Disclaimer: All characters belong to Joss Whedon, Buffy, and Angel the series.
Synopsis: It's been awhile but here's more chapters coming! I am totally skipping the fight scene, since I can't really improve on what Joss and his team wrote! So we all know how that ended and will pick up from after that!
In the end, even knowing what was to happen couldn't stop it. Glory had opened the gateway and instead of jumping through she was going to allow it to swallow our own world. The only way to stop it was to close it, and that took blood. Summers blood. They had to drag Giles away. With all the odd deaths in Sunnydale, it was best Buffy's body simply be found, but it didn't make it any easier. With her broken body laid out before them, so many of them felt their own worlds come crashing down. Trudging back to the Magic Box it was Cordelia and Wesley that got everyone back and seated, tea started. Cordelia was surprised at just how numb she too was feeling, but she could still move, still function. So she worked to help the others. Not that there was anything any of them could actually do.
Blank faces stared at nothing, eyes cold, dark and dead with the inability to process what had just happened. Dawn sniffled every once in awhile, fit into the crook of Willow's arm. Tara holding her hand and both muttering to her but mindless in the aftermath of Glory. It was Gunn that noticed it first. A package with the team's name on it. They all froze at his mention of it. What did they care for a package now? What could they do now? Cordelia handed the tea off to Giles then went to read the small card with it.
"It's from the Fates. How did they know we were here?"
Angel shot her a look and she sighed, rolling her eyes.
"Right. Sorry. Anyway they are actually paying us for a job."
No one else was interested, so she and Gunn went ahead and opened it. A small bowl with glowing crystal balls and yet another note, this time in the form of a scroll.
'Your deed is done,
payment in kind.
The threads we unwind,
choose your path.
At midnight the shards will tell,
the path you chose,
the life you lose.'
Wesley slowly walked over, as did Giles and looked over the scroll while Cordelia picked up a crystal. The moment she touched it a scene unfolded in front of her. Her life, different. A show of her own, on the red carpet, famous, rich. Everything she had thought she wanted. Quickly she set it back down and took a staggering step back. Suddenly all eyes were on her.
"Did you see that? Or was that just me. It was, wow."
Suddenly they were all moving. Dawn gripped Willow who stayed with her, while Giles and Wesley looked over the crystals. A quick and abbreviated conversation taking place between the two.
"Obviously if it's from the Fates. . "
"Yes yes, but how far back does it go?"
"There are no answers on what it will change. . . "
"Could have catastrophic consequences. . "
Just then Wesley grabbed one of them and again a scene flashed before them. He was at the Council and now a member, his own father answering to him. He quickly put it back down and put a hand to his forehead. Gunn reached for a crystal and Giles stopped him.
"Hold on, we aren't sure what this means. We need to do some research."
Gunn rolled his eyes and looked at Cordelia.
"You're right, just like Wes. Look it said midnight right? So we don't exactly have time to hit the books, English."
Grabbing a crystal he held on as the scene changed. He was living in the suburbs, with his sister. Getting ready for college and heading out into his own car. Everything was brighter, normal. dropping it he frowned.
"They sure know how to getcha huh?"
Cordelia put a hand on his arm. Fame was one thing, but this was his sister alive again. Wes nodded to Giles who picked up a crystal and nothing happened. Turning he handed the last crystal out to Angel.
"It would seem these are meant for you and your team only."
"I don't want it."
Angel nearly growled and Dawn whimpered.
"Nice goin' poof. Upset the bit."
Tensions rose high as the vampires faced off and it was Cordelia who got in between them. Grabbing Angel's arm she looked at him.
"Angel, whether we like it or not, it looks like this offer has a shelf life. We need to at least know what we are working with."
Reluctantly he nodded, a quick glare to Spike and he stepped forward to take the crystal. This time the scene changed only a little. Still at the Magic Box, he was there, with Buffy. Talking, getting ready to part ways for school and work. It was daylight and he was in it. He was human. He had his soul. Buffy was alive.
Once it was proven that the crystals only worked for the Angel Investigations team and there was only one for each, the group seemed to quiet down into contemplation again. The problem was, the lines were already drawn. Angel sat at a table staring at the crystal, Willow, Xander, Tara, Dawn, and Giles all staring as well. At the front cabinets Wesley stood with his hands on Cordelia's shoulders. The two of them staring down as if unable to look at the crystals now. Gunn stared at Angel, arms crossed. Only Spike sat alone. Unable to look at anyone. Yet he was the one that spoke first.
"Runnin' outta time, aren' ya'all?"
Cordelia's head came up, Angel hadn't moved. Taking a step forward she nodded.
"He's right. We only have twenty minutes. As best as Wes and Giles can figure, if we want what we saw, we break the crystals. Then get that life. I don't know about the rest of you but, I already know my choice."
"Wasn' hard for ya was it cheerleader? Gonna take the easy way out."
"Look bleach boy-!"
Gunn stood in front of Cordy and she shook her head.
"It's okay Gunn. I'm sure if he had the choice it would be easy for him."
She stared Spike down and for the first time he actually flinched, his face falling and looking aside. He had changed, helping the Scoobies, even if they didn't want to believe it. Now, he was lost and lashing out. Getting called on it left him with no where else to turn. Cordelia nodded as if they finally understood each other before turning to address the rest of them, more specifically, Angel.
"There was a time what i saw would be all I ever wanted. Things changed. As much as I may not want to admit it, I changed. These visions, they are part of me now, it wasn't an accident that I got them, and I'm not giving them up. No matter what any of you decide, this is my life. I'm going to keep it. I'll, understand if you take it. The crystals. But, I'm staying. L.A. needs someone to help the hopeless."
She looked from Angel to Gunn and Wesley. She knew especially with Gunn what this chance meant. For a long time no one said anything, but then Gunn sighed and stood next to her.
"Can't let Barbie have all the fun now can I? I always said I'd do anything to get my sister back, but, I think she'd agree with me right now. Gotta lot of people needin' help. Can't go pretendin' like they don't."
Cordelia smiled and squeezed his hand. At least she wouldn't be alone. Before she could say anything else, Wesley stared at his crystal and then gently put it back. Taking his place with the other two.
"I have never done more good than I have with this team. My reputation aside, I make a difference. We make a difference. There is no price on that."
The three stood, alone, waiting. Angel still hadn't raised his head, continuing to stare at the crystal. Time ticked by and finally Spike growled. Angel's head snapped up as his grandchilde stepped over to his team.
"She's gone ya nancy boy!"
Faces went almost feral then fell. The pain was raw on Spike's face and his eyes flicked up to Giles and the others before going back to Angel. Even Dawn and Willow had to lower their eyes from the immense pain on Spike's face. Yet Spike spoke only to Angel.
"She's gone. She made a choice, an' whether we like it or not, she knew what she was doin'. These three here, might be pathetic, but they made a choice too. Looks like the world jus' waitin' on you. Again."
The last said with a snarl of lip. He stood a bit straighter, it seeming so much more real now that he said it out loud. Now that he had, in his own way, made his own decision. The clock ticked, suddenly incredibly loud to them all. Angel slowly stood and looked at them all, but it was Cordelia's face he was gauging. Her understanding he needed.
"We've all lost people in this, fight. People we will never see again, that shouldn't have died. I get it, it's our fight, but no matter what we do, we lose. I can't, I'm tired of losing."
Cordelia swallowed but didn't move.
"Angel, I know you're tired. We get tired too, but that's why we work together. We can't think about all the losses, we have to think of all the people we've helped."
She was pleading she knew it, and more minutes ticked on by. The two just stared at each other. While Gunn and Wesley were a part of this, it was Cordelia and Angel that had been there from the beginning. They had suffered the losses together, a friend that they would never forget. Angel knew she was right but all it took was one look back at Dawn and Willow. A glare from Xander as he crossed his arms. He knew that Xander would hold him personally responsible for this decision. He looked back at Cordelia and reached for the crystal.
"I'm sorry. It's, it's Buffy."
As he threw the crystal to the ground he looked up. The Scoobies eyes on the crystal, nothing else, as if Buffy would walk right out of it. Spike glaring at him, as he stood behind his team. As if protecting them. Wesley looked disappointed, so did Gunn. Only Cordelia wouldn't look at him. The crystals untouched burst like bubbles and he looked down as his own broke into shards of light. Knowing at that last moment, his decision hadn't been the right one. Only the selfish one. Light overtook them all, blinding them, and then, it was dark.
A/N: There it is, the true plot of the story is about to begin! How the world is changed and the people in it. A world where Buffy and Angel are finally together! But at what cost?