Also Comes in Strange
Stand Alones    Ficlets    Drabbles   Series    Essays    By Pairing

Title: Finally
Author: Tania
Rating: PG
Summary: An unspoiled look at the ending of Angel, as I want to see it.

The demonís shoulder melted beneath his grasp. Roughened muscle disintegrating into ash and dust between his fingers, the only evidence of its existence a fine sheen covering Angelís fingers. Even that though was soon rubbed off onto worn, comfortable jeans, with the next wash the demonís very long life would be nothing more than dirty water and the lingering scent of artificial spring.

The thought was almost enough to make Angel smile.

Reaching into his pocket, cold metal familiar against his fingertips the smile almost came again. Sliding into the soft leather seat, turning the key, gentle hum of the engine purring at him like much needed friend, Angel let the slightest curl form on his lips.

As the engine warmed and the seatbelt rubbed at his fingers another thought broke into the myriad images and sounds that clouded his mind. Releasing the lap belt with a clang of metal against the floor board, Angel stepped out of the car.

Quick movements of the hands, a pull on the lever, unsnap, unsnap. The creaking of metal and creasing of heavy vinyl filled the calm night air as the top folded flat into the hollow of black meant to hold it.

The smile grew wider.

Lost friendsí voices whispered in his ears, almost enough to push the smile from his face. Warnings of corruption and dead ends, ignored at the time, but so seemingly important now. Voices always there, serving as a reminder of what had been lost, and more importantly what had been gained.

Angel leaned against the chilled metal, pulling his wallet from his jacket, sliding a faded image from the bill fold, just far enough to see a blue cap and gown, smiling face, haunted blue eyes. No, not haunted anymore. For once the smile was genuine, no wheels turning behind the irises, only joy radiated from those eyes now. Angel slid the photo back inside its leather sheath, bending into the seat once again.

Final Battle.

Those two words danced through each fragment of though almost as fast as they appeared. Surely not. Not this trifle of a thing. No epic battle. No wars won, just a small defeat really. An enemy so few had been glad to see go, save him. Save others, leave him.

The smile faded completely, briefly replaced by the twinge of doubt Angel was never quite able to shake. It wasnít over. The heart within his chest remained silent, devoid of life, but it did burn. Burn in a way heíd nearly forgot it could. The will to survive the ages, watch his son grow, even if it meant doing so from afar, the will grew stronger each time he wiped the film of dust from worn knuckles onto battered trousers.

Meaning had found him, although the cost was high, Angel had to believe that it was not for naught. He had the mission, clearly set out. No longer would his strings be pulled from within or without, he was his own man. Not reliant on anyone else to push him towards his destiny. No guides, no back up, interpreters or seers. Only his own will, his soul. Angel alone.

Time was that thought would have terrified him, sent him crawling to the gutters afraid to show his true face to anyone but the rats that became his sustenance. Recluse no more. Scattered friends, those that survived and now only mocked by phone, encouraged by mail, burdened no more, four corners of the earth but always a button away. Scattered friends, fallen in battle, lost to hellmouths and law firms, alive in his mind, four chambers of his heart. All of them made Angel who he was.

This man. Fingers curled around the leather bindings of the steering wheel, wind in hair, mouth set firm against the night. A man with a mission and a reason to go on, wherever go and on meant. Once again saving lives one at a time. Saving souls where he could, as it should be. Finally able to see the smaller picture and remembering the clarity of living in the moment, thoughts of destiny and prophecy long from his mind. The smile returned, and as he made his way out of the city Angel hoped that others would see what he finally felt.

Alive.