Disclaimer: I own nothing and make no profit off this story. Spoilers for Angel Season 5 and Angel Graphic Novels + How I Met Your Mother Season 1
He gets another chance; he supposes he should thank Lilah for somehow getting him out of his contract. He tries, for the split second before he forgets everything, including the look in her eyes and the knowledge of what more she had given up for his freedom.
He has no recollection that he was anyone other than Sandy Rivers, smiling for the camera. He doesn’t remember betraying his friends, losing the woman who stole his heart to a god who wore her face, and floating in hell beside a champion as his link to Wolfram and Hart.
But when he finds her, Penelope, he feels strangely drawn. She’s not his type at all that he knows of. She’s bookish, outspoken and way too un-glamourous for a TV News Anchor of his standing.
Nonetheless, he keeps finding reasons to run into her. He finds reasons to speak with her, and at last, he finds a reason to kiss her.
It’s sweet and wonderful for a while. They take walks in the park, under the summer sun. They eat frozen yogurt and discuss the finer points of the Star Wars trilogy.
He should’ve known better; after all, he’s lived this before.
She goes on an archeological dig with her class, in some desert in Nevada. When he gets the call, it’s almost too late.
According to the professor she was assisting, she had walked into the tomb unsupervised, in the middle of the night. She had touched the mummified remains of the body they had found, buried there some thousands of years ago, and before you know it, she was coughing up blood, doubled over in pain.
By her bedside, he reads through medical journal after journal, trying to find a cure as her life is drained away inch by inch, her lips turning that unnatural shade of white. He comforts her in her lucid moments, and in her not so coherent stages, he tries not to punch a hole in the wall next to him.
CNN calls his cell to let him know he’s about to be fired for missing work; they get his voicemail.
She asks him late on Thursday night, barely two days after he gets that fateful call,
“Why can’t I stay?”
And he gasps because he cannot believe how much it hurts.
When next she draws breath, her skin is already changing and her eyes are the perfect blue of an azure sky.
With something like destiny in his eyes, he stands up, hair no longer perfectly in place, clothes no longer pressed and starched.
“Well. You tried.” Lilah said long after.
“Yes.” He replied. He smiled at her slightly.
There’s nothing else to say, as he starts his first day in yet another hell, obligated to another contract he had signed in return for…
In New York, Penelope graduates with honours, never having seen his face or remembering any other life except this one.