AUTHORS NOTE: This one-shot is a dedication, a tribute, to those who lost their lives or to those who lost loved ones in the tragic event that was 9/11. This one-shot is in no way trying to cause any distress or offence to anyone at all. I know I am English, and the tragic happening wasn't in my country, though I am human and I have feelings. And I can not say how much it tears me apart to see something so horrible happen. My deepest sympathies to those who have lost anyone or whose lives have been torn apart by the event.

When I think back
On these times
And the dreams
We left behind
I'll be glad 'cause
I was blessed to get
To have you in my life
When I look back
On these days
I'll look and see your face
You were right there for me

In my dreams
I'll always see you soar
Above the sky
In my heart
There will always be a place
For you for all my life
I'll keep a part
Of you with me
And everywhere I am
There you'll be
And everywhere I am
There you'll be

Well you showed me
How it feels
To feel the sky
Within my reach
And I always
Will remember all
The strength you
Gave to me
Your love made me
Make it through
Oh, I owe so much to you
You were right there for me

'Cause I always saw in you
My light, my strength
And I want to thank you
Now for all the ways
You were right there for me
You were right there for me
For always

In my dreams
I'll always see you soar
Above the sky
In my heart
There will always be a place
For you for all my life
I'll keep a part
Of you with me
And everywhere I am
There you'll be
And everywhere I am
There you'll be
There you'll be

Faith Hill, There you'll be.

I could still remember it as though it had been yesterday. It had been a year, three hundred and sixty five days, though the pain was still as fresh and unbearable as it had been this time last year. And, for once, time did not heal all wounds...

The sky had been such a peaceful shade of blue and the sun had shined brightly, resulting in what everyone thought was going to be a beautiful day in New York City. Many of the tourists wandered the streets, their cameras snapping photos of the famous city that I was happy to call our home. Most people had chosen to walk to school or work that morning, a slight skip in their step, as they let the warmth of the sun beat down on their smiling faces. Even Angel, who had rarely walked to work, decided that today was a day of change, and that from that day onwards he would walk to work every single day. I was amazed at how a sudden upbeat in the weather could cause the soaring of spirits.

The sky had been such a peaceful shade of blue and the sun had shined brightly, resulting in what everyone thought was going to be a beautiful day in New York City. Except we couldn't have been any more wrong …

I had been tidying up our two bed-roomed apartment at the time, keeping a close eye on our two year old daughter, Grace, who sat happily in her high chair, turning her dinner into a great pile of mush. The floor beneath her was covered in mashed up potatoes and carrots, though the amazement on her gorgeous face was enough to turn me into a sap. Instead of moaning at her, knowing full well that she wouldn't understand, I took the plate off her, surprised mostly that she hadn't cried, and placed it on the ever growing pile of dirty dishes that needed to be washed. Turning on the radio to a catchy song, I fell onto my knees under her highchair and began cleaning up the mess surrounding it.

Suddenly, the phone rang.

If I had known who had been on the other line, if I had had any clue as to what I would have been hearing, I would have ran over and answered the phone without a second of hesitation. However, with the mushy mess before me, thinking that it probably would have just been Willow anyway, I ignored the phone and bent over to turn the volume up on the radio.

Unknown to me at the time … I had just made the stupidest mistake of my life.

After I had cleaned up the mess, turned off the radio, and put Grace on the rug with her toys, my eyes fell on the flashing light of the answering machine. I knew instantly that maybe the caller hadn't been Willow and, if it had, then something must have been seriously important for her to leave a message. Glancing back to reassure myself that Grace hadn't done a runner and disappeared from her spot on the rug; I picked up the phone and pressed the answer phone button.

As soon as the answer phone declared I had one new message and loudly beeped, Angel's voice flooded the sitting room.

My stomach squelched. My heart failed. The tone of his voice captured me before his words. It sounded so weak, so lack of life, without a shed of hope left in his muscular body.

'Buffy, I don't know how to tell you this. Listen, a plane has crashed into my tower. I'm fine, please don't worry … everything is getting sorted out. But, just in case this is the end, I just want you to know that I love you. I will always love. And tell Grace how much I love her too. Let her know how her Daddy loved her so much. I better go now. I love you. Always.'

And then the message ended. Angel's voice disappeared. And I was only left with silence.

My whole body just went numb, I couldn't coherent any of the thoughts that were going through my brain. Only Angel's lifeless words rung front and centre in my mind. And then I stood up, shuffled from the room without even a fleeting glance towards my daughter, and headed towards the bathroom.

I fell to my knees, hot tears stinging my eyes unbearably, and vomited into the toilet, throwing up the whole contents of my stomach. Cold sweat pooled on my forehead as the vomiting stopped and the tears began. I had sat sobbing for god knows how long, but I knew that my eyes never ran dry. Eventually the sound of the phone ringing had me running into the sitting room, begging the heavens that it was Angel and he was safe again.

'Angel? I gasped.

'I'm sorry, niblet,' was the response from Angel's best friend, Spike.

Even Spike, who was always so upbeat and sarcastic, sounded dead to me. Or maybe his voice sounded normal, maybe it was me who was dying.

'I'm so sorry, Buffy-'

'Don't,' I whispered.

Silence. Thick, painful silence.

Then, once again, his hopeless voice spoke.

'Promise me something, Buffy, promise me.'

'I promise,' I said quietly.

'Do not turn on the television.'

The first thing I did was let my eyes flicker to the plasma television. And I desperately wanted to run over and sit in front of it, to watch everything that Spike was protecting me from, but the fear outweighed that temptation. I now feared the television. It held the true horrors of reality.

'Ok,' I promised deadly.

I hung up on Spike and fell to the floor besides the cabinet, clutching the phone to my heart. I rocked backwards and forwards, watching Grace with my tear stained eyes.

Her head cocked up. Her brown eyes clashed with my hazel ones. And I turned my head. Her eyes were too much like Angel's – the exact same deep shade of brown with the exact same look of concern he would have worn if he had seen me. She was the spitting image of him. From the top of her head to the tip of her toes, she was Angel all over.

Grace suddenly began wailing, abandoning all her toys, as her beautiful face turned a startling red. My own sobs mingled with hers, the room filled with the same heartbroken noise. I crawled over to her, the phone tucked in the waistband of my jeans. I picked her up and cradled her into my chest, sobbing painfully into her hair as she sobbed into my chest, dampening the fabric of my t-shirt.

I couldn't loose him. Not Angel. Not my best friend, my husband, my soul mate. Grace's Father. Spike's best friend. He couldn't go, not yet, it wasn't his damn fucking time! He had a life, dreams, a family and friends. He had a future! How could that all be snatched away?! I WANTED TO KNOW WHY! How everything could be taken away from him … from Grace … from me.

For the third time that morning, the phone rung again. The sound deafened me.

'Angel?' my voice trembled.

'Buffy, oh Buffy.'

I leant my head against the sofa, the tears spilling from my chin, as I let the sound of his musical voice echo in my head.

'You-you're coming h-h-home, right? I mean, you're out of the building, aren't you?'

And I had never feared an answer to a question more in my whole life. My whole life depended on his next few words.

'Buffy …'

'NO!' I shouted.

He wasn't coming back. His voice was too full of regret, of loss. He had to come home. There was no other alternative. I needed him to come home and cradle me in his arms, soothe me and promise me he wasn't going anywhere. I needed to feel the smoothness of his skin, see the twinkle in his eyes. I wanted to kiss him, show him how much I loved him. There were so many things left undone that we had a lifetime to do.

'We're stuck, Buffy. The stair wells were destroyed – there's no way down from my floor.'

'No. No. No. No. No. Please, Angel, god, please, please …'

My words were caught in my mouth; they scratched and tore at my throat, as Grace began crying again. And then I was sobbing uncontrollably … then Angel was crying as well.

'B-B-Buffy, I love you so much. I can't thank y-y-you enough for what you've given me. Tell everyone I love them; let them know I'm okay. Please, tell Grace how much I love her, how much I'll always love her. Never forget that you're my girl. I want you to live, Buffy, even after I've gone. Just remember that-'

And then screams echoed down the phone. Screams of pure, absolute terror. My whole body began to shake fiercely as the screams continued. Then, before I could say anything or Angel could continue with his heart-filled speech, the line went dead.

'NO!' I cried.

I rocked Grace as she cried louder as I redialled Angel's mobile number. But it never connected. Even the voice mail didn't answer in replacement.

'Daddy's going to be okay, Daddy's going to be okay,' I repeatedly chanted into Grace's ear as we cuddled together, tears staining our faces.

But I had been so terribly wrong.

The North tower had collapsed, leaving the rubble and dust behind in its wake, crushing almost everyone who had been inside. Including Angel. And he had never finished his sentence … I didn't know what he wanted me to remember. And I hated myself for wasting so much time. Because you started to respect time a lot more when it was constantly trying to be taken away from you – you had to decide what you wanted to do with it. And I had wanted to tell Angel I loved him, promise him I would always love him, and vow that I would raise our daughter properly, but it was too late. Time had no sympathy for you.

And the days had passed so painfully slow after. The whole of America had been devastated; peoples lives had been torn apart – my life had been torn about. And I had locked myself away in my bedroom with Grace, surrounding myself with the photographs I had been able to capture in Angel's short thirty three years of life. And I spent hours looking at a single photograph, letting my fingertips roam across his face. I hadn't wanted to be crowded by my friends and family – not even my Mother who had come all the way from California to check on me. Because none of them were Angel. Because he was dead. And I had no idea how I was supposed to come to terms with that fact.

And then my heart had been ripped open again.

A week after Angel's death, after the destruction of both the towers, Grace had asked me one very simple question.

'Where is Daddy?'

My heart shattered every single time she asked. Even now, a year later, she still asked occasionally. At first, she had asked every single waking moment. When the door opened, she would run as fast as her small legs would carry her and I would see the same heartbroken look on her face when someone else walked through the door. And then when someone rung, she would ask if it was Daddy. But one night, she had found a picture of Angel left on my floor. She started crying and asking me where he was, when he was coming back. And I collapsed to the floor, wishing that he would come home, wishing I could give Grace her Daddy back. A few nights after that incident, I spent full nights up just sobbing quietly into his pillow, breathing in his scent. But that finally faded. Just like Grace's questions as to where her Daddy was. Finally, I think, she just gave up and realised he wasn't coming back. But, once or twice, she would have a sudden surge of hope and would ask…

'Will Daddy ever come home?'

One day I knew I would have to tell her. I would sit down and explain everything, but for now she was too fragile to be expected to handle the truth. Even I wasn't strong enough to handle the truth. No one was.

We lost so much on the eleventh of September 2001, and we would never forget how the gaping whole in our hearts it had left us with. But I knew Angel loved me and Grace, more than anything on heaven or earth, and I guess that was all that really mattered.

One day I would join him up in the clouds above. One day we could be re-united.

But, for now, I just had to settle on re-building the broken fragments of my life. Because I knew my guardian Angel would always be watching over me.