This picks up where Buffy season 7 leaves off (well done, I must say), and before the beginning of Angel season 5. So, not having seen any of season 5 when I started writing this, I hope all shall be forgiven as I'm sure there will be plenty of inconsistencies. I hope Mr. Whedon will forgive me for borrowing his marvelous creations for a while, I promise to return them only slightly used. This also being my first attempt at writing, PLEASE be kind, feedback would be very much appreciated. Enjoy, and All Hail to the Goddess Willow. :)
WHAT ARE WE GONNA DO NOW?
...As buildings crumbled and the ground fell into the collapsing Hellmouth, Buffy ran faster than she had ever run, leaping from rooftop to rooftop trying to stay ahead of the rapidly expanding crater. She could see the school bus just ahead of her, barely keeping ahead of the collapse itself, Dawn pressed against the back window urging her on.
She was tired, bone tired, but with one last tremendous effort, the Slayer managed to leap onto the roof of the fast moving bus.
As the bus reached the sign at the edge of town, the collapse slowed and finally halted. Robin Wood stopped the bus, and all those who could still walk got out and took in the devastation.
Sunnydale was gone. One huge hole in the ground.
Faith crouched next to Robin as he gasped for breath. She could hear him muttering to himself. "Well, guess I'm out of a job..." Faith smiled to herself, then leaned in close and whispered in his ear, "Don't you be worrying about a job, R, I can think of a whole lotta great things for you to do. Besides, I still want that surprise you promised me." Wood smiled at her, then gave her a quick kiss. "Sounds nice, but I think we should wait 'til later to discuss what duties my new position will entail."
Faith laughed, and winked at him. She knew, just absolutely knew she was gonna like this guy. As one of the newly minted Slayers started to tend Robin's wound, Faith got off the bus and walked towards Buffy and the Scoobies. The Scoobies were joking about the mall, of all things.
Dawn looked at her sister and asked "What are we gonna do now?" Everyone looked at the Slayer to see what her response would be.
Slowly, a smile came onto Buffy's face. Yes, she was tired, the kind of exhaustion that you feel right down to your bones, and she was feeling the loss of so many of the brand new Slayers that had given everything they had only to fall to the Uber-Vamps. And most of all, she grieved the loss of Spike. Spike had saved them. Saved the world, in fact. And in that final redeeming moment, with the light of a thousand suns blazing through him, she had seen the absolute love for her in his eyes, and had finally realized that she had truly loved him.
All this, and still the smile. Because they had won. And now, for the first time since learning of her destiny, she could actually see a future. For her, for her sister, for Willow and Xander, for all of them. Because she wasn't alone anymore. There was now a world full of Slayers, and even Faith had returned to the fold.
Demons better beware, she thought to herself. But first...
Buffy turned to her sister and gave her a hug. "What are we gonna do now, huh?" Dawn nodded. "First, we need time to rest and heal up. We all need a HUGE breather, 'cause just because we stopped yet another apocalypse - and what was this, like number twenty -something- as we've all figured out from wonderful, wonderful experience, there'll always be another one. Probably tomorrow."
Willow and Giles smiled in response to this, knowing perfectly well Buffy was probably right. Xander rolled his eye, leaned over and said to Willow in a loud stage whisper "We need to form a union. Really startin' to think we need to get some overtime & hazardous duty pay."
Willow giggled. "I'da thought you'd be more interested in the health insurance, Mr. Depth Perception." She reached up and snapped the band on his eye patch.
Xander smacked her in the back of the head as the whole group broke up laughing.
"Careful," Kennedy said as she stood with her arm draped around Willow's waist. "You keep smacking a Goddess in the head like that, and you're liable to have a lot worse problems than depth perception." Willow just laughed, and squeezed Kennedy back. Xander, Buffy, Dawn, and Faith all looked at Kennedy and Willow and chorused "Goddess?" Willow smiled tiredly, "It's a long story."
Dawn gave Willow a funny look, then turned back to Buffy. "O.K. R&R. Sounds good. Didn't want to go back to school anyway. No prob there. But where are we gonna go? Home, not to mention all our clothes and everything we owned, just went all sinkhole-y on us. And I just finally got the Evanescence c.d. Geez." Buffy thought for a couple of seconds, then looked at Faith and grinned.
"I heard about this great hotel in L.A. Heard it caters to guests with 'special needs'. Very exclusive."
Faith grinned back. "It's the best B. Luxury digs all the way. Even has a dungeon complete with chains and handcuffs for those really interesting nights." She waggled her eyebrows at Robin, who had been helped off the bus and was sitting on the ground looking very happy to be alive, as she said the last. He just smiled and shook his head. This girl was going to be very interesting. If she didn't kill him in the process. Xander smiled to himself, he knew from experience that Wood was in for the ride of his life.
Dawn looked back and forth between Wood and Faith. She new she was missing some kind of innuendo there. Oh well. She'd ask Willow later. That was always good for a laugh, watching a powerful witch get all flustered while trying to explain smoochies and other interesting things.
Buffy shook her head in wonder. She couldn't believe her good luck, to be surrounded by people like these, who even hurt and grieving could still go out of their way to make the people around them laugh. People who had done nothing less than help her to save the world more times than she could count. "Okay, kiddies, into the bus. Who's still in good enough shape to drive? And has the depth perception," she put in quickly as Xander started to say something.
He smacked her in the back of the head, too.
Faith smiled. "Nothin' wrong with my shape, B. I'll drive."
"Well then, driver, to the Hyperion Hotel, and don't spare the hamsters under the hood."
Willow turned at that remark. "Hamsters? What hamsters? There can't really be hamsters under the hood, can there? Even the schoolboard wouldn't be that mean, would they? Lemme see under the hood! I will not let those poor hamsters work their cute little selves to death just to haul us around..."
The laughter was deafening as the bus started towards L.A., passing the sign by the side of the road:
NOW LEAVING SUNNYDALE : COME BACK SOON
Chapter the Second
Angel was pacing. Nothing new there. And brooding. Nothing new there, either. It was killing him not being there to help Buffy. He knew deep down that she was right, he had to be the second line of defense if the First managed to get past her. Knew he and the rest of his friends were the only chance the world had if ...if...Buffy lost. He couldn't bear the thought of it. Seeing her again, kissing her again had been like a bolt of lightning through his system. He had kept telling himself that he'd put her behind him, moved on, etc., etc., ad infinitum. Bull. Not hardly. And that made it worse. Because he knew that if she failed, she would die. And he could not stand the thought of that at all.
That whole apocalypse thing would suck too, of course...
Screw it! I'm gonna go find out what's going on. The lack of news was killing him. All they had heard so far was that the entire city of Sunnydale had collapsed into a gigantic sinkhole. Even Wolfram & Hart was having trouble getting any info. All they could say was that it seemed that the Hellmouth had shut down. The one in Cleveland was getting rumbly though. He didn't care. He just wanted to know what had happened to Buffy, Dawn, Faith, and Willow. He was even curious about Spike and that idiot Xander.
Wesley and Fred had been watching him pace for the past several hours. They were worried too, of course. They had just helped fend off an apocalypse, and were not looking forward to fighting off another one. As Angel turned and started for the door, Wes called out. "Where are you going?"
"Out. I've gotta find out what's going on, this is driving me nuts."
"Well, that oughta be a pretty short trip", a new voice said. Angel froze in his tracks and looked up at the doors. "Buffy!" He leapt to the top of the stairs, picked her up and swung her around like she was a doll, planting a passionate kiss on her lips.
"Toldja the service was great here, B."
Angel almost dropped Buffy.
"Faith! You made it too!"
"Yup. Me, B., and a whole busload of brand spankin' new Slayers."
Angel looked at Buffy, obviously confused. "Slayers?"
Buffy nodded tiredly, and pointed over her shoulder with her thumb at everyone getting off the school bus. "Long story. We really need a place to stay for a while, Angel. We've been through Hell -"
"Literally," put in Willow as she paused in the door to give Angel a hug.
"-and we've got wounded, and I really, really need a long hot shower," Buffy finished.
Dawn pinched her nose and pulled a face as she walked past Buffy. "You got that right."
Buffy was too tired to even make a snappy comeback. She'd get her later. Revenge, best served cold, blah blah blah. "So, think you could put us up for a while?" She gave him her best puppy-dog-eyes-look, and so did Willow, Dawn, Kennedy and Faith. Didn't quite come off on Faith, though. She just looked horny. Hell, she always looks horny. Gotta have Faith. Ahem...back to the subject at hand...
Angel smiled, wrapped his arm around her, feeling very happy for the first time in quite a while. "No problem. Stay as long as you need to. Recent developments have made it so keeping the hotel open for business isn't quite as important as it used to be."
Several hours and one extremely long shower later, Buffy sat beside Angel on the couch in his office. Dawn, Willow, Faith, Kennedy, Xander, Giles, Wesley, Lorne and Fred were perched on whatever seat was available. Lacking the quick healing powers of a Slayer, Robin Wood had been taken to a hospital, where two of the newly minted Slayers were watching over him, and Faith had promised to come visit him after they got everyone settled in. They had gathered to catch up a little before crashing for the night. Willow was sitting in Kennedy's lap, with the new Slayers arms wrapped tightly around her . Kennedy was lost in the memory of Willow as she performed the spell that had transformed her, still in awe of the unbelievable power of this unassuming young woman that she had fallen so completely in love with in so short a time.
Angel was staring at Willow, trying to reconcile his memory of a mousy but sweet computer geek with the sight of the powerful wicca sitting in his office. Kennedy was almost babbling, relating the story to the rest of the group. "It was the most amazing, beautiful thing I've ever seen. I still can't believe it. Any of it. And I was there. Right there. Witnessing the birth of a Goddess."
Willow smiled. "I don't think I've quite gotten that far yet. Goddess in training maybe..."
Kennedy leaned in closer, whispered in Willow's ear, "Well, you're my Goddess."
Willow got a silly grin. "Oh, does this mean you're gonna worship the ground I walk on and raise up temples to me?"
"Sure. And I can think of a few other ways to worship at your feet, too."
"What are we gonna call the church?" Xander had to get his two cents in.
Buffy piped up, "The Temple of the Almighty Rosenberg."
Faith looked at Willow. "We ain't gonna hafta get up early on Sunday's to go to services are we?"
"Gawd, I hope not," put in Angel, "that's my sleep-in morning."
"Silence, minions, or you shall encur my terrible wrath!" Willow put on her 'resolve face', trying not to crack up.
They sat and joked and talked for hours, until exhaustion finally started to catch up to them. As everyone started to filter out to their rooms, Faith flipped Buffy and Angel a wave. "I'm gonna slip over and see Robin before I crash. Later." Buffy stopped her at the door and asked her to hold up a minute. Buffy looked bashful, obviously trying to figure out the right way to say what she wanted to tell Faith.
"Thank you, Faith."
"Everything. Helping to put Angelus back in his box. Coming back to Sunnydale in spite of the history there. And the history with me. You helped all of us, you helped me, you helped save the world. And I'm glad you're back in my life. I'm glad we could finally make peace. You're my sister as much as Dawn or Willow, and I'm glad the family is back together like it should be. That is, if your planning on sticking around..."
For a few seconds, Faith's face softened as what Buffy was telling her sank in. "Yeah. I think I am. It feels kinda good to be back on the side of the angels again. No pun intended, A." Angel just grinned. The go-to-Hell smile came back to her face then. "Besides, it oughta be one Helluva ride." Winking at them, she turned and bounced up the stairs. She wanted to go see Robin, wanted to see if he wanted to be a part of this new life of hers. She stopped at the doors and looked back over her shoulder. "Yo, B."
Buffy smiled to herself as Faith left. It was good to have her back. Angel wrapped his arms around her from behind and squeezed gently. "You really should go cop a few z's, ya know." She rested her head on his shoulder, taking comfort in his reassuring presence.
"I know, I know, I'm going, forty winks bound. Thanks again for taking us all in. I know you've gotta realize a hotel full of untrained Slayers is gonna be a real mess."
"I know. Sounds like fun. Been too damn quiet around here lately. It'll keep us entertained until the next apocalypse."
"Oh, if you want to be entertained, just talk to Andrew. He, Xander, Amanda and Giles have the whole 'Dungeons and Dragons' thing going. Great fun. All the rage."
Angel pulled a face. "Not so much..."
Chapter the Third
Kennedy ran a tub full of hot water and bubbles, then called to Willow. Willow looked though the door into the steamy room and caught sight of Kennedy standing there, wearing nothing but a come-hither smile. "Oh, baby, as much as I'd like to, I'm just to tired for smoochies right now," she said tiredly.
Kennedy grinned and held her hand out to Willow. "I know, I just thought we could soak together for a while before we crash. The worshiping can wait 'til morning. It's liable to take a long time, and being well rested would definitely be a good thing."
"Ahh, a truly inspired plan. I think I could like this Goddess thing."
They settled into the tub up to their necks, Willow resting against her lover, while Kennedy gently massaged her shoulders. After a while, Willow dozed off. Kennedy smiled, gathered her up and carried her to the bed. As she stood there looking at the wicca's glistening form, she smiled and shook her head . Damn, how did I ever get this lucky? She curled up next to Willow, holding her tightly, and fell asleep, a very happy Slayer.
Xander was standing at the window, staring at the view outside without really seeing it. The events of the last few years were weighing heavily on him. Jenny Calendar's death. Joyce's death. Buffy's death and resurrection. Tara's death, and the horror that followed when Willow decided to take out her vengeance on the world. All the barely averted apocalypses. Losing his eye. And Anya. The love of his life. Andrew had told him how she had died, fighting the good fight (against her better judgement, of course), and saved his life. It helped. Some. But not enough. Deep down, he had always held out hope they would get it right someday. And now she was gone. He had tried hard all day, tried to be himself, crack jokes like usual. Had succeeded for the most part. Even now, he knew his most valuable role was in keeping spirits up, not letting things get to serious. And tomorrow, he would take on that role again. But for now, he let the grief take him. Oh, Ahn..
Giles sat with his feet propped up, sipping on some absolutely marvelous brandy that Angel had come up with from somewhere. Sometimes I can almost forget he's a vampire. And what he did to me...and to Jenny. Of course, that was Angelus, not Angel, and Giles had for the most part made his peace with that years ago. Still hurt, though. He and Wesley had talked briefly about future plans, about what to do now that the Watchers council had been wiped out, especially with all those new Slayers out there. He had a few ideas, was going to have to run them by everybody. Tomorrow, he thought to himself. I'm too bloody tired to think straight tonight anyway. He imagined he could almost hear the bed calling his name. Just one more brandy, then to bed...
Andrew lay on his bed, staring at the ceiling. He was so thoroughly amazed that he wasn't dead, he couldn't get to sleep. He had truly come to regret his past actions, most of all killing Jonathan. He had resigned himself that he would pay for his transgressions, was sure he'd die in that final battle with First and its minions. But he hadn't. Anya had fallen while protecting him, in fact. And that was a powerful lesson to him. Even she, an ex-vengeance demon, had been able to see the value of humanity, something he'd been unable to do until the Slayer had taken him back down to the Seal and made him believe she was going to kill him. He had begun to help out with the potentials, and finally had screwed up the courage to go and join in the battle, even if he died in the process. Because it was right. And now he could see he had some choices to make. Go back to being the little weasel he had been all of his life, or go on helping, doing the right thing. He smiled to himself. Who'da thought? Who would ever have believed that doing the right thing could feel so good? Realizing that he'd already made his choice, he rolled over and was blissfully asleep five minutes later.
Dawn laid in her bed, not quite asleep. She was feeling the loss of Spike. He had always treated her as an equal, calling her his 'Nibblet', never looking down on her as if she was a child. He had protected her, watched over her for such a long time that not having him here was like a huge hole in her life. She had had a crush on him for a long time, silly, she knew, but still. But mostly, he had been her friend, there through almost everything. At least he had gone out a hero. He had finally found his redemption, but at the cost of his life. Sure never thought he'd do the hero thing. God, I miss him...
Angel was getting himself one last cup of pigs-blood before slipping out for a fast patrol. He was feeling a certain amount of satisfaction at having a Hotel full of slayers, watchers, and witches. It helped ease the pain of everything that had happened recently, especially having to give up Connor. He knew that now Connor had a chance for a real life, something he would never be able to give him. But it still hurt like Hell. But he was dealing. Mostly. And of course, the uncertainty whether Cordy would ever come out of her coma. Irritating as she could be at times, he missed her. He was happy to have Buffy around again, even if it might only be for a while. And then there was the whole Spike thing. He'd hated Spike from day one. But he couldn't help but feel some pride that his grand-childe had saved the world. He shook his head.Un-freakin'-believable.
It being well after visiting hours, Faith had snuck into the hospital to see Robin. He was barely awake, but alert enough to see her come in, and gave her a little smile. She settled in next to him, just wanting to be close. As he drifted off, she whispered softly in his ear. "I'll be here when you wake up." He smiled again faintly, and dozed off. She laid there, running her fingers down the side of his face. She didn't want to admit it, but she was falling in love with him. The thought of losing him now that she had found him was unbearable. I want this. I want him. Like she had told Buffy, it felt good to be on the side of the angels again. But it would be so much better if she didn't have to do it alone. And here was someone who could keep up with her, knew what she was, and didn't mind. She rested her head beside his, laying cheek to cheek. Get better fast, 'cause God help me, I love you.
Buffy missed Spike. But she had decided not to wallow in grief. He had saved the world, redeeming himself, at least in her eyes. In the end, she had loved him, as well. She would have to keep an eye on Dawnie. As close as she and Spike had been, she would be hurting pretty bad. Buffy also knew that she and Willow would have to keep a close eye on Xander. He was covering pretty well, but they could both see Anya's death was eating away at him. We'll make it through this. And then we'll start from scratch. New lives for all of us. Better lives. Lives where maybe we aren't the only ones facing the weekly apocalypse. As she drifted off, Buffy thought to herself : About damn time, too...
Chapter the Fourth
The next morning, Dawn came walking into the kitchen with a strange look on her face. "I think maybe Willow's not feeling well."
Buffy looked up. "Why?"
"I knocked on her door to tell her breakfast was ready, and she took a really long time to answer me. When she did, her voice sounded kinda, I dunno, strained."
Several people in the kitchen started giggling, having a fair idea why Willow's voice might have sounded 'strained'. "What? What's to giggle about?"
Buffy took pity on Dawn. "Umm, well, ya see, Kennedy is in there with Willow, and, uhhh, well, you know how Willow tends to be first thing in the morning and all, and, well, um..."
As realization came slowly to Dawn, her face turned the most interesting shade of red.
"Oh, geez! I probably interrupted them!"
"I interrupted a witch and a Slayers early morning smoochies."
"Been nice knowin' everyone. I figure I'll be a frog in a minute."
Xander was obviously trying not to lose it. "Naahh, she likes you too much to do that."
"Sure. Probably won't be anything worse than a really itchy rash or something."
"Or maybe a huge breakout of zits!" Buffy was enjoying all the shades of red that Dawns face was cycling through.
Dawn was horrified.
"You always have to watch yourself around a wicca. They can be a bit testy after all." Even Giles was enjoying this.
"Boy, ain't that the truth," Willow said, standing right behind Dawn.
Dawn let out a screech and jumped three feet straight up, only to be caught by Kennedy.
"But, but, I didn't, umm..."
The laughter was deafening by then, and Dawn began to realise they were yanking her chain. Willow leaned over and rested her forehead against Dawn's. "It's okay, Dawnie, we forgive you."
"This time," said Kennedy, faking a glare in Dawn's direction.
"What's for breakfast?" Willow was rubbing her hands together, a hungry look on her face. "You would not believe the appetite I worked up this morning..."
Xander fell off his chair.
Later, Buffy gathered everyone in the lobby. As the Slayers settled in, she took a deep breath. Gawd, how I hate speaking in public. I think I'd rather have another apocalypse. Well... not so much. She hopped up on top of the reception desk.
"While we're here having our little r&r, we need to figure out the next step. There's a whole lot of new Slayers out there who don't have a clue about what's happened to them. We need to find them and work with them, recruit those who wanna take up the mission, and help those who don't to lead normal lives."
"We also need to start up the Watchers again, which means finding any of 'em that the Bringers didn't kill, and recovering as much of their info as possible. Angel has offered to let us use this place for a base of operations, and he'll send as much help as he can this way from Wolfram & Hart. The Wicca coven in England has agreed to keep trying to locate new Slayers."
She looked around at all the new Slayers. "What I'd like to do, is work with all of you, get you trained so you can help with the recruits as they come in. If you're gonna stay. There's a world full of Slayers now. Anyone that doesn't want to take up the mission just let us know. We'll try to help you get back to your life."
Buffy smiled. "Hell, I'd understand if every one of you got up and left now, after what you've been through already. Lord knows I've wanted to walk away often enough. But please, just think about this: the more of us there are, the easier it'll be for all of us. We really do have an army now, and we don't hafta take crap from anybody."
There were a few cheers and some laughter at that, but Buffy could see the thoughtful expressions on most of their faces. "For now, I'm thinking a week or two off sounds mighty good. Rest up. Soak in the hot tub. Go shopping. Go out dancing or catch a movie. Relax. I think the world will keep spinning without us for a few days."
Willow got a silly smile and giggled. "Ooooh, a movie! Haven't been to a movie in months! Has 'American Wedding' started yet? I wanna see that. The first two were sooo funny! And that Alyson Hannigan is such a hottie!"
Buffy shot Willow a grin as she waited for the laughter to subside. "Never knew you were into redheads, Will."
"Lots of interesting things to find out about me, Buffy."
"True, true," said Kennedy. "Like the way you get all red in the face when you get tickled right..."
"Whoa! Information overload! Sooo don't need to hear that!"
"Speak for yourself, Buff." Xander was grinning like an idiot.
"Yeah, it was starting to get interesting,"said Angel.
Buffy looked at Angel as if wings had sprouted from his back.
He shrugged. "Hey, still male ya know."
Buffy looked up at the ceiling, appealing to the Powers That Be for strength.
"Anyway, like I said, go relax. Have some fun. We hafta go back to work entirely too soon. If anybody has any ideas, come to us and let us know. I'm tired and my brain has fried a few circuits the last couple of days."
"Poor Buffy's brain,"said Willow.
The group broke up, some heading back to their rooms for another forty winks, some heading out to see what there was to see. Buffy hopped down off of the desk. "Yet another successful Buffy speech."
"Yup," Willow said, walking over to desk. "Nobody's head exploded or anything."
"No demon attacking in mid inspiration..." Xander said.
"No fire shooting out of my mouth..." Dawn said.
"Nope. None of that at all." Buffy got a funny look. "Are we sure the world didn't end yesterday?"
Chapter the Fifth
They were sitting in Angels office again, trying to make some preliminary plans. Buffy had every intention of following her own advice, could hear the mall calling her name. But they wanted to get the ball rolling, Giles and Wes were going to start making phone calls and checking contacts to see if they could find any Watchers still alive.
"Where is everybody?" Faiths voice drifted in from the lobby.
"In here, Faith." Faith came into the office, a happy little smile on her face. Apparently her visit with Robin had gone well.
"Morning all. Look who I found outside." Gunn walked in after her, threw a wave at everyone. "Hi."
"Hey, Gunn. Where ya been the last few days?" Angel asked. He was concerned about Gunn. He'd been acting just a little off since they had gone to Wolfram & Hart.
"Wasn't feeling too good, took a few days off. Did I miss anything big?"
"Just another apocalypse."
"Also, we have a hotel full of Slayers."
Gunn looked confused. "Hotel full of Slayers?"
Gunn looked at Faith. "I thought it was just you and that other one."
"It was, 'til yesterday," said Buffy.
Gunn looked at Buffy. "And you are...?"
"The other one."
"Oh. Sorry. Nice to meet ya."
"So how many Slayers we talkin' here?"
Angel grinned. "Worldwide, or just in the hotel?"
Gunn had a pained expression. "I think I need to do some serious catching up..."
"Don't feel bad, dude. Buffy was just complaining about her brain sprain, too," Xander said.
"Willow, would you please...?"
Willow smacked Xander in the head. "Thanks, Will."
"Happy to oblige."
Xander rubbed the back of his head, muttering to himself. "Swell. Now I've got a brain sprain..."
Buffy looked at Faith. "How's Robin?"
"Should be out in a day or so, just needs to rest up."
"Good. Guess he wasn't hurt as bad as it looked."
Faith smiled. "Nah. He's tough. Gonna hafta to be to keep up with me."
Faith sat on the edge of the desk, it was the only spot left in the office. "Sorry I missed the meeting this morning, B. We got to talking, lost track of time."
"No big. Just told 'em what we talked about last night, and to take a few days off and go have some fun. We plan to go have a nice, therapeutic afternoon at the mall, then maybe a movie or dancing later. The guage on my fun-o-meter is on empty, much fun is required."
"Sounds like a plan. Lemme go catch a shower and I'm in."
Buffy looked at Giles. "You too."
"You too what?"
"Relax. Have some fun. You need a break as bad as the rest of us."
"But, we have so much to do, we need to-"
"Not right now we don't. I'm serious, Giles. Take a break. I need you too much to let you burn yourself out now."
"Oh. Well. Yes, I suppose you're right. I am feeling stretched a bit thin. Could do with a vacation, now that I think about it."
"Oh, very well." Giles pulled Buffy into a hug. "I know you're right. Sometimes it's just hard to slow down, you know."
"I know," she said, hugging back.
"I am sorry about everything with Spike. You were right about him. I should have trusted your judgement. And just this once, I'm glad that you ignored me."
Buffy smiled. "Don't sweat it. You could have been right. You were right when you said I was letting my heart win out over my brain. But we got lucky."
Giles gave her a peck on the forehead, and let go of her. "We've always been lucky Buffy. We've had you."
Giles nodded a farewell to everyone and headed out the door. There used to be this great little pub in L.A. that had regular open mic nights. If only he could remember where it was...
Angel stood up and stretched. "Well, thrilling as it sounds, I need to put in an appearance at Wolfram & Hart. I'll see if I can get the ball rolling on a few things while I'm there."
"Can I catch a ride with you, boss? I need to get back to work myself."
"Sure, Gunn, no prob. Gimme a minute, would ya?"
"I'll be in the lobby." Gunn nodded goodbye to everyone and went out to wait on Angel.
"Everybody, me casa es su casa. Make yourselves at home. And let me know what the plans are for tonight. I could stand a night of fun and merriment myself."
Buffy shot Angel a sideways glance. "Wow. You really are Mister Mellow these days, aren't you?"
"You know it. And Buff?"
"It's great to have you around again." He leaned in for a quick kiss, and was out the door.
Buffy and Willow looked at each other. "Wow."
Xander, still rubbing the back of his head, muttered "Here we go again..."
Chapter the Sixth
Willow was sitting with Buffy in her room. Buffy was trying to make herself presentable for the big mall trip. "From now on, whenever I go out to save the world, I'm gonna pack an overnight bag with a change of clothes, some shampoo, and some makeup in it, and strap it to my back."
Willow laughed, and after a few seconds thought, uttered a few words in latin. She waved her hand over Buffy, and there was a flash of little sparkly things. Buffy blinked, and couldn't believe her reflection in the mirror. Wow. Hottie. Dig that.
"What did you do?"
"Just a glamour, no big. It'll only last as long as you want it to. I'm just antsy to make with the shopping fun."
Buffy turned to Willow. "Will, we haven't had a chance to talk. You know I don't have the words to thank you for what you did for us..."
Willow looked embarrassed. "Aww, no big there, either."
"Yes, big. Way big. The biggest. Gi-mongous even. We Slayers may have been the soldiers in that last battle, but it was you and Spike that made the difference. What you two did... you saved us all. Thank you doesn't even begin to cover it."
"We were only doing what you were doing, Buffy. What had to be done."
"Doesn't make it any less difficult or important."
"Look, you're welcome." She was getting more embarrassed by the second.
"Okay, okay. But I hafta ask. The magyck. Is everything alright there? I mean, you seem to be in a good place finally, but I wanna be sure you're okay."
Willow's face lit up. "Oh, yes, Buffy!I finally tapped into what Giles and the coven have been trying to teach me! It was so amazing. It was like..." She searched for the right words. "It was like reaching out and touching the face of God. The most beautiful, wondrous thing I've ever experienced. And it's not like the Dark Magycks, it doesn't consume you. It accepts you, and nourishes you, it makes you feel the life all around you. The power isn't a fire burning through you, it's a light shining through you."
Willow realized she was babbling, and stopped to take a breath.
"So basically, your saying it's the warm, fuzzy side of the Force?"
"You said it."
"Let's go make with the shopping."
They went down to the lobby. There was a group of twenty three waiting for them, ready to go. Dawn, Kennedy, Fred and Rona were still laughing at a joke Faith had just finished telling. "'Sup, B.?"
Buffy looked at the large group. "Is everybody going?"
"You know it."
Buffy smiled. "Well then, to the mall, forward, MARCH!"
They all headed out the door, talking and laughing about the damage they were about to do to Wolfram & Hart's credit rating. It was going to be a fun afternoon.
Chapter the Seventh
Later that evening, everyone was back in the lobby again. Having done considerable damage with Wolfram & Hart's credit cards, the group had come back to the Hyperion to clean up and change. A couple of the new Slayers had come from L.A., and knew where there was an excellent dance club that the underage girls would be able to get in . Faith, Buffy, Dawn, Willow, and Kennedy had stopped in for a quick visit at the hospital. Robin had been sitting propped up, ready to get the Hell out of there, but the doctors insisted he stay for one more nights observation. The girls promised to come pick him up at noon, and headed back to the hotel.
As Willow and Kennedy came down the stairs, Buffy looked around to do a head count. "That's everybody, isn't it?"
"Yup. We were, umm, delayed, everybody else is already down here."
Dawn was standing next to Buffy. "Is 'delayed' what she's calling smoochies & snugglies these days?" she whispered to Buffy, waggling her eyebrows.
Buffy tried to stifle her giggle. "When did you get such a dirty little mind?"
"Spent two years in the same house with a lesbian couple, for starters."
"Oh. Well, that could have an affect on a person, now couldn't it?"
"Yup." Buffy couldn't believe how much Dawn had matured in this last year or so. Of course, going through an apocalypse or two did tend to mature one at an accelerated rate...
Angel walked in, smiling. "Are we ready to go?"
"And then some, A." Faith was dressed to kill, ready to tear up the night. She needed to work off some energy, and since Robin was still laid up, she figured a night out dancing was just what the Slayer ordered.
"Well then, shall we?' He bowed to the assembly, and gestured out the door.
Sitting in front of the hotel were six stretch limos, chauffeurs standing at the ready.
"Hot damn, A.! We get to go in style." Everyone headed for the limos.
Buffy took Angels hand. "This is great. How'd you work this out on such short notice?"
"Like I said, dearheart, I have a lot of pull over at W. & H."
"Thank you." She kissed his cheek, adopted a Southern accent. "Kind suh, would y'all care to escort a lady to her carriage?"
"Why, yes madamme, I'd be honored." He gave a chivalrous bow, took her arm, and walked her to the car.
After everyone had been loaded up, the motorcade headed out. Dawn was standing up through the sunroof, resting her elbows on the roof of the limo. She had memories of L.A., but she knew they were fake memories given to her by the monks. She wanted to take in the view of L.A.s skyline, knowing it was the first time she had truly seen it. As they pulled up in front of the busy nightclub, she looked up at the sign. Her jaw dropped open. She flailed her hand around inside the limo, trying to get Buffy's attention. She managed to hit five people in the head before she got Buffy to notice her. Buffy popped her head up through the sunroof.
Dawn just pointed at the sign.
Buffy looked up. Her jaw hit the floor, too.
"No freakin' way!"
The sign over the door of the nightclub read 'The Bronze'.
Willow, Xander, and Angel were standing by the limo, staring up at the sign in shock.
They all looked at each other.
Willow said, deadpan, "This does not bode well."
Buffy walked over to the door and peeked inside. The place was jumpin'.
She turned around and held the door open.
"What the Hell. Fun and dancing beckon." She smiled, turned, and went in.
Everybody looked at each other, at the sign, back at each other.
Willow said, "You heard the lady. Fun and dancing beckon. Who are we to say no to fun and dancing?" Taking Kennedy and Dawn by the hand, she lead the group inside.
The place was packed, the band was a local favorite, and the music was kickin'. Buffy turned to Angel. "You know the last time I danced?"
"I can't remember myself. Sumthin' very not right about that. C'mon." She grabbed Angels hand and pulled him out onto the floor. "I wanna see if we still remember how to do this..."
Faith walked over to Xander and Dawn, sipping a beer and staring at Buffy and Angel grinding on each other. Guess Angel finally learned how to dance. She nudged Dawn. "Damn. I forgot that B. could actually dance."
Dawn rolled her eyes and leaned in close to Faith. "That isn't dancing, that's dry humping in public." Faith laughed so hard she snorted beer through her nose.
There was a time that Xander would have been jealous as hell about Buffy and Angel dancing like that. But tonight, he just was happy to see Buffy so relaxed, having fun. He turned to Dawn and Faith. "He got the Buffster, so I get you two. C'mon."
Faith looked at Dawn. Dawn looked at Faith. They both looked at Xander. "You're on, " they chorused. Xander wrapped an arm around each of them and headed out on the floor. What the Hell, I need to have some fun too, dammit.
Willow was watching Buffy and Angel. They were inseparable tonight. It was just like the good old days, before all that fun with Angelus. She wished there was a way they could be together. They were so beautiful together. But there was that slight problem with the whole 'Angel gets a happy, Angelus comes out to play' deal. She had tried to find some other way to get him his soul back when she came to L.A., but hadn't had the time to do any research. She had had to use the same curse again, so there was still the 'happy' problem. I wonder if there's something I can do about that now. It would be so good for Buffy to be with him the way they used to be.
The band started a slow song. Buffy and Angel paused for a second, unsure about continuing. Then Buffy's face softened. She put her arms around Angel, holding him tight. He smiled, wrapped his arms around her, and started swaying in time with the music. Willow was happy to see this development. She turned to get Kennedy, wanting a slow dance herself, when it hit her what song the band was playing. 'Wild Horses'. Pain went through her like a knife. This had been one of her and Tara's favorite songs. But the pain quickly faded away. She missed Tara, and always would, but now she had Kennedy, and Tara would be the first one to tell her to get on with her life. She took Kennedy's hand. "C'mon baby, I love this song."
Fred was sitting, nursing a drink. She was having a good time, but didn't have anybody to slow dance with. The whole Wes - Gunn thing had kinda messed with her, and she wasn't sure where she stood with either of them right now. She felt a tap on her shoulder, looked up to see Andrew standing there. "Oh, hi."
"Um, hi. Um, I was wondering if maybe you'd like to dance. Probably not. I'm probably making a fool of myself. Again. I'll just go." He turned to leave.
"No, wait. I'd like to dance."
"Oh. Cool." They headed out on the floor.
Angel saw Fred and Andrew dancing. "I thought that guy was gay," he whispered to Buffy.
She looked over her shoulder at the couple, thought for a second.
"He's been around for months now, and we haven't been able to figure that out. I wouldn't worry too much about Fred, though. If she were to make him an indecent proposal, he'd wet himself and pass out."
Angel laughed and held her tighter. Damn, this felt good. He was having trouble remembering why he'd left Sunnydale in the first place. Oh yeah. That little Angelus thing. Sometimes life sucked. But for right now, all was right with the world.
Chapter the Eighth
It was getting close to closing time. It had been a great night. Everybody had had fun, and were wishing the night didn't have to end. Angel, Buffy, Xander, Willow and Kennedy were sitting in a corner booth, relaxing. The Slayers were still out dancing, shooting pool, or otherwise occupied. Dawn and Rona had cleaned out everbody they had played against all night. Andrew and Fred seemed to have struck up a friendship, and were sitting talking at a table on the other side of the bar. It's been a perfect night, Buffy thought to herself, then laughed quietly. Shouldn't have thought that, probably just jinxed the whole damn thing.
It was a prophetic thought. Faith ambled over to the booth, leaned nonchalantly against the backrest.
"B. Three o'clock."
Buffy looked over to her right. Crud. "What, they couldn't take one night off?"
"What'd you expect, B.? The name of the place is 'The Bronze'."
"Yeah. I know. C'mon."
She and Faith walked out onto the dance floor, while Angel, Xander, Willow and Kennedy spread out around the edge.
Buffy tapped a tall dark haired man on the shoulder, interrupting the lame pick up line he was laying on a cute little brunette. She put on an innocent face.
"Excuse me, but don't I know you?"
"Nahhh, we've never met. Get lost."
"But I'm sure I know you from somewhere."
"Don't think so, now get lost, blondie."
"Wait, wait, now I know. I saw you down at the free clinic the other day. Did that little problem you were having clear up?" She glanced down towards his crotch and raised her eyebrows.
Faith almost lost it.
The girl he had been chatting up made a face. "Eeewwwwww. As if." She split.
The guy turned towards Buffy. "Blondie, you just bit off more than you can chew." He made a gesture, and five more of his buddies came over and surrounded Buffy and Faith.
They looked around, then at each other.
"I'm just scared to death. You?"
"Shakin' in my boots, B."
"But you're not wearing boots. You're wearing those totally wicked strappy high heels you bought at the mall this afternoon."
"Oh yeah. Damn. Guess maybe I ain't so scared after all. Lookin' good though..."
"Yup. Total hotness goin' on. I wanna borrow those the next time we go out, they'll go great with that skirt I picked up..."
"That short little burgundy one?"
"Yup. Can't wait to try it out. The micro-mini is gonna make a total comeback."
They chattered on, completely ignoring the six guys surrounding them.
The leader had been listening to them, getting madder by the second. "Maybe this'll put the fear into ya, blondie!"
He vamped out, as did his five cronies.
Buffy smiled. "Slayer."
"What?" Confused look.
"Slayer. Not 'blondie'. Slayer. As in 'Vam-pire Slay-er'. " She pronounced 'Vampire Slayer' slowly, as if speaking to a toddler. "Can you say 'Slayer'? I know that you can."
"You sayin' you're the Slayer?" Slightly worried look.
"My lucky night. Or your unlucky night. You may be the Slayer, but there's six of us, and only one little old Slayer."
Buffy stuck her bottom lip out. "Old?"
"Yeah. Old." Cocky expression.
"Old. Hummph. Well, before we start this party, let me introduce you to Faith here. Also a Slayer."
Faith waved 'hi'.
He looked less sure of himself.
"And then of course, there are all these other Slayers." She waved her hand around the dance floor.
The vamps looked around. The floor had cleared out, except for the aforementioned Slayers, all with wooden stakes held at the ready. None of them looked happy that their night had been interrupted. The local crowd looked on, not terribly surprised. L.A. was about as weird as Sunnydale, after all. Weirder, actually.
Leader-boy gulped visibly.
"Ummm. Look, we're terribly sorry to have caused any trouble, and with all due respect and apologies, we'll just be going and not cause you lovely people any more trouble." The vamps started to back towards the rear exit.
"Hold it." They froze. "I want you to deliver a message to all your little demon buddies. Watch your backs. There aren't just two Slayers anymore. There are thousands of us. We're an army now, and you really don't want to get us pissed , now do you?"
He shook his head no, scared out of his wits.
"Good. Now disappear."
The vamps broke and ran.
As Buffy and Faith turned back towards the crowd, the entire club broke out in applause. Buffy and Faith looked at each other and grinned like schoolgirls. Hand in hand, they curtsied, then made their way back to the gang. "Wow,"said Angel.
"'Twas nothing at all," said Buffy, waving her hand with a royal flourish.
"No, no, no, not that. Although, bravo to both of you. I was saying wow because I couldn't believe Faith new how to curtsy. I mean, who'da thunk it?"
Faith chased him all the way back to the hotel.
Chapter the Ninth
"I've been doing some thinking about this thought I had, and I think maybe I have an idea. I think..."
Buffy looked up at Willow, who was standing in the door to her room. "Lay it on me, idea girl."
Willow came in and sat down in the chair next to the window. "I've been thinking that there may be a way to modify the curse. Maybe."
"Oh." Slight pause. "Modify how?"
Willow looked Buffy in the eye. "Fix it so Angelus can never be released again. Even if Angel gets a happy."
Buffy's eyes got huge. "Can you...? Could it really work?"
"I think so. I'm tapped into magycks now that I couldn't access before, and I've started researching the curse, looking for a loophole or something. I don't want to get your hopes up too soon, but I'm pretty sure I can work it. I think."
Buffy was rocked right to her soul. Omigod. We could finally be together... She looked at Willow, hope shining in her eyes. "How can I help?"
"Well, first I think we should go talk this over with Angel. I still have to figure out the rest."
"Let's go, I think he's downstairs training with Faith." She was bordering on giddy. Oh, Lord, please let this work!
"Training, or is she getting her revenge for the now infamous curtsy comment?"
Buffy snickered as they walked down the hall toward the stairs. "Just training. I hope. I figure he made sure she didn't still have that busted pool cue hidden away, though..."
They hurried down to the lobby, where a group had gathered to watch Faith and Angel sparring. It was a sight to behold, they were going all out, jumping, spinning, twisting, throwing punches and kicks as they leapt fifteen and twenty feet in the air. Angel landed on top of the reception counter, while Faith landed cat-like across the lobby on the stairs. She had barely touched down when she pushed off, leaping straight for Angel, trying to get him before he could turn around.
He knew she was coming, though, and back-flipped over her to land on the floor behind her. She caught the edge of the counter and somer-saulted over behind the desk, turning mid flip to face him again. They had been going at it for twenty minutes, and neither could get the upper hand. They were having a blast. The assembled Slayers were staring in awe at them. Rona nudged Amanda. "You think we can move like that?"
Amanda was wide eyed. "Maybe someday. I'm still tripping over my own two feet."
Buffy stepped up behind them, enjoying the show Angel and Faith were putting on. "All it takes is training."
"And more training," chipped in Willow.
"And then more training..." put in Fred.
"And then you train some more," Faith yelled as she went into a spinning back-kick, landing a solid hit to the side of Angel's head.
He went over into a side flip, spinning while still upside down, returning the favor.
They crouched into a ready stance, big grins on their faces, neither willing to back down yet.
Angel taunted Faith. "Had enough?"
She laughed. "Not hardly. Why, you gettin' tired old timer?"
Angel chuckled, shook his head. "Not even warmed up, kiddo."
Faith caught sight of the clock behind him. "Oh, Hell, it's almost 11:00! We're gonna hafta finish with the fun later, A. I gotta hit the shower, we're supposed to go get Robin in an hour."
"Sure, sure, if that's the story you wanna stick with. I think you're starting to worry..."
Faith just smiled. And then landed a flurry of jabs to Angel's head and chest, dropping him to the floor before he could blink. Faith looked at over at Buffy and Willow. "I'll be ready in half an hour, B."
Buffy was covering her mouth, trying to stifle her laughter. "Okay."
Faith looked down at Angel. "Anytime you want a rematch..."
Angel sat on the floor, holding his head like it might fall off. "Count on it, Faithy."
Faith threw Buffy a self satisfied grin as she went past her up the stairs. Life was good.
Willow walked over to Angel and knelt down next to him, tilting her head to one side. "Gonna live?"
He shot her a funny look. "Nope."
Willow looked over at Buffy, did her best Dr. McCoy impression. "He's dead, Buff."
Buffy cracked up again.
Willow stood up, and looked down at Angel. "Well, we certainly can't leave dead people laying around the lobby, now can we?" Her eyes went glowy, and Angel floated up from the floor, looking very surprised. "Where should I put the body, Buffy?"
"I dunno. The freezer maybe?"
"The freezer it is..." Angel floated off towards the kitchen.
"Uh, hey, Willow, you can put me down now. Really."
"He speaks from beyond the veil? Kewl."
"Oh, come on. Not the freezer... Willow!"
Buffy followed them into the kitchen. Willow was letting Angel down on top of the counter, enjoying her newfound control. Angel sat there, shaking his head. He looked sideways at Buffy. "You said life would be interesting around here."
"Actually, I said it would be a real mess, but interesting works too."
He chuckled. "True enough."
"Speaking of interesting, Willow has something she'd like to talk to you about."
"Always interested in hearing interesting things."
Willow took a deep breath, and repeated what she and Buffy had talked about earlier. Angel sat there, his eyes getting bigger and bigger as Willow talked. When she finished, he sat there lost in thought for a minute. He looked up at Buffy, could see the hope in her eyes. Smiling, not taking his eyes from hers, he asked "What can I do to help?"
Buffy's heart raced even faster . The future looked brighter than ever...
Not necessarily the end, I have some ideas for continuing this story, would love some feedback. :) And, yes, I know this is starting down the rather cliched 'fixing the happy clause' path, but I never said it was gonna be easy, now did I? hehehe