Author's Note: Okay, so as stated - this is sort of a tag fic to my very old fic and adaptation of events that immediately followed "Not Fade Away". The fic in question is "After the Fall: Rise of the Fallen", which I had written and posted before the After the Fall comics had come out.
You don't have to read the big momma fic if you don't like. It's not really necessary. This little tag here pretty much gives the backstory on its own. Quick recap: Angel and Illyria had been the only two to survive the alley fight. Illyria basically nursed Angel back to health because he was in a bad way, even let him take a nibble on her arm so that her blood could heal him faster. Angel shan-shu'd. Reincarnated Oracles offered him a new life, but he chose to go find Buffy. Happily after all. Sidenotes: Angel and Illyria became extremely close, Angel's still superstrong only because he'd ingested the lifeblood of the Liaison while at Wolfram and Hart. Plus, Illyria's blood gave him a nice adrenaline jolt, too.
This takes place a few years after the original fic.
Lips are turning blue : a kiss that can't renew
I only dream of you : my beautiful
Sing for absolution : I will be singing
Falling from your grace
Our wrongs remain unrectified
And our souls won't be exhumed
The world silences, and she's in agony.
The chaos around them is suddenly forgotten, the sardonic buzzing in her ears all she hears. But it isn't her focus. Her focus is on him–confidante, partner, lover, husband–and his descent to his knees. Fallen, like the angel he is.
The sword is gleaming, strange and out of place while jutting from his chest.
His grace and guardian nature becomes his downfall. In immediate and righteous aid of another warrior, he meets his end. His adversary, a looming and powerful demon lord, tears its weapon from her soul mate's chest after the killing strike.
She doesn't hear her cry of anguish. Doesn't recognize her own voice, her own madness as she forcibly battles her way across the front line. She can't get to him fast enough, the ground becomes like sand and the air thickens. Both sides of the war seem to still, part. She makes for the center of turmoil, for he is her beacon. His light, though, is dimming.
She knows the direness of this moment before she even reaches him.
Now, the silence is real. Humans, slayers, warriors, and demons alike all stare, transfixed by the fall of this man, this champion.
Time stutters, dimensions blink. She collapses at his side, seizing him into her arms. Gasping, barely able to draw breath. She hasn't known Hell before this moment."Angel!"
He labors through the stunning pain, returns the frantic hold on her hand when she seeks his in desperation. His grip leaves her hand crimson. Stained with his blood. She knows that look of forlorn acceptance on his face, and begs him to deny it. His chest heaves with striving breaths, measured. Broken. He knows it's inevitable, but he doesn't want to stop looking at her. Her face fills his suddenly distorted vision, and he doesn't want it to go away.
"Don't, don't!" she pleads, profound sadness claiming every inch of her lovely face, those eyes he worships. "Please, Angel, hold on!"
It will be different, it has to. It must. He's human, magnificently human, but he's hers! It's not supposed to happen like this–he's stronger. Stronger than any human–his heart beats, pulse flows with the blood of the Liaison. Surely, this will save him!
No, but his eyes are slipping out of focus.
She's weeping, and he's the cause. Suddenly, he's miserable. The mortal wound he wears like a bleeding badge is nowhere near as painful to this. He could tell her he loves her, but saying it aloud–something so clearly evident, so known–would only make his dying words somehow inadequate.
"Live, Buffy," he tells her instead, voice faint. Almost inaudible, but she feels his words like fingerprints on her skin. Tangible, alive–where as he is fading like a dream that never was.
He'll want her to keep fighting. Not to run away, abandon her cause. He'll be gone now, the world will need her more than ever.
Heaving sobs spill from her lips as her cheek is brought flush against his face. Once, it'd been pale as the moon itself. And she'd seen stars in his eyes at night. Over time, being often exposed to the sun, he'd gained color. A warm glow which made that rare smile of his even brighter. That color quickly leaches from him now, and he wilts in her arms. Such a strong man, once a mighty creature under the night sky… it's wrong for him to be rendered so powerless.
Eyes wired shut, she grips him tighter. Wills him to be strong again. To stand up with her and join her again. At her side, where he belongs. Has always belonged. Together, they've always been something more–unstoppable, unbeatable. Eternal, as long as the world would have them. Alone, they are so much less than that magnificent and legendary myth. They're supposed to be buried together. "Angel, please," she whispers, a fleeting anomaly in the tragic atmosphere. "Stay with me."
But he won't, doesn't.
She knows he's fighting. Trying to remain. He should be gone by now, but he isn't–by sheer force of will. Pulling away, she watches as the light irrevocably leaves his eyes. The stars go out, shuttered beneath their lids. His grip slackens, slips.
And he's gone.
Nothing is real she decides, not long after his fall. Worlds rush past her, making her nauseous with the speeding elements. She stares down at him, unable to look away. Her tears leave tiny moisture drops on his chest and face that's pale again.
My angel… my sweet angel…
In the back of her mind, she's ephemerally aware of the others. His son had been feet away, looking on with pure desolation. She hears him sink to his knees with a sickening thud. He begins to sob–great wracking howls–and she wants to comfort him, hold him. But she's rooted. Guarding what remains of her other half against the outside world. A world, an existence, that's crueler than she remembers.
The others attempt consolation of the boy, but he fights them all back, belligerent in his grieving despair. It's Faith who finally tackles him to the hard ground, seizing him in a fraught embrace, crying with him. He buries his face into her hair, and she cradles him, holds him steady. Though she's breaking, herself.
Illyria is somewhere that's away, but not overly far.
She's always been especially proficient at it, but now she's driven by bereaved outrage. Large cerulean eyes ablaze and hateful. Screaming, declaring her own personal war, vendetta, revenge against the lords and their underlings. Demanding their blood. Emitting a foreign noise to her lips that sounds suspiciously like sobbing. It sounds like broken glass.
When they're gone, her rampage completed at the lack of fresh targets to pummel, she collapses in the middle of the street. Bowed over herself. Gloved hands dig into the gravel and she bares her teeth in an expression of contorted heartache. No one dares approach her.
No one dares approach the Slayer, either.
Giles stands aimlessly, suitably saddened. Deep frown lines and furrows crease his face, and his eyes fill with sympathy at his charge. Xander comforts a weeping Willow, a darkening Dawn.
And Buffy, friends and allies surrounding her, is alone again.
Her angel is gone. This… this just won't do.
"Take it back."
She'll lose a part of herself in this pursuit, but it's better than being hollow. She can live a life without him if she must, but she cannot live in a world without him.
"The human speaks, but speaks nonsense."
"What you request is unprecedented," the female speaks more kindly.
But she isn't here for benevolence, for sympathy. She has come for results and will not leave without them. The Oracles are obstinate, but she's deeply immovable on the matter. She'll remain here for centuries, if that's what it takes. Time here is different, and she'll haunt these soothsaying entities for the rest of eternity, if they try her.
"Listen to me. It can't happen like this!" She's squared off, ready for–in need of–a spar. She desperately craves to strike something. Whether they're on the same side of the War or not, her patience is flagging.
"You've lost someone very dear," the female reminds softly. The male glances away, unbothered. "The world shares your grief at the loss of him, but it isn't meant to be so."
"He died while living out his reward, before he could even fully taste it–how is that fair? After everything he's done for the Powers! How can they do this to him?" Her eyes plead, desperately seeking solace. A respite from this terrible pain. This grief that's nearly consumed her. She fears another moment longer without him will activate her own fall.
"And how can they do this to you?" the male interjects, and the remark isn't quite so biting. There's a flicker of something that's almost compassionate in those dead eyes, but it's gone before she can be certain.
Her retort dies on her lips, and her eyes promptly water. Ducking her head, she takes a steadying breath. "This isn't about me," she confesses quietly.
"Then what does it concern?" the female drifts nearer to her, head tilting in curious contemplation. Black curls swaying, flecks of gold and blue on her face glittering in the virtuous air.
"I want you to take away his humanity," Buffy says finally.
The Oracles look suitably stunned. The brother breaks first.
"And this?" the male's tone reaches a louder degree, taking a step closer. The timbre of it echoes off the eternal walls of the sanctuary. "This is fair to the one you claim to love? The reward he fought for, earned? And you wish to take it away in order to serve your own fickle purposes?"
"No!" she hastily denies. Alarmed that they might even think she'd do such a thing. Let alone consider it. "I want… I want you to sever his connections to this humanity. This life, this world."
The angry spark has left the brother's eyes, but he shakes his head all the same. "We are not the only who speak in riddles."
"Peace," his sister calmly berates.
Now, she's becoming increasingly provoked at their vague, evasive antics. Taking an aggressive step closer, eyes hardening, she fights to tamp down the dark emotions filling her from the core. "He told me you offered him another life," she insists. "Change the story! Make it so he chose the other one!"
"Child," the sister speaks, stoic expression softening. "We cannot alter free will. He chose you, chose to love you. We simply cannot–"
"You can!" she finally breaks. "You have to! He was a champion to the Powers! It was their intent for him to accept this gift! Don't you see? He made a mistake! So change it! Bend reality! I know you can!"
Silence descends when her outburst ceases. The air becomes tense, and her muscles coil with conflict.
"You were the reason he fought." It's the brother who initiates the words, finally. Reminds her.
And at last, though aggrieved, she sees the fracture in their steely façade. In their resolve. Countering quietly, she goes on. "No," she says. "That… that may have been how it started out. I may have given him his reason, but in the end?" Sadly, but with a soft acceptance, she shakes her head. "Down the line, he fought because he wanted to make a difference. He wanted to help people. Save them. He fought with me and at my side, not because of me."
That crack in their resolve splits open a little further at her testimony. The brother, cringing slightly, shakes his head. "This would be highly unorthodox…"
"A warrior was severed from your cause. Make an exception," she flatly advises. And then, more quietly: "Give him a life that's far away from here, away from me. Give him the full merits of his reward. Take him to a world that isn't like this. Please."
And then, from the sister: "We would, of course, require suitable compensation."
Without warning, there's an explosion of dazzling white light, and all three parties whirl at the archway, gaping at the rather hostile interloper. Illyria heaves the high lord forward, its impact on the marble stone resonating and thunderous. It emits a roar that's made of hatred and impending slaughter. She flips the tip of her ax upward with her boot heel and swings it in a deadly arc, severing the head from its body. Blood is spilled.
"Will this do?" the primordial god-king demands with quiet ferocity, ax still poised in her grip. Her fair cheeks are suspiciously stained with remaining evidence of her grieving. But she hasn't come here to conduct human emotions, if her menacing hold on the ax bears any indication.
The brother tilts his head ominously. "I remember you," he mutters derisively.
"Nor will you soon forget," Illyria snaps back, blue eyes serrated and loathsome.
A silent challenge seems to be issued, and the sister is first to speak. A calm resolve settling around her in an aura of generous acceptance. "It will do, Old One. Slayer?" A small nod, then. "It will be done."
She feels out of place.
The flurry of movement around her only seems to intensify when she reaches the desired floor. Stepping out into the bullpen, she's hesitant. Strangers brush past her, some nodding their acknowledgement, some issuing a friendly smile. She prefers those who ignore her completely. Her legs propel her forward without permission, and just like always… she can feel him. Knows exactly where he is in this loud, crowded place. She's magnetized, called. All she can do is obey its drawing force.
The escalating argument is impossible to ignore. Anyone and everyone can't not hear it. It piques the vast curiosity of others milling about the floor, but they don't observe for too long. Though the episode is fascinating, like a car wreck.
Her heart somersaults through her body when she sees him. There, through the glass walls of the office. The glow is back in his cheeks, the light back in his eyes, and she knows Heaven. He looks so different, but it's a comforting transformation. She shies back, but watches with rapt attention as he engages in animated conversation with another.
"Don't call me Bones!" the dark-haired woman cries, exasperated. Azure gaze sharp and annoyed.
Though the expression on his face is one of smug arrogance, there's amusement dancing in his eyes. His cheeks are flushed with provoked antagonism, but when the wound up visitor heaves a suffering sigh and storms out of his office, she notices the fleeting sparkle… catches the brief, almost secretive, upturn at his mouth.
Buffy sees him look at the other woman in a way that makes her stomach knot. She remembers when he first started looking at her that way.
"Excuse me," the woman mumbles civilly as she brushes past, though she can hear the annoyance still lacing her voice. Buffy nods distractedly, watches as his attention follows the woman. Then, as it was only inevitable, his gaze shifts and their eyes meet. She's aberrantly frozen, Slayer caught in the torchlight.
But when he suddenly smiles at her, that weight is lifted.
Still… it's a stranger's smile. Always so polite. A second later, he's breaking eye contact, sending one last look at the departing brunette before going back to his casework.
And she smiles.
It's bittersweet, but he's alive. This is better.
And just like all the times he'd faded out of her life for the prosperity of her welfare, she fades out of his. Never to see him again.
Two months later, she's slain on the battlefield in her own existent place–they're never too far distanced. Worlds apart, Seeley Booth is miserable that day at work–unable to fathom why. A little concerned at his unhappiness, his new partner takes him for pie and coffee. Gets him to smile that megawatt grin, something remarkable achieved that day. And everything's fine again.
In a different reality, the Slayer's headstone shares companionship with the commemorative one of her fallen equal. She'd passed with smiling acceptance, knowing the sacrifice was well worth the glory of knowing him to be breathing, living–even if far and absent from her side. Years later, only Illyria, Faith, and Connor remain to fight the good fight.
His son carries his memory. Lives on as his only surviving legacy.
He does his father proud.
A starlight in the gloom
I only dream of you : and you never knew