Fred and Wesley deserved a better fate. Dawn and Andrew help give it to them!
Post-Angel: "Not Fade Away", slightly AU per the Author's Notes following. Spoilers for both BtVS and Angel through both series.
This story is part of my larger work-in-progress, The Family That Slays Together, which in turn is a follow up to my Buffy/Kolchak: The Night Stalker crossover Blood of the Night Stalker. (I have only been recently made aware of ABC-TV's upcoming revival of The Night Stalker for the Fall 2005 Season, so please note that this is a crossover with the original 1970s series with Darren McGavin!)
Rather than let it sit idly on my hard drive until I get to it chronologically as part of a larger series, I thought I'd post it here in the Angel fanfic section temporarily. Please be forewarned that it will eventually be deleted and then reposted in the BtVS fanfic section as either Book 4 or 5 of The Family That Slays Together.
This story is in-canon for the entire Buffy series. For explanations as to why Joyce's parents have suddenly become more involved with Buffy's and Dawn's lives, why Grandpa has so much influence with Giles, why Dawn is a Slayer after all, and how Amanda got out of the Sunnydale crater still alive, please read Blood of the Night Stalker and The Family That Slays Together, Book 1: Home Base.
The storyline remains in-canon for all of Angel Season 5 until the episode "The Girl in Question". In this slightly Alternate Universe, Roger and Trish Burkle still drop in at Wolfram and Hart, and Illyria still takes on Fred's appearance and convinces them their daughter is alive and fine. But the rest of that episode about Buffy and "The Immortal", and Angel and Spike flying out to Rome (which a majority of Buffyverse fans apparently think was the dumbest episode of the series anyway) simply never happened! PTUI! We shall never speak of it again! ;-)
Being called into Giles's office this late in the evening was cause enough for concern. Buffy knew it was serious just from the grim expressions on both Giles and Willow's faces.
"We're just waiting for your grandfather," Giles said as she seated herself.
Carl was only a few seconds behind her. As he seated himself, Giles began.
"Willow and I have both received phone calls from the coven in Westbury. There's trouble in LA."
"Potential apocalypse trouble," Willow added.
They waited quietly for several seconds before Buffy asked, "Is Angel involved?"
"I'm afraid so, Buffy," Giles nodded grimly.
"The whole coven senses a tremendous bubbling up of evil rage in LA," Willow said. "The seers sense that it's the Senior Partners of Wolfram and Hart that are about to rain Hell on Earth. The original Wolf, Ram and Hart. Through a circle of demons who make up their representation in this plane of existence." She paused and lowered her eyes momentarily before adding, "The seers think that there is an ensouled vampire who is now part of that circle."
"No," Buffy shook her head. "Angel wouldn't. The seers have been wrong before."
"Buffy, sweetheart," Carl stroked her shoulder, "you have to look at this objectively."
"I can't, Grandpa. Even though Angel and I were over as an item a long time ago..."
"I agree," Giles nodded. "You can't be objective. Which is why I don't think you should go to LA. We have sixteen other Slayers here if you include Dawn. We can send Andrew's and Amanda's teams, and Dawn."
"I guess as the Senior Watcher here, plus having my own powers," Willow said, "I should lead this one."
"Willow, you can't go either!" Giles said quickly.
Willow was alarmed. "Why not?"
"Because I have reason to believe that the Wolf, Ram and Hart want you in LA so they can tap your powers and use them for their own purposes."
"And you think that because...?"
Giles waited and drew a deep breath before saying, "Because Angel called a few weeks ago and asked me to send you to the Wolfram and Hart office in LA."
"For what? Angel's not the type to call and say, 'Hi, Willow! Long time no see! Why not come over for coffee sometime?'"
"He told me Winifred Burkle was dying and her body was being taken over by an ancient demon ruler."
"What?" Willow turned white. "Why didn't you tell me?"
"Willow, we're dealing with Wolfram and Hart here. An evil nearly as great and powerful as The First itself."
"But what if it was true? Oh, God! Fred may really be dead!" Willow's shock was turning into outrage.
"Willow, even if it is true, we have to make tough decisions for the greater good," Giles said calmly. "We couldn't run the risk of Wolfram and Hart getting a hold of you and gaining your powers. We still can't. It could mean the end of the world. You've been there before."
"Giles, Fred is my friend! You had no right--"
"Willow," Carl interrupted her sharply, "while we're debating this point, the Wolf, Ram and Hart are apparently getting more and more apocalyptic."
"Yes," Giles said. "We must focus on the crisis at hand. Buffy, you don't want to lead this mission, just as you've not wanted to touch our other recent previous dealings with Angel, and I think we're all agreed that you shouldn't. Willow, whatever misgivings you may have about my judgment regarding Angel's earlier call, you have to agree, we cannot run the risk. So that leaves just myself."
"Ohh, no!" Buffy said. "If I'm not going, you're not either."
"And why not?" Giles was incensed.
"As much as I couldn't kill Angel again if it came to it," Buffy said, "you'd kill him at any excuse!"
"No, I wouldn't. And with his getting in bed with Wolfram and Hart--"
"There you go! Angel may not be evil. In fact, this whole boiling up thing may be in reaction to him. He could be what's kept the Wolf, Ram and Hart back from trying to destroy the universe already."
"I'm afraid that's just wishful thinking, Buffy," Giles shook his head. "We don't know any of that, and in fact, we should assume--"
"Assume nothing!" Buffy's own anger was rising.
"Buffy's right, Giles,' Willow said. "If she can't go, and I can't go, you shouldn't either."
"And why not?"
"Because you can't be any more objective, either!" Carl spoke up.
Giles raised his eyebrows, while Buffy whispered a quiet "Thanks, Grandpa."
"I'm not just sticking up for my granddaughter, Giles," Carl said calmly. "I've never met Angel, but I know enough of the story to know that you can't be any more objective than she can."
Giles knew he was on thin ice, that either of the two girls could easily physically stop him from going with Slayer strength or magic. He also knew that Carl was right. "Who's left, then?" he asked. "Even if we called Xander back from Cleveland, and he caught the first plane straight to LA and we met him at the airport, he'd never get there in time. So who's left who can lead? Certainly not Andrew or Amanda or Dawn."
"Why not Dawn?" Carl asked. There were mixed emotions in his eyes and voice: familial pride mixed with anxiety and pain.
"Grandpa, she's seventeen!" Buffy said quickly.
"Yes," Carl replied. "Two years older than you were, when you were called, right?"
"I was planning on sending her regardless," Giles nodded. "If nothing else, as an additional Slayer. If you're not letting me go, no reason why she can't be put in charge. She did grow up over the Hellmouth and has been exposed to the Slayer-Watcher dynamic since she was ten. That's far more experience than anyone else who's going. We're running out of options here."
"She won't be alone, Buffy," Carl reminded her. "She'll have a dozen other Slayers and Andrew and Amanda with her."
"And she may not be president of the Angel Fan Club--" Willow added, "not since the first time Angelus tried to attack her and your mom-- but she's not part of the Stake Angel on Sight Faction either."
"What about her Key energy?" Buffy asked. "If the Wolf, Ram and Hart are after Willow's powers, couldn't they use the Key against us as well?"
"It's a calculated risk, Buffy," Giles said. "I don't think there are any beings left alive in the universe who know how to use the Key, or many that can detect it, plus she has the masking magics. Otherwise, I believe they would have come after her as well."
"Calculated risk," Willow said, not trying to hide the doubtfulness in her voice.
"Dawnie!" Buffy's voice accompanied the sudden loud banging on the door. "Dawnie! Wake up!"
Dawn looked at her bedside clock and figured she'd been asleep less than an hour. She turned on the lamp and went to the door, yawning loudly into Buffy's face as she opened it.
"Dawn!" Buffy said urgently. "Please get dressed and come up to Giles's office!"
"Buffy," she said, then yawned again, "there had better be an apocalypse going on for you to wake me up at this hour!"
"Well, it just so happens..." the grimness in Buffy's eyes betrayed her nonchalant smile. "And I can't go, so tonight may be your night to shine, Dawnie!"
It was less than half an hour later that they were ready to pull out. After Buffy and the other senior Council members briefed Dawn, Andrew and Amanda as best as they could on the situation in Los Angeles, they and the Slayers-- all of whose sleep had been just as unceremoniously interrupted-- quickly packed up a couple of days' change of clothing and toiletries and drew weapons, and had loaded up the Hummer and two vans.
Dawn was wide awake without benefit of the huge urn of coffee that had been brewed up for them. Although Andrew and his team would lead the convoy in their van, as he already knew the way to Wolfram and Hart's LA office, it was made clear to all that she was in overall charge, and she could barely believe it herself.
Buffy paced up and down the driveway in front of the main building, in front of the others who had gathered on the front steps. They had tried to avoid waking her grandmother, Colette and the other two under-15 Slayers who were staying behind, but it had been impossible with all the commotion. Now on top of Joan fawning over the two of her four granddaughters who were leaving, they had a whining contingent of junior Slayers to add to the chaos.
"Guys!" Buffy finally snapped at the three youngsters. "For the last time, you're not being left out!" She lowered her voice so those boarding the vehicles couldn't hear. "If anything goes wrong with those guys, we--" she gestured to include Willow who was standing nearby-- "may be the last line of defense against the end of the world."
Joan finally let go of Dawn and Cyndi as Buffy went up to them by the Hummer. Cyndi got in the front passenger seat, in front of Leslie, one of the other Slayers from Amanda's team, and Maureen from Andrew's team.
"Dawn," Buffy said.
"Buffy..." she replied painfully.
"I'm not saying goodbye, Dawnie. I just want to tell you you'll do fine. Now make me proud, and come home safe!"
"Thanks!" The two sisters embraced tightly and kissed, both fighting back tears. Dawn managed to wait until she had her back to Buffy before sniffling and letting a single tear roll down her cheek. She had composed herself by the time she settled into the driver's seat of the Hummer, inserting her favorite broadsword into the customized rack they had attached to the center console.
Cyndi had inserted the stake end of the Slayer scythe into the rack on her side of the console. "I still can't believe Buffy let me carry the scythe!" she said. "Dawn, since you're in charge, shouldn't you have it?"
"This is my lucky sword," Dawn explained. "I killed my first couple of demons with it, fighting beside Buffy two years ago. I'd rather have it than the scythe." She was avoiding discussing the fact-- especially in front of the other two Slayers-- that she wasn't a true Slayer, that her strength and powers may not have been connected to the scythe, and that she didn't seem to feel its power to the same extent the others did. Despite some misgivings from Buffy, if they were being sent to hold off an apocalypse in LA, it made no sense to leave the scythe behind. And although the new Council had taken pains to avoid the appearance of special treatment for Dawn, Cyndi and Colette, there was still some logic in entrusting the scythe to Buffy's other blood relative who was going.
In front of them, the members of Andrew's team slid the door shut on their van, and then Andrew stuck his arm out the driver's window and pumped his fist in the air a couple of times, the military hand signal that Xander had taught them for a convoy to move out. Dawn started the Hummer and pulled out behind Andrew, with Amanda and her team bringing up the rear in their own van. Overhead, the sky was clear and starlit, but far off beyond the horizon toward the Southwest, in the direction of Los Angeles, there were flashes of lightning that had an otherworldly quality to them.
The two ensouled vampires had helped, as had Gunn despite his injuries. But the hundreds of demon corpses piling up around them in that rain-drenched alley were mostly her doing, and as the last demon's skull shattered before her fist, she knew that her rage would sustain her through any further onslaught by the Senior Partners.
And then suddenly, in the strange silence that followed the storm of battle, she realized that she had no more outlet for that rage. Then she felt the tears burning her eyes and flowing down her cheeks.
Wait! she thought. I didn't call for these! I did earlier when I tapped the shell's memories for Wesley's dying moments! But not now! She was relieved that there was still some rain falling on her face to mask the tears so the others wouldn't see them, but she couldn't slow down the flow at all, let alone stop it. Oh, God! Wesley!
Then she fell to her knees and began sobbing loudly, unable to stop the others from hearing her, and they turned toward her in disbelief.
What's happening to me? Why am I having these feelings? Wesley was kind and helpful to me, but he was a mere human! Why am I feeling such pain over his death? Oh, my God!... Wait! Why am I calling out to God? I AM a god! No! It's the shell! I'm feeling the pain of the shell, the feelings of Fred Burkle! She's still inside this body! Ugh! Is this what it means to be human? To have these frailties? To feel rage and pain and grief and sorrow and... love? My God! I can feel Fred Burkle! No, I AM Fred Burkle! Oh, God! Fred, I'm so sorry!...
Illyria collapsed onto her back, and as she did so, the glowing blue in her hair and her leathery armor morphed away...
FEEDBACK/REVIEWS ARE INVITED!