What Remains

by A.j.

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Season 2/3 story. This story was originally written in the early fall of 1998. It was me going "Hmm. I'm bored. I wonder what Angel was thinking in Hell. Hmm. I'm not bored anymore."

***

A cold wind crossed my cheek. It was almost painful in the constant, incinerating heat. A small gust, no more powerful than the bat of a kitten's paw. It was enough. Enough to open my eyes; to bring me awareness. Something had shifted, changed.

Staring out of eyes hazed with pain, I gaze blindly at a sight that has not changed in an eternity. Fire, brimstone, all the cliché brought to horrid, abominable life. Who would have though those bigoted, over-bearing, hypocrites were right?

Something is different. Even to my fevered eyes, things seem... dimmer. I could just be going blind, finally, but it just doesn't feel right. Why take away another instrument of my torment? What is the point, when my whole existence revolves around the pain inflicted?

In front of me, a vortex is starting to form. This is not something amazing. Portals open and close here all the time. New and different demons come and go. The real surprise about this one is the lack of explosions. Demonic portals spew heat to herald the arrival of its user. This one... this one released a breeze. A cool one. This time, it did hurt.

So nothing was different. A new pain took up residence in my enraged mind. They'd found a new way to hurt me. I though it had been impossible. Offer me hope- any hope- then swiftly crush it. Why am I surprised after all this time? I turn away quickly, but not quick enough.

A slim, feminine hand reaches through, palm up. It is exquisitely formed. All pale skin and long, narrow fingers, it is curved into a delicate cup. It offers something. What it is, I don't know. Salvation? Damnation? I cannot decide. Do I reach out? Change? If I do, will the torment to follow completely blow this pain away? Not a tempting thought. Nothing here is.

I start to turn away, to draw back into the oblivion I know waits, but something happens. A voice, clear, strong, beautiful, and amazingly familiar calls to me.

"Take my hand... Angel. Trust me."

I do. I don't know why, but I do.

And then it's gone. All gone. The fire that was now so a part of me just... disappears. Just like it had never been. Everything is white, blue, and green. They are gentle, comforting colors. A cool blanket wraps around me, soothing the gaping wounds that permeate my being. At this moment, I don't care if I must endure another eternity of pain. For these few moments, I feel no pain. I am... okay.

All too quickly, I emerge from the cocoon. I seal my eyes shut, bracing for the inevitable pain... It doesn't come.

There is pain, yes. My wounds are, after all, still open, but the unrelenting wave of anguish is gone. I feel my legs buckle in surprise, but I do not fall.

Something, someone catches me, bearing my dead weight. The person is smaller than I. No, I am wrong, the person is tiny, but infinitely strong.

Hope and fear pound through my exhausted mind. I knew she would come. My angel, my life has come. She sent me away, but she didn't leave me...

With strength born of desperate hope, I pry my eyes open, ready to drown in the cool blue gaze of my fearless beloved.

It is not my slayer. The woman standing under me is not the source of my damnation, merely my salvation. Warm green eyes, reminiscent of my homeland, stare up at me. Framed in cheery red lashes, the sparkle with relief, tiredness, and joy.

"Welcome home, Angel."

***