Pieces of Silver
Summary: The title says it all.
Written for IWRY Marathon 2011
Word Count 1550
Disclaimer: Joss’ toys not mine.
Thank you, Jo, for the awesome beta.
Judas Iscariot sold his Master, and his soul, for thirty pieces of silver. One would have thought the Son of God was worth a whole lot more than thirty pieces of gold, let alone miserable, stinking silver.
Angel thinks Judas was screwed. No, doesn’t think, knows. But then, if God is all knowing, it stands to reason that Christ knew all about it. Christ knew He was going to die, and He allowed it to happen. Isn’t that predestination? God and His Son ruined a man so that His plan could come about. Therefore, Judas had no choice in the matter. His free will had been taken from him. The Gospel spouts that Satan entered Judas, causing him to betray Christ. If it had been God’s plan, surely the Devil hadn’t had a hand in it. And, as God the Father is all about forgiveness and love, Iscariot’s soul would be redeemed, would be welcomed into Heaven and not end up in the ninth circle of Hell Dante wrote about. Angel has been to Hell, he hadn’t seen Judas there. Therefore, Judas had to have gone to Heaven. Angel hopes with all his being that this is so. What hope for a monster like him if Judas was not redeemed? Angel had no free will when his soul disappeared into the ether, can not the same rule apply? But he knows this isn’t true. He is a demon with a soul chained to him. They make the sum of him. Angel. His laugh is bitter. The Body, the Demon, and the Soul. Is he the Antichrist? His victims would say so.
Thoughts circling round and round in his head, Angel is certain he’s been screwed, and royally.
He gave up every scrap of happiness he would have had with a girl so that she wouldn’t have to die. It was all lies. She lay buried in the dirt, worms and decay rotting her body. He had bought her a mere few months. If he could he would rage at the Powers That Be. No, he decides, not them, their agents, the Oracles-that-couldn’t-even-see-their-own-demise, but they are long dead. He wonders if any replacements have taken their place.
Angel should have known better. He’s been around a long time. Gift horse, springs to mind. He, like the Trojans, fell for it hook, line, and sinker. There’s always a price and he thought he’d paid it. Again, he should have known better. His slate will never be clean, no matter the number of souls he saves. The only consolation he’d had was that Buffy went where all slayers go when they’d been hacked down in the prime of their lives.
He reflects on the words the male Oracle had spoken.
“The Powers That Be? Did you save humanity? Avert the Apocalypse?”
He should have paid more mind. He’d had no idea that Shanshu existed back then, and the Oracle’s oblique reference had escaped him. Doyle had had another vision and he, foolish human that he had become, had dashed off to see to it. The Powers are a sneaky bunch. They let it be known that he was no longer a champion by allowing him to face the Mohra with the frailty of his humanity. And he hadn’t liked it. He hadn’t liked the fact he lay quivering on the floor, helpless and beaten. Buffy had saved him, as she had countless times before. Back then, back in Sunnydale, he hadn’t minded, had even welcomed it. He had known that he was capable of returning the favour. He had saved Buffy’s life a time or two.
Pride cometh before the fall. He is a prideful man. He, like Iscariot, had scooped up the pieces of silver, believing he was doing the right thing. He told himself he was giving up his humanity so that she could live. Deep down inside, he knew there had also been another motive, a selfish motive, that had moved him. He relied on his preternatural abilities to help the helpless. If he remained human he wouldn’t be able to save anyone, let alone Buffy. On second thought, Angel doesn’t know what Judas would have been thinking. But how arrogant Angel had been to think that he had any control over destiny, his or hers. At least Iscariot had been found hanging from a tree, having committed suicide, if the Scriptures were to be believed. Angel refuses to lie down and die, and because of his stubbornness, his existence brings misery and mayhem to the world. His mistakes get people killed. People he loved have died. They were people who loved him back. His chest aches, tight from remembered grief.
He blinks up at the night sky. It’s dust in his eyes, not tears, he tells himself. The time has long-passed for tears. The night air carries the scent of dawn. He has about thirty minutes before the sun rises. The sky is beginning to lighten into greys and purples. The stars are slowly disappearing, winking out of existence before his eyes. It’s a special hour of the morning. That in-between of night and day that Angel loves so much when colour begins to seep back into the world. No longer safe behind necro-tinted windows, he’s unable to bask in the sun’s glowing warmth. He can look out at the world and marvel at the colours of the day, but to step into it is death.
Angel heaves a sigh. Not long now. He’d rather stay in the world, despite his mistakes, despite his guilt. Fate is a bitch, he thinks, The Powers That Be its master. Buffy came back from the dead, a miracle, a travesty, Willow’s will. Had the Powers been manipulating events? Had they kept their promise to him? Was that what the Oracles had seen for the future? It made his head spin. He, of all creatures, knows the gift of forgiveness. He has no right to ask for such. When it comes to Buffy, he cannot forgive what Fate has done to her. Ripping her out of Heaven and fleshing her rotting bones, making her continue on with the good fight when she had been finished, when she had had her reward, was the travesty.
His bitter laugh is a whisper on the breeze.
It’s so quiet Angel can hear dust falling. There’s an eerie lull, like in the eye of the hurricane. Angel knows that any storm coming his way will find him gone. His friends are dead. Around him there aren’t enough demon carcasses to pay the price of it. The horde from Hell has passed on by, parading back to where they had come. The dragon he had thought to kill had looked down on him with a strange glint in its eye. Was it pity? Angel does not know. What he does know is the weight of the building collapsed over him. He’s pinned to the ground: he’s helpless to the dawn’s terrible light. The creature could have taken his head. Instead, the dragon had flown away, leaving him to his fate. Angel waits for the day. Fifteen minutes, he calculates. His lips form a smile. It’s bittersweet. The smile pulls at his cheeks. His eyes brim over, tears washing away the dust and blood. He hopes, no he prays, to a God that forgives anything Man will do, to look upon his soul and grant him peace. It’s the best he can hope for.
The lull is shattered by the sound of sirens in the distance. Too late, he thinks, and doesn’t notice a footfall close by.
“If you’re thinking of getting a tan, you’ve got another think coming.”
Angel’s trapped beneath rubble, his head and shoulders the only part of him visible. His head he can move about an inch.
“Buffy?” he asks, desperate to see. Is he hallucinating? Has the sun risen already and he’s burning up, his brain playing one last trick on him?
“You remember my name, do you? But you don’t remember to call me when you’re about to start a war.”
“Finish it,” he says, not even sure he’s actually talking to Buffy. Perhaps she is a figment of his imagination.
“Oh, Angel,” she says, and crawls over the cement and stone so that she can touch him.
He sees her, the most wonderful creature in the world. Her hand is warm on his face. Buffy’s eyes are shimmering pools of liquid.
“You’re here,” he whispers.
“Where else would I be?” Concern mars her face. Her voice is a gentle hum. She kisses him. He thinks God has answered his prayers. He’s in heaven.
Buffy pulls back and begins to strip off her jacket.
“We’ve got to cover you up.” She places her jacket over his head and shoulders. He inhales deeply. Buffy’s scent fills him.
She calls out. “Willow! I’ve found him. We need blankets and a tarpaulin. Hurry! There’s not much time.”
He feels her weight settle over him, her body a shield.
Softly, she says, “I won’t let you die, Angel. Not again. Hold on.”
Angel closes his eyes. Perhaps he was wrong about the Powers That Be. Perhaps there is a design in all of this. Perhaps the pieces of silver were golden after all.
I used Jo’s rosebud prompt ‘pieces of silver’ as inspiration for this story. Thank you, Jo. It worked perfectly.