Author's Note: Again, the majority of the dialogue was taken from the original episode. Due to my alternations of the plot, a lot of scenes were removed or rewritten. The last scene I wrote a little of some time ago, before I had even reached this episode. Enjoy. And Season Four will be coming soon.
Graduation Day: Part Two.
Faith fell off the roof. Buffy dropped the knife and rushed to the edge. She looked down and saw Faith lying in a garbage truck, which was driving away.
Buffy laid down the knife, then walked over to the fire escape and climbed down the outside of the building.
Meanwhile the Mayor looking out through the broken window of the apartment above. He turned round as a vampire came up to him. "There is no one here, Sir."
"No. No, she took the fight outside. My Faith doesn't like to be cooped up." He paused to gather himself. "We have to find them. Put everyone on it. Do it now." He turned back to gazing out of the broken panes of glass before him.
"But Sir, the Ascension…"
The vampire jumped at that tone and wisely left. Richard Wilkins began to pace the room, trying to convince himself. "Faith's a good girl. She can take anything they'll throw at her. She's going to be all right. She'll be all right. She'll be all right."
Back at the Library of Sunnydale High, Giles walked out of his office to meet Xander carrying a Styrofoam cup. "Any word from Buffy?" He asked.
Giles shook his head as he sat at the table. "Not yet."
Xander handed him the cup. "Here is your cup of coffee. Brewed from the finest Colombian lighter fluid."
"Thank you," Giles acknowledged before taking a sip. "Horrible," he commented before taking another.
"Aren't you supposed to be drinking tea anyway?" Xander queried.
"Tea is soothing," the Englishman commented. "I wish to be tense."
"Okay. But you are destroying a perfectly good cultural stereotype here."
"Just keep looking through the Kepler volumes. Any reference to the demon Olvukan. Powers, weaknesses, hat size, anything. There's got to be something."
Back at 1902 Crawford Street, a souled vampire tossed and turned in his bed. Willow dabbed a cold cloth at his forehead, whereupon he opened his eyes.
"You're awake," the redhead commented.
"Willow?" Angel queried, as if not too sure of that identification. "Where's Buffy?" He asked, rising from the pillows.
Willow pushed him back down. "She'll be back soon. Just rest." She watched him close his eyes, then walked out into the hallway and downstairs.
Just as the slayer returned. "How is he?" She asked.
"Delirious," Willow replied grimly.
"Did you find Faith?" Oz asked.
Buffy shook her head. "I succeeded, but she fell into a truck and it drove away. So I thought of something else."
"Something else?" Her best friend repeated.
"Yeah. Could you get the gang here? This is going to need witnesses."
"Buffy. Is that you?"
The slayer sat down upon the bed, and reached out to cup his face with her hand. "It's me," she replied softly.
"I didn't want to go, without seeing you."
Buffy put her finger to his lips. "Angel, I can cure you."
"It's okay. I'm ready."
"Angel listen to me. Sit up. You're gonna live. You have to live."
Delirium suddenly left him. Angel looked at her in shock. "No."
"It's the only way."
"No. No way."
"It'll save you."
"It'll kill you."
"Maybe not. Not if you don't take it all."
Angel looked at her horrified. "You can't ask me to do this."
"I won't let you die. I can't. The blood of a Slayer is the only cure."
"Faith," Angel muttered.
"I tried. She got away."
"Then it's over," Angel remarked, getting up and walking into the main room, where the rest of the Scooby gang was waiting. He halted, almost falling, looking at them. "You agree with this idea?"
"We trust you," Giles replied.
Angel turned his head to find Buffy looking at him. Her jacket was gone, revealing her bare neck. "Please," he begged, not wanting to do this to her.
Buffy answered with a punch to his face. Angel staggered back, looking at her in surprise. She punched him again.
This time, he responded. His soul strength depleted, he could no longer resist the demon within. The forehead ridges appeared, the fangs came out of his mouth.
Buffy came towards him. She grabbed his head, and shoved him down to her neck. She closed her eyes as she felt the fangs penetrate.
The couple collapsed to the floor. The Scooby gang sat and watched.
A few hours later, the entire gang was running into the Emergency department of Sunnydale General. Angel carried his beloved, not focusing on anything but the need for her to healed. "I need some help! She lost a lot of blood."
"What happened?" A nurse asked, coming up to him.
"She needs blood. Something bit her. She needs a transfusion."
"You found her?" A doctor asked.
"Was she conscious?"
"Are you sure?"
"Okay. I need a type, I need a cross-match. Get her on two lines of Wringer's lactate, and watch for hyper-bulimic shock. Any allergies?"
The doctor nodded and pushed the gurney away. Angel stood still watching them take Buffy into trauma, just as the rest of the Scooby gang caught up with him. Joyce silently herded him to the nearest chair.
Angel looked at her in surprise. "You should be hating me right now. All of you."
Giles sat opposite him. "Buffy told us what she was going to do before she woke you up," he said. "There were a few objections but she shot all of them down. She knew what she was doing. And she was right."
"The bones are set, and the damage to the kidneys is repairable," another voice remarked at that moment, becoming audible to the gang, who turned round to see the Mayor standing beside another doctor.
The physician continued. "But the head trauma, its… well its simply too severe. You know, it's a wonder she's alive at all, with the blood loss. I'm sorry Sir, there is almost no chance at all that she is ever going to regain consciousness."
The Mayor said nothing as he walked into the room, where the pale unconscious form of Faith lay in the bed. He reached out to stroke her cheek. "It's your day," he uttered softly.
"We have another girl with severe blood loss. Doctor Pal wants you to prep this on an anti cubal cut down," a nurse said at this moment.
"I'll be right there," the doctor replied.
The Mayor turned and saw the girl. Silently he walked over and put a hand on her face, covering her nose and mouth.
"Call security!" A nurse cried, while a pair of hands pulled the Mayor away.
"Don't do that!" Angel practically growled.
The Mayor turned to him. "I will do that and worse. Murderous little fiend! Did you see what she did to my Faith?"
"Hadn't any plans to weep over that one."
"Well, I'd get set for some weeping if I were you. I'd get set for a world of pain! Misery loves company, young man, and I'm looking to share that with you and your whore!"
This time Angel did growl. Then he picked the Mayor up and threw him across the room. Wilkins picked himself up and chuckled. "Looks like somebody has been eating his spinach. No, its okay, folks. It's all right. The show's not over, but there will be a short intermission. Don't want to miss the second act. All kinds of excitement!" He walked out.
Angel watched him go, then turned back to Buffy. Slowly he sank into a chair beside her bed. Silently he reached for her hand, and pressed it to his lips. "I'm sorry," he whispered.
Giles laid a hand on his shoulder. "You did nothing she didn't want you to do," he reminded the vampire. "We just have to wait for her to wake up."
While her body was asleep, Buffy's mind was active. She found herself in Faith's apartment, watching a kitten jump up on the bed. "Who's going to look after him?" she asked.
"It's a she," Faith corrected. "And aren't these things supposed to take care of themselves?"
"A higher power guiding us?" Buffy questioned.
"I'm pretty sure that's not what I meant."
"There's something I'm supposed to be doing."
"Oh yeah. Miles to go. Little Ms. Muffet counting down from 7-3-0."
"Great. Riddles," the first chosen one muttered.
"Sorry, it's my head. A lot of new stuff." Faith stared at the broken window. "They are not ever going to fix this, are they?"
"What about you?" Buffy asked her, concerned.
"Scar tissue. It fades. It all fades. You want to know the deal? Human weakness, never goes away. Not even his."
"Is this your mind or mine?"
"Beats me," Faith chuckled. "Getting towards that time. You ready?"
The rogue slayer touched her cheek and Buffy opened her eyes in the hospital bed. Silently she met Angel's eyes with a small smile. "I'm ready," she remarked.
"For what?" He asked her.
"So, am I crazy?"
It was a few minutes later. The Scooby gang were back in their main headquarters. Buffy had just finished explaining her main plan of attack.
"Well, 'crazy' is such a strong word," her best friend said.
"Let's not rule it out though," her watcher commented.
"You don't think it can be done?" Buffy asked him.
"I didn't say that. I might, but not yet."
"I personally don't think it's impossible to come up with a crazier plan," Cordelia commented.
"We attack the Mayor with humus," Oz remarked.
Cordelia looked at him. "I stand corrected."
"Just trying to keep things in perspective."
"Thank you. My point however is, crazy or not, it's pretty much the only plan."
"Well, I'm going to need every single one of you on board. Especially you Xander. You're sort of the key figure here."
"Key? Me? Okay, pride, humility, and here is the mind numbing fear. What do I have to do?"
"Do you remember any of your military training from when you became soldier guy?"
"Uh, rocket launcher?"
"Rocket launcher not going to get it done. I mean, it took a volcano to kill one of these things last time."
"All of this is rather dependent on your being able to control the Mayor," Giles pointed out.
"Faith told me to play on his human weakness."
"Faith told you? Was that before or after you put her into a coma?" Cordelia queried.
"His weakness. Which is?" Giles asked.
"Well, he's not crazy about germs," Angel remarked.
"I'm starting to lean towards the humus offensive," Xander commented.
Oz nodded, equally deadpanned. "He'll never see it coming."
"Faith," Angel realised. "At the hospital he was grieving. Seriously crazed, and not just in a homicidal I want to be a demon way. She is his weak link."
Buffy nodded. "I can work that."
"You haven't an enormous amount of time," a new voice remarked.
Xander turned. "Hey, it's Mr. States-the-Obvious," he observed.
"I want to help. To hell with the Council for now. What can I do?"
Buffy placed her hands on the table; the classic pose of all heroes in films, as they explained the master plan. "There is plenty. There are chores for everyone. Okay, this is…"
"...how it's going to lay out," The Mayor remarked to his vampires. "The transformation should begin at exactly 3:28. I'll just be finishing my speech - you know, it's too bad you fellows have to miss that, because I think it speaks to everyone of us. I mean, heck, I've been working on it for a hundred years. It better be good. They'll try to run, of course, and this is when I'll need you boys in flanking position."
"But Sir, the sun!" One of them pointed out.
"Not a problem."
"'Darkness will follow and day becomes night.'" Wesley read.
"An eclipse," Buffy concluded.
"Standard procedure for an ascension," Giles acknowledged.
"You come up through the sewers here," The Mayor continued, point to the map. "The important thing is containment. I'll need to feed. It's crucial in the first few minutes to sustain the change. What does that mean? No snacking. I see blood on your lips, it's a visit to the wood shed for you boys. Kill. Don't feed."
"So, how are we coming on the volcano detail?" The slayer asked her friends.
"I think we can work it out," Oz answered.
"Fun with chemistry," Willow agreed.
"Xander said he should be able to get the materials," Buffy informed.
"Who's going to stoke it up?" Oz asked.
Buffy turned to her watcher. "You feel up to it?"
Giles took off his glasses. "Ah, I suppose it should be I. It's strangely fitting in a grotesque fashion."
"Okay guys, start reaching out. Giles; weapons, weapons, weapons."
"What about you?"
"There is something I have to get," she replied, walking out.
The Mayor wrapped up his prep talk. "Remember: fast and brutal. It's going to be a whole new world come nightfall, don't want to weaken now. And boys? Let's watch the swearing."
"Did you get what you needed?" Angel asked his soulmate as she came back into the Library.
"Yeah, I did," she replied, before turning to the weapons. "This isn't going to be enough."
"Giles is on it." He paused uncertain if he still had a right to ask. "How are you?"
Buffy put down the covered weapon she had been carrying, to look up at him with a small smile. "I'm fine. I heal fast, remember. Like you. And we're going to be fine."
She took his hands in her own. "Yes, we are. But we don't have time to talk about this now. We have a war to fight."
"Congratulations to the class of 1999," Principal Snyder began, standing at the podium in front of students, parents and teachers, an hour or so later. "You all proved more or less adequate. This is a time of celebration, so: sit still and be quiet. Spit out that gum. Please welcome our distinguished guest speaker: Richard Wilkins the 3rd. I saw that gesture. You see me after graduation."
The Mayor took the podium as the few applause died out. "Well. What a day this is! Special day. Today is our centennial; the one hundredth anniversary of the founding of Sunnydale, and I know what that means to all you kids: not a darn thing. Because today something much more important happens: today you all graduate from high school. Today all the pain, all the work, all the excitement is finally over. And what's a hundred years of history compared to that? You know what kids?"
"Oh my God," the slayer quietly murmured. "He's going to do the entire speech."
"Man, just ascend already," Willow, sitting next to her, begged.
"Evolve!" Buffy added.
The Mayor continued. "For all of you it may be that there is a place in Sunnydale's history, whether you like it or not. It's been a long road getting here. For you, for Sunnydale. There has been achievement, joy, good times, and there has been grief. There's been loss. Some people who should be here today, aren't. But we are. Journey's end. And what is a journey? Is it just distance travelled? Time spent? No. It's what happens on the way, it the things that happen to you. At the end of the journey you're not the same. Today is about change. Graduation doesn't just mean your circumstances change, it means you do. You ascend to a higher level. Nothing will ever be the same. Nothing."
A shadow fell across the podium. Everyone glanced up to see the eclipse arriving, right on schedule. All tensed, waiting.
The Mayor continued. "And so as we look back on…" he trailed off, suddenly groaning in pain, "on the events that brought us to this day," another wave of pain.
The slayer took her hat off. "Come on."
"We… we must all…" he suddenly screamed. Then he smiled. "It has begun. My destiny. It's a little sooner then I expected I had this whole section on civic pride… But I guess we'll just skip to the big finish!"
He groaned again, and the change began. Slowly his new shape emerged; a long, large, snake like creature.
Vampires began to form up behind the pupils, barring escape.
The slayer stood up. "Now!"
All present suddenly rose up, students casting off the maroon graduation gowns, revealing a large collection of stakes and crosses tied about them.
"Flame units," Buffy ordered. Several students, carrying blow torches, stepped forward and began spraying at the Mayor. Buffy turned and nodded at Xander. "First wave!" He remarked, and a contingent of students and adults came up, carrying crossbolts. "Fire!"
The Mayor lunged forward, grabbed a student and swallowed.
Snyder stood, shocked at the scene. "This… this is simply unacceptable!"
"Arm bow men," Xander continued. The contingent lit their arrows. "Fire!"
The contingent fired. Some vampires fell back, others turned into dust. The Mayor threw student towards the attack.
"Fall back!" Buffy ordered.
"Fire!" Xander ordered to those who had reloaded.
The vampires turned round, only to find another contingent of citizens; this time mostly adults, headed by Angel, Doyle, Jenny and Joyce.
Snyder walked up the snake that was previously the Mayor. "This is not orderly. This is not discipline! You're on my campus buddy! And when I say I want quiet, I want..."
He stopped speaking. Mainly because the snake that was the Mayor had swallowed him. Buffy, witnessing the event, stood shocked for a moment, then turned back to the students. "Xander take 'em down."
Xander pulled a stake out of his back pocket. "Everyone: hand to hand! Everyone! Lets go! Move! Move!"
The slayer turned back to the Mayor. She held a knife up before him. Faith's. The weapon she had retrieved earlier. "Hey! You remember this? I took it from Faith. Stuck it in her gut. Just slid in her like she was butter. You want to get it back from me?"
The Mayor screamed. Buffy turned and ran. He followed.
She led him through the corridors of Sunnydale High. Through to the library. She dropped the knife on the floor, then jumped through the window.
The Mayor only had time to look around and see the piles of fuel before realising that he had fallen into a trap.
Outside Buffy crouched next to her watcher, and nodded. Giles pushed down the dynamite plunger he had been holding.
Seconds later the school erupted with the explosion.
"We got off pretty cheap… considering," Jenny remarked.
"Seems like we did," Buffy agreed, looking around.
Giles placed a hand on her shoulder. "Are you all right?"
"I'm tired," Buffy confessed.
"I should imagine so. It's been quite a couple of days."
"I haven't processed everything yet. My brain isn't really functioning on the higher levels. It's pretty much: fire bad; tree pretty."
"Understandable. Well, when it's working again congratulate it on a good campaign. You did very well."
Buffy smiled at him. "Thank you. I will."
Her watcher took off his glasses. "There is a certain dramatic irony that's attached to all this. A Synchronicity that borders on… on predestination, one might say."
"Fire bad; tree pretty."
They reached the bench which seemed to have become the unofficial gathering point for the Scooby gang. Even Wesley was there, sitting on the back, his bent legs between Cordelia and Willow. Apart from varying degrees of cuts and bruises, no one was hurt.
The former cheerleader spoke. "Well, that's the most fun you can have without having any fun."
"How about the part where we kicked some demon ass?" Willow pointed out. "I didn't hate that."
"Hear, hear!" Xander agreed.
Buffy sat down below where Angel was leaning, quietly reaching out and taking his hand in hers. "If someone could just wake me when it's time to go to college, that'd be great."
"Guys take a moment to deal with this," Oz remarked. "We survived."
"It was a hell of a battle." The slayer agreed.
"Not the battle. High school. We're taking a moment..." he paused for just a second before adding, "and we're done."
Doyle came up towards them, his arms full of scrolls. "Here, I managed to rescue your diplomas." He walked up to Angel. "Also, I have a message from the Powers That Be. Thanks."
He pressed a hand to Angel's heart. The souled vampire suddenly shuddered. Then a light seemed to pass through him. He gasped when it gone, staring at the seer in shock. "What is this?" He asked, barely able to believe it.
"Half your reward. You're half human now."
Buffy stood up. "Half?" She queried.
"No immortality," Doyle explained. "And I would start supplementing your blood diet with food. You still have the face and fangs, but they're only slight. You still need your sunlight charm, but only if you want to game face during daylight hours."
Angel nodded. Then he turned to the group. "Excuse me."
Buffy waited until he was out of sight, then stood up. "I have some place I need to be."
At 1902 Crawford Street, Angel climbed the stairs to his bedroom, not really feeling as alive as he expected to feel, having been granted a half of his redemption. His mind was still focusing on what had occurred before it. Which was probably why he felt wretched and numb at his good fortune.
Like he did not really deserve it.
He entered his bedroom and halted in the doorway, his eyes staring at the bed in disbelief and shame. "You shouldn't be here." I deserve nothing but your deepest hatred for the rest of my unlife.
"Yes I should." The slayer sat up carefully, wrapping the silk sheets under her bare arms. Silently she beckoned him forward.
Angel obeyed, gingerly coming to rest on the edge of the bed.
"Would you die for me?" Buffy asked him bluntly then.
"Yes," Angel answered instantly.
"Then why will you not accept that I would do the same for you?" She asked him.
Angel turned away from her, studying the folds of sheets between them. "That's different," he protested.
"No it isn't," she insisted. "You were dying. I had the means to cure you. So I did." She paused to reach out and grab his hand, turning him back towards her. The silk sheet slipped a little. "And the Powers gave you part of your reward. Therefore, you were meant to live. So stop beating yourself up over this." She dropped the sheet. "And live."
He stared at her, powerless in the face of her beauty. She pulled him down for a long, long, kiss.
Before he knew it, he was returning it, moving on to the bed, letting his clothes be eased off him, and pressing his body against hers.
When breath became necessary, Buffy pulled him down to the pillows, whimpering in pleasure as his lips started a path down her body.
Angel moved his lips to her neck, and saw the scar. He stopped, unable to move past it, without thinking of what he had done. "I almost killed you."
"No you didn't," Buffy corrected. "Angelus, the demon you keep trapped, did. But you were there, and you stopped it from going too far. The whole Scooby gang witnessed and approved of my actions. And the Powers rewarded you. Forget it. Or, if you can't, the next apocalypse is yours to handle. Deal?"
He smiled at her, realising her point. "Deal." He kissed her again. Buffy wrapped her arms around him, and they fell back amongst the pillows and sheets. He dealt a kiss to her scar, then moved on to the rest of her body. Willingness and acceptance met him every step of the way, and Angel embraced them, as he began to take his soulmate's advice.
And learned to live.
Of Season Three.