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 Angel's Secrets

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The Love Never Ends

By Amy Mina
amymina(at)yahoo.com

Summary: Ten years in the future, "Becoming" never happened but all is not well.
Disclaimer: These characters such as Willow, Oz, Angel, Buffy, you get the point, belong to Joss Whedon. The only characters that I made up are Elisa and Yanna, that really play no part in this story anyway.
Who to blame for this story: This piece was started the day I forgot to take my disks with me to school and had three free periods. The idea came from thin air, and all of the descriptions came from Lurlene MacDaniel's books. I am posting this because I VOWED to never, ever leave a story unfinished.
Feedback: I really, really need it!!!
Author's Notes: *Takes place in ten years in the future and Becoming never really happened. Angel's soul was returned, but he remembers everything and never got sucked in hell.*
Dedication: To Becca, who reads everything that I write, no matter how weird it is!

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I wonder if things are still the same? Angel thought to himself. Ten years is a long time to be gone, especially when all of your friends are mortal. He opened the door to his apartment and found it very much the same. The bed was still made, and his red blanket laid on top. Everything was organized, the way it was the night he ran. Walking over to the fridge, he saw that it was still unplugged and empty of any type of blood. The coffee table, broken in a fight between Buffy and Kendra, was sitting in the corner. Angel hadn't even thought of throwing it out before he left. He walked over to the bed and threw his bag of belongings on it. Funny, he had managed to survive so long on such a limited amount of materials.

Feeling that there wasn't enough to worry about in the bag, he decided to unpack later. It was only around midnight, he had plenty of time to hunt before the sun came up.

Angel walked over to the desk and took out a few stakes. Stopping, he drew his fingers across the smooth top of the desk, lifted them toward his face to look at them. Not a single speck of dust on them. Someone had been taking care of his apartment for him. I wonder if it was Buffy? Unbidden, he remembered the last words they had spoken to each other.

"Fine, GO THEN!!" screamed Buffy. "I don't want you around anymore anyway!!"

Angel shut his eyes, trying to ignore the pain that the words still caused him. To have to only person that ever loved you for who you really are say that, hurts beyond words or expressions.

"Fine!! Then you WON'T see me anymore!" Oh, god, why did I say that? Why did I pretend not to care?

Roughly wiping his eyes with his sleeve, he grabbed the stakes tighter and left his apartment. He needed to vent his emotions, beat up a few vampires, enjoy staking them. Shutting his mind to anymore thoughts of Buffy and his past, he thought moving out the door and slamming it behind him, he headed into the night.

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Angel headed towards the Bronze, the hot spot for vampires, especially the young ones. Returning to his former spying spot, he made himself comfortable to get ready for a long watch. Watching the crowd of teens closely, he noticed very few vampires around. I guess things have changed more than I thought. Deciding to head out, he moved towards the door, when he was stopped by a comversation at a table.

"How much longer?" asked a dark-haired teen.

"Hopefully not much," replied a young woman at the table. "They've put her on the beeper. As soon as a suitable one is found, she will be rushed to the hospital."

"I hope they receive one in time," remarked the tall brunette, sitting next to the youn man. "She won't last much longer."

"I know," agreed the other woman. Angel inched towards the group, trying to hide in the shadows as much as possible. "I just wish that he would come back."

"Willow," said the young man, "I wish you wouldn't keep her hopes up. I mean, he's been gone a long time, too long. I know she wants to see him again, but it has to end somewhere."

Hearing the name of his former friend, he stopped any thought of leaving to listen to them talk.

"Xander," said the brunette, "if I were her, I would want to see Angel too before I died." Died?

"Cordelia!" gasped Willow. "Buffy is not going to die, don't even say that." Buffy die? "They are going to find a heart for her."

"Willow," said Cordelia, "I know Buffy is your friend, she is our friend. But we need to face the facts and be ready. She may not survive. To be bad enough to be put on the beeper-"

Willow jumped up and ran from the table in tears. Xander looked at Cordelia annoyed. "Tact, Cordelia, tact, do you know what that is yet?"

"I'm sorry, Xander, it's just - I don't want her to die." Xander put his arm around Cordelia and pulled her towards him. Angel turned and left, not feeling that he should intrude anymore on their private moment. Leaving the Bronze, he noticed Willow walking away. He decided to follow her, just in case there was any vampire problems.

Following at a safe distance, he went over the conversation in his head that he had heard at the Bronze. Buffy was on the beeper, what-ever that was. She needed a new heart. She wanted to see him - him, of all people.

"AHHHH!!" Angel ran towards the scream, knowing it was Willow and silently cursing himself for not watching her closer. When he got around the corner, the sight that met his eyes surprised him. Willow, calm, mousey Willow, was holding her own against a vampire. Angel closed his eyes and quickly reopened them, wondering if what he saw was really happening.

"Die, you son-of-a-gun vampire," screamed Willow, aiming a stake at the vampire's chest and charging. The vampire blocked her as she ran at him, and she ended up on the ground.

"No," said the vampire, leaning over her, "I think you will be the one to die." Angel watched the vampire began to lean down and changed into his game face. Angel ran towards the vampire, he threw himself at it and tumbled into the nearby tree. Angel stood up, and began to fight the vampire. The other vampire stood up and pulled out a stake. A stake? Since when did normal vampires began carrying stakes? When the vampire charged at Angel, he moved out of the way quickly, but was still stabbed in the side. Grunting in surprise and pain, he backed up a step. The vampires in Sunnydale had grown stronger, or maybe he was weaker. He hadn't lived in the hellmouth for ten years now. Angel pulled out the stake and held it up, ready to defend himself with it. The other vampire growled and showed his teeth at Angel.

"Aww, grow up," said Angel. The other vampire charged again, but knocked the stake out of Angel's hand. Angel moved out of the way, and knew that he should have stayed near the hellmouth to keep his strength strong. The other vampire pulled out yet another stake - What is wrong with this guy? - and held it up. Suddenly, the annoying vampire disintegrated into dust at Angel's feet. Angel looked up and saw Willow staring at him.

"Hello, Angel," she said, smiling. "I was wondering how long it was going to take you to come out and say hi."

"You knew I was following you?" asked Angel, surprised.

"Yeah, as soon as I left the Bronze I could tell. We need to talk about Buffy." Angel turned away.

"I heard your conversation at the Bronze. How bad is she?"

"Pretty bad." She waited for a reaction from him. Seeing his shoulder slightly sink down, she walked forward and put her hand on his shoulder. "I'm sorry."

Angel rubbed his sleeve across his face once again to get rid of the tears. "So am I."

"She wants to see you."

"I know, but I'm nor sure if it is a good idea."

"Angel," said Willow, sternly. "You need to see her. She told me what you two said to each other the last night you were together. She regrets that to this day - she wants to make it up to you. Apologize before she never has the chance again."

Angel slowly turned around. "She'll be fine, she will."

Willow gave him a slight smile. "We can hope, and we can pray, but as Cordelia said, there are no guarantees." Angel opened his mouth to refute her comment, but she interrupted him. "Angel, she's not doing good. You should see her. Her fingernails, they are now totally blue from lack of oxygen. She can't walk anywhere anymore, it is too hard for her. Buffy is on oxygen all of the time. She was in the hospital once, and they didn't think she was going to make it. They had to put her on a machine that would take care of the jobs of her heart. Angel, she doesn't have much time."

The reality of how bad Buffy was hit Angel hard and he began to sob. "Come with me to see her Angel. It would be her last wish. Please, if not for yourself, do it for her." Angel found himself nodding his head. Willow linked her arm through his and lead him towards Buffy's house. They didn't talk much, there was no need to. She understood his pain and respected his silence. He was too lost in his to notice anything but his pain for Buffy.

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When they arrived at Buffy's house, where she still lived with her mother, Willow knocked on the door. Angel stood next to her, not sure if this was a good idea.

"Hello, Willow," said Mrs. Summers, opening the door. She turned her gaze to Angel, and gasped. Grabbing the cross now sitting near the door at all times, she held it up to his face. His face changed, and his hands flew up to protect it, but he didn't make a move to fight.

"Joyce," said Willow, "Put down the cross. Angel won't hurt you."

"Are you sure?"

"Yes. He wants to see Buffy."

Joyce lowered her cross. "Of course. Angel, come in. She is upstairs in her bedroom." Joyce moved away and let them enter. "She took her medication a few hours ago, so I'm not sure if she will know that you two are here. Sometimes the medication lasts for three or four hours, other times just 30 minutes."

"Thank you," said Willow, leading Angel up the stairs. At the top of the stairs, Angel stopped walking and refused to move.

"Willow, I'm not sure if this is a good idea."

"Come on," said Willow, pulling him into Buffy's room. He quietly entered, and walked over to the bed. This can't be Buffy, he thought to himself. She looked totally different from the girl he had know. Willow was right, she didn't look good. Before, she had been thin, but was also healthy. Now, you could see her skeleton coming through her skin. The rest of her skin was also a tinted shade of blue, the lack of oxygen had been occurring so long.

"Buffy?" said Willow quietly, touching her friend's shoulder. Angel watched as Buffy slowly opened her eyes. She attempted to smile at Willow, but it cost to much energy for her to do that.

"Hey Will. What are you doing here?"

"Actually, I brought someone to see you." Willow motioned for Angel to come closer. He hesitated, but slowly moved towards her bed. Buffy's head slowly turned to get a view of her second visitor, and he could see her eyes trying to focus.

"Angel," she whispered in unbelief. He could see just how much that some breath had cost her. He took her hand in his own. It was cold to the touch just like his. He rubbed it inbetween his two trying to get some warmth to return.

"I'm here," he said. He gently kissed her hand and tried to keep the tears from flowing. "I'm back."

"I'm so sorry," said Buffy, at a whisper. "I'm so sorry..." Angel watched as her eyes filled with tears and he could see her began to cry.

"Don't be. We both said some things that we regreted. I'm sorry, too. I always did love you, from the moment I first laid eyes on to you and I haven't stopped." Buffy gave him a small smile that made his heart turn over.

"Promise me," she whispered. "Promise me that you'll stay with me till I die."

"You're not going to die," said Willow.

"Life has no guarentees. I know how sick I am, and I also know the chances of finding a heart in enough time. If I don't make it, I want Angel by my side."

"I won't leave," said Angel.

"Thank you," she whispered. Buffy closed her eyes and rested on the pillow. Willow smiled at Angel and tiptoed out of the room. Angel continued to hold Buffy's hand and sit next to her bed, determined to stay as long as she wanted him to.

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Two days since they had been reunited, Buffy slipped into a coma. After rushing her to the hospital, Angel had watched one doctor after another shake their heads and walk out of her room. Willow talked to the doctors and insisted that there was no light let into the room for the sake of Angel. Whenever he could, he would sit next to her bedside, holding her hand. He knew this was the final stage before her death, and tried to deal with it. Even if a new heart appeared, it may be to late.

Within a few hours of Buffy being admitted to the hospital, Xander and his wife, Elisa had appeared to see her. Cordelia and Oz followed a short time after. The last to arrive a day after the admittance, was Giles and his daughter, Yanna. They all waited outside of her room for any information to show a change in her condition. Angel was able to visit her once an hour for five minutes. Angel spent the rest of his time catching up with the life of all of Buffy's best friends, and ultimately, his friends as well.

They had been in the hospital three days for now and Angel was seeing everything as more and more hopeless. He went to visit Buffy at the appointed time, and sat next to her bed, taking her hand as he always did. He bowed his head and prayed for the first time in a long time. When his time was up, he went to leave, but Buffy's hand stopped him. She was clasping it with her old slayer strength. Angel studied her face and watched as her eyes opened.

"Buffy," he whispered.

"My Angel, you are still here."

"Of course, I promised I would be here."

"Angel, I don't have much time-"

"What are you talking about?"

"I was there, I saw him."

"Who?"

"God, he really does exist. I have just enough time to say goodbye."

"I'll get the others-"

"No," she shouted, taking his hand tighter. "Just you, that's all. I just had to tell you that I still love you, my Angel."

"I love you, Buffy."

"I'll see you again someday."

"Where?"

"Maybe in heaven, maybe in hell, I don't know, but I will. I love you."

She attempted to lean up to give him a last kiss. Angel moved towards her and kissed her for the last time. When they broke apart, Angel could hear her heart stop beating. He finally let the tears fall and got up to leave the room.

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The next few days past in a blurr for Angel. He remembered the pain of her death and people trying to comfort him. Even Xander tried to help, and he and Angel found a commmon bond in grief for the young women who they had fought over so mamy years ago. Giles took over the funeral arrangements, Joyce was in no shape to. When the night finally came for her wake of the close family, they all went to begin to say goodbye to their friend. Angel stayed later than the others, not willing to leave as quickly. He knew what he wanted to do, and because his only real reason for living was gone, he had nothing to stop him. Angel leaned down to give Buffy the last kiss on her cheek. Taking a stake from his pocket, he got ready to push it into his chest, when Willow's voice came.

"You're going to need some help," said Willow. He turned around to look at her surprised. "I know what you are doing. You want to die with her, go to be with her. And as much as I want to, I'm not going to stop you."

"Then why are you here?" he asked, confused as to her intentions.

"I wanted to know if you are sure if this is what you really want to do." Angel nodded his head, and he moved forward. "Then let me help you." Willow took the stake from his hands and engulfed him in a hug. When she let go, he could see the tears forming in her eyes. This made him feel better, he was beginning to wonder if she had feelings anymore.

"Get in the coffin," said Willow. He sent her a questioning look. "Angel, if you are going to die and be with her, I want you to be buried with her as well." Angel realized her way of thinking and had to agree with her. When he laid next to his beloved, Willow took a deep breath before placing the stake into his heart. "Goodbye, Angel," was the last thing he heard.

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As the funeral ended, Willow finally let all restraint go and burst into tears. It had been a long hard road, but Buffy's suffering was over. And so was Angel's. He would never hold the guilt of what happened so many years ago again. They were laid in the ground together, the ashes right beside Buffy. When Joyce and Giles had looked in the coffin, they had been able to figure out the rest. They would all miss Buffy, but it was comforting to know that her Angel was watching over her.

I hope you are happy where ever you are, thought Willow, as she said goodbye to her friends.

The End

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