Dawn makes him smile.

She's still all giggles and gawkiness and girlish ways. Listens to music that leaves him scratching his head. Teases him by mooning over boy band members with eyelashes as long as her own. He loves to watch her dance, her normal awkwardness turning to feline grace as she forgets herself and gets lost in the rhythm, becomes a woman right before his eyes. Then somehow, the moment is always shattered and she stumbles, stops, looks around nervously to see if anyone was watching. Always her eyes find his and then look down. She still does not quite believe that he finds her beautiful, wants her, loves her. But he does, and someday she'll know.

Willow makes him cry.

She's still so much the girl he knew. Gets quiet and thoughtful on Jesse's birthday. Fusses over both him and Dawn. Gets tangled in her own thoughts and can talk for ten minutes straight without seeming to take a breath. He loves the strength within her that kept the pain and the darkness from claiming her soul. The strength that allows her to move past Tara, past Kennedy, past the loss of the friendships that once defined her. Sometimes he tries to tell her just how much he admires her. She always brushes him off, can never take a compliment. He just keeps telling her she's amazing, that he wants her, loves her. Someday she'll accept that as fact.

They are his.

He still can't believe it, but it's true. They are his. His to cherish, his to adore, his forever. As incredible as that is, though, it's harder still to believe that it's Buffy who brought them together. But she did. If he'd never come to Rome; never seen her, carefree and smiling, on the arm of the Immortal; if he'd never remembered the old adage: When in Rome...

They love him.

Despite the way this all began, with three people cast aside and betrayed somehow by the girl they'd had at the center of their universe looking for some way to ease the pain, it's become something real. Something more than spite and loneliness and a bit of their own back. It's true and deep and profound in a way Angel never thought possible, not after knowing the Machiavellian emptiness of his triangle with Spike and Dru. This thing is different. Willow and Dawn care for each other as much as they do for him and that makes everything warm and whole and perfect, so perfect that he can't understand why the clause hasn't claimed his soul. Willow's researching that, though, in the earnest way he remembers so well from the high school library in days gone by, determined to solve the mystery. Dawn just scoffs and wonders what the point of asking why is. As long as his soul's here to stay, that's all that matters.

Revenge is bliss.

Of course, if that's true, than so is the reverse - bliss is also revenge. All three of them know what their contentment does to the girl who unintentionally brought it about. Know that her empty fling with the Immortal doesn't hold a candle to the lasting commitment they've forged with each other. But, happily, it's not what matters most. What they've found together is definitely the cake. Revenge is just the icing.

The End.