Rating:  PG for some language 

Feedback:  Thank you.  Melpomenethalia@aol.com

Spoilers:  Through the season six finale "Grave"

Distribution: The Warren and Fanfiction.net.  If you're interested, please let me know.

Summary:  Angel receives a letter from the last person he'd expect.

Dedication:  It's been a rough year for B/A'ers.  It's been a rough year for redemptionistas.  Heck, it's just been a rough year all round.  For everyone whose ship of choice sunk faster than the Titanic. 

Disclaimer: All characters are owned by Mutant Enemy (Joss Whedon), a wonderfully creative company whose characters I have borrowed for a completely profit-free flight of fancy.  Kindly do not sue me, please, as I am terrified of you.  Thank you.

Righting Wrongs

Angel,

I wonder if you've even bothered to read beyond your name before ripping this paper to shreds.  A lot of things about me have changed, but my handwriting, the illegible scrawl that it is, remains the same.  If you have managed not to turn this into confetti yet, I have something to say to you.

I hate you.

I hate you for stealing Drusilla's heart.  I hate you for using her to cause me pain.  I hate you for disappearing into the night without a word to either of us, treating us like something dirty and disgusting that you didn't want to admit existed.  I hate you for having the strength to handle getting your soul back better than I could ever hope to.  I hate you for falling in love with Buffy.  I hate you for meeting her at a time when she was still unjaded enough and vulnerable enough to love you back completely.  I hate you for leaving her.  And I hate you because I know you're the only one who will ever be able to make her happy, the one thing in this miserable life I want to be able to do.

What's that, you say?  Did Spike just say he was in love with Buffy?  Yes, you miserable old sod, I did.  And I am.  I've held her when she cried.   I've fought beside her against supposedly unbeatable enemies.  I've kissed her. I've even shagged her.  And every single half-smile she gave me filled me with a joy and a sadness that I've never experienced before or since.  I would die for her.  But that's not enough anymore.

What I'm about to tell you will probably sign my death warrant, but you need to know what's what.  Late last spring, she broke things off with me.  Granted, she'd broken things off with me before more times than I can count.  Hell, she'd broken more of my bones than I could count, and still she always came back to me.  There was something about me she needed, but she never seemed to realize that I needed her every bit as desperately.  Losing her the year before had made a part of me die, and losing her again this way, seeing her and not being able to ever touch her heart… I was a demon, pure and simple.  I snapped, and I did something unforgivable.  I knew I couldn't force her to love me with her heart, so I tried to force her to love me with her body.  It was cruel, it was brutal, and it was disgusting. 

She stopped me, or course.  Thank God.  If I'd succeeded… well, you wouldn't have gotten this letter unless dust learned to hold a pen.  But something bloody odd happened after that.  I felt guilty.  You know as well as I do that vampires know when they've done something evil.  We understand good and bad; we just don't care about it is all.  But that night, for whatever reason, it dawned on me that what I'd done was vile, and I actually felt remorse.  It about drove me mad.  And I did something drastic.

Congratulate me, peaches.  I've joined the soul crowd.  That's right, yours truly is once again occupied by the spirit of one William Brently, bloody awful poet extraordinaire.  I thought that, maybe, if I got my soul back, she might find it in her heart to trust me the way she did you.  It backfired on me.

Now I don't trust me either. 

I'm sickened by myself night and day.  I spent my first month drunk as a skunk, the second weeping like a newborn babe, and the third wandering from village to village, raving more crazily than Dru ever did.  Then, I went home, because that's what Sunnydale is to me now:  home.  I kept to the darkness and watched the goings on.  A lot had happened in those few months, far more than I knew how to deal with.  But I expect you'll find that out for yourself. 

What I noticed most, though, was Buffy.  She's trying to put her life back together after all that she's been through, and you know as well as I do that considering what that entails, it's amazing she can even get out of bed in the mornings.  She's fighting, Angel.  She's tried her damnedest to repair the damage of the last year, and she's winning, but I could see it from thirty yards off.

She's not happy.  She's settling.  To her mind, this is the best life will ever be, and she's willing herself to lower her standards and accept her life as a twenty-one year old single mother of a teenager daughter, a burger-flipping college-reject, a woman who walks through each day emotionally as dead as she was physically dead a year ago.  Hurts too much for her to hope for more because it's always getting snatched away from her.

I watched her fight in that cemetery, unobserved behind a tombstone.  I saw the color of her eyes and the flash of moonlight on her hair, the way her breath quickened as she pummeled the vamp she was fighting.  The air was full of her, a scent like vanilla and cinnamon.  You remember that scent, don't you Angel?  You wake up in the middle of the day surrounded by the memory of that perfume that's uniquely hers and hers alone.  I know I do.  I'd never felt the depth of love for her that I felt at that moment.  It was probably the soul.  Unlike you and Angelus, I was in love with her demon and soul, so the feeling became even more overwhelming when I returned.  But it was then I had my revelation.

She's the one I need.  But I'm not who she needs.  She needs you.  She always needed you.  Every relationship she ever attempted – that stupid Parker git, that idiot soldier boy who could have passed for you in a darkened room, and yes, me – we were all just proxies for you.  We were never anything but attempts to fill up the gaping hole you left in her heart when you walked out on her so that she could have a real life.

You may not know that Joyce and I were quite close.  We had many a cuppa after I came back to Sunnydale, and we talked about quite a few things.  Not surprisingly, your name came up.  She told me she went to talk to you about Buffy deserving children and a normal life and someone to walk in the sun with, and that you'd left soon after.  Joyce thought she'd done the best thing for her daughter.

Joyce was a good woman, but, unfortunately, she was also heavily in denial on the issue of her daughter being the Slayer.

Let's get something straight, hairboy.  Buffy and normal do not belong in the same sentence.  It does not matter that Joyce wanted her to have an idyllic "Leave It to Beaver" life, nor does it matter that you want her to have the human life you were deprived of.  She's not ever going to get it.  You know as well as I do that it's just shy of unbelievable that Buffy is still walking around.  Most Slayers measure their lives after they're called up in weeks, not years.  She's twenty-one now.  I remember reading in one of the Watcher's books that there have only been six or seven Slayers who ever managed to reach that age.  Joyce died much too young, but chances are good that her daughter is going to die far sooner.

Allow me to put it another way.  Maybe the reason she found her soul mate so early was because the girl is entitled to spend as much time with him as she can before her number is called up.  Quit the bloody rationalization.  Buffy's raising Dawn.  She's got the kids bit already done.  Anyone who's killing vampires every night isn't going to be able to have a normal life, and any guy she tries to do the typical-relationship-thing with is going to have a rough time dealing with the fact he's dating a superhero.  It'll never work.  As for walking in the sunlight, it'll give her premature wrinkles and skin cancer. 

I said before that I want to make her happy, so I'm going to, even though it means losing her forever.  It's like ripping my heart out with my bare hands to do this, so bloody well pay attention.  Go to Kenya.  Flowing through the city of Umbazi is a river.  Follow it fifteen miles downstream, then turn left at the oasis with the market town.  Far in the distance, you'll see a small range of mountains.  Walk straight towards the spot between the two tallest peaks.  You'll find a small collection of tin shacks.  At the edge of the village is a cave.  The demon there has the ability to anchor your soul to you permanently.  Course, you'll have to pass a few tests that could kill you deader than you already are.  Might I suggest bringing a very large can of Raid?

I'm going back to Sunnydale now, though none of them will know that.  See, I don't happen to trust you.  If you decide you'd rather spend the rest of your unending years being guilt-ridden and condemn that girl to a life of loneliness and emotional death, then I'm sodding well going to do what I can to help her.  On the other hand, if for once in your pathetic life you decide to put someone else's happiness above your own need for self-flagellation, she'll never see hide nor hair of me again. 

Now, as to how you can tell if I'm being on the level with you, it's quite simple.  Ask that ex-cheerleader with the visions if I'm being honest or contact Dru.  I know very well you know exactly where she is.  She'll tell you right enough I've got my soul back.  Just do what I say, and make it fast. Buffy's waited too long for you as it is.

I love her, you potato eating idiot.  This is killing me.  But the only thing that might possibly make this existence tolerable is knowing that I'm responsible for making her happy.  It's not the way I wanted to do it, but I'll take what I can get.

Get on the ruddy plane already.

William