THE END IS ONLY THE BEGINNING

Disclosure:  I don't own any of the characters except for the ones that I create.

Author's Note:  This starts shortly after the series finale of Buffy.  I'll try to keep it as close to continuity as I can and this story is also going to include Angel and his group, so I'm putting it with the Angel fanfic's.  If you know me then you already know the pairings, except my main two will take a little time to get together, and at the beginning it'll be a little bit B/A as Buffy will need some t.l.c. after what happened to Spike.

CHAPTER 1-A PECULIAR MEETING OF SOULS

She had been in this place for weeks, this cold lonely place.  It was a place very much like the real world only it wasn't, for she discovered that she could not touch anything or talk to anyone.  The words would come out of her mouth but no one could hear her.  Even though she had been surrounded by people the whole time she felt more alone than she had ever felt.  Even those that loved her could neither see nor hear her desperate pleas for help.  And so she had left what she had felt like her new home and returned to Sunnydale.  She found that unlike before she could move around much more quickly.  The trip to from Los Angeles to Sunnydale used to take hours, now it only took a few seconds.  She arrived back to where she remembered Sunnydale being, but to her horror only found a large gaping crater where the city had been.  In a distressed panic she began to look for anything that would tell her what had caused this horrific level of destruction.

*                    *                   *                     *                    *                  *                  *

"I can't believe he's gone."  That thought kept running over and over again in her mind along with the sickening realization that he hadn't believed her when she had said that she loved him.  Hadn't he been able to see her love for him in her eyes, in how she hadn't staked him on sight when she came upon him in the school's basement, or how she had consoled him on the night before the final battle, letting him hold her all through the night.  He had been her rock, the one person that she thought that she could always count on to be there for her, to back her up.  Had he been there when they had decided to make Faith their leader he would have no doubt stood beside her and told them all where to go.  But now he was gone, and for the second time in her life she had no clue what to do or where to go.  They had just asked her that same question only minutes before, and all that she could manage was a meager smile.  She had rushed back to sit on the bottom step of the bus and think before any of them could ask any further questions.  Unknowing of what to do she sat there with her head in her hands, trying her best to hold back the tears that threatened to pour nonstop from her eyes.  Giles and Xander had tried to offer comfort but in her position there was no one that could.  She had lost the man that she loved.  She had finally come to terms with her feelings for him when she had seen the love in his eyes the night that he had found her in the abandoned house and wouldn't let her sleep until he had reminded her of who she was, a hell of a woman, the one. 

Xander stayed stoic even though he had lost Anya, but she knew him better than that.  She knew that once night had fallen and everyone would have a chance to begin to process what had happened that he would be in the same spot that she was now in.  It was odd how the two old friends, who had been through so much, would now find themselves in the one place that neither had ever hoped to be in.  The potentials, those wounded and still mostly unhurt, looked to her with fear and uncertainty in their eyes.  They held their questions even though she knew what they would be.  What now?  Where are we supposed to go?  Is it really over?  Did we win?  The last question that sprang to her mind did hit her enough to let a lonely tear slip out.  Did they win, how could they have when so many potentials had died along with two soul mates.  All in all she resigned herself to the fact that they had won, but at a very horrible price.  Faith kept her distance, seemingly knowing the reason that she sought to be alone with her thoughts.  Many of the potentials on the bus would need medical attention, not to mention Robin.  Even though she had tried a little voice in the back of her mind simply couldn't see Robin and Faith lasting very long.  In her mind he just wasn't the right guy for her.  She didn't really have a clue as to who was the right guy for the formerly rogue slayer, but that same little voice hinted to her that she had met him before. 

Andrew sat huddled in a small ball in the back of the bus, trying to muffle the sound of his tears.  Dawn sat beside him trying to comfort him.  It was funny but the two had actually started to become friends over the short time that he had been incarcerated in her house.  They weren't friends to the point of telling each other their secrets but friends enough to want to reach out and help each other in a time of need.  Willow and Kennedy stood, with their arms around each other, by the edge of the crater, wistfully gazing into it.  With Willow mumbling through her memories of her hometown, a town that was now gone.  Kennedy just listened and tried to comfort her lover as best she could.  When push finally came to shove she ordered everyone onto the bus and almost pushed Giles into the driver's seat.  When he asked her where he should go she only said two words…Los Angeles.

*                      *                     *                        *                   *                             *

It took him some time to figure out exactly where he was, or at least where he thought he was.  He had sobbed for what seemed like hours after arriving in this place.  Every square centimeter of his body seemed to burn endlessly.  The few short glimpses of his surroundings only brought confusion.  He appeared to still be in the basement of the high school, but now it looked like a war zone, as he was situated in a small pocket near what had been the hellmouth.  When the pain finally subsided enough for him to be able to stand he had to pull himself up with the help of the wall.  With what little strength remained to him he started shouting out the names of those that had been there in the end with him.  To his joy no one answered back, hopefully because they had all made it out alive.  Looking down he noticed a small silver cross lying half buried in the dirt.  For a second he thought about the irony of it all, the small cross buried in the dirt.  But upon looking closer he thought he recognized the cross as the one that Buffy wore the night that he had told her about his soul.  A smile curled his lips as he remember how beautiful she had looked that night, the soft rays of moonlight forming an angelic halo around her, making the rest of the old church look very old and drab. 

With a shrug of his shoulders he bent down to pick up the small trinket.  To his surprise he watched as his fingers passed right through the cross and the small pile of dirt.  Shaking his head and explaining it away that he missed the cross because he was tired he tried again.  And again his hand passed right through the small trinket and the small pile of dirt.

"Bloody hell…," he mumbled with a very confused scowl on his face as tried again and again to pick up the small trinket.  But every time he tried his hand simply passed right through. 

*                *                     *                         *                          *                   *                    *

After returning from his trip to Sunnydale Angel had initially tried to storm into his office and lock the door behind him.  But Lilah had been there with stacks of paperwork and other files.  Begrudgingly he had agreed to fill out all of the papers and look over the files, if only to get Lilah out of his office quicker so that he could brood over the events of the previous few hours.  He was just about to shut his door when Fred had almost danced into his office with an invention that she felt Angel just had to see.  He listened politely as she went over the inventions specifications and everything that it could do.  After she left Wesley had stopped by to talk to him about a few things but had changed his mind when he saw the look on Angel's face.  With a slight nod of his head Wesley disappeared for a bit before returning to Angel's office and shutting and locking the door behind him.  When he turned around Angel saw that Wesley had brought in a bottle of his strongest liquor.  Wesley had asked him if he wanted some but Angel had passed and Wesley had replied that he'd drink for the both of them.  The two old friends spent most of that night and next day talking about what had happened in Sunnydale and what they were going to do now.

Angel had finally persuaded Wesley to go home and get some sleep, but the Englishman was so drunk that Angel decided that it'd be better if he slept it off in his office.  Taking the opportunity Angel had used the time to catch up on some sleep, even if it was only a light sleep as he was still very far from comfortable in his new office.  He was awoken several hours later by a groggy and hung-over Wesley pounding on his door.  When he had opened the door Wesley had rushed in and turned the television on.  At first Angel didn't know what to make of his friends hurried actions.  But when the screen came to life Angel's heart would have stopped beating if it had been possible.  The horrific images on the screen showed the remains of the once proud city of Sunnydale.  Instead of a hustling and bustling city there was a giant gouge in the earth.  Almost without thought the two uttered only a single word with very worried scowls on their faces.  However their words differed.   

"Buffy…," Angel said almost in a whisper as he half stumbled back to his desk and almost collapsed into his chair.

"Faith…," Wesley choked out with a pained frown on his face as he picked up the remote and slowly backed away and turned up the volume as he did so.

*                         *                          *                       *                       *                              *

She had been at her search for what felt like hours, all without finding anything other than a few stray items that had somehow survived the horror of it all.  Fruitlessly she had tried to pick them up, but found that she couldn't touch anything other than the walls of building, doors were easily passed through as they were already a gateway of sorts.  All that she found were small things like a few spare crates of clothing that had somehow come through the destruction of the city.  Nothing was as she remembered it.  She noticed that the worst damage seemed to be concentrated in the center of the crater.  She guessed that whatever happened here had started there and spread outward.  She decided to check the epicenter out to look for any clues.  She hadn't gone far when she was startled to see other people walking listlessly about.  She thought about asking them something but then remembered her earlier failed attempts to talk to her loved ones and she had to bite her lip to keep from tearing up at the memories.  She was about to pass them by when she heard one speak. 

She was originally overjoyed to at last be able to talk to someone, but the people that she met couldn't offer her any help.  They were all still mostly in shock and their only words were of them hopelessly trying to comprehend what had happened.  Shedding a trio of tears in disappointment she continued on her path towards the center of the blast.  She hadn't gone too much further when she thought she recognized one of the people.  She rushed up and crouched down in front of the person before asking the ever important question.

"A…Anya…is that you…," She asked with a confused but hopeful look on her face as she looked over at the person sitting, with tears in her eyes, in front of her.  At first the woman didn't seem to have heard her.  But then the woman lifted her tear filled eyes and squealed with delight and relief as she surged forward.

"Cordelia…," Anya almost shouted out thankfully as she lunged forward and wrapped her arms around the former cheerleader, hugging her tightly.  Cordelia almost fell backwards from the force of Anya's body colliding with hers and then the power of the hug.

"Wait…you can see me…hear me…," Cordelia gasped out with a tone to her voice that was a combination of joy and utter shock and confusion. 

"What…of course I can…we're in limbo not hell," The former vengeance demon exclaimed with an almost bored, yet happy, smile on her face as she released Cordelia from her grip and sat back down on a nearby rock.  Cordelia could barely get out her question as she almost choked on the thought of it. 

"I'm…I'm dead…," Cordelia asked in a gasp as her head spun as she tried to come to grips with what Anya was trying to say.

"Well not exactly…me…yeah I'm dead…corset and disco music dead…guess that means no more joyous orgasms for me…but you, well you're just stuck here…," Anya replied with a very sad frown on her face before she jutted her bottom lip out and stared off into space.  Cordelia nearly passed out at the revelation before she cleared her throat and asked another question.

"Wait…how'd you die…," Cordelia asked with a confused frown on her face as she sat down on a rock opposite the one that Anya was sitting on. 

"A bringer stabbed me from behind with a knife…at least it was one of those cool curved ones…," Anya stated sadly at first before brightening up at the last part. 

"I don't understand any of this…," Cordelia muttered angrily as she shook her head and gazed at the ground beneath her feet.  Anya frowned sadly before opening her mouth to try to say something supportive, but she got interrupted.

"Anya…," he yelled out, partly in relief and partly in confusion, as he trudged closer and closer to the two women. 

"Spike…wait…why are you here…," Anya gasped out in shock and concern as she spun around on her rock and turned to face the approaching figure.  Spike smile weakly and shrugged his shoulders before responding.

"Hell if I know…last thing I remember is being consume by the light…next thing I know I can walk around but not touch anything…," Spike answered sadly as he wiped some dust off of his jeans and sat down beside Anya and Cordelia, leaning back up against the remnants of a sidewalk.

"Same with me…I can't hear what anybody says though…and they can't hear me…," Cordelia exclaimed with a bit of relief and anxiety in her voice.

"It's because all of you are in a very special time in your lives…the time where you decide what it is that you truly want…and if fate agrees with you then you'll get it…," a soft feminine voice said from behind the trio, causing them all to turn quickly and gasp.  Standing a few feet away, with a loving smile on her face and dressed in a beautiful white dress, stood Joyce Summers.

"Joyce…," Spike blurted out in awe as he tried to determine whether or not who he was seeing was actually there.

"Yes William…it's me, I've been chosen as a guide for the three of you…to put you on the path to your future," Joyce replied calmly with a kind smile on her face as she began to walk slowly towards the trio.

"Wait…we're dead, what future do we have…," Anya exclaimed with a confused frown on her face as she turned her head back to look at first Spike and then Cordelia.

"And why'd you call me William…I'm not him…," Spike added solemnly, with a touch of bitterness in his voice, as he crossed his arms and stared at the ground nearby.

"At the moment you're dead yes…but you don't necessarily have to stay that way…Anya you died bravely…so it's been decided that you are to be given a choice whether to go accept what fate has for you…or return to the mortal realm, and William…Spike the vampire is gone…for good," Joyce answered with a look on her face as if she were reciting what was on the menu for the day. 

"Wait…I can go back…to Xander…," Anya asked, her face brightening considerably as she spoke her lovers name.

"If that's what you want…or you can never see him again…your choice…," Joyce replied with a small laugh as she clasped her hands together in front of her. 

"What about you…do you get to come back to…," Cordelia asked with a hopeful look on her face, getting her question in before Spike could ask one of his own.

"Sorry…but it was my time to go…oh don't worry about me…I'm happy as long as my girls are happy…that reminds me…William Buffy and Dawn are going to need you…sooner than they think," Joyce said with a content smile on her face as first before he expression became one of panic and worry. 

"But what can I do…you said that Spike the vampire is gone…what else is there…," Spike asked with a dejected and solemn frown on his face as he avoided Joyce's kind gaze.

"What else is there…you of course…you asked that demon in Africa to give Buffy what she deserved…and when you used the amulet you passed your final test…now if you want I can make you what…no who she deserves…," Joyce replied with a calm look of acceptance on her face as a confused Spike readied his next question in his head. 

"What do you mean who she deserves…and what about me…," Cordelia demanded with an angry frown on her face as she crossed her arms defiantly in front of her.

"Cordelia…you get the choice whether or not to accept what fate has for you…or to return as you were when you left and try to rectify the problems that have been caused in your absence…as for who…well William, you'll be the only one of your kind, there won't be another like you…except for Connor, but it's not time for him yet," Joyce answered with an eerily calm smile on her face as she looked back and forth between Cordelia and Spike. 

"Only one of my kind…what the bloody hell is that supposed to mean…," Spike asked angrily as he pushed himself back up to his feet.

"You will be like her…her equal in every way…you'll be able to be with her at any time…no longer bound by the restraints that you had as a vampire…because you'll be…William…a slayer of vampires…," Joyce answered with a happy smile on her face as she reached over and laid a hand on a startled Spike's shoulder.

"I thought slayers were all girls…how can he…," Anya interjected with a confused look on her face as she stood up and looked over at Joyce.

"The tactics of the First have prompted a change in how things are done…so what do you say William…," Joyce asked with an expectant look on her face as she turns her gaze back to Spike.

"I want her to be happy…so…," Spike mumbled softly with an unsure but hopeful look on his face before Joyce smiled brightly and clapped her hands together.  Before either Anya or Cordelia could utter a word Spike vanished.  Anya started to say something but vanished as well, followed closely behind by Cordelia.  After the three had vanished Joyce lifted her gaze skyward and whispered a silent prayer for the trio.

*                  *                *                    *                       *                                *

Like small rivers it ran, flowing unheeded downward towards the center of it all.  Somehow it came from all over the town and filled the small crater under all of the debris in the center of the city.  When the crater was filled to its limits the blood stopped flowing altogether.  Eerie orange and blue lighting flashed over the top of it before all went quiet.  Nothing noticed as a shaky hand was slowly lifted out of the blood, followed closely behind by the rest of the figure.  The man stood there, his mind a jumbled mass of memories, feelings, and sensations.  He sat motionless as the blood that drenched him slowly trickled off and fell back to the pool below.  He calmly lifted his left hand and opened it, only to find the cross that he had seen before lying comfortably on his palm. 

END OF CHAPTER 1