How She Died

Summary: I've never been happy with the lack of content we got regarding Angel's reaction to Buffy's death, so here's my take on it. This is immediately after he finds out she's dead.

I didn't die. I don't know why I didn't die. I should have. I always thought I'd crumble to dust the second her soul left this earth and my soul would race to meet it so that the two halves could be whole again. But it didn't and that hurt as much as her dying did.

I can hear them downstairs. They forget how good my hearing is. I've finally stopped screaming. I wasn't aware that I had stopped until I heard Cordy comment on it. I knew the moment I saw Willow what had happened. There was only reason Willow would be there. I sat there long enough for the little red head to tell me how and then I locked myself in my room. Sometime after that I started making this high pitched keening sound. Cordy kept asking what that noise was and wouldn't I shut up. She had then said "Oh well, he can't keep up that volume for long." Forty eight hours later she was still complaining about it. Sometime during the three days my soul screamed, they had Lorne come over. My pain knocked him out for six hours. When he woke up, he refused to talk about it. He said there weren't words for that much pain anyway.

Cordy knocks on the door. I know it's her. She smells like jasmine and peaches. Vanilla is the only thing I want to smell and tears rush to my eyes because I know I will never smell that particular scent of vanilla. It's gone, just like her.

"Angel, come on. You've got to eat and you've got to come out of your room. We did this earlier this year, remember the whole closing yourself off from your friends thing." Cordy says through the door.

I don't answer. Eventually she will go away.

"Angel, she's been dead a week. You've had your little mourning period. It's time to move on." Cordy says.

I still don't answer.

"Oh God! What is it with you and blondes? First there was Darla and now Buffy."

My hand is on her throat shoving her against the wall before she even realizes I smashed through the door to get to her. "Never make that comparison again. Darla killed me. Buffy brought me back to life in every way possible. She is the love of my life and if I live for eternity she will still be the love of my life. The screaming, that was my soul screaming because its mate is gone. It beat against my dead heart for three days trying to figure out a way to get out of this god damned shell so it could go meet hers and now it's dead. Just like her so leave me the fuck alone." I dropped her on the floor. I don't know how long she lay there coughing and sucking air, air that Buffy would never breathe again.

It's been a month since the day I choked Cordy. The hotel is an empty shell, just like its owner. In the end it is Gunn that comes to see me. He walks in the lobby. I am still sitting in my room staring at a picture of her. I have sketched countless pictures of her in that month and they litter the floor.

"Yo, Angel, man I don't wanna be choked but we kind of need you. Cordy had a vision and I don't think we can handle this one alone." He yells at the empty lobby.

I close my eyes against it and I know as I do its wrong. She never closed her eyes against the world, even when it killed her, twice. I have no right to close mine. I stand up and walk out of the room, making my way slowly down the stairs. Gunn stares at me like he didn't really expect me to respond.

"Hey, you look like shit." Gunn says.

I nod. "Yeah, I feel like it too." They are the first civil words I have said to anyone since I found out.

Gunn nods saying more with his silence then he could ever say with words. By mutual silent agreement we get in the GTX. Gunn gives me an address and then resumes his silent vigil.

"What are we walking into?" I ask.

"Nest of vamps, Cordy thinks there's seven or eight. They've been snagging kids off of Sunset boulevard." Gunn says.

I nod.

The nest is one of the bigger ones I've seen. They don't stand a chance. I've been waiting for over a month to take my frustrations, my anger and rage out on something. I can hear her inside my head as I fight.

"I don't want a friend."

"I didn't say I was yours."

Right hook, left jab, duck, stake to the heart.

"This isn't some fairytale. When I kiss you, you don't wake up from a deep sleep and live happily ever after."

"No, when you kiss me, I wanna die."

Punch to the kidneys, elbow to the face, Ow, roll with it, kick up to my feet, roundhouse, stake to the heart.

"Angel, when I look into the future all I see is you. All I want is you."

"I know the feeling."

Side kick, body jab, snap his arm, throw another across the room, uppercut, stake to the heart.

"I love you, I try not to but I can't stop."

"Me too."

Hook jab combination, duck, roll, feint to the left, body shot, stake to the heart.

"I love you,"

"I love you,"

"Close your eyes."

Roundhouse, hook, side kick, stake to the heart.

"You still my girl?'

"Always."

Back kick, roundhouse kick, right hook, jab, duck, uppercut, stake to the heart.

"Drink me."

Jab, duck, uppercut, roundhouse, back kick, stake to the heart.

"How's forever? Does forever work for you?"

I look around. There are no more vamps left to dust. Gunn and Wes stare at me, mouths agape.

"So, you didn't need any help with these guys." Gunn says.

"I was working out some issues." I say.

"Did you get them figured out?" Wes asks.

I shake my head. "Not even close."

I went back to the hotel. The next morning Cordy, Wes and Gunn show up. I guess they decided Angel Investigations is back in business. Cordy calls someone to come fix the door to my room. I still haven't said I'm sorry for choking her, because in a way, I'm not. She doesn't understand and she probably never will. None of them do.

I can't heal. I can't move past it. There are so many unanswered questions about her death. I pick up the phone to call Willow.

"Willow, its Angel," I say when the little redhead picks up the phone.

"Oh, hey how are you doing?" She asks.

I want to rage and scream and yell. It's not her fault. She's trying to be polite. I bite back my anger at her words and ignore the question. "Was she scared?" It is a question that has been driving me crazy. I don't think I can handle it if she was scared. She was always so brave if she died alone and scared it would be my undoing.

There is a long silence. I can hear Willow's throat working as she fights against tears. Finally she answers in a tight, choked voice. "I don't think so. Dawnie says she was ready. She said to tell Giles she was okay, she'd figured it out."

"Figured what out?"

"I don't know. Her purpose? Her destiny?" Willow says.

"No. Her purpose was not to die. Her destiny was not to die." Each word is bitten off as I try to keep my anger under control.

Willow falls silent and it is uncomfortable. I know my next question isn't going to make things anymore comfortable. "The clothes she was wearing, was there any blood on them?" I ask.

"A little, there wasn't a lot of blood though, Angel. It was...neat, I guess." Willow says.

"Do you still have them?" I ask

She takes a moment to answer. "Yeah, we put them in a Ziplock bag. I couldn't-we couldn't throw them away."

"Can I have them, please?" I ask.

"What? Why?" Willow asks suspiciously.

I sigh. This was the part I didn't want to tell anyone. "The blood it holds the scent of whatever she was feeling at the time, fear, excitement, whatever. I need to know that she wasn't scared, that she wasn't alone."

I am surprised when Willow agrees to send me the clothes.

Three hours later Willow is standing in the lobby of my hotel carrying a paper sack.

"Cordelia, just tell him I'm here. I talked to him on the phone three hours ago." Willow says.

"No way. I'm not going up there. Last time I spoke to Mr. I'm- Brooding-the-love-of-my-life-died-saving-the-world I got choked." Cordy says.

I step out of my room and lean over the stair railing. "Willow, you can come upstairs."

"Oh, so you'll talk to her, but won't so much as say Good Morning Cordy to me." Cordelia huffed.

I glare at her.

Willow sits down in a chair across from the bed. I sit down on the bed with my hands on my knees. She passes me the bag silently. I take a deep breath before opening it. With agonizing slowness I open the bag up and take out the white sweater. It's fragile looking, like she was. Willow was right. There is very little blood but there is some. I bury my nose in the sweater, even though I can smell it from here. Tears flood my eyes and spill over onto my cheeks. For a moment I can not speak.

"She was peaceful and ready. She didn't feel alone or scared. She was okay. She was at peace." I finally manage to croak out.

Hours after Willow is gone I'm left in my room with my nose buried in her sweater. It still smells like vanilla and sunshine and strength. It smells like Buffy and I'm going to have to come to terms with the fact that I will never hear her say my name in that particular timbre that she always said it in. I will never see her smile again, that smile that made me forget to miss the sunshine. I will never see her fight again, a beautiful deadly force of nature. I will never see her cry again and maybe that's for the best. She deserves some peace after all this time.