Disclaimer: I don't own Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Angel. They belong to that wacky Whedon guy and his minions.

Rating: M

Summary: The battle with Wolfram and Hart has come to an end, and Angel has lost the Shanshu. With his hopes for redemption seemingly gone, how will Angel move on? (Angel/Cordelia)

Spoilers: This takes place post-"Not Fade Away," so everything.

Author's Note: You may notice some of the scenes towards the beginning of this fic are either identical or really, really similar to scenes from my fic "Daylight." There's a reason for that. This fic is sort of a companion piece to that fic. Originally, I was going to contain all I wanted to deal with for Angel in "Daylight," but as I kept working on that one, I realized that there was a story past what could be successfully told in a fic in which Angel and Cordelia were not the central figures. So in order to set things up here, I'm going to have to repeat a few scenes from "Daylight." This both preserves the flow of the narrative here as well as it makes it not imperative for you to read that fic in order to understand this one. You can if you'd like, but this fic does serve as a stand-alone.

Also, this fic does fit in with my Post-Chosen/Not Fade Away series. To find a list of the other fics in that series, follow the link in my profile.

After Death

By: Addie Logan

"I couldn't tell you I loved you
I never dared say a thing
So I just sang all my rhymes to the wind
The shadow of the king.
Now nobody knows why I'm weeping
The curtain is drawn far too soon
I just want to curl up in my bed at noon.

Cordelia, Cordelia
Cordelia, Cordelia my love...

And I swear on your grave, too
Cordelia, I've always loved you."
—"Cordelia," Brian Johnson

"If only the future
Held nothing to fear.
If only love was always kind
And the truth was always clear.
I only we could tell them
Just what they wanted to hear…

I was Cordelia, before I died…"
—"Cordelia," Cosy Sheridan

The battle was over.

And Angel was still standing.

Destruction surrounded him, the dead bodies of demons and Slayers alike scattered around him like garbage, the stench of death cloying. He couldn't shake it off if he tried.

Buffy had saved them. She'd played the hero, riding in with the cavalry. It was the role he'd always reserved for himself in her life. He was supposed to be the one who did the saving. He was supposed to be the Champion.

But he wasn't. Not here. Maybe not ever again. He knew the dead girls he was looking at now were Slayers, chosen and trained to fight. Meant to die for the cause. But it didn't make knowing they'd died in his battle any easier. In the aftermath of it all, the guilt weighed on him just as strongly as if he'd ripped out each of their necks.

He'd asked for this. He'd wanted a showdown with the Senior Partners. This had been the battle he'd been itching for since the first year he'd come to Los Angeles. And he'd won it. The forces sent here by evil had been decimated. And he was still standing.

Then why didn't it feel like a victory? If anything, it felt like a decisive loss. Something inside him was gone. The anger that had driven him the past year had died, leaving nothing to fill its void. No hope. No faith. Nothing.

He could already tell nothing had changed. He'd toppled the building that had housed the L.A. branch of Wolfram and Hart. He'd slaughtered an army of demons. But evil was still out there, he knew. Wolfram and Hart would rise again, just like it had before. And the demons littering the ground now were only a fraction of the hordes of Hell. He'd thrown everything he had into getting to this point, given up everything.

His friends.

His son.

His redemption.

The moment he signed his name to the Shanshu Prophecy played over and over in his mind. The goal he'd worked for for so long, the thing that had kept him going, even when he'd said he no longer believed was lost. He'd given it up, and for what? An alley full of dead bodies?

But it couldn't be that simple. It was a prophecy. If it was supposed to be, it would be. He'd made a mistake here. He could see that now with blinding clarity. But there could still be redemption, couldn't there? He'd done unspeakable evil in the past, and still the Powers had come back to his side. He could turn around now. He could show them that he hadn't strayed too far.

"Someone get over here! I need some help!"

Angel froze. Buffy… He ran towards the direction he'd heard her voice, stopping short when he saw her cradling an unconscious Spike in her arms.

"Angel. Quick, we need to do something. We need…" There were tears in her eyes, and Angel felt a quick surge of jealousy. "He just…We were arguing, and he… Help me get him to someone." Buffy's brow furrowed. "The healers will be busy with the Slayers. Angel, you have to help me get him to a hospital."

"Buffy, he's a vampire. As long as he's not dust, he doesn't need any help. Besides, we take him to a hospital, and they're just going to take him to the morgue."

Buffy looked up at him with shimmering green eyes. "No they won't, Angel. His heart is beating."

And with those words, Angel's world fell out from under him.

So what do you think? Anyone onboard with this one? Please leave a review and let me know if this is something I should continue!