A/N: Set a few years in the future, it will all be explained.
Pairing: B/A Duh!
Feedback: Don't make me beg!
Distribution: My own site (www.angelfire.com/tv2/walkthroughthefire) and Nina's site. Anyone else, just ask!
Dedications: To everyone on the BCaS General Spoilage board!



It was over.
The End of the Days had been fought and won. He, Angel the vampire with a soul had won his battle. It had been a bloody tough battle but with the help of his friends he had done it. As the saying goes 'The good guys won, the bad guys lost.'
He knew the Hellmouth had had a particularly bad battle at their end. Angel knew in his heart his soulmate had survived. When she had died four years ago he had felt it. He hadn't noticed until he had found Willow waiting for him when he got home from rescuing Cordelia from Pylea, then he realised what that feeling was. It was like a void, a warmth that had had been filling a part of him and had now gone. As soon as he had seen Willow it had clicked what the feeling was. But, the warm feeling was still there, Buffy was alive. But he couldn't say the same about the rest of his old friends in Sunnydale, if Xander Harris could ever be called an old friend. He should call them, as soon as he could. Wesley had been injured in the battle. Not badly but enough to be in hospital. Surprisingly, there weren't as many casualties as expected. They had lost a few of the Good guys. His family were all safe and sound.
Wesley, Gunn, Fred and Connor.
The horrible year of Holtz and Darla as they referred to it as. Angel had thought all was lost, as he sunk to the bottom of the ocean, at the hands of his Son. His feelings towards Wesley at the time were as about as friendly as the if he were the Devil himself. Cordelia had buggered off to be a higher being, not that Angel had know that as he sunk further and further to Davy Jones locker. It wasn't until Buffy Summer's had rescued him he had found out. it was Buffy who had got him back on his feet, making Connor see there was a huge difference between Angel and Angelus. She got them talking and even helped them bond. She had then talked Angel out of his blind hatred of Wesley, got them friends again. Cordelia occasionally dropped in. Angel loved seeing her, but he knew what he felt for her now was brotherly love. Seeing Buffy again made it all clear. Angel had been lost in the ever increasing darkness and Cordelia seemed like the only thing he could cling to, he turned his affection for her into so much more.
Buffy had been a light in his life again for awhile. She herself had come to LA for awhile to sort things out with her father, but couldn't find him anywhere. Although she was actually using her father as an excuse, which she told Angel much later, the real reason was she had to get away from Sunnydale. Willow wasn't there anymore. Giles had returned to England with Willow. The town was full of bad memories, 'Oh, this is where my best friend tried to kill me.' and 'This is where my ex-lover tried to rape me.' It had gotten to much and she had left. After she couldn't find her Father, the Slayer had then gone to find Angel and met Gunn. She learnt of Connor, Darla, Cordelia and where Angel now was.
She eventually managed to drag the coffin up from the ocean with the help of some people that owed her a favour from the very first year she had become the Slayer, and had worked in LA. She had opened it to find an almost starved, almost mad beast. It had taken a lot of work and a lot of butcher blood to get him back to her Angel. That had been three years ago. Buffy had remained in LA for a year, going back to Sunnydale almost every other day for Slayer duties and Dawn duties. Dawn had lived in Sunnydale still, although coming to LA every weekend. Xander had moved into Buffy's home, while Willow was in England with Giles undergoing intensive counseling from the Coven that had given Giles the magic that had helped Willow find her humanity back. They had permanently bound her from Magic, but she still had to fight the overwhelming urge to join her lost lover. When Willow had returned to Sunnydale, Buffy had gone back as well. Angel was back on his feet, with Wesley and Connor his family again. The old problems had arisen as before, Angel and Buffy couldn't be together as much as they yearned for it. She knew she had to leave anyway and Willow returning had given her extra incentive to actually go.
Angel sat in his hotel he still lived in, gazing into his mug of blood.
"You ok?" Connor asked, "You've been very quiet since we got back."
"I'm fine." Angel answered. He took a sip of blood.
"You should call her." Connor said gently.
"Hmm? Who?" Angel asked even though he knew exactly who he was talking about.
"Madonna." Connor shrugged.
"Huh?" Angel grunted.
"Buffy." Connor picked up the phone and threw it to Angel, "That's what you've been thinking off since we got back, right?"
Angel nodded slowly, "She might be asleep. She had a even tougher fight than us. Being on the Hellmouth and all."
"She wouldn't care if you woke her up. Just call her, then you can stop the brooding and join the party!"
Angel grinned at his Son, "I might just do that." Connor grinned back and remained seated.
"Go 'way then." Angel complained.
His Son smirked, "It's not like you two are gonna talk dirty." But he got up and left Angel in peace. *For someone who is almost an adult, he can be such a kid.* Angel smiled.
He pressed the pre-programmed button on the phone for Buffy. The other number that was programmed in, was the Pizza Place, Gunn and Connor's favourite breakfast, dinner and lunch. Buffy used to joke that she must be important to rank up there with Pizza. He missed having her around. Her Sunshine-like presence, the vanilla smell that clung to her, her witty comments and her love she gave unlimited to Angel. Connor also loved her, but like a friend, sister and even a mother.
The phone rang for what seemed like an eternity before an irate voice finally answered, "What?"
"Xander, it's Angel. Is Buffy around."
"She's in hospital. She got badly hurt."
Angel sucked in an un-needed breath, "Is she going to be alright?"
"It's to early to tell. Angel, she's going to need you when she wakes up, I was just looking for your number to call you. We had almost won, but a few of the demon soldiers got Dawn. Buffy almost got killed trying to protect her, but..." Xander broke off and Angel could hear him choke back a sob.
"What happened?" he pressed.
"Dawn got killed." He finally finished.
"Oh god." Angel gasped.
Fred came walking in with a drink in her hand, she smiled and waved at Angel. When she realised he didn't respond she walked closer. He had tears glistening in his eyes, "Angel?" she mouthed, "What's wrong?"
"Does Buffy know?" Angel finally said.
"Yes, she knows. She saw it happen." Xander answered.
"She saw her being killed?" he echoed.
"Yeah. Buffy managed to kill all, but two. I'm talking about not small measly demon's, but big-evil-diabolically-hard-to-kill-bastards. Buffy was badly hurt at that point, she got stabbed in the stomach and other stuff. One solder-guy had Dawn and she tried to get Dawn but he snapped her neck. Then the other demon got Buffy. Spike came in just after Dawn's death, he managed to kill the demon and get Buffy out." Xander sobbed again, and stopped to wipe away the tears, "They were that last bunch of soldiers. I mean, oh god..."
"Hello Angel?" Angel heard a woman's voice say, "It's Anya, Xander's fiancé. You should come, Buffy needs you."
Fred had wrapped her arms round Angel's neck rocking him slowly in comfort. She had no idea what had happened but she knew it was bad.
"I'll leave now. I'll be there in about two and a bit hours." Angel told the ex-ex-vengeance demon.
Angel put the phone back in the cradle.
"What happened?" Fred asked.
"Dawn, she got killed." Angel said.
Fred stood up in shock and put her hand over her mouth. Dawn and Fred had been really good friends. After Tara's death, Dawn had turned to Fred to fill in her gap. She was a lot closer to Buffy, but she liked having a friend she could turn to when Buffy was busing doing Slayer-stuff, or Angel-stuff as Dawn called it.
Gunn came sauntering in with a bottle of Champagne in his hand, "Coming to join the party?" he asked. "Jeeze, who died?" he added jokingly.
He saw a tear roll down Fred's cheek, "Oh, who died?" he said more seriously as he pulled Fred into him arms.
"Little Dawnie." Fred sobbed.
"I'm going to Sunnydale. Buffy's hurt as well."
"I'm so sorry man." Gunn consoled.
"It's not me you should be sorry for. Dawn was like a daughter to Buffy. Probably the only one she's ever gonna have." Angel said, more to himself than them.
"We should go." Fred prompted.
"I'll stay, for when Wesley gets out of hospital." Gunn suggested.
"Yeah, good idea." Fred said, through her tears.

They arrived in less than two hours, mainly due to Angel driving like a maniac. Fred had sobbed the whole way there, using up two boxes of Kleenex. Luckily by the time they got there, the sun had gone down so Angel was able to go comfortably from his car to the double doors to A and E. It was quiet in the emergency room. Just a man with a garden fork coming out of his foot, sat reading 'Reader's digest' in one corner, and a girl with a bucket under her nose opposite him, it was half filled with blood, her mother next to her, rubbing her back and repeating, 'That's right, let in all out sweetie.'
He strided up to the desk with Fred running to keep up with him.
"Buffy Summers, where is she?" Angel barked to the receptionist.
"Buffy did you say?" she answered clicking on names on her computer, taking her own time, "Summers. Er..."
"Buffy Summers. Where is she?" Fred demanded.
"Angel?" he heard a familiar voice say. He whirled around.
"Willow." he said softly.
Fred, who had never met Willow except when she was telling Angel of Buffy's death stood back while Angel hugged her.
"How is she?" he asked.
"Not good. They had to subdue her with sedatives."
"And physically?" he pressed.
"She lost a lot of blood, but I think she will be alright with the right care. Physically."
Angel caught on to her stress of the word physically, "Mentally?"
"I really don't know. She just kept screaming." Willow paused to wipe the tears away, "Dawn was the only family she had left. We only found out two days ago, her father was killed two years ago in a car crash in Spain."
"Oh god. Can I see her?" asked Angel.
"Ironically, family only at the moment." Willow chucked, void of all humour.
"I am her family." Angel said forcefully.

The heart monitor beeped regularly showing her heart was still strong. She looked almost as pale as a vampire, with dark rings under her eyes.
Someone had strapped her down to the bed, which Angel undid immediately. She had a huge bruise across her jaw, and a cut on her forehead. She had on one of the hospital's white night gown's, and was almost the same shade as the garment, Angel noticed in horror. Her stomach had a bandage around it where she was stabbed and her arm was in plaster. Where was the lively, vibrant woman he was used to seeing?
"Hey." Xander said as he walked through the door.
He placed a huge bunch of flowers into a empty vase. He then put the vase on the window sill where two other's already were.
"Hi." Angel replied.
"They said not to put anything near her bed which she could hurt herself with." Xander informed Angel.
"Right." Angel said, not listening to a word he said.
"So, who are you to get in here?" Xander asked.
"Huh?" Angel grunted.
"I said she was my sister." Xander told him.
"Oh. I said she was my wife. Then I growled." Angel answered.
"Good idea." Xander said.

Willow sat on a bench outside the hospital. A river ran at the back of the hospital and the trickling noise was a slight comfort to the ex-witch. It was a warm night, but Willow could only feel cold. Bone chilling, mind numbing icy cold.
The automatic doors to the back of the hospital opened and Fred stepped out. She spotted Willow and made her way over.
She held out a polystyrene cup. "Tea?" she offered.
Willow took the cup and took a sip. "Tea, that's what Giles would be doing if he was here, making sure everyone had tea." She said with no feeling.
"Wesley too." Fred added.
"Oh, yeah." Willow muttered.
Fred put her hand on Willow's arm, "You ok?"
Willow looked at Fred and shook her head, "You?"
"No."
"Just another to add to the long list, another name to be remembered. Another person to grieve." Willow said, "Yet it means so much more than that."
Fred nodded. They sat in silence, lost in memories.
They sat by the river until the sun rose.

Buffy was in a very dark place.
Angel was sleeping in a chair under the covered window, while Xander went to find coffee.
Pain shot through her chest and stomach, and she almost cried every time she took a breath, making her realise she had broken some ribs, although she couldn't seem to talk or move.
Her head throbbed from the aftermath of the drugs used to calm her down, but inside her mind echoed with Dawn's final pleading words to save her, and her last scream.
She though back to the start of the last two days. Buffy had awoken to a phone call informing her of her Father's death. His secretary told her, two years ago, Hank Summers had been killed in a car crash while in Spain with Tracy, his secretary and lover. Buffy remembered her well. A over-dyed blonde, with big innocent looking blue eyes, tight short skirts, and tops that showed of her large chest and cleavage. She always went over-kill on the bright red lips and dark blue eyeshadow.
Buffy asked her why she hadn't been told of this when it happened, and Tracy replied, she had booked herself into a health farm to 'get over her loss' and only just remembered he had two daughters and a ex-wife.
Buffy realised Tracy had got all his money, but as she had no money to fight Tracy, she hung up on her and broke down. Hank had been a selfish bastard the years after the divorce, but he was still her Dad. The Dad who took her to see the Ice show for her birthday, until her eighteenth birthday. The Dad who funded her Dorothy Hamil faze. The Dad who hugged her when she cried, and interrogated her boyfriends to see if he was good enough for his daughter.
I'm an orphan, she realised.
But all her pain had to be pushed aside for the battle they were all about to undertake. Buffy had chosen to tell Dawn after the fight. Dawn had died not knowing her father was also dead. Maybe it was for the best.
Just then the doctor walked in. He saw she was awake.
"Hello Buffy. How are you feeling?" The Doctor asked. Angel awoke with a jump.
But Buffy didn't hear a word. She was in a very dark place inside herself and it was very cold there.
He checked her machines and the tubes coming out of her slim wrist.
"Where does it hurt?" he asked. The Doctor shone a light in her eyes and got no real response.
"I think she's in shock." He told Angel, "It happens a lot. When people go through a traumatic experience they just shut down to keep themselves from the pain I guess. It's the body's way of coping."
Angel nodded, took Buffy's hand and placed a gentle kiss on it.
"Buffy?" he whispered.
No response.
The doctor pulled out a needle from his pocket and slipped it in her arm.
"It's best to keep her sleeping as much as possible at first." he explained.

Angel awoke, two days later, to the sound of the door clicking shut.
"Hello." Willow said softly, "They just let me in."
Angel smiled at her.
"I brought stuff." Willow said, holding up a brown bag. She put it on the table and began emptying it. She put a big bunch of colourful flowers in a vase next to the bed.
She held up a potted plant. "Xander got her some daffodils. She likes them." She told him.
"I got her a white rose. That's for friendship you know. And we brought chocolates. Galaxy's and Cadbury's. Giles got grapes."
"She's not eating." replied Angel, not taking his eyes off his own sleeping angel.
"Oh. Well when she does. Does she wake up often?" Willow asked.
"Occasionally, but the doctor usually then pumps her full of more drugs. I'm not telling him next time she wakes up." Angel said almost angrily.
"I'm sure the doctors know what they are doing." Willow replied gently.
"Bullocks they do. They just can't be bothered with her." Angel snapped.
"She will be ok, thought. Right? I mean..." Willow paused, tears filling her eyes.
"How much can one soul go through without snapping Willow?" He looked sadly at her before adding, "Drucilla went insane when I killed her mother, father and brother. Plus one of her other friends. Buffy's stronger I know but..."
"She will be alright." Willow said as if to convince herself.
Buffy's hand gently moved in Angel's. He looked down to see she had her eyes open.
"Hello sweetheart." Angel said softly.
She smiled in response. It was a small smile, but a smile none the less.
Angel's non-beating heart leapt in joy when he saw it. She wasn't mad, not another Dru.
"Does it hurt anywhere?" Willow asked concernedly.
Buffy shook her head. If I took any more painkillers I would rattle." She almost whispered.
Willow and Angel shared a happy look.
"How long have I been here?" she asked.
"Three days." Angel told her.
"It seems much longer." She replied. "Can I go home now?"
Angel smiled, "Not yet love. You aren't well yet."
"Oh come on, I've been punched, kicked, electrocuted, shot with a gun and arrow, almost danced till I turned to flames, stabbed, killed in mystical energy, been strangled, bitten three times, had really bad flu and had spells put on me. I think I can get over this."
"I have no doubt, but you can't say that to the doctor or he won't know what to think!"
"Plus, chocolates." Willow said pointed toward the stacked boxes. "And grapes." She added as an afterthought.
"Have you buried her?" Buffy asked quietly.
"No." Angel answered, tenderly moving a stray bit of blonde hair off her forehead.
"Wait for me." she said before closing her eyes and letting the darkness there overtake her.

A week later.
Buffy cleared her throat nervously and tucked her hand behind her ear. All her friends were on the front row and all Dawn's friend's from school on the next row back.
She locked eyes with Angel who offered her silent support. Buffy still felt weak and tired from her injuries but a few layers of makeup, a brave face and a lot of hugs she was ready.
Dawn's funeral had been beautiful so far with a few of her friends making tributes. Giles had sung her favourite song and now Buffy stood facing everyone.
"A friend of mine wrote this poem when I was thirteen and I showed it to Dawn. She really loved it and made me copy it out in gold writing a frame it for her. It's called The Wind.
I can get through a doorway without any key,
And strip the leaves from the great oak three,
I can drive storm clouds and shake tall towers,
Or steal through a garden and not wake the flowers,
Seas I can move, Ships I can sink,
I can carry a rooftop or the scent of a pink,
When I am angry I can rave and riot,
And when I am spent I lay quiet as quiet.
Thank you."

Dawn Summers was buried in-between Joyce and Hank. Hank had been buried in LA by Tracy, but once Giles got in touch and explained his family was in Sunnydale they moved him back. Tara was near by, along with Jenny's. All in one graveyard.
Buffy and Angel slowly walked through the graveyard, stopping at each one and laying flowers. The last one was Jenny. Angel bent down to put a bunch of flowers on it and was suddenly overcome with a bone crunching agony. He fell to his knees.
"Angel? What's wrong?" Buffy asked in panic.
"Oh God, I'm losing my soul." Angel cried.
"But no happy here, no happy in a graveyard." She said trying to make it right with her words. She sobbed knelt by his side.
The pain subsided and Angel gasped in a breath.
"Angel?" Buffy said.
"I'm alive." He finally gasped.

"Why then? Why not as soon as the battle was finished?" Buffy demanded.
Giles and Wesley nodded and busied themselves with books.
"Where did you say it happened?" Wesley asked.
"On Jenny's grave." Angel said quietly looking down.
"They are showing they forgive you." Buffy said.
"What?"
"The Powers that Be. They are saying you have earned your redemption. You fought the Battle, you saves the lives and they did it on Jenny's grave to show the forgiveness." Buffy explained as it became clear to her.
Giles nodded in agreement, "I think she's right Angel."
"You are human. Released from duty." Wesley said echoing the words spoken so long ago.

A/N This is not the end, but I'd like some feedback before I continue! Please give me ideas and general advise!

TBC...