AN: I don't own Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Angel the Series. Obviously.
Summary: After jumping into the portal to save Dawn, Buffy finds herself in the darkest of the dark worlds, Quor'toth, needed not just by the Powers, but a baby boy with a prophecy of his own.
Main Pairings: Buffy/Angel
"Be brave. Live. For me."
Live. For me.
Live for me.
Buffy Anne Summers was a mystery to the Powers That Be, most especially to the Knowing Ones. Any other being would have quickly succumbed to the infinite feeling of nothingness that the slayer was trapped in after jumping into Glorificus' portal. Yet somehow, her humanity, thoughts, feelings, beliefs… everything about her continued to flourish and survive. The others around her were undoubtedly gone. Their minds were near nonexistent.
But Buffy Summers… Her eyes were clenched tight, her fingers curled into her palms in protest, as though she knew this was not where she belonged.
"Why are we still watching her?" The male voice drawled, boredom clear in his tone.
His Sister Oracle ignored him. "Such a selfless act," she remarked, mostly to her self. The Brother Oracle rolled his eyes and turned from her. "To sacrifice herself for the key, a mere orb of mystical energy…"
"Yes, yes, you've said all of this before."
The female smirked, chuckling lightly at how exasperated her counterpart sounded. "Come now, brother. You were never one to hide your true feelings from me. Your acting skills are not what they used to be. I know how you love accompanying me on these daily visits."
"Visits!" he scoffed. "For it to be a visit, she would have to know you are here. "
"Ah, but she does! Look at how she protests her surroundings. She knows the Powers are still on her side."
"And yet we have done nothing to release her from limbo."
She frowned in thought. "I am in waiting… and so are you. The Powers have not yet revealed their plans to us. You know we are not permitted to take action."
Softening finally, he uncrossed his arms and reached out to touch Buffy's arm before quickly dropping his hand back to his side. "She does not belong here," he spat. "She was a champion, a warrior of light. Her last breath was given in pure altruism. Why is it that we were told to bring her here and not to heaven? If my will were law, I would snatch her now and-" He looked around in disdain, truly bothered by the fact that their slayer was in the company of such ordinary people. "This is no place for a champion, especially not one of our most important wards."
"You know what they said, brother," she responded quietly. "To keep her here is to keep her protected. Her destiny awaits her, and she awaits her destiny."
"We can't keep her waiting, sister!" He insisted. "It is not right- not fair!"
"Careful," she warned good-naturedly. "You're starting to sound like you care, and we both know that empathy is my trait, not yours."
"Honestly, is now really the time to jest? We need to know their plan for her!"
And then, like divine intervention, a peaceful warmth settled within them and their eyes glowed bright. After a few seconds, it passed, and the Sister Oracle looked at her brother in glee. "So her fate is still tied with our Champion from the City of Angels."
He groaned in despair. "Him! Of all the beings that need her, they give her to him!"
"Come!" She commanded, ignoring him once again. "We have a slayer to save."
"What do you mean we can't save her?!"
Willow's eyes were bloodshot and her chest heaved with grief and despair as she stared at the blue-tinted, golden… things in front of her. After all of the work and preparation they had done, these arrogant jerks had come in, destroyed all of their materials, and enforced a shield of sorts so that they couldn't even be close to Buffy's grave.
Tara's arms around her waist were stopping her from lunging at them in fury. She glanced at Xander and saw him shaking as well.
Anya was holding his arm tightly. Her head was bowed down and she refused to look up. "Don't," she hissed at them.
"Anya," Xander growled, trying his best to pry himself away from her. "You saw what they did! These idiots ruined our last chance-"
A silence fell over them when they heard the male intruder release a low laugh. "You have him trained well, Anyanka." Xander was preparing a retort, but was instead stunned to watch Anya step in front of him.
"Forgive his insult, Knowing One! He- they aren't aware of who you two are!"
"Anya?" Tara questioned. "You know them?"
She shot them an annoyed glare. "Obviously! They are servants of the Powers That Be! The Oracles but-" Anya turned her confused gaze back to the knowing ones. "But… I heard that you were murdered."
"Oh please," The Brother Oracle snorted, stepping towards her. "As though a filthy, lowly creature like Vocah could actually destroy us forever. We may have succumbed to our mortal wounds but the Powers would never leave this world guideless. It was in their will to restore us to power. We still feel pain. We can still be wounded, but we will always return."
"Rest your tirade now, brother," his sister said as she moved forward as well. "Our business was not to have a chat with them."
He nodded, remembering their mission. "Yes. You… witch. You will put this foolishness behind you."
Willow's jaw dropped indignantly. "Foolishness?! I'm saving my friend from-"
"You save her from nothing," The Sister Oracle cut in harshly. "Buffy Summers died in an act of true goodness. Did you not consider that maybe she was not in a hell dimension? That she was in heaven instead?"
"You would use black magic to rip a warrior of light from her rightful place in paradise?" The brother could not help but taunt.
The four friends turned to each other in horror. "Buffy… Buffy is in heaven?"
The two oracles sighed. "Unfortunately not. She was in purgatory."
"You holier-than-thou bastards," Xander shouted, unable to stop himself. "You stood there and made us feel bad just to say that she's still suffering? Is the price of black magic so bad that you would keep her stuck in hell?!"
"Mind your tone," the Brother stated in a deadly whisper. "I said she was in purgatory. Buffy Summers' rightful place was in heaven, but the Powers are not yet done with her. She still has missions to complete, lives to save, before she can finally lay herself to rest. Your stint of black magic would have unraveled her entire destiny and destroyed not just your life, tainting your goodness with evil, but also the life of an innocent child."
Tara's brow furrowed. "Innocent child?"
"It is not your concern," the Sister informed. "We came to stop you, to warn you not to try this again… and to take her body."
Willow's eyes widened. "What! No! What are you going-"
The Brother Oracle sighed, pushing past the barrier they created around Buffy's grave. "I do not have time to deal with you, sorceress. He held his hand above the dirt and waited until he felt a surge of magic flow through his veins. Satisfied with his work, he stood straight once more and took his sister's hand. "Her spirit is in her body once more, sister. We must leave immediately."
Willow raced forward, grabbing their robes. "But wait! What's going to happen to Buffy? Please you have to-"
And with that, they were gone.
A Few Months Later
The phone rang shrilly in the quiet Hyperion Hotel lobby. Wesley, who usually jumped to the phone, was not there, nor was he really welcomed.
No, Wesley was in the hospital, recovering from a slit throat and Angel's attempt to suffocate him. His betrayal hurt all of them, Angel the most. It had to have tortured him to lose his son only months after losing Buffy…
"Is anyone going to get that?" Cordelia asked, her voice weak and raspy as she ran down the stairs and into the lobby. She sighed when she realized that Fred and Gunn were still upstairs in their room. Cordy had spent the night trying to comfort Angel and ease his pain, but could not hold her own grief back as she was consumed by grief. She never expected to come back from her vacation with Groo to such horrible circumstances. Clearing her throat and hoping it was enough to make her voice sound close to normal, she picked the phone up and brought it to her ear. "Angel Investigations." She couldn't help but wince at the way she sounded. "We help-"
"Cordelia? Are you okay? It's… It's Willow."
"Willow," she gasped. "Willow, oh God, Will I really needed to hear a voice like yours right about now."
On her side, Willow frowned with worry. "Cordy, what is it? What's happening? My voice usually annoys the heck out of you."
Cordy couldn't help but laugh before biting her lip, unsure of what to say. "It's really complicated, Will. We just lost someone really important and everyone is torn up about it, Angel especially… they were close and what with… what with just losing Buffy this is really just taking a toll on him."
"Oh God, I couldn't have called at a worse time then." Cordy could hear the regret in Willow's tone. "I'm sorry, Cordy. I was just calling to confess something to Angel, and you too I guess, but I can always call back later…"
"No, wait!" Cordy begged. "Wait please. I need something, anything to get my mind off of this."
Willow let out a breath of air. "Cordelia… I did something bad. Like really bad. Like on a level of good to bad, we're in the way bad."
"Oh God, did you kiss Xander again?"
Willow's bark of laughter lifted her spirits. "No, nothing like that, and ew. I don't really think my girlfriend would have appreciated that."
Cordelia's eyes widened. "Oh wow… wow, okay. Err… that's cool. A girlfriend. I never pictured you as the type but whatever floats your boat, you know?"
"Cordelia. Big picture here. My badness?"
"Right, right, go on."
"Well… you see a few months ago…"
There was an uncomfortable pause and Cordelia felt a sudden dread well up in her. "What did you do, Willow?"
"I… I tried to resurrect Buffy using black magic."
Her grip tightened on the phone. "Are you insane? What were you thinking?"
"I don't know! We were desperate, all of us were! We thought her soul was trapped in the hell dimension that Glory opened! And then these gold people come out of nowhere and tell us 'hey, she was in purgatory but chill about it! She's got a destiny' and they took her body-"
"Wait, wait," Cordelia interrupted. "Gold people?"
"Oh yeah. Yeah, the Oracles. That's what Anya said they're called."
"The Ora-the Oracles are dead, Willow."
"Yeah, Vocah, right? Well they're pretty spry for corpses."
"Willow! This is serious! The Oracles are dead! I'm sure of it! Angel spoke to them one last time! They're d-e-a-d, dead! Who knows who those imposters were!"
"What?! But Anya said- But they were… Oh my god, Buffy's body!"
"Willow, what the hell! Did they say what they were going to do with Buffy's body?!"
Cordelia spun around and cringed when she saw the look that Angel was giving her. Blinded by her panic, she hadn't noticed his entrance. She heard Willow calling her name but couldn't find the words to say as the tall vampire marched towards her.
"Give me the phone, Cordelia."
"Now!" She handed it over and stepped away, but not too far in hopes of hearing the conversation still. "Willow. It's me. What's going on?"
"Angel! Angel, I'm so sorry. I tried black magic to resurrect Buffy and these Oracles showed up, or maybe not the Oracles according to Cordelia… They took Buffy's body! They said she had a destiny or something! I don't know, but we couldn't do anything against them! They were so powerful!"
His fist created a large dent in the counter. "You just let them take her body?"
"Of course not! We tried to stop them! I swear! But they put some kind of force field around her grave! We couldn't do anything!"
"Willow, I can't even believe you would be stupid enough to dabble into dark- I can't believe your friends even agreed to go along with this! Who knows what they're doing to her body now! Or what they're using it for!"
"That's enough, vampire."
Cordelia let out a strangled gasp as she pressed herself against the wall. Standing a few feet away from them, in the center of the lobby, were the Oracles. Angel did his best to hide his emotions as he pulled the phone away from his face. "Willow," he said into the receiver. "Something's come up. I'll call you back."
The Sister Oracle smiled when the phone was back in its cradle. "It is good to see you again, champion."
"You're alive…" Angel stated. There was no doubt about it. He could feel their power and knew it to be genuine. "You're… how are you two alive? I saw your bodies."
The male resisted the urge to growl as he surveyed his surroundings. "Do all of our wards have such low faith in us? Anyanka, Buffy, and now him."
"You promised to be nice, brother," the Sister chided.
"Buffy?" Cordelia blurted out. "You really took Buffy's body?"
"Of course we did," he answered impatiently. "What else were we to do? Allow her spirit to wander around without the physicality of her earthly vessel? That would not do. How would she ever fulfill her destiny?"
"You brought Buffy back to keep fighting?" Angel snarled. "She was at peace and you brought her back?!"
"How dare you insult us," the Brother yelled. "You think we would pull her from heaven? We spent her entire time in purgatory pleading her case, arguing that she belonged somewhere better."
Cordy's jaw dropped. "You put her in purgatory?! I may not have been her biggest fan but what the hell, why?!"
The Sister frowned. "Well it would be cruel to allow her the taste of heaven only to take her away from it… no, that would not have done well for her. She would not have coped with it. Putting Buffy Summers in purgatory before restoring her allowed her to keep her fighting spirit."
"So you're still using her as a pawn, is that what you're saying?"
The male Oracle opened his mouth to respond, but his sister held a hand up to stop him. "I warned you about the tongue on this one, brother. Unless you want to be on the receiving end of the Powers' wrath, you will not harm their seer."
"She is insolent," he reasoned.
"She is in pain. She thought an old friend to be dead, and has now lost another as well."
Cordy and Angel both looked away. "What do you want?" Angel finally asked. "And how are you even here?"
"In restoring us, the Powers that Be graced us with more powers to keep us impervious from attacks such as Vocah's. We are free to roam this realm, wherever our champions may be."
The Sister's explanation quickly followed her brother's. "You are in pain, warrior. You have lost someone very important to you. Two someones, that is."
"Did you come here to rub it in?" Cordy asked bitingly. Though the Brother looked ready to strike her, the Sister could not help but laugh in amusement.
"I do like this one, brother."
"I don't," he grumbled, turning away.
"We came only to restore your faith."
"Restore our faith?" Angel scoffed. He wanted to laugh. "A man, fueled by vengeance and hatred, has kidnapped my son. Someone I thought to be a friend and brother has betrayed me in the worst way imaginable. You're doing God knows what to my mate-"
"Ah, so after years, you finally acknowledge the slayer to be your mate," the Brother mocked. "It is too bad you allowed your mate to think herself insignificant to you whilst alive. You should have heard her thoughts as she suffered in limbo. The agony she felt when her mind drifted to you-"
Angel's felt a lump form in his throat. "Stop."
"Brother," his sister warned.
"In death, everything becomes clear. You seem to understand and know everything about your life, whether you go to Paradise, Purgatory or to Inferno. How do you think she felt when she realized you marked her as yours, only to abandon her?"
"Control yourself!" The Sister snapped. "Your affection towards the slayer is blinding you. Go now. I will finish our message here."
"Go!" she demanded. The Oracle gave Angel one last glare before disappearing. "I do apologize, warrior. You know my brother's bias towards you extends long before our time watching Buffy Summers in purgatory. It seems to have been fueled slightly. He does have quite a soft spot for your mate."
"What are you doing with her?" Angel growled. "Where is she? Is she safe? Is she… is she okay?"
The Sister Oracle spared a glance at Cordelia before smiling softly at Angel. "Keep faith, warrior. You've had the uncanny ability of making it through the darkest of times. Do not doubt the end of this trial… and for your benefit, I think it would ease your mind to know that your friend, the one who took your child away- Sahjhan altered the prophecy and led him to believe that you would kill the babe. He took your child away in hopes of saving him."
He didn't say anything, the revelation both shocking and angering him. Did Wesley really believe he could kill his own child? And why wouldn't he just talk to him about it?
She nodded her head at Cordelia, and looked as though she were about to leave, before she reconsidered and beckoned Angel to her. The vampire took a few cautious steps and the Sister smiled at his weariness.
"I nearly forgot…"
She placed a hand on his chest, right above his heart, and closed her eyes. Angel gasped, pawing at the hand as he tried his best not to fall to his knees. "Wh-what!"
"Stop!" Cordelia shouted, rushing towards them. "You're hurting him!" She heard Fred and Gunn's door open, and their thundering footsteps coming closer, but her attention was on the vampire on the ground.
As quickly as it started, it was over, and the Oracle took her hand off of Angel.
"What did you do to me," he panted as Cordelia helped him stand.
She smiled. "A promise we made to the Slayer. She was quite ready to rejoin the good fight… on this one condition. Try not to test it before she returns to you. I am sure you can only hurt your mate so many times before she finally decides you are not worth her time or effort."
"What the hell is going on," Gunn breathed as he skidded to a halt behind the Oracle. "Test what out?"
She glanced at him before turning her back to them all. "It is a gift. And as a gift it cannot be returned or taken from you."
Angel shook his head. "What are you talking about?"
But she was gone before his question even ended.
The stared at the empty spot for a few seconds before Cordelia looked hesitantly at Angel. "Buffy…"
He nodded slowly. "Call Willow. Now."