If I Had Another Chance

Pairing: Buffy/Angel
Setting: Post NFA, bearing in mind I've seen only a handful of AtS episodes. Actually, I've only seen "I Will Remember You" and "The Girl in Question".
Summary: Angel's been through too much that he isn't sure what redemption is any longer.



He's the only one left when it ends.

And he closes his eyes and walks away, stepping over bodies, over years, over everyone who died for this cause, and he leaves.

He doesn't call Nina. He doesn't call Connor. He walks, and he can smell the sunrise, but he doesn't know why he should care, not now. Every phone box mocks him and he turns away from them.

When he does call, it's to Giles, and he hangs up the phone before he can say anything.

--

He didn't expect to miss Spike.

He hated Spike a lot of the time, but now he's gone there's an empty space at his side that used to be filled with banter and irritation and a surprising amount of life for a pair of animated dead bodies.

But now Spike's just another one who died for a cause that wasn't his own, and Angel's almost disappointed that he realised too late who Spike really was.

He doesn't cry when he finds an old poetry book of his; it's just a bit of dust in his eye.

--

He thinks about Italy all the time.

He can't hate the Immortal any more. He's not sure he's got much hate left in him; not after losing so much, Buffy and Wesley and Cordelia and Doyle and Fred and Gunn and Spike and this list is too many people too long and hell, even Illyria, and he hadn't expected that at all.

There's just a question left in his mind, that place where he wonders what Andrew said about them when Buffy did finally come home. Whether Buffy had looked out the window like he did now, at the night, at the same moon he watched every night. Whether she still believed he was evil.

The fact it's a full moon doesn't mean anything to him any more. He wonders what it looks like from the other side of the world. He thinks he remembers.

--

He calls Giles sometimes twice, three times a night, and hangs up every time, because he doesn't know where to begin. He tells the phone he's sorry, but he doesn't know what he's apologising for.

The way he remembers torturing Giles for hours. The way a part of him likes the memory.

The way he drank from Buffy. The way he left her. The way he broke her time and again and let her die, and couldn't save her, time and again, the way she hurt, time and again, the way he was never what she needed.

He lets himself sob then, just once, his face pressed against the wall, and then he punches it so hard his fist goes right through the plaster and burns from the sunlight it hits.

--

He goes out one night and meets a Slayer.

He laughs when she fights him, and catches her hand and breaks her wrist. She punches him with the other hand, and when he asks if she's heard of him, she just kicks him.

It doesn't occur to him to be upset with Buffy for not telling them about him. He's too busy looking at her neck, and hating himself for it. When he runs, it's a different Slayer he's afraid of hurting. His girl. He dreams, that night, for the first time, of tasting her blood on his tongue again.

She doesn't need him to save her any more, and without her, all he managed was to get everyone killed.

But he gets on the next boat to Italy anyway, in the cargo hold, eating rats to stay deadalive.

--

There aren't many shadows in Italy for him to hide under. There's sunshine and sharp corners and underground places during the day, and he hopes nobody declares an apocalypse on him while he's here.

He watches her, though, outside her window as she looks at herself in the mirror and everything's too familiar about it.

She watches herself. He has vampire hearing and knows that Dawn and Andrew are yelling at each other in another room. Buffy rests her hands on the dresser and starts crying, her eyes shut, her shoulders heaving, and Angel's back to the beginning where things were simple: a guy, a vampire, a girl, a Slayer, and a doomed thing that couldn't ever be perfect, right up until it was.

He doesn't need to call Giles any longer.

--

It takes him fifty-nine days and fifty-nine notebooks full of drawings of her to work up the courage to tap on her window at night, and he knows neither of them is certain it isn't a dream when she walks to it and opens it.

"Hi," he says, awkwardly.

"Hi."

He just looks at her. His perfect happiness. His redemption. His doom, his disaster, his salvation his Buffy, and he bites his lip, wishing he didn't taste blood. She reaches out and touches his lip, so gently, and he looks at her again.

"You're older," she says, softly.

"So are you."

She nods, and climbs out of the window, taking his hand. He helps her to the ground, and they walk along the street together, before he turns to her and says, almost smiling for the first time in a long while, "Want to get a coffee?"

And she just grins the grin she hasn't smiled since before she died, and kisses him.


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