Missed And Second Chances
by Scy

Angel knew he'd missed his chance with Fred; any time between Pylea and his ill-fated romance with Cordelia there had been the opportunity to gather her up and see what she was made of. In the beginning there had been enough hero worship for him to be slightly uncomfortable when someone reminded him of it, but she was too smart for that to linger long.

There had been a few reasons he didn't seek a more intimate relationship, not the least of which was the fact that the timing hadn't been right. He had loved her, but hadn't fallen the same way that Gunn and Wesley had.

Wesley was another regret; their relationship had survived five years of disasters, both personal and apocalyptic, only to end in the most devastating battle.

It didn't seem right that Wes wasn't walking a pace behind him, ready to offer a reasonable explanation or alternative. Now he had the watchful company of a god without acolytes. Whether she was aware of or would acknowledge the fact, Ilyria was the single tangible piece of Wes that Angel could in any way claim. He saw the dark humor in the couple they made; two immortals held together by a dead man, each looking for traces of him in the other. Ilyria wouldn't call him on it, but neither did she justify her own dependence. It wasn't the certainty of being taken care of; Angel hadn't offered to look after Ilyria and she didn't ask. Their arrangement was in no way formalized and it came into being abruptly as he'd been cleaning the Hyperion and she'd wandered in to survey his work. Since then she'd only deigned give a succinct explanation for her presence once and that had been days after they had made it out of the alley.

They had been knocking out a wall in the Hyperion to make more space when she'd stilled to give Angel an unnerving look. Gunn called it 'the Sphinx look' and added that it was 'freakier than almost anything else she did.' Already inhuman, Angel had seen more than a few examples of freakish behavior and Ilyria was just someone with habits to get used to. When she didn't speak for a stretch of minutes, he looked over.

"Is something wrong?"

Ilyria looked around at the room and then fixed her gaze on Angle. "This place has been fed wit the suffering of many. Its walls have been fattened by death and despair."

"Thanks for pointing out its history, but I already knew that."

"You claim this decaying structure as you own even though it can never be restored to its former glory." She looked at her hands covered with plaster. "It is your desire to repair damaged objects."

"It's something of a vocation," Angel agreed.

"But there are no soldiers to fill these rooms, your lieutenants are fallen or absent, yet you've returned to this place."

"I like it here." Angel shrugged and hefted the sledgehammer again.

"Did Wesley profess a fondness for this place?" In anyone else the pause would have been hesitation, in Ilyria it was deliberate emphasis.

Angel took a swing and when the dust had cleared considered her question. "Not at first, but it grew on him."

"If he found value in it, then I must learn what that is."

Angel nodded, not sure he could respond diplomatically, and less certain why he cared.

"Besides, it's not as though you have an inkling of how to adequately hold this fortress."

"Well, I'm sure that your time here will be enlightening."

"I am certain it will," she agreed, and returned to her work, the matter evidently worked out to her liking. Angel watched her for a moment and then continued demolishing the wall.


The overseas call came shortly after Angel got the phones reconnected. It took three rings before he responded to the shrill ringing, and he reminded himself that no god would consider lowering herself to answer such a summons. Ilyria's disdain for machinery and mankind's accompanying worship of it seemed reasonable as he picked up the receiver.


"Angel? This is Rupert Giles."

He'd imagined talking with Giles quite a few times over the years. What they might have to say to each other, lessons learned. However, the potential for common ground didn't matter when a Watcher's Slayer was remaking the world and couldn't be bothered to fit a crisis into her schedule.

There had been a span of months when he and Giles had come to regard one another as perhaps friends. When Buffy had reentered the scene their attention had turned largely on her. Angel had been able to admire the strength in a man who put aside his own life to care for a group of children; to be a father, teacher, and their safe harbor. Now he paused before answering, hearing the Watcher's voice was an assault of memory and loss. Giles still had most of his children, Angel's family had been taken from him.

Giles cleared his throat politely and Angel knew that his silence was a bit long for pleased astonishment. Still, the man could always be counted on to be well mannered. "I apologize for not getting in touch with you earlier, we've had some issues of late."

Angel could have played at being curious about the difficulties that had caused problems for the Slayers, but he didn't feel like acting for anyone else's benefit anymore. "Did you need something, Giles?"

"Well, it seems that there was recently a series of magical disturbances, portals being opened, then sealed up again, and all of this originating in Los Angeles."

"You noticed this?"

"Anyone with enough power to light a candle noticed it, but the coven said that whatever caused the disturbances has vanished and as the dust has settled, I would assumed that you've come through more or less intact."

Angel cast his gaze at 'Wesley's office.' "More or less."

Evidently sensing that Angel wasn't going to volunteer information, Giles went on. "I take it that you were engaged in some sort of power struggle with an exceedingly well-connected enemy."

"The Circle of the Black Thorn."

Giles waited.

"Big evil power, liked to organize apocalypses."

"Which apocalypse?"

"All of them."

"And you eliminated them?"


"Then Wolfram and Hart has been destroyed?" Angel recalled that lilt to Giles' voice as he questioned someone without being so bold as to actually dispute what they were telling him.

"The local branch definitely, I don't know about the others, they may try to hold on, but we took out their power base."

There was a pause while Giles absorbed Angel's revelations. "That's a remarkable accomplishment."

Angel remembered the way Andrew and his team of 'go-get-'em' Slayers had faced off against 'the enemy.' "We did our part."

"I would imagine that with Wolfram and Hart gone there's quite a rush to fill the void."

"I would say so, yeah."

"It might be wise to establish a position of authority in order to fully suppress those forces while there is an opportunity."

"Are you offering to send in a team to help with crowd control?"

"It would certainly convey a message."

"One that I don't think is necessary right now. The city is still recovering from the fall out, and I have a good idea of what's needed."

"Buffy has offered to give you all the assistance you need to continue your work."

"With a bunch of new Slayers patrolling the streets?"

"They would be a support team only."

"If you want to really understand what this city needs, then come to L.A., Giles. Just you though, I don't think we need to bring the Slayers into this. Not any of them."

Giles had quite a few objections that he could have added, any one of them would have been reasonable and drawn out the discussion but Angel waited silently while the man recalled what it was like to reason with a creature who didn't care much for meaningless delays or excuses. "Very well, I'll call you once I land in the city and we can make arrangements to meet somewhere."

"Fine with me."

Angel hung up the phone and glanced up to see Ilyria watching him. "Better get cleaned up, we've got company coming."


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