Angel smacked her across the face. She went reeling and collapsed in a heap on the ground out of emotional weakness. He stepped forward and grabbed her firmly by the shoulders, kneeling in front of her and taking the offensive. "Am I a thing worth saving? Am I a righteous man?" His voice wavered threateningly and he calmed down a slight before continuing. "The world wants me gone."
Buffy tried to choke back the sobs that threatened to overcome other emotions. "What about me?" she asked softly. "I love you so much. I tried to make you go away. I killed you and it didn't help. And I hate it! I hate that it's so hard and that you can hurt me so much; I know everything that you did because you did it to me. I wish that I wished you dead." Her eyes softened and her next words were barely audiable, but Angel heard them loud and clear. "I don't. I can't."
Angel turned away from her and she stood up. He looked back out over the city. "Buffy, please," he whispered. "Just this once, let me be strong."
There was a pause. "Strong?" Buffy asked forcefully. "Strong is not giving up. Strong is fighting. It's hard, and it's painful, and it's everyday. We can do it together. But if you're too much of a coward for that, then go ahead and burn. If I can't convince you that you belong in this world, I don't know what can. But don't expect me to watch," she told him, voice wavering ever so slightly. "And don't expect me to mourn for you, because…" she trailed off. He waited for her to tell him why she wouldn't mourn. When the response didn't come, he chanced a look up.
She was looking above herself in awe. Thick fluffy snowflakes were falling from the sky. In California, that was a stupendous sight to be seen, especially since only moments ago it had seemed like just over sixty degrees. Both of them looked around at their surroundings and at each other, each gaping.
Finally Angel blinks. "Why is it snowing in California?"
Buffy smiled lightly through her tears. "I don't know. But I'd say someone wants you alive, wouldn't you?"
Angel looked at the Slayer, staring at him with such hope, and looked away. "An unnatural weather phenomenon doesn't prove anything to me," he muttered. He turned and looked back out into the town, already covered in fantastic flakes.
Buffy couldn't believe it. "Angel," she said shakily but sternly. "You're a vampire, fine. Used to be evil and all that. But you were brought back from hell for a reason, and I sure as hell doubt that the reason was for you to die. I think The First or whatever could probably have managed that while you were still in the otherworldly dimension. Besides, you have a soul. There's obviously some purpose for your existence." He turned slightly toward her words and she spoke with more confidence. "So get off whatever morals you're trying to stand on and come inside with me. I love you, Angel. That should be enough for you."
"Don't you see, Buffy?" he asked her, turning back to the town, afraid to actually face her. "That's why I have to go. Because you love me. You're never going to get over me, Buffy. I know because I'm never going to get over you. Not in a year, not in a century, not ever. We're a danger to each other. As long as we love each other, everyone in this world is in danger."
"Everyone's in danger anyway," she pleaded. The first rays of sun illuminated the horizon. There was no time left. "Getting yourself out of the way won't change that; for all we know, it might increase it."
Angel laughed dryly. "Yeah, because a vampire can do a lot of good in the world."
Buffy wanted to hit him again, but didn't think she could handle it if he hit her back and she didn't get him inside in time. "Maybe! Give it half a chance, Angel! I don't care if you leave town tomorrow, or whatever, but don't do this. This isn't the way."
Finally he turned to her, snow falling on his face but not melting. He looked at her with incredible affection. "I love you, Buffy," he whispered to her. He lifted her chin and kissed her sweetly on the lips. She kissed him back but soon pulled away, anticipating the sunlight almost as much as he was. There was so much hope in her eyes that Angel almost looked away again, but he managed to hold her gaze.
She bit her lower lip and looked behind him. "There's still time. Let's go." She grabbed his hand and began to run.
He stayed put. She turned back. "Angel, come on! We've got to go now, before it's too late."
"I love you," he said again, tears flowing freely out of his eyes. "Don't ever forget that. I love you. All the time I spent in hell, I never forgot you, and I never stopped loving you."
"No…" she whispered, recognizing his intentions now. "No." She delivered a sharp kick to his face and sent him staggering slightly backwards. "I'm not letting you die," she told him, punching him repeatedly in the face. He didn't try to fight back. "I'll carry you out of here if I have to," she screamed. "But you're not going to die, Angel. You can't."
Finally he blocked her punch and delivered one back. She flew onto the ground and started sobbing uncontrollably, her words lost as she stood back up and tried to hit him again. He stopped her and hugged her instead, shushing her deep hitches and wiping the tears from her warm face, matching each of hers with one of his own. "Don't go," she finally got out. "Don't leave me."
"I love you," he whispered, rocking her lightly. "I love you." He could feel the sun's rays on the back of his neck and he knew it was done. He kissed her on the head again, holding her tightly so she couldn't struggle free. "Take care, Buffy." He turned away from her and held his arms out to the rising sun, feeling the heat gather inside him and letting it overcome. Buffy grabbed back onto him and sobbed into his coat, trying to make him stay, hoping that if she could physically hold him there that he would.
He didn't scream when he turned to dust in her arms.