A/N : And so we come to the last chapter, the end of the second story in the Trilogy. I know you'll all think its mostly a sad ending, but there is a third story still to come, and I guarantee that the end of that one will be happy :-) In the meantime, hope this doesn't cause too much sadness...
(For disclaimer, etc. - see chapter 1)
Xander was willing the bus to move faster, to get him back to Sunnydale as quick as possible. He'd been such a fool running away like he had, he knew that now. Willow had tried to call him on his cell, and since he'd had it switched off she'd left a message, along with the five or six Anya had left asking him to come home, and yelling at him for stressing her out 'in her condition'. Though he felt awful when he heard her distress, it was the red-head's message in particular that had urged him onto the next bus home, though he doubted he'd be telling Anya that when he got there.
'Xander, it's Willow. I don't know where you are or why, I guess you freaked out about the baby and ran. I thought you should know about Annaliese, she's gone, Xander' the message had said, tears evident in his friends voice as she explained, 'Some bad guys came, they took away Annaliese and Connor... they're gone for good Xander, gone to a hell dimension and there's no way for us to bring them back. I just thought you should know how lucky you are' had been how the message ended and Xander had tears in his eyes as he realised what an idiot he was. Buffy must be devastated, Spike too, if Annaliese was really gone.
As Willow had known it would, it made her friend think about his own life, and those close to him. He was risking losing his fiancée and his child by running away like this, and given the fact they lived on a Hellmouth he was risking losing them in a much bigger way than he might think by leaving them unprotected. He was on the next bus to Sunnydale almost as soon as Willow's message was over, thinking only of Anya and the child she carried - his son or daughter.
Hopping off the bus before it had barely stopped moving he literally ran to his apartment, only recalling why he didn't usually hurry in such a way when he neared collapse outside the front door of their home.
"Anya!" he called through the wood as he thumped on it too, doubling over as he tried to breathe.
Standing start sprint from the bus stop to the door was too hard and too fast for his body and he felt sick as she opened the door and he almost tumbled in on top of her.
"Xander!" she gasped, moving to hug him tight, only to begin hitting him moments later as anger at his disappearance bubbled to the surface covering her happiness all too quickly, "You stupid, stupid little man! Leaving me to get all stressed out and very nearly attacked by crazy ancient British men and their gangs!" she said as he pounded on his back
"Anya! Anya, please! Ahn, stop!" Xander protested, disentangling himself from her flailing arms and moving to hold himself steady over the kitchen counter, "Please, let me explain"
"Okay then, explain" she snapped, folding her arms across her chest as he looked across at her, dressed in her nightwear and a long dressing gown, "Explain to me why instead of talking to me like a grown up person about our half-formed child you ran away like a silly little boy!"
"I know I was an idiot" Xander told her, gasping less now as he got his breath back and faced her, "Honestly, I don't know why I freaked. I guess I was afraid I wouldn't deal so well with a baby. Ahn, I love you so much" he assured her, "but it already scares me half to death that we're getting married, and then finding out there's a baby on the way, it was like... my head got all scrambled" he admitted, "I guess I realised I suddenly had to be a grown up, and when I look around at my role models, the already grown-up people, I don't like what I see" he explained.
"Well, I'm not asking you to turn out like Giles" Anya frowned, not really understanding.
Xander shook his head, realising this fact.
"Not Giles" he told her, "Giles is great but he's not an actual husband or parent. My Dad is, and my Uncle, and none of the guys in my family are what I want to be. I don't want to feel like I have to get drunk to get through the day, I don't want... I don't want to hurt you, Ahn, or our kid" he explained, and though she understood now she was still frowning.
"Why would you think that you'd turn out like them?" Anya asked truly not understanding, "You're so different to your family, Xander" she reminded him as she came to stand the other side of the counter and put her hands over his on the surface, "I know you'll be the perfect husband and a wonderful father"
"Good to know somebody thinks so" he half-smiled and she did the same.
"You don't think I'm nervous too?" she asked him a moment later, "Honestly, Xander it's so long since I was human, it's taken me such a long time to get used to all the functions and so forth, and now everything is going to change again, now that I have this tiny being growing inside of me"
"It's okay, Ahn" he assured her, moving around the counter and pulling her gently to him, "We can do this together" he said with more confidence than he ever knew he could have, "Just so long as we're together, we can deal"
Anya smiled and nodded as the two leaned in and shared a kiss.
"I can't believe this" Cordelia shook her head as she and Angel passed by the 'You Are Now Leaving Sunnydale' sign in his car, "I mean, I thought it was the end of the world the last time I passed that sign; no money, no friends, nowhere to go" she sighed, "Now I have all those things, but..."
"But the world isn't any brighter" Angel finished for her, knowing how she felt, and worse too since Connor was his flesh and blood.
Though Cordelia was an excellent mother figure for his child and he was sure she would have been perfect as she helped him bring up his child into adulthood, she couldn't feel the pain he was feeling, not exactly.
Though Angel's heart did not beat he felt as if it were breaking. Still, he had to carry on, had to keep fighting. LA needed a champion and he was it. He could scream and cry and blame the Powers That Be, or himself, or others for the loss of his child, but it would do no good.
Without Cordelia to help him through he doubted he'd have survived the past forty eight hours without staking himself. As it was he'd coped with the loss of Connor, the resentment of Spike, and the leaving behind of Sunnydale and Buffy for the final time, without any death or destruction.
The silence in the car was by now deafening as neither of the two knew what to say. Angel flipped the radio on just for the sake of background noise, and they both realised what song they'd arrived in the middle of; Guns N Roses, Sweet Child O' Mine.
Silent tears crept down Cordy's cheeks as she turned to look out of the side window, her hand going to her face as she tried to disguise her overwhelming sadness. Beside her, Angel took in an unnecessary deep breath and exhaled again, hating the scent of salt water he picked up from the woman next to him.
He'd thought his world couldn't get much darker, he certainly hadn't wanted to pull Cordelia into it, but here they were, the last flicker of candle light threatening to go out any second, and take away any chance of being happy again.
"Angel" her voice was shaky as she turned back to look at him and he glanced across at her briefly before bringing his eyes back to the long empty road ahead, "We'll make it" Cordelia promised him with a brave smile that didn't quite reach her eyes as they filled with further tears. His hand left the wheel and reached across to pick up her own.
"Yeah, we will" he agreed, knowing she had to be right.
There was no other choice, after all.
"Hey" Buffy greeted Spike as he opened his eyes at last. She was laid out on the bed beside him, both of them still both fully clothed and on top of the covers, they had slept here like this.
"How long was I out?" he checked and she glanced up at the clock so she could answer him properly.
"A couple of hours" she told him, her hand reaching across to push his hair back of his face. The gel he'd applied a while ago had lost all it's grip by now and his natural curls were showing, which Buffy found made him look all the more cute and weirdly vulnerable, though the fact she'd seen him cry last night may have been making her see that too.
"And you?" Spike asked her, "You get any sleep, luv?"
"A little" she nodded, "Though mostly I was just lying here watching you, thinking about things I have, and things I've lost" she said, her voice cracking with emotion once again.
Spike reached out his arms to her and she was glad to move across the bed and be held in his embrace. They needed each other so much, and moreover they loved each other. It was as clear to them both now as it had ever been. There was no questions about whether his or her feelings came from obsession or pity or any number of other excuses. They loved each other, it was obvious just from the way they were with each other, from the way they'd kissed before, from the way he held her now.
"Not rightly sure how things are gonna be now" Spike said softly as he kissed the top of Buffy's head, "Started making plans before, my future with Annaliese in it and now..." he paused a while before continuing thoughtfully, "Maybe it was s'posed to be like this, maybe it was too much to hope I could hold onto a miracle that long"
"You were a great father, Spike" Buffy assured him as she looked up at him, "You are"
"Thanks, luv" he managed a small smile at her kind words, "Still, I'm not stupid, pet. I know I did a lot of damage in my day, and for that, I have to suffer. That's p'haps what this is for, though the bleedin' Powers That Screw-Over ought to've found a bloody better way to hurt me than this, all they've done is wind up bringin' you pain too"
"I can deal" she said bravely, "We still have each other, that has to mean something" Buffy told him and he nodded before pulling her tight to him once again.
"I guess it has to at that" he agreed, as they both closed their eyes, willing sleep to take them back to oblivion together for a while.
Tomorrow they would face the future and all it might bring, right now they were content to hide from it, and just stay here, safely wrapped in each others arms.