Welcome to Denial of Destiny!


Special thanks to Laura who came in to write the Buffy parts for me! She and I have known each other for years in our Online RPG personas, and I can say that she is one of the best! Thank you, Laura! (Big hug!)

Disclaimers: Buffy, Angel, Cordelia, etc. all belong to Joss Whedon and the WB. (Buffy and Angel forever is all I ask.) "The Meaning of Being Lonely" is the Backstreet Boys, "Do what you have to do" is Sarah MacLaughlan, and "After All" is Peter Cetera and Cher.

The Vision pt. 3: After All

"But why, Angel?" Cordelia said angrily. "Why do you feel the sudden urge to go and get horizontal with Buffy?"
"I don’t have to get ‘horizontal’ with her, as you so eloquently put it, Cordelia." Angel snapped back, his own patience starting to wear thin. He had been arguing the same point with her for the past fifteen minutes, and was fast approaching his own breaking point. His remark about ‘knowing eternity’ jumped to his mind again.

"Cordelia…" he remarked as he sat on the couch, resting his head on his hands. He took a deep, cleansing breath. "Cordelia." He started again, more calmly. "Buffy is a part of me. I’ve tried over the past months to deny it." He looked up at her, and she saw that familiar, wounded puppy dog look. "I…" He seemed to hesitate for a moment, and Cordy took that time to her advantage.

"But Angel, if you go back, what did you accomplish? A semi-fashionable brush with a star? A walk on Rodeo one night? How did all this save your soul?" she said in an uncharacteristically savage way. Angel was stunned for a moment, and she continued to lay into him. "You want so bad to be forgiven, to ‘do good’, but you are only doing good when it’s convenient for you!" Angel’s face started to melt from shock to unimaginable betrayal. Cordy paced back and forth as Angel slowly rose to move behind his desk. "You go and kill demons and save the world and crap, but you can’t even realize what’s happening in the normal, everyday world that Doyle told you, Oh, did he tell you, you need to get into the lives of the people you are with!"

Angel paused, looking unbelievably at her. "Cordy, are you saying…"

Cordelia turned from where she was facing away from him, and for the first time he noticed tears on her cheeks. "I’m saying," she managed though her words now came in sobs, "that you can’t see what feelings stand right before you daily. I’m saying you can’t see how someone that once hated you now sees your soul that you try so hard to keep…" She managed to wipe away a tear in mid sentence and sniffled. "I’m saying that someone sees your soul… and doesn’t want to see you get hurt and chance loosing it again."

Angel stood as a statue, stunned beyond what she had done before. He briefly tried to comprehend her words, but was unable. "Cordelia, I never…"

"I know." She said softly. "You never knew. No one did. I…" she paused. "I didn’t either. Until just now." She crossed the distance between them, and after looking into his eyes for a moment, buried herself in his arms. Angel hesitantly put his arms around her. "I love you, Angel." She said.

They sat looking at each other across the coffee table. An uncomfortable silence had settled over them, and Angel shifted in his seat as Cordelia looked up at him. "So what now?" she asked. "I guess I need to pack my thing up…"

"No." Angel responded immediately. "This ends nothing between us. If anything, it starts… another chapter." He finished, Cordy’s disappointment at his ending registering on her face. "I have always valued your honestly, how you are upfront with me, and your strength, even when faced with evil and demons and such."

"But I’m not good enough…" she started.

"Yes, you are." He admitted, surprising himself and her. "You’re a beautiful, wonderful g… woman." He corrected. He looked down briefly, then back up. "I’m glad you shared that with me, Cordelia. It gives me strength. You give me strength." She smiled at this. "If my heart didn’t belong to someone else…"

Cordelia nodded, reluctantly but accepting what he was saying. "I know. Lost opportunities." She smiled a little. "Hey, I do like older men, but maybe I should start with someone… younger than you." Angel smiled back at her, and as her smile turned into a grin, so did his. They hugged, and she actually kissed him on the cheek. "Now go get her. She’s waiting for you."

"Thanks." Angel smiled as he pulled his coat off the hanger.
"Angel?" Cordy said. He looked back at her over his shoulder.

"Good luck."

Angel drove as the sun set in the city. He was troubled by Cordy’s revelation of her feelings, and hoped he did his best to alleviate, or at least ease, any hurt feelings she might have over him leaving. The radio played a song, soft at first, but then Angel turned it up.

Show me the meaning of being lonely,

Is this the feeling I need to walk with?

Tell me why

I can’t be there where you are…

There’s something missing in my heart.

Angel agreed totally. His life, without Buffy, was painful and hurtful. Since the time she came back to visit him in LA and he became human, his feeling had gone beyond painful to unbearable. Hell had not compared to the daily plagues, the dreams, the remembrance of her with him, the way they were meant to be. Angel was no longer concerned about a curse, being ‘horizontal’ as Cordy put it, or anything else. They would make it work. They had to… or it as truly all over. Redemption was not to be earned by getting crack addicts off the street and beating up rapists… Redemption came by the hand and love of someone else. His someone. He had to be with her.

Angel pulled up to a gas station not too far outside of Sunnydale. As quickly as he wanted to get there, walking the remaining miles would not be the best way to arrive. He finished pumping his gas and walked inside to pay. As he stood in line, he looked ahead to see a short blond woman, somewhat petite in stature, waiting in line. Not his Buffy. He could feel her. But he inwardly smiled at the thought of seeing her soon.

Then from in front of the woman, a tiny version of her stepped out from in front of her mother to look at Angel. She looked up in her two years of life, with shiny blond hair and full blue eyes. Normally children were scared of Angel. They could still see that which adults had ‘clouded over’ in everyday life. They knew he was different. Maybe she did too, but showed no fear of him. She just looked at him with those eyes.

For a moment, a single, precious moment, Angel’s resolve faltered.

Here was the reason he left Sunnydale and Buffy’s life. A normal life. A husband. A career. A family. A… a child. Angel stared at the child as she stared back, and he found himself overwhelmed by his feelings, so many feelings he could not sort them out.

Tell me why can’t I be there where you are.…

Angel lost his ‘stare down’ with the child. He broke and ran back to his car, tears streaming down his face as he climbed into the drivers side door and leaned his head on his steering wheel. It became wet with tears as Angel fought the battle inside him yet again, but the sight of the child, a child that he knew could be Buffy’s, continued to haunt him.

"Please…" he sobbed, praying for some easy resolution but finding none. "Please help me…"

On one hand, if he was with Buffy, he would be so happy. He would have her, they would live a life together, fight evil, share that love that gave him reason to live again. She would complete him.

On the other hand, alone, she had a chance. For a normal life with a normal guy. This Riley, or this other guy that Spike said had used her (let me find that guy…)… she had the chance for real love, not the love of a monster…

Angel’s bawling was interrupted as he looked up to see the blond woman walking back to her Honda, little girl in tow. The little girl stared at him, almost in an eerie sense… and then she smiled. Angel’s tears slowed, then stopped. He managed a slight smile back and lifted a few fingers to return her wave. She wasn’t afraid. Why was he? Who was he to interfere, try as he might, with the Powers That Be? Resolve strengthened, Angel got back out of his car and strolled back into the store, pulling his wallet out of his pocket.

He would be with her. That was all there was to it. He loved her. He needed her. And he must have her.

	A year.

It had been one year since Angel had walked out of Buffy's life. She had  tried to move on. Parker, Riley. But no one 
could compare to her Angel.  What they had was a love that you only find once in a lifetime. They were soul mates, 
bound together by destiny.  Buffy knew from the beginning that their relationship would be difficult at times. She 
could never have imagined what the relationship would bring.

	And she never though it would end.
When Angel walked out of her life, Buffy felt something inside of her die. Many times, she had prayed that this was 
all a dream. That Angel never said that he didn't want her life to be with him. That he wanted her to find someone else.

Which she had. Riley was a nice guy. He was human, and normal enough (if you didn't count the demon-hunter part). 
She had tried to like him. But he wasn't Angel. He wasn't her sweet, caring Angel. When she and Riley kissed, it was 
just a kiss. When she and Angel kissed, it was a joining of souls.

	Buffy sighed as she drove down the highway. She had just returned from a coffee-date with Riley. It had been a 
peaceful evening until a certain song had come on. As she listened to the song, images flooded her mind. Images 
of Angel, human. They were so vivid, so real. But it couldn't be real. It was probably just her mind playing tricks with her.

The car window was down, and a cool night breeze entered the car. Buffy reached over and absently played around 
with the radio dial.  She stopped when she heard a song.

"And I have the sense to recognize that
I don't know how to let you go
Every moment marked
with apparitions of your soul
I'm ever swiftly moving
trying to escape this desire
The yearning to be near you
I do what I have to do
The yearning to be near you
I do what I have to do"

Buffy leaned her head back against the headrest as fresh tears began to roll down her face. The song was so true: 
she *didn't* know how to let Angel go. And a part of her didn't want to. A part of her wanted Angel to be hers 
forever. But Buffy knew in her heart that there wasn't a way for them to be together. Too much stood between them and 

	Buffy looked down at the gas gauge on the car. As much as she wanted to get back home and cry her eyes 
out for a week, she knew walking home along the highway wasn't the brightest idea. She sighed, and pulled into a gas station. 

Angel paid for the gas, a little hesitation still left in his heart. Should he pursue this course of action? He knew of two things with Buffy: pain and bliss. They had no middle ground, they were perfect or they were apart... maybe that had been the whole problem. They were apart so much. Too much.

Angel smiled as he thanked the clerk as he got his change and headed for the door. He was about to push open the door when he stopped, hand on the door.

"Are you all right, mister?" the young girl behind the counter asked, noticing his hesitation. "Do you feel all right?"

Angel looked back at her, confused, then shook his head softly. "No, I feel..." He looked up and out the opposite window of the store, and saw "...her."

Buffy sighed as she stepped out of the car. She walked around to the gas pumps and picked one up. She pushed the button for "unleaded" and inserted the nozzle into the gas tank. Buffy leaned against the car, facing away from the store.

As the gas pumped, she reached up and touched the silver cross that Angel had given her when she first moved to Sunnydale. Her heart ached for Angel. She wanted things the way they used to be: Her and Angel. Together. But that's all gone now, she thought. He's hundreds of miles away, and he's probably not even thinking about me.

Buffy snapped out of her Angel-thoughts when the gas pump clicked, signaling that the tank was full. She turned around to pull the nozzle out when she froze as she looked into the store. Angel. The nozzle slipped from her hand and fell to the ground.

Well here we are again,

I guess it must be fate

We’ve tried it on our own,

But deep inside we’ve known

We’d be back to set things straight…

Ignoring the stare of the attendant, he moved over to the window, looking out into the eyes of Buffy. He swallowed hard as he felt his emotions churn within him. She stood there, in her jeans and a short sleeve shirt. Her hair tied back, it accentuated her almost elfin cheeks and that beautiful skin she had. He looked, no, drank her appearance in like a desert wanderer that had found an oasis.

Slowly he crossed the store to the opposite side. She had seen him now as well, and somewhere deep inside him he smiled inwardly as she dropped the pump handle. It meant that she was feeling what he was feeling. That’s good. But he was still worried… here was the moment he had been waiting for, yet he still hesitated… why?

He stopped at the window looking over the island where she stood. Angel felt his emotions begin to take control as he supressed the beginnings of a sob, and ever so slowly, reached a hand up to press his open palm against the glass towards her.

Buffy felt tears spring to her eyes. Her Angel was here, in front of her, no more than twenty feet away. Her heart screamed at her to run to him, but she couldn't. She couldn't even move. A chill swept over her body as she felt Angel's eyes reaching into her soul.

Buffy saw the tears form in Angel's eyes, and any doubt whether or not he still care was swept away.

He still loved her.

The Slayer slowly began to walk towards the store, not noticing the crowd that had gathered. Tears now flowed freely down her cheeks as she began to walk faster. She slowed her walk when she was a few feet from the door, where Angel stood. Buffy lifted her hand and placed it over Angel's, only a thin piece of glass separated the star-crossed lovers. She watched as a single tear cascaded down Angel's handsome face. She looked into his chocolate brown eyes, and mouthed two words that meant everything to Angel:

"I remember."

I still remember when

Your kiss was so brand new

Every memory repeats

Every step I take retreats

Every journey always brings me back to you…

Angel’s breath, were he to breathe, caught in his throat as he read her lips. There was no mistaking it… she knew. His mouth opened in disbelief, as his eyes continued to tear up. He looked at their hands together, seperated by the pane of glass. It represented so much in their lives… the divide of life and death between them, humanity, the kindred vampire community he belonged to, age difference, two different worlds. But was it that different? Could they really not be together? Was she as unhappy as he was without her? Angel closed his eyes, chasing tears from his eyes down his cheeks.

In his sensitive state, with his eyes shut, he could ‘feel’ himself meld through the glass to contact her hand. His senses reeled with the contact, as it was everything that he wanted. Everything that he needed. Skin touched skin, and when Angel opened his eyes, he was suddenly standing beside her, hand against hers with no glass between them.

"… hi." Was all he managed to say.

Buffy had never seen Angel cry before. The almighty Angelus, scourge of Europe, was brought to tears by the one person with the sacred duty to destroy him. "Romeo and Juliet" she thought to herself.

Her eyes involuntarily closed, and she hated the feel of the glass between their hands. Once again, another barrier between them. More than anything, she wanted the glass to disappear. She wanted to feel her skin against his skin. Buffy wanted to hold his hand in hers and never let go.

Suddenly, the glass was gone. Their hands touched and she saw Angel look at her. Her calmness slid away as fresh tears began to roll down her face. Not caring what anyone thought, she leapt into his arms and sobbed into his shoulder.

"Never leave me, never leave me...."

Angel’s bottom lip quivered as his arms wrapped around Buffy’s body, instinctively knowing their place. He closed his eyes again as he inhaled her scent, the wonderful aroma of her shampoo, the texture of her soft hair, her delicate yet strong arms around his waist. He dreamed of her. Every moment, every waking day after the Mohra, he thought only of her. A demon had changed his life.

He loved only her.

No one else could make him feel the way he did now, no other arms, no matter how much they wanted to hold him, as he thought of Cordelia, would do. Angel’s lips parted as he started to talk, inhaled, then spoke.

"I won’t leave anymore." He said softly, his cheek resting against the top of her head. "I will never leave. I can’t. I tried…" Tears started to slip down his cheeks. "I wanted to stay away, to give you a normal life…" He pulled back to look in her eyes. "I can’t. I’m sorry…" he sobbed. Through teary eyes he looked in her eyes, swallowing as if afraid to say the words. To admit it…

"I can’t live without you."

"I can't live without you either. I tried. I tried to have a normal life. I 
tried to move on. But I can't. I can't because no one else in this world 
makes me feel the way I do when I'm with you." Buffy sobbed, holding 
Angel as tight as she could, afraid that somehow, he might leave again. But one 
look in his eyes took that fear away. Angel wasn't going anywhere. 
She reached her hand up and gently wiped away his tears. 
"My love, my life." She paused, looked at him, and told him something that he had been longing to hear. 
"I love you."

Tears streamed down Angel’s face as he heard her words. He managed to get "I love you, too" out and they hugged, right as the crowd suddenly started clapping in appreciation of their expressions. A little embarassed, Angel pulled back to look into her beautiful eyes. "No matter what, we will work this out. Neither one of us has a ‘normal’ life, and neither one of us can go down a road without the other one nearby." Angel paused, stepping closer to her. "Bound together forever…" he said, entwining her fingers in his.

"Can you handle that?" he smiled slightly.

Buffy smiled through the tears that were streaming down her face.

"Forever. I can definitely handle that!" She brought their entwined hands to her lips and kissed the top of Angel's hand. "I love you, and nothing can ever change that. My life means nothing to me if you're not in it." The Slayer stood up and placed a soft kiss on Angel's lips. She pressed her forehead against his.

"Together forever."

After All the stops and starts

We keep coming back to these two hearts

Two Angels who’ve been rescued from the fall,

After All that we’ve been through

It all comes down to me and you,

I guess it’s meant to be

Forever you and me, After All.

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