Holy sweet bajesus ANGST ALERT.

NOT my usual fluffy oneshot. I've been contemplating a bazillion different ideas, discarding them, picking them back up, lather, rinse, repeat. Haven't been thrilled with much of what I've written. Then I just sat at my computer and started writing this.

Takes place just as Willow is telling Angel about Buffy's death. Angel's POV

Angel walked into the Hyperion, the laugh still on him lips when he spotted a tearstained Willow on his couch, looking as if she'd lost her best…

The laughter died on his lips as everyone looked between him and Willow, puzzled.

He felt hot and cold, as if fire and ice raced each other across his nerve endings. His heart dropped to his stomach. His stomach plummeted. Emotions filled him up, clogging his throat and screaming for release even as he felt numb. Empty.

His world, so full of renewed hope, collapsed in on itself.

Cordelia looked at Willow in confusion and concern. Wesley in mild befuddlement. Gunn looked at Angel, wise enough to know that whatever news the redhead was here for would not leave Angel unscathed.

He couldn't move, but wanted to run. Drop everything and run as far away as possible. Outrun the news Willow had come to deliver. He wanted to drop to his knees and weep. He wanted to howl and rage.

He wanted Buffy to be okay.

He forced the words out breathlessly.

"It's Buffy."

Willow looked at him, devastation plain in her gaze.

No. No. No, no, no, no, no, no, No, NO, NO! The word was screaming in his brain, deafening him.

Cordelia looked at him in concern, hope still evident that the news, while bad, wasn't The Worst.

It was Gunn who seemed to understand. Angel wasn't stoic. He was paralyzed.

Gunn cleared his throat and ushered everyone in. Angel found himself swept in with the others. Somehow, he ended up on the couch. Someone had placed a glass of whiskey in his hand.

He took a drink as Willow spoke, listening with only half an ear as his mind clouded with denials.

A God. She was fighting a God.




A tower.

"Spike?" he said, dazed.

Willow looked at him in understanding and obligingly repeated that part of the story.

Spike was there for her last moments? Fighting beside her? Spike?

"He was…?" Angel started, only to trail off.

"He helped," said Willow.

Angel left it at that. He couldn't process that. Not with…

Cordy was crying. Angel wished he could cry. He wished he could scream. He wished he could run, or rage. He wished he could summon the energy to pour out his grief somehow.

Willow was still speaking. "Her funeral-"

That was too much. Angel put his head in his hands.

The glass dropped to the floor, shattering.

Angel never noticed.