Níl Sé ina Lá
(It's Not Yet Day)
Author –D. M. Evans
Feedback – firstname.lastname@example.org
Pairings – n/a
Summary – In the early morning hours, after the End of Days has come and gone, a survivor reminisces.
Spoilers – pretty much all of Buffy and Angel to present date
Rating – Pg-13
Disclaimer – I just checked. I still don't own them, or make any money off them, etc. etc.
Pain filled every nook and cranny of my body but I don't care. I'm alive. No one expected that. I was ready to die. I wasn't meant to live, after all. The End of Days, the one Wolfram and Hart had worked so hard to bring about was about to become an anguished memory. That just shows you that all the planning in the world could be shot to hell with one wild card, or a few of them in this case.
I levered myself off the bed gingerly so not to wake the brunette beside me. I would never sleep now but since she was I owed it to her not to wake her. I caught sight of my face in the mirror. I looked horrible. Four long furrows, a present from a werewolf's claws, ran down my face nearly taking out my eye. It was a good thing I healed fast and didn't scar. I was trying hard not to hold a grudge. Oz hadn't meant to do it. The wolf in him just got a little wild when his mate died. Who could blame him? I had been trying to get her to safety and he mistook me for an attacker.
Her name was Corinne and she had come with Oz when the apocalypse began. I wasn't clear how the pair of werewolves had learned of it but it was obvious Oz was there for Willow as much as anything else, no matter how much he loved Corinne. Somehow Oz and Corinne had learned some control over their affliction, which put them in good stead for the Battles. Nothing like being able to summon the beast at will and control it.
I went outside. It was not yet day. The sun would rise over the mountains soon. The wind blowing through the pines was sweet. At the hotel across the narrow street and down a block I could see my father sitting on the edge of the porch leaning against the ruddy-brown sandstone the porch pillar. Buffy was at his side and clinging to her other hand was the so-white-he-glows-in-the-dark vampire. My nephew if you listened to my big sister, Dru. All right, so Spike wasn't a vampire any more. Neither was my father. It had happened. Shanshu. Both ensouled vampires became human together once we defeated the last of the horrors Wolfram and Hart had cooked up. No one was expecting that either. I wasn't sure what was going to happen now. I was so not ready to have a human dad. That stripped away one layer of my hatred for Angel.
I knew both men still loved Buffy, even if no one wanted to admit it. I thought maybe she loved them both. I never did understand her, how she could have loved either of them. They were dead, unnatural creatures. Still, it's been pointed out to me I'm an unnatural creature, too.
I'll admit it. I'm still holding grudges against dear old Dad. I've been in this world for four years now but that first year clung to me like dry, peeling skin that just irritated. Dad and I were shitty to each other that first year. He killed Father, or at least I thought he had, so I had dropped him in the ocean. I still don't see that as wrong. He was a vampire, damn it. He paid me back by tossing me out of his home, a teenager new to this world, left to my own devices in L.A. It took me two years to confess to Angel how terrified I had been and tell him how women had tried to sell themselves to me for money, how someone had given me something to make me feel better and I thought I was going insane because it was a hallucinogen, about the guy with the knife who wanted to do things to me that got Sodom destroyed and got mad when I said I wouldn't for money or even threat of pain. I wasn't in any real danger from him but it had left me shaking.
My Dad, master of mixed signals saves me from the demon, Fire, in Wolfram and Hart's law offices then kicks me out again because I slept with Cordy. He didn't even let me explain Cordy didn't want me. God, she hadn't even waited to leave my bed before she destroyed me but he didn't listen or even want to know. I still can't forgive him for that. Never forgave Cordy either.
Hell, why did I think about her? She was the second to die when the End of Days started. Lorne was the first to go, stuffed into a wood chipper boldly rented for that purpose. It was made to look like he had read a demon's fortune in all the wrong way. We tracked down a host of Ishone demons to punish them for killing Lorne but Wolfram and Hart had set us up.
It took Cordy's death to open our eyes to the fact our seers were bring stripped from us. I wonder if Cordy had known she was going to die. Fred had been there for Cordy's final vision, something demanding she contact Lindsey McDonald. I didn't know him then but he was one of those wild cards. All she could tell him was he had to come back to L.A. He didn't listen, not until Cordy died. We found her hanging from a tree in the courtyard. No one believed it was a suicide despite the note and how depressed she had been the last few years.
I didn't think I would cry at her funeral. She and I never made up really. She always thought it was because of what we had to do to stop that horned demon but that wasn't it. I couldn't get past her shredding my heart. Okay fine, she thought the world was going to end the night she made me a man. I could have dealt with that maybe. But she could have at least waited until I had pants on before acting like I had the plague. I'd never forget the way my touch disgusted her, her telling me to quit being a happy puppy, her saying she didn't blame me for the demon but acting like she did. I thought I'd hate her forever.
Somehow at her graveside, I hit my knees and wept like a baby. I remember biting Wesley's hand when he tried to get me to leave. They left me there. Angel came after nightfall and collected me. He and I talked that night like we never had before. We talked about everything, about how I loved Holtz no matter why he had taken me away, about how Cordy had made things even worse between Dad and me, how we never thought we'd see our way past it, about how things had gone from bad to worse when it turned out me losing my virginity had long ranging consequences.
I hadn't been ready to be a dad. Cordelia had panicked and Angel had trashed the whole lobby of his hotel when he learned she was pregnant. Cordelia thought my coldness to her was because of us having to abort the child since that's what was needed to destroy the demon. Wes had found it in a damn book, some prophecy or other about the blood of the Destroyer's heir needing to be used in a spell. Cordy barely looked at me then when the decision was made to do it. But that wasn't why I hated her. I was willing to sacrifice my child to save the world, and I don't think Cordy ever recovered from that. She was sad and withdrawn until the day she died.
"You okay, kid?"
I looked over at Faith as she left the hotel. So much for letting her sleep. "Haven't been a kid…ever."
"Still flippant as ever." She swung onto my lap, kissing my forehead just right of where Oz's claw marks started. "Should have remembered the stink you made when Xander called you a kid."
"I'm nearly twenty-two." I shrugged. "And Xander annoys me." I scrubbed a hand through my hair, feeling another long scab worming its way across my scalp; not a clue how I got that. "Sorry, I should be nicer since we're still waiting to hear if he's gonna lost his leg."
Faith squeezed my hand. "He's just lucky to be alive. I'm glad it's Willow and Dawn waiting at the hospital for him to wake up. I wouldn't want to be the one to tell Xander his wife didn't make it."
Anya had fallen after Xander went down under a shower of reddish rock. She had been torn apart by what looked like a human male, with long black plaits, only he had six arms. He had split her in two from the groin upwards. I didn't want to know what he had done to poor Anya to cause that. I liked her. She didn't hide things like Angel did.
Gunn, at least, had been killed quickly. Luckily Anya and Gunn were our only losses. Wesley was inside the hotel Faith and I were holed up in, trying to comfort Fred. Now that we all didn't die, I guessed we'd be heading to Texas to get Fred and Gunn's daughter back from Fred's parents.
"Your poor face." Faith ran a finger down the unravaged side of my face.
I caught her fingers, dropping a kiss onto them. She and I were lovers. Angel knew. It might be another apocalypse-driven notch in my bedpost but I was happy enough. Once Lindsey came back to L.A., he helped free Faith. He came in the middle of the funeral preparations for Cordy and he showed us the big picture. It's easy when it gets laid out for you. Lindsey knew Wolfram and Hart's plans. They should have killed him when he left but it was our luck that Wolfram and Hart had underestimated his knowledge. It was easy enough to prepare for the End of Days since Buffy and her friends had come for the funeral.
I had met them once or twice before, most memorably when Ethan Rayne had tied me and Dawn together magically trying to tap our unnaturalness for his own power base. For five weeks we couldn't get more than ten feet apart. Worse, it had happened when she was in L.A. with friends shopping so she didn't have her mage friends and her Slayer sister to help out. I didn't know about Buffy then and it's not like I was willing to tell people I'm Angel's son. We spent the first two weeks captive in a holding cell before we got free of the magic keeping us in the cell but not the magic binding us to each other.
In those two weeks I got to know Dawn as a person. She wasn't any keener on telling strangers she's a mystical key. I didn't learn that until we got to Sunnydale. But between Los Angeles and there we did a lot of running, hiding and screwing. Dawn kept joking about making love when we should be alert was what always got you killed in horror flicks. I had no idea what she was talking about. I didn't really care. I was getting laid again. Okay, I preferred my women with more meat on the bone but I really liked Dawn. She was funny and sweet and she could take care of herself. Why is it though that it takes some cataclysmic event to happen before I get to make love? Cordy, Dawn, Faith. It's like it takes a life-threatening situation to make a pale skinny guy attractive.
Of course, once me and Dawn realized our shared history it was just disturbing. Willow kept insisting we were cute together but we saw it as nearly incestuous. I'm just glad she made it through the final battle.
Anyhow, all us so-called champions were in one spot. We figured we'd have to head from L.A. to Sunnydale and the Hellmouth to stop Wolfram and Hart. We were wrong. We ended up in South Dakota. Wolfram and Hart's plan was to bring back the old ones, things of legends. Maybe they used to exist here or maybe some sort of magic brought them into existence now or dragged them from another dimension. That wasn't important. What Lindsey told us was. They were using passages that were supposed to have birthed humanity according to ancient folklore and they perverted these passages to bring forth the evil. They were only using the legends involving the dark places, deep in the earth, caves in particular, didn't matter where; South America, Australia, Hawaii, the Lower Regions of the American southwest where the Zuni believed humans came from.
That's why we were in South Dakota. The Lakota believe mankind came from some underworld coming through Wind Cave and Wolfram and Hart made that sacred place very unholy. Things flowed from Lord knows where. They would have taken the world had we not been prepared. But Lindsey made it so we knew where the passages were. The Watchers' Council mobilized worldwide, enlisting fringe groups and other demon hunters. We were ready but Wolfram and Hart didn't know that. Hell, we even had demons on our side, the not so evil kind that I wasn't really ready to admit existed. Still, I was glad they were on our side when those things appeared, things I burned the names of into my memory. From the depths came Angra Mainyu, a Persian destroyer that Wesley said looked a lot like the demon that came forth in the alley I was born; Avaiki who roasted the dead in Hawaii feeding them to worse demons, Wondjina rose up from caves in Australia bringing horrible storms, Zotz came forth with his blood-draining bats out of Mexico; trolls swept over Europe. Here in South Dakota we had fought worse things, the eight-limbed Iktomi, Iya, Unkethi, Wakinyans. On Quor-Toth caves had been the way Father and I survived. Now I doubted I could go into one again thanks to Wolfram and Hart.
"Still lost up here?" Faith brushed my hair back, tapping my forehead.
"Just thinking on it all," I said. "Grateful most of us made it out alive."
"Some of us are more alive now than when we started." Faith nodded down the street to where my father and Spike were.
I smirked. "Yeah, that's going to be…weird. Dad is gonna get old now…live a normal life."
"That's going to be a huge adjustment for everyone."
"I know. At least most of us are still here to help," I said lamely. I was just so unprepared for this.
"Thought we were going to lose Giles but the doctors said he'll be okay," Faith said, wiggling a little bit on my lap. God that felt good. I just wish every last part of me didn't hurt.
"Good. I like him. Reminds me of Father a little."
Faith raised an eyebrow. "Angel and Giles?"
I wrinkled my nose. "Giles and Holtz. Oh, you don't really know about him. I'll explain it someday."
Faith really didn't know me well. I'm not even sure what brought us together. Maybe her horniness from being locked up so long, or maybe I'm just damn attractive when the world starts falling apart. Lord knows I'm somehow socially inept at any other time. Whatever, we came together like wild animals. Cordy had been an initiation. Dawn was illicit and honeyed and Faith was all fire. I could be myself with her. I didn't have to hold back my supernatural strength and neither did she. It was wonderful to just let go without fear of hurting my partner. We had an amazing time. Okay, the furniture didn't like us much but I hope we get to do a little more of this now that the world was safe once more.
We didn't know the cost yet. We were sure a lot of Watchers died, Slayers-in-waiting, too not to mention normal folk who had no clue these sorts of things existed. At least the monsters were all gone now. We had tracked the last of the evil from Wind Cave outside of Hot Springs all the way north to Deadwood. Xander had been thrilled. He was something of a fan of westerns and kept muttering about Wild Bill Hickock and Buffalo Bill having been here once. Waziya and others had come here, letting loose a plague of Wanagi, ghosts. We had dispelled them. Hardest though was Iya, a rock-like thing. It was what had sent the rocks down on Xander while his brother, Iktomi murdered Anya.
"You do that." Faith examined my face again. "Oz didn't bite, you did he?"
"Just scratched me. Wesley said I'll be okay. Wish I knew where Oz ran off to."
"Into the woods. He needed to be alone. That's the Oz I remember," Faith said. "I feel terrible about Xander. I always sort of liked him, at least a little." She snuggled into me.
"Too bad Iktomi got away, back to wherever he came from," I said, locking my arms around her.
"At least you killed Iya for hurting Xander." She canted her dark eyes up at me. "Should have known Iya the Destroyer was no match for Connor the Destroyer."
I groaned. "One of these days I'm gonna make those Quor-toth demons pay for naming me that. Here, that name just gets me laughed at."
Faith grinned at me. "Well, Conan the Destroyer you're not."
I gaped at her and she grinned. "What's he got that I don't?"
"Well, for one, I wouldn't be able to do this." She encircled my wrist with one hand. "You are so twiggy."
I snorted. "Thanks a lot."
She smiled. "I like the lean hungry look."
I planted a quick kiss on her lips. "I'm glad to hear it." I sobered up. "Think anyone's going to have problems with me after this?"
She looked equally solemn. "Because of Lilah?"
When Lilah had been killed three years ago by the demon connected to me, Wolfram and Hart weren't content to leave it at that. They raised her like they had done with my mother. She was needed for their End of Days. We found out she had been the one to give the order to kill Lorne and had been there personally to see Cordy die. Then she helped birth the apocalypse. We all wanted Lilah to pay. I was the lucky one who got there first. I had mounted her severed head on a pike and gave it to one of our demon allies to carry into battle. Learned that disheartening trick back home in Quor-toth and it did help. Of course now I wasn't sure how Buffy's group in particular would view it. They were so much more moral than Angel's.
"She wasn't really alive to begin with…or at least she shouldn't be. People get killed in wars." Faith rested her cheek against mine.
"Sort of think she deserved it," I muttered, looking up at the hills above us. "Sun'll be up soon."
I glanced down the road. Dad was looking up at me. He smiled a little.
"You should go down there," Faith whispered.
I shook my head. "He doesn't want me. He's with who he wants to be with."
"He wants you there, Connor. He just doesn't know how to ask." Faith kissed the sharp angle of my jaw. "I'll go with you."
I look back down the street. Angel's eyes are back on the sky. For the first time in over two hundred years my father will see the sun and not burn. I moved Faith off my lap and she gave me a hand up. We headed down the street. Angel jumped to his feet and hugged me hard. Pain blossomed through me as every bruise and pulled muscle protested but I don't care. Part of me was still angry with him, maybe it always will be. But deep down, that part of me that always stayed my hand, that prevented me from doing my duty, that part was where I kept my love for my father caged, grew stronger.
We all sat down in a little huddle; Two Slayers, two ex-vampires and the bastard son of two demons. We watched the sky go gold and rosy. The sun came up and warmed our tears. Somewhere inside me those bright beams unlocked the cage. Life, love, time to pick up the pieces. Oh, I didn't doubt the next crisis was just around the corner but for now, I was content to sit in the sun feeling like I had a family for perhaps the very first time.