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Stardust

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Angel thought of Buffy. Of him and Buffy together, lying together, bare skin against bare skin, his cheek pillowed on the flat of her stomach.

"Am I too heavy?"

"No." Buffy's fingers tightened in his hair. "I like the weight of you on me."

For the first time in a long time, Angel had been relaxed, content. The conflicts and tensions and weight of the world no longer pressing down on him; banished from this room and this time.

Her softness and warmth no longer startlingly different because he was soft and warm too. He no longer concentrated on her gentle breathing or her heart beat, he had them himself now and they were much more fascinating. It had been over two hundred years since he had breathed his last and now he could blow against Buffy's skin and watch the goosebumps erupt.

They were together, they were both human; it was real, it wasn't a dream or a fantasy. They could have everything. They could have the life they had both longed for with each other; a not quite so normal human life fighting the forces of evil together.

But did he deserve it? Did he deserve to have Buffy and be happy after every vile, evil, despicable thing he'd done?

No, Angel didn't believe he deserved it.

But Buffy did. She was so good. So sweet. She loved him so much and he wanted her to be happy. It was his one wish for her. But he had to atone. If it took a life time he had to make up for what he had done, the lives destroyed, the trail of blood and death and violence in his wake.

It made him ache to think that Buffy was a casualty of war, caught in the crossfire of his evil deeds, another person who had to suffer for what he had done.

Buffy would not remember this day and Angel could only hope that longing for what she didn't have would be easier for her than it would be for him, longing for what they'd had so very briefly, but forever burnt upon his memory.

Their day together, their human day; loving, laughing, happy, would be as precious to him as stardust but he had to do the right thing.

"Go ahead," he said to the Powers That Be. "Turn back time. Make me a demon again."

He would get to say goodbye. Kiss Buffy one last time as a human, and then go back to earning his redemption.

He had to earn it. For all those who had suffered at his hands, Angel knew he had to earn it. There could be no easy way, no allowances made, not even for Buffy.