Disclaimer: not mine, Joss's, yadda yadda.

Author's notes: set following end of seasons in AtS and BtVS. You're not telling me you think they didn't speak to each other?

KILLING DEMONS

The tight sensation in his stomach began at noon, waking him from the restless sleep he had fallen into after getting back from Sunnydale. For a while he lay in bed, staring at the ceiling, before getting up and trying to read. Finally, he resorted to a session with his punching bag.

Now, it was beginning to get dark. The hotel was quiet - the others were out, somewhere, maybe at Wolfram and Hart - he didn't really care. Alone, he paced the lobby, pausing each time he got near the telephone and then pacing away again. He thought he knew what had happened. It was obvious, it was fate, it was destiny.

It wasn't fair.

He clenched his fists and kept pacing, trying to think of nothing, treading a path across the floor and back.

When the phone rang, he stopped pacing and looked at it, willing it to stop. But it kept going, and then the answer machine cut in. Cordelia's voice, the old Cordelia: "Hi, this is Angel Investigations. We help the helpless! If we can help you, leave a message after the bleep and we'll be sure to get back to you." The beep.

"Angel? Angel, pick up!" A pause. "Look, it's not dark yet, you have to be there."

He turned and raced across the lobby, snatching the receiver off the cradle. "Buffy?"

"I knew you were there."

"I thought you were dead."

"Don't listen to the news," she said, her voice holding a mixture of delight, victory, peace - and, yes, pain. "Hellmouth's gone, but I'm still here."

"I haven't listened to the news. I haven't even seen the news," he said. "But I had this feeling ... it's like when I got back from Pylea, and you ..."

"Were dead?" she asked. "I'm not. Does it feel like cramp?"

"I don't get cramp," he said, feeling his stomach, feeling the pain still there.

"I guess you wouldn't." She paused. "We won."

"I gathered that." He smiled. "Well done."

"We didn't all make it," Buffy said, a catch at the back of her throat.

"Willow? Giles?" he asked. "Xander?"

A laugh. "Oh, they're all here, in one piece, mostly. Dawn, too. Anya ... Anya didn't make it."

"I'm sorry," he said, meaning it. Though he knew Anya had lived her time, twelve-fold, he could not help but remember her as a sharp-tongued teenager, more alive than most. "How's Xander?"

"Hurting." She paused again. "We lost some of the potentials, too - well, they're not potentials anymore, they ... are ... but some of them died." There was a voice in the background, and Buffy added, "Faith says hi."

"Tell her I'm glad," he said.

There was silence. The line fizzed a little. Then she said, "Angel?"

"Yes?"

"Spike - Spike used the amulet."

A sudden burst of pain hit him, and he screwed his eyes shut and then opened them again.

"It was ... oh, God, Angel, it was beautiful. The sun shone, and the Hellmouth opened ..."

"And he died," he said.

"Yeah." Buffy sighed. "Yeah, Spike died."

He leaned against the counter, and stared at the ground. "Will you miss him?"

"What kind of question is that?" she said, hotly. "Of course I'll miss him." She calmed. "He was there, Angel, through some hard times. He understood me. And, though it's weird and a bit icky, he loved me."

"Did you love him?"

Silence. He turned, and propped his elbows on the side.

"Kind of."

"Kind of?"

"Not like you," she said, sighing audibly down the phone. "You know that, you idiot, I've never loved anyone like you. And I hope I never do."

"Too painful?"

"Much," she agreed. "But Spike ... I can't explain it, Angel. He was Spike, you know?"

"Better than you think," he said. "He was the most infuriating person I've known, but he was a part of me. I got him through those first few years ..."

"You mean Angelus did?"

"No," he corrected her gently, "I did. We fought, and he disobeyed, and he did stupid things, but I guess after a while - I came to love him, in my way. I was fond of him. Liked having him around. Drove me mad, but if I'm being honest, I missed him when he wasn't there." He paused, and listened to her listening to him.

"You're getting talkative," she said, after a bit, and he could hear a tear in her voice.

He smiled. "You know, if you ever want to talk about him - call me."

"Great, for cheerful tales of Ye Good Old-y Days when you were evil?" she said. "Forgive me if I don't take you up on that one, Angel." She softened. "But look, I will call you, sometime."

"What are you doing now?" he asked.

"Now? We're heading for Salt Lake City. One of the girls has family there, she wants to check up on them, and we figured it's as good a place as any."

"You could come here."

"No," Buffy said. "Not now. It's too soon. You have things to do, stuff to worry about - I'll check in, now and then. We thought about it. Some of the potentials want to meet you."

"Meet me?"

"You're famous, Angel. The one and only vampire with a soul who loved a Slayer."

"Not the one and only," he said, and felt surprised at the lack of bitterness he felt.

"But the only one who the Slayer loved back," she said.

Struck silent with astonishment, he said nothing, and heard the empty sound of the dial tone too late. "Buffy?" he said. "Buffy?"

But she had rung off.

He put the phone down, and stood still, his mind filled with memories, and then he picked up his coat and left the hotel. It was dark, and there were demons to kill. For once, they weren't inside his head.

THE END.