Welcome to Denial of Destiny!
by Mark Jones
Disclaimer: All characters are property of the WB and Joss Whedon. Buffy and Angel forever is all I ask.
The nighttime Interstate stretched out in front of Angel’s car as he stepped down on the accelerator. He knew there wasn’t much time. His encounter in L.A. with two more Mohra demons left him hurt, but they had mentioned that the ‘time was here’, and the ‘force of four’ was approaching the portal to open it as they fought. In his research about the Mohra demon and the "End of Days" he had come across an interesting fact: their portal was a ‘mouth from Hell’ from which they emerged. A Hellmouth. Angel knew of one such place.
‘Sunnydale - 12 miles’, the sign read.
Angel recoiled, doubled over from the impact of the Mohra demon punching his chest. This Mohra demon was very strong and very powerful… in fact, he could now hear hoards of them ‘boiling up’ from the Hellmouth behind him. If they managed to get past the Hellmouth, the world would be overran with the minions of Hell. No number of slayers could stop them.
Which was his primary concern. Over the shoulder of the Mohra demon, he spotted Buffy engaged in battle with several of the demon’s kin. She fought with such ferocity and passion. It was one of the things he loved and admired about her. All of the gang had shown up for this one. Angel was right when he said ‘this is worse than anything we’ve ever faced.’ It was. This was the End of Days, and if they didn’t stop them, this was the Apocalypse.
Buffy had managed to kick one of the Mohra demons over a library table, and was now engaged in beating the other one repeatedly with her fist. The remainder of the gang had managed to pin the other one down, and was smashing the gem in it’s forehead. This was the only known way to destroy one of them. Buffy smoothly moved and killed the one she was fighting, as the gang smashed the gem on the other one, thanks to Willow’s spell of Binding. Buffy turned to see Angel get kicked square in the chest by the Mohra, sending him stumbling backwards into the Hellmouth!
"ANGEL!" she screamed, not believing what was happening. She saw Xander fast approach the Mohra from behind, his dagger drawn to attack. He stabbed it in the back, it’s neon green blood flowing on the library floor. The Mohra demon spun around, trying to grab the dagger from his back, and Buffy watched in shock as Xander pulled his hand back, intent on smashing the Mohra demon’s gem with the makeshift club he possessed.
"No!" she yelled simultaneously with Giles. But it was too late. Xander’s club came down on the gem, smashing it into a thousand peices. The Mohra demon screamed, grabbing his forehead as blades of light began to shoot from his head. The Mohra demon turned almost pure white, then evaporated from existance.
"Damn…" Buffy said, running up to the Hellmouth. As she approached it’s smoking opening, she was surprised as well as relieved to see Angel hanging from the lip of the Hellmouth. She leaned down and grabbed his arm, intent on pulling him up. Over his shoulder now she saw the legions of Mohra demons lining up and howling, intent on overrunning the Earth. This would be the End of Days. And she would not do it without her man.
"Buffy" Angel said, hanging on my his fingers. "The Mohra demon?" Buffy shook her head.
"Xander killed it. We’re all right now." Angel looked even more upset now, and grimaced in pain. Suddenly, he slipped, and Buffy caught one of his hands, involuntarily yelping as he held on to her, dangling over the Hellmouth.
"Angel!" she called out.
"The blood of a demon is the only way to close the Hellmouth!" he said. She nodded.
"I know. It doesn’t matter now… we’ll fight them." Buffy started to feel her muscles strain to hold onto his weight. Angel looked from her face, directly into her eyes, then back down into the pit over which he dangled. He looked back up into her eyes.
"Buffy." He said, quieter. She looked into his dark eyes, and her eyes teared up as she already knew what he was going to say. "You have to let me go." Buffy shook her head violently, and tightened her grip around his hand, almost to the point where Angel winced in pain.
"No! I lost you to hell once! I won’t again!" She reached another hand down to him, but he refused to take it. "Angel… please! My… I can’t hold you… please… Angel, don’t…" Angel started to feel her grip slip as her emotions took over and sapped her strength. He could only tell her now what he felt.
"Buffy… please… you must let me go… you must believe…. You must believe… you must believe…" he ended, almost in a whisper. He looked deep in his love’s eyes, and mouthed to her "I love you." Buffy looked back at him, mouthed the words "I love you, too"… and let go.
Buffy could swear she almost saw a smile cross his face as he slipped ever so slowly away from her and into the Hellmouth. As she watched him slip into the portal, she could hear a primal scream escape the portal as thousands of Mohra demons screamed at once, then the room was eerily silent as the portal abruptly shut over them. The crisis was averted, the Hellmouth shut, the Mohra demons banished.
Buffy collapsed on the rim of the opening, laying her head on the last spot Angel had touched. Her hand, stretched out before her, was covered in Mohra demon blood. She touched it, and rubbed it between her fingers, and something, some memory playing in the back of her mind, as if it was a dream, or erased. Tears began to slip out of her eyes, first over some sad, but unknown to her memory; then to the immediate fact: her Angel was gone.
Buffy’s body was wracked by sobs as Giles pulled her into his arms to let her cry. And she did. Like a father letting his daughter cry on his shoulder, Giles simply sat there and listened to Buffy’s sobs as her heart poured out through her eyes. Xander, Oz, Cordelia and Willow stood by quietly, feeling the heroic sacrifice of someone that they trusted, hated and trusted again; and knew they were wrong for hating him.
Buffy sat out behind Angel’s mansion, overlooking the city below. Her entire life had been devoted to fighting evil, defeating the forces of darkness. But suddenly she was aware of just how lonely she really was. Other men can come and go in her life, yet the only one she really still thought of was Angel. She bit her bottom lip as she thought back to their times together.
That first kiss, in her bedroom in the dark.
His eyes watching her walk away, her cross burnt into his bare skin on his chest.
Feeling his arms around her, holding her tight.
Hearing him whisper in her ear how much he loved her when she brought him back.
Her pain as she kissed him one final time, driving her sword into him to save the Earth.
Buffy began to softly cry again at the memory.
The expression of their love, born again under the Christmas snow.
The pain as she watched him walk away from her after the mayor’s demise.
The pain of seeing him again in LA, and walking away from him this time.
Buffy felt someone coming, but did not care. She closed her eyes, tears shining off her face in the morning sun. She knew she had duty, as a slayer, as a protector, but for a change, she didn’t care.
"Big girl’s don’t cry." A familiar voice said. Buffy’s eyes grew as large as saucers as she spun around to see Angel standing before her, dressed in black pants and a grey pullover shirt. He smiled at her in the sunshine.
"A… Angel?" she managed. He nodded his head a little, and walked closer to her as she slowly stood up, disbelieving the sight before her eyes.
He stood before her, and she suddenly could feel him again… she smelled his scent, his eyes, his body… he was alive, or was this just a emotional hallucination?
"Sit down." He said softly, taking her hand. Buffy felt an almost electric jolt run the length of her body as his hand took hers… he was real! But how? "I have to tell you something." Angel proceeded to tell her the whole story of the Mohra demon. How he fought it, it turned him human and then he had asked to be turned back.
"But how are you here, now?" Buffy asked, perplexed but starting to believe this could be true.
"When I fell in, I found myself once again standing in front of the Oracles."
"Where am I?" Angel asked. He looked down at his hand that was previously coated with Mohra demon blood. It was clean, and he realized he was in the Oracles’ chambers again. He looked up at the two beings standing before him.
"We meet again. And this time you bring a better gift to us." Angel, a perplexed look on his face, was concerned that he again needed a gift. The female Oracle shook her head as if she could read his thoughts.
"You have averted an Apocalypse." The male Oracle said. "The balance has been restored thanks to your sacrifice." Angel looked down and swallowed, unsure of what was happening.
"The Powers That Be have spoken to us." The female Oracle spoke up. "For your bravery and sacrifice in averting a disaster that would have destroyed all humanity, your humanity is hereby… restored." With a wave of her hand, Angel felt his chest rise and fall, and a tingle ran through his body as his heart started to beat. He looked up at her in wonderment.
"The Earth owes you a debt of gratitude. This is our way of paying our debt. Good luck." the male Oracle wished. Angel suddenly found himself standing behind his own mansion, looking out into the bright sun. His initial instinct was to flinch and find cover, but he realized he was not burning. He was alive. And he looked ahead of him to see Buffy, sitting and looking ‘on the edge of the Earth’ as it was once described. He walked to her, and found her softly sobbing.
"So…" Buffy said between tears. She was torn over being mad at the previously lost chance, and happy over this chance. "… you’re…"
"A man." Angel said softly, visibly swallowing. "A man who’s in love with you." Buffy felt her heart melt as he said that. He was probably the best man in the universe. How many others loved her like he did, yet would sacrifice their own life for humanity? Unable to resist any longer, she threw her arms around his neck and hugged him tight, and he held her close. As he cast his eyes up to the sky, the sun tingling against his warm skin, Angel said a soft prayer of thanks for his life, and their new life together.