Summary: Set about a year after Not Fade Away. Angel's not happy, neither is Buffy. But she comes to town and needs his help and he just needs her. Not a great summary, but let me know if I should finish it up.
Disclaimers: Mutant Enemy and Joss Whedon own it all.
The lone man faced east, his jacket catching on the rough edges of the brick wall. It would be his first sunrise in almost 250 years. He thought he would feel more emotion. Excitement, fear, regret. All he felt was a sense of relief. This must be what prisoners experience when after hours, days, months; years of torture they are finally allowed their ultimate release. When they can finally embrace the blessed oblivion of death.
He opened his arms, ready to accept the darkness.
"So, this is how it all ends, huh, big guy?" The little man leaned against the wall.
"And who else would ya be expectin'?"
"I wasn't expecting anyone, least of all a dead demon." He wasn't happy to see his old friend. All he wanted was to die in peace and Doyle would never let that happen.
"Well, Cordelia did volunteer to come, but considering how pist she was at your decision here,I were afraid she'd kill ya herself beforeI had a chance to try and change your mind."
Angel laughed without humor. "You're right about one thing, Doyle. This is my decision." He sighed in defeat. "I just can't do this anymore. I can't live in this world with all this pain. I lasted over 200 years without forming any real attachments. Darla, Dru, Spike, I could've just as easily put a stake through their hearts as not. I just didn't care…"
"Angel, m'man, you had no soul. Of course you didn't care." Doyle conceded.
"Well, I don't want to care anymore, I want it over. I'm tired Doyle. Tired of watching friends die, loved ones leave. I tried so hard. Pushed her away, gave him a new life, saved the world." He gave a harsh laugh. "The demon and the soul, Doyle. I feel like they want me to choose and I'm not sure which way I want to go." Angel slumped, his head in his hands.
Doyle walked up to his friend. "You'd better come to terms with them, m'boy. Both of them. You're a demon with a soul, make peace with it. With them. Stop fighting and finally accept yourself for who you are. The good and the bad."
"I did Doyle, long ago. I accepted it, all of it. The black and the white. The good and the evil. I see the gray Doyle, I live in the gray. Life was so much simpler when it was black or white, good or evil."
"Angel, the good doesn't always win. Life isn't like that. You were always too hard on yourself. She was never that hard on you, she understood more than you ever gave her credit for. She understood and she accepted."
Angel looked up at Doyle. "She's coming. I feel her with every ounce of my being."
"Well, go to her then. You know Angel, you're the one who left her. She's in pain the same as you. You can't separate soul-mates as strong as the two of you and not expect repercussions."
"The happiness clause, Doyle. It's still there. I can't be around her and not want her."
"Honestly Angel, you can be such a wanker. Do you really think at this stage in your life you can ever achieve absolute happiness again? After all you've both have been through, all the loss, all the pain? Very few people in this world ever find that moment of complete happiness. They're just glad to find a few minutes of peace. Love doesn't equate pure bliss Angel, m'boy. After the long life you've lived, I thought you would've come to that realization."
Angel shook his head and looked up at the Irishman. "She never forgave me for walking away, for making that decision for the both of us. You know what happened that first time, I couldn't take the chance. But now, I couldn't leave her again, I'm just not all that self-sacrificing anymore."
"A lot has happened in seven years, to the both of you. She isn't that young innocent slayer and you aren't her errant knight come to redeem himself by fighting the dragons for her. You've both lived lives, hard painful lives. The memories may dwell in the shadows, but they can never be forgotten. Come inside lad. This madness isn't you. And despite all the intervening years, you are going to have to help the slayer with something she needed to face three years ago."
Doyle looked at Angel, trying to find the man he had left behind six years ago. It was the eyes; the warmth, the compassion, a lot of it was gone. A lot of it, but not all. He seemed to going on auto-pilot now. He needed to help Buffy get through this. In helping her, Doyle was sure he would also be saving himself.
"So what's up with Buffy? The new man in her life an immoral bastard? Nothing new there, Doyle."
"Enough with the smart-ass attitude and listen to a little story about a slayer brought back from the dead…again." And Doyle began to tell the tale…
"So, when that Wicca summoned your Buffy back from the dead, she had the power alright. But she didn't have the wisdom, the spirituality inherent in the white magiks, to bring her back pure. Buffy needed the assistance of a certain demon half way through her journey back. Her soul had to piggy-back with the demon so that she could make the transition out of the spirit realm back into the one Willow was calling her to. It would've worked, but once the urn of Osiris was broken, the demon was unable to return to its dimension and was forced to merge with Buffy's soul; it had no other place to survive."
"What kind of demon is it? If we have to exorcise it, we'll need Willow, she should be the one handling this, not me. I'm not the one for this."
"To be honest, man, Willow is the last person needed in this endeavor. It doesn't matter what demon it was, it's part of her now. They rely on each other for existence. Kinda like you and Buffy. You live with your demon, Angel; you feel the pull and you know when to resist it, when to accept it. You have to help her with her demon, you have to teach her."
"It seems to me she's been handling it just fine. No calls, no letters, not even a postcard. I think the powers are just playing with us again."
"The powers have nothing to do with this man. As far as they're concerned this is a-let-the-dice-fall-where-they-may event. She's not the only warrior in town and neither are you. This is my call, I care for you and I know you love the little girl, it's time you both get over yourselves and try to live a life."
Angel was unsure how to react to this. "So, what do you expect from me Doyle"?
"I expect you to help her; she needed to know all this three years ago. She needed the knowledge to understand her new emotions, her change in attitudes. It was all attributed to her coming back from heaven, which was a pretty huge deal alright. And that's how all her friends tried to help her.Adjust to life out of heaven. But there was a major confusion in her; she didn't even understand how to verbalize it. She just tried to move on. And now the demon is integrated even further in her psyche and she needs to know so she can deal with it. You are a big part of that." Doyle waited for some sort of response." You have nothing to say?"
"What can I say, Doyle. Why am I a big part of it?"
"You're all she thinks of. You were the only man she ever loved and her biggest emotions come with thoughts of you. Her demon feels what she feels, but has a harder time controlling the desires. So, she's coming here and she will feel you as strongly as you feel her. You need to be together, to complete the cycle. Both your demons know this and unless you complete your bond, they'll do it for ya and you may not be able to control them. We're talking raw emotion and desire here, m'lad. You have to convince her that the two of you belong together and you need to help her know her demon and accept it as well. You know I'm right Angel, you need her as much as she needs you."
"I know we belong together, but convincing her after all I have put her through. I don't know Doyle…"
"Don't think so much Angel. Just feel, just do. Let your demon help you with this. You have to release the fear of Angelus taking control. As long as you accept him, stop fighting him, he loses any control he may have ever had."