Title: Point of No Return
Author: ViciousVixen
Category: Angst
Distribution: Please put a note, including email address, into my review section if you would like to post this story elsewhere.
'Ship: Suggestion of B/A
Timeframe: The end of "There's No Place Like Plrtz Glrb"
Summary: Angel's reaction to Buffy's death in "There's No Place Like Plrtz Glrb," from Willow's POV. A semi-sequel to my fic: "Magnetized."
Disclaimer: I don't own these wonderful characters, and I certainly don't get paid for them. I wish I did, but I don't. Lucky for them—Joss & Co. are nicer to them than I would be…

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"Sixty-three thirty-four."

"Dollars?"

"Yea."

Willow gave the impatient cabby his fare and turned her back as he sped away. She led her head fall back as she looked to the top floors of Angel's massive abode.

This is the Hyperion.

The hotel gates towered over her, but she found that they swung with ease. Her heels softly knocked on the cement walkway. Familiar shrubbery waved to her along the way, paving the path with plants which she fondly remembered cataloguing in high school freshman biology.

Simpler times. Not easier, just simpler.

Before it could really register, Willow found herself on the hotel's doorstep. She ran her hand along the doorway, searching for a doorbell but finding none. An unconscious habit that, she realized, naturally wouldn't apply to places of business. Lifting her pale hand, she rapped on the door. Knock knock. Knock knock. Knock. No answer. She wished they would've returned before then. She wished that they wouldn't return.

A ghost guided her hand—turning the door's handle, permitting her to enter. The Hyperion lobby stretched before her. Books splayed across the front counter, decorating Angel Investigations with their supernatural text and filling the air with their fragrant musk. Drifting to stand in the middle of the lobby floor, Willow could see the world that Angel built for himself—his offices, the makeshift kitchen/toaster, the back patio (no doubt filled with night-blooming jasmine), the dramatic stairway leading to his bedroom, the same stairs leading to the probable bedrooms of his friends…allies…family. And she was preparing herself to shatter that world.

Spotting a nearby couch, she softly took a seat, clasping her hands and keeping her body rigid.

If I don't look at everything, it'll be easier.

Her subconscious worked against her as she stood and walked into the offices. The large one, she thought, would've been Angel's, but a smaller desk rested close by. It had a more intimate, purposeful place. A picture of Wesley, Cordelia, and Angel rested on one corner. Sketches of others randomly peered up at her.

A black man. No hair. Sharpening his ax. He laughed in the general direction of the pencil-converted-camera, but Willow had a feeling that the subject was looking away from the artist.

Wesley peered up at her from another. She couldn't suppress the awe at seeing the former Giles Jr. wearing a simple pair of jeans and a sweater. He sat at the impressive desk that she once thought was Angel's, rubbing the indentions on his nose. His glasses sat on the book in front of him. He looked changed. He had emotion. He was determined.

The final portrait was of Cordelia. Disappointment bore into Willow's soul through those eyes. The girl that she usually associated with "Queen C" had all but evaporated. Instead, fear and, more importantly, anger struck out at her. Hospital personnel rummaged around in the background of the drawing, and Willow found herself wondering why Cordelia needed medical attention. Was Angel to blame? Cordelia's fury channeled through Angel's pencil; the artist's identity was obvious.

Willow began to feel uncomfortable, realizing that she had begun to delve into the details of Angel's new life. She knew the vampire cherished his privacy and slowly returned to the couch from whence she first moved. She bowed her head, wondering what the last words Buffy and Angel shared were. Having no idea.

She heard excited voices drifting in from the courtyard.

It's too soon!

"Can I say it?"

I'm not ready!

"I wanna say it."

Take a deep breath.

"There's no place like…"

I really wanna go home.

"Willow?"

Gathering her final reserves of strength, she stood.

"What…?"

She tried to avoid his eyes, but she knew that Angel would be seeking hers. She saw the light in his soul flicker and dull.

"It's Buffy."

The tears that had run dry at Buffy's funeral were ones that she thought would never fall again, but one shaky breath proved her wrong. In one brief moment, Angel's face drained of any remaining color. The feeling drove him to his knees, and Gunn dove to catch their fallen warrior. Cordelia kneeled beside him, trying to hug him, desperately trying to hold hope inside him with her embrace, but when she pulled away and looked into his tear-drenched face, she saw the emptiness that once fired her and her friends.

Leaving the family to grieve, Willow turned toward the entrance and began to exit the same way she entered. Unseen. She was glad. She didn't expect a thank you. She didn't want a shallow apology for her own grief. She just came with a message. No more.

One last look at Angel, and Willow saw him close his eyes and bow his head. Defeated. But he didn't scream out loud for the pain that she knew was growing in his soul. In fact, as she closed the door behind her, she realized that he never made a sound.