DISCLAIMER: I don't own the BtVS or AtS character, as they are owned by Joss Whedon et al. I do own everyone else.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Sorry for the long wait guys. All I can say is that I've been sickly, and I've been busy with the not so fun end of writing that is querying publishers and putting together portfolios for agent. All I have to say is yuck.
Anyway, here's the last chapter, short and fluffy though it may be. Not everything about the three children will be explained, as that is a mystery for another fic, but I'll do my best to lighten up the confusion a little bit. Hopefully, by the time I post this I will have found at least one of my copies of Hamlet, of which I can currently locate exactly zero. If I don't, you can look up the quote that is the title's origin on your own, should you feel so inclined.
This is the last of The Hopie Chronicles, taking place consecutively after Cordy and Connor found Hopie. Eventually, I hope to do a sequel to the chronicles, or perhaps two, that take place in the future. Maddy's story, Take Me as I am will come out either this later this summer or next fall, and it will take place three to five years after this chapter, with Maddy approaching either her sixteenth or eighteenth birthday. The other fic, which may or may not ever be written, would concentrate on Hayden, Taryn, North/Gen (haven't decided which name the older version will go by yet) and their destiny, with Hopie and Cale being major players. This would, obviously, take place somewhere between ten and fifteen years in the future, and like I say, it will quite possibly never be written.
Since you probably won't hear from me for a bit on the fanfiction front, should any of you wish to borrow any of my characters, including grown up versions of the babies, you are more than welcome to. Simply disclaim that I own them and email me the link to your story. The only exception to this is Maddy, who though she may be borrowed, I would request that you use her only in the context she exists in right now and that you not add anything to her list of powers, her history, or her relationships with the other characters.
Okay, now on with the Cordy/Angel wedding you have all waited so carefully for.
THINE OWN SELF: EPILOGUE (Three months later)
"All right," Willow said sternly, "now you three have to be good and try really hard not to be the cutest ones at the wedding. It's Cordy's wedding, and she should be the cutest one…" Willow trailed off, looking at the three babies. "Who am I kidding?" she said. "You three win, hands down." Willow smiled a very goofy smile, and she couldn't help but pick Taryn up and cuddle her for a moment.
In the three months since their birth, Faith and Willow had learned the hard way that the children didn't like to be separated. Gen, or North, as Lindsey and Hopie insisted on calling her, was a screamer, Taryn was a crier, and Hayden tended to just send little baby glares at anyone who would look in his general direction.
Accordingly, Willow and Wes had made the difficult decision to leave Sunnydale permanently for L.A., bringing Anni with them. The details weren't clear yet on the prophesy that involved the three children and their supernatural births, but Willow had known deep down that they couldn't separate Taryn from the other two.
Willow sat Taryn back in her carrier, and a moment later, she felt someone tugging at the bottom of her dress.
"Momma says that you better not get any baby juice on your dress, Aunt Willow," Hopie informed her blithely. 'Baby juice' was Hopie's term for spit up.
"All clean," Willow said, gesturing.
"If you want, you can go see Momma and Aunt Faith and Fred and Buffy while I watch the babies for you," Hopie offered, batting her eyelashes. She loved nothing more than to sit and talk with the babies, and if she hadn't known better, Willow would have sworn that the children understood every word that the little girl said.
Willow looked down at Hopie. "How bout you go get you go get someone big to help you," Willow suggested. An instant later, Hopie was off and running.
"You know, Cor," Faith said, letting out a low whistle. "When you do a wedding, you do it right."
Cordelia smiled, smoothing down the fabric of her white wedding dress. Though she had been tempted towards the shimmery, intricately designed dresses, in the end she had chosen a simple and elegant white dress, with lace work across the bodice and a lightly flowing skirt.
"Hold still," Buffy said, hair pins in her mouth, trying to pin Cordelia's veil on straight.
Cordy looked in the mirror. "There," she said, a soft smile spreading across her face. "Perfect."
"I'm just glad you didn't opt for pink," Faith said, glancing down at her bridesmaid dress, a simple black dress with white beading at the top and again at the waist.
"Black and white wedding," Buffy commented. "Very chic."
Looking in the mirror, Cordelia didn't feel chic. She felt as if she'd stepped into a time warp and emerged a century earlier. For the first time in her life, she felt untouched by the outside world. She wasn't cynical or sarcastic, trendy or savvy. She just was.
"You know," Buffy said slowly, "I think this is the last place I ever expected to be."
Faith arched an eyebrow. "I thought being one of my bridesmaid's was the last place you ever expected to be. And here I thought I was special, B."
Buffy said nothing. She simply met Cordelia's eyes, and for a moment, something unspoken passed between the two of them
He was my first love, Buffy thought.
He was the first person to ever see me as more than a pretty face, Cordy thought in return, though she hadn't heard Buffy's thoughts.
I loved him so much, so intensely, that I will never forget it. Everything was life or death, literally, and sometimes I wished that we were the only two people in the world. Buffy continued to stare, silently at Cordelia.
I want to see his face every morning. I want to reach for him in the middle of every night. I love him more than anyone ever loved me. He's my daughter's father, and his son is my son. Cordy looked back at Buffy.
He loves you, Buffy thought finally. And I love someone else now.
"You look beautiful," Buffy said softly, brushing a hair out of Cordelia's face.
"Did I miss anything?" Willow asked, rushing in, her own bridesmaid's dress perfectly clear of baby juice. She'd been floored when Cordelia had asked her, but ever since she and Wes had moved into the Hyperion, Willow was slowly growing to realize that the unbelievable had happened. Cordelia Chase had grown up.
Cordy looked around. "So where'd my flower girl go?" she asked, looking around for her daughter.
"Statistics would suggest that she's with the babies," Fred said, speaking up for the first time since they'd all been in the room.
"Well, go statistics," Willow said, sounding for a moment just as she had in high school. Fred smiled at Willow. The two of them had started to bond over their awkward math jokes.
"Who else is watching the babies, Will?" Buffy asked.
Willow grinned at them. "Spike," she replied.
"Hey, Mr. Spike," Hopie said. "Did you bring Bob to the wedding?"
"No, half-bit, I didn't bring the flamethrower with me to a wedding. It didn't match the tux." He narrowed his eyes at Hopie. "You didn't bring Claude, did you?" he asked, referring to the child's own flame thrower.
Hopie shook her head. "I don't play with weapons near the babies," she confided in him seriously. "And besides, Uncle Lindsey said he could teach me five ways to kill a man with my bare hands." Hopie wrinkled her nose. "He's so silly."
Spike stared back at the three babies. "What about you lot?" he asked. "What did you bring with you to the wedding?"
Hopie giggled. "Balance," she said. "They brought balance." She bent down next to the babies and started talking to them. "Show Mr. Spike what you can do, babies," she said softly.
As the babies gurgled happily in their carriers, a soft light connected the three of them, and Spike found himself lifted off the ground. A moment later, when he came crashing to the ground, he glared at the babies, each of them in turn, as he couldn't figure out exactly which one had done it. Taryn was the only baby to herself show signs of magical power, but already Spike could tell that Faith's two were the troublemakers, and abnormally strong troublemakers at that.
Looking at them, Spike grinned a goofy grin, and, as always, his heart melted. By now, all of the children had hair, Hayden and Gen's dark, and Taryn's a brownish red fuzz.
For a moment, Gen looked like she would fuss, but Hopie bent down next to her and patted the little baby comfortingly. "It's all right, North," she said softly. "It's all right Northstar. Look at Mr. Spike. Doesn't he look funny?"
Spike raised one eyebrow at Hopie. "I do not look funny," he responded. Taryn gurgled happily at that moment, and Spike could have sworn that both of Faith's babies were smirking at him with little baby smirks.
Spike sighed deeply. He was about to OD on cuteness, and yet he couldn't help but think of little baby Spikes and little baby slayers running around with this lot.
"Can you watch the babies during the cer-mony?" Hopie asked Spike. "Cause I gotta be the flower girl."
Spike nodded, secretly loving spending time with the little ones.
Hopie skipped happily back to the dressing room, content that the babies were well taken care of.
Angel looked nervously into the mirror. He straightened his tie. Then he smiled a goofy smile.
"He never did get over being able to look in one of those damn things," Gunn said, referring to the gift the magical Shanshu child had bestowed upon Angel the first time she had called him Daddy.
Over in the side of the room, Connor glared at his tuxedo.
"Hey Junior," Gunn said. "Lighten up."
Connor shot the older man a disgruntled look.
"It could be worse, Connor," Lindsey said, grinning at Angel's obvious butterflies. "At least he doesn't call you Little Angel."
Connor tried not to smile at the obvious reference to Dakota, who had yet to truly break anyone from calling her Little Faith.
Gunn snickered. "Little Angel," he said contemplatively.
"Don't make me kill you," Connor said, his voice low and no trace of humor on his face.
Angel took a deep breath that was completely for show, as he actually didn't need to breathe. "Let's do this," he said, his voice coming out slightly high pitched.
Spike had just settled the babies into their seats when the music started to play, and Hopie walked in, flower basket in hand and Cale beside her, his little chest sticking out proudly at the role he'd been given as ring bearer.
Hopie through her flowers, and everyone who had been to Faith's wedding wondered what else the little Shanshu had in that basket.
As they walked by, Cale waved at his mother and Oz, who were sitting amidst a group of Potentials who looked as if they were ready to kill Dakota, except for Maddy, who was beaming at the girl she'd adopted as her role model for all things bad-ass and slayer-y.
Oz slipped his hand softly through Kate's, and though her hand tingled at his touch, she didn't shy away from it. Her finger's closed softly around his, and she pressed back her heart's warning not to allow herself to feel this way again.
She supposed that she hadn't ever really loved him, even on their wedding day, when she'd been so in love with the idea that he loved her, with his desire to be normal. She hadn't realized then that he didn't love her. Oh, maybe in his own way he had, but more than anything, he'd wanted to own her, to possess her.
He'd wooed her with his soft eyes and his sensitive talk about the realization that he wanted more than sex out of relationship. He mentioned that he'd sowed his wild oats, but that he was ready for something more serious.
What he'd meant was that he'd figured out that she wasn't going to play his games, and that he would marry her as an expert move, and because he thought, deep down, that she was unattainable. So he'd asked, expecting her to say no, and she'd answered, expecting to say no, with a desperate yes.
And so they had married. He'd cheated on her during their honeymoon, and her police instincts wouldn't let her remain ignorant. She would have left him, but then she'd found out about Cale, and she'd known that she had no place to go. Where would she have gone? Back to L.A.? To Angel? A vampire? Not hardly.
And then Cale had been born, and Parker had told himself that it was justification to leave, onto the next girl, the next challenge, his confidence and sensitive aura still in place as he'd told the next woman about his son, who he claimed had been stillborn.
And Kate had been alone.
Kate pushed the phantoms behind her, and waved back at her son with her free hand, leaning her head softly toward Oz's. He squeezed her hand softly, and the two of them sat there, feeling the warmth in each other's hands.
"Well, de-ja-vu and then some," Lorne said, his white tuxedo fairly glowing in the light of the building. "It seems like not long ago that I presided over another little nuptial, and we know how that ended." He gestured toward the twins, both asleep in their carriers.
"But today," Lorne said, looking at Cordelia and Angel standing next to each other, each radiating joy and butterflies all at once. "Today, we celebrate something else, something that started in friendship over tough times. Something that grew steadily to love, steadfast and true. This is the real deal, but don't take it from me. Take it from them."
Angel cleared his throat awkwardly and then he began to speak, clearly uncomfortable, but with a tenderness in his eyes. "Cordelia," he said. "You were my friend when I needed a friend. You were a mother when my son had none. You gave me a daughter, and you gave me yourself, always freely, always joyfully." Angel paused. "I look at you, and I wish that I could stop time, just so that I could keep you this way in my memory forever, and then I realize that if I stopped time, you wouldn't be here, with me, laughing with me and bringing me back down to earth and out into the – metaphoric- sunlight. I realize that I want to live with you, forever, one day at a time. I love you.
"I will be faithful to you, in heart, body, and mind. I will protect you from all harm, and I will love you, every day of our lives, because you taught me the value of a single moment in time."
Angel placed the ring on her finger. "With this ring, I thee wed," he said, falling back on tradition. "To have and to hold, in sickness and in health, in good times and bad, for as long as we both shall live." He kissed her hand.
"Forever," he whispered.
"Wow," Hopie said in a loud whisper to Cale. "That's the most I've ever heard my daddy say."
Cordelia smiled. "Angel," she said, her voice clear and steady. "The first time I met you, I thought 'wow, he's hot.' Then I found out you were a vampire, and I thought 'I can deal with that.'" Cordelia paused, remembering the person she had been. "But I'm not that person anymore," she said softly. "I'm a better person because I love you, and I love you more honestly, more deeply, than I ever knew was possible. You've given me the dream, the family I always wanted, and I want nothing more than to go to bed each night with you by my side and wake up each morning next to you."
She slipped the ring onto his fingers. "With this ring," she said softly, looking straight into his eyes, "I thee wed. To have and to hold, in sickness and in health, for as long as we both shall live."
"And now," Hopie said, by this time an expert on weddings, "they kiss."
Angel broke into a wide grin as Lorne pronounced them husband and wife. "You heard our daughter," he told Cordelia. "And now, we kiss." He leaned in, and kissed Cordelia passionately on the mouth.
Lindsey walked over to Faith and kissed her on the mouth, grateful for everything that he had been given.
Kate surprised Oz as she leaned over to kiss him, softly, hesitantly. He wrapped his arms around her and kissed back.
"Looks like everyone's kissing," Willow said, smiling mischievously at Wes.
"Well then, we must keep up the status quo," Wes said, leaning in to kiss the mother of his child. Then his thoughts whirled. Everyone was kissing? Surely that didn't mean that Anni and Jordy were kissing. They were far too young for that after all, and… Willow kissed him harder, intent on keeping him distracted.
Clay leaned over to Nicolaa, kissing her, while still keeping an eye on Maddy, who appeared to be helping Spike with the babies. He let out a sigh of relief. As Jordy was currently with Anni and there weren't any other young boys in sight, he figured they were safe.
Jordy looked at Anni, both of them feeling a little bit shy all of a sudden. Jordy leaned over and, after a moment, kissed the scar on her neck, and his mind was filled with sudden visions.
Anni refusing to become the arch slayer. The power of Turot turning colors in the air, from purple to a brilliant yellow. Anni becoming swallowed in the power, even as the remains of the purple mist became absorbed in her body, pushed down by the yellow that was the good power.
The scene changed then.
Willow's pregnant stomach and the new life growing inside became visible, and Jordy watched, as Willow's love, her sacrifice, grew with the child, both of them changing, the child struggling to take on the characteristics of the mother who carried her, the love between them strong, even then.
Then Anni's hand was pressed to Willow's stomach, and Jordy saw the magic, the amber-colored power, rushing out of Anni and into Willow's pregnant stomach as the baby fought off Lilah's magical kidnapping plans once and for all, becoming Willow's daughter through the borrowed magic and through love.
As the yellow power seeped out of Anni, the purple began rising, no longer held down by the good.
Ari. Anni. Ari. Anni.
"What is it?" Anni asked. Jordy looked around. Everyone was still kissing.
"I'll tell you later," he said, gathering his courage and leaning in to kiss her gently on the lips.
Chance leaned over to Kendall and Joss. "I don't think Dakota's wearing any underwear," she whispered to them. Kody glared at the Potentials.
Kendall grinned wickedly. "Course she's not," she said. "All of her underwear was misplaced this morning."
The other girls giggled. Kendall had been forced to settle for little ways of flouncing Kody.
"But what about the pair she was wearing?" Colette asked. Joss said nothing. She was trying, but she still hated the other Potentials half the time, and she was still flounced on a regular basis, even though the others were growing to love her slowly but surely.
"Little Faith," Kendall said wickedly. "Sleeps in the nude."
Dakota made a mental note to put Kendall in the hospital as soon as the festivities were over.
Maddy grinned at Spike.
"What are you grinning about?" Maddy asked.
"Buffy won't mind," Maddy said earnestly.
"Won't mind what?" Spike asked, completely clueless, as Maddy took him off guard, kissing him on the lips, hard.
"Bloody hell!" Spike said, pushing her off. "You're twelve."
"Yeah," Maddy said, smiling. "And that was great."
Cale tugged on the hem of Hopie's dress.
"Girls yucky," he said.
"Boys are gross," Hopie responded.
Cale grinned. "You not girl," he said. "You Hopie." And standing on his very tiptoes, he kissed the very bottom of her chin in a slobbery, little boy kiss.
"You're not a boy," Hopie conceded. "You're Cale." Then she looked around. "And now," she said. "We're finally married."
Angel leaned over and picked her up.
"Yeah," Cordelia said, awed. "We finally are."
AND THAT'S IT, PEOPLE. FLUFFY, I KNOW, AND THERE ARE STILL PLENTY OF QUESTIONS ABOUT THE BABY TRIAD, BUT HEY, I HAVE TO LEAVE YOU wondering about something.
If you get bored before I post the Maddy fic (could be a month or more), you can try to figure out exactly what Maddy is… as she's not just a Potential. There are clues a plenty in this piece and in THINGS, so good luck!
And please review if you enjoyed reading any of this story at all. It's taken a lot of time, and it took me at three AM on a day that I've been sick to finish it.
Ciao for now, and much love to you all.