Epilogue – Sleep

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The four young children, three girls and one boy sat on the couch staring up in fascination at the large Tapestry hanging over the fireplace. They knew it belonged to their, 'Grape Gwand's B and F', as the youngest amongst them had liked to call their Great-Grandmothers, of which there was now only one. Though only two of the children, Rav and Mani were related by blood to each other and the Chosen. The two other children, Nix and G were related by reasons of the heart, just as their parents were and their parents before them had been.

They giggled like young children do, the sound filled with innocent joy. Each of them in their own way was special, each inheriting abilities, powers from their ancestors. Though for now they were just ordinary four and a half, five, six and seven-year olds, who scrapped their knees, played with toys and begged every night to stay up just a little bit longer than what they were told.

They grew quiet as their hypersensitive hearing picked up the footfalls of one of the adults. They all slouched down in the couch hoping that they wouldn't be noticed. They should have known better, they weren't the only ones to inherit special abilities from their ancestors.

"All right come out where I can see you. You know you're not supposed to play in here." The woman stood in the doorway waiting for them. She was waiting in vain; none of the four children had any intention of moving from where they were. Stubbornness was another inherited trait all four possessed.

She moved swiftly over to the couch and had any eyes in the room belonged to a 'normal' human she would have been merely a blur. She stood towering over the children, looking first at the youngest, her daughter, then each of the others in turn. "Now I know you all know better than to ignore me. Let's go, it's nearly time for dinner and you all need to get cleaned up." The children still didn't move. "Raven, Phoenix, Manticore and Griffin, let's go! I'm not playing around now!..."

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After your laughter like thunder ~ After your skin like coffee and cream ~ After it takes our bodies into the night ~ After we've come to the extreme...
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...The old woman's eyes moved rapidly beneath her closed lids as she dreamed, remembered her long life with her soul-mate. Remembered, relived everything from their very first meeting, to their first kiss, the first time they made love, their first fight, their millionth fight, their Joining, the birth of their first child a beautiful baby girl, with raven hair, golden-hazel eyes and a cleft in her bottom lip. To their fighting side-by-side with their family during the End of Days, to the joy of seeing not only Angel, but Spike become fully human and being grateful that Wesley had once again misread a prophesy. To learning how to track down through the link they shared, had with all the Slayers, even those in waiting, to finding the next Slayer in line and training her, to teaching her in turn how to do the same thing. To building their dream house together, to Dawn's face the day she had found them, two sixty-five year old, gray-haired retired Slayers, flushed, sweaty and buck-naked in the lounge chair at the Mansion in the enclosed garden after making love, waiting for the sun to rise. To the last time they had made love, to their last kiss, to holding her heart, her soul in her arms as her life force slipped from her body and her spirit journeyed to the afterlife.

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...I want to lay down on your shoulder ~ Just inside your arm ~ I want to listen to your heart beat ~ And your breathing on and on ~ I want to lay down on your shoulder ~ Surrender to your peace ~ And go to sleep...
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Her eyes finally stilled beneath her lids, the tears fell silently from beneath them. She missed her, missed hearing her voice, her laughter, missed her cranky, happy, sad, mad, missed her touch, missed her kisses, she just missed her. She could still feel her within their bond, but it wasn't the same, life, death, separated them now and more than anything she wanted to be with her again. She felt a slight tingle run down her spine that herald the coming of one of the Immortals, a feeling they had both become familiar with over the many years. She knew who it was before she opened her eyes.

"Hey..."

"Hey back..."

A soft smile spread across her face at his voice. She felt him reach out his hand to her and she reach up without opening her eyes.

Clasping her liver-spotted hand within his own, Zane, the Incarnate of Death, whispered to the remaining of the Chosen Two, "It's time..."

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...And when we've gone a million miles ~ Made true our dreams with sweat and bone ~ After we've built it up with our bare hands ~ Made strong a place we can call home~ I want to lay down on your shoulder ~ Just inside your arm ~ I want to listen to your heart beat ~ And your breathing on and on ~ I want to lay down on your shoulder ~ Surrender to your peace ~ And go to sleep...
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The old woman opened her eyes at his whispered words and found she was no longer in the cemetery; she was at the cottage by the lake, a place she hadn't been since her soul-mate had passed into the afterlife. She looked around and realized suddenly that her vision was sharp and clear, as it had been when she was a young woman. She raised trembling hands up and saw none of the familiar liver spots. She glanced down at herself and realized she was no longer old but young once again. She laughed almost hysterically thinking that she was once again dreaming in the cemetery. Then suddenly she felt her, 'her soul-mate', with a force that almost brought her to her knees. She spun around and her eyes drank in the most beautiful sight she had ever seen. Her heart, her soul, her soul-mate, as beautiful, sensual, passionate as ever, standing in front of her looking as she did on the day they had been Joined.

Just as suddenly, they were running towards each other. A choked sob came from her as those strong, loving, familiar arms came around her. They clung to each other tightly, raining each other's faces with kisses, she sobbed with joy as she heard her mate whisper in her ear, "Welcome home."

They stood holding each other for long minutes, rejoicing in the feel of the other's arms around them that for over seventy odd years and now for eternity would always be home. Gently they kissed, with tenderness, with love, a kiss of utter, total and complete intimacy.

As they kissed, the Chosen Two surrounded each other with their unconditional eternal love, interweaving their souls again, wallowing shamelessly in the warmth, bathing in the love of the other and feeling once again a sense of complement.

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...And when the light in my eyes is fading ~ When running water becomes too deep ~ Finally angels turn my fire to dust ~ And when my soul's no longer mine to keep ~ I want to lay down on your shoulder ~ Just inside your arm ~ I want to listen to your heartbeat ~ And your breathing on and on ~ I want to lay down on your shoulder ~ Surrender to the peace ~ And just go to sleep
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The four children hadn't moved. It was then that she noticed they weren't even looking at her. She followed their gazes to the Tapestry. She watched, her heart breaking a little, but filled with love as the scene on the Tapestry played out. Reenacting, as first the Chosen Two made their way to the edge of the lake and sat upon the grass in the pre-dawn the day after their Joining, then as each of their family members made their way to their side, sat and waited with eyes turned up towards the sky for the sun to rise. Reenacting that beautiful, still, peaceful morning, like it had each time one of the mortals within its borders had left this earth for the afterlife. She knew, could now feel within her that her Grandmother had joined her soul-mate in eternity and for that her heart was filled with joy.

...And the promises made by the new day dawning within the Tapestry, to all those rendered in it who had left this life for the afterlife, was one that was filled with a sacred vow of an eternity of tomorrows...

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Time will stay silent and remain the guardian for the Living Scroll until it breaks its silence, as the Raven, Phoenix, Manticore and Griffin spread their wings and take flight, when the time comes for them to wear the mantle with the Chosen and join in the fight as Warriors of the Light as The End of Time draws nigh.
- The Living Scroll
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The End...