Chapter 40: Radians Mode
Disclaimer: Don't hurt me :P. I'm just playing with Joss' world. It's not mine :P. If it was, d'you think I'd have let Season 7 Buffy and Season 5 Angel end like that:P
Rating: I think I'm boring everyone to death repeating the same thing each time. See the first fourteen chapters if you haven't, yet :)
Summary: This is the summary of the last couple of chapters and anything important I thought needed to be added. :D.
AU from the ending of Season 4. Spike has told Buffy that he's in love with her, and surprisingly enough, she's taken it fairly well. Big step for Buffy. :D. After some fairly intense soul-searching, she has gone off to search for Riley to finally talk things through. They had their long relationship talk, and finally parted on good terms, with Riley heading off to be a true soldier boy once again. Joyce is out of hospital. Spike and Buffy are on good terms. Cassandra, Dawn and Daniel are still trying to uncover the meaning of what they have discovered… and they will be until the next instalment. :P
A/N (Thanks KellyTheSelfToastablePopTart and Charity for your reviews. :P. I'm glad you liked my take on the ending of Buffy and Riley's relationship and the last scene, and generally enjoyed it : ). I enjoyed writing it.
Thank you all of you for waiting so patiently and for hanging in with me in a fic that has truly taken me to the edge of insanity and back, and also has given me a new insight into writing. So now, without further ado, onto the last chapter! Hope you enjoy :) )
8 8 8
You have been chosen…
Cassandra almost felt like a chapter was closing as she watched the events unfold in front of her. She didn't know why, but something felt like it was ending. Palpably.
Or perhaps, was it just the beginning?
The beginning of the calm before the storm, something whispered in her, and she shivered.
Before the death of Time…
"Enough of the cryptic blather," Daniel said calmly to thin air. "We know you're there, goddammit."
To follow the path…
She and Dawn exchanged looks. Gee, what happened to the no swearing policy of his?
They'd uncovered the damned prophecies. Researched them until their eyes had felt like bleeding. It had thrown them into an unreality again that was only broken by the memory of the knife, and the awful, hideous feeling of palpable evil that had rolled off it.
And teach with song and Rhyme…
Two days had passed now. Joyce would be coming home in an hour. Spike would be popping over to check on her, most likely through the back door, and maybe after Xander, Anya and Giles had come. The Wiccans were already downstairs, talking quietly.
Power of the ancient…
No one knew where Buffy was. Not at the moment, anyway. She hadn't been at the house for a while. The night Riley had left, she hadn't come back the entire night. She'd only dropped in shortly, looking exhausted but for some strange reason, with a peculiar air of peace, to check with Dawn how she was going. Then she was either back to the hospital, or to only the Powers knew where.
Well… Cassandra had her suspicions it involved graveyards and a certain platinum blonde vampire.
To call and bend at will…They heard the wind rustle through the leaves outside.
Companion to the Singers…"We know you're there," Daniel emphasized. "And we want some answers. Now."
That blood will break and spill…
Two days had passed without answers. Buffy leaving, Buffy coming, Giles leaving, Giles coming, Willow and Tara offering their support in their own way while Xander and Anya had shown up with halting jokes, blunt appraisals, and a box of jelly donuts.
And Riley leaving permanently.
The First and Last have cycled…
Below them, they could hear Willow and Tara moving around in the kitchen.
Undo what's gone before…
Something darkened dangerously in Daniel's eyes.
If Heart and darkness fails…
Within this endless war…
Two days since life had ended and started again in the saga that was Sunnydale. Visiting Spike the day after and exclaiming at his wounds. Venting angrily against Riley. Calming down to begrudging acceptance as Spike had at times tonelessly and then scathingly revealed in short, sharp sentences exactly what he thought of 'Captain Cardboard'.
There are battles to be won…
"I WANT ANSWERS!"
Time bends those that cannot lose…
And, although Cassandra didn't know it, it'd be about 23 hours and 13 minutes before a certain group of people landed in Sunnydale.
And the fighting must be done…
His voice dropped to a defeated whisper.
For the Heart to finally choose…
Argue, lie, tell truths and hate…
The silence assaulted them again. Heavy and mocking as Daniel slumped to the floor, his legs too shaky to hold him up anymore. Too many days of stress and fear…
Work against the other Fate…
Too many days of uncertainty. Of the feeling that they were being manipulated. Perhaps it was the end of a cycle, truly. And the beginning of a new one. They now had everything laid out before them.
Guide and save, protect and fall…
Yet still, no answers. Three teenagers stood in a room. Awkward, with the dying sun stabbing at their eyes and a sudden feeling of an emptiness washing over them.
If only they knew that now, finally, the chess board was set. And the pieces were just about to move…
Reality and dreams both call…
8 8 8
It is getting closer to the end.
I can feel it today. Every time I approach the Hellmouth again, weave in between the shaky foundations of what used to be Sunnydale High School, a tendril comes out, almost as if to greet me eagerly. I greet it back, and then close my eyes and wait for the power to overwhelm my body again, making it stronger and more powerful again. Closer to what I used to be.
Kyrel and Thess have also been jittery as of late, unlike their usual selves. I shrug them away, mostly. What do they know of keeping contained? They're still fledges, really, for all of their power. I snort quietly and scuff my heels against the broken floor. There's a little path of crumbled stone that shows the route I walk now. Another sign I'm finally regaining what I lost. I'm not sure whether to be elated or worried that it's all coming so quickly.
Just like I'm not sure whether to be amused or wary of the three.
Yes, I felt them alright. It was like the shock energy when the two came, and then the third after them had short-circuited me. I lay spasming on the ground until it passed, mind wrapped in one painful image, one painful memory of the past and future after the next.
Those insignificant grath'slarkeinaren.
They thought that three would… could stop me?
8 8 8
This was Christmas.
Buffy's eyes roamed the table hungrily, feeling a teary joy well up inside her at the sight of Xander and Anya playfully fighting over feeding each other, Tara and Willow's secret… or not-so-secret glances. Dawn giggling with Cassandra and Daniel rolling his eyes. Giles sitting there and still looking so Watcherly, yet with a small grin plastered on that British face of his.
And Joyce. Mum. Sitting at the head of the table. Tired, exhausted, headache-y. Alive, beautiful, and her health recovering.
She let a true smile spread over her face. The decorations had been put up painstakingly by Dawn, Tara, Willow, Cass, and Daniel. Their effort had not gone unrewarded, despite the tree being lopsided and the decorations slightly haphazard in some places. But the tinsel shone and the lights were flashing. The candles were lit and laughter blessed the air.
But… was there something missing?
She saw a movement at the window, and let another smile play on her lips as she excused herself and moved to the back door. A smile accompanied by a slight misting of her eyes, but a smile nonetheless.
"Hey," she said softly to the night air as she stepped outside.
He appeared after a few seconds like a shadow, the back-door light shining gently on his face. Wreathed in the dark and bright as she walked towards him.
He coughed and brought something out from his duster. Two somethings. Three somethings. Four somethings.
"Here," he held the packages out awkwardly. "For mum, the little bit, the other Juniors and for you."
They were wrapped with newspaper, and the ribbons were wilted, but somehow the mere sight of them managed to leave a wave of gratitude in its wake.
"Thank-you," she replied, heartfelt. Then she took a quick glance at the door.
"Do you want to come in?"
He hesitated for a moment, and she swore she could see a fierce longing written over his face, before the mask slipped over again and he grinned lightly.
"I guess, considering it's a belated Christmas and all, I shouldn't really give the Whelp a bloody heart attack with a bow tied around it, right?"
She snorted. "You'll have to do better than that, Spike. Dawn and the others have missed you. And I know Mum wants to see you too."
He hesitated again. "I can drop by tomorrow or something… leave you lot with a peaceful Christmas without the Big Bad mucking it up. 'Sides. I'm a soulless evil demon who doesn't believe in soddin' Christmas."
She looked down at the carefully wrapped presents in her arms and then back to him, pointedly.
"Come in, Spike."
She shifted the gifts, clasped his pale, cool hand, and led him through the door and into warmth.
8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8
I feel inordinately tired.
And inordinately confused.
I'm sitting in a circle of joy, and part of me yearns to belong.
Junior's rolling his eyes.
The Whelp and Demon-girl are bickering over something.
Red and Glinda are snuggling and talking quietly.
The Watcher is wiping his glasses and I think he's trying to disguise the tears in his eyes.
Mum… she looks so vibrant in the candlelight. Like she hasn't just spent a week in hospital and undergone a CAT scan and like she isn't waiting with bated breath for the results.
The love shines from her face as she watches them all.
And the Slayer…
She's smiling, and she's happy, and she's so strong and beautiful and incredible, and I can't help but chuckle quietly to myself. I'm sitting in the house of my ex-mortal enemy (what else can I soddin' call her? The Slayer never really let herself be shoved into categories) and her circle of friends who have trounced my ass time and time again. And I'm celebrating Christmas.
And I'm bloody confused.
I guess I'm finally asking the question I've been wanting to ask myself for a long time now.
What the hell has happened?
What great circle have we jumped around in the last few months since betraying Adam like a bunch of puppets manipulated by the soddin' Powers that soddin' Be? What life lessons have we learnt, what spiritual heights did we reach? What soap-opera relationships have we played through?
Hell, this is the second time I've helped the Slayer stop an apocalypse with the whole betraying-and-then-killing Adam thing.
I rest my head against the sofa and keep watching them. And then quietly admit to myself what's been staring me in my face for a long time.
I guess it hadn't started with the whole betraying-and-then-killing Adam thing.
It had started with the chip.
The cursed, bloody, chip.
It had started before that.
Stupid soddin' story had started way before that, hadn't it?
Back when I first saw her, and my life changed. Back when I felt something stir up inside me again for a human instead of for Dru. A feeling. Feelings. Emotions. That slowly, as I spent more time fighting with her, dancing with her, starting to bloody fall in love with her even then, started trickling into me again. Not that I felt nothing with Drusilla. And yeah, I always kept this lust for the kill, this strength of soddin' feeling that's made me love's bitch so many times I don't even bloody well want to remember.
But I'd forgotten what it was like to have a non-vampiric relationship.
Blood is what rules us. Blood and/or pain. I'm not saying I don't get bloody off on having a good hunt or a dance. But I don't live for it like Angelus did and does. But yeah, my blood calls me. Fitting, considering all things.
Some nights, the image of the card I held so long ago with my birthright stamped all over it and joining me with the rest blazes itself into my mind and I can't get rid of it.
Some nights, I'm not even sure I want to.
Because I need to study it. The picture. The soddin' picture that encapsulates my entire life and un-life. The death-struck wasteland, the graveyard of my past. And the green, the beauty and growth on the other. The life.
I need to wonder, need to despair, and need to hope that I have a chance, because my soddin' heart and my soddin' demon are for once, in accord.
I don't want to be remembered for just being William the Bloody, Slayer of Slayers.
Because I can't be if I'm in love with Buffy.
And I'm going to leave it at that for the time being. Leave it at that, and go back to basking in this fragile warmth that is sweeter than sunlight.
Because this is just the beginning.
The beginning of something big, and the ending of the introduction to it.
8 8 8
Well… It's taken me 345 pages on my computer to get me here. Over a year to finish this. And I've still got plenty more for the rest of the series…
I've learnt a lot about writing with this fic. I know my first lot of chapters weren't very good quality wise. Thank you so much all of you who have stuck with me here and kept on reading, and thankyou especially to all those who reviewed and kept my flagging hopes up. There really were times when writer's block hit me hard in this fic, and the main reason I came back was because of you guys. Thank you so much, all of you. Hopefully, I'll be back soon with the next instalment for this, or maybe even something new. :P.
The End… for now. : )