Conversations In Rome-Finale

"Personally, I wanna slay the dragon," I say looking up at the massive beast flying above us. It's the first one I've ever seen and I'd really like to take it out before my entire team, or what's left of it, is wiped out.

"Let's go," I say as the hordes march closer to us. It seems I'm always destined to die in an alley. Maybe that's where I've always belonged.

"You've really got to stop hoarding all the fun," I hear a voice behind me and whirl around on my heel.

Standing behind me is an entire army of slayers, led by their golden General. I catch sight of Willow off to the side. She waves and smiles at me. I can't help but chuckle. From all of Buffy's reports, Willow is the most powerful witch in the world now and yet she's still the same little red head I met in Sunnydale so long ago.

"I thought I told you to stay in Rome," I say.

"You did. I thought you knew I don't listen very well. Besides, it looks like you could use a hand here and hey I've got this nifty army. Now stop arguing with me and let's kick some demon ass," she says.

The first wave of demons washes over us. The slayers around me are a flurry of fists and feet. Some of them fall, it can't be helped this is a war and I knew going into it people were going to die. People already have.

I shove my sword up into one scaly demon, as he falls he catches my shoulder with a talon and rips through the skin right into the muscle. I growl, vamp face surfacing and switch the sword to my left arm. I step back and bump into Buffy. She grins at me. There's a cut on her forehead and one on her shoulder but she seems to be holding her own.

"Will, this is a good time!" Buffy shouts. "Once she starts chanting, there's gonna be a flash, you might want to duck and close your eyes after that," she says in a low voice.

I hear the chanting but can't make out the words. There's a white hot flash and I hit the pavement but can't help peeking. This wash of white light explodes over the demon horde and several of the demons literally explode into ash. Willow has just cut their army down by at least half. That still leaves a big army, but we've got one of those too.

I don't know how long we've been fighting. It seems like forever and everyone with the exception of Illyria is showing signs of battle weariness. We're taking them out though, one by one. Willow's spells are a huge advantage. She has slowed the entire demon army down so much they might as well be mired in tar. Illyria is taking out half a dozen at a time. She seems endless, tireless and unstoppable. I'm glad to have her on my side. That damned dragon still hovers over the battle, just waiting for the right moment to strike. I really hope he's not the fire breathing kind, but aren't they usually?

"Angel," I hear inside my head and I look around. I can see Willow standing off to the side. She nods at me. I push and fight my way over to her.

"You said you wanted to slay the dragon," she says.

I nod. "It'd be nice. I've never killed a dragon."

She nodded. "I think I can help."

She takes my hand and murmurs some words in an archaic language I've never heard. A red glow starts at my hand and creeps up, encasing my entire body. Willow opens her eyes, which have gone completely black and smiles at me. "All fireproofed and read to slay a dragon. It won't last for more then fifteen minutes though. I'm too tired to hold it longer than that. Be careful, I can do a lot of things now, bringing you back from ash isn't one of them."

"Thanks Willow and I will be," I say. I jump up and grab a hold of the fire escape. I scale up the ladder quickly to the top of the building. I pull the long, curved dagger from the sheath on my belt and test its weight in my hand. The dragon isn't paying any attention to me. I toss the dagger end over end hoping to remedy that. The dagger lodges itself deep in the dragon's side and it turns with an ear shattering scream.

Showtime...I rush the thing, sword held high in both hands. My demon naturally surfaces and I let out a feral roar as I leap from the building and catch the dragon's tail. It whips me against the side of the building, taking out most of the top floor. Thank the powers that it's an abandoned building. I hang on stubbornly to the twitching, thrashing tail. I wince as the dragon turns and opens its mouth. A gout of flame comes out and I close my eyes, time to see if Willow's spell holds.

I open my eyes in amazement as the flame washes over me. I can feel some of its heat but it doesn't burn. It doesn't even sting. I shimmy up the dragon's tail scales make for surprisingly good traction. The dragon bucks, trying to throw me again. My right arm, still weak from the healing injury gives and there is a moment where I swing wildly by one arm. I glance down and can't help but smile. The good guys out number the bad guys now.

"Angel!" Buffy screams.

She stands out like a beacon on a dark night. I don't want to leave her, even if I'm never human, I don't want leave her. I scramble and finally get a handhold with my right hand. I pull myself up onto the dragon's back and duck as he shoots another spout of flame at me. Willow's spell holds but the heat is more intense this time. She's weakening. If I'm gonna get this done, it's got to be now.

I manage to crawl hand over hand up the dragon's back. It bucks and turns wildly, snapping at me. It manages to scrape its really long, sharp teeth over my calf and I grit my teeth against the pain. I chop at its neck with the sword and it releases my leg. If I can get just a little higher I think I can strike a killing blow.

Finally I find a secure position directly behind the dragon's head. I wrap my legs around its neck and raise my sword with both hands. I drive the sword through the base of the dragon's head as hard as I can. It screams in pain and fire shoots from its mouth. Willow shouts some words just as the flame washes over what's left of the demon army, and the slayers below. I panic for a moment. Buffy was down there and I can't see her now. I don't have time to think about that though, because the dragon is falling through air at an alarming rate. I leap from its back, hoping to clear its body mass when it lands.

I fall hard a few feet from the dragon. Some kind of steel rod thrusts its way up through my body, scraping hipbone and it's shoved through my abdomen and out my back. The impact of hitting the ground jars all the way to the bone and for a moment I think I'm going to pass out. Truthfully the only thing that keeps me from it is looking for Buffy. I have to know if she's okay.

She's kneeling beside me in an instant. She sniffles and wipes the blood from my face, oblivious of her own wounds. "Hey, you okay?"

"I really hate being impaled," I say.

She nods. "I know what you mean, come on, lets see if we can get you off this thing." She calls one of the slayers over and they manage to get me off the steel rod. Buffy helps me to my feet and slings my arm over her slight shoulders.

"Lean on me. I can take it," she says with a smile.

You know, I really think she can.

I'm lying in my bed in my suite in the old Hyperion. I'm in a state of shock. It's over and we lived. I never expected to live and now I've got to deal with the fact that I signed away my humanity. I gave it up and with it I gave up all the dreams of a life with Buffy. I gave up dreams of seeing her in the sunlight. I gave up dreams of lots of Summers babies with her. The heart I don't have aches at the thought of how beautiful a Summers baby would be. I gave up the chance to grow old and die with Buffy at my side. Somehow this victory seems like a bitter sentence. I was ready to die and now I have to walk this earth for the rest of eternity.

Willow knocks softly on my door. I know it's her. She smells like strawberries. She opens the door quietly and steps in.

"How are you feeling?" She asks.

"I'll be fine," I say without much enthusiasm.

Willow sits down on the edge of the bed and fixes her gaze on me. "You won so why the doom and gloom?"

"It's a long story," I say.

She shrugs. "I've got time,"

"We lost Wes," he said.

Willow nods. "Illyria told me. He's with Fred now. Don't you think that's what he'd want?"

I smile slightly. "Yeah, it's what he would want. It's my own selfishness that wants him here I guess."

Willow nods. "You wouldn't be human if you didn't feel that."

A harsh, bitter laugh is forced from my dead lungs. "That's the thing, Willow. I'm not human, I never will be."

"The Shanshu prophecy," she says.

"You knew?" I asked.

Willow nods. "Buffy doesn't though. Wes told Giles and Giles sort of let it slip one day when we were researching. We decided if you wanted to tell Buffy, it was your place to do so, not ours."

"Thank you. I signed it away you know," I say.

"You what?" Willow asks.

"The Circle of the Black Thorn, I had to be inside to take them down. One of the things they wanted me to do to prove my loyalty was to sign away the last bastion of hope I had. So I signed the prophecy in blood, giving up my right to ever have it. I guess Spike will get the Shanshu now and maybe that's the way it was always meant to be. At least Buffy and he can-"

"Are you on medication? Or did the fall give you brain damage?" Willow interrupts.


"Buffy doesn't want a future with Spike. She never did. She cares for Spike the way you cared for Cordelia or Fred. She's not about to run off and make a life with him whether he's human or not," Willow says.

"I can't give her a normal life." My voice rises slightly and the extra effort pulls at the wound in my side.

"She doesn't want a normal life. She never has. Buffy has always been prepared and happy to spend the rest of her life with you, a vampire. Yeah she probably does wish you could grow old with her. She probably does wish you could go out into the sunlight with her and have children with her but you don't get it. You never have. You're the deciding factor in Buffy's future. If she can't have those things with you, then she doesn't want them at all. She just wants you, human, vampire, demon, it doesn't matter. You're her future," Willow says.

I sigh. Buffy's older, wiser, maybe Willow is right. Maybe I don't have to be human to have a future with Buffy. I know me being human has never even come up in all the conversations we've had about her "baking."

Willow stands up. "I've got to go check on the other slayers. My fire shield worked but one of the girls still has some burns and then there are the other wounds of various kinds. I'm going to be a busy little healer for the next few hours."

"Buffy mentioned you'd gotten powerful, but I never imagined how powerful," I say.

Willow nods. "It's kind of scary, but really cool. I'm practically a Goddess now." She turns to leave and is half way across the room when she turns back to me.

"Oh, and that curse thing," she twitches her nose like Samantha from that old TV show Bewitched. "Not even a problem now,"

She's sitting out in the courtyard, the moonlight gilding her silver and I recall the time she came to me in England, the night Fred died. She turns when she hears, or maybe feels, me behind her.

"Hey, I've been waiting for you," she says and it's almost a whisper.

"My whole life," I whisper back and sit down on the bench beside her. She leans against me, her head on my shoulder and the contact is so natural it clogs my throat with tears. Silence reigns for a moment before she speaks.

"Willow told me she fixed the curse."

I nod. "She did. Do you think it's anchored?"

Buffy smiles, "At last count, she made close to 500 slayers. I don't really think one little bitty curse is a problem for her."

"You've got a point," I say. Angelus is screaming inside my head. He wants to test this curse theory out. O f course he does. He gets to have sex with Buffy and there's a chance he'll get let out. It's a win win for Angelus. I'm a little more hesitant. Buffy and I have so much to rebuild, so much to make up for. I'm not sure we can just pick up where we left off.

"I'm sorry about Wes," she says.

"I am too. He'd changed you know, from the man you knew. He was a good man to have by your side. He never shirked his battles. I'm going to miss him."

She rubs a hand up and down my back. I can feel the heat of it singeing my skin and there has never been such a feeling in my life.

"Buffy-"I start and then stop because I don't know where to begin.

"Don't, Angel," she says.

"Don't what?" I ask.

"Don't send me away. Don't give me noble excuses. Don't break my heart," the last is broken and filled with the sound of tears.

At that moment a tiny ball of yellow fluff runs from the lobby into the courtyard yipping. It runs up to Buffy and tries to scramble into her lap. It ends up on its back, four legs kicking in the air. Buffy laughs and picks up the fluff ball.

"This is Regalo," she says with a giggle as the puppy licks her nose.

I smile and reach over and scratch the dog behind the ears. He wiggles, trying to get closer to me. Buffy loosens her hold and pretty soon my lap is full of wriggling, fluffy, puppy. I laugh as Regalo licks my nose and nips at the end of it.

"What is it about puppies that make life suddenly seem not quite as bad? Even Illyria played with him earlier. Of course she doesn't actually get him, but I think she found him interesting," Buffy says.

I set the puppy down and he runs off to sniff flowers and dig in the dirt. Buffy twines her fingers with mine. I look down at our hands linked, the way our lives, our souls have always been linked. In the aftermath of the apocalypse I realize humanity, age differences, sunlight and children don't matter when it comes to me and Buffy. They have never have. She's mine. I'm hers and I will be until the end of time.

"So, where do we go from here?" I ask.

"Anywhere we want, together," she says.

I lift our hands to my lips and kiss the knuckles of our hands. "Always," I whisper.