Disclaimer: All characters belong to Joss Whedon, David Greenwalt and Mutant Enemy.

A/N: Yet another entry for the annual IWRY Marathon. Post 'Chosen' and 'Not Fade Away'. I will be using a few aspects of the comics, just to keep it a little canon. But it is not necessary to have read them. This has been on my computer for a few years, just waiting to see the light. Hope you all enjoy it.

Read, Review and Enjoy.


Provenance

It's been almost ten years since I first became The Slayer. So much has happened in that time. I've lived, I've loved, I've even died twice…saved the world, and given the Slayer's power to every girl who had the potential for it. At a respectable twenty six years I am the oldest living Slayer in history; it's been more than two thousand years since a Slayer has made it to her tenth year of duty. I'm thinking of asking Giles about long service leave or something, maybe I could get a bonus, or even a fancy pen.

A soft knock sounds on my bedroom door. "Buffy?" Dawn's voice is muffled through the thick wood. "Can I come in?"

"Yes, I'm ready," I call.

My little sister walks in, at nineteen she towers over me now, her long brown hair is hanging in soft ringlets around her face and trailing down her back. She smiles warmly at me as she carefully walks towards me, her right hand holding up the side of her long, sky-blue bridesmaid dress.

"You look beautiful," she tells me, as she walks over to my dresser and picks up my hairbrush. I look back into the mirror and glance down. I'm wearing a white wedding dress. It's strapless. Diamantes' and lace detail covering the front of the corset bodice, before it flares out slightly at my waist in an elegant full-length style.

Dawn pulls a spare chair away from the coffee table displayed at the window and sits in front of the full length mirror, indicating that I should sit in the chair next to her.

I comply, carefully arranging my dress before I lean back and relax. Dawn starts brushing my hair, getting all the tangles out before she starts to work on it. Taking a curling iron she curls the ends, and the tendrils framing my face. Then she starts pulling strands up and securing a messy bun at the nape of my neck, leaving a few strands out to frame my face. She takes a diamond clip and puts it in my hair, finishing the look off perfectly.

I examine the results critically, turning my head this way and that. "Not bad," I admit, raising my eyes and catching Dawn's in the mirror. She rolls her eyes at me and lightly smacks my shoulder.

'Thanks," she mutters in a huff, "So glad you approve."

She puts the brush, and the remaining clips back on my dresser. She grabs my make-up and starts pulling out different shades of eye shadow and lipstick and starts examining them critically. "Do you want bold or neutral?" she asks.

"Neutral," I say quickly, afraid at the look in her eyes when she picks up the red lipstick. She gives me a frown before putting it back and selecting a pale peach colour, to go with the soft browns and creams she had selected for my eyes.

She grabs a clean towel and places it over the front of my dress. I tuck it over the top, so it's covering the dress from my breasts to my knees. Dawn moves across my field of vision and tells me to close my eyes as she puts moisturiser on my face. I opened them again and watched her sort through my stash of makeup for the concealer and foundation. I close my eyes again, and keep them closed as she brushes foundation and then a little bronzer over my cheeks and across my collarbone. Next I feel her brush eye shadow over my lids.

"Ok," she says when she is finally finished. I open my eyes and then she puts eyeliner and mascara on, finishing up by putting a little bit of lipstick on my lips. I smack my lips together, and lean around her to stare into the mirror. Dawn had done a great job, using dark eyeliner to make my eyes bigger, while keeping the eye shadow and lipstick to soft neutral colours. The light dusting of bronzer highlighted my natural tan. I smile.

I pull the towel away and slowly get to my feet, I touch my hair gingerly and turn so I can look at the back of my dress in the mirror. I still can't believe this is me in front of the mirror, Angel was going to loose it. It's been almost two years since he received his Shanshu and became human. I remember it as if it was yesterday.

I had been up in Scotland for the better part of a year, training the girls that had become Slayers, and setting up a school in an ancient Castle in the Highlands so they could continue their education while getting the training they needed to fight the vampires. Dawn wanted to name it Hogwarts, but I had better ideas – plus copy write – I couldn't afford to get sued.

Giles started training up the next generation of Watchers. Most of them were school age, and at home when the Council Headquarters in London was blown up the year before. Willow, after she and Xander traveled the world seeking out new Slayers, started training those who showed an aptitude for magic. She taught the Slayers the basics, mostly how to recognise magic when they saw it, and started bringing in new recruits from the coven in Dover, plus a few girls she knew back home in the US.

Xander spent a few months helping Willow find the newly active Slayers all over the world, after that I put him in command of Security at the school. Faith and Robin started seeing each other, broke up and then made up again. Dawn, well there's a story to write how about, if it wasn't currently a crater in the ground. She went through a period of being a giantess, a centaur and a china doll. She's gotten over it now, something about getting on the wrong end of a Thricewise's ire. She's following the Summers girls tradition of a bad first time…

It had been a day just like any other. I got up early and had an hour training session with Giles, before spending an hour with the newest requites. That's when we got the call. I'd been putting the girls through their paces, sword practice again, this time without any padding when Xander came flying through the door, skidding to a halt when he spotted me.

He doubled over, sucking in deep gasps of air as he put his hands on his knees. "Buffy…you have," he gasped for breath, "you…"

I took a step forward and grabbed his arm, helping him to stand straight. "What is it Xander?" I asked in concern.

He looked at me, his eyes full of horror "LA is in flames," he whispered.

I froze. And then I was out the door before I even knew what was happening, running up the stairs as fast as I could and sprinting down the halls into our command center, Xander huffing and puffing behind me.

I skidded into the room. "What's going on?' I shouted at the Slayers sitting around the monitors as I rushed into the room. "Give me an update now!"

Donna, a seventeen year old Welsh girl swivels around in her seat, "It's bad Ma'am" she whispers. Her fingers clicked on the keyboard as she brought up an image on the main screen, "I've never seen anything like it." She looked up at me and her eyes showed her fear.

My mouth popped open as I looked up at the large monitor in horror. Buildings burning, as people ran out into the street. The video, beamed from the satellites that Willow had hacked, zoomed in towards a large mass of people.

My eyes widened, as I noticed most of these people were not even human, they were demons. "Get me another angle," I told Donna, "I want to see the perimeter." She quickly complied, tapping on her keyboard and switching satellite feeds.

"It's an army!" Xander exclaims in horror as the next image we see showed a large mass of demon's running through the streets of downtown LA.

I nod slowly, my eyes narrowed. "How did they get here?" I snapped.

Donna continued to tap on the keyboard before she gasped, "I think that's explains it," she breathed in horror, pointing.

I swallowed the lump in my throat. The new images were from a black and white CCTV camera, affixed on the side of a building. Demons swarmed down the street, pouring out of a shining, mystical portal.

I frowned, the Demons were completely ignoring the small alleys and streets they ran past, they looked like they were heading towards something.

Donna tapped at the computer again; the camera turned, slowly panning from one direction to the other. I gasped in horror, even Xander flinched. Standing before the demon army were four lone human figures, their backs to us, facing the army. Two men in long leather coats, one with dark hair, one with blonde, a black man in street clothes with a wicked looking axe, and a slim young woman in a skin-tight leather suit and blue streaked hair.

My eyes widened, "Angel," I breathed in horror.

"Tell Willow to get to the North Tower, now!" I yelled to Xander desperately, before I turned around and high tailed it out of that room as fast as I could, grabbing a high tech com unit as I did. I fitted it over my ear and turned it on. "Come in Alpha team!" I yelled into the mike as I ran up the stairs.

"Alpha team, Lilly reporting." a strong female voice came in over my headset.

"Alpha team, arm up and meet me at the top of the North Tower ASAP."

"Affirmative ma'am," Lilly replied before signing off.

I crashed into my room, the door banging against the stone wall and cracking from the impact. But I didn't care, I grabbed a backpack from the closet and stuffed a quick change of clothes in the bag. I ran to the bathroom and grabbed my hairbrush and toothbrush before running back into the living room and grabbing a sword, a short axe, a pair of throwing knives and my trusty stake.

Dawn burst into the room, her eyes wide. "Buffy what's going on?" she asked.

I shook my head, "I have to go, I…Angel's in trouble…" I left Dawn standing in the middle of my suite as I ran out of the room and down the hall as fast as I could towards the North Tower. I ran up the rounded staircase before skidding to a stop at the roof, the sky above me. Alpha team was stood in a circle; the ten Slayer squad was heavily armed with swords and axes, some had crossbows, some had knives and all of them had stakes. In the centre of the circle stood Willow, her shoulder length hair blew in the wind as she turned her head and looked at me.

Above us the stars twinkled in the night sky, the moon a crescent. I walked over to her, "Can you get us to LA?' I asked her in a rush.

She nodded slowly, "I'll need help, but the other Wiccans can do it. We can get you and Alpha team into LA within a few minutes from the time we start the spell." As she spoke, the door to the rest of the castle opened and five witches and a warlock walked onto the roof.

Willow walked out of the circle and toward the other Wiccans, they talked for a few minutes before they dispersed, and spread themselves out in a circle around myself and Alpha team. They raised their hands in the air and began to chant, the magic in the air steadily became stronger until I could practically see it swirling around us in a glittering silver wave.

Then Willow raised her voice and started to shout, her voice carrying over the other chants. The roof rumbled with energy and one second we were standing on the tower in the middle of the Scottish highlands with the wind whipping my hair around, and the next second we were standing in the middle of a LA street, that was mercilessly free of cars.

The magic faded away and all of us save Willow wobbled on our feet. Anna and Caitlyn doubled over and retched as Oliver the lone warlock, prevented Diana from falling to the floor.

I straightened up and turned, heading towards the sound of clashing swords and shouts. A dark shadow fell over us and I glanced up to see a dragon swoop overhead, heading away from me. "Come on!" I yelled, and raced toward the alley.

We were still a few streets away when we were confronted by a group of about five demons. I yelled at the top of my lungs as I drew my sword and cleaved it through a demons chest.

Alpha team quickly surround me, hacking at the demons on both sides and getting right into the fray. Distantly I heard a spell being uttered and the remaining demons right in front of me burst into flame. I turned and smiled as Willow levitated over to me, she took a deep breath. "Whoa," she breathed.

I nodded, that was some fancy spell work. "I want you to take the girls, and go around the back, go around the block and come at them from the other side of the portal. I need you to shut that portal down and prevent any more demons coming through."

We had killed the demons surrounding us and backed up until we could duck behind a wall out of sight. Willow nodded. "Are you sure you're gonna be ok boss?" Diana asked, looking at me in concern.

"I'll be fine," I assure them. "I'll have backup."

Alpha team exchanged glances, and Tori just shook her head in exasperation.

Willow smiled at me, before leading them away, toward the main street. It would take her a few minutes to get around the army, and until then I planned on killing as many of them as I could. I crept along the edge of the building, staying low to the ground and slowly crept closer. I boosted myself onto a dumpster and tip-toed across the lid, reaching up to a brick wall that blocked the way ahead. I boosted myself up and sat on the wall. Looking down my eyes widened, it was worse than I'd first thought, the army was huge and angry.

The four lone figures had their backs to me as they faced the oncoming army. My eyes lingered on the blonde man for a second, there was something familiar about him, before my entire focus shifted to the tall, commanding vampire in the middle. Angel.

Overhead the dragon swooped, folded its wings, and dived down. I was about to shout a warning to Angel and his allies when the dragon swept past them, opened its jaws and roared a mouthful of fire, down onto the demon army.

I gripped my sword, and grabbed my trusty stake from the waistband of my pants. Then I jumped forward off the wall, and landed in a perfect crouch on the ground. "Angel!" I yelled at the top of my lungs, I hoped he could hear me over the clash of swords and the screams from the demons.

The tall, dark-haired vampire turns around, his eyes widening. "Buffy? What are you doing here?" he yelled as he turned back around to cleave a large, hulking, purple demon right through the chest.

I ran up to him and killed the demon next in line, then stood right beside him, "Helping you!" I shouted over the din.

He didn't answer as he parried a thrust from a demon carrying a short sword, the demon fell and he took a deep breath. "You shouldn't be here…"

"What?" I snapped, "You don't want me to get hurt? News flash Angel I'm not a little girl anymore! I am more then capable of taking care of myself." I impaled a demon on my sword and kicked it away.

He looked me up and down, "I can see that," he muttered just loud enough for me to hear.

I didn't answer and when four demons rushed at us we were suddenly surrounded again. Angel snarled angrily and picked up the pace, attacking the demons with delight. My blade flashed through the air and blood splattered across my cheek.

On Angel's other side another darkly clothed figure appears. "Now this is what I've been talking about, it's been a while since I've been in a good tussle!"

My eyes widened at the sound of the British accent, I knew that blonde head was familiar. I leaned forward and looked around Angel "Spike?" I snapped incredulously.

He looked over at me, his cerulean blue eyes filled with mirth. "Hey love, couldn't stay away could ya?" he smirked and raised an eyebrow at me.

My eyes widened and I glanced at Angel, he ignored Spike and looked at me. He knew. "How?" I whispered, sadly. I never wanted him to find out. I was still so ashamed of what I'd let happen, of how I'd behaved and treated Spike. He hadn't deserved that either.

He shrugged "We've talked, about you, about the past…it's ok Buffy. I'm not happy, but it's ok, I understand."

I swallowed the dry lump in my throat, blinked my eyes furiously and looked at Spike again, "How are you even here?" I asked, changing the subject. "Last time I saw you, you were getting personal with a bright beam of light in the middle of the Hellmouth."

Spike punched a demon in the face, causing it to squeal in pain and looked over at me with a smug grin on his face, "Yeah well, who stays dead nowadays anyway?"

"He was connected to the amulet, came back a ghost, and then something happened and he became corporeal." Angel said.

Spike glared and gave his grandsire a dirty look. Angel smirked and killed another demon, "What?" he asked innocently, "I couldn't have her thinking you were special or something, now could I?"

Ok, what the hell was going on? Angel and Spike were getting along, Angel and Spike were fighting on the same side? "Man, where the hell have I been?" I muttered under my breath.

Angel glanced at me, "Giles said you were in Scotland."

I nodded and then stopped, "How did you know that?" I asked.

"We called a couple of months ago asking for help, he wouldn't give it to us."

That didn't sound like Giles at all. "What do you mean he wouldn't help?" I asked in disbelief. "I never new about this? What happened?"

Before he could answer there was a rush of air next to me and a horrible scream as a demon was ripped apart, I turned just in time to see a tall slim woman with blue hair drop a demon to the ground.

She was dressed in a very strange suit, it was skin tight, left absolutely nothing to the imagination and looked like it was made of leather. "Illyria!" yelled Angel and the blue-haired woman turned her head towards him.

I gasped in shock as I saw her eyes, they looked like crystal, eerily blue and devoid of all emotion, alien.

"I find this violence refreshing, I wish to do more." She gave a small, strange smile and turned her attention to me.

I froze, feeling the power in her gaze, and the demonic energy that was radiating from her. The woman, who I was positive was not even human at all, cocked her head to the side and regarded me with curiosity. "Slayer" she whispered. Then she sniffed in disdain and turned away, "How dreadfully common." She headed back into the melee, grabbing the first demon that rushed towards her and ripped him in two. I turned my head away as the blood splattered the walls, and my clothes. When I glanced at Angel I noticed that he hadn't moved fast enough and blood had covered his face.

"Who was that?" I asked him softly as we started fighting again.

He looked at me, his eyes sad, "The help I was looking for. Her name is Illyria, she's an Old One." He explained, punching a demon in the face and killing another with his sword.

"A demon?" I whispered, knowing that there was no way she could be human.

He nodded. "She's ancient, she was put in a deep sleep for a very, very long time ago. A couple of months ago her sarcophagus was brought here, and she infected a member of my team."

My eyes widened and I battled to keep my focus on the demons in front of me. "Infected?" I spluttered, "Angel, what happened?"

He decapitated the small, but thorny demon in front of him and pulled out a knife that was sticking out of the top of his shoulder, he snarled as he pulled it free and plunged it into the middle of a demons forehead.

He turned his gaze towards me and I shivered. It took all of my strength not to take a step back from the look of anger in his eyes. "That's not her true form, it's a shell for her essence. A shell that used to be my friend. A friend I loved, who was sweet and compassionate and brave. Who wanted to help even as Illyria ate her from the inside."

I blinked back tears. "And Giles turned you down?" I whispered.

He jerked his head in an angry nod.

I sniffed and wiped at my eyes. "I'm sorry."

We continued to fight, the five of us cleaving our way through the demon army. I heard war cries and screams from the other end of the alley and knew my fellow slayers had entered the fight.

A large fireball erupted from the other end of the alley, Willow's work. Then a number of demons screamed in pain. A roar sounded from above us and a dragon swooped down, opened its mouth and let out a jet of flame which headed directly towards us. "Buffy!" Angel yelled in a panic. He pushed me to the ground and threw himself down beside me. On the other side of him Spike grabbed Gunn by the sleeve of his jacket and pulled him down just in time to avoid the jet of flame as it roared over our heads and burnt the demons we were fighting. I gasped when my shoulder hit the ground and glanced over out of the corner of my eye at Angel. His dark eyes bored into mine, and I saw in those depth's a sudden spark of fear. The next moment he turned his head away and jumped to his feet.

I swallowed the sudden lump in my throat and jumped up as well. Angel was moving quickly towards the dragon as it landed with a thud behind us. The dragon roared again and turned slowly in the cramped alley. Angel rushed toward it, raised his sword and leapt high into the air, landing neatly on the dragons back. The dragon screeched in anger and twisted its head around, its jaws snapped as it tried to bite him. But Angel was calm, he sidestepped the dragon's snapping jaws, leaped up onto its shoulders and as the dragon lunged for him again, crouched down quickly and thrust his sword forward spearing the dragon through the back of its throat in to its brain. The dragon's eyes dulled and its whole body slumped to the floor in death. Angel wobbled a little on the dragon's back before he pulled his sword from the its mouth, jumped down to the ground and ran back towards me to join in the fray.

The army was finally dwindling, Willow's magic and my fellow slayers made the difference. Willow had managed to close the portal and now there was only a hundred or so demons left to deal with. Illyria, the strange woman who fought with Angel showed no sign of slowing down as she ripped yet another demon in two. Gunn, clutching a large gash to his ribs was propped up against the wall well back from the melee. Spike kept one eye on him and one eye on the demons as he continued to fight.

Angel and I joined in the fray again. Hacking and slashing as the demon's started to realise their numbers were dropping and became desperate. A few broke from the pack and started to run but Willow's magic stopped them in their tracks, engulfing them in a fiery ball of flame.

The rest fell quickly, their spirits broken. Finally the alley fell silent, the demons dead. I took a deep breath and glanced around. Gunn was smiling painfully as he lay propped up against the wall, Illyria walked over towards us, her face imperious as she stepped over the bodies. On the other side of the alley a few slayers started heading towards us as Willow lowered herself to the ground in exhaustion. Angel and Spike both turned towards me when I noticed something strange.

A pale golden light settled around Angel and he suddenly stumbled to the floor, a look of pain suddenly appearing on his face. "Angel!" I yelled racing towards him, my boots scrambled over the rough concrete and almost slipped in a pile of blood as I threw myself down beside him.

He started shaking, his eyes screwed up in pain. "Aghhh!" he yelled and he wrapped his arms around his waist. Spike came running over, and knelt down beside us. I noticed the look of concern on his face but shrugged off my surprise and grabbed his arm "What's wrong with him?" I shouted.

Spike shook his head, "I don't know!" he shouted, "He was…" He trailed off, his head jerked down and his mouth popped open as he stared at Angel in shock. "Bloody Hell," he breathed.

"Spike!" I snapped and made to hit him.

The blond vampire grabbed my arm, and with a pointed look moved it until my palm was placed over Angel's chest. He was unconscious now. I was about to ask what was going on when I felt a flicker of movement under my palm. I froze and Spike slowly let go of my arm, watching me closely.

I held myself still forgetting to breathe, as under my hand Angel's chest moved as he inhaled, his heart beat against my palm.

I turned my head and looked at Spike. "His heart is beating," I whispered in awe.

Spike nodded and watched me carefully, an expression I couldn't identify flickered across his eyes before he looked behind me. I followed his gaze and watched as Illyria came to stand beside us.

As she got closer, my Slayer senses twitched and I squashed down the instinct to get to my feet and fight this thing. She looked down at me with cool ethereal eyes as I struggled, and seemed to know my thoughts. She took no notice as she cocked her head to the side curiously and looked down at Angel with a frown.

"He's human," she said in a voice completely devoid of emotion. "How?"

I swallowed the lump in my throat and looked down at his unconscious form, "I don't know," I answered softly.

"How unfortunate."

"Earth to Buffy!" Dawn's voice punches through my thoughts and I shake my head, coming back to myself and finding myself standing in front of the mirror. I look into the mirror and find her staring at me, an amused expression on her face. I blush slightly and look over my shoulder, looking into her eyes without the mirrors' help.

"Sorry." I mutter.

She grins and shakes her head, "Hey if I was getting married to the man of my dreams I'd be a little distracted as well."

I smile to myself and look back into the mirror. "I still can't believe this is happening." I whisper to myself as I tug at the hem of my dress nervously. Willow will be here any minute and together we'll be heading to the church.

I also never thought I would be getting married in a church.

"Do you want me to pinch you?" asked Dawn.

I glare at her and Dawn giggles. The downstairs doorbell rings and Dawn starts, utters a small squeak of excitement and bolts from the room. I hear her run down the stairs and across the hall. Then the sound of the door being thrown open and Dawn and Willow chatting.

I pat at my hair, tug at my dress and wait for Willow and Dawn to come back up the stairs.

It's not long until they are back in the room and I hug Willow and frantically blink back the tears that are threatening to fall.

"Are we ready here?" Willow asks as she brushes a strand of hair behind my ear. "The limo is waiting."

I nod my head and glance into the mirror again. "I'm ready."

Dawn squeals, picks up our bags and bouquets and leads the way down the stairs. Willow and I follow close behind.

"Oh Buffy," Dawn babbles happily as she reaches the door and grabs the handle. "This day is turning out to be the best ever…" She twists the handle and opens the door - and stops in her tracks.

Halfway down the stairs Willow and I freeze as we recognise the person standing on the other side of the door.

Joyce smiles, her curly brown hair framing her face like a halo as the sun lights her from behind. "There's my beautiful girls." she said stepping across the threshold and wrapping her arms around Dawn's waist. Too shocked to move, Dawn just stands there.

She steps back and smiles up at me.

I make my legs move and slowly walk down the rest of the stairs, Willow follows me close behind. "Mom," I whisper as I reach the bottom of the stairs. "What…what are you doing here?" Lame, Buffy, lame.

Mom smiles, "What? You think I was going to miss my first born's wedding?" she shakes her head as the three of us continue to stare at her. She turns her attention to Dawn. "And don't think you've escaped my attention either missy, what on earth are you wearing?"

Dawn blinks and looks down at her classy, but form hugging dress "It's the fashion mom."

I can't say anything. My mother is here, It's been five years since she died and I have been wishing for this moment ever since. I sniff and frantically dab at my eyes, not wanting my mascara to run.

"Oh darling," she whispers taking a step towards me and wrapping her arms around my shoulders, "It's going to be ok."

"But-but how?" I whisper putting my hands around her waist and gently resting my cheek on her shoulder.

She pats the top of my head gently, mindful of the intricate curls and pins. "The powers that Be, thought it would be a good idea."

I pull back. "What?"

Mom smiles again, "They wanted me to see you on this special day, so they granted me a day on earth to see you." The corner of her mouth twitches and I get the feeling she is holding something back.

"I took them up on the offer, no way was I going to pass up this opportunity."

I lick my lips. "I'm glad you did."

Willow nodded. "I'm glad you're back Mrs. Summers, if only for a day." Willow whispers.

A shadow falls over us and we all look towards the door. The valet is standing in the doorway. He clears his throat, "Sorry to interrupt ladies but we really need to get going."

I nod and pull mom forward out the door. Dawn follows and Willow comes last of all, locking the wooden door and putting the key in her bag as we all head down to the limo.

About half an hour later the limo pulls up slowly in front of the church, the valet gets out and walks around the car to open the door. Dawn and Willow get out first and then I do. A man standing in the doorway disappears from view as he gestures to the crowd inside. Willow bends down and straightens the train of my dress, making it perfect. The music starts and I lick my lips nervously.

Dawn starts forward walking up the stairs and pausing briefly before walking into the little church, Willow follows. I wait a few seconds before I start up the stairs. In the doorway I see Giles standing their waiting to meet me. As I step through the intricate wooden doors he smiles at me and offers his arm, I grin at him and place my arm in his. Then we start down the aisle. He leans down and whispers in my ear, "I am so proud of you."

I smile at him and turn my attention to the other end of the aisle, Angel is standing nervously just in front and to the side of the priest. His hands are clasped behind his back and he shifts slightly on his feet. I grin, unable to tear my gaze away from him.

Gunn is standing a few feet behind him, his best man. Xander, Spike, Faith, Connor and Illyria are all sitting in the front row. Behind them is a mass of people, Dawn and my aunts and cousins, a few of the Slayers, Andrew and a few of the people Angel helped over the years. A police woman named Kate, a girl called Bethany, and billionaire David Nabbit.

Everyone turns around in their seat to look at me, I grin unable to help the sudden rush of happiness.

Angel can't take his eyes of me, the expression on his face causes me to blush as we reach the end of the aisle and Giles and I stop beside him. Giles places my hand in Angel's and steps back sitting down next to Oz. The Priest clears his throat softly and looks down from the step above us. He opens the large book in his hand to the marked place. "Let us begin with a prayer…."

I turn my head slightly and look at Angel out of the corner of my eye. He is looking at me, his eyes so full of love. A beam of sunlight streams in through the stain glass windows and shines against his face.

After the battle, the old Hyperion Hotel became our base of operations. We moved everyone out of the street and started bandaging the wounded. Gunn and a few of the other girls who were more seriously wounded were taken to the hospital by Xander in Angel's old Plymouth GTX, which we found locked and secured in the courtyard at the back of the hotel. The car was so big it only just fit in the small space. The fountain in the center was millimeters from the paint job.

I half carried, half dragged Angel upstairs and into a room on the second floor. I put him on the bed and just watched him as he breathed. Then I sat down on the edge of the bed and burst into tears. I thought I had lost him, instead he was human. I didn't understand and at the moment I couldn't bring myself to care about how and why this had happened. Angel was here, he wasn't dust, and he was alive.

Alive.

Angel was alive.

I sucked in a deep breath and lifted my head, looking at his face as he slept on. I wiped at my eyes, brushing the tears away with the back of my hand. He looked just the same as I had seen him last, dark spiky hair, clean shaven, hunky build. The only physical difference was the steady rise and fall of his chest and the slight flush to his cheeks. I shook myself out of my funk, and scooted quickly up the bed, sitting beside him and stretching myself out along side of him. I rested my head beside his on the pillow and wrapped my arms around his waist.

When I awoke a few hours later it was morning and light was streaming in through the opened window and over Angel. I gasped and sat up, the movement woke Angel. When he saw the sun on him he jumped and started to scramble off the bed. But I grabbed him and held him still, "Angel, hold still!" I shouted grabbing his shoulders and holding him on the bed. "It's ok!"

Angel looked at me as if I was crazy before he started to realise that he was not burning despite sitting in the middle of the sunlight. His struggles stopped and he looked at me with wide eyes. I nodded and he looked down at the sun shining over his upper body and arms. He turned his head, gazing over his shoulder and stared out the window. Slowly, he raises his hand and placed it on his chest, over his heart. "What happened?" he asked, his voice a harsh croak.

I shook my head. "I don't know, one minute you were fighting and then you were on the ground and the next thing I knew you were human."

"Human?" he whispered, rubbing his shirt absentmindedly. ""The Shanshu…I signed it away…this couldn't have happened."

I blinked in confusion. "What does shining shoes have to do with you being human?' I snapped.

He turned his head and looked at me for a moment before the corners of his mouth twitched as he chuckled softly. "Shh-an-shu," he said the word slowly. "It's…well I don't exactly know what language it is."

"What does it mean?" I asked.

"To die, and to live," he looked at me and smiled again, "To become human….it was a prophecy Wesley translated a few years ago, about me."

I paused and my eyes narrowed. "A couple of years ago? And you didn't think to tell me?" I snapped, suddenly angry. I surged off the bed and glared down at him. "Didn't you think I would have liked to know?"

He didn't move. "I didn't want you to stop living because of me, I wanted you to have a normal life, not hang around waiting for something that might or might not happen in your lifetime." He glanced down, "and I didn't want to get your hopes up," he whispered.

My anger disappeared as quickly as it surfaced, and I glanced down embarrassed. "Sorry," I whispered. He shook his head, and just reached out to take my hand, pulling me back down on the bed.

"I wanted to tell you so bad when I first found out, but it wasn't my place anymore…you were with Riley…It doesn't matter now anyway."

I wrapped my arms around him and gave him a hug. "Come on," I whispered, "if you're feeling better, let's go downstairs and see the others." He nodded and winced as he got off the bed. He looked down at his arms, and then pulled his shirt up to look at his chest. He looked at me in shock, "What happened to all my wounds?" he asked.

"They're gone," I told him, "this white light washed over you and you collapsed, your wounds healed and that's when your heart started beating again."

He shook his head in disbelief.

When we got downstairs Spike was the first to walk over. He looked between us, his eyes resting on my face. Beside me I felt Angel tense and Spike turned his attention away from me then. "So, human." He muttered looking at Angel sadly.

Angel didn't move and then he did something that made me stare in shock. He stuck out his hand for Spike to shake. Spike's eyes widened and then he took the offered hand. Angel shook his hand and then pulled the smaller vampire into a quick one armed hug. "Thank you," I heard him whisper to Spike before he stepped back.

Spike shrugged uncomfortably and patted his pockets for a cigarette. "Yeah well, I wasn't gonna let ya deal with it alone now was I? Letting you and Blue do all the work and for Charlie boy ta die?" he shook his head, "wasn't gonna let that happen."

Angel smiled again. "Still, thanks. We won and we couldn't have done it without you."

I couldn't believe my ears! I glanced between both vampires, my mouth popping open in shock. "Are you guys ok?" I asked quietly.

Angel glanced at me, "Yeah?"

Spike smirked, "What's wrong pet?" he asked.

I shook my head and raised my hands up in the air in exasperation. "Oh nothing, nothing…just the last time I saw you guys you weren't exactly friends," I frowned. "In fact I distinctly remember you guys fighting the entire time."

Angel raised his eyebrows "We used to be friends you know, before…when we were evil," he shrugged, "when Spike got his soul we were on the same side again."

Spike nodded. "Doesn't mean I agree with him, or that we're buds or that I even like him."

Angel glared at other vampire. "We're fighting on the same side now, for the same reasons, that's a good enough reason to let him live."

Spike snorted. "As if you could kill me old man."

Angel took a step forward and got right in Spikes face. "Just try it Spike, I might be human now, but I could still wipe the floor with you. I know how you fight."

My eyes widened and I quickly got between them, pushing Spike roughly away as I gently shoved Angel in the chest. Sending both of them stumbling back a few steps. I sighed. "I guess this is still a work-in-progress huh?" I muttered unamused.

Spike huffed and folded his arms across his chest. "How did this happen anyway, I thought you signed the Shanshu away?"

Angel shrugged and opened his mouth to answer, but before he could there was an excited scream from the other side of the lobby and we all turned.

Faith ran towards us a huge smile on her face and threw her arms around Angel enthusiastically. I rolled my eyes as Angel gave an embarrassed smile and quickly hugged her back.

"I got here as soon as I heard what was going on," she said glancing at me and stepping back. "Xander filled me in."

"I'm glad you're here," Angel admitted and I struggled not to let the little spark of jealousy ignite. He had always been the one that was there for Faith, I couldn't help that. "How are you?" he asked the other Slayer.

Faith shrugged. "Hey, you know me, five by five," she smirked. "I wanna know about you, human!" she punched his arm playfully. "That's gotta be a bit of a shock."

Angel winced and rubbed the side of his arm. "Understatement of the century," he muttered as Faith laughed at him. I smiled at him, enjoying this new attitude. If this was a sign of things to come I couldn't wait.

The Priest's words sounded clear and strong inside the little church and I shake my head silently, focusing again on the old man in front of us. Angel squeezed my hand, I think he realised my mind had wandered during the prayers. I couldn't help it, I wasn't used to church. But after 250 years of feeling the full weight of God against him Angel wanted to do things right, and have a proper church wedding, with a prayer. I didn't mind, I knew he had been religious when he was human the first time. This second chance seemed to have rekindled his beliefs and he now wore a small silver cross around his neck at all times.

The Priest turns to Angel. "Do you, Angel O'Rourke take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife?"

"I do," he says without a shadow of a doubt.

The Priest turns to me, "And do you, Buffy Anne Summers, take this man to be your lawfully wedded husband?"

"I do." I whisper, licking my dry lips.

Gunn takes a step towards us and hands the pair of Claddagh rings to us. Angel clears his throat. "I give this ring as a sign of commitment," he says, placing mine on my finger. I repeat the gesture, and the words. Putting his ring on his finger, I can feel Angel shaking slightly from emotion. I sniff and try to hold back the tears.

"You may kiss the bride," the Priest murmurs, a wide smile on his face.

Angel and I look into each other's eyes. I smile and take a step closer. He places his arms around my waist, and bends his head down to kiss me.

We stay like that for a few seconds, content in each others arms. Then Dawn clears her throat loudly and Angel and I step reluctantly apart. Everyone stands up and starts clapping as Angel takes my hand and we turn around to face them. Connor wolf whistles and I glance up at Angel in time to see him roll his eyes.

"I have to tell you something," I say to him as we take a few steps down the aisle.

He looks at me inquiringly and I jerk my head to the back of the little church, he follows my gaze and gasps audibly. He has just spotted mom. He glances down at me in shock.

We are surrounded by well-wishers. Friends file past. Kate gives Angel a quick hug, and David Nabbit smiles warmly at me, I smile back, it's hard not to like the billionaire, especially when he is wearing a purple silk cape.

Slowly everyone starts trickling out of the church, heading to the reception. Leaving only our closest friends and family. Those who have been with us since the beginning.

Mom leaves her hiding spot from the back of the church and walks towards us. As Faith and Xander spot her they both gasp. Spike's eyes widen in shock

Connor frowns in confusion. "Dad," he hisses out of the corner of his mouth, "What's going on?"

Angel swallows the lumps in his throat. "This is Buffy's mom," he whispers to Connor.

Mom looks at him and smiles. "I died, over five years ago now," she adds.

Connor's eyes widened, "Then what…"

Angel places his hand on the young man's shoulder and Connor falls silent. "Later," the former vampire tells his son.

"How long are you here?" Giles asks, barely above a whisper.

Mom gave one of her shrugs. "Not long, I just wanted to see my oldest finally happy," she glances at Dawn, "Maybe I'll get to do this again when it's your time to marry."

We all laugh and Dawn and I hug her again. Steeling herself, Faith follows and tells mom she was sorry for everything she had done.

Mom wipes a few tears from her cheeks and then glances at Angel again, "There's, one more thing."

Mom turns her head and we follow her gaze. There, standing in the middle of the church facing us, is three people, a middle aged man, a woman and a young teenage girl.

Angel gasps, "Ma, Pa…"

The shocked looks on everyone's faces as we turn and look at Angel are priceless. Xander's jaw hits the floor and Spike looks lost for words – a feat rarely achieved.

I turn around to look at his family. His father is tall, though not quite as tall as Angel. Still, he towers over all of us sans Gunn. His face is hard, his dark eyes exactly like Angel's. His hair is long and tied at the nape of his neck. It had been brown once, but is now greying at the temples.

His mother is shorter, about Faith's height, with dark curly hair and large blue eyes. Unlike her husband her face is soft, the only lines on her face from age and laughter, not from worry. She stares at me, her expression unreadable.

Angel's little sister is heartbreaking to look at, she's so young, about 15 and she looks so much like her brother, sharing his soulful dark eyes and hair. Her face is rounder though, like her mom's and her lips are fuller.

Angel makes a painful sound in the back of his throat and takes a stumbling step forward. His little sister steps away from her parents and walks towards us. That's when Angel moves, quickly slipping his hand from mine and starting forward. He bends down when he meets his sister and wraps his arms around her and gives her a desperate hug. His sister returns the gesture, wrapping her arms around his neck and resting her head on his shoulder as tears of joy run down her face.

I walk forward slowly and place my hand on Angel's shoulder. "Angel," I whisper.

He looks at me. Smiling, he takes my hand and turns to his sister. "Buffy, this is Kathrine, Kathy. My sister."

I look down slightly, Kathy is not all that much shorter then me (despite her being a decade younger) and smile warmly at her "Hey," I smile and hold out my hand "It's nice to finally meet you."

Kathy smirks at me, ignores my hand and gives me a hug instead. "It's nice ta meet ya Buffy!" she says to me, her Irish accent is strong and unexpected.

Connor comes up slowly and stands on the other side of his father, his eyes are wide and staring. Kathy glances up at the young man and also smiles "Connor, right?" she asks and Connor nods. She smiles and gives him a quick hug as well, practically bouncing up and down with excitement.

Angel's mum walks over, but his father doesn't move. His fathers face is hard, and I can practically see Angel tensing with anticipation. Without a word his father turns away, and heads towards the door.

Angel licks his lips, the breath he was holding expels from his lungs as he sighs. His mother looks at him sadly. "Don't mind your father, you know how stubborn he can be. It's nice to finally see you smile." she whispers, taking a step forward and placing her hand on either side of his face. Angel bends his head and she kisses his forehead as if he was a child again.

"Ma…" he whispers softly.

A couple of tears run down her cheeks and she hugs him. The corner of Angel's mouth twitches in a smile and he bends down and rests his chin on her shoulder. Willow and Dawn both sniff emotionally, I too struggle to hold back tears.

Kathy is beaming happily.

Angel looks up, His father is standing by the door watching us, showing no emotion at all. Kathy leaves our side and heads towards him. They talk for a few seconds before Angel's father heads back towards them, a resigned look to his face. He glances around at all of us, frowning and I can tell he doesn't approve.

He stops in front of us and I can't help but notice the similarities between him and his son. They both have the same dark eyes, the same nose and jaw. When he was younger he would have been handsome too. Angel is taller than he is by a few inches.

"So, ya finally come to ya sense have ya." he says, his voice harsh.

"Cian," his mother whispers softly "Not now…"

Angel's eyes narrow. "I guess, I just needed to get away from you," he growls.

"Hey, hey," I whisper leaning a hand on Angel's arm "Don't…"

He turns to me his eyes angry "Why?" he almost yells, "Why is he always like this?" he turns to his father, his eyes narrowed in pain and anger. "Why do you keep doing this?"

His father looks at him sadly "Because ya ma boy, and I wanted ya ta do well." The answer is raw and honest.

Angel sighs and looks down. "I didn't need you to tell me what to do."

With an awkward look at one another my friends slowly back away, giving us space as they head out of the church. Connor makes to go as well, but I grab his arm and shake my head. Angel would want him to stay.

While they had been talking, the rest of the group slowly slipped out of the church, leaving Buffy Angel, Connor and his family standing in the middle of the chapel. Connor shifts nervously on his feet as Angel and his father confront each other, both of them angry.

I take a step forward and put my arm on his shoulder, trying to calm him down.

Connor clears his throat. "I know this isn't really any of my business, but don't you think it would be a good idea to put this stuff behind you? I mean, it's like, been 250 years. It's way, way in the past."

Angel and his father glance at each other, I can see both of them considering Connor's words, I forget sometimes how astute Connor can be.

Angel sighs loudly but nods. His father purses his lips together. "I think we can manage that." he huffs.

I take a deep breath "Good, because today," I link my arm with Angel. "Is our day, and I am really not interested in putting up with anyone's shit."

Angel's mother eyes widen with shock at my language, but I don't care. "You are welcome to join us at the reception though, if you wish, I think this will be a good time to reconcile."

Angel's father pauses studying his son, finally he nods, "Thank you, that would be very much appreciated."

I nod and keep my hand in Angel's as we turn and head out the door. The church is surrounded by beautiful parkland, gardens and a man-made lake with a gazebo overlooking a trickling waterfall. Our reception is at the base of the hill under the trees; a few large white marquees were erected on the grassy area on the lakes edge.

Underneath is a buffet lunch, nothing too heavy as dinner is also provided later in the evening, and rows of tables for the guests. Angel and I start walking down the hill towards the reception where the other guests have already gathered. Dawn, talking to Gunn and Faith out in the sun looks up, and waves when she spots us before hitching her dress up and running towards us.

She meets us about half way down the hill. "What's going on?" she asks.

I frown at her, she's so nosy!

Angel's the one that answers. "My parents and Kathy are going to join us for lunch."

I see Dawn glance behind us and frown "But…Kathy's in her nightdress."

Angel and I both turn at the same time and look at Kathy. Kathy looks down at her dress and shrugs.

Dawn is horrified, she pushes past me and grabs Kathy's hand "You're coming with me, I'm a bit taller but you should fit into my stuff, come on Connor."

Connor frowns "What?"

"You can drive us back to our house, it won't take long." She grabs Kathy's hand and pulls her back up the hill. Angel's sister glances back up at us and gives a bemused smile. Connor sighs and rolls his eyes before trudging up the hill after them.

Angel chuckles to himself, "Kathy doesn't know what she's getting herself into."

I smirk up at him, "Dawn can be pretty pushy when she wants to be."

"Hum, wonder where she got that from?" he mutters.

I glare and slap him on the arm. "Hey!" I say, "I'm not that bad!" Angel laughs again and we turn, continuing on our walk down to the lake. Angel's parents are silent as they walk along behind us. Angel's mother rests her head on her husband's shoulder as they walk.

I smile to myself. Maybe we aren't so different after all.

Those first few weeks were hard for him at first. It wasn't easy adjusting to being human. I remember the first time Angel saw his reflection, staring back at him through the mirror in the bathroom. I wondered what was taking so long, so I opened the door, and my eyes settled on him standing as still as a statue, just looking at himself in the mirror. I smiled and walked up behind him, noticing his eyes followed my progress. I wrapped my arms around his waist from behind and leaned my head against his arm. "How does it feel?" I asked his reflection.

He didn't know what to say. "Like I've been walking down a dark endless corridor and someone has finally turned the lights on," he licked his lips nervously. "I had almost forgotten what I looked like." he admitted ruefully.

I smiled and raised an eyebrow. "Does the result please you?" I asked with a playful smirk.

He grinned at me. "Well…can't complain."

I laughed at that "Neither can I."

He turned, bent down and kissed me passionately. I smiled against his lips, and let him push me back against the wall.

I gasped as Angel pressed himself against me, I could feel all of him as he stood in front of me, his chest pressed against mine, his legs between mine, his hands roamed over my body, down my arms, sneaking under my shirt. Moved down to my waist. I moaned softly as he grabbed the back of my legs and hoisted them up, I wrapped them around him, holding him against me, tilting my head back and moaning loudly.

He held me easily, turning me around until I was half sitting on the bathroom sink, my legs wrapped tightly around him. We kissed and touched, and explored each other in a way we had wanted to do for so, so long. We had been taking it slow over the two weeks he had been human, neither of us wanting to rush into something we had been rushing into since I was 16. It was time to take things slowly, for once.

So much for that.

Two weeks of smiles and kissing and touching when nobody was looking was leading to something fast and passionate against a bathroom sink.

Well I never said we were going to stick to it.

Both of us wanted this, had managed to hold ourselves back until we had some semblance of control. Now it was crashing down around us, though not literally, I'd had enough of that thank you very much.

I moaned, and dug my nails into his back, as his skilled hands explored my flesh. He gasped, his mouth moving from mine, down my neck until he could kiss the place where a circular scar still graced my collarbone. A scar his vampire fangs had given me years before.

Clothes were ripped and discarded, I fumbled at the button on his trousers before getting them undone and pushing them down his hips. My clothes quickly followed, when we were finally naked he pressed himself against me and I could feel how much he wanted me, I wanted him too. I spread my thighs, opening myself up to him. Slowly he pushed himself inside me. I gasped and wrapped my legs around him. He started to move, rocking his hips against mine.

Lips and hands moved over skin as Angel thrust himself inside me over and over, I tilted on the edge, just waiting for the moment I could crash over, holding him close to me and gasping for breath. He groaned loudly and shuddered against me, I knew he was close. A few more thrusts of his hips and I tipped over the edge, bringing him with me as I screamed my release. His breath was laboured as he sagged against me, putting his hands on the bench beside me to keep himself steady as he leaned forward and placed his forehead against mine.

I sighed contentedly and kissed him softly, wrapping my arms around his waist and keeping him close. He eased back, and pulled out of me slowly, he put his hands under my thighs and lifted me up against him and carried me out of the bathroom and into our bedroom, he laid me down on the bed and curled up beside me, his arms wrapped around me. I sighed into his embrace, falling asleep in his arms.

Slowly the afternoon turns into night. The sun sets and Spike appears, cigarette in hand from where he had spent the remainder of the day inside the church.

The bridal party has their own table, while the rest of the guests are seated at round tables of eight or ten. Spike and Faith sit next to one another, both of them getting along pretty well. Dawn, Connor and Kathy are back and Kathy is dressed in a knee length dress of Dawn's. She seems ecstatic with the new fashion.

"Do you like my dress Liam?" she asks her brother with a smile.

Angel grins proudly and gives his sister a kiss on the cheek. "You look beautiful Kathy" he murmurs.

She grins and scampers off to sit with Dawn.

The food is good, a three course meal with a few different choices. Everyone is enjoying themselves. Giles and Gunn make a speech, the former to a few tears, the latter to raucous laughter. After, Angel takes my hand, pulls me to my feet and leads me to the dance floor as the music starts to play. Angel takes the lead, putting his hand around my waist as we move around the dance floor in an elegant waltz. I've been working my ass off to learn the steps.

Angel already knew it. Typical.

The waltz leaves everyone entranced. Kathy stands with her hands clasped in front of her, watching her brother and I dance our first as man and wife.

As the music ends the guests move onto the dance floor, taking partners and friends and dancing to a more modern tune. Giles asks Joyce to dance, earning a horrified look from me as Angel smirks.

Faith and Spike start dancing, though they seem to be dancing to their own tune as the moves don't match the music. They don't seem to care though, and everyone else gives them a wide birth.

The night wears on, and everyone starts to get a little drunk and tipsy. Angel isn't drinking much, but Spike has a steady supply of beer cans in front of him.

I leave Angel talking to Gunn and David Nabbit and wander around the room. I talk to Kate for a little bit, and find out the former cop is now investigating paranormal activity on the other side of the country with a small team.

I spot Angel's family and wander over, I want to talk to them. Apart from that initial meeting in the church I notice Angel hasn't been near them at all. Two hundred and fifty years is a long time to hold a grudge, and I know Angel blames himself for what happened to his family. Killing them was the first thing Angelus had done when he rose from his grave. He murdered Angel's family, and then the rest of the town. From what Angel had told me over the years, hardly anyone got out alive and those that did had lived with the horror for the rest of their lives.

Having his family back, if only for a day had be harder on him then it was on me. I had only found my mother dead, I wasn't the one who killed her. I wander over, sitting down beside his mother, as she watches the other guests dance. "I didn't think I would ever see him this happy," she admits in a quiet voice.

I turn my head and look at her, she's beautiful. Around the same age as my own mother, with a little grey streaking her temples and small lines in the corner of her eyes.

"I didn't know I could give it to him." I admit honestly. "We have been dancing around each other for so long, I didn't think I could ever give him this."

She smiles at me, "I'm glad you did. I miss seeing him smile, he has such a lovely smile."

I nod in agreement. "He does."

We fall silent again. "I always regretted the hostility between him and his father, I didn't know how to change it, and I'm afraid the more I tried to make things right the more they fell apart. At the end they couldn't even talk to one another without it becoming a shouting match."

"I'm sorry," I say sadly, I always knew Angel's relationship with his father was rocky at best, but I never knew it was that bad.

She shakes her head. "There is nothing to be done now. It happened years ago, I just wish they could resolve their issues."

"Maybe this is why you're here? So they can." I say.

She looks at me again. "I hope so," she says. "They deserve it."

We sit in silence for a while and I look over to where Angel is standing. Spike and Faith had wandered over, as had Willow and the four of them are talking. Spike and Faith had their back to me and as I watch, Spike's arm snakes around Faith's waist. I give a snort and shake my head, some things never changed. I catch Angel's eyes across the hall and smile, he smiles back at me.

I couldn't believe I was here, after all these years. All this time of wishing, of wanting. I was finally getting the thing I most wanted. Him. Forever.

That's the whole point.

Angel took my hand as we entered the cemetery.

He had been human for almost a year now, and had adapted perfectly to his new way of life. He had gotten a job with a security detail, looking after important government officials and celebrities around Los Angeles. He went to the gym, and on the nights he didn't work he would help patrol with me, always by my side – even if I no longer needed his help.

I let him lead me through the perfectly manicured lawn, rose bushes and up a hill, the further we walked the older the graves became. Soon the lawn disappeared, replaced by dirt and weeds. Everything was dirty, cobwebs clung to stone statues and moss covered the bases of most of the headstones. "Angel," I whispered, "where are you taking me?"

"Sshh," he murmured, distractedly "You'll see, don't worry."

I bit my lip, but fell silent. I was curious, so I held my tongue. Most of the headstones were cracked and broken now. Finally he stopped and knelt down on the ground, pulling weeds and twigs away from a few graves. He brushed his hands over the stone, and started to clean it.

I knelt down beside him. "This is where your family are buried?"

He nodded, "It's about time I came back," he whispered while continuing to clean the dirt and moss from the gravestone.

I'd thought his suggestion at a trip to Ireland was a brilliant idea. I wanted to see where he grew up, walk the streets he used to walk, explore the green countryside and sit in a genuine Irish pub and listen to folky music that was older then he was.

I didn't know he had other plans.

I looked at the fourth grave beside him. He hadn't touched it, I frowned and reached out to brush the dirt away from it when he put his hand out to stop me. His hand wrapped around my wrist and tugged me away. "Don't" he said sadly.

"What's wrong?" I asked, "Isn't this one of your family's as well?"

He shook his head mutely, unable to look me in the eye. I knew something was wrong. "Angel?" I whispered, "Please, tell me what's going on."

"It's mine." He said in a low voice, turning his head and looking me in the eye. "That grave is mine."

"Why don't you want me to clean it?"

"Nobody is there Buffy, why do you need to clean it?" he said harshly, his voice a growl that would have done his vampire self proud.

I ignored him and started to clean the grave anyway. "Just because no one is there doesn't mean that it doesn't deserve the same care as your family's."

"I killed most of the people in my town Buffy, I don't deserve this. My grave should be forgotten."

"Not by me it won't." I said, rubbing my hand over the stone and revealing the name on the gravestone. I stared at it for a moment. "Liam O'Rourke" I whispered.

Angel gave a jerk of his shoulders, and I could tell he wanted to say something, though he stayed silent. "I never knew your human name." I reminded him quietly.

"I know. I didn't know how to tell you."

"Do you want me to call you Liam?" I asked.

He sucked in a surprised breath. Finally he shook his head. "No," he whispered. "No, I haven't been Liam in a long time, I'm Angel now."

I nodded in agreement. "You will always be Angel to me." I said, leaning over and giving him a kiss. He smiled and wrapped his arm around me, pulling me against him. I leaned my head against his shoulder for a moment before I leant back and sat beside him. He let me go. Together we continued to clean the graves until they were completely free of dirt. In the end we were sweaty and tired. Angel had a smudge of dirt down one cheek where he had brushed a fly away. There was dirt under my nails and I was glad I'd planned to get a manicure at the hotel's beauty clinic before going out this evening.

Angel was taking me to a fancy restaurant on the harbour tonight. I couldn't wait. I had bought an amazing dress from the little boutique down the road of the hotel this morning after we'd landed. It was a halter style, knee length that hugged my curves, in a lovely dark purple.

Excited just thinking about it I got to my feet and brushed my hands on my jeans. Angel got up, took my hand in his and headed back down the path. I wrapped my arms around him and leaned my head against his shoulder. "I'm glad you brought me here." I said.

He looked down at me and smiled. For a moment I thought he was going to say something, but he didn't.

Later that night at dinner Angel wasn't himself. He seemed distracted and would keep looking into the distance, he wasn't nearly as focused on our conversations as he normally was. I wondered what was wrong, and then I thought maybe he was just thinking about today.

The meal was lovely, the dessert was to die for and the wine was flowing. After, we decided to go for a walk down the pier. It was a little windy, and Angel offered me his jacket. When we got to the end I let go of his hand and leaned against the railing, looking down into the dark water below. "This is amazing," I said turning around with a smile on my face.

Angel was kneeling in front of me, his eyes staring right into mine as he held out a little blue box. I stared, speechless as he opened it carefully, revealing a simple, but elegant silver engagement ring.

"Oh god," I gasped.

"Buffy," he said before clearing his throat. "Will you marry me?"

I couldn't speak, I was in shock, and my brain was going a mile a minute. "Oh, yes," I breathe, "Yes!" I laughed and flung myself at him, grabbing his arms and pulling him up. I kissed him passionately.

He laughed and wrapped his arms around me. We broke apart and he put the ring on my finger. I looked down at in in awe, I couldn't believe this was happening. I had dreamt of this moment for so long. Never did I think it would actually happen.

I hugged him again, "I love you." I whispered against his chest.

Angel sees me talking to his parents, every now and then he looks over and frowns, but he didn't come over. His father, after his initial hostility is actually quite pleasant to talk to. He could talk about anything and everything, and actually seems interested in what I have to say. I can tell he doesn't know what to think of me though, and he keeps glancing at me out of the corner of his eye, as if he can't work out what's bothering him.

He keeps an eye on Connor too, and I know he's just dying to ask Angel about him. I'm not sure what I feel about that. Connor is family.

Angel looks up at us again. I smile and beckon him over. His father turns his head and watches, frowning as Angel excuses himself from the group he's talking to and walks over. His expression becomes reserved as he gets closer. He sits down beside me and puts his arm around my waist, giving me a quick kiss.

He turns his head and watches his parents. His mother folds her hands in her lap and watches him closely. She clears her throat. "This is a lovely reception." She tells us.

"Thank you." I say.

"I finally found a woman I wanted." Angel says.

"It took you long enough." His father replies.

Angel glares. "Connor's my son." He says quickly, as if he's afraid of what will happen if he doesn't say it as quick as possible. His mother and father both gasp, and his mother looks at Connor and then at me.

"He isn't Buffy's," Angel says, as if he knows what she was going to say. "He's Darla's."

"Who's Darla, another one of your whores?" his Dad snaps.

I gasp, but Angel just laughs. "No. Though she did that when she was human. No, she was the one that turned me into a vampire. It's a long complicated story, but she and I had a son together a few years ago. She killed herself so he could live."

His parents look shocked. I notice his father glance over and look at Connor.

I think of Angel's son as the brother I never had. I had never liked Angel's ex, the few times I met her she tried to kill me, until Angel turned the tables and killed her instead. I still remember the look of shock and betrayal on her face when he did that, for me. But my grievances meant nothing, she had meant a lot to Angel, they had known each other for a century and a half, it was no wonder their lives would be entwined.

I admit, I was shocked when I found out Angel had had a son with Darla, and that he was human. It was even more shocking to find out he grew up in a hell dimension and was a teenager despite only being born five years before.

But when you've spent the last decade fighting vampires you learn to take the strange in stride. I couldn't begrudge Angel having a son. It's something no vampire has ever had. Their relationship was rocky at the start, but since Angel had become human they had both made a conscious decision to make an effort. Connor went to college at Stanford, and came to visit every couple of weekends. They would call each other every couple of days. If he was in town he would come patrolling with us too.

"How do you feel about that?" Cian asks me.

I blink in shock. "Connor's family." I say evenly, and it's true. "I love him like a brother, it doesn't matter to me who his mother was."

"And the fact he has a child with a woman who isn't his wife?"

I freeze. Angel turns his head and looks at me, squeezing my hand slightly so his parents won't notice. I take a deep breath. "It does hurt," I admit, "I've always loved him, but we both have our pasts, and Connor is a part of that." I shrug and turn my head to give Angel a smile. "Who am I to judge that?"

His parents look at me for a moment before his mother smiles, gets up out of her seat and steps towards me. She bends down and wraps her arms around my shoulders, giving me a hug. She steps back and shakes her head. "You're right, Buffy. I'm glad my son has finally found the happiness and peace he deserves."

Slowly his father nods "Aye."

"I'm glad for ya son. I might not have always been the best father, but I just want what's best for ya." He pauses and glances at me. "I think you've found that."

Angel smiles too. "I think I have too."

It's almost dawn when the reception finally wraps up. Friends and associates have been trickling out for about an hour now, and at last it's only our closest family and friends left. Angel holds my hand as the others come and say their good nights. Faith gives me a hug and a kiss on the cheek, Spike does the same, winking at me before he and Faith head off. Xander, Willow and Oz leave together, while Connor offers to drive Giles, Gunn and Dawn back to the Hyperion.

Finally only Angel and I are left, standing under the moonlight with those that had left us so long before. Mom is crying now, as is Angel's mother. Kathy looks like she's trying not to, while his father just looks tired.

"I guess it is time to say goodbye." Mom whispers, the tears streaming down her face. It's like I was a child again. I fall into her arms and let her wrap her arms around her and hold me tight. I put my head on her shoulder and cry with her.

"I don't want you to go. Mom, I need you."

"Oh Buffy, no you don't" She steps back with a smile. "You don't need me anymore, you never did really, you were always so strong – even when you weren't the chosen one."

I sniff and wipe my eyes. "I've missed you." I say sadly.

"I've missed you too, but this is what it is. I can't stay." She glances around and stares at Angel's parents. "None of us can."

Angel's mother gives me a hug, and again tells me how much she thinks of me. Cian holds out his hand for me to shake but I have none of it. "You're family now," I say before pulling him into a hug. He seems surprised for a second before he returns the gesture. I step back and Angel steps forward. They don't move for a few minutes then Angel's dad holds out his hand and they shake.

Kathy is crying now, big tears running down her cheeks and spotting the fabric of her dress.

"It's ok Kathy, it's ok." Angel says quietly, kneeling down and giving his sister a hug.

"But I don't want you to go again Liam, I don't want you to."

"You can't stay Kathy, as much as I would love you to, it doesn't work like that."

"You got to stay," she says stubbornly. "After you died, you got to stay."

Angel freezes, taken aback. "I didn't have a choice. That was the demon in charge, it wasn't me."

Kathy sniffs and wipes her eyes. "I'm sorry," she whispers. "I just don't want you to go again. You've been gone so long, you only came back to visit a few times."

Angel frowns, looking confused. "What do you mean?" he asks, glancing up at his parents and then back at me. "What do you mean you've seen me a few times? Where?"

Kathy frowns. "I don't know. The other place. The nice one."

"Home? Ireland?"

She shakes her head. "No after. After we died. I've only seen you a few times since."

Angel frowns again, not understanding. But I do. He never thought of himself as separate from the demon that used to control his body. He felt it was right that he punish himself for its sins. But he was never in control. He had no choice in the matter, and was not responsible for what that monster did to everything around him. "She means the soul, Angel. She's seen your soul, in the centuries since you've been human, she's seen your soul."

His mouth pops open in shock and he stares. Then he grabs her and pulls her into another hug. "I'm so sorry Kathy."

After a few minutes Angel steps back. His sister is still upset, but she looks a little more composed now as she takes her mother's hand.

I can feel a change in the air, and feel the gentle pull of something other. Slowly my mother and Angel's family start to fade from view. Kathy lifts her arm and waves, Angel waves back. "Buffy," mom says quickly.

"Yes?"

"I love your dress."

A few seconds later they are gone, and Angel and I are left alone on the grassy field. I let out a sob and bury my face in Angel's shoulder. He puts his hands around my shoulders and whispers against my hair.

"I forgot how much I missed her until I could talk to her again." I say.

I feel him nod, "I didn't think it would be this hard, but seeing Ma and Father again, and Kathy…" he trails off. "It brought back so many memories."

'We aren't going to turn back into Mr. Broody are we?" I ask.

"No," he says a little defensively. "But I wish it didn't have to be this way."

I dab at my eyes and take a deep breath. "Are you ready to go home?"

He turns and looks at me, and then a huge smile lights his face. "And spend the first night with you as my wife?" He wraps his arm around my waist. "I can't wait."

I laugh and punch his arm lightly. "Well Mr. O'Rourke, I guess this is it."

"What?"

"The start of something new."

"I guess it is."

"You know what the best part of this is?" I ask him.

"What?"

"Everyone now knows you're mine." I say, before I wrap my arms around his waist and give him a kiss.


The End

A/N: So, not my usual style. I don't normally write something so fluffy and sweet, but I felt like a change, and I have wanted to write Joyce and Angel's family into a storyline for a while. I hope you all enjoyed it. Please review and let me know what you thought.

Ashes