Chapter 1

Chapter 1

The door slammed behind him with enough force to shake the nearby windows. He thought briefly that he might have cracked the doorframe but ignored the idea. He didn't care if the entire front of the house now had a gaping fissure in it.

Standing in the middle of his living room, he felt his breath quicken. If he had stopped to consider what he was feeling, he might have realized he was on the verge of a complete meltdown. Thinking rationally, however, was not on his agenda for the night.

Dragging his hand through his hair, Angel released a shaky breath. Still, after months of trying to get used to the act, he still did not like the fact that he had to breathe. For centuries, he had practiced the motion out of sheer habit, but now, he was required to do so to live and he was annoyed.

A sob almost escaped his chest as he felt his breath catch. It was as though waves of grief were slamming into him at irregular intervals and he wasn't sure when they would come and couldn't prepare for them. Hugging his arms around his waist, he took a deep breath before releasing it in short and shaking burst.

Grinding his teeth together, he clenched his fists. His attempt at contact had been shunned yet again. He tried to tell himself that he wasn't surprised. He had been making excuses for her for months. No matter how hard he tried, though, he could not excuse her constant ignoring of his attempts to contact her.

Jut that afternoon; he had been dangerously close to calling her. He had been in possession of her cell phone number for a few weeks, but had refrained from using it. If she wouldn't respond to his letters, there was no way she would take his calls, he thought. For months, he had hoped and silently begged whatever higher power that would listen to soften her mistrust of him enough for her to contact him.

If only Buffy would send him a note that asked him never to write or call, he would have been satisfied. It was as if she didn't deem him worthy enough for a response. He knew the addresses were correct, he had verified them hundreds of times.

Looking to the ceiling, he closed his eyes tighter and bared his teeth. Something inside of him wanted to scream at the top of lungs, but he refrained himself. Shaking breaths escaped his lips as he felt his heart being ripped out of his chest for the thousandth time that year.

He should have stayed in Hell, he thought. She had sent him there, and it was obvious to him she wished he had stayed there as well. If only he had been left to be tortured to death every single day as his sanity slowed slipped away, he thought. He felt as though it was still happening, only here, in this dimension, he couldn't scream. Being the President and CEO of Wolfram and Hart meant that he had to be strong every second of every day. If he broke now, in the middle of his living room on a warm and dark evening, he would stay broken. He would never recover, he thought.

Instead of screaming or crying, both of which he longed to do; he grabbed the coffee table by its edge and threw it with all his might. Breathing hard, he smashed his fists through the loveseat before grabbing it and throwing it with all his strength through the sliding glass doors that led to the patio.

His entire body shook as he started into the kitchen. Grabbing the counter top for support, he felt a sob tear through his chest. Of course she didn't want him. Andrew had told him that Buffy didn't trust him anymore. He couldn't blame her, really. He didn't know why anyone trusted him.

Convinced it was just a matter of time before everyone realized how hideous and demented he was, he decided to comfort himself one of the only ways he knew how. Grabbing a bottle of authentic Irish whiskey from a cabinet, he stepped over the shards of broken glass and fell to his knees in the grass a few feet from the pool.

Buffy was only the first to realize what the others hadn't yet, he told himself. There was no redemption for him. Even now, with a heart beat and without an allergy to the sun, he knew he wasn't redeemed. If he died, he would go to Hell again. At times, that thought didn't bother him. Having killed so many people and destroyed so many lives, he knew there was no way to be redeemed. The Shanshu was a cruel trick to keep him playing the Powers' games.

Taking a long swallow right from the bottle, he felt his eyes start to burn. It had been years since he had cried, and he was not about to break that tradition. Clenching his fist, he felt his nails cut into his palm and the pain steadied him. The knowledge that he could feel pain led to the assurance he was still in existence. Not that existence, for him, was a good thing, he thought.

Swallowing the burning liquid once again, he fell from his knees to his hip and leaned to his side in the grass, concentrating on individual droplets of moisture staring to form. The sun was long down and he didn't know how long he sat there before hearing a familiar voice.

"Hey, you home? Come on, you poof, I want to go…" Will stopped short as he entered the living room. It was as if a dozen vampires had decided to take revenge on Angel's decorating skills.

Swallowing hard, Will started picking his way through the rubble, feeling a little uncomfortable. He could hear Angel's heartbeat from outside and the formerly blonde ex-vampire hoped Angel was in better shape than his living room. Sighing, he realized that was not the case.

Angel was sitting on the lawn, staring at the ground, a bottle of whiskey in hand. Shaking his head, Will sighed again. This did not bode well, he thought.