Yakov watched the portal closely. His master had only been gone for a few minutes. It shouldn't be hard kidnapping one small girl. Daristo's started walking back into this dimension. He carried in his arms a 5 year old girl. The portal closed behind him
"You seem weak master", Yakov said without opening his eyes.
"Yes", Daristos said as he placed Katarina's body on the floor. "I am heavily weakened. I need to recharge"
"You will need your strength", Yakov said. "The slayer has arrived in the city".
Daristos looked up shocked. "Set up protection for the building", Daristos said. "Send out the hounds to sniff her around. We will be ready for her"
Yakov walked away. Just then, The First in Buffy form appeared in front of Daristos. She looked at Katarina's body.
"Kidnapping?" The First asked ironically. "This is your master plan?"
Daristos ignored The First as he picked up Katarina's body and place her on a table. The small girl seemed to be sleeping. She had a nasty bruise on her throat. Most likely to pressure Daristos had caused to knock her out. "You are playing with fire", The First continued. "Taking the slayer's daughter will only anger her more".
"Before this is over", Daristos responded admiring the little girl's hair. "You will see The Greatest Vampire Slayer on her knees… begging for mercy".
A clash of lightning and thunder flashed the two evil beings on the 86th floor of the building.
Nikon examined Dawn. The color on her face was returning. She was covered in Angel's trench coat. Her body temperature was slowly returning to normal. But she needed to rest. She was extremely weak. Without her strength, the entire expedition would be more shorthanded. They were a mile away from their destination. They had cramped up into the ruins of Broadway hotel. They had found a clean room and bed. One that did not have any dead bodies. They had placed Dawn in the clean bed. Her breathing was normalizing. Nikon turned towards Buffy who was looking out the window. She seemed deep in thought.
Buffy saw the devastation in the time square area. It was an eerie sight. The once crowded streets of Manhattan, were drenched in blood and flesh. Carcasses of human bodies were still inside of their cars. As if trying to escape the devastation. Rock and debris covered the landscape. Silence. Deadly silence. She looked at Dawn who seemed to be recovering well. She felt Angel's hand rub her shoulder. She clasped her hand in his. The room door opened suddenly. Mary and Faith entered the room and closed the door.
"Gargoyles are patrolling the skies", Faith said. "They seem to be aware we made it here to New York"
"Hell Hounds are also on the prowl", Mary said as she approached Dawn. "I can feel their stench".
Buffy rubbed her arms as he looked at Angel. Where they way over their head? she thought. Doubt was visible in her eyes. Angel saw her eyes and knew what she was thinking. The odds were stacked against them. Even with all their powers combined, Daristos's gargoyle army would overwhelm them. He looked at Faith. She was determined but he could sense her fear. Mary also had doubt in her eyes. She tried to hide it but it was clear to Angel that she was not the confident Mary that the team needed. Nikon looked tired. Two thousand years fighting just took its toll on any living being. Mortal or not.
Angel looked at Buffy again. She was tired. Tired of fighting. Tired of saving the world over and over again. Tired of being the last always. Tired of sacrificing everything for a world that did not appreciate what they did.
But things need to be done. They had gotten this far. They were not about to back down.
"We will go through the sewer system", Angel said giving orders for the first time. "We will reach the Empire State Building from underneath and start working our way up. We will wait for Dawn to be ready to move and we will keep pushing forward"
Mary sighed heavily and placed her head on her hands. She felt her black hair run through her fingers. "I need time to regroup", she stated as she stood up and walked into the bathroom shutting the door.
Angel was surprised as well as Buffy. Mary's attitude had not been as stellar the entire trip. Something was eating her up from inside.
Nikon stood up slowly and followed Buffy's and Angel's gaze. He slowly walked towards the bathroom. He opened and closed the door as he entered. He saw Mary slumped down in the bathtub. In Nikon's eyes she always looked gorgeous. Black jacket and a red blouse. With a pair of tight jeans. Heeled black boots completed the vampire's outfit. Always the renegade. Nikon looked into his slayer's eyes as he sat on the toilet. He waited for Mary to make the first move. In two thousand years being together, he had learned at least something. He didn't need to wait long.
"You know how much I hate you?", Mary said flatly.
Nikon tensed up a bit. Two thousand years did not mean all flowers and roses. Two thousand years included a bit of thorns as well. Nikon still stood quiet.
"You robbed me!" Mary said. "You robbed me of a mortal life! I should be dead over 20 lifetimes ago!"
Nikon remained quiet.
"For 2000 years I have fought the vampires, the demons and the forces of darkness", Mary said. She was getting angrier. "I have stopped a dozen of times the end of the world. And for what? To find out, that years later there will be another to be stopped. And than another. I can't do this anymore"
Nikon looked at her. He was really hurt. Not because of what she was saying. But because she was right.
"I love you", Mary said flatly. "And I have always wished that you and me could have a normal life. A normal human normal life. That we would grow old together. Have kids. Have grand kids. You promised that would happen. You promised that 500 years ago. You promised 300 years ago. You promised 200 years ago… and guess what? Still not human"
Nikon looked at the floor in shame. There was nothing he could say. There was nothing.
"I do have a soul though", Mary continued her rant. "That means I can feel. I felt the pain of loss when my parents died. I felt the loss of all my sister slayers that have died in battle. Felt the pain of being a woman and not being able to bare children. Seeing the pain of children I have taken care of, grow up, leave me and then die. The pain that tares my life apart".
Nikon looked at her. Visibly hurt by her words. "You are right", he said. "You have always been right. It was not fair for me to turn you into what you are now. It is not fair to have lived all this time. Fight and not see any kind of hoper four ourselves. We were never meant to live this long".
Mary stood up in the tub. Nikon did the same and looked at her eyes.
"I am asking you", Nikon said. "To help me. To help us. To help the world one last time. After this. We are done"
Mary looked at her lover. She stepped outside the bathtub. "I would cry", she said. "If I had tears to shed". Saying that she walked out. Nikon stood alone in the bathroom for a moment. It would be their last battle.
Buffy watched the bathroom door opened. One look on Mary's face told a thousand words. "I am going to patrol de area", Mary said. "Make sure we are alone". She left without waiting for approval.
Faith looked at Buffy. "Guess M is not hard as stone as we all thought", Faith said.
Nikon came out of the bathroom. Without a word he went back to check on Dawn's condition.
Buffy felt her insides empty. Her team was fracturing. And the enemy was to close for comfort.
Katarina slowly opened her eyes. She felt cold. She could see the sky was covered in dark clouds. She looked at her surroundings. She was on the 86th floor observation deck of the empire state building. But to the young infant, she was some place high. She jumped from the table and slowly walked towards de ledge. She ran back in fear seeing how high she was. She was no longer home. She was no longer safe. She saw the entrance to the building. She saw that two massive hell gargoyles were guarding it. She seemed amazed seeing the monstrous creatures. Of all the reading she did, hell gargoyles seemed extremely familiar.
She crouched in a corner and looked at the sky. She was cold and alone in some strange place. She felt tears start running down her cheeks. She tried to remember Mary's words every time she visited. She remembered the first time she tripped and banged her knee.
"You are the daughter of the most powerful vampire slayer", Mary had said when she picked her up from the floor. "And your father is a champion warrior of good. When they have fallen, they get back up and fight."
"So I should do the same", Katarina responded.
"It is in your blood", Mary said. "You are destined to be brave and strong"
Katarina wiped the tears from her eyes and waited. She tried to remember everything that Mary had taught her in her visits. "You will not be here forever", Mary had said. She was reading her a book in Latin. "One day both your parents will come, and you will be the family you are destined to be"
"What if they don't come?" Katarina had asked.
Mary smiled. "We are all born with a purpose", she replied. "If we did not have a purpose we would not be here. Your parents will come. They will fight. They will survive to see their purpose come to pass. You will be with them".
"What if something happens?" Katarina asked. "What if they can't find me?"
Mary looked at her green eyes. "They will find you", Mary firmly responded. "If you are ever taken to a scary place. Somewhere other than a place you call home. Be sure your mom and dad will get there".
Katarina looked at the clouded sky. "Mommy", Katarina said. "Where are you?"
Mary moved slowly toward the hotel main desk. She covered behind it just as a Gargoyle flew in front of the building. She saw several others were hovering nearby. Trying to smell human flesh. Trying to smell blood. Because of the destruction caused, blood and flesh was everywhere. They did not count that their own actions will now cover the tracks of the survivors. The patrol moved away.
Mary relaxed a bit and felt a hand on her shoulder. She turned around ready to smack someone and saw Angel holding his hands up in peace. "Relax", he said. "Just a friend". Mary turned her back and kept watch.
"Want to talk about it?" Angel asked.
"There is nothing to talk about really", Mary responded coldly. "We have a job to do. We need to do it"
Angel slumped down behind her. "I want to thank you for taking care of Katarina all this time", Angel said. Mary tensed up when she heard Katarina's name. "I talked to Nikon and he says she is really big", Angel continued. "She likes to read a lot"
"Running out of books to read", Mary said half smiling as she sat next to her friend.
"I would assume so", Angel said. "Is she cute?"
Mary smiled at her friend and pulled out something from her pants pocket. "See for yourself", Mary said as she handed Angel a small photograph.
Angel took the picture and looked at his daughter for the first time. She was trying to eat some ice cream. He had to smile. She looked like Buffy. "She is the most beautiful creature I have seen"
"She is", Mary said. "She knows who you are"
"Really?" Angel asked. "How?"
Mary smiled as she looked at the floor. "Nikon and I handed a picture of you and Buffy", she said. She started laughing. "You should see how she hugs it. She sleeps with in her bed. It's like her security blanket".
"Really?" Angel asked.
"Yeah", Mary said. "Last time I took ice cream into the room and she got it all over herself. She looked so cute. But then, a small drop of ice cream fell on the picture frame. She started running around trying to clean it". She started giggling as she was telling the story.
Angel smiled and imagined the scene. It was perfect.
"I am simply going to miss her", Mary said flatly. Her sadness completely revealed. Angel hugged her tight. "She will be so happy when she sees the both of you", Mary continued. "It will be a great moment"
"You will be there", Angel said. "You will be there for her and for us. As you have always been. Let's just take it one step at a time. One last time. One last battle"
Marry nodded and stood up. Angel followed suit.
"What else did Nikon tell you?" Mary asked as they walked back to the stairs.
"He told me…" Angel started. "That in 2000 years of dating the same girl, he hasn't figured you out"
Mary giggled. "Men don't change over 2000 years", she said. "And basing on experience alone, twenty lifetimes are not enough to understand women"
Angel walked up the stairs trailing Mary. As she spoke he only thought about his relationship with Buffy. I am doomed, he thought to himself.