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5 Times It Rained on Angel (And Once When the Sun Shone)

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I.

She is dripping on his apartment floor.

She is shaking, and shaken, her eyes enormous and searching. She is cold. He spends a moment filled with regret that he cannot warm her and then snaps out of it.

Of course he can warm her. Maybe not with his body heat, but with dry clothes. Blankets. He can crank up the thermostat till the temperature is tropical.

He turns away so she can change, but a hiss of pain slices through the air and he can't help himself. He has to turn back around. She is still tense and trembling, her rain-slicked skin glistening in the low light. They have found shelter and safety here but no relief, only a raw and driving need – to tell, to touch, to feel, to know.

He will not be able to deny her anything tonight.

His bed is damp with raindrops, but she blazes hot enough to warm them both. Her caresses loose his chains of guilt, of grief, and he soars, so high he cannot see the ground, may never see the ground again, his heart swelling so full of her that something inside him bursts.

Then the rain stops, and everything is different.

 

II.

This time, the rain is crystal – flakes, not drops, that wink like stars and melt into the blond of her hair.

She nestles her hand in his and tugs, pulls him away from the hillside where he meant to die. He lets her, lets his burden roll away, and descends into a world that just minutes ago he wanted so desperately to abjure.

He is not man enough to deserve two miracles, but he has them both, this Southern California snow and this Southern California girl – has them, at least, for a single cold morning that dawns with realization instead of light.

He walks with her through the streets, hand in hand, in wonder. He of little faith has gotten a sign. He must carry on. It will be hard, and painful, and every day, this work he has to do.

And somehow, deep down, he already knows that they will not be able to do it together.

 

III.

Her tears are more furious than the storm.

She's weak in her desperation now, begging him to end it all. He clutches her tightly and they sink to the ground, and for the first time, he understands – really understands, understands bone-deep – what it meant when his dearly departed told him all those months ago that it wasn't about saving lives.

He's supposed to be saving souls.

Even this soul. Especially this soul.

Even though she tried to rob him of his own. Even though she put poison in his blood and left him to die. Even though she put murder in the eyes and steel in the heart of the woman he loves.

He's supposed to save this soul.

He's failed before. No matter the cost, he won't let it happen again.

 

IV.

She has been so many things to him: temptation, damnation, revelation, despair. Now she is dust. Again.

He saw her this way once before, spattered across the sticky floor of a darkened nightclub. Dusted by his own hand. Now she is ash again, all that remains of her sluicing away down the rain-soaked alley.

Through his shock, he curses the unrelenting downpour. There will be nothing left, not even a trace of ash for an urn.

It will be as if she never existed. But, no, not that. Not that at all. Because risen from her dead womb, a tomb, is her son. Their son. A helpless, pale newborn with her deep blue eyes. He hopes those eyes stay blue, stay hers. Doesn't she deserve that, at least?

The demon who doomed him has given him another miracle, only this one cannot melt away. He actually believes that for a moment, until an old enemy appears and he is reminded that everything – everything human – melts away. Every day he has with this tiny child will be borrowed. (He'll try to forget that, force it down and lock it away. But his enemy will return to remind him, wearing the face of a friend.)

For now, all he knows is that he's going to do whatever he can to give this babe in swaddling leather something he has never been able to hold onto: a good life.

 

V.

He is glad for the rain this time around. It obscures his tears. Each time a tooth or claw or blade breaks his skin, he is remembering. Connor's sweet baby gurgles, his sister's quiet eyes, Cordelia's wide grin. All the good but painful things he usually keeps out of reach. He revels in them now. They fuel him as he fights long past the point of sanity.

When it's clear that it's over – they are all dead or dying, there is no hope of holding off the demon horde – she turns to him, her body a patchwork of blood and gore.

"Fools," she says and raises her arms. She uses the last of her strength to tear open a portal that begins to pull all the surrounding demonic life into its whorls.

He cannot move to resist the portal's pull. His body is a paean to pain and he wonders idly what fresh hell this trip to hell will bring.

He doesn't find out. At the last moment, the dragon, caught by the portal and belching flame, passes by him and catches his clothes ablaze.

In the seconds before he turns to dust, he allows himself the most forbidden of his memories – a rain-soaked night like this one, not so long ago, when for the first time in two hundred years, he felt alive.

Perfect happiness.

He leaves this world with a smile on his face.

 

VI.

Her name is Angel.

She blinks her wide eyes and makes mewling noises as he straps her into her car seat. He moves with quiet assurance — he watched a video on his phone during the long hours of Kim's labor to make sure he'd know how to do it exactly right.

Once the last fastener clicks into place, he turns to put his arms around his wife.

"I never thought I'd say this," Kim says, peering through the window at their little bundle, "but the name is perfect. I can't imagine calling her anything else."

He had met with some resistance when he revealed what he hoped to name their little one, boy or girl. But then he told Kim about the man who had been "like" a father to him, who had lived and died trying to show the world what it could be.

A man whose name should not fade away.

He squints as he drives out of the hospital parking garage and into the bright light. Shining puddles on the asphalt show the evidence of a recent rainstorm, but now there's not a cloud in the sky.

He doesn't know what the future holds, but he knows he has a good life. And he's going to do whatever he can to make sure Angel Reilly has one, too.