Title: Inversion Originally Posted 11/05/04 Fandom: BtVS/AtS Characters: Buffy/Angel Timeline: I don't know. It isn't supposed to be post-NFA, since the idea latched on before NFA aired, but I guess that could work as well as anything else; it does reference Italy. 'When' really isn't that important; think of it as the Angel and Buffy get completely fucked by fate Worst Case Scenario. Disclaimer: All hail Joss and Mutant Enemy. I'm just playing.
1. To die for the cause. He meant to do that, he’d lived for it so long. To dust we shall return. He’d had last thoughts; he knew that. Two hundred and forty years can’t flash before your eyes; you remember as the stake plunges in. You remember it all. But at least he’d known they’d won.
Save the world they had, one more time, one last time, one more fight of fights that the world didn’t notice.
He instinctively shied from the sunlight that should have been fatal, choosing comfort of shadow, and finally, in the bright May morning of a world both saved and over, Angel realized that the steady pounding was that of his own heart, and he was alone.
He expected the numbness to give way to grief, but it never really did. Fallen heroes, he should have been counted among them. He should live to mourn them now.
His body needed things, but he forgot until hunger pangs doubled him over or dehydration headache pounded behind his eyes. He was alone except for the dreams. He tried not to sleep, but his body needed that too.
He’d always dreamt blood, death candle lit and crimson stained. You dream what you are. He’s different now, frailer and mortal-real, but if he doesn’t dream about his friends then no one will. They live only as long as he does, and they deserve that from him. He didn’t mean to live through this without them. He didn’t mean to live at all.
Redemption was a metaphor.
2. He didn’t know at first, didn’t understand how destiny betrays. Things that would have drawn his attention before went unnoticed. There were vampires still and they killed in the streets and he didn’t realize that every death of a young, blond haired girl was meant for him.
Then she was leaning in his doorway with crimson stained eyes and Darla’s smile. So surprising couldn’t feel her couldn’t smell her don’t understand should know when she’s there but that isn’t him anymore.
She seems so young. It’s easy then, when she smiles and he can forget as long as he isn’t too close. He can believe her when she whispers still your girl. She plays the role of his Buffy well, but it’s a role played for him and he can never pretend for long.
She seems so old. She was old for her age when she lived, and there’s a chilling humor in her eyes that he won’t name. He doesn’t want to know where she goes when she leaves, or think about why the irony that breaks him makes her laugh.
She seems so mad, like Drusilla secularized; torn by calling not belief. He never asked what happened, but she told him once as she sat across the dining room table, unnaturally still, and watched him eat the food he somehow still couldn’t taste. She said there was fog in a cemetery, and a newly turned vampire who had one good day.
She seems so vulnerable. She always cries at sunrise. He hears her (because he's never asleep) and crawls to the end of the bed where she’s huddled, thinking it’s nature against nature, because now she is both prey and predator. She always pulls away.
She seems so deadly. Hungry eyes lit by moonlight, and oh, she was the hunter always. The human in him forgets what the demon knew by instinct. He recoils from her then, because it doesn’t end like this.
He called Italy once, but he shouldn’t have. There was nothing to say to the false-memoried girl who answered, resilient, pained and moving on. Buffy pulled the phone cord from the wall before he answered Dawn’s hello and fled the apartment. She was calm when she returned. Angel pulled her into his arms, the facade of a comfort she didn’t need, but he read about the carnage in the next morning’s newspaper.
She has never hurt him, but at her most dangerous she has offered. She presses against him in the middle of the night; her touch is silky and sometimes her skin is warm. She whispers in a low and foreign voice, “I can give it back to you.” He should stake her, call Giles, send her away. But he never does. Instead he waits, afraid and slowly reconciled. They both know. It’s in the knowing smile that isn’t hers; it simmers behind her eyes. It’s in the tremor of his hand on her face. It’s in their careful games of memory; the rhythm of their history. She doesn’t have to hurt him because he hurts himself far more than anyone else, even she, can.
Some night she will ask, and he won’t remember why he should say no.