Minor Quotage from High Flight, by John Gillespie Magee, Jr.

            He hated to leave her, but he had to.  There was no choice, really.  She was right--if all went horribly wrong in Sunnydale, it would be up to him to stop the First.  No one else understood what was happening, no one else had the resources to overcome it.  Especially now, with the full power of the LA office of Wolfram and Hart at his disposal.

            Hopefully, it wouldn't come to that.

            He walked slowly back to his car, fighting the urge--the need--to run back to her, stand by her side. He could still taste her on his mouth, still feel the imprint of her fingers where she had clutched his arm.  Still see the radiance of her smile. 

            Cookie dough, indeed. She could be such a kid sometimes.  But she was a kid, really.  Only twenty-two.  What was it like to have only spent twenty-two years on the earth?  He couldn't remember.

            He got into the car and sat a moment, looking back toward the dark building where he had left her. Her last words, ridiculous as they had seemed, had made sense to him. Had given him hope.  Maybe someday she would come to him and tell him she was ready.

            Two words he hated.  "Maybe," and "someday."  He was also beginning to hate the word, "hope."

            For now, though, he had no choice.  He started the car and swung out onto the highway, heading back toward LA.

            Toward home. Where everything had changed. Where hope had died once already. Where he no longer had a son.

            If the unthinkable happened, and he found himself standing against the First, he would know, too, that he no longer had the bright Slayer girl who had, once upon a time, made him a man.

            "God help her," he muttered, and it was as close to a prayer as he had uttered in over a hundred years.


            He hated to leave her, but he had to.  No choice, really. The amulet drew energy into him, from him, through him, turned him into a radiant construct of sunlight. He was the only one, right now, who could wield it.

            He had to wonder why she hadn't given it to Angel. He was the big man, the champion. But perhaps she'd chosen him because he was expendable. If they failed here, Angel was equipped to stand between the world and darkness.

            But the darkness was right here, right in front of him, and the power and the light poured out of his body and destroyed it.

            The pain was excruciating, but somehow it wasn't pain. It was light, pure and holy. It was goodness, hope, love, the primal energy of his own soul. He laughed.

            She hadn't chosen him because she thought he was expendable.  She'd chosen him because she knew he could do what had to be done. Angel wasn't the only one who could sacrifice himself for the greater good. He'd just had a lot more practice.

            He could still see her clear green eyes, brimful, as she had looked up at him, laced her fingers through his. I love you, indeed. She hadn't meant a word of it, but it didn't matter.  She had never loved him, but she had known him, trusted him, understood him, and had laid the fate of the world in his hands.

            It was enough.

            He bent his head back and let the light flood through him, because there was nothing else he could do. The pain that was closer to ecstasy filled him to every pore. He could feel each cell, each molecule, as the corpse that had been his body dissipated and turned to ash.

            And, as the light that he had become flared out to eradicate the darkness that was the Hellmouth, he put out his hand, and touched the face of God.