AN: Well, here it is. The last chapter. I hope you'll all enjoy it! (more extensive AN will come at the end)
one month later
The telephone rang and Buffy turned to glare at the evil contraption. She hated the damn phone! So far today she was pretty sure it had rung at least ten times. And it was only noon! Thank goodness for Caller ID or she would have to deal with answering it all the time. That was something she definitely did not want to do.
The story of Sunnydale's Mayor, Police Chief, and a young woman named Buffy Giles had broken in the media two days after Buffy and Angel returned to Sunnydale. The fact that the Mayor of Sunnydale had been taken in and questioned by the FBI, and charges had been filed against him was big news. Combine that with the Police Chief also being involved, and the story would have commanded coverage in itself. Unfortunately, a leak in the FBI office added more fodder for the journalists by spilling the details about the murders of the Giles family, and the movie-plot-like involvement of the remaining Giles offspring.
Since then the media – TV, print, radio – had launched a full-scale assault at Buffy, wanting any tid bit of information they could find. They camped out near the Giles house, tried to sneak onto the property, called all hours of the day, and whatever else they could think of. Giles was forced to hire guards out of Los Angeles to keep the press from charging the house. Whenever the phone rang, they left it go – having disconnected the answering machine – and only answered if the Caller ID showed it was someone they wanted to talk to.
So Buffy found herself being held prisoner. Still. Again. Whichever. All that mattered was that she didn't leave the house. If she did, it would be ugly. The media was dying to talk to the woman who brought down Sunnydale's mayor and police chief. Who'd been raped and saw no justice. Who'd had her family killed and been called responsible. Who'd been thought dead for four years. Buffy couldn't exactly blame them for their interest. It didn't mean she had any desire to talk to them.
In the end, it all meant Buffy was trapped in her house again. This time, though, it was by her own choice. She could go out if she wanted, but she chose not to. If avoiding the media meant staying inside, then she'd gladly do it. She just wished it wasn't an issue period. But it was, so she remained at her father's house and tried to untwist the mess that was her life.
A month had passed since her name had truly been cleared, and the people responsible for killing her family had been charged. That by no means implied that chapter of her life was over and closed. The FBI was still trying to put all the information together and build their case. There was still the trial to come as well. Much to Buffy's relief, both Wilkins and Walker were being held in jail without bail until their trials were over. The judge had found them to be a threat to society if allowed their freedom. Buffy was grateful for their incarceration. It was one less worry for her, though Gunn warned her that a powerful man like Richard Wilkins had many connections. So far, the evil man hadn't tried anything.
There was also still the worry that they wouldn't be convicted of all the charges against them. Wilkins could certainly afford a good lawyer, and some people just had a knack for weaseling themselves out of trouble. Gunn didn't seem to think that could happen. They had an ace in the hole, as he liked to say.
The ace being Police Chief Philip Walker. Buffy's visit to him at the FBI offices a month ago seemed to have scared the man senseless. The realization that Buffy was alive and spilling her story made Walker follow suit. He'd apparently opened his mouth and hadn't shut up. Buffy didn't know yet what all he'd said. Gunn had only told her the man was talking and saying a lot. She was anxious to know more.
Feet treading on the floor jerked Buffy from her thoughts, and she looked up from her magazine as Angel stepped into the room. A smile instantly lit her face. She was becoming so used to having Angel around all the time that she didn't know what she would do once he moved back into his own house. He could have done it already. The fire hadn't damaged much, and it was still livable, but with the media tracking him too, and the danger from Wilkins still somewhat present, Gunn felt it better that he stay at the Giles house. Willow and Spike spent most of their time at the house as well.
The four of them, along with Xander at times, used their free hours to simply hang out. Angel still had his job, but Giles saw to it that most of the work could be done from the house. Willow and Spike had to go into their internet cafe a few times a week, but they had a manager for now so that they could stay away and keep the press out of their business. So they spent their time playing board games or cards, watching movies, or just talking. Buffy enjoyed the care-free moments greatly.
She glanced at Angel out of the corner of her eye as he came to sit on the side of her bed where she was sitting reading the current issue of Cosmo. Her heart sighed at the simple sight of him. He was truly a beautiful man. Though she accepted that knowledge, it still made her edgy. She knew there was a certain chemistry between them. It was strange and new, but she realized its existence. She just did not have any idea what to do about it, or if she could handle doing anything about it.
Other than the one kiss they'd shared, and a few caring hugs, their...relationship was only as friends. At times she felt as if Angel were watching her as if he wanted more. Willow seemed to think Angel had deeper feelings for Buffy as well. If he did, he kept them close to the vest. Buffy was a little grateful for that. She cared about him, definitely. He was kind, sincere, and gentle. And she was certainly grateful for all he'd done for her. It was just that the idea of intimacy scared her thoroughly.
Over the past few weeks she'd wondered what would happen once her life belonged to her again. Angel had come into her world as her savior. That task was almost done now. Would he fade away as if he'd never been there? Buffy didn't think so – or at least she hoped not, but she didn't know what would happen. Would they simply remain friends? Would he get frustrated at her fears and push her away? Buffy didn't know and she was hesitant to ask him. For now, she just wanted to enjoy his presence and his friendship.
"Hi," she finally greeted him.
"Hey," he smiled back at her. "Anything interesting in your magazine."
Buffy shrugged. "Not really. Just the usual girl-talk stuff."
"Oh?" he teased, one eyebrow raised.
"Yup. Nothing good," Buffy quickly replied. She wasn't about to tell him that she'd been reading an article about how to 'Kiss Your Guy Senseless'. She sighed. If only she had the nerve to try out some of the techniques.
Angel held back the grin threatening to break out. He knew the kinds of things printed in Cosmo. He wouldn't embarrass Buffy, though. She was enjoying being a young woman for a change. It wasn't his place to tease her too much.
"I talked to Gunn just a few minutes ago," he said instead, referring to the phone call he'd been on just before coming to Buffy's room.
"What did he say?" she asked eagerly, wanting an update on the case.
"He'll be coming down to Sunnydale in a few hours to tell us all the details. I guess they've put together a lot of the story in the last few days," he explained, anxious himself to know more about what had been going on with the case against the mayor and the police chief.
"Oh, okay." Buffy twisted her hands nervously in her lap. "I really want to know, but at the same time, I'm nervous to hear it all."
"Don't worry," he assured her, taking one of her hands and holding it gently. "Everything will be fine. And besides, Gunn didn't sound worried or upset about the case. I'm sure it's going well."
"I know. It's just soo..."
"I understand." He squeezed her hand, wondering yet again where she found all the strength to deal with everything. "Why don't we make it a little more fun and less formal? Willow and Spike will be here tonight, and so will your father. We can call Xander, too, and cook hot dogs and hamburgers on the grill."
Buffy smiled, liking the idea. It would almost be like a party, with all her friends there with her. "I'd like that."
"Good. Then that's what we'll do. I'll ask Willow to pick up some food on her way over," he pondered the details. "Maybe Gunn can pick up Fred and bring her down with him."
"That'd be cool!" Buffy agreed whole-heartedly. She'd met Angel's sister three weeks ago when Fred had come to Sunnydale to see her brother and to talk about everything that had gone on. Buffy'd liked the woman, finding her genuine and sweet.
"Okay, I'll go make some calls and arrange everything," Angel told her, standing from the bed.
Buffy was still smiling as Angel walked out of the room. There weren't words to describe how much she enjoyed the freedoms she had now. She could call her friends and see them whenever she wanted. She could sit out on the deck and have a barbecue. There wasn't any reason to hide anymore. Well...she was hiding from the press, but that was a different story.
No sooner had Angel left her room than her father poked his head in. It was kind of strange to see him just pop by. Almost as strange as it was being back in her old bedroom, which she'd decided to return to, no longer wanting to be tucked away in the attic now that it wasn't necessary.
She gazed at her father and felt mostly love for him. They had talked quite a bit since she'd returned home. Things weren't perfect, but they were better. At times she still felt a little bitter, but if she were honest, she couldn't exactly blame him for what he had thought of her. She'd been set up for the murders and her father had been under a lot of stress. On some level, she could understand why he'd believed she'd done it. The hurt was still there, but Buffy was trying to get past it. Giles was, after all, the only blood-family she had left.
"You said earlier you wanted to speak with me Buffy?" he questioned, taking a step into the room.
He still felt wary at times around her. So much had occurred between them. If only...he sighed. He couldn't change what he'd done years ago. Couldn't take back what he'd thought. His only hope was that Buffy had forgiven him. In all honestly, Giles wasn't sure what he'd have done differently. All he'd wanted was to protect his daughter. At least it seemed as though she didn't hate him.
"Yeah. Could, um...could you close the door." Buffy wanted to keep this conversation private. She'd been thinking about it for two weeks now, trying to decide what she wanted.
"Of course," he agreed and shut the door before stepping closer to the bed. "What's on your mind?"
Buffy chewed lightly on her lower lip. How should she start this conversation? And would her father go along with it?
"I've, um...I've been thinking...about what I want to do...after...ya know, once this is mostly...done..."
"This was a great idea!" Willow exclaimed with a sigh as she sank into one of the lounge chairs on the back patio of the Giles house.
"Bad day at work?" Angel asked from where he was sitting at the wrought iron table a few feet away.
"Not really," Willow shrugged, lowering her sunglasses against the glare from the setting sun. "It was just busy. Aside from the reporters who try to sneak in, everyone in town wants to come in and gawk, or say they were part of...everything."
"Bloody wankers!" Spike cursed as he stood at the grill with Giles. "They seem to forget what big fans they were of the mayor."
"The wonders of selective memory," Giles concurred, thinking about how badly his family had been treated by the people of Sunnydale after Buffy had been raped.
"You're gonna burn the bloody burgers, Rupert!" Spike jabbed Giles with his spatula.
The comment led to a spirited argument between the two about the proper way to cook on a grill. Buffy, Angel, Willow, and Xander could only shake their heads. They were like a pair of little old ladies bickering over the last pair of support hose. None of them minded. The fun atmosphere was a welcome amenity.
Several beeps sounded and Giles vacated the grill to grab his new cell phone that had walkie-talkie service – an addition he'd had to make recently because of the situation with the media. He pressed the button and spoke into the phone.
Through the phone's speaker, a voice boomed back. "The FBI agent, Gunn, is here with Mr. O'Meara's sister," said the security guard Giles had hired to watch over the driveway entrance to the house. "Should I let them come up?"
"Oh, yes! I'm terribly sorry, I meant to tell you they were coming by," Giles answered into the phone.
"Okay. I'll let them through." The guard signed off.
Giles fiddled with the phone, trying to click it off. "Stupid contraption! You need a bloody manual to use it!"
"Gotta move with the times, Rupert," Spike teased, glad to have to grill to himself. He was the one, after all, who knew how to use the thing. He received a glare from Giles for the remark.
Soon, Gunn and Fred joined the group. By unsaid agreement, talk of the case was shelved for a while. They chatted about happy topics, anything to keep the carefree mood up. When the food was cooked, they all sat at the tables and enjoyed hot dogs and hamburgers. All too soon, the meal was over, and the chatter died down. The time had come.
"I guess you want to know what's been going on," Gunn broke the sudden tense silence.
"Now or never," muttered Buffy. She really did want to know, but she hated that they'd been having such a good time, and now the troubles of her past were again going to cast shadows.
"All right." Gunn nodded, stood, and wandered the patio for a few seconds. "We've been able to put together a lot of the details now. It seems as though the full reach of Wilkins' grasp goes back a ton of years. So I'll just start at the beginning. It'll help everything make sense.
"Okay." Angel took one of Buffy's hands in his, offering her comfort as they sat and listened to the story of Sunnydale's corruption and how Buffy, and the Giles family, became the victims of power and money.
Gunn began by telling the group how Richard Wilkins III and Philip Walker met while taking a political science course in college. A friendship developed between the two, lasting through college. If Philip walker thought his friend Richard was a little odd or devious, he had thought nothing of it. At least not until a fateful few days he spent with the Wilkins family at their weekend getaway ranch in Arizona a few years after they'd graduated from college. He'd been left forever wondering if he shouldn't have turned down the free trip.
What Philip hadn't known before going to Arizona was that Richard was in a battle with his father, Richard Wilkins II, over when the elder Wilkins planned to retire as mayor of the Wilkins' hometown of Sunnydale, California. The younger Wilkins wanted to become mayor himself, but his father was holding him back, as he wasn't yet ready to give up his position. That, Philip later learned, hadn't sat well with Richard III.
That's how it came to be that Philip and the two Richards were out riding one afternoon at the Arizona ranch. And that's how it came to be that the elder Wilkins fell to his death into a deep canyon. And that's how it can to be that Philip saw Richard III push his father into that same canyon. Philip Walker had been shocked and appalled at such a murderous action, but the promise of power and position had kept his mouth shut.
After the death of Mayor Richard Wilkins II, a special ballot was held in Sunnydale, and Richard III won a landslide victory, the prestige of family aiding his win. Upon being sworn in, he promptly named his good friend Philip Walker as police chief.
And so began many years of favors and promises being traded back and forth, with Philip always possessing the knowledge that Richard III had committed murder to get where he was. A fact that did not sit too well with Sunnydale's Mayor.
That knowledge came into play when Philip Walker's son was accused of rape by one Buffy Anne Giles. Fearful that his son would be convicted and sent to jail, he called in a favor from good buddy Richard to help get his son out of trouble. Knowing he owed his friend, and hating it, Wilkins bribed and coerced the D.A. and other officials to get young Cameron Walker off. And because of their overwhelming prestige and popularity in Sunnydale, along with Cameron's athletic and academic prowess, their public supported them, and shunned Buffy and the Giles family.
The story would have ended there if it hadn't been for Buffy's, and the Giles family's, continued insistence that she had been raped and that the police chief's son was responsible. Richard Wilkins III didn't take well to people defying him. So he did everything in his power to make them pay. He encouraged his friends to make life rough for the Giles family, and Buffy in particular. And when they complained, or claimed harassment, he used his power to turn the accusations against them. Again, the people of Sunnydale supported their elders, and deemed Buffy a crazy woman, as well as the slut who cried rape.
Still, the tragic chain of events would have stopped there, Gunn told them all, if it weren't for the fact that sexual violence in a person wasn't generally a one time event.
"No!" Buffy gasped, her heart hurting for what she suspected he was about to say. "Please...don't tell me..."
"I'm sorry, Buffy," Gunn said softly. "In his junior year of college, a freshmen girl came forward and claimed that Cameron had raped her." Tears flowed down Buffy's cheeks as Gunn continued.
Again, Philip Walker went to Wilkins for help in getting his son out of a mess, Gunn relayed to the group. Wilkins had other worries, though. With two claims against the boy, people were more likely to believe the insipid females. And if people started to see the truth, they may have found out about his illegal doings regarding Buffy's case. He needed a way to further tarnish her image, and to get her out of the picture for good. He was not, absolutely not, going to allow some useless, whiny female to bring him down.
And so the plan was born to set Buffy Giles up for the murders of her family. What better way to discredit her, and put her out of commission than to have her arrested, her reputation completely ruined, and then thrown in jail? It was the perfect plan. Wilkins would save his own ass, and get Buffy out of the way, along with the added enjoyment of seeing Buffy and her family get their due for daring to stand against him. He wouldn't do the dirty work himself, of course. He had underlings for such filthy doings.
The plan worked, too. One of Wilkins' paid thugs bought a pint of mint chocolate chip ice cream, laced it with a drug, and slipped it into the freezer of the Giles house. When the family was out cold, he murdered three of them and framed Buffy.
Yes, the plan had certainly worked, and would have continued to be a success if it hadn't been for Rupert Giles' actions that night after coming home and finding the tragic scene. He faked his daughter's suicide, then hid her away for four years, wanting only to protect her though he'd believed she'd murdered his wife and two other children. That alone didn't change anything. Buffy was still considered a crazy murderer. And she would have continued to remain so if it hadn't been for the arrival of Angel O'Meara in Sunnydale.
The group knew most of the rest of the story from that point. They'd all been involved. Buffy's existence had been discovered, and they'd begun to investigate what had happened four years earlier when three members of the Giles family had been murdered. In the end, the truth came out.
"Man, what a sick, twisted mess," Xander muttered when Gunn finished.
"How can somebody be that evil?" Willow asked of no one in particular.
"But why was Angel's house set on fire?" This came from Fred, the newcomer of the group.
"Wondered about that, too," Spike seconded. "They didn't know Buffy was alive, did they?"
"No," Gunn shook his head. "According to Walker, Wilkins was nervous about Angel's digging around and his association with you, and Willow. You'd always supported Buffy. When we showed up at the Sunnydale PD, Wilkins got more worried and decided he needed to send a message to Angel, or at least distract him, so he ordered the house to be set on fire. He had no no idea Buffy was inside at the time."
"So this was all just to protect himself?" Buffy voiced softly, more tears flowing from her eyes. "He had my Mom and Dawn and Owen killed just so no one would know what he'd done after Cameron raped me?"
"I wish I could tell you otherwise." Gunn walked over and squeezed her shoulder in sympathy. He knew all of this had to be hard for her to hear. He was just glad that he'd been able to start the wheels of justice rolling for her.
Angel turned to Buffy, still holding one of her hands. "At least you know, now."
"I know," she lowered her head, hiding the devastation on her face. "It's just hard to realize that someone could be so...evil."
"Power is a great motivator," Gunn said by way of explanation.
The cell phone Giles carried beeped again, signaling contact from the guard at the bottom of the driveway. "Yes?" Giles spoke into the device.
"I have an Agent Miller and guest here," the guard explained.
Giles looked to Gunn for an explanation. As far as Giles knew, they weren't expecting anyone else.
"Tell him to send them up, and to come back here," Gunn answered and nodded to the patio where they were all seated. As Giles did so, Gunn turned to Buffy. "Remember that second favor you asked me?"
"You found her?" Buffy exclaimed, jumping up from her seat.
"We did," he confirmed.
Buffy dashed to the edge of the patio as the others looked at each other in confusion. "What's going on?" Willow questioned for the group.
Gunn refrained from answering, leaving it as a surprise. Within a minute, the sound of a car pulling up in front of the house, followed by the closing of doors, reached their ears. Everyone watched the entrance to the patio, waiting anxiously to see who was going to appear. Buffy had said 'her', but none of them, except Gunn and Buffy, had any idea who the 'her' could be.
Climbing the short staircase first was Agent Graham Miller. Behind him appeared a dark-haired head. When the woman's face came into view, everyone gasped. Except for Angel. He'd never seen the woman before, but it was obvious to him that he was the only one who didn't know her.
"Faith?" Xander exclaimed, nearly falling out of his chair.
"Oh God! Faith!" Buffy cried out and threw herself at young woman, hugging her tightly.
Faith's face showed shock and sadness as she saw the friends she'd been separated from for seven years. She'd known she was going to see them, but knowing wasn't the same as doing.
"Why did you leave? Where have you been? How did Gunn find you?" Buffy babbled the rush of questions. She was ecstatic to see her old friend, despite the fact that Faith was Cameron Walker's sister. For the short time Faith had been in Sunnydale after the rape, she had never once accused Buffy of lying about what happened. But then she'd disappeared, never to be heard from again. Buffy was desperate to know what had happened to her.
Faith pulled back from Buffy and let her eyes wander over all the people who had once been such a big part of her life. She knew them all except for the tall, dark haired man, and the petite woman with mousy brown hair. The others had all been her friends. Would they hate her now? She knew they had every right to cast shame on her. She wouldn't blame them if they did.
Not knowing what to do or say, Faith looked to Agent Miller for help. He'd been the one to come for her and knew what she'd been through.
"Just tell them the truth," he advised.
So she did.
"My father made me leave," Faith began, avoiding looking directly at anyone. "I heard him talking to Cam one night, and Cam admitted what he'd done. I already knew he was guilty as hell. I always...something always seemed a bit off about him even though he came across as the perfect son. But I knew you wouldn't have lied about what he did. Cam would have, but not you. That's what they were talking about that night when I overheard them, how they were going to get him out of trouble."
She took a deep breath and paced a few feet. "I don't know what I planned on doing, but I burst in on them and told them they had to tell the truth, that they couldn't do the things they were planning to do to you. Cam...he...he hit me and told me to keep my mouth shut."
"Faith..." Buffy whispered.
"The next morning, my father told me to pack my bags," she went on as if Buffy hadn't spoken. "He sent me to a house in Connecticut and told me if I said anything, if I contacted any of you, I'd live to regret it. I knew he was serious. So I went to Connecticut and stayed there with a guard watching every single thing I did, until the FBI came knocking at the door a few days ago."
Turning to Buffy with tears in her eyes, Faith reached her hands out helplessly. "I'm so sorry, Buffy. If I'd stayed, if I'd said something, none of this would have happened."
"No, Faith," Buffy walked over to her and pulled Faith into another hug. "This wasn't your fault. Who knows what they would have done to you if you'd said anything! I couldn't ask anybody to put themselves in that position."
"But your family-"
"That wasn't your fault. And...and it wasn't mine." Buffy was beginning to accept that it also hadn't been her fault that her family had been killed. At times she still blamed herself, but she knew she could have done little to stop it. "We were victims, Faith. All of us."
"God Buffy, how can you not hate me?" Faith whispered, the tears in her eyes finally falling.
"I don't hate you," Buffy replied softly. "What matters is that your back and that you survived."
She'd survived. Just like Buffy had.
The moon was full and high as midnight drew near. Sleep hadn't come for Buffy. Too much weighed on her mind. Tonight she'd gotten all the answers to why her life had been turned upside down, why her loved ones had been killed. Why one of her friends had disappeared. It was a relief to finally know, but that didn't make it any easier to accept. Add to that the things she'd been thinking about lately, and what she had spoken to her father about earlier, and her mind was too keyed up to sleep.
So instead of lying on her bed, staring at the ceiling, she'd returned to her former haunt. The beach. It was a place that always brought her comfort and peace. She'd escaped here many nights during the past four years. It was risky to be there now, given that reporters were still seeking her out, but she was pretty sure she'd gotten away unseen.
She was right. Almost.
A shadow fell across the sand as Buffy sat watching the waves lap at the shoreline. She lifted her head, not all that surprised to see Angel standing off to the side just behind her. Smiling slightly, she patted the sand next to her. Angel complied, and soon they sat side by side, their thighs lightly brushing each other.
"Just like old times, huh?" Buffy mused. "It doesn't seem like it was less than two months ago that we first talked here."
Tilting her head, Buffy gazed up at Angel's strong profile. "You're my savior, ya know? My Midnight Angel. You saved me from the darkness. I would probably still be hiding in my father's attic if it weren't for you."
"I can't take all the credit, Buffy," he disagreed in a soft voice, wrapping an arm around her shoulders to pull her close. "Willow, Xander, Spike, Gunn...they all played a part. But it was your strength that got you through this."
Buffy didn't reply directly. She thanked him silently again, knowing that despite what he said, her life was forever changed because of him. "I'm just glad it's mostly over. I can move on with my life now."
"Do you know what you're going to do?" Angel asked the question that had been weighing on his mind quite a bit. He just hoped he could accept the answer.
Turning her face away, Buffy looked out over the ocean, out to places she couldn't see. She closed her eyes and leaned closer to Angel. She hated what she was about to say, but it was what she had to do. Her life, though better, was still a mess. There was only one way to change that.
"I'm leaving Sunnydale," she finally told him.
The response didn't come all that much as a surprise. He'd almost been expecting it.
"When?" he forced out.
"The end of next week," she relayed, her heart aching. It was time to say goodbye to her home, but it would be difficult leaving everyone – Angel – behind. "My father has a friend, Wesley, with a small house nobody uses in New Hampshire. He's already talked to him and Wes said I can stay there as long as I like."
"Sounds like a good plan," Angel replied, hoping the sadness in his voice went unheard.
"I'll miss you," she whispered, tears clouding her vision. Leaving Angel and all her friends was the last thing she wanted to do. But she had to. Getting away from Sunnydale was the only way to truly move on from her past.
"I'll miss you, too." Angel hugged her tighter. He didn't want to see her go, knew it would tear him apart, but he wouldn't stop her. It was what she needed to do. "I'll always be your friend, no matter where you are. All I want is for you to finally be happy, Buffy. That's all that matters to me."
Buffy raised her head and stared at Angel, feeling like her heart was being torn out of her chest. She reached a hand up and caressed his cheek. The slight stubble tickled her palm, but she hardly felt it. Her head tilted back further as Angel's leaned closer.
Their lips touched in a gentle kiss. There was no passion or heat in the embrace. The kiss was simply an affirmation of the connection they'd made, one that could not be broken. As their mouths separated, their bodies remained close, the contact further cementing the bond between them.
Together, they sat in each other's arms on the beach until sunrise, watching as the moon slipped beyond the horizon and dawn's light filtered through the air. Their time together was limited now. Maybe someday, when the past no longer shadowed the present, they would be free to seek more than friendship. But for now, both knew that no matter how far apart they were, no matter how much time passed, they would always have each other.
Some bonds were meant to last forever.
AN: I know that wasn't the ending everyone wanted or hoped for, but please hear me out. I spent a really long time agonizing on how to end this story. I really wanted there to be a happy, B/A ending to the fic. In the end, though, it came down to a choice between doing the riding' off into the sunset ending, or staying true to the story. No matter which way I tried to work it, a B/A ending just didn't fit the story. If I'd just stuck them together for the sake of 'shippyness, it would have been wrong for the characters and the situation. So that's why I ended the fic the way I did. I hope you'll understand.
As for the question of a sequel – which many people have asked me about – all I can say now is that it's likely, but not definite. I have something in mind, but haven't been able to think too much about it. But it is definitely possibly there will be more to this story, especially something to unite B/A...and to answer a question or two that I left hanging. Please don't ask me when it'll come out. I have absolutely no idea if or when a sequel would be posted.
I want to thank everyone who sent feedback on this story. I got so many wonderful emails about Midnight Angel, and I appreciated all of them. So thank you all very much!
Lastly, I will have a new AU coming in January – Smoke & Mirrors.
Until then, Happy Holidays!