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"I'll never forget. I'll never forget. I'll never forget. I'll never forget."

Buffy’s words – the words she now has never spoken - echo in his head even as the sound of her departing footsteps reminds him that those words are as hollow as the space in her memory that will never be filled with the beat of his heart against her chest as they clung to each other, sweat-soaked and sated, in his bed.

The day that never was.

The day that will always be the last thing he thinks of before he closes his eyes and the first thing he thinks of when he awakens.

"I'll never forget. I'll never forget. I'll never forget. I'll never forget."

But she did forget. Seconds after she said it, it was gone. He’s wrong for even allowing the feeling to enter his consciousness, but he can’t help it – he’s angry at her. She’s a Slayer and surely if she loved him, if she loved him nearly as much as he loves her, she could have held onto some fragment of what they’d shared. Her will has prevailed so often before that it’s impossible that she couldn’t hold up against even the Powers That Be.

Doyle is saying something, but Angel barely registers it. All he can think about is that a love great enough to cost him his very soul exists – has only ever existed – in one heart alone, and the pain is almost unbearable.

For a moment – just the briefest of moments, but it lasts a century – he considers going out for a walk… a walk in the bright light of day.

But then it would have all been for nothing, wouldn’t it? He might as well have stayed human then. It’s that realization alone which stays the hand of dust from reclaiming what belongs to it by right. So instead he somehow ends the conversation to which he’s not paying attention and goes back down to his apartment… the very last place he should be right now.

He checks the refrigerator, but no, the ice cream is as gone as if it had never been there and he supposes he’s glad since it will never taste the same, but part of him longs to try, to reclaim the heat with ice cold against his tongue.

There’s the bed, the bed with sheets that he’s too aware no longer smell of sex and sweat and food and lust and humanity.

He wishes they did.

He’s grateful they don’t.

He doesn’t know what he feels.

He misses Buffy.

He wishes he’d never met her.

There’s a world out there that needs him to protect its inhabitants and there’s his redemption to fight for, but right now he couldn’t care less about either. He hates Buffy, the Oracles, the Powers that Be… and most of all, he hates himself. Because all of this pain is his own damn fault. If only…

If he could, would he take back that visit to the Oracles? Would he stay human and just pray that Buffy could defend herself? Or, more selfishly, would he simply not care? Would it be enough to have it all for as long as he could have it?

What would he do?

Maybe he’d know better if Buffy hadn’t forgotten it all so completely, but with that… with that, his perceptions are hopelessly blurred and he doesn’t know what he’d do or why he’d do it if he did.

He remembers the way it felt to have Buffy astride him, taking him inside, looking up at sun-bronzed skin and feeling certain that soon his would be too, but the memory becomes the rhythm of her movements and that turns to the click of her heels walking away in the morning of the day that never happened.

Collapsing to the ground, he puts his hands over his ears, as if somehow that will drown out the sound.

Of course it doesn’t.

"I'll never forget. I'll never forget. I'll never forget. I'll never forget."

Those words seem a greater betrayal than “close your eyes”… the words that rang in his ears as she sent him to Hell. Because he’s in a brand new Hell now and he’ll be here until dust or the end of the world.

The end of the world he gave up his humanity to prevent. Now there’s irony for you.

He gets up, goes to the bed, runs his hand over the sheets. They’re as cold and smooth as if two people – two humans – hadn’t tangled, sweat-soaked, on and underneath and with them. No traces of melted ice cream, no evidence of passionate coupling sticky and wet… Nothing. Just as he’d known there would be nothing, will be nothing forevermore.

Shouldn’t there be tears? He should be crying, he decides, and he wonders why he isn’t, why he’s not on the ground, wracked with sobs. He isn’t, though. No, instead there’s this cold place inside waiting… yawning open and ravenous for the meat of his pain to give it sustenance. But there’s some sort of disconnection and nothing is making sense.

Is there such a thing as having feelings and not having them at the same time?

He knows what he’s feeling, can hear the words, but the music is as silent as… no, not the grave. Angel knows too well that graves are never silent, remembers the sound of insects scrambling for flesh as he experienced a resurrection that was anything but a miracle. So what is this silence then?

Even in this numb quiet, he feels the pull of daylight, the call of the sun to carry him home… and the wrenching grip of his demon and its terror of going back... back to where his girl once sent them.

No one could ever imagine anything so horrible as that which demons fear.

No one could ever imagine anything as terribly beautiful as the kiss of love that sent him to his doom.


"I'll never forget. I'll never forget. I'll never forget. I'll never forget."

Angel can feel one agony, words and music with full orchestra: in spite of all her forgetting, he still loves Buffy. Loves her as fervently and completely as ever, even as he copes with the fact that she doesn’t love him nearly as much… maybe never really has at all.

Nothing has changed. Nothing will ever change.

For Angel, there will only ever be one girl in all the world, and he’ll always be willing to do whatever must be done to keep her safe… even as she forgets more than just the day… even as he becomes nothing to her.

She will always be his everything.

That’s his curse – his true curse.

Now the tears come.

The End.
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