Chapter 19: Must Be Talking To An Angel
In which we almost get a happy ending after all. Almost.

Yup, this was Los Angeles.

It had taken Buffy a couple of weeks to work up the courage (and emotional stability) to do this. There had been so much to sort out back home, so many half-truths to tell, so much trust to build... But she had to come here. She wanted to. Buffy stepped into the lobby of the Hyperion, not knowing what to expect, heard someone working in the office and rang the bell on the desk. Cordelia came running out with her eyes still fixed on the scroll she was trying to decipher.

"Welcome to Angel Investiga..." She looked up and saw Buffy. "Oh God."

"Hey, Cordy." Buffy tried a casual wave, shifting uneasily from foot to foot as Cordelia slowly started inching towards the weapons cabinet.

"Is it... are you really... I thought you were... WESLEY!"

"It's OK, Cor, I'm real, I'm alive, not a vampire, just me..."

Some explanations and hugs later.

"So... I guess you're here to see Angel." Cordelia looked at the floor.

"And by your expression I'm guessing he hasn't been a barrel of vampire laughs lately?"

"Not really. After he got back from Sunnydale, he just... gave up. He got an apartment downtown - we asked him to stay here, but I don't think he wants to even be reminded of the whole hero gig. We've all been by to see him a couple of times, but he just... sits there. Stares. Doesn't talk. I'm not sure he even dr... eats. It's as if all his reasons to go on disappeared when he killed you... uh, her... well you know." Cordelia stood up and took Buffy's hand. "Come on. I'll show you. It's just a short drive, and it's not like I've got anything better to do..."

Cordelia left her outside Angel's door. The house was a mess, she'd had to step over bums going up the stairs, and the hallway reeked of puke and piss and some other stuff she didn't want to think about. For someone with vampire senses to live in this had to be hell... but then again, if what Cordelia said was true, he probably didn't even notice. Buffy knocked. No answer. "Angel!" She knocked again. Eventually she heard something move on the other side.

The door opened and... oh God, he was a mess. Unshaven, his hair matted and not at all spiky, deep lines on his face as if he'd started aging and was trying to make up for 200+ years. He stared at her, his jaw almost bouncing off the floor.

"No... it can't be... you're dead. I-I killed you." Then he lashed out, and she barely managed to duck. "STOP TORTURING ME! I tried, Goddamnme, I did everything I could..." So much pain and regret in his voice... she ducked under his flailing arms, hugged him, letting him feel her warmth, her heartbeat.

"Angel, it's me. It's really me. I'm fine. You saved me. You did it, Angel. You killed her, you saved me, and I love you."

He kept struggling for a while as she kept telling him, then his brain caught up.

"Buffy?"

She sobbed with joy. "It's me. It's me and you and you and me and everything's alright, Angel, I promise."

At some point they stumbled into the apartment and kicked the door shut, just holding each other, whispering everything they had wanted to say. He broke the embrace, holding her at arm's length, taking her in, an incredulous smile creeping onto his face.

"Oh God, Buffy... this is... I'm so HAPPY! So... uh... perfectly...happy..." His voice trailed off as the smile turned into an embarrassed frown. "Uh-oh."

THE END (no, really.)