FUTURE IMPERFECT

Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters except for the ones that I created, like Hope and a few others.



CHAPTER 1-NOTHING EVER STAYS THE SAME



Three years. It had been exactly three years to the day since they had left the town that had at first held so much promise for the both of them but had ended as pure purgatory. It was a place where they had done very little laughing and a great deal of hurting. Hurting themselves, each other, and seemingly anyone else that came across their path, him with his naivety and overzealousness, and her with her callous attitude towards anything other than her job of destiny and her unwillingness to ever let anyone even come close to seeing the real her. They had friends, if only for a short fleeting while, when they had left that purgatory of a town that had irrevocably seared the mark of failure on them both. They had left that town earlier of course but somehow they found that not matter how hard they tried they were brought back at the worst possible time. In the end they remembered fighting a large battle, one with the very fate of the world in the balance.



They remembered little of the details of the fight only that in the end their side had won and the end of the world had been avoided, again. Much to their dismay, after the battle, a paltry amount of attention was paid to their wounds, with him being the only one at her bedside as she recovered from the brutal assault that she had endured. Indeed she had died during that last battle but like the phoenix of old the pain and suffering that she called a life only began a new after her death. She had been pulled back from that utter despair by him, a man that at one time she had reviled far worse than those that she killed with such zeal. But now she viewed him as her anchor in this world, the reason that she continued to live, the one that knew her better than anyone, one that she could tell anything to and ask anything of.



They had at first only moved a few hundred miles away, mainly to stop and gather themselves, get their feet set under them, before moving on. Over the course of that first year they had so many addresses that after awhile it became so confusing that they just stopped sending any mail of any sort. Throughout that time they had taken any odd job that they could find, sure with his father dead in a freak explosion in England they truly weren't in any real need of money but the jobs kept their competitive spirits going and their shaky sense of honor intact. She had to always be on her guard, making sure that no one ever saw her use any of her heightened abilities, ones that had shaped her destiny in the past but now hung off of her like dead skin. He had used many explanations to calm the fears that people had about the jagged scar that marred his throat. Most of the time he simply told him that he had been awakened one night by a burglar and hadn't noticed the knife that the man carried until it was too late. Then she would jump in and say that she had rushed him to the emergency room and got him the help he needed. Of course it was all a lie, a tightly wound fabrication, but it was one that served them well.



At the end of that first year they finally made one more large and giant leap in their location, making their trip complete as they settled into a nice lifestyle on the east coast, a short distance away from New York city. He had used some of the few remaining contacts in London that he possessed that had survived the bombing and put them to working getting him the paperwork that he needed to gain the right job. They had only been in their new house a couple of months when he had gotten on as the history professor and librarian of a local college. The school wasn't to terribly large but it was just large enough to satisfy them both. The work was the best paying that he had ever had, but he was especially pleased as his job fully utilized all of the knowledge that he had amassed over the years. In fact after reading through his resume and seeing him in action the dean had almost bent over backwards to get him the job. For her part she had found work as his teaching assistant and assistant librarian. It was true that she didn't completely love the work but ever since she had been in jail she had spent the time reading every book that she could find, soon finding out that she could channel the energy that once went into doing her old job, and had almost cost her everything, could be turned elsewhere. He had almost demanded that she was part of the deal when he was hired, if they wanted him then the school would also have to hire her as well.



Feeling penned in at times she had found another job to fill the rest of her time, a job that at first she thought herself to have no chance at. But after a few days on the job she began to love her second job and often used it as a way of relaxing after a hard day put in at the office. She had gotten a job at a regional radio station and was the evening dj and radio show host.



They had even picked up new names along the way, with neither one truly wanting to be found again and with the sincere want to put their old past behind them. So in that calling they gave up almost everything from that life when they stopped in to the county courthouse nearest their home and signed the required paperwork that went along with being married by a justice of the peace. While it was true that after she had been released from prison there had been relatively few romantic inklings between the two, but over the course of their time together after her release from prison and all of the time spent crossing the country their friendship had only intensified and deepened into love. The final act of actually going to the courthouse had been something that had taken months of careful discussion and planning to do. When they had gotten married however they had used their real names, but after that they swore to only use them while they were alone.



They had kept tabs on how their old friends were faring back in the two cities that they refused to talk about. Neither one had been back to either place, except for a quick trip a few weeks earlier to see Dawn graduate high school, and partially to make sure that nothing out of the ordinary happened. They had made sure that none of their old friends saw them, with him going so far as to grow what he could of a beard and her looking the part of someone that no one ever thought that they would see her as. In that fact though she took great pride, because as she lay there on their king size bed with the most precious gift that they had ever received beside her and the evening sun ray's gently warming her, she realized that truly for the first time in her life she could say that she was happy.



And that thing that made her truly happy was that she had a husband whom she loved and she knew without a doubt that he loved her. The little angel faced cherub lay on her back, staring up at the antique ceiling fan as its blades slowly wafted through the air, blowing a soft gentle breeze down onto mother and daughter. Hope Wyndam Pryce, their little one year old daughter and spitting image of her mother, had changed both their lives in ways they never imagined possible. She had realized that she was pregnant shortly after they had left their combined purgatory and truth be told they had both been shocked. At the time that they found out they were at a crossroads in their relationship, they had only slept together once before but as the doctor had told them, in agreement with her pessimistic side, that it only took once. They had been discussing whether or not they wanted their relationship to go much further, if they should just call the night they spent together a one time thing or if it would become a regular occurrence.



When they found out their decision was made and they were irrevocably linked together forever. Her pregnancy had been an ordeal to remember. It hadn't been overly hard however because of who and more realistically what she was they had no idea how a normal pregnancy should proceed, what was normal for her and what wasn't was an ever open topic of discussion. She had almost completely ceased in her calling as one of the protectors of the world, figuring that with her death another had been called and they along with the one that she had competed against for years could handle it without her. Gone forever, or so she originally thought, were her days of wearing overly tight leather pants and any kind of small and revealing top. His routine had been changed drastically as well, he no longer could truly afford to spend all night researching at the various hidden libraries that they visited, he needed to be home with the woman that he loved, the woman that was carrying his child and perhaps the future protector of the world.



So now she lay there, fresh out of the shower with only a towel wrapped around her, as she slowly and calmly brushed the kinks out of her hair and hummed a soothing lullaby to her daughter while she waited for him to get done with his research for the night. They had agreed on her name rather quickly, in fact the discussion had taken no more than a few minutes, for both new what this new life that they had created together meant. They had gotten the routine down pat; they'd go to class and drop little Hope off in daycare on the way and then after class he would pick Hope up and then bring her back to his classroom where while helping him with his work his secretary helped watch her. She knew that she had nothing to worry about form the secretary as he had said that in fact she reminded him of his mother.



When they had returned to their shared purgatory for Dawn's graduation they knew that the inclusion of Hope was something that no one that was looking for them, if anyone truly was, would ever in a million years expect. And so her last thought of the night, as he sleepily staggered into their bedroom and gave his pride and joy a soft kiss as she fell asleep before sitting down on the bed beside her mother and giving her one, was that she wanted nothing to change what they had gained together.



* * * * * * *



Those same three years had a drastically different effect on those that they had left behind. Dawn had graduated high school and had been awarded a full ride to a respectable drama school in New York. Everyone had agreed that after the events of the last few years she definitely had the experience to draw out pretty much an emotion that she wanted, except for happiness. Sure she had received the good news that she was going to be an aunt the day before she had left for New York and was extremely ecstatic about becoming an aunt. But she had become the newest slayer, something that had been a source of both pride and fear for her and Buffy ever since Faith had died three years earlier. At first Buffy had forbidden her from training but in the end, and while Spike and Buffy were in Africa to try and locate the demon that had given Spike back his soul, after the two having agreed to start over in the aftermath of the final battle with the First and the harbingers, Dawn had begun slipping out of town to Los Angeles and to visit what was left of Angel Investigations.



Dawn barely had time to take a shower after returning home from Los Angeles, desperately trying to wash the smells of the road and big city out of her hair before Buffy and Spike got home. They had left to locate the demon to ask a particular favor of him, hoping that in that favor would be the gift of a lifetime together. At first Dawn hadn't known whether or not she should call the rest of the Scooby's back together, Willow still lived with them but had begun contracting out her services as a witch shortly after the latest apocalypse had been averted and the slayers in training, of which only Kennedy had vehemently disapproved of leaving Sunnydale and Molly had only survived because when the First had finally attacked she was busy talking Spike's ear off about home, had traveled with Giles to England to be fully trained. Xander and Anya had finally patched things up, helped greatly by how he had almost died protecting her during the last battle with the First and now bore the scars to prove it. The pair had produced one son, much to Xander's delight, whose birth had ruined Dawn's junior prom because she was the only one home when Anya went into labor and had to take the ex-vengeance demon to the hospital. They had named him Christopher Rupert Harris, named after two men that had influenced both parents' lives. However Anya had to tell an extended story about her meeting with a woman who had been wronged by a man named Christopher. The woman had said that she wanted him to fall off the face of the Earth, but what she didn't know was that Anya had never cast any spell but instead gotten King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella to okay a voyage to where they felt was the edge of the Earth. Needless to say both Anya and the woman were surprised when the man came back, and that year went down in history, for it was 1492.



And so when the front door opened and Buffy and Spike strode through to find Anya, Dawn, Willow, Chris, and Xander sitting in the living room waiting up for them it was a joyous scene. Spike and Buffy had ventured to Africa and found the demon that Spike had seen to regain his soul in the hopes that it could finish the job, and make him what Buffy truly deserved, to them by making him human. At first nothing seemed to have changed about Spike, but then Anya had noticed the small bit of color in his cheeks and had gone so far as to lick her thumb and rub it against his cheek to check if it was some kind of makeup. Over pizza Buffy sat them all down and explained their whole trip, with what happened inside the cave explained by a tired looking Spike. They explained that when they located the cave and found the demon that it refused to turn Spike fully human as it said that it wasn't possible for it to turn him fully human, but it could do the next best thing. And so they were told that Spike had agreed and after a set of grueling tests that he said made those to get his soul back look like child's play he had been given his reward.



At first those gathered in the slayers living room had stared at them with confused looks on their faces. Seeing there confusion Buffy had quickly put there minds at ease by explaining that while Spike wasn't now completely human he was as close as he was ever going to get, which just so happened to be as close to humanity as she herself was, complete with all the associated powers and abilities. And so that trip had started the beginning of what Dawn would later describe as the happiest time of her life, even amongst the next few almost apocalypse's that came across their path.



* * * * * * * *



In those same three years Angel Investigations had undergone more than a few changes. Angel was still at the head of the business but now the Hyperion had become the home of the entire payroll. Angel, Connor, Cordelia, Gunn, Fred all lived there along with the new recruits Gwen, who had joined after the big fight because she felt that Angel and company were her best chance to become normal again, Lorne, who had opened up another bar nearby, one that only Angel frequented mainly to try and keep the establishment from being trashed again, and Liam O'Connor, Cordelia and Connor's son. After their one night together, an event that Cordelia had tried desperately to forget about while Connor would just clam up when anyone asked about it, Cordelia had found out she was pregnant and had later given birth to Angel's grandson. The young child had been named so in honor of the man that was his father and the man, or truth be told vampire, that Cordelia had always wished was his father. Even though Angel and Connor had long since made up, for the most part, there was still and most likely always would be a lingering seed of anger and even a little hatred running between them.



They had been saved from being evicted out of the Hyperion because of a little borrowing that Angel and Fred did after the defeat of the Beast and the First. While Wolfram and Hart had been busy sorting out what to do Angel and Fred had snuck into the building and redirected and -borrowed- as much money as they could, enough in fact to keep the group in the Hyperion for decades to come, and fix up the place nicely. They had survived through the three years but there was still a piece of their family missing, one that Fred had always hoped would one day be filled again. And so because of that none of them thought anything different about Lorne's latest reading, one that entailed a new apocalypse, one that sent Angel and Gwen directly to it's source, New York city.



END OF CHAPTER 1