He came to me last night.
Somehow I had always expected he would. Ever since Willow came to tell me the news. I'd done the right thing. Cried and mourned, held and comforted my friends as we grieved together. I was a perfect human, almost.
We are dead. But unlike me she lies cold and still beneath the earth, which I continue to walk on.
Lost and alone.
It has been nearly four weeks. The funeral is over. The hugs and tears have been shared. This is the point at which life has to begin again, we have to put our pain to the back of our minds and continue with on our everyday, humdrum existences, trying to concentrate on meaningless matters as if nothing has happened, despite the fact that we are still aching, wondering when it will ever end. That's what civilised "people" do, anyway. No matter how much we are breaking up inside, no matter how hard it is to fight the tears that threaten to fall at any moment, we have to present a calm face to the world and carry on. Life goes on, as they say.
Even for the dead.
I had seen nothing of him in Sunnydale. He seemed to have disappeared. Giles assumed he would be hiding away somewhere, licking the wounds her death had left him with, unwilling to share in anything so human as communal grieving. We knew he'd visited her grave, however. He left white roses.
At least I knew he hadn't dusted himself. No, my boy would be too strong for that. I had faith in him.
And I wanted to see him. The un-calm, un-civilised part of me that still cared about him - my boy - I wanted to see him. I was sorely disappointed at his absence. But then again, as I have already said, life goes on. Disappointments abound and we live with them. That's what being human is all about.
Even for the non-human.
I returned to the hotel that night, alone. Tired and bloody, wanting nothing more than to devour a bag of blood and sink once again into my pit of despair. To sit in the darkness so that the light would not touch me - wretched as I was - and gaze at her photo. To think of all the things that would never be. All the things that I could have done differently. To hate myself for not doing them differently. To rage with jealousy over those who got to spend her last few minutes with her and to wonder what it felt like to be able to do that. All the things I will never know.
Except, as I opened the door I sensed him.
And knew that he was doing it for me.
He was sitting in the dark, still and silent as death. Only the faint moonlight gleaming on his flaxen head caused me to notice he was there at all.
He was crying.
Silently so, but still crying. I hesitated for a moment, the civilised part of me alerting me to the dangers of his presence before I pushed it aside with contempt and went to him.
I dropped to my knees beside him and drew him into my arms. He rested his forehead on his shoulder.
"Ssh" I said, murmuring the first piece of meaningless comforting nonsense which entered my head. "Its okay. Its going to be okay."
He sobbed and pressed his face into the hollow of my neck. I could feel the cold wetness of his cheeks.
"She's gone" he said hoarsely, a voice which betrayed many nights spent crying in just this way. "She's gone and I'm never going to see her again."
I stroked his hair absently with one hand.
"Do you believe that?" I asked softly. "Do you believe that you might see her again one day?"
He gave a short bitter laugh, it tore at my heart.
"What?" he asked, coldly. "In Heaven? Where she is now? When I go to receive my eternal reward? I'm a piece of damned shit and we both know it. There'll be no heaven for me. She'll be there with Joyce and those who deserve to be there. I'll be here. Forever. In Hell."
I took his face between my hands and drew him gently away from my shoulder. I gazed into his blue eyes, shining with tears.
I was the reason that this gentle and tender-hearted young man had become what he was. I had damned him to an existence of misery.
"William" I said, softly. "You will be saved. There is hope. The powers have a plan. You have changed so much in the last few years. You will come into the light, as I have, and we will travel this road together, hard as it is. And, when it is all over, when it is finished, we will see her again."
I expected derision, anger. But he smiled. A tremulous little smile that shook me to the core.
"Really?" he asked. "Do you promise me, Angel?"
I sighed. If there was one thing that I had learned in 200 and more years it was that it was impossible to promise anything.
"I believe so" I told him. "You're not going to be alone any more, William. I'm here."
He looked down and a tear fell from his lashes.
"I loved her" he said, softly. "She could never love me, hateful monster that I am. She only loves those who deserve it, the special ones. I could never be good or special enough for her. She was kind to me, but she could never love me. And somehow, that hurts more than if she had hated me. What was it like, Angel? To be loved by her - to be with her? What was it like?"
His voice is full of pain. I don't want to take it there - I don't want to think about it. She is gone and the present is what matters. He is here in my arms and I will take his pain away.
"She would have loved you" I say softly. "If she had gotten to know you better. Its hard not to love you, you know." I brush a tear from his cheek with my fingertips. "But she could never have loved you the way you deserve to be loved, William. She loved well, but she could never have given you all that you truly need, all that you truly deserve, all that you were made for. . .It is only . . . . "
The next sentence is hovering on my lips. I falter. But he reads it as it hangs there.
"Only you can?" he asks, his voice trembling, with fear and with hope. The first spark of hope I have detected in him yet.
I gaze at him for what seems like an eternity before replying.
"Only I can."
And suddenly it is all so clear. Why we are both here. What has brought us to this point. Neither of us were ever meant to be with her. We were meant to be together. The pain, the anger, the hatred, the enmity. It is all gone. The sorrow has replaced it. And we can help each other through the sorrow.
Our lips meet. It is slow, hesitant at first, but as confidence grows the kiss deepens, and I gently stroke his lips with my tongue. He opens tentatively for me and I sweep inside and taste him as I have not done for over a century. He tastes the way he always did. Blood and tears.
And I want him. I want him so badly I'm aching for him. I have to have him, have to make him mine, possess him once again.
I sweep him up into my arms and carry him into the nearest room, lying him gently down on the bed. The moonlight streams in through the window and illuminates his beautiful face, still shining with tears. I bend down and kiss them away, every last one. There will be no more tears.
I undress him slowly, taking care to gaze at and appreciate every inch of his beautiful skin, the curve of his muscles, toned, perfect. I stroke and caress him, cover him with tiny, delicate kisses that say as much as any kiss could ever say. I adore him, I worship him and I want him to know this.
To know that we are meant to Be.
Somehow we are both naked and he reaches for me, but I continue to stroke and caress him, not wanting to tear my gaze away from his beauty. When we finally come together I feel the hardness of him press into my thigh and a wave of desire so powerful sweeps over me that it brings tears to my eyes. We are both hard, both aroused, both needing the other. Our lips meet and part, our tongues touching, tangling, tasting. I want to consume him.
I roll him over onto his back and gently part his legs, reaching underneath him for my prize. He shudders with pleasure at my first touch and I tease him, gently stroking with a swirling pressure until my finger is buried deep inside him. He moves in delight, writhing and thrusting, calling out my name, begging me to enter him.
His every wish is my command.
I reach under the bed to where I know there is a bottle of perfumed oil, quickly slick my hands and run them over my erection, shivering with excited apprehension at the contact. I place my hands on either side of his head and gaze into those yes, so blue, so very blue I feel that that I could drown in them, or else float away, up into the heights of the summer sky. He reminds me of summer, always.
He takes me in his hand and guides me into his body. He cries out as I enter him and I bite my lip, for fear of being swept away too soon.
And we make love. It is slow, but it is full of need and want and desire. I need him as he needs me. We have been brought to this place, and only through each other can we vanquish our pain.
It ends all too quickly. He cries out, coating us both with his cool fluids. His hoarse shout of my name is enough to send me over the edge as well, and I fall over the precipice into ecstacy, filling him with my essence. We lie together, afterwards, with me still buried inside him and simply hold each other.
He drifts off to sleep quite quickly. I know he is tired. Day of nights of constant tears and agony have taken their toll. No matter. There will be no more tears. He is mine now, to have and to hold and to love for as long as we are granted existence on this earth.
And when it is over we will see her again.