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Paradise Changed

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Summary: After the final battle in "Not Fade Away," Angel awakens to a skewed, changed reward. But it may be what he needed all along...

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
BtVS/AtS Non-Crossover > Romance > Angel/Willow(Past Donor)vinniebatmanFR151654031,76211 Aug 0811 Aug 08Yes
Author: vinniebatman
Fandom: BtVS/AtS
Pairings: Willow/Angel
Rating/Warnings: None
Disclaimer: I hired a pack of ninjas to kidnap Joss; he was threatened with hot poker torture and chainsaws so I could meet the real him. I now own all. Thank you. *Doctor's Note: Patient exhibits delusions of grandeur and any claims of ownership are pure fantasy. No harm is meant. Seriously, it's better than her throwing rocks at people.*
Beta: The magical suki_blue.
Author's Notes: This was written for my friend, velvetwhip, who adores this pairing.

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The Oracles were wrong. Or perhaps cruel.

Angel remembered dying in that final battle in the alley. His awareness, his very existence, had suddenly ended. Then there was the light and the voices, speaking as one as they promised him his reward, his humanity. A distant memory of Buffy's face, of her love for him and his love for her, swam to the front of his mind. He'd long ago given up on a future for them. When he woke next, he took a deep breath and felt his heart beating in his chest. But it wasn't what he expected.

The Oracles had misled him, lied by omission. They had twisted existence, manipulated reality.

He woke up outside of a house in South America and found that he had new memories. The memories include an amicable, mutual break-up with Buffy, their love and longing faded to friendship. He had memories of being friendly with Xander, of joking with the younger man and even offering long-distance relationship advice from LA. He could clearly recall Tara moving to LA, where she later won Cordy's heart. Tara then became a powerful witch, and had held open the portal, allowing Angel to give chase to Holtz and retrieve Connor. He'd never taken over Wolfram and Hart, Illyria had never taken Fred. Wesley and Gunn still lived. Things seemed improved, but the Oracles had still changed everything to fit their whims. And while his friends still lived, it was wrong.

He should raise hell, find the Oracles and curse them, force them to reset reality before returning him to life.

After struggling to his feet, Angel knocked on the door. Willow opened it, a familiar, brown-haired toddler on her hip. The sunlight had turned her hair into a glowing, red halo and, in that moment, he was struck by her sweet beauty.

There were a million changes. He could see them all flashing through his mind, melded to the events of the past. He remembered walking her home, smiling as she recounted the events of her day. He remembered carrying Willow upstairs as she cried after telling Angel of Buffy's death. He remembered being entranced by the pale perfection of her face profiled against his pillow. He remembered laying down beside her, cradling her small body to his and feeling the natural fit of her body against his. He remembered the pregnant, tense silence the next morning when he awoke, his body aching for Willow.

His free will, the love he felt for Buffy had been ripped away. He should tear through the world until he found the Oracles, hurt them for playing with everyone's memories. It wasn't their right to manipulate events, even if the outcome protected a few.

A tearfully happy Willow raised herself onto her tiptoes to press a passionate kiss against his lips as the toddler clutched Angel's shirt in a sticky fist. All the while, Angel's changed life continued to play in his mind's eye. He remembered their first kiss after Connor's birth. He remembered the precious few kisses that followed, each one sweet and sorrowful as she sought a way to anchor his soul. He remembered the way his unneeded breath had caught in his throat the first time he'd seen her cradling his son to her breast, humming softly. The emotion felt so real, so natural. And a surprised part of Angel realized he could see himself falling in love with Willow; it wasn't that far fetched. And as he wound his arms around the thin, curved body pressed against his, carefully including his son in the embrace, he understood.

The Oracles had manipulated events for a reason. They had provided moments of discovery, all to give Angel his reward.

Because in Willow's arms, his son at their side, was where he was meant to be all along.

The End

You have reached the end of "Paradise Changed". This story is complete.

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