Title Rust
Author Aphotica
Rating PG-13
Length 2 Parts
Summary Angel is facing the apocalypse and loses something with his gain of humanity.
Warning Major character death!
Lyrics are from Tegan and Sara
feedback is adored!

"We all got somebody we love
We don't got a lot of
Faith in the above"

I looked behind me, running through the dense bush. I pulled and tore at the grass that rose to my knees, cursing such a place for an apocalypse to take place. Why a field? "This is why," I thought, as the brush pulled down my knees. I was looking for her; I knew she was out here somewhere. I knew they had her in their grasp, and I needed to get to her. But, as per usual, I couldn't and she needed me. That was our canon. My so-called vampiric speed was reduced to that of a sloth as my shoes squelched noisily in the moist grasses. My vision was still sharp and clear, but I couldn't sense her anywhere. Maybe her body was lying in the…no, I shook that thought off. She came here to help me, and she was damn determined, I knew she'd live through this. Even without my help.

I finally heard a small moan to my left and fairly leapt toward it, not being able to control my growls. It sounded small and helpless, and it wasn't Buffy's scent emitting from that direction. In fact, her scent wasn't coming from any direction, and that's what scared me. I thought I'd know if she was dead, but we'd been apart so long, I didn't think I had that feeling anymore. I found Fred lying in a bloody mess underneath a branch. It looked like she tried to shield herself. I saw a forest in front of me, the grass slowly waning to nothing. She winced in the darkness as I approached her. "Angel," she breathed.

"What the hell happened here?" I asked frantically. I scanned the area for signs of others and she again tried to move. "Don't move," I said. My voice sounded hard in my own ears, and I shifted impatiently in that damn grass.

"I don't know. It all came so fast. D-Demons or something. I still have no idea." "Where are the others?" I asked, crouching down by her side. Fear was in her eyes. They were flicking frantically back and forth, as if she expected something to come barreling through the darkness at any moment.

"I don't know," she said with a small cough. "Somewhere…around. Gunn and Buffy went over there," she said, gesturing toward the woods.

"Will you be okay alone?" I asked in a tremulous voice. I feared that I was losing her, and that I had already lost everyone else. Including the one that I loved fiercely. I'd be losing her for the third time, and I didn't know if I could survive that.

"I'm fine, it's worse than it looks," she said with a pained smile. "Go see how the rest are doing, just don't forget about me."

"Never," I swore softly, before standing and venturing into the woods. Finally, I could move deftly, and maybe reach the others and see how they were doing. Maybe catch them before they…I wouldn't fully form this thought. I just concentrated on moving ahead, avoiding trees and bush as I kept all my senses open for anything moving. A heavy coppery scent floated over to me, and I couldn't depict whether I knew it or not. It was lots of mixed blood, much more than Fred's blood. It was mixed with fear and apprehension, and I started moving faster toward it. My combined concern and bloodlust drove me toward it, and I stumbled toward a small clearing. It was littered with blood, both human and demon. Fear raced up and down my spine. I cursed myself for ever separating the group like that. My love and my family were now suffering because I wasn't there. I was 'investigating', instead of helping them fight. I didn't have a scratch on me.

I saw a large dark shape over in one corner. I felt guilty at the relief of it not being Buffy, but I knew she was here somewhere. I had sent her off with Gunn. Maybe she had escaped and was with Wesley. Or maybe not. I approached Gunn cautiously, not sure whether or not he was dead. He opened his eyes and I expelled a large unneeded breath of air.

"Hey man," he said, his lips curving into an eerie smile. Blood was lining the cracks of his teeth, and I saw several deep gouges all over his body.

"What happened here?" I said, barely restraining my fury and panic. He couldn't die on me, not now and not ever. I couldn't lose them all now just when I had a chance for humanity.

"Demons, everywhere. I have no idea what," he coughed up and flecks of blood hit some of the leaves in front of him, "but they was nasty things. And they got us good."

"Yeah, Fred is back there."

"Back where?" He said frantically, "She was hurt?"

"She's okay, she's just a little hurt. It's more you I'm worried about," I said, perusing his body once more.

"Aw, man, I'm fine," he said, flashing another smile my way. "But the Slayer…" "What?" I cut in anxiously, "where is she? Gunn, what happened?" Oh God, Oh God, not again…this isn't happening again. I steeled myself for the worst, clenching my jaw until my teeth were about to crack.

"I don't know, somewhere over there. I'm sorry, I lost her. I think she's alive, though. I heard some movement over there," he said, pointing across the clearing. My head snapped in that direction and I immediately took long strides to where his finger was pointing.

I looked around for approximately two minutes before I saw a small body and smelt a profusion of blood. My dead heart constricted and collapsed in on itself. My body was threatening to fall to pieces right there. I thought I could scrape by with her death last time, but this time it was too much. Even if I did gain my humanity, there was nothing to live for without her in my life. Too many years had been wasted apart, and to just see her die like this. Die…my mind echoed and I dove next to her body. It was face down, and the soil was stained red with her blood. Her scent was heavy in the air, and it made my eyes water. I pulled her body up gently, soothing my hands over her back and cradling her in my lap.

My whole body started to shake at her closeness. We were leaned up against a large oak, and the others were forgotten for the moment. My mind was racing so fast that I felt like I couldn't breathe. Which is a really funny thing, because I didn't need to breath. It didn't matter thought; the effect was choking me nonetheless. To lose her again would be unbearable. How can one be forced to live without one's mate three times in a row? And this time I wouldn't be able to bring her back, or rescue or save her. It was all my fault, it was all my fault.

I continued to stroke her back, and hugged her small limp body to me, burying my face in her hair. Her body was strangely cold, like mine, and it made me shiver with disgust. But I could still hear and feel her thin heartbeat through her chest.

"I don't know how I can hold you
Without shaking
I'm not aware of how I could possibly
Love you without aching"

Sparks flew through me at that moment, and her body seemed warmer. I could feel the minute rise and fall of her chest, and hugged her as close as I could without hurting her. I buried my face in her hair, rocking her slowly and waiting for her. She needed to wake up, if not for the world, then just for me. Please wake up, love. You can't leave me here like this, not when our life will start again. I felt the breathing strengthen.

I felt a small twitch of her small hand in mine and breathed a sigh. She struggled slightly in my arms before she realized it was me.

"Angel," she sighed, in the soft way that she did. I looked down into her beautiful bloody and dirt streaked face. I couldn't live without her, I wouldn't. I wiped some of the blood on her cheek off tenderly, looking at it with wonder. How could such a strong and valiant woman be subject to death over and over again? She's not dead yet, my mind reminded me, just give her time and she'll heal. She's awake and coherent, no matter how small her heartbeat is.

"God it hurts," she hissed, as her mind slowly came back into rationality. I rocked her a little more and kissed her hair fiercely. I wouldn't let her go through this, it wouldn't happen. I was empty without her. "Where are we?"

"We're in the woods, where you got attacked," I said shakily. I didn't want her to hear the fear in my voice, but it was hard to hide. Especially when I saw the bruises that littered her battered body, and the blood that streaked her like war paint.

"What about the others?"

"Shhhh…" I crooned, hugging her body more closely, settling my head on her shoulder. "Don't speak," I whispered, "just relax and focus on staying alive." "Am I…" she stumbled over the words, "am I dying?"

"No," I rebuked immediately, "that's not what I meant. Just stay strong for me." "The pain…" she started softly. She never finished her sentence as I cradled her. "Maybe you should go to the others, Angel," she whispered after awhile. "I'm a lost cause. I'm too far gone." She permitted a small smile and I wanted to shake her for being so blithe about death.

"I am my Angel
Till death I do
I saw my first Angel
And it was you."