Chapter Twenty-Three

The memorial service went on as planned. Buffy stood in front of the casket, Her arm and waist bandaged from the fight, and placed a black rose on the casket. Giles, who stood beside her, placed a soft hand on her shoulder, and Buffy turned away. She walked out of the church and across the street before saying, "Damn them!"

Giles met up with his daughter and said, "What's the matter?" in a gentle voice.

"How can they stand there and say that about him, when you and I know it's all a lie!"
"Buffy, dear," Giles directed the upset blond to their car. "Some people just wouldn't have believed us."
"Why, because Riley came after me and tried to kill me? Gee, I didn't realize he was such a saint!" Buffy scoffed as Giles unlocked her door and helped her in. Getting in the driver's side, he continued.

"It's not just that, Buffy. Riley was a respected member of the community, and if they want to indulge in the delusion that he died in a horse riding accident, then we must let them."
"But he killed Liam!" Buffy yelled, failing to hold back the tears that were threatening to fall. "I haven't even been back to the manor yet."

"Buffy, you just got of the hospital a few days ago." Giles said as he continued to drive Buffy home.

" But, Will! I mean, she must be just as upset as me! After all, he was her brother!"
"Well, don't worry about her too much", a smile formed on Giles' face. "She has been receiving frequent visits from your friend, Xander."
"Why are you smiling like that? Is something up?" Buffy could see that Giles was trying to keep from spilling, but it was no use.

"It appears your friend Xander is smitten with Willow."

"Finally!" Buffy exclaimed as they pulled in the driveway. "It's about time Xand found someone for himself." All was silence for a few moments as Giles and Buffy got out of the car. As they approached the door, Giles finally asked; "So what about you?"
"What about me?" Buffy replied as she entered and hung up her coat.

"When are you going to find someone?" Giles immediately regretted asking as Buffy's face began to tear up again. "Oh God. Buffy, I'm sorry."

"No, Giles. You're alright to ask." Buffy wiped the moisture from her eyes. "It's normal. But I just don't think I will ever meet someone like Liam again. He was my Joyce." Buffy shared a knowing look with her father before giving him a hug and going upstairs.

Once in her room, Buffy took off her dress and placed it back on a hanger. Then she let out the bun she made and placed the bobby pins in a small glass container. Changing into a pair of yoga pants and a tank, Buffy sat down at her vanity and began to remove her make-up. As she began removing the eye shadow, her eyes caught a glimpse of something hanging on her mirror. She paused as she saw that it was the cross that Liam had given her, in what seemed like years ago.

Carefully, Buffy let the sliver pendant brush her hand. The coolness of the metal reminded Buffy of the way Liam's hands would feel. Cool but would warm to her touch. Just as he had in spirit. Buffy removed her hand from the metal and returned to removing the makeup.

Once she was finished, Buffy grabbed the book that stood on her night stand, and walked over to her window. Opening it, she placed her feet outside and sat on the ledge, picking up where she had left off. Leaning her head against the window frame, Buffy read until she became to drowsy to read anymore. Then she went inside and sat on the chest she had under the window, and began to drift off.

Buffy enjoyed her dreams. She still dreamed about Liam, but they did not feel the same. They were no longer as real as they had once been. The dreams she now had were more like reflections of what she and Liam had shared in those short few months she had known him. She dreamed of the midnight walks they had shared and the love she was beginning to feel for the vampire monster, but to her he was neither of those. He was simply Liam.

Buffy hated that she still dreamt of him at first. But then, time moved on and she slowly adjusted to them. They gave her the peace she missed during the day. Which led to her return to teaching; maybe by returning to things she loved doing, she could find more peace.

The next morning, Buffy stepped out of the shower and searched her closet. She found a yellow dress with small pink flowers on it that looked appropriate for the hot weather that had been forecasted. Slipping it on, Buffy pulled her hair back with a barrette. As she was about to apply her makeup, Buffy saw the cross again. Sadly smiling to herself, Buffy brushed her fingers across the shiny metal before slipping it around her neck.

Closing the clasp around her neck, Buffy stared at her reflection. I'm as ready as I'll ever be, thought Buffy as she left her room and headed downstairs to her car.

The campus was a bustle of activity as students flooded the halls. Buffy smiled and greeted students and teachers as she made her way to her classroom. Finding her old classroom, she opened the door and stepped inside. Buffy smiled as she began to set up for her first class. It was going to be hard, but getting back to business always helped Buffy through the worst life had thrown at her. Buffy warmly greeted her students as they filed in one by one.

Once the class had sat down, she addressed her students.

"As you all know I have been away for a few weeks due to a rather tragic and painful loss," She began. "I wanted to say thank you for all your cards of support and love that you sent my way; that was really gracious of you." Buffy turned towards the chalkboard and began to write. She had cringed inside thinking that her class thought she was talking about Riley, but she knew the truth and that was all that mattered now.

"Now I don't want you to get the idea that I will be any less hard on you than before. I still expect nothing less than the best from you all and I know you have the strength to do it." Turning towards the class she pointed to the writing on the board.

"Now, open your books to page 113. Today we will explore the American Revolution and its impact on the world."

As she began to instruct the class, she began to play absently with her necklace. As Buffy continued with her instrcution, one student caught Buffy's attention as she seemed really nervous. Finally, the student could take no more.

" Miss Summers?" asked the student.

"Yes, Dawn?" replied Buffy.

"I couldn't help but notice, but there is a man that has been standing over there by the door ever since you started."

Buffy turned to face the doorway, and she almost collapsed. Buffy's mouth quietly fell open in shock as she saw a tall, handsome man, in blue jeans, a yellow polo and brown leather jacket walk into the room.

"It can't be," she whispered as the young man stepped forward.

"It can be," he replied as Buffy's hand became limp, allowing her teacher's guide to fall. Quickly, the young man reached out and grabbed the book in mid-air; Buffy still trying to catch her breath.

"Here you go," he said continuing to watch the amazement play across Buffy's face. Buffy continued to stare at the man as she saw him in all his human splendor, the sun that shone through the classroom windows illuminated his face in a heavenly like glow.

" Liam?" Buffy asked. Liam simply smiled and nodded his head. By now, all the students were watching the interaction between Buffy and Liam.

"But I watched you die," she whispered as Liam took another step towards her, Buffy instinctively stepped back. "And you broke the curse," Liam responded as though this was something she should already know. Buffy could feel her heart beating hard. Liam watched in amusement as he saw Buffy's chest expand and contract erratically.

"But H-How?" Buffy said as her eyes watered.

"Does it matter?" Liam said as he now stood mere inches from her. Buffy looked into Liam's dark chocolate eyes and felt a flood erupt in her soul. This isn't real, you're dreaming, she thought to herself.

"Is- Is this is real, this isn't some dream, right?" Buffy said choking back her tears, and hoping against hope.

"Is this real enough?" Liam said as he bent down and softly kissed her. The tears she had been holding back broke through as she felt Liam touch her once again; soft and caring, like velvet, knowing that he was, in fact, real. The kiss became more passionate, more real as the sound in classroom erupted into whoops and cat calls.

Liam broke away first, finally realizing there were people in the room. Wiping her tears, Buffy smiled sheepishly as she looked at Liam in wonder.

"I can't believe you're here," she cried.

Liam turned and said nothing, but kneeled on one knee and took a small box from his jacket pocket asking, "Buffy, I love you. Will you do me the honor of being my wife?" Opening the box she found a silver ring carved with two hands holding a crowned heart. And the inscription inside said "To my angel, Forever."

The classroom began to chant "yes" as Buffy covered her mouth in stunned silence. For a moment neither knew if Buffy was still breathing. She held tight to her necklace as she regained her voice.

"Yes," Buffy whispered. Then, she nodded for her classroom to see. The classroom erupted again, this time in cheers. The sounds had alerted the rest of the staff, which trickled down to Giles. He quickly dropped what he was doing to check on Buffy and make sure she was alright.

Buffy slid the ring on and leapt into Liam's arms. As he began to spin her around the room, Giles entered and saw Liam spinning Buffy around with delight as the class applauded. His face was a mixture of happiness and shock. He was happy that Liam had come for Buffy, but he was shocked to know that Liam was even still alive. And Xander didn't even tell him anything.

At that moment Giles' cell began to ring. Answering it, he heard Xander's voice on the other line.

"Has my surprise showed up yet?"
"Y-Yes, I think so Xander, but-"
"Uh uh! A magician never tells. And neither does a woman, but that's a different movie."
"Xander why have you waited so long to tell Buffy?"
"It wasn't me, G- man. It was Liam. He was the one who wanted to surprise her. He swore me to secrecy."
"I hate the term 'G-man'," Giles responded to Xander's comments. "It's revolting."
"So did Liam pop the question?"
"I would suppose so, he is twirling Buffy around the room."
"Awesome. Then my job is done. I'm taking Willow out. Talk later-Giles."

The line went dead and Giles continued to gawk at the newly engaged couple as the class came up and began to admire Buffy's new ring. It reminded Giles of the way he felt when he had proposed to Joyce, not so very long ago. He turned his head to the side, and noticed a woman's shape standing beside him in a long, flowing gown. It resembled his dear Joyce but she too, was supposed to be dead.

" Joyce?" he asked the specter. The shape nodded and touched his face. "Did you have something to do with this?"

Again she nodded and said, "It is as it should be." Giles smiled at his deceased wife and wished she could stay.

"Don't even think it, Rupert," she scolded. "Besides, your future awaits." Joyce looked away from Giles and gestured towards a beautiful dark haired woman, who had just dropped a handful of books. Giles looked back at Joyce who simply smiled as she faded away. Taking the hint, Giles went to offer his assistance with Jenny, which he found out later was her name, and helped her with her computer science books.

Back inside the classroom, Buffy was still on cloud nine as Angel set her back on the ground. "What about Willow? Does she know about any of this?" she asked.

"Yes," Liam smiled. "And Xander too; I swore them both to secrecy."

"You cunning little wolf," teased Buffy.

"They are probably already waiting for us down at the Bronze." Liam replied.

"I-I can't right now," Buffy explained. "I have class."

Liam bent down and whispered in her ear, "You'll think of something."

The hairs on Buffy's neck stood up and shivers fell down her back as Liam breathed on her. Raising her head quickly she said, "Class dismissed!" and darted out of the room as Liam led the way.

As the two lovers ran out of the school and into the warm sunshine, Buffy noticed a shiny, black Plymouth convertible waiting for them.

"Nice ride," she said as Liam opened the passanger door and Buffy sat down.

"Thank you," Liam responded as he closed the door. Liam walked over to the driver's side, sat down and turned the engine. As they took off, Buffy looked at Liam.

"What's the matter?" he asked.

"Nothing," replied Buffy. "You know, I could get used to seeing you in the daylight."

"So could I," Liam smirked back and Buffy thought she would never come down from her high. She was in heaven and she loved it.

"By the way," Buffy questioned. "What do you think about Xander?"

"He's a little annoying but I think I could get used to him," replied Liam.

"I should warn you; he just recently got divorced."

"That's okay, I think Will likes him anyway."

Buffy grinned. "Want to try for a double wedding?" She said as Liam looked at her.

He chuckled as he pulled Buffy beside him and wrapped his arm around her. Buffy rested her head on his shoulder, and Liam sped towards the Bronze; and a date with destiny.

End.

I DID IT! I DID IT! I actually finished it for you guys! LOL LOL My thanks to ALL of those who have read AND definately a big THANK YOU to my reviewers! You guys ROCK! I hope to start posting something new soon. I have been toying with a few ideas so we'll see! As always READ and REVIEW! And thanks again guys! Writing this story has been a blast and I'm really glad people liked it!

Emma's Angel