Title:"Better Late Than Never?"
Author: 'A Gentleman Of Leisure'.
Summary:What happened after the destruction of Sunnydale?
Story Type:In canon Buffyverse/Crossover.
Rating overall: G.
Spoilers:Set a few days post 'Chosen.
Distribution/Archiving:Ask first please.
Disclaimer:No one here belongs to me - I've just borrowed them. All other Patents, Trademarks and Copyrights acknowledged. Thank you.
"Better Late Than Never?" by 'A Gentleman Of Leisure'. (c)2004
The SUV pulled up sharply at the barrier blocking the narrow back road, and the driver wound down the window and leaned out. A bored looking California National Guard soldier with an M16 slung casually on his shoulder slowly walked across.
"You can't go any further, sir. Road's closed. Sorry".
"I need to get through. I have to!"
The soldier shook his head.
"No one's allowed any further. It's too dangerous. There's been an earthquake - whole area's subsided".
"But I've got to!" the driver insisted.
"No one goes any further", the soldier repeated, this time a bit louder, almost as if he was speaking to a slightly stupid child. "Now you just turn yourself around and go back the way you came, sir".
There was a pause, then "No". Just that, firm but polite.
An officer carrying a clipboard strolled over to see what the problem was, and then equally firmly asked to see some ID, so the driver quickly produced his driver's licence. Casually the officer checked it, consulted a list on his clipboard, suddenly looked a little surprised, and stepped away a few paces to use his radio. After a short conversation he returned.
"You can move the barrier aside, soldier. Orders are to let him pass. Sir, now you stay on the road. Do not leave it for any reason, you understand? Follow it for five miles or so, and don't drive above twenty miles an hour. You'll have an escort - we'll be keeping an eye on you".
He jerked his thumb up at the sky, where a small helicopter was lazily circling high above them. As the driver watched, it changed direction and started to lose altitude, rapidly descending until it was close enough for him to see the pilot and observer, their dark visors hiding their faces. Dust swirled around them all.
"Twenty, no faster", the officer repeated, and indicated for the private to pull back the barrier from across the road, and wave the driver through.
About ten minutes later the SUV was flagged down by another armed soldier, and directed to pull off to the side of the road, where a large number of other vehicles, mostly military trucks, were already parked up. The driver rolled down his window again and waited, looking around anxiously.
To his right were what appeared to be the remains of a children's playground, the grass all churned up, with more bored looking troops standing around watching him suspiciously.
Ahead was a big load of nothing, a gap in his perspective, a huge space where the ground suddenly fell away out of sight. Stunned, he gazed at it. The whole damned town seemed to have vanished, almost up to the battered sign that marked the city limits! He peered into the haze, against the sun, and thought he could just about make out the far edge of the devastated area, at least three or even four miles away. He shook his head, hardly able to believe what he was seeing. If this was the result of an earthquake, well...
Two military officers in black combat fatigues, one of them a man and the other a woman, followed by two civilians, same selection, approached, and he slowly got out to meet them.
"Good morning, sir. I'm Major Riley Finn. This is Captain Sam Finn, and our two friends here are from the FBI".
The driver nodded cautiously at them all, uncertain what the military and the government agents might be about to tell him. The female agent, five feet nothing or so, with long thick chestnut hair, put out her hand, and warily he shook it.
"Scully", she said shortly, "and this is Mulder, my partner. We recognised your name as soon as the soldiers at the road block called us - that's why you were passed through".
"Because of my family connection?"
"Right, sir", said Major Finn, nodding. "We've all met the members of your family, some time back, long before any of this happened. For me it was nearly three years ago, when I was living here for a while..."
"...And for us it was over six years back...", the agent called Mulder put in.
"...And I know you'll be relieved to hear that both your daughters survived", Major Finn continued. "You can stop worrying about them, sir - we know they're absolutely fine. For some reason they left it to the absolute last second to escape, but I can assure you they are safe".
"Thank God for that! You're absolutely sure? Did you have people already here evacuating the town? Where are they?" The driver sounded somewhat reassured, though still extremely anxious.
Major Finn shook his head.
"No, sir. Actually, we heard about it from people who'd already left by the time we arrived - refugees if you like. You probably passed some of them still camped out alongside the highway as you were driving up here from L.A.
"Unfortunately, we don't know exactly where they are as of this precise moment - I'm afraid we rather lost track of them in the confusion. We know they commandeered an abandoned school bus, and apparently rescued a whole group of young people. After that..." The soldier shrugged.
"Mr Summers", Mulder said. "We'll be frank - they've vanished. Completely and utterly. Now, we want to find them, just like you do. We need to find them. As the very last people out of Sunnydale, there is important information they can give us as to exactly what happened at the end.
"So, can you tell us, do you have any idea, any idea at all, where they might have gone?"
1st draft: 8/9/2004.
Drastically revised and partly rewritten: 11,13,22,28 & 29/9/2004.