Unexpected
Summary: A prophecy comes true. A reward is collected.
Date: January 15, 2000
Notes: So, I was doing a little pre-Spring cleaning inside my computer and I found this sitting on the hard drive. Dusted it off, finished the ending, ran it past the wonderful beta that is Charles, and here ya go.

**********

I am alive and almost all of my friends are dead.

How’s that for irony, huh?

I regained my humanity, my life, when the people who meant the most to me in this world lost theirs. I. . . I can’t really describe what it was like, I didn't even know what had happened at first. My body was already working, doing the million little autonomous things that human bodies do. My lungs filled with the stench of blood and gore, and normally my demon would have been clawing at my self control, screaming at me to just accept my fate and gorge on the death surrounding me. But there was no voice, no taunts. . . no demon. That was when I realized, on my hands and knees, head down, newly working stomach trying desperately to slither its way out of my throat, that I was human.

The Powers had fulfilled their promise. I had reaped my reward. My mission was accomplished. I could begin my mortal life. . . I would just have to stop gagging first.

I didn’t want to. I didn’t want to get up. I knew what I was going to find, and I didn’t want to see what I could so clearly smell.

There is nothing good about death. Actions, and thoughts, and goals might be honorable and courageous, but when the fanfare dies away and the battle is over, all that’s really left is the blood that’s seeped into the ground.

There’s nothing noble about a corpse.

I remember I couldn’t look at them. The people I had called friends, family, I couldn’t even look at them. There I was, human for about a minute, and all I could think was that I had to get away from the blood. There was so much blood. For over a century I had wallowed in carnage. . . but it’s different when the broken bodies around you used to contain people you cared about.

That was what it came down to. That was why I swallowed the bile and bit back the screams. I wasn’t going to dishonor the people I loved by losing whatever hold on sanity they had helped me persevere over the years.

The battle was over. The world was again safe. . . for a while, at least. A new Slayer had already been called into duty. And, for the first time in two hundred and fifty years, I was free. I would have traded it all in a second.

It was while I was standing there, virtually shell shocked, that I heard something. I almost missed it, it was so soft, but there was definitely a sound to my right. I tensed, half expecting a straggling demon to come sailing out at me, but instead there was a soft moan.

I picked my way over to the far wall, trying to avoid slipping in anything. Part of the structure had crumbled, and under that. . . It was then that I remembered something from the battle.

I started digging, clawing through the crumbling bricks and powdered mortar until I found a shoulder. The shoulder was attached to a neck which contained a faint, but steady pulse. From the neck I uncovered a head and chest. It was all rather dusty, but at that moment, Xander Harris was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.

When I had watched Xander get thrown across the room and heard the resulting crash I had just assumed he had been crushed. I can’t express how glad I am that I was wrong.

Who knew that getting buried alive could be a good thing?

I dragged him out of the warehouse. I guess I should have been worried about internal injuries and things but at that moment it seemed so important to get him out of there. I needed to get this wonderful, living creature away from all that death. We made it to the car. I put him in the backseat and just started driving.

I’m honestly not sure how far we made it before I had to pull over. I was tired and achy and suddenly all too human, and Xander was hurt. We both needed rest. I pulled into the most decent looking motel I could find. It was one story and kind of wrapped around with the back part hidden from the highway. A perfect spot for any number of suspect activities, like wresting an unconscious teenager from the backseat of a Plymouth.

That boy’s a lot heavier then he looks, but I managed to shoulder him through the door, and from there it was almost easy to haul him onto the bed. I got Xander settled then pulled a chair over and kind of fell into it. We were safe, for the moment, at least, and everything I had been avoiding thinking about came back with a vengeance.

I was physically, mentally, and emotionally drained. . . and I also realized I was hungry, but there was nothing I could do about it. I just couldn’t leave him. I should have been troubled. I mean, it was *Xander*. Annoying, bothersome, irritating Xander. . . and yet, the thought of letting him out of my sight made me break out in a cold sweat. He was all I had left, and I just knew that if I turned my back the Powers would take him too.

I tried to stay awake, actually scared to close my eyes, but sleep was too strong to resist and I found myself drifting off. I didn’t dream. . . thank you know who for small favors, huh?

When I woke up, I felt really good for about half a second, until reality came crashing in around me, until I found myself staring into a pair of mournful brown eyes. I had never really looked at Xander’s eyes. . . I had never really looked at Xander, but I was seeing him then, all the fear and suspicion, and anxiety churning in those eyes. He knew.

“You’re alive.” His voice was low, scratchy, like it hadn’t been used in a long time.

“Yes.”

“You’re *alive*.” His eyes burned into mine.

I didn’t say anything. . . I couldn’t.

“I should hate you.” The gravely voice invaded my head, and began feeding my own bitterness.

Then something unexpected happened. Something so totally extraordinary and unprecedented. Xander reached out and took hold of my hand. His fingers wrapped around mine and he squeezed. I sat in shock for a few seconds before I returned the gentle pressure. With that simple gesture he had granted me. . . forgiveness? Maybe acceptance would be a better term.

He closed his eyes, and the sobs started. I don’t know what I was thinking, or maybe I wasn’t thinking at all. Maybe I was acting on pure instinct when I began to brush the tears from his face, when my fingers traced lightly over his eyelashes, when I climbed into the bed beside him.

For an instant he tensed as I pulled him close, then he relaxed. It was just so. . . indescribably right to have him against me. His body was solid and warm, and just *alive*. I think he might have felt the same way because we both just clung to each other. I don’t know how long we stayed like that, wrapped around each other, just taking comfort in the fact that we both existed.

Morning came all too quickly. Bright sunlight streamed in from the window I hadn’t bothered to properly cover. I admit, when that first ray hit my face it pretty much scared the hell out of me. The realization that my skin wasn’t boiling was quickly followed by a sudden crush of reality. My new reality. Xander’s new reality.

Our lives sucked.

*****

Angel frowned at the computer screen. “No, no, that last part’s not right.” He jabbed at the delete button. Narrowed eyes peered at the words he had just written, wondering what would be an appropriate way to end this particular chapter in his life. ‘Our lives sucked’, though succinct, and completely accurate, lacked a certain. . . something.

He leaned back in his chair and stretched, trying to loosen the bunched muscles in his shoulders and back. His body had been human for almost a year, yet Angel still occasionally forgot how easily mortal forms could cramp up. Of course, he had been working on this particular composition for nearly three hours. Once he started, the former vampire was somewhat surprised with the ease at which his life history came pouring out.

The Watcher’s Council had politely requested a first person account of the unlife and times of the vampire Angelus, and it had been with more then a little trepidation that the still relatively new human started pounding at a keyboard.

Xander called it a catharsis, and maybe, in a way, it was. Angel read over the last few paragraphs, and while he still felt a sense of loss, it wasn’t that overwhelming kick you in the gut kind he used to experience. He had let the words pour not just from his head, but also from his heart. . . although that might not work with his recollection of the past few months. Not that any stuffy Brit would get a chance to read anything. . . suggestive, anyway. Xander had insisted on final editing privileges, and as Angel had discovered, the younger man could be quite persuasive when he wanted to.

With a soft smile, he started typing again. Being human wasn’t at all what he had expected, but Angel decided he liked the strangeness. It was his life, and he was going to live it.

**********

the end

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