Full Circle Epilogue
Disclaimer: Premise and characters borrowed from "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Angel".
"Xander are you sure that we need to be here?" Patience asked. "Cause I'm averaging less than one slayable per week since we got to Sunnydale."
"I'm sure," Xander said, looking solemnly at his seventeen year old Slayer. "Angel does a good job of keeping Sunnydale clear of demons, but the last time he faced this thing he was assisting Buffy Summers and they both died."
"Okay Watch-man, back track here," Patience said. "I know Buffy was the Slayer when you were in High School and you were her best bud. I know she died, like twenty years ago, but Angel isn't dead. I'll bet you he's out patrolling and being all obsessive again right now."
"Buffy died sixteen years ago," Xander said. "Not twenty and Angel and I believe we'll have a chance to save her this year. You see; Angel did die the night Buffy did. You know Oz?"
"Beth's dad? Sure, he's cool. So's Beth, it's great having a friend who already knows about all this Slayer stuff," the current chosen one replied.
"He was there that night," Xander continued. "The demon that killed Buffy appeared out of a portal, Angel followed it through. He and Buffy killed it, but were both fatally injured. Before he died, Angel commented that Oz was too young, then he got all excited and said that he had sixteen years to stop Buffy from dying."
"At the time, Oz had no clue about what Angel meant, and the idiot vampire ignored the fact he'd been impaled on a tree branch. If Angel had just stayed still until Oz got the damn branch out of him he could have explained exactly what he meant." Xander said disgustedly. "Instead he staked himself leaving us with just a riddle."
"Not to be redundant or anything," Patience interjected. "But Angel's not dead, except in the vampire sense."
"I know," Xander replied. "We called down to LA that night to let Angel's partner Doyle know what had happened, only Deadboy picked up the phone."
Patience's eyes popped as she realized what Xander was inferring. "Time travel," she exclaimed. "You guys think that the demon that killed Buffy and the Angel that died were from the future! So if you could kill the demon before it went back in time Buffy wouldn't have died."
"You got it kiddo," Xander said. "The old Slayerettes have been getting ready for this chance for years. But when we find this demon you be damned careful Pae. You're going to have a lot of back up, but remember, this thing killed Buffy and she had several years more experience than you."
"I'll be careful," Patience sighed. "I'm always careful. Really Xander you need to loosen up a little!"
Xander laughed shortly. "We all used to say that exact thing to Giles when I was in High School. We had no clue how he must have felt sending Buffy into harms way so often. I feel like I should be protecting you Patience, but I can't, all I can do is make sure you're prepared."
Angel burst into the mansion five minutes after sunrise, his coat flung over his head smoke rising from his body.
"Cutting it a little close?" Willow asked.
"Why are you here? Did you see the demon?" Angel did even bother to specify which demon, as far as he was concerned there was only one, everything else was just practice.
"I'm here to make sure you eat. There's fresh blood in the ice box," Willow replied. "You're not going to do Buffy any good if you get yourself fried or if you're too run down to fight when the time comes."
"I know," Angel sighed. "I'm just terrified that I won't find it before it goes back. That I'll screw up again and Buffy will still be dead."
"Angel, you can't blame yourself for what happened that night. No one expected Buffy to be facing anything worse than a few fledging vamps," Willow said.
"I don't want to mess up like my future self did that night," Angel rephrased.
"Go eat," Willow said ending a conversation she'd tired of years ago. Against all logic Angel was determined to take the blame for Buffy's death. He'd been utterly consumed by the faint hope offered in the cryptic message the other Angel had left them before dying.
Xander was equally obsessed. It created a bond between the two. They shared a purpose, but never friendship. Willow worried about both of them and Giles as well. She and Oz missed Buffy as well and wanted this chance to undo that night, but unlike Angel and Xander they didn't live for it. As for Giles, he still grieved. The hope Xander and Angel embraced with such passion was too thin a rope for Giles to cling to.
Giles had always known the statistical probability of Buffy dying young, and when it happened he had been prepared to accept it. His heart broke for his surrogate daughter and nothing could mend it, but he couldn't bring himself to chase ghosts.
There had even been fights between Giles, Xander and Angel. Giles saw their refusal to grieve as a betrayal and they felt his lack of hope was the true betrayal.
And Willow, along with Oz, quietly raised their daughter, mourned the absence, if not the death, of one friend and tried to keep their remaining friends whole.
Willow worried most acutely for Angel. Giles had survived Buffy's death despite the scars it left. Xander had Patience now, and no matter how this year played out he wouldn't abandon his duty as her Watcher. Angel had nothing but the hope of saving Buffy.
"Xander shouldn't you be patrolling with your Slayer?" Angel asked quietly as the other man joined him.
"It's two o' clock," Xander said. "Patience is at Willow's, in bed. I wasn't ready to turn in just yet."
Angel nodded then went back to checking out one of Sunnydale's many cemeteries.
"What's she like, your Slayer?" Angel asked after almost a half-hour of patrolling.
"Pae? She's a little like Buffy I guess; sometimes she rebels against being the Slayer, against not having a normal life, but she's always come through for me. She's got a good heart," Xander replied. "The Council found her when she was eight but her parents refused to let her be trained. They died in a car wreck when she was eleven the Council did some highly questionable things and ended up with custody of her. She's been like a kid sister to me ever since."
"I can imagine how the Council must have loved that," Angel said.
"Oh yeah, they tried to reassign Patience to a more appropriate Watcher, and me to the records division, only Pae took exception. She ran away half a dozen times before they gave in," Xander replied. "Patience was called when she was fourteen, she's one of the youngest Slayers ever."
Angel held up a hand, silencing Xander, together they crept forward. "It's the wrong demon," Angel cursed, looking disgusted he broke cover and attached the demon. Xander hurried to assist him.
"Look," Angel said as he punched the demon in face. "I've been after one particular demon for seven months now. I've been waiting for it for sixteen years. You're not it and I resent the waste of my time."
The blow sent the demon reeling back. A kick from Angel sent it tumbling over a grave marker; before it could rise Angel drew a knife from his ankle sheath and slit the creature's throat. It managed a gurgling sound before it died.
"That was quick and brutal," Xander commented. "What are we going to do with the body?"
"Leave it," Angel said. "If we're lucky some other demon will see it and decide Sunnydale isn't where it wants to be. You know sometimes I think if I kill enough demons, if Sunnydale gets a bad enough reputation, maybe the one that killed Buffy will decide to go to a different Hellmouth and she'll be safe. I wonder what it will be like when we change what happened. Will we remember this or will it just evaporate?"
"I don't know," Xander said. "I don't even know what to hope for. I don't want to forget Pae, but I don't want to remember Buffy dying."
Patience walked beside Beth as they headed toward school. "Do your parents ever talk about her?" Pae asked.
"About Buffy?" Beth clarified.
"Yeah, I wonder about her a lot," Pae said. "You know if this works and we save her, I'll probably never have been the Slayer. I'm from the line of Slayers activated by her second death. Xander doesn't talk about her much, but she's the reason he's a Watcher. Then there's Angel, she's his whole world. I just wonder what she was like that she could effect people so much."
"Buffy introduced them to a whole new world, one where the supernatural was real," Beth said. "How could that not change a person? As for Angel, she's what connected him to the world."
"I can see that," Patience said. "I hope we save her for them, and for me too. I would have liked to be a kid for a while longer. It was hard enough when I was just a Slayer-in-waiting."
"I can imagine," Beth said. "Everything I've heard about the Council makes them sound like they're totally into no fun."
"No kidding, it's sacred duty blah, blah, blah responsibility to the world blah, blah, blah. They eat, breath and sleep that stuff. Xander's the only one who doesn't think fun is a four-letter word. And he's the only one who ever treats me like Pae Lightner instead of just a prospective Slayer," Patience said. "He used to smuggled in pizza. I loved it, it was just so normal."
"Xander's always good for junk food," Beth said. "He introduced me to wonders of Hostess when I was little. Mom was furious."
Patience giggled. "My mom never liked me to have sweets either," she said.
"So do you still like school?" Beth asked.
"Oh definitely, this is so much more fun than Council schooling. It's cool having classmates. You have no idea what it's like when the teachers out number the students…"
Angel froze; if he'd been breathing he would have stopped. This was it, the Demon was right there. For the first time Angel truly was glad to have the cell phone Willow insisted he carry. Normally it was an annoyance that always rang at the wrong time, usually when he was right in the middle of sneaking up on something, but not tonight. Tonight it meant he'd be able to call for back up without ever letting the demon out of his sight.
Angel knew this thing was capable of killing both himself and Buffy in a fight, so taking it on alone would be a fool's plan. On the other hand, if he let it out of his sight it could disappear into the past to kill Buffy yet again, and he couldn't let that happen. It didn't matter how powerful this thing was it wouldn't get to Buffy, not again.
"Hello?" Willow said.
"It's Angel, I found the Demon. Have everyone meet me in Cope's Park. We're at the west gate and it's heading toward the play-ground area."
"We're on the way," Willow replied.
Angel smiled gratefully as he accepted the heavy ax Willow offered him. "We do it just as planned," He said. "Willow will cast a binding spell on it to prevent it from going back in time. Patience and I will close with it and try to get a killing blow. Xander and Oz stay back, watch for a chance to shoot it."
"That's your plan, not the one agreed on," Xander disagreed, checking over his rifle. "Oz and I shoot first. We don't go to hand-to-hand until all else fails."
"What if it runs?" Angel objected. "If it gets far enough from Willow her spell won't hold. We can't risk that."
"But we can risk you and Pae?" Oz asked.
"If it runs we chase it," Xander said firmly. "If the two of you close with it Oz and I will have to worry about shooting one you by accident. You'll wreck our ability to be effective."
"If it runs I'm closing," Angel said irritably.
Willow lit a candle and staring through the leave of their concealing bush at the large armored demon, she muttered a quick phrase in Latin. "So mote it be," she finished and the candle flame flared then turned a sullen purple.
Xander targeted the creature with his gun and waited for it to turn and give him the perfect eyeshot. Oz moved to the right looking for his own shot as Pae and Angel arrayed themselves between Willow and the demon, ready for trouble.
The creature's head jerked up abruptly and it scanned the night with malevolent, gunmetal gray eyes.
Xander's rifle cracked sharply and the creature stumbled back with an angry roar, when it looked up again they could see the bloody furrow where Xander's bullet struck it's skull and been defected.
It reached up to trace a circle in the still air but the fire that followed it's finger died away as soon as it left the demon's hand.
"You dare restrain me?" the demon demanded.
Xander shot it again and the creature lowered its head and charged him. Oz took a shot of his own, scoring a gash on the creatures leg. Then Angel intercepted it, stepping into its path, his ax held at ready.
"Out of the way mosquito," it growled.
"Never," Angel replied attacking the demon. It grabbed Angel's ax as he brought it down, easily absorbing the force of the blow then using its hold on the ax to toss Angel away from it. The dark-haired vampire landed jarringly against the jungle gym. The demon snatched Xander's gun away and broke it in half.
As the creature reached for her Watcher, Pae plowed into it from behind. Xander scrambled back, drawing a knife as he did so. Oz circled Pae and the creature, looking for a clear shot. Angel disentangled himself from the jungle gym and retrieved his ax.
The demon noticed Willow, still holding her candle and staring at it, and realized that she was responsible for holding back its magic. The demon hurled one half of Xander's rifle at her. The metal barrel struck the red-haired witch's head and she crumpled soundlessly to the ground.
Oz took a shot, which disappeared into the night over the combatants' heads as Angel rejoined the battle. The demon was swinging the stock of Xander's gun like a club, keeping both Pae and Xander at bay. Angel grabbed the demon from behind, pinning its arms to its sides.
Pae took advantage of the demon's predicament, bringing her sword down in a decisive swing just as the demon managed to twist around, pulling Angel into the sword's path. Pae stared at her ally in horror as her sword jarred to a stop against Angel's collarbone.
Guiltily, Pae dropped her sword. The gray skinned demon tossed Angel away again then dealt a disabling blow to the stunned girl. Xander caught Pae as she fell and pulled the injured Slayer to a spot of relative safety.
Oz, standing protectively over Willow, unloaded his gun into the demon. Angel picked up Pae's sword with his good arm and unsteadily approached the demon as Oz reloaded.
The creature began to open its portal again; Angel hurried to stop it but was too late. Oz tossed the dark-haired vampire his pistol then lifted Willow into his arms. Angel glanced at Xander, who was tending Patience's injuries. The young Watcher looked torn. "I can't leave her," He said. "Not even for Buffy."
Angel nodded and stepped through the portal alone. On the other side he found the demon fighting Buffy. A much younger Oz caught Buffy's stake and tossed her a heavy knife.
The demon caught Buffy's hand in a crushing grip, she screamed in pain.
Angel slash the barrel of Oz's gun across the back of the demon's skull. It released Buffy and grabbed Angel by the throat, lifting him from the ground. Angel pointed the gun at its eye from point blank range and fired, then quickly pinned the creature's arms to its sides as it began jerking about in its death spasms.
The weight of the creature pulled Angel to the ground as it finally collapsed into true death.
"Angel?" Buffy asked.
It took all of the souled vampire's remaining strength to pull himself from under the demon so he could see her.
"You're hurt," Buffy said, her voice filling with concern as she noticed his blood-soaked shirt.
Angel stared at Buffy in absolute awe. "You're alive," He said. "It worked, we did it."
Buffy knelt beside Angel gently checking for any head wounds. "Uh-huh, I'm alive, just like yesterday and the day before that."
"You weren't," Angel said catching her hand in his. "Not for sixteen years. That thing killed you the last time, but we fixed it. You're okay now. I love you so much Buffy, please promise you won't leave me behind again."
"It's okay," Buffy reassured him. "I'm okay, confused, but okay… Angel!?"
Buffy stared in horror as the souled vampire slowly lost substance and vanished. "No! Angel!" Buffy shrieked. "He just disappeared. What happened to Angel?"
Oz helped the Slayer to her feet and led her out of the cemetery; the stunned girl kept glancing back at the spot where Angel had been.
An unfamiliar car was parked at Giles' home when they got there. When they opened the door they saw Angel, whole and uninjured, talking seriously with Giles.
Buffy threw herself into her former boyfriend's arms with a happy cry. Angel caught her, hugging her slim form tightly.
"I thought you were gone," Buffy murmured as Angel said, "I had this feeling that you were in danger tonight, I had to come."
"Angel-love, Xander's bringing Pae out for a celebration this weekend, it's her eighteen birthday." Buffy said to her husband. After the scare they'd had in 2004, they'd given up staying apart. They both felt that they had almost lost each other forever that night and afterwards they hadn't been able to bring themselves to go back to living in separate cities.
Which put them right back in the same untenable situation they'd faced during Buffy's senior year of High School. Only this time Willow was a much more accomplished witch. It had taken her almost three years, but in the end Willow managed to alter Angel's curse so that there were no more loopholes.
Xander had been working with a girl named Patience Lightner, a potential Slayer, who had been discovered by Council when she was eight. Her parents had been opposed to allowing her to be trained, but Buffy had persuaded them to allow Xander to train Pae while she continued living with her parents.
For Pae, her eighteenth birthday meant that she'd fulfilled her scared duty and now she was free to pursue a normal life, no Slayer had ever been called after they turned eighteen. For Buffy the celebration was of having beat the odds once again, at forty she was the oldest slayer on record, fifteen years older than she had ever hoped to be. She had been married to Angel for ten years, which was another record; no Slayer had ever been married before, let alone to a vampire.
She and Angel were an incredible fighting team, backed by Giles, Willow and Oz they were unbeatable. And they were happy; they were together. Giles, Xander, Willow, and Oz were their family, along with Xander's Slayer-in-waiting and Willow and Oz's two children.
Angel smiled back at his wife, "It'll be good to see them again, has Xander been reassigned yet or will he be staying in Sunnydale for awhile?"
"He's staying," Buffy said.
"Oh well, it can't all be good news," Angel sighed dramatically, he and Xander still cordially despised one another. Privately Buffy thought they just enjoyed disliking one another too much to give it up.
"We've got to talk to Willow tonight," Buffy commented a little too casually. "She said she found this new spell and maybe it'll make it so we can have kids after all…"