To Live and To Die
Angel finds out that rewards may come in odd forms, sometimes bearing pies. Crossing with Pushing Daisies, plus a surprise.Disclaimer
: I don't own Buffy: the Vampire Slayer, Angel: the Series, or Pushing Daisies. No profit, no foul.Note
: Takes place a few years into the future for both A:tS and Pushing Daisies.
Angel stepped into the alleyway behind the Hyperion, glancing once to each side to make sure he was alone. Look back down the alley, he noticed a man leaning against the hotel who he would have sworn hadn't been there a moment earlier.
"Angel?" Ned said quietly, knowing that the other man's vampiric senses would hear him. "My name is Ned. I'm supposed to tell you that Whistler sent me, and then duck to avoid any projectiles." He grinned wryly, as he could understand how someone like Angel might not be terribly fond of such a person. The Powers only explained things fully when one wasn't going to be around to act on the information for very long.
"Buffy always had more against him than I did," he replied. "Why are you here?"
Ned looked off past Angel's shoulder into the distance. "I have an interesting... well, you might call it a gift or a curse. It's been mixed for me, but I think it will work out better for you."
Angel's hackles rose a bit; he was suspicious of any agent of higher beings who came bearing "gifts." "What kind of gift? Are the Powers that Be going to bring back Cordy's visions?"
Ned smiled, but it was a faint expression, only a slight twitch of his lips. "They really have done a number on you, haven't they?" he remarked. "I can reanimate the dead. One touch, and they come back; another touch, and they're dead forever. If I leave one alive for more than a minute, someone else dies to pay the price." He stopped for a moment, but Angel could sense that he hadn't finished his tale. Ned took a deep breath, and asked, "Do you know what it feels like to be completely in love with someone, but to know that you can never act on it, never really touch her?"
Angel nodded once. "I understand that more than you could know," he replied.
"She was killed by a thief, and I brought her back. We were childhood crushes, and I thought we might get another chance, even though we could never touch. Chuck came up with some pretty inventive ways for us to be together, but it still seemed too good to be true." He paused, blinking to keep away tears. "One day, there was a freak earthquake, and she tripped and fell into me. That was it." He didn't leave the Pie Hole for three days after that, and then he had holed up in his apartment for the next two months.
"Is that when Whistler showed up?" Angel had been at a similarly low point when he met the demon.
Ned nodded. "And that brings us to the happier part of the story. I'm going to touch you, and you're going to live again."
Angel's eyes widened. "But if I stay alive, doesn't that mean..."
"...that I won't," Ned finished. "But don't worry about that. I'll see Chuck again. It's better this way."
Before Angel could protest, Ned took a step towards him, and then glanced down at his coat, remembering. He handed Angel a strawberry rhubarb pie, carefully wrapped. "It's my last one," he said. "It seems appropriate." He shook Angel's hand, and pressed the timer on his watch.
The minute passed much more quickly for Angel than for him, as the former vampire was marveling at the feeling of his heart beating and warm blood flowing through his veins. Ned's watch finally beeped once, and he slumped to the ground, limp and ashen.
Angel was unsure of what to do with the body, but an older man walked up and saved him the trouble. "It'll be taken care of," he told him. "Go find your lady and make up for lost time." The man winked at him once, and he took the hint and left, after tipping an imaginary hat to the man who had given him his life back.
Ned's soul watched from next to the older man, unsure of what was going on. "You're the man who brushed past me as I got out of the cab," he realized.
Rube grinned. "I'm usually on accidental death duty, but they make exceptions for family."
: In case you didn't get the reference, I don't own Dead Like Me either.