DISCLAIMER: What Joss said about BtVS and fanfic
still goes, so I'm only doing what he wants me to do. But he still owns
Buffy and Angel, and all characters connected to their respective shows. So
do the WB, Fox and Mutant Enemy, and UPN probably has some residual rights,
as well. Lord alone knows who else has an interest, but no infringement is
intended on anyone’s rights to anything BtVS/Ats related.
RATING: R for darkness and angst.
SPOILERS: Practically none. Unless you are
completely unspoiled for the third season of Angel, as there is a reference
to a character who shows up then.
SUMMARY: What if Angel really were immortal?
Far future fic.
WARNINGS: I’m not sure the character death(s)
presented is/are particularly meaningful in the context of the story, but
there is character death. You might need a tissue.
Margot Le Faye
He remembers that she died
in his arms, taking with her all the warmth in the world, and on those days
when he dares approach the God he has mortally offended, he prays that this
is a true memory, not the remnant of an all-too-vivid dream. He long ago
lost the ability to distinguish which of the pictures in his mind really
happened and which he merely imagined but he has never doubted that Buffy
lived, that she loved him, and that dying in his arms was the one wish she
clung to. That is why he prays. He cannot bear to think that after all she
gave for the world, that modest wish was never granted.
There is nothing left of the
world she saved so often, the world that saw his own birth, but that it how
it should be. At this far reach of time, how many stars has he seen born,
how many witnessed dying?
The last one is dying, now.
Long before the star of his
homeworld cast off its outer layers, consuming all within its orbit in its
death-throes, the Earth’s children had ventured out to the stars. Whatever
they held of value was removed to younger planets beneath brighter suns. He
had not moved her sepulcher, knowing she would not have thanked him for
salvaging her dust. He had left it to be eaten by the sun and, in that
destruction, scattered across the face of the heavens.
It comforts him, sometimes,
to think that the breeze blowing past his face, on some world galaxies
removed from their own, contains some tiny atomies of his beloved. Such a
breeze does not warm him: he carries deep inside a coldness to rival that of
the eternal void he has traversed through the millennia, a cold that long
ago settled in his bones, chilling the marrow there. Still, the breeze
allows him to remember the warmth he knew in her presence and this, too, is
a comfort to him.
She saved more than the
world, and that more than once. She preserved the walls between the
dimensions and in doing so preserved the dimensions, themselves. Time and
time again. But that time is incalculably distant, and the other dimensions
are all gone now, collapsed in on themselves over the long march of time.
With them went most of the demons and nearly all of the magic. He sometimes
wonders what force sustains his own unnatural existence now there is no
There is nothing left,
anymore. Only this world, small and barren beneath a fading sun. And only
he to bear witness to the triumph of entropy and the death of the last cold
He has born witness to all
of it. Shan-shu did not mean that he would die until he lived, after
all. It meant that he would be dead until he died a final death, his
existence eked out in an interminable penance that has not, even yet, come
to an end. So long a time, and so little left at the last of it. Most days,
he does not remember his own name, though he has never forgotten hers. And
then he will think of her voice, and remember the way she always breathed
his name with shy wonder and tenderest love, and that will remind him of
who he is.
She was always that for him,
the light in his darkness, the reason to strive to become. In that,
he did succeed. He became someone and he served a purpose. The apocalypses
he averted, the Armageddons he fought and won, each of his battles allowed
the race of human children to live out their lives in all their destined
fullness, as they fulfilled their dream of voyaging amongst the stars. He
has seen the birth of almost as many empires as suns, and has mourned their
passing. Almost always, he has been the one to provide the last bit of
comfort to the last person left of an empire, a galaxy, a planet. He has
lost count of how many death-beds he has attended, or how often only he was
left to commit the dead to the ground, or the fire, or the sea, or the void
of space in whatever ceremony was proper.
His children, Connor’s
descendents, were amongst those for whom he performed the final office. He
had followed their lives, guardian and protector, as best he could, unto
the last generation. His final descendent passed peacefully in her sleep,
at the end of a prorogued old age, and was put to rest in ground already
holding the bones of her husband, children and grandchildren.
Buffy had no children for
him to follow. He still regrets that. Even though there are no humans left
now, no living things at all. He still wishes her life had been enriched by
motherhood, and thinks the world--all the worlds-- would have been the
better for Buffy’s children. He has the same regret, as well, for the long
lost souls he murdered in the few years of his villainy. So few years,
really, measured against all he has seen, all he has survived, all he has
lived through. Not even the blink of an eye. Shorter, still, the span of
years he stole from each person butchered to slake his demonic thirst. What
is a score of years, or three score, measured against eternity? And yet, for
their very transience, those lives were all the more precious. He mourns
them, now, more than he did when he was first cursed with his soul.
Not that mourning can save
him. He has understood, all along, that the reprieve he was given from hell
was simply that: a reprieve and not a pardon. The length of the reprieve,
is, in a way, it’s own circle of hell, for at least in death he would be in
company with others he has known. And in hell, he might be warm.
There is no company for him,
now, nothing alive to offer comfort or fellowship. Even the blood
sustaining him is a purely synthetic product, conjured from the very
molecules of the air by a science so sophisticated he half believes it is
magic. The scientists are long gone and only such of their mechanisms as he
chose to rescue survive with him. He saved only what he needs, and he needs
little enough: Images of the art he admired, of the plays or movies he
enjoyed, music he appreciated. On some days, it is too painful to watch the
images--read the words, hear the sounds--preserved by their technology. On
some days, it is too painful not to do so. Today, he has turned to one of
the writers from the dawn of time, Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet
providing an odd comfort.
Eventually, the last page is
turned, the last word read, and he closes the book. He decides to take a
walk and leaves the comfortable metal construct of his house to walk
beneath the faded sun. If there is a blessing, or a grace note, it is that
he need not wait for night to do so. If the rays of this cold star are too
weak to warm him, at least they do not despise his demon flesh, do not seek
to devour it with flame. He does not know why this should be so, but is
grateful for it. He rarely ventures out at night. When the pale sun sets,
taking its light from the sky, the emptiness presses in upon him, for this
world has no moon and there is nothing in the heavens at night, no single
star, only a vast, illimitable blackness reminding him of all that has been
lost. In the weak daylight of the last world, the sun is just bright
enough, the sky just blue enough, to make him forget that there is nothing
beyond the faint, few clouds above him.
Such things will not long
distress him, for the final dying of this last star cannot be far off. He
has lived--if that is what he does, he who has found stakes, beheading, and
consumption by fire incapable of terminating his weary existence--through
such endings countless times before and he is familiar with the signs. In
the past, he has simply converted his metal home into his metal ship and
ventured out to find the next hospitable planet. But as a ship, his home no
longer functions, and it is something of a relief to him that he does not
have the materials to make the needed repairs. There are, after all, no other
stars to flee to, no other worlds to find, and all he could do with a
functioning vessel is drift in the void amidst the stellar grave markers of
white dwarves and black holes. Eventually, entropy would triumph over the
atoms of his ship, and the void would have him.
Perhaps it will, now,
anyway. Whatever ending The Powers That Be have vouchsafed for him must
come with the end of this last world.
And so, when the earth
shakes beneath him, he does not struggle to maintain his balance, does not
race to get to a safety he knows does not exist. He simply turns to watch
the suddenly brightening sun, and wonders, idly, if when the outer layers
reach him he will know warmth, once more.
His existence cannot be
reckoned in years, or even millennia, and his first death was drawn out
over a matter of days from the first sharp-sweet touch of his sire’s fangs
to the moment when he clawed free of the earth above his coffin. It is
almost ironic that his final death takes almost no time at all: the last
star explodes, and in an instant the last planet is consumed in flame and
he along with it. He experiences a sudden, unbearable brightening of the
light, and then the blackness of the void, before that gives way to the
streaming of a thousand smaller lights.
Entropy has won. Not even
ash is left of him.
It is over too quickly for
him to feel, even fleetingly, the warmth of the dying star, but he becomes
aware of another kind of warmth drawing near to him now, as the streaming
lights resolve themselves into something else.
Bright souls, floating in
what must be the ether, in the antechambers of eternity.
He bows his head in
acceptance, for it is only justice that his victims should be there,
harrying him on to hell.
The one thing he remembers
besides Buffy is the face of every man, woman and child he ever slew.
Innocent blood, crying out before the throne of heaven, and surely he will
soon be very warm, indeed, returned to the hell he has earned for himself.
But these well-remembered faces are not as he remembers them. They are not
cringing in fear, pleading for mercy, weeping in despair, screaming in
agony. They should be full of fury, of rage, demanding vengeance and
retribution, triumphant that he has at long last been delivered up to the
justice he deserves. He does not defend himself against their blows, having
earned them in full measure.
It takes him a few moments
to realize that blows are not being rained against him. The touches are
gentle, almost tender. And the faces bent toward him are radiant, full of
both deep joy and endless compassion. He does not deceive himself. The
gentle touches are merely because they need not lower themselves to his
destruction when they are delivering him to the devils who can accomplish
it, while the joy they feel must surely be at his approaching doom.
"Ponce," he hears
a half remembered voice say. He looks around, but cannot find the speaker.
"Throw yourself to the lions for a billion, billion years and still
can’t shake the old martyr complex. Can’t imagine what she sees in
you." It takes him a long time to place a name to that voice.
"Spike." It is not
a question. He discovered, the first time, that you meet a lot of people
you know in hell, and he knows that Spike earned a seat by the fire.
"Bloody lot you know
about it. But a word of advice, mate: doesn’t do to keep a lady
"Especially when she’s
waited quite long enough," she says with a hint of amusement.
He freezes, and the souls
surrounding him flutter away. This is wrong. Terribly, bitterly wrong, for
she deserves to spend her eternity in heaven, not to be damned along with
"You are my
heaven," she says simply, drifting up to him, dressed in the white
silk of a gown he has only ever dreamed of seeing her wear.
He has carried the memory of
her in his heart throughout eternity, and he finds he has not forgotten a
single detail. Her eyes are as green, her hair as golden, her lips as
softly pink, as sweetly curved, as he remembers. Only one thing has
changed: as beautiful as she was in his memory, she is even more beautiful
now that she appears before him, once more. And he knows, whatever his own
fate, she is not one of the wretched doomed to be cast into the lake of
whispers reverently. "How?"
She smiles and brings her
lips to his and he rediscovers what warmth is as joy explodes through his
soul and his heart sings with rapture.
This is not hell, he finally
understands, in growing wonder. This is grace, and forgiveness, and mercy.
The innocents he murdered do not cry out for vengeance, for the righting of
old wrongs, but rather rejoice at his redemption. He weeps in gratitude as
the realization comes to him that his penance has been paid, and absolution
granted long, long after he gave up hope for it. The gates of heaven have
opened, and he has been welcomed into paradise.
For Angel, paradise is the
petite blonde girl held fast in his arms.
He has loved her past the
last cold star, and she has waited for him beyond it, and they have forever
and always to celebrate their love.
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