Disclaimer: I own only the obvious, The rest belongs to who ever owns the TV-show Buffy The Vampire Slayer, or other shows that might be mentioned.

Authors Note: Life is back on track. Not everything is perfect, but then again, when is life perfect.

Authors Note: I would like to do something I should have done weeks ago. I would like to thank my beta Reader, The Red Dragons Order, for all her help with beating this story into shape. 

Thank you very much.   

But now:

ON WITH THE SHOW!!!!!!!!

28.December 2014. Location: New York

Summers Residence.

16.12 p.m.

"Do I have to come with you, Buffy?" Enya looked at her adopted mother with just barely controlled panic. "Please, I'll do anything you want. Just don't make me come with you to this party."

"Yes Enya, you have to. It'll be good for both you and me. I know you still don't feel comfortable with large congregations of people. But sooner or later you have to face your fears. And the longer you wait, the worse it gets. Listen to me; I'm speaking from experience. I came so far that I only left my apartment when I was starving. And even then it was pure hell just setting my foot outside the door. Do you want to end up like that?"

Enya, saw the raw emotions in Buffy's face, and knew she had lost the discussion. The older Slayervampire knew what she was talking about. "Okay, Buff, you're the boss."

"You're damn straight I am, girl."

"But what am I going to wear? I don't have anything to wear," Enya said, setting her hope in this last effort Fat chance! Buffy, being her usual crafty self, had foreseen every argument she possibly could have to let her off the hook.

"Yes you do. There is a bunch of dresses up in your room. I knew I never would make you come with me to buy something partyish, and I don't know what you like. So I just as well bought a whole bunch of different ones." Enya just shook her head in defeat.

Then she looked up. "I have wanted to ask this of you for a while. Where do you get all you money? I mean, you own this superb house, with a large garden, a Lamborghini Diablo with personal licence plates, and you have an armoury that would scare the hell out of FBI."

Buffy smiled like a Cheshire cat. "Well it so happens that while I was bad The Invulnerable had a run in with this strange vampire that used to be a Wall Street stockbroker. Even after he became a vampire he guarded and cared for his money like a dragon his treasure trove. Well she killed him, but not before getting hold of his money, which was a couple of million dollars. After I came back, I didn't want the money, and one day I tried to throw it in the river. But again Marco was there. He asked if I had a penchant for throwing things or myself into the river.

After I, in vague terms, had told him how I acquired the money, he thought for a while. Then he told me that since I felt that the money was basically blood money and I didn't want them, I should give them to a charitable cause. That way they would do some good.

This was about a year after I met Marco the first time, and I had already used some of the money to keep myself informed about you guys. I hired cheap PI's who didn't ask questions, and just did what they were told to. This way I knew that Angel had started a PI business with a few employees. But he was struggling to make the ends meet. Our friendly brood boy didn't have the slightest clue about how to sell his firm to the customers.

 So I bought a fairly large share in his company, about forty percent to be accurate. The rest of the money I used to pay for an intensive advertising campaign in several big newspapers, and keep his creditors off his back, until he could establish a steady flow of clients.

Well, it seemed that Angel was a quick study. He became quite the businessman. And as a PI, he is the best. Soon he could branch out. And now he's got branches in every major town of the states. Even Scotland Yard and FBI respect Angel Investigations. Neither of them has such a fantastic solving rate. Nearly eighty percent of the cases Angel Investigations gets are solved within half a year – he has even handled a few cases for the CIA, don't tell anyone. Its top secret.

But to get to the point, that investment has made me a multimillionaire. Well, and the fact that I have bought a fare bit of shares in moms Art Gallery/antiques shop. So you can say that I am just about swimming in dough. Now go see if there is anything there you like. It's only a few hours until we have to be there."

28.December 2014. Location: New York

Outside Hotel Riverton

20.30 p.m.

"Now be nice to it, you hear that," the blonde bombshell said as she gave him the keys to the 1999 Lamborghini Diablo. "I know it isn't everyday you get to park one of these beauties, but so help me God, if I find one single scratch on it, you are a dead man."

Richard Patterson gulped as he just nodded and moved to sit in. "Relax Richard," she said and gave him a light pat on the shoulder.

"Hu? Do I know you?"

"Now you disappoint me," she said with a mock frown, as the man and the younger woman with her, started to chuckle. "It's me Anne. Don't you remember me?"

"Anne?" For a moment he just gaped. "Whoa, if it isn't the pain in the ass," he finally said. "I'll have you know," he said and turned to the two others. "That of all the undercover agents I provide with equipment, none of them goes through it the way Anne does. Once she went through three cars, two guns, twenty clips of ammo, three sets of scuba gear, and one bottle of chloroform in one case."

Xander chuckled lightly. "You mean he is your personal…"

"Yes Xander," she moaned in exasperation. "He is my very own personal Q. Now why are you out here in the cold Richard? Have you pissed off Joshua again?"

"No. Believe it or not, he volunteered me to take the first shift as the parking assistant. But I'm not complaining too much. That way I will be free later on, when the party really is up and going. Now, who is this chap, and the gorgeous lady besides him."

Buffy smiled. "This is Alexander Lavelle Harris, my fiancé."

"Pleased to meet you, and you can call me Xander."

"Pleasure is all mine, Xander, and congratulations to both of you. But I will tell you one thing. Treat her right or I will fall upon you like the wrath of God. Caprice?" Xander gulped as he saw the sincerity in the elder mans eyes. Buffy watched them, and an amused grin spread over her face. 

"Yeah, yeah. Cool down boys. This woman can take care of herself. Now, where was I? Oh yeah, presentations." She turned to Enya. "This is Enya Thompson, my adopted daughter. So hands off, you old pig," she growled. Her angry words were belied by the humorous grin on her face.

Richard made a mock salute, muttered "Madam," and stepped into the car. Just before he drove off, Buffy leant forward.

"If you promise to be careful, you can take the car for a spin, but whatever you do, don't touch the red button, understood?" He nodded, and looked like the cat that ate the canary, before he left on spinning wheels. As they walked into the hotel foyer, Xander couldn't help himself.

"What is the red button?"

Buffy sniggered evilly. "There ain't no red button. But you can take rat poison that Richard will work himself out, trying to find it. He is the single most curious person I have ever met."

"But don't you fear he will harm the car in his search for the red button?" This time it was Enya that asked.

"Nope. Give the man a wrench and a day, and he will easily strip a car down and put it together again. And as a bonus it would work better than before." They became silent for a moment. Then Buffy hooked her arms under Xander's and Enya's and walked towards the dancehall. 

Enya looked around, and had to shake her head. That any of these people could be policemen seemed impossible. These people could party. From the stage, thanks to Buffy's secret machinations, could be heard the tones from a slightly amputated version of Spellbound. But both Willow and Oz were there, dishing up with a mix of their own music and a variety of other hits. On the dance floor, things had developed into an impromptu dancing contest, with judges and everything. And people placed bets on who would win.

On the next floor a karaoke stand was set up and a billiard championship went on. Down in the foyer and in the bar people mingled, and the walls resonated from laughter and happy voices. The general mood was so good that the panic that she had feared would come, from being around so many people, never did. She even found herself having a good time, as lots of men asked her for a dance. So many in fact, that she found herself silently thanking for her Slayervampire stamina.

One of them, one Jake Katzenbacher – popularly called Katz – she even entered the dancing contest with. He was a damned good dancer, better than her she had to admit. And he was one of the funniest guys she had ever encountered. His wife of five years who couldn't dance, due to a broken ankle was just as funny, and Enya really enjoyed their company. Five minutes ago though, she had seen them sneak away into a corner for some heavy smooching. It was good to see that even after five years, they still were utterly and irrevocably in love with each other.

She let herself hope that she would feel such a love one day to. Something that brought her thoughts to the only thing that was wrong with tonight, as she sat down after yet another fast paced dance with Buffy's boss Josh. She closed her eyes for a while. Peter. She missed Peter, and wished he was there. With him here, everything would be perfect. But no, he was called away on some business that had to do with the rebuilding of the Council. She hadn't seen him for three days, and wouldn't see him for two more. And she missed him like crazy!

She opened her eyes and was about to stand up to go for the bar, when she noticed him. Clad in a suit that had to be tailored especially for him, he looked absolutely gorgeous; he smoothly manoeuvred amongst the people on the dance floor, as he worked himself towards her. Finally standing before her, she for a split second wondered if he was a figment of her imagination, but when his warm voice sent shivers of excitement down her spine she knew he was real.

"Can I have this dance," he asked as a slow blues song started up.

"Of course Peter, whenever you want," she whispered as she found herself enveloped in his strong arms, moving slowly to the song, resting her forehead against his broad chest.

"I am glad you are back. I have missed you terribly."

"So have I – missed you I mean," he said with a slight smile in his voice.

"You know what," she murmured. "I hope I don't jinx us now, but this is it. This is perfect. Four months ago, all I wanted was to die, and tonight, at least for now, my life is okay. No more than that. It's pretty darned close to perfect."

"I am glad," he answered, holding her closer as they continued to move with the music.

Onstage, Willow, the incurable romantic, became so moved by the sight of the two, that she had to swallow in order to continue. She sent a glance towards her husband, who abruptly lifted his eyes from the guitar and met her eyes. He smiled knowingly and nodded, before he smoothly went into a warm and heartfelt solo.

Buffy sat outside on a bench in the small hotel garden, nursing a soft drink as she looked up at the stars. The evening had been much better than she had thought it would be. She didn't know she was so well respected amongst her fellow policewomen and men. Many of them seemed genuinely glad to see her, despite her reputation as a grumpy loner.

She had always felt like an outsider in the force. But now she realized that that was her own fault. It was time to loosen up. She had been a cast iron bitch for far too long. She no longer had a reason to keep people away. The last six months, had been very cathartic for her. Helping Enya had allowed her to reopen and fix old badly healed and infected wounds. Yeah, life had certainly done a major turn for the better.

Not least thanks to Xander. Some twenty minutes ago, she and Xander had won the dancing contest, after a really wild Ballroom Blitz. Closely followed by Enya and a man she didn't know.  And just before Xander went for a game of billiard with Richard and she went out here, she had seen Peter walking into the dance room. Buffy grinned. She had neglected to mention Peter's earlier return to her adopted daughter.  She bet Enya was floating on a cloud now. And so was Peter too if she wasn't mistaken.

"It's nice to see you doing so well Anne." Joshua sat down by her side. "I must say I have been worried about you for a long time. Mr Harris must be the right guy for you if he can make such a difference."

"Oh, yeah, you can say that again." She looked up at her boss. And he noticed that her eyes were clear and bright, with only a slight trace of sadness to them. Not clouded by pain and guilt, as they were last time he saw her. 

"For the last 17 years my life has been a bloody mess. But these last months I have been given the chance to heal some really old wounds, that never closed. And I owe it all to Xander and Enya. Boss, I was meaning to contact you right over New Year. But I might as well say it to you now. You have been my boss for ten years now, and you have been a fair and decent boss. But I cannot continue working the way I have. I have responsibilities to other people then myself now, responsibilities that has to take priority."

He nodded in understanding. "You have a family to look after now. Anyway, I have for a long time felt guilty for using you in the worst cases."

"Don't Josh. You are a good man, and a strong one. You may not like the decisions your job forces you to take, but you make them anyway, because they are necessary. You chose me for the worst cases because I had the best chance at succeeding. I have been given abilities that far precede those of most people, and you somehow saw that in me."

"Huh, what do you mean?" His eyes looked wary into hers.

"Shit," she muttered. "That one came out wrong. What I mean is that I from a very young age was trained to become the perfect warrior, for lack of a better word. That makes me able to deal with most situations. Don't feel guilt because you made use of my abilities. That is what a leader is supposed to do. Know your employees strengths and weaknesses, and use them according to that. You did what was necessary. I have never been angry with you for that. Never.

You have always done what ever you could to make my mission easier. You even did fieldwork when I needed backup. Not many bosses would have done that. They would instead have sent someone else. I owe you greatly for last time. Five minutes later, and I would have become a murderer, and I don't think I could have lived with that."

It became silent for a while. Then Joshua cleared his throat. "Anne, I have a preposition for you. You know that NYPD has its own undercover unit?" 

She nodded. "Yes I know, but you know what I have said about those guys. I cannot work with them. That unit has the highest amount of visits from Internal Affairs in the whole force. I don't trust any of them, not to be on the take. And it certainly hasn't become better over the years."

He nodded. "That's the reason I have decided to terminate the whole team. You don't have to answer me right now, just think about what I'm going to say. What would you say to me if I put you in charge of organizing a new undercover unit from scratch, and then head it? You would of course be promoted in rank, get a considerable raise in salary and it would allow you more decent and steady work hours."

"What? Are you suggesting to put me in charge of a whole bunch of people," she looked at him with incredulity.

"Why not? I have seen enough to know that you can handle just about anything."

"Yeah, okay there is that, but what about my people skills? When it comes to those I am like a full-grown African elephant in a small china store."

He chuckled by her wording. "Somehow I doubt that. I don't remember seeing you piss off anyone tonight. In fact, I have never seen you so sociable. It warmed an old heart to see you finally lay of that hard-as-diamond-cast-iron-bitch image of yours. I have always felt it was just a defence mechanism, and not the real you. I am glad I was right."

"Me to," she stated with a low chuckle. "I have been a loner for so long that I didn't know if I had it in me to act like a normal person anymore." She was silent for a while, before she stood up. "Yes, I'll do it. I'll come in first workday after New Year. Then we can talk details. Now I have to go and see how badly Xander has beaten Richard at the billiard table. I fear poor Richard is on the verge of tears."

The next moment Joshua Peterson found himself alone. He shook his head. She really was something else. After her last assignment, he feared for her mental health. She had just gone through an ordeal that could give anyone a nervous breakdown. And he saw the signs of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He knew from personal experience that it took a long time, sometimes years, to heal from that. And still, here she was, a mere six months later, more full of life and energy than he had ever seen her. The way she was now, he doubted that there was any challenge too big for her. Yeah, she would do it. And he had a feeling that she was just the right one to clean out the mess. With a grin on his face, he went inside, to see if he needed to mend Richies broken ego.             

 Inside, people were slowly beginning to go home. But the diehards were still out on the dance floor, or in the karaoke bar. Buffy easily followed the sound as Xander's voice could be heard from second floor where he belted out a surprisingly good version of "Living in the city".

"I would like to see anyone top that," he humorously said as he stepped down from the microphone. "What about you, honey?" he said and kissed her.

"No! No way, I sing terribly. Whenever we sang in school, the teacher asked me to stop, cause I sounded like two cats fighting."

"But Buffy, it ain't fair. You forced me out on the dance floor, even though you know I hate it."

"Ha, you have nothing to complain about. You are a fantastic dancer. Something I still don't know what miracle made true. In school you were famous for your terrible sense of rhythm."

"But Buffy It ain't fair."

"I said no, besides. The only song I can is way too depressing for a Christmas party."

"I'm sure it's okay, so it is a bit depressing; the party is nearly over anyway."

"It ain`t a bit depressing, it is really low down crawling-around-in-the-gutter-depressing blues."

He lifted an eyebrow and shook his shoulders."So what? Half an hour ago, someone wept themselves through "Don't Speak"."

"No," she stated and made to go. Seeing that he didn't get anyway with arguing, he pulled out his secret weapon. (Get your minds out of the gutter folks, oops! My bad, lol.)

"Pleeaase!" She looked into those puppy dog eyes of his, and the battle was lost.

"Okay, okay, but don't say I didn't warn you." She stepped up to the mike and drew in a couple of breaths. Then she started on the song that for some reason forever would remind her of her first love. 

Ball and Chain

(Willie Mae Thornton)

Yeah! Alright!

Sittin`down by my window,

Honey, lookin` out at the rain.

Lord, Lord, Lord, sittin` down by my window,

Baby, lookin` out at the rain.

Somethin` came along, grabbed a hold of me,

And it felt just like a ball and chain.

Honey, that`s just exactly what it felt like,

Honey, just dragging me down.

And I say, oh, whoa, whoa, now hon`, tel me why,

Why does every single little tiny thing I hold on goes wrong?

Yeah it all goes wrong, yeah.

And I say, oh, whoa, whoa, now babe, tell me why,

Why does every thing, every thing.

Hey, here you gone today, I wanted to love you,

Honey, I just wanted to hold you, I said, for so long,

Yeah! Alright! Hey!

Love`s got a hold on me, baby,

Feels just like a ball and chain,

Now, love`s just draggin` me down, baby, yeah,

Feels like a ball and chain.

I hope there`s someone out there who could tell me

Why the man I love wanna leave me in so much pain.

Yeah, maybe, maybe, you could help me, come on, help me!

And I say, oh, whoa, whoa, now hon`, tell me why,

Now tell me, tell me, tell me, tell me, tell me, tell me why, yeah,

And I say, oh, whoa, whoa, whoa, when I ask you,

When I need to know why, c`mon tell me why, hey hey hey,

Here you`ve gone today,

I wanted to love you and hold you

Till the day I die.

I said whoa, whoa, whoa!!

And I say oh, whoa, whoa, no honey

It ain`t fair, daddy it ain`t fair what you do,

I see what you`re doin` to me and you know it ain`t fair.

 And I say oh, whoa whoa now baby

It ain`t fair, now, now, now, what you do

I said hon`it ain`t fair what,  hon` it ain`t what you do.

Oh, here you gone today and all I ever wanted to do

Was to love you

Honey an` I think there can be nothing wrong with that,

Only it ain`t wrong, no, no, no, no, no.

Sittin`down by my window,

Lookin`at the rain.

Lord, Lord, Lord, sittin` down by the window,

Lookin`at the rain,see the rain.

Something came along, grabbed a hold of me,

And it felt like a ball and chain.

Oh this can`t be in vain

And I`m gonna tell you one just more time, yeah, yeah!

And I say oh, whoa whoa, now baby

This can`t be, no this can`t be in vain,

And I say no no no no no no no no, whoa!

And I say whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa

Now nown now now now now now now now no no not in vain

Hey, hope there is someone that could tell me

Hon`, tell me why,

Hon`, tell me why love is like

Just like a ball

Just like a ball

Baaaaaaalllll

Oh daddy, daddy, daddy , daddy, daddy, daddy, daddy, daddy

And a chain.

Yeah!

It took a while before she realised that it was dead quiet in the room. Then it was as if a switch had been turned on, as the room erupted in cheers.  She found herself abruptly embraced by Xander's strong arms, as he said in her ear: "Whoa, that was incredible. For a moment there I thought you were channelling Janis Joplin. Tell me who that stupid teacher is, and I'll go and beat the hell out of him cause you definitely can sing."

Then he became serious, as he led her into a secluded corner. "The song reminds you about when Angel left, don't it?"

She looked up with worried eyes. "Yes, how did you know?"

"The pain in your voice was so real that it only could be caused by real love, or the memory of real love. Don't worry. I know you are over him. But I also know that he was your first love. One is not supposed to forget about ones first love. The memories will follow you to your grave. Sadly for you, those memories are painful, and I am sad there is nothing I can do to hel…"

His last word was smothered as she kissed him hard on the mouth. "You do a lot, Xander. Just having you here with me makes my day more perfect than it has ever been before. It never felt like this with Angel. When I was with him, there was always a feeling of guilt, and that something was not right. And of course there was that whole thing with me being The Slayer and him being a Master Vampire. It is really difficult to have a romantic relationship with a guy when your body prepares itself for killing him.

Angel and I will always love each other. But I have come to the conclusion that we never were meant to be in love with each other. I have this strange feeling that I was meant to know both you and Angel, but that it was you I was meant to fall in love with. With you, everything feels right. I feel safe, and at the same time thrilled. I feel stronger, yet I am less afraid of showing weakness in front of you. You know what I mean?"

"Yes I do, I feel the same. It is the ultimate trust. Trust that the other accepts one even if they know ones every weakness and flaw, and willingness to do the same."

"Exactly, Xander. You know doughnut boy, I haven't told you often enough. I love you!"     

The rest of the evening went quickly. Buffy had to sing a few more times and Xander finally was defeated in billiard by Joshua, who with suspiciously few moves downed all the balls. Only afterwards he revealed that his father used to be a professional player.

Enya and Peter…

Both Buffy and Xander had to smile as they, on the way home, looked in the mirror to the passenger seat. Star struck didn't come near describing those two. But even Xander managed to keep himself from teasing them. He knew all to well how they had it. Both he and Buffy did. His eyes met hers, and his body automatically translated their age-old language. Xander sent her a goofy grin, and sped up due to a sudden urge to get home.   

FINE