She was too late. By the time she arrived, it was already over. There was no sign of Spike, except for the torn and bloodied remains of his beloved duster. She found what was left of Gunn. What she’d done to Warren was tame compared to what had been done to him. She had no idea what had become of Illyria or Wesley.
Willow found Angel on the roof of the Hyperion, cradling the lifeless body of his son. She could feel the overwhelming agony of his loss like a physical touch. It was a feeling she had more than a passing familiarity with. Things could go one of two ways now: He could give up, or he could wreak revenge on those who had abandoned him. She knew she fell into the latter category, even if she hadn’t meant to.
“Angel?” She asked softly as she made her way to him. He didn’t even twitch to acknowledge her presence, just continued rocking Connor. When she could finally see Angel’s face, her heart broke for him. There was no doubt which route he’d choose. With a choked cry, Willow fell to her knees and gathered them both in her arms.
Silent sobs wracked Angel, the tears falling freely. He hurt in ways he didn’t know was possible. And he was tired, so very tired of it all. There was nothing left for him to fight for. Not even the thought of going after his supposed allies- the ones who had abandoned him and his to their fates- could rouse a spark of interest within him. After the Rom had cursed him, not once had he thought about greeting the sun, that one time in Sunnydale notwithstanding. Now, now he just wanted to be done. He’d lost everything and The Powers That Be could go fuck themselves.
He felt Willow’s approach, but couldn’t bring himself to look away from Connor’s bloodied face. He heard her softly call his name, her dismayed cry, and vaguely felt her arms around him, but it didn’t matter. Nothing did. He had no idea how long they sat there, grieving for everything they’d lost- because he knew she had known this kind of loss as well- but he knew that dawn was getting close.
“I’m tired, Willow.”
“I know you are, Angel. I think it’s time for you to rest now.”
He finally looked up and met her sorrow-filled eyes. He could plainly see her regret at not being able to help, her horror at what had happened, and her sad acceptance of his choice. “You didn’t know,” he whispered.
Willow shook her head. “No, not until it was too late. I’m so sorry.”
He nodded absently, and looked down to watch his hand stroke Connor’s hair away from his face. “I told him to leave, but he wanted to fight. We weren’t friends, but I don’t think he hated me anymore. He was the one thing I did right and now he’s gone.” He looked up suddenly and Willow could see a faint spark of fire light his eyes before it quickly faded. “Will you tell them? Will you tell them what they let happen?”
Willow’s lips twisted into a bitter smile. Black and white bled into her hair and eyes, causing Angel to blink and sit back a little. The power she held was immeasurable and he briefly wondered if the others knew, but couldn’t really bring himself to care one way or the other. She said, “I’ll go you one better, Angel. I’ll show them.” Then she reached out and touched his temple and Angel could feel her absorbing all of his memories of the last year.
He nodded and closed his eyes. “Show them.”
The first rays of morning were starting to break on the horizon, but he felt no inclination to move. He felt Willow brush her lips across his, heard her whispered good-bye, and smiled at her in thanks. He gathered Connor’s body closer to him and let the flames take them both.
Willow watched her friend and his son turn to ash then conjured an urn to hold them. She wished she could find Spike’s ashes as well, but didn’t hold much hope, but she would get his duster and Gunn’s remains. She’d take them to Galway and spread them like Angel wanted. That was one of the last impressions she’d pulled from his mind and she would honor his last request. Illyria was gone, Angel didn’t know where to, but he’d left her with the impression that she’d gone to take care of Wesley.
Willow looked to the East and the rising sun. She was too late to save them, but she would carry on their work. But first, she had some lessons to teach.
Authorís Note: Written for the splendiferous Gabrielle. You are one of the finest people I have ever had the privilege to know. I love you dearly, honey.
Authorís Note the 2nd: Thanks be to Elisabeth for the beta.