Angel stood on the edge of the bluff, looking out over the ocean. This was how he wanted to see it; he didn't want anything to obscure it. It would be his first sunrise in two hundred and fifty-four years. There had been a few days when, for some reason or other, he'd seen it set, seen the day, but never a sunrise. He felt it was appropriate that this was the first, sunrises were for beginnings and this could have been a beginning.
Forty-eight hours ago he and Buffy and the others had stood together in battle to prevent the End of Days. They'd won and yesterday morning he'd been called to the Oracles' dimension and received his reward, Angel was human.
Cordelia had known, apparently her vision had told her more than she'd bothered to pass on. The day had been a whirlwind. She'd taken him to a farmer's market. Wesley and Virginia had joined them for a picnic on the beach. Then Cordelia had taken him to a carnival of all things.
They'd watched the sunset, after that Cordelia had drug him to a club where she'd tried to set him up with half a dozen girls, before he'd finally managed to convince her to let him go home.
Cordelia had expected that Angel would want to tell Buffy about what had happened, despite everything, but she hadn't been surprised when he didn't. Nothing Angel did with regards to Buffy surprised Cordelia anymore, not since his reaction to Buffy's marriage.
The new that Buffy was engaged made it to LA a week before the wedding. Cordelia had been worried about how Angel would take the news, she'd started off by calling him every few hours if he wasn't actively involved in a case, by the day of the wedding she'd coerced Gunn and Wesley into helping her keep an eye on him every minute of the day. The more Angel insisted that he was okay with Buffy marrying someone else the more worried Cordelia became. It took him almost two months after the wedding to get her to call off the suicide watch.
After that things had gone back to normal, except they never even mentioned Buffy's name with in his hearing. The only exception to that rule had come when Gunn and Wesley had secretly gone to Sunnydale when Giles had called asking for assistance. Angel had had a few words with his over-protective employees after that to ensure that they would never keep information about any case from him again.
The wedding had been four years ago, four terrifying years of working toward a reward that would mean the loss of everything Angel had left that gave his life meaning. Angel already knew he couldn't fight demons as a human; he'd tried that route, with disastrous results. Working for redemption, that Angel could embrace, but actually getting it, that was something else.
Then they gotten the news, the End of Days was upon them. Angel had gone to Sunnydale with Wesley, Cordelia and Gunn. They'd met with Buffy, Giles, Willow, Xander and the others. Specifically Xander's fiancée, Anya, Willow's life partner, Tara and Buffy's husband, whose name Angel refused to learn.
Angel watched Buffy make the battle plans, noticed how she kept her husband protectively close, how her husband would smile indulgently and tell her she worried too much about him. Buffy had barely looked at Angel, let alone spoken to him.
Angel couldn't help but remember what Spike had said that first year after the curse had broken. Spike had been right that Angel and Buffy would never be friends, but he'd been wrong in saying that they'd be in love till it destroyed the both of them. They were both still there and Buffy didn't love him anymore. She respected him as a fighter, but that was all. They weren't friends, they would never be friends and she didn't love him.
After the fight Buffy had thanked him for his assistance and then she'd taken her husband's hand and walked away. Back to her life that he had no place in. Angel had gone back to LA and Cordelia had gotten a vision telling her to take Angel to the Oracles' hall.
Standing in the endless hall of Greek columns, waiting for him had been the shade of the female Oracle. "You have earned your redemption, Warrior," She said.
"Thank you," Angel replied turning to leave.
"Wait," the Oracle commanded.
"What else is there to say?" Angel asked.
"I know what you intend Warrior. Know that we would have left you as you were if that were an option, but the Last Battle closed your plan to creature of pure evil such as the demon that gave you life," the Oracle said.
"What happens to Spike?" Angel asked, vaguely curious as to the fate of the other vampire who had sided with the forces of good in the final battle.
The Oracle made a distasteful face. "We felt compelled to spare him, because of his actions, but he does not regret his past and is deserving of no reward. He lives, but with a vampire's weaknesses. We gave you what you once desired above all else. You're future is not so bleak as you believe it to be. I would ask that you reconsider your current plans. Do not throw away our gift."
"I'll think about it," Angel said.
Then he'd allowed Cordelia to pull him into a non-stop advertisement for the joys of humanity that had ended only a few hours ago when she'd finally circum to exhaustion.
Angel had left notes at the office for Cordelia, Wesley, Gunn and Buffy, as well as a joint one for the others who might or might not give a damn about why he was making this choice. Then he'd come here.
The sun broke the horizon in a glorious display of fire, reflecting off the waves. Angel watched it until it cleared the water, then took the knife from his ankle sheath and laid it against his wrist.
Exsanguination seemed a fitting death to the former vampire.
A small hand gripped the knife, preventing Angel from using it with a steely determination.
"You're not doing this," Buffy said implacably.
"Buffy, how?" Angel asked. "Why?"
"Cordelia called me, she knew you'd wait till after the sun rose," Buffy replied. "As to why, oh God Angel, can't you figure that out? I still love you, I always will. And you don't get to do this to me, you don't get to put your death on my shoulders."
"If you'd asked me to wait for you I would have. If you'd even given me a hint that today might possibly come, I would have waited until the stars burned out. You didn't do that though, you told me to move on, to find happiness without you, and I did. I'm married, I love Eric, no we don't have children, but if you'd ever listened to me you'd know I don't want children."
"You made the choices for us, for me, as to what I needed. You didn't give me the option of waiting. Now I'm making a choice for you Angel. You're not dying. Not today or tomorrow or anytime soon, and certainly not by your own hand. You're going to let Cordelia teach you how to live. And I don't care if she has to set you up with every woman in this city, you're going to find someone to fall in love with and you're going to be happy."
"You have your life back Angel and on our love you're going to swear to me that you won't throw it away."
Angel asked, "If you still love me, then why…"
"Because that's not a choice anymore," Buffy said. "But we're not Romeo and Juliet and I always hated the end of that play anyway. If I have to I'll send Spike down here to protect you from yourself. He'll do that for me, of course he will make you miserable, but you will live, do you understand me?"
"I understand and I promise, on our love," Angel said.