Our eyes clashed once more.

The smoke surrounding the scene seemed to play the role of a barrier, separating us from joining in the middle. However I knew that this was the end … and judging by the fiery pain burning in the depths of her eyes, she knew that too. I could see her hand twitch as the grasp on her diploma tightened. She was in pain, I could tell. And knowing this information, I allowed my eyes to drink her appearance in one more time, etching every single feature of her beauty into my mind, before I spun on my heel and turned my back on her.

It was the hardest thing I had ever done in the many centuries I had lived. And I knew, if I had been alive, I would have crumpled and died straight there. But I was immortal and death refused to take me until I met my match with the sunlight or a wooden end of a stake. To some people, not having to die was the best part of immortality – who seriously wanted to die? Except to me, it was the most extreme force of torture. I would forever have to live with this hole in my world, the pain in my eternally frozen heart, whilst the world continued to change around me.

I roamed the earth, going from country to country, continent to continent, trying my hardest to forget everything that had been screaming at me to return to Sunnydale. I busied myself with learning languages, meeting ancient supernatural creatures, and helping those who needed saving. Still the thought of my other half, the love of my existence, in Sunnydale was always front and centre in my mind. I had to return.

I never let her see me. I secured myself in the confines of the bushes and shadows. She would sense me – I was certain of that – although hopefully she brushed it off as a stray cat or something. I watched in the shadows as she fought with other vampires, fulfilling her requirements as a slayer, and at times I almost lost control and revealed myself when a vampire would hit her too hard. Seeing women get hit ignited a fury and protectiveness inside you. I would return back to her dormitory with her, even if she was unaware that she was being protected the whole way, and stay concealed in the darkness, watching her stare at the window. Searching for me. When the sun threatened to eliminate me, I returned back to my old underground flat and waited till it was night once more. Then I was gone again.

I didn't return then for another three years. The longest, emptiest three years of my existence. I couldn't understand how I had survived them without going insane; however I welcomed the trip back to Sunnydale more heartedly now. It had been too long since I had seen the most beautiful face in the world.

Except when I returned this time, she wasn't the same. She was beautiful – that would always be true – however this time she simply shone with radiance that I had thought impossible until now. Her flat, toned stomach was now replaced with a large baby bump. I guessed she was about seven months along. She caressed her bump often I observed. And, when she was alone, she spoke to it with love and admiration.

I stayed longer this time. I couldn't tear myself away.

Obviously she was with someone. A tall, slim guy, who was called Riley as I had heard, and I guessed he was the father of her child. Part of me was happy for her – glad that she had moved on, got a life and found love again, because wasn't that what I had left for in the first place? To give her a life that she could never have with me. But that was the other half that made me feel numb – I wish it had been me curling up with her at night, resting my hand over her large stomach, and whispering promises to the baby inside, I wish it had been me who had taken over her slaying duties as soon as she revealed her pregnancy. Except that dream was eternally lost before it could even be grasped. I could never have fathered her children. But seeing her now, laughing and loving this tiny baby inside her with everything she had, I was happy that I had left, otherwise I would have deprived her of everything she was enjoying now.

I stayed for the next two month. Sleeping through the day and lurking in the darkness at night. I was almost seen once by Willow, although she then dropped the box she was carrying and a string of swear words that I could never imagine Willow saying was expressed and the attention was off me.

When I came out lurking one night, I was in time to see Buffy's blue SUV pull up on the drive. And she stepped out carrying the most handsome baby boy I had ever seen in my life. He was wrapped up in a blue blanket, pressed tightly against her chest as her eyes never left his face. Her eyes sparkled like two of the brightest stars in the sky. Her love burned deeply in them as I knew they would eternally.

'Baby Liam,' she cooed, pressing a kiss to his forehead as she made her way up the steps to her home.

I left that night. However knowing she had named her first child after me, after my human name that I had thought she would never remember, my heart swelled with pride and love for the woman that I had captured my heart all those years ago.

I returned a few times over the next few years. I watched as Liam grew up, resembling more of his mother with every passing day. I was able to watch her enjoy the parenthood from a distance. Yet I longed to be by her side, helping her with our own children. Three years after Liam had been born, I watched again as she carried her second son up the steps to her home in the same blue blanket. His name was Noah. He had her eyes. He was going to a handsome young man one day. I realised after another few visits, ones that only consisted of me staying a night to check up on her and her children before leaving again, that neither she nor Riley had a wedding ring on. I did notice, however, that the Claddagh ring I bought her was always worn on a chain around her neck. I took pride in this knowledge. And then, two years after Noah had been brought into the world, she brought home another child. This time it was a girl. I didn't manage to catch her new daughters name on the first night she brought her home – carrying her in a pink blanket, surprising me slightly as I had been so used to seeing the blue sacred one. I stayed over another night, desperately needing to know her daughters name before I left once again. Thankfully, on my second night, I heard her name. Grace. Such a beautiful name for such a beautiful creature.

And I left.

I knew that I had gone back one too many times. I couldn't keep focusing on the past; I needed to move away from Sunnydale. Curiosity had gotten the better of me since I had left her and I knew that, no matter what, I would always need to know if she was safe. And now she had children, I felt strangely protective of them as well. But I began to busy myself again, forbidding myself to not go back because I knew that going back would only cause me the same heart ache it always brought when I saw her.

And then one day, when I was in LA, I heard some demon talking about the Slayer's lover dying. I was aware that eavesdropping was frowned upon, though I needed to hear what was going on.

A threat had been made against her children, mainly against Grace. Her lover, Riley, hadn't been happy and he lashed out apparently … she was unable to save him. They killed him. She was left all alone with a three year old, five year old and eight year old. They would be fatherless, like she had been after moving from LA to Sunnydale. Except her father had left of choice, not fate.

I stood in the shadows when she said goodbye to her lover. The funeral had been held in the morning, where family and friends gathered around to mourn their loss, yet she had returned later that night, minus her children who were probably with Willow or another member of the Scooby Gang. She stayed strong, only shedding a few tears, and left a single rose across the newly dug dirt. Her eyes scanned over my hiding place a few times and I could have sworn she smiled. However, she left without coming to investigate.

And then, before I could even blink, ten years had passed. Ten years since I had seen her mesmerizing face. Ten years since her lover had died. Ten years since I had seen her children. Liam would be eighteen, Noah would be fifteen and Grace would be thirteen. She would be thirty six now. Still rather young to be a widow with three children and the supernatural world resting upon her shoulders. There had been a few crises in the supernatural world over the last ten years – nothing that she couldn't handle though. I was impressed with how she had juggled it with parenthood. Liam helped her with her slaying on occasions, much to her annoyance I had been told – apparently she hated having her children with her when she was patrolling.

Another five years passed.

I needed to go back. I could feel my cold, dead heart begging me to go back, to see her once again. After wrestling with the idea through the days when the sun would hold me prisoner, I decided that I wanted to go back. I wanted to see how she was coping, I wanted to see her children all grown up, I wanted to see her beautiful face …

So back I was, lurking in the darkness in her back garden.

I caught a glimmer of each of her children.

Liam was tall, probably around six foot, and I was certain he towered over his mother. He was muscled, toned and tanned – everything a girl looked for in appearance. His hair had darkened since he was younger because it was now a light brown colour, which I was guessing he had inherited from his father, and I was sadly too far away to capture the colour of his eyes – to which I was disappointed about. I watched as he walked around the kitchen, a big bag of cheesy puffs in his arms, talking to someone who was out of my view. I couldn't believe he was twenty three already … I could still remember the day when Buffy brought him home in his blue blanket, cooing and admiring him.

Then his sister, Grace, entered the kitchen.

For a moment I thought it had been her mother who had walked in. Grace was a spitting image of her. She had long, blonde hair that was tied up into a rough ponytail, her body was slim and curvy, just like her Mothers, and she had the exact same sun kissed glow to her skin. Her hands were on her hips and she appeared to be scolding her brother, to which he was rolling his eyes at and munching on his snack. Once again, I wished I was able to see her eyes. I knew she was eighteen years old now and, like with Liam, it seemed odd because I could remember when she was brought home. Eighteen years old … that's how old her mother had been when I left her. I only now realised how young she had in fact been when I broke her heart.

I snapped out of my thoughts only to find that the kitchen was now deserted and the backdoor was open. A small figure stood in the light of the door, a dressing gown wrapped tightly around her small frame.

'Come in,' I heard her soft voice say, knowing full well I would hear.

Almost twenty four years since I had last heard her musical voice. And suddenly I felt my heart burst alight in flames. I realised that when I had left, my heart had died … seeing her, hearing her, everything to do with her was bringing it back to life.

I stepped out of the darkness.

On their own accord, my feet dragged me across the garden and up the decking steps until, after twenty four years I was face to face with the love of my existence again.

She was forty one now except she still looked as radiant and as inhumanly beautiful as she had been all those years ago. Her skin was still tanned and smooth, her eyes still shone like two of the brightest stars in heaven, and her welcoming smile was dazzling. Her blonde hair curled and spiralled down her back, shining in the kitchen light. She was still small, and I still towered over her, and she still maintained her tiny, toned frame … which was an achievement seeing as she had three children. She stood up on her tiptoes and pressed her pink lips to my cheek.

For the first time in twenty four years, I felt love.

She took my large, cold hand in her own warm one and pulled me inside. She hadn't lost an ounce of her slayer strength.

She dragged me through the kitchen, where a bag of cheesy puffs lay on the counter, through the dining room and into the sitting room. As she pushed me down onto the sofa, I saw a glimmer of Noah, the only child of hers that had been missing in the kitchen.

He had curly blonde hair, unlike his siblings, with slight tints of brown. He was taller than Grace, but shorter than Liam. However he seemed to be just as muscular and toned as his brother. He was tanned like both of his siblings. I realised I was close enough to capture a glance at his eyes. They were a beautiful shade of hazel. Exactly like his mothers. He gave me a small smile, showing off the perfection of his white teeth, before disappearing behind the door. Twenty year old Noah. Like the other two, I could remember him being a tiny baby wrapped up in that loveable blue blanket.

'Twenty four years,' she said, breaking the silence, 'and not once have you ever spoken to me.'


'I know you were there, Angel, don't lie to me. When I brought home each of my children from the hospital, a few times throughout the year, when Riley died …'

'I'm sorry,' I said pathetically.

'I sensed you. Time and time again, I knew you were there, and I hoped every damn single time that you would come and see me,' she said angrily, brokenly.

'I didn't want to interrupt your life-'

'Who do you think you are coming here and watching me behind my back?' she questioned, her voice rising.

I couldn't think of anything to say, I knew she had a point, so I merely apologized once again.

'What was it? Some new torment you cooked up just for me?'

I could see the hurt pooled in her beautiful hazel eyes as she scanned my face, her hands curled up into fists whilst her top teeth sunk into her bottom.

'No, I didn't want to torment you…'

'You can see me, but I can't see you? How is that fair?' Her voice drowned in sadness at the thought. I immediately felt guilty for even coming.

'I tried to do what I thought was right,' I explained poorly.

She shook her head, a cold laugh escaping her lips. 'You didn't feel I was important enough to even tell me you were there.'

'No, I –'

But she interrupted me before I could deny it.

'I'm a big girl now, Angel. I'm not in High School anymore. A lot has happened to me since you left,' she whispered, the intensity of her voice suddenly falling.

A lot had happened to her since she had left. She had found a new love, had three beautiful children, lost her love, and was still fighting the supernatural as she had been the day I had left. Where as me – well, what had happened to me in the past twenty four years? I couldn't even remember myself what I had done whilst I hadn't been here in Sunnydale, skulking in the shadows to watch her.

'I know. I respect that. I'm sorry if I handled this wrong. I mean, what else was I supposed to do?' I said, begging for forgiveness using the tone of my voice.

'I just know when you're around, whether I see you or not, - I feel you – inside – and it throws me. For the past twenty four years, I've randomly just felt you. And at first I thought it was just me, trying to cling onto you, but I knew it was you.'

'Buffy,' I whispered.

It was the first time I had spoken her name since the day I had left.

'You know what my oldest son is called?' she asked.

I nodded.

'Of course you do,' Buffy laughed, rolling her eyes at herself.

I felt the smile spread across my face. It felt odd – I hadn't smiled in such a long time. 'Thank you,' I said.

'No, thank you,' she replied.

We lapsed into a silence, both of us deep within our own thoughts, as the only sound came from the padding of footsteps upstairs. Finally, before I could break it myself, Buffy spoke.

'I'm dying, Angel,' she whispered.

I looked up instantly.

She was looking down at her clasped hands, tears welling up in her beautiful eyes. I placed my thumb under her chin and lifted it up, angling it so she was facing me. She looked, for the first time ever, scared.

'I have a brain tumour. It's too progressed and there is nothing they can do. I only have a few months to live,' Buffy said, tears cascading down her cheeks. 'Angel, I'm so scared. I can't fight this. This is something that is unbeatable.'

And soon she was sobbing.

I pulled her onto my lap, wrapping my arms around her small frame, and tucking her head under my chin. Her sobs wracked her body and I could feel the moisture soaking through my shirt. I had never seen Buffy so vulnerable, so frightened. Even during my Angeles period, she hadn't been as scared as this.

'I'm so sorry, love,' I whispered into her hair.

She shook her head, sniffling. 'It's alright. It' just that … after all these years of slaying and fighting monsters, I had always thought that was how I would go out. A brain tumour just … was … I dunno … so unexpected.'

I didn't know what to say. I felt numb. I wanted to comfort her, though my lips were paralysed shut.

'I've told the kids … they are so distraught. First Riley, now me. It isn't fair. I worked my damn ass off for the high heavens and this is my reward?'

Buffy was right. She had done so much for this world, fought her hardest every single day to protect the people of this world, and they were repaying her with death. I had always thought the world was a fair place, that good things happened to those who wait, but I guess I was wrong. Buffy didn't deserve to die. She was too pure for this brutal fate.

'I love you, so much. I tried so hard to move on and I couldn't. I loved Riley, I really did. But I could never have given him my whole heart. Because, the truth is, I gave my heart away along time ago and … I never really got it back,' Buffy whispered, stroking her thumb across the back of my neck.

'And I never married him,' she continued. 'I told him everything. About you, about our love. He understood and he knew I still loved him just enough to make our relationship work. But I just couldn't marry him, even after he asked me, because to marry someone I believe you have to give them the whole of you. How could I give him the whole of me when half of me belonged to someone else and had been since I was seventeen?'

Tears rolled down my cheek as I pressed my face into her hair. I had hardly ever cried in my existence. But I could feel everything in my body becoming numb, cold, empty.

'Hey, Angel, please be strong. Don't feel sorry for me, death is my gift. And I'll be okay,' she soothed.

She was soothing me! God, this woman sat on my lap was amazing, a true gift from god. Here she was … marked for death … and she was comforting me. I hugged her closely to me.

'I love you always, so much, forever,' I whispered.

'I love you too. I've never stopped,' she replied, pressing her forehead against mine.

For the first time in twenty four years, I felt whole.

I stayed with her until the very end. Every night she lay in my arms, telling me stories about her life, until she would fall asleep against my chest. Her children welcomed me with warmth – I wondered if Buffy had told them about me. I helped with her slayer duties, dusting vampires and kicking ass for the first time in years. I even reunited with the Scooby Gang – except from Giles who had sadly passed away three years ago. Willow and Oz had children, Xander and Anya had twin girls, and even Faith had apparently settled down somewhere nice with a man. I never realised how much had been going on since I had left.

It had been five months since I had reunited with Buffy.

One evening she spent the full night talking to me about our memories before falling asleep in my arms, mumbling how much she loved me and always would.

It was the last words she had ever said.

The next morning she didn't awake. Her body was stone cold. It looked like she was sleeping peacefully, a hint of a smile shining upon her face. Her children gathered around the bed, whispering their goodbyes with tearful eyes.

The most amazing woman I had ever known existed no more. And an emptiness that was indescribable took over my life.

Nothing would ever be the same again.

Buffy had lived fully. She had saved so many lives, prevented so many apocalypses', and loved so many people. She had given birth to three beautiful and pure children that would make her proud from where she now rested. Even when she knew the end was coming for her, she kept her head held high and approached it with the bravery she had always known. No one on this Earth could ever be as legendary as Buffy Anne Summers.

The night after her funeral, which I had missed due to the fact it had been hosted in broad daylight, I sat by the fresh dirt that enclosed Buffy in the ground below. I spent the full night talking to her as though she was sat right next to me. I declared my eternal love for her over and over again.

Finally I could sense the sun was about to rise.

I knew my end was coming as I shifted closer to Buffy's grave, preparing myself to disintegrate into ashes across the fresh pile of dirt.

I knew right from the start that I couldn't live in a world without her. And if that godly angel had met her end too soon, then so would I. Because even Death, the most powerful force on the Earth, couldn't keep us apart.

For the first time in twenty four years, I felt alive.

Spend all your time waiting
For that second chance
For a break that would make it okay
's always one reason
To feel not good enough
And it
's hard at the end of the day
I need some distraction
Oh beautiful release
Memory seeps from my veins
Let me be empty
And weightless and maybe
'll find some peace tonight're in the arms of the angel
May you find some comfort there
's vultures and thieves at your back
And the storm keeps on twisting
You keep on building the lie
That you make up for all that you lack
It don
't make no difference
Escaping one last time
's easier to believe in this sweet madness oh
This glorious sadness that brings me to my knees
're in the arms of the angel
May you find some comfort there
're in the arms of the angel
May you find some comfort here.

In the arms of an angel
Fly away from here
From this dark cold hotel room
And the endlessness that you fear
You are pulled from the wreckage
Of your silent reverie

So tired of the straight line
And everywhere you turn

In the arms of an angel
Fly away from here
From this dark cold hotel room
And the endlessness that you fear
You are pulled from the wreckage
Of your silent reverie

- Angel, Sarah McLachlan.

This is, without a doubt, the longest one-shot I have ever wrote in my fanfic years. It took me hours to write this and I didn't give up on it because it touched me, it really did. I was so inspired that I had to write this right to the end. I hope you liked it, I hope it touched you in some way as it did for me!

Please review, it really means a lot to me.

Lots of love,

Beth x