Willow spotted him standing up against a tree across from the spot where Buffy's grave was placed. He was alone in the shadows. Typical Angel, she thought. She couldn't see his face from this distance of course, but she knew it was Angel. She knew he would show up for the funeral. Buffy's funeral.

She tried to swallow down the seemingly permanent lump in her throat. It was still so hard to believe Buffy was gone. She arranged to have a night time funeral so Angel could be there, and Spike, too.

She glanced at the blond vampire. He was holding a sobbing Dawn close to his chest. His face was like stone. His jaw set in a tense line, blue eyes shining with tears he wouldn't allow to fall. Willow's heart went out to him. She was sorry for the way everyone had teased him about his feelings for Buffy. He really did love her.

Everyone was gathered around the headstone.

Buffy Anne Summers

Beloved sister
Devoted friend

She saved the world
A lot

The last bit was Xander's contribution. A very fitting epitaph, for it was true. She had saved the world. A lot. Saved the lives of every person on the planet.

And not one of them would ever know.

The slayer was not laid to rest in one of the many cemeteries she had spent so much of her time fighting evil in. That had seemed wrong somehow.

And after Spike had voiced the ugly truth about what a vampire or demon might do if he got hold of a slayer's body... well, they had to find a safe place for her.

So they did. They found a good size clearing out in the middle of the woods. It was hidden enough that it wasn't likely anyone would stumble upon it, but still easy enough to find if you knew where it was.

Willow was relieved Angel was able to follow the directions she had given Cordelia to pass along. She knew he would want to be here to say good bye to the woman he had loved so much.

With that, her thoughts turned back to the vampire. She felt the sudden urge to go to him. He shouldn't be alone, no matter how much he wanted to be. She made the decision to cross the cemetery to him, but when she turned back to the tree where he had been standing, he was gone.

Good riddance, Spike thought as he sensed his grandsire's presence disappear. He had been standing tensely ever since he felt the great poof arrive. He was glad he at least had the decency to keep his distance.

Well, glad wasn't really the right word, was it? There was no more glad. Not now that Buffy...

He felt the weight of his tears pressing heavily, looking for release.

No, he thought, clutching the girl in his arms more tightly. Can't break down now. Gotta stay strong for the bit. That's my only purpose now. To be here for Her sister. It was what She trusted me to do. I'll be even more damned than I already am if I let Her down. It was too painful for Spike to even think her name. He hadn't said it out loud since...

He sniffed away the tears and clenched his jaw together so hard it was a wonder his teeth didn't shatter. No thinking about that now. Gotta be strong for the bit.

He had been loathe to let the young girl out of his sight for even a moment and he vowed, Never again.

It had to have been the quietest funeral in history. No one could think of what to say.

There were no words. There were too many.

After about an hour of standing silently around the grave, they all seemed to tacitly decide it was over and made their way back to the cars. Xander, Anya and Giles in one and Willow, Tara, Dawn and Spike in the other, they proceeded back to the Summers home. Or house rather. It didn't feel like a home anymore. It hadn't really since even before Buffy... It's been nothing but a place with a roof and walls since Joyce died.

When they arrived, they all spent another two hours in silence together. Until finally, Giles, Xander and Anya felt it was time for them to leave.

Spike made it clear he wasn't going anywhere. Not for now, anyway. No one argued. Seeing the way Dawn clung to him, no one could.

After everyone else had fallen asleep, Willow crept out of the house. She couldn't explain it, but she felt the need to see Angel. And for some reason she was sure he hadn't left town yet.

She cast a glance at Dawn slumbering in Spike's arms. She knew she'd be okay without her here for now. She was well taken care of at the moment.

Willow's instincts brought her to the mansion on Crawford street that had been Angel's home during his last year in Sunnydale.

Really, where else was he going to go?

He wasn't like Spike; hanging out in crypts wasn't his thing. And she couldn't see him checking into Sunnydale's one and only (flea bag) motel.

Really, this was the only option.

"Angel?" she called out timidly. She bit her lip when she got no response. "Angel?" she tried again. Nothing. She figured she must have been wrong. He wasn't here after all. She was about to turn to leave when a voice stopped her.

"How did you know I was here?" Angel's voice was guttural, stripped raw with emotion.

Willow turned back to see him standing by the fireplace. "Lucky guess," she replied.

"Yeah, right." He snorted, taking a swig from the glass of scotch in his hand. Willow couldn't remember ever seeing him drink before. "So, what do you want?" he demanded.

Willow was stricken by how harsh he sounded. "I-I wanted to see if you were okay."

Angel laughed bitterly. "Okay?" he mocked. "Yeah sure, I'm okay. I'm great in fact. The love of my life was just put in the ground, but other than that everything's just fine. Thanks for asking."

Fresh tears pooled in Willow's eyes, brought on by Angel's cruel demeanor. He had no cause to be treating her this way. Her fist clenched at her side as her anger grew.

"Hey!" she shouted. "I know you're in pain right now, believe me, I understand that. Buffy was my best friend, remember? And that's why I'm here. Because she was my best friend and I know how much you meant to her. I know she wouldn't want you to have to go through this alone. All I was trying to do was honor what I knew she– ". Her voice broke then, unable to contain her emotions any longer.

Angel felt a pang at the sight of Willow's grief. He shouldn't have taken out his own on her. He felt guilty.

He plunked his glass down on the mantelpiece and crossed the room. He enveloped the small girl into his arms. "Shhh," he soothed, kissing the top of her head. "I'm so sorry, Willow," he murmured. "I shouldn't have talked to you that way. I didn't mean to-". He sighed, his explanation dying. He decided there was only one thing he could say that was important, "I'm sorry."

He felt Willow's arms go around his waist. He took the action as an acceptance of his apology and hugged her even closer to him. He squeezed his eyes shut, allowing his own tears fall.

After a couple of minutes of sobbing uncontrollably into Angel's chest, Willow pulled her head back slightly, feeling somewhat more stable now. "Oh God!" she cried. "Your shirt. I ruined it. I got it all snotty and gross. God, Angel, I'm so sorry."

Angel felt the slightest twinge of a smile, the first he had felt in awhile. "It's okay, Willow," he assured. "It's just a shirt. It doesn't matter."

"I'll buy you a new one. I promise."

"Willow," he said in a firm, yet gentle voice. "Look at me."

Willow's head rose to look up at Angel.

"I don't care about the shirt." He looked down at her big green eyes, red rimmed and overflowing. He swept back a strand of hair stuck to her face by her tears.

And then it happened. It was unclear who initiated it, but suddenly their lips were pressed together and they were kissing. The kiss wasn't a light, friendly, chaste kiss. But a messy, wet, kiss full of need. It was not a kiss not borne out of affection or tenderness, but an urge to feel something other than grief. They clung to each other like life-preservers.

Angel devoured Willow's mouth, enjoying the sweet taste of her lips mixed with the saltiness of her tears. He wanted to taste more of her, needed to. His lips roamed down to her neck. His hands explored her body.

Willow moaned as Angel's hand brushed over her breast. He began to work the buttons of her shirt. She fumbled with his in return. Then he was easing her to the ground. She almost gasped feeling the cold cement beneath her. He took his mouth from hers long enough to whip his shirt off, then descended on it once again.

He pushed up her skirt. She undid his fly, pushing his pants down. He slid off her panties. And then he was inside her.

Willow cried out.

Angel thrust deeper.

Neither of them were worried about Angel's soul being at risk. They knew better than that. Buffy was dead. Angel would never be happy again. Never mind true happiness.

But right now he could take solace between Willow's thighs. She was happy to let him do so. She wanted to give what she could. And if letting him bury his grief within her would take his pain away for even a few minutes, it was worth it. That was what was going through her mind during the act. All she focused on was the pain he was giving her, mixed with the pleasure. She welcomed it, all of it.

And then it was over.

Angel's body slumped against hers. They lay there for a couple of minutes while their heads cleared. And then the full impact of what just happened hit them. It seemed to hit Willow harder than Angel at first. He slid himself off her and she staggered to her feet.

"Oh God!" she gasped, horrified. Her hand went to her mouth. She was shaking her head. "What have I done?"

"Willow," Angel attempted to cajole. He took a step forward, but she quickly backed away.

"No!" she cried. "Oh God, no." Clutching her shirt closed, she turned and ran out of the mansion.

"Willow! Wait!" Angel's first instinct was to go after her, but he stopped himself. If she had wanted to be anywhere near him right now she wouldn't have run.

Frustrated, Angel stomped across the room. He lifted the bottle of scotch from the mantelpiece, preparing to down the last remaining dregs of it. He lifted it to his lips, but instead of drinking he let out a howl and hurled it against the wall shattering it.

God! What had he done? What had just happened? He just had sex with the love of his life's best friend right after her funeral. How could he do that? Why had he done it?

Of course there were two people involved and Willow seemed to be a willing participant. But what if he'd been wrong? After all he is a vampire. His physical strength outweighs hers by a great deal. What if she had just been too intimidated to say no? Either way, whether she was willing or not, Angel saw himself as the more responsible party.

He rubbed his hands roughly over his face. God, why couldn't I control myself? And again he asked himself the question. What have I done?

Oh God, what have I done? Willow wallowed as she ascended the stairs out front of the Summers house.

The place was quiet when she entered. Spike was still there, curled up on the couch with a sleeping Dawn wrapped protectively in his arms. She trod carefully up the stairs. She went into the bathroom and shut the door, locking it. She leaned against it for a moment, eyes squeezed tightly shut.

Taking a shaky breath, she pushed herself into motion, turning on the shower. A fog of steam filled the room almost immediately. Willow stripped off her clothes and stepped into the stinging hot stream.

The heat didn't bother her. She could still feel Angel's touch on her skin and she prayed that the boiling liquid would burn it away. She stood under the spray, scrubbing herself until the water turned icy. She wrapped herself in her pink cotton robe. She couldn't bare the idea of curling up in bed with Tara after what she'd just done.

Oh God, Tara, baby. A fresh lump rose in her throat thinking about the lover she betrayed. She slid to the floor, curling up in the fetal position. And that's where she stayed until morning.

Thank God (Ha! Now that's funny) for Angel's vampire constitution. Otherwise he would have mowed down almost all his fellow nocturnal motorist from Sunnydale to L.A., not to mention every street sign and mailbox, given the amount of alcohol he had consumed while trying to drown his sorrow.

Drunkenness was not the only reason it was dangerous for him to be making the trip back to the city of angels. It was also perilously close to sunrise. He hadn't intended on returning home until the next night for this reason, but after what had taken place in the mansion he couldn't bare to be there for one more second.

He cut it close, just making it into the doors of the Hyperion mere minutes before the sun rose. Had there been any of the usual traffic that strangled the streets of L.A. he would most certainly be a pile of dust behind the wheel. And so what if I had been? Like my existence means anything anymore.

He considered trudging up the stairs to his room, but thought against it. It was not like he was going to be able to sleep at all.

He went to his office instead. He plopped down at his desk, pulling open the bottom drawer and extracting the bottle of whiskey he hid there. He unscrewed the cap and proceeded to polished it off, hoping it would wash away the memory of Willow's body lying beneath him and the feel of her hot, smooth flesh under his hands.