served vengeance, not justice. I think that was true enough, and it may have been the only true thing that he told her.

Enyos watched you both. He saw both of you go into your apartment on that terrible night, and when he didn’t see either of you come out again, he decided to act.

The Kalderash have lost most of their magic, but not all. It is true that they have lost the ability to force souls back into unwilling vampires. Much easier, though, and still within their power, was to take back something that had once been given. To reverse what they had done.

That was what Enyos did. As you made love to Buffy, he gathered together what he would need, and then he took back what they had given you. He took away your soul.

You could never find a cure for the happiness clause because there is no such clause. It was only ever a coincidence of timing. A coincidence that Enyos’ spell should come to fruition just when you were basking in her love and acceptance.

You didn’t lose your soul. It wasn’t your fault. It was ripped from you, and only Enyos and the Elder Woman knew what was intended.

They meant that you should try to kill Buffy there and then. Either Buffy would have to kill you, and so be punished for failing in her duty, or you would succeed in killing her, and a more suitable Slayer would be chosen. Somewhere down the line, one of them would kill you.

And you had to die, or become an unholy vampire again. Their everlasting vengeance meant that, although they preferred to see you alive and ensouled and suffering, the prospect of you working for the Powers That Be, and perhaps finding redemption, was more than they could stomach. Dead, and unshriven, and in hell, that was what they had planned, and death or suffering for Buffy. They didn’t care who got killed along the way, as long as those deaths all fell on your head.

They know what you are doing now, and they are content to leave matters as they are. They know that you are suffering, that you will never have a moment’s happiness again. They know that you still love Buffy, and they know about Connor. They rejoiced that you lost him. They believe that going to Wolfram and Hart shows that you are further than ever away from salvation, and that is still their main concern – that you should not share a Heaven with them. What they will do in the future, after you learn what I have to tell you, I don’t know, but we will all face that together.

And so, Angel, be assured. There is no cure for the happiness clause because there never has been such a clause. We were all deceived, and deliberately so. You and Buffy will be happy together, or not, according to your own making, not according to the machinations and magic of the Kalderash. Come back to her. She needs you.

I regret that you thought I didn’t trust you. I regret more than I can tell you the death of Fred. I regret that it has taken me over five years to find this out for you, but it clearly wasn’t something you would ever be allowed to find out for yourself.

Now, the two of you have a chance. A future. And you have the best part of her lifetime to do it.


Rupert Giles

Angel sat with his head bowed, the letter clutched loosely in his fingers. Fifty years. They had been robbed of fifty years by a lie. And, somehow, it was his fault. As the darkness gathered outside, and the numbness gathered inside, he wondered what he would do next.

And now he truly knew what it was to be cursed.


Round and round the circle
Completing the charm
So the knot be unknotted
The cross be uncrossed
The crooked be made straight
And the curse be ended.

TS Eliot
The Family Reunion

May 2007

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