FALLING INTO DESPAIR
Set immediately after The Gift and There's No Place Like Plrtz Glrb.
Willow decides that Angel must be told about Buffy's death and that she will be the one to go to LA to tell him.
An established relationship story.
Written: April 2007. Word count: 1,100.
"Angel." The tears had finally stopped; now a sense of complete calm descended over Willow.
"Angel. We have to tell Angel."
"But, Willow -"
"No. Willow's right." Everyone turned to stare at Xander. "We do have to tell Angel. He was the only one Buffy truly loved."
"What about Riley?" Anya demanded. "He and Buffy were always -"
Xander shook his head, silencing her. "No. Buffy never loved Riley. He told me, when we moved my stuff from my basement, that Buffy didn't love him."
"She never stopped loving Angel." Willow's tone was matter-of-fact. It was as if she had always known, without actually knowing.
"Maybe that's . . ." Spike started to say; then he broke off and turned away.
"I'll call him," said Giles.
Willow couldn't read what was behind his eyes. All she saw was that something had died. Something in Giles had died with Buffy. Just as it had in Willow herself. And if she knew the Scoobies, even Spike, as she thought she did, just as it did in all of them. Something in all of them had died when Buffy had given her own life to save Dawn.
She shook her head. "No. It's not the sort of thing for the phone. He never stopped loving Buffy either." She dared any of them to challenge her. To contradict her.
Leaving Lorne at his club, they all, plus Fred, returned to the hotel. They were tired, grubby and drained, but at least they were alive. They went inside and there she sat.
At the look on face Angel knew. "It's Buffy."
For a second she didn't speak.
Then she nodded and swallowed. "She's dead, Angel."
He didn't remember crossing to her.
He didn't remember grabbing her.
He didn't remember tightening his grip on her until he knew it must have been painful.
He didn't remember shaking her.
He didn't remember anything but her words.
"What happened?" he demanded.
She told him.
She spoke of sacrifice. Of love. Of how, yet again, Buffy had saved the world. Only this time the price had been too high.
"Angel?" Her voice was soft, wary, and he knew what had happened. He had changed. His demon had taken control. With his tongue he felt his fangs; sharp, clean, pure. Under his now more powerful grip he felt her move, to try to break away from him.
And in that instant he knew that everything was her fault. She had brought the news. She should have kept Buffy safe. She should have died.
She should have died.
He glowered down at her. Her head was back at she stared up at him. Her neck, white, pliant, available mocked him. In an instant he lowered his own head and sank his fangs into her neck.
"Angel. No. Stop." He heard Wesley cry. He heard the words echoed by Cordelia and Gunn. From Fred he heard nothing more than a gasp.
He heard Willow mutter something and felt a tingle.
But still he drank.
As he took her blood, took her life, he tasted no fear. All he tasted was love and sorrow and pity.
Behind him he heard Wesley say something about a book. Heard more shouts for him to stop.
But still he drank.
Under his grip he felt Willow begin to submit to the loss of blood, and he had to steady her to keep her upright.
But still he drank.
And as he did so images flashed through his mind.
All of them of Buffy, of their love; their hopeless love.
The love that neither would be able to forget.
The love that would be with them both until the end of time.
The love that transcended all the laws, both of the vampire world and the human world.
And he saw her reach out her hand to him, saw her smile, saw her open her arms, heard her tell him she hadn't gone. That she would never be gone. That she would never leave him.
And then on the back of his neck he felt wetness. A single drop. Nothing more. But it was enough.
Pulling his head away he fell sobbing to his knees, buried his head against Willow's body and cried. He sank further into the depths of despair as she held him, comforted him, soothed him, stroked his hair, quietened him, reassured him, murmured words he couldn't hear, but would always know. And he held her tightly. Held on to his love's best friend. Held on to the only other human being to let him sink his fangs into her and show no fear. Held on to her and let her soothe him.
Finally the overwhelming grief began to fade and he moved back, stumbling to his feet, still holding onto his support; still holding onto Willow. He looked at her and she stood there, swaying slightly, but meeting his eyes with a steady, loving, tender look. He looked at her and saw the tears flowing from her own eyes, and blood still dripping from where his fangs had tore into her neck.
He tried to pull away from her, to sink into his own self-disgust, his own loathing, to allow the darkness, the madness, the despair to take him. But the look in the steady gaze absolved him, told him not to give way to such negative feelings; forgave him, and offered him hope.
Behind him his team had fallen silent. And only now did he allow himself to wonder why they hadn't prevented him from nearly killing Willow.
Turning he found his answer.
There in front of him was a shimmering, translucent barrier, which Willow must have erected. A barrier that would have kept Wesley and the others from helping her; from saving her. A barrier that would only have fallen at the moment he had taken Willow's life.
He turned back to her and through her tears, she offered a faint smile and held out her hand to him. As he took it, she waved her other hand and the barrier fell. He let her lead him across to the others.
He watched as Wesley fussed around Willow, administering to her wounds.
He listened as Willow assured them that she did not need hospital treatment.
He saw Fred, Cordelia and Gunn all glance at him, and then hastily look away.
He saw that Willow never once took her steady, calming, reassuring, caring gaze off of him, not even for an instant.
And in that moment he knew. She may not have been able to save Buffy, but she had saved him.
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