Chapter Twenty Eight: Epilogue
: To all Doctor Who fans: I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry! It was sooooo much better a story like this than it would have been if I hadn't done it.
Now that that's out of the way.
For all you people who read this epilogue and said, "Well, Shoshi, this
should have been the story all along," I tried it and it didn't work. I needed to have Buffy + Doctor have some rapport before this revelation happened. The sequel, which I'm working on right now but is absolutely not even close to finished yet, will investigate the relationships I mention in the Epilogue further.
Look for sequel soon!
The Doctor stood, his long brown coat draped down across his thin frame, the nearby alley walls plunging him half in shadow. He had his hands in his trouser pockets, looking very relaxed, as he surveyed the area around him. It was Sunnydale, 1998. A dumpster sat perched to his right, and his TARDIS lay behind him, her bright blue exterior lending the alley a reassuring spark of life.
Buffy had just left. The Doctor had waited another minute or so since the echo of her footsteps had faded into silence. Just to make sure.
"I know you're there," he called. "You can come out, now."
The sound of shuffling feet reverberated through the alley, and Angel emerged from his hiding place in the shadows. He was trying to walk with a brave determination, as if nothing bothered him, but it was obvious that Angel was terrified of the man before him. He met the Doctor's gaze with his own.
"So, it really is you," said the Doctor. He surveyed Angel, with a mild curiosity. "You do realize you shouldn't be here."
Angel nodded. "Are you going to kill me?"
The Doctor raised an eyebrow. "Do I need to?"
"I know how this works," said Angel. "If Elizabeth had never met you, if she'd never gone with you to Romania, she'd never have stopped you. You'd have killed me for what I did to your Kalderash friends. I've somehow wound up in a timeline where Buffy never met you. That means I should be dead."
"Oh, that," said the Doctor. He gave a shrug. "Bit of a temporal misalignment never hurt anyone. Not sure how you wound up in this timeline, but I suppose that's a mystery for another day. At any rate, that's not why I'm here. I've come to give you a choice." He took his hands out of his pockets, revealing a small glass container filled with a reddish-orangey substance that seemed to shimmer, even in the half-light of the alley. The Doctor held it out for Angel.
Angel took it, hesitantly, the liquid in the container sloshing across the sides, gold specks glittering inside its orangey depths.
"It'll make you human again," said the Doctor.
"I know what it does," said Angel. "I've heard the rumors. I was surprised you didn't use it back in Romania."
"Hadn't come up with it, then," said the Doctor. "Had to use Magda to channel the psionic energy. Same species and all. Didn't know she was going to stick in that extra bit about the moment of happiness. Neither did Elizabeth. Must have done that when I was already luring you away from the camp."
"But this'll be enough to counteract that. Let you lead a normal, happy life. A human life."
Angel gazed at the liquid in the container again. He said nothing for a few moments, the sounds of nearby traffic echoing through the still night air. "Why?" asked Angel, at last. "I don't deserve happiness. You made that perfectly clear to me."
"Maybe I was wrong," said the Doctor. "Maybe we all deserve a second chance."
Angel's head shot up, a dark anger radiating from his eyes. "So that's what this is about."
The Doctor faltered.
"This," said Angel, shaking the container at him. "This isn't about me getting another chance. This isn't about restoring my humanity. This is a bribe. I'm the only other person in the universe who remembers what you did to Elizabeth. You want to make sure I don't tell Buffy."
"It's… not about that," the Doctor said.
"Then why?" Angel demanded. "Elizabeth told me, Doctor. Back in 1905. She told me what you did."
"I… didn't…." The Doctor scratched the back of his neck. "I never meant to hurt her."
"But you did," said Angel.
The Doctor sighed. "How much do you know?"
"About 2003? Nothing," said Angel. "About you? A lot. She said she wished she'd never met you. And I believed her."
"Yes," said the Doctor. "She told me that, too."
"You had the most amazing girl in the entire world," said Angel. "And you ruined it. I don't know all the details, but I know that whatever happened in 2003 was just the end of a long, destructive relationship." Angel peered at the Doctor. "What did happen in 2003?"
"It was… not one of my finer moments," admitted the Doctor. And it was clear that this was all he was going to say about the matter.
Angel looked down at the liquid again. "If this isn't a bribe, then what is it?" he asked. "Because you're not doing this out of the goodness of your heart."
"Hearts," corrected the Doctor.
Angel ignored him. "You may be a forgiving person, but that's not going to change the fact that you believe I deserve to live like this."
"I'm… just doing a favor for a friend. As a thanks for helping me," said the Doctor.
"That would be Buffy, then?"
"Did you tell her?"
"About you two."
The Doctor ran a hand through his hair. "Not… exactly," said the Doctor.
"You lied to her."
"It's best she doesn't know."
"She'll find out," said Angel. "She isn't stupid."
"No, she's not," admitted the Doctor. He shifted from foot to foot. "I didn't tell her about Romania, either. I've been trying to keep most of what I know about you hidden. You've been given another chance, Angel. Another timeline, another Elizabeth. And she loves you, this time. You always wanted that."
"I wanted her to be happy," said Angel. "She can't be with me."
"But she can," said the Doctor. He nodded at the vial. "You can be human again. You can have your happily ever after."
"I just have to take your bribe," said Angel.
"It's not —"
"But it is," said Angel. "That's exactly what it is. If I don't take this, if I decide not to do it, what'll happen then? Will you pour it down my throat? Inject me? Or just get me out of the way, make sure I don't get the chance to tell Buffy anything?"
The Doctor sighed. "It's your choice," said the Doctor. "If you don't want to, you don't have to. I'm not going to make you."
Angel gave a hoarse laugh. "You never give vampires a choice."
"I always give them a choice," said the Doctor. "Every time I do it."
"You bait them," corrected Angel. "You challenge them. You dare them to do it."
"I ask them if they think it's worth it," replied the Doctor.
"You asked me that, once. Back in Romania."
"And was it?"
"Nothing's worth a drop of your blood," said Angel. "Not the pain, or the loneliness, or the isolation. Not the hunger, or the despair, or the guilt."
"Not even Elizabeth?"
Angel hesitated. He stared at the liquid, watching the way the nearby lamp-light reflected off its surface. "She's worth it," admitted Angel. "No matter what the timeline. She's always worth it."
"Yes. She is."
"But you still did what you did to her."
The Doctor said nothing.
Angel twirled the container between his fingers. "And here you are, again," he said. "Coming into Buffy's life. Just like you did last time. Repeating the mistakes of the past." He dropped the container on the ground, and smashed it with his foot. "I'm not repeating my mistakes," said Angel. "I know what happens when you show up. Nothing but tragedy and death and despair. You destroy everyone around you. You did it to Elizabeth. And now you'll do it to Buffy."
"I'm not trying to—"
Angel twisted his face into his vampire-snarl, hissing at the Doctor. "I think it's time you left, Doctor."
"Angel, I didn't—"
The Doctor nodded, accepting Angel's wrath calmly, as one hearing an honest critique. "Take care of her, Angel."
Angel's face morphed back into his usual, human appearance. He glared at the Doctor as the alien walked away. There was something in the air, now that the Doctor had been there. Something dense and stifling, something that seemed to slither around Angel, with a malicious determination. Angel shook it off, putting the malicious whatever-it-was out of his mind.
The Doctor paused in the doorway of his TARDIS. "She still loves you, you know. She might not say it, but it's there. You'll never go back to being just friends. Not after what happened between you two."
"Neither will you," said Angel.
The Doctor sighed, then went back into his TARDIS. It made a wheezing, groaning sound, as it faded from sight. Angel hoped he would never see the Doctor again.
But he knew he would.