The Source (Season Nine, episode 22)

Starring

Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy Summers & The First Evil

James Marsters as Spike

Eliza Dushku as Faith Lehane

Tom Lenk as Andrew Wells

Amy Acker as Illyria

And

D.B. Woodside as Robin Wood

Special Guest Stars

Alyson Hannigan as Willow Rosenberg

Seth Green as Daniel Osbourne "Oz"

Marc Blucas as Riley Finn

And

Anthony Stewart Head as Rupert Giles

Guest Stars

Nicholas Brendon as Xander Harris

David Boreanaz as Angel

Andy Hallett as Lorne

Vincent Kartheiser as Connor

Mark Metcalf as The Master

Robin Sachs as Ethan Rayne

With

J. August Richards as Charles Gunn

Amber Benson as Tara MaClay

And

Alexis Denisof as Wesley Wyndam-Pryce

Co-star

Max Perlich as Whistler

PREVIOUSLY

RG (V.O. as Gunn is seen in the cavern of Cleveland's Hellmouth, with the Source in front of him): The Source of Magic. It is a sphere of powerful energy that contains and balances the supernatural world. It was divided into several portions and hidden at specific locations all over the world by The Powers that Be to ensure that the whole thing is not damaged or destroyed at one time. I imagine the results of an effect like that would be quite catastrophic. (Ep. 3: The History of Magic)

Gunn shoves Buffy aside and destroys the Source. Dawn vanishes. Buffy, Spike, and Willow shudder. (Ep. 5: Rescue)

BS: We're human?

RG: It seems that one portion has been destroyed, and since you three were near it at the time, your supernatural abilities have been wiped clean.

S: Wait a minute. Does this mean I've been Shanshued?

RG: I-I can't say. (Ep. 6: Redemption)

WR: Tara?

TM: I'll always be here if you need me. (S.8, Ep. 6: Lost Love)

RF (V.O. as Ethan Rayne is being dragged away): By the authority of the U.S. military, you are being taken into custody, pending the determination of your status. (S.4, Ep. 12: A New Man)

A: Is my life's mission over, then?

Whistler: Yeah right. You've still got some redemption left ahead of you to fulfill. (Angel S.7, Ep. 14: Angels)

CG: I have no place in life.

C: Sure you do. Angel and I are gonna help you find it. (Ep. 7: Only Human)

Oz: I can control my transformations now.

BS: Oh my god. How?

Oz: Mediation. And the ability to keep your inner cool. (Ep. 19: Once in a Full Moon)

BS: (V.O. as The First shapeshifts from Illyria to Buffy, then The Master's death (S.1, Ep. 12: Prophecy Girl) fades into his resurrection (Ep. 17: Masquerade), ending with the two of them standing with Illyria): So The First and The Master are both back and teamed up with Illyria?

FL: Sounds like the baddest of the bads have joined up on this one. (Ep. 21: End of the Line)

S: Illyria's always been a wild card. She doesn't know where her place in the world is yet. (Ep. 16: Secrets and Lies)

FE: We will take over the world, then decide who rules it.

M: That will be easy. You can't fight.

FE (V.O. as another portion of the Source emits a flash of light): That may change soon. (Ep. 18: Confessions)

Oz (V.O. as The First punches The Master aside) : Nothing like the end of the world to bring everyone together.

RW: So, what's the plan, Buffy?

BS: I . . . I don't know. But we can win this.

AW: (Frantically) How? The leader of all evil is a slayer-duplicate. It has the most powerful vampire and a demon-god on its side, not to mention an army of Bringers! We have only two super people on our side: one Slayer and one werewolf. How can we possibly win this?

XH: (Shrugging) Ewoks beat The Empire, didn't they?

WR: I'm sure Giles ha something planned.

RG: Buffy. I've found help.

BS: Help?

Ethan Rayne reveals himself.

ER: Hello there, sweetness. (Ep. 21: End of the Line)

TEASER: Buffy, Xander, Willow, Giles, Spike, Faith, Oz, Riley, Andrew, Robin, and Ethan stand outside the entrance to the Hellmouth cavern from "Redemption".

BS: (To Ethan) You? (To Giles) Him?!

ER: Knew you'd miss me.

BS: Giles, what the-!?

RG: Buffy, listen. Ethan has worked with The First before. He may know how to deal with it.

BS: You can't be serious.

ER: Things have changed since before.

BS: Yeah, right. Like you don't worship chaos anymore or . . . or you want to help us.

ER: I don't and I do.

Buffy stared at him.

RF: You've been rehabilitated?

ER: If you must use that word, then yes. Your little friends in the army forced their will on me, and now I've changed.

WR: I don't understand.

ER: Then I'll explain.

S: We really don't have much time for storytelling, mate.

ER: Then I'll be brief. Ripper, would you care to start us off?

RG: What? I, uh . . .

ER: Oh, very well. Now pay attention kiddies, as this will be a one-time telling only.

ACT 1: Hyperion Hotel. Angel, Connor, Lorne, and Gunn are sitting around the lobby.

C: Wow. I'm bored.

A: The demonic activity has been greatly reduced lately. Something must be going on somewhere else.

CG: Like a demonic gathering?

A: Possibly. The last time the streets were deserted of demons, there was a major event happening.

L: Maybe not. Maybe we've finally defeated the last of those ugly-faced do-gooders and the city is safe forever, thanks to our heroic champion! (He looked around at Angel, Connor, and Gunn, who looked extremely dubious) (Hopelessly) Alright, well, it was worth a try. (The phone on the desk rings) I'll get it. (Picks up the phone) Angel Investigations, we help the helpless.

A: Whatever is going on, it must be something big.

CG: You think we'll need some extra assistance?

A: From who, Gunn? We're all that's left. After what happened last year . . .

C: Don't go there, dad.

A: Look, I know how much Gwen meant to you. I miss her too, but we've got to go on with our mission. We have to do something.

C: Well then, why don't we find out what the event is and then stop it?

L: (Hangs up the phone) It's going to take more than just you guys, I'm afraid. That was Spike. Buffy needs help.

Back outside the cavern in Cleveland's Hellmouth.

ER: Right then. What would you like to know first?

BS: First of all, you say you've changed?

ER: Yes.

BS: How?

ER: Well, you see, it's been coming on for a while now. (V.O. now over scenes from his story) When I was sent to that horrible correctional facility, I mulled things over in my mind. I realized that my half-witted attempts to screw with you and Rupert were done in the name of Chaos. I figured as I had worshipped the gods of Chaos for many, many years, they owed me a favor or two for my services. So, as I've already told you, I prayed to the Chaos Lords to release me, in return for my servitude. But they ignored me. From that moment, I abandoned my faith in Chaos and turned my devotion toward the thing everyone calls The First Evil instead. It appeared in my cell and I explained my predicament to it. It was skeptical about my worthiness to join with its cause. So, in desperation, I offered the contest of five inter-dimensional champions of our choosing to be pitted against each other in a wager for power. As you know, it had agreed. Well, as you know, after you all won your battles and assembled my ancestor to find Hope's Dagger, The First double-crossed me. Instead of giving me the power and freedom it had promised, it used me to fight for it, then sent me back to my containment forever. I was feeling rather helpless after that. I had nothing left to devote myself to. Then, a few months ago, The First returned to my cell and offered to hire my services once again. I couldn't believe the nerve of it; Trick me, use me, and discard me, then ask for my help again? I laughed in its face and said there was no chance in hell I would work for it again. Then it told me of the recent changes in the world of magic and its personal plans for it. It told me of how it returned to this dimension after being mystically linked to the Slayer being brought back to life, how all potential slayers in the world had been given their powers, about the destruction of Sunnydale, and about a destruction of a portion of the Source of Magic, which had wiped out all but one Slayer's powers. I was surprised to discover that that Slayer was not you, Miss Summers. Apparently, your tenure as the Slayer ran out 10 years ago when you were killed by The Master vampire and activated another Slayer somewhere else. It also told me of its plans to revive The Master, for purposes involving altering The Source, which apparently he has the ability to do. So, to make a long story short, I turned down The First's offer, it left, I was left to stew over recent failures, until I got bailed out of my cell by none other than good old Ripper, here.

Ethan looked around impressively, waiting for somebody to speak.

BS: And?

ER: And what? That's all there is.

BS: You can't have turned good just like that.

ER: Why not?

Buffy looked around at the assembled people behind her.

BS: Half the people behind me were evil and became good, but it didn't happen to any of them overnight: Faith had to spend two days in my body and three years in jail; Spike had to deal with a chip in his head for three years and a soul for five; Andrew had to face the fact that he'd killed his best friend; Willow had to flay a guy alive and lose her girlfriend; Giles had to work past his days with you for most of his life before he got past it, not to mention dealing with that Eyghon guy; while you just . . . became good?

ER: No. I was betrayed by the two entities I had worshipped more than anything else in life. I have no allegiance anymore. But since you are trying to stop The First, I would be more than happy to assist you in taking it down.

RW: So, you're not technically 'good'. You're just not 'evil' anymore?

ER: That is how I would phrase it, yes.

WR: And Giles bailed you out?

ER: Indeed. Very decent of you, Rupert.

RG: It wasn't out of respect or forgiveness, Ethan. I knew that you were the only person alive who had dealt with The First before. Luckily, may gamble paid off.

XH: How?

RG: Well, we have our information and, as it seems, gained an ally as well.

C (O.S.) Make that 'allies', if you would.

Connor, Angel, and Gunn have arrived.

BS: Angel?

A: Buffy. We heard you were in trouble and needed some backup.

BS: How? Who called you?

S: (Raising a hand) That one's on me, Slayer.

FL: You asked for Angel's help?

S: Well yeah. Fightin' The First Evil again, we're gonna need all the help we can get, even Captain Brooding.

A: Good to see you again too, Blondie Bear.

RF: (Folding his arms and facing Angel) So, still here, are you?

A: (Folds his arms too and faces Riley) Yes. Is that a problem?

BS: Don't you two dare start this up again. Not here, and not now.

XH: (Slightly irritated) Looks like this went from a 'saving the world' party to a 'reunion of all Buffy's exes' party.

A: (To Xander) Wait. You and Buffy?

XH: (Satisfactorily, nodding) Uh huh.

A: (Scoffs) Well, that's . . . that's great. You finally got there. Only took you a decade.

Oz: Hate to be referee guy here, but we do have a world to save.

BS: Yes. Thank you.

CG: (Pointing at Ethan) Who's this guy?

ER: Charles Gunn, is that right? I've heard loads about you and your actions before. Really changed the world, they had.

CG: What're you talkin' about?

ER: Oh, right. Of course, you don't remember. But that was the point, though, wasn't it?

BS: What are you talking about, Ethan?

ER: Ever heard of The Fall of Los Angeles, Mr. Gunn?

CG: The Fall of-?

ER: Rather big event. City of Los Angeles was sent to hell after you and your group tried to wipe out the Circle of the Black Thorn. You remember that, don't you? You nearly died, the alleyway, the dragon, that other guy got himself killed-

Ethan was suddenly slammed into the wall by Gunn, Angel, and Spike together.

CG: Don't talk that way about Wes.

ER: I-I didn't-

A: He was more than twice the man you are.

They drop Ethan, who falls to the floor, coughing.

ER: I'm sorry if I'd offended you. I didn't know how close you chaps were.

S: (Snorts) Bollocks. How did you know the events of that night so well, then?

ER: I told you, The First told me everything.

XH: Wait a sec, when you say 'Wes', do you mean Wesley? Watcher Wesley?

A: (Curtly) Yes.

XH: Well, your statement doesn't match up with the Wesley that I-

A: (More curtly) He changed.

Angel's glare was so fierce, Xander stuttered into silence.

AW: A dragon? (To Angel) You fought a dragon?

A: I actually became friends with it.

AW: (Awe) Cool!

CG: Back to this 'Fall' thing. What was it?

ER: I told you, after you attempted to wipe out the Black Thorn people, The Senior Partners sent the city of Los Angeles into hell. You were turned into a vampire, caused a lot of havoc on your boss, killed him and his son too, if I remember correctly. Reversed the whole thing, and everything went back to the way it was. Everything got reversed except the death of your pal Wesley, as it happened previous to those events.

CG: I was . . . a vampire?

C: (To Gunn) You killed me?!

ER: Yes. I believe that is why you destroyed Cleveland's section of the Source, wasn't it? To erase those horrible memories of what you'd done? (Gunn stares straight ahead, unable to speak.) And as if that wasn't enough guilt on your plate, Mr. Gunn, by destroying the Source, you also made Buffy, the bleached vampire over there, and the witch into mortals, plus you wiped the Slayer's kid sister from existence.

BS: What?

ER: You used to have a sister.

BS: A sister? How-?

ER: It was a very messed up situation. See, some monks got ahold of some mystical Key thing that could open portals to other dimensions-

WR: That Key was the Sphere of Dagon. We destroyed it shortly after our little adventure with you.

ER: No. That is what you were tainted into remembering. Your memories were remolded so that you wouldn't remember the sister's existence, or the fact that she was The Key. She was originally a ball of energy, created by magic, hence her non-existence after the Source was destroyed. It's kinda funny, actually, because the monks had remolded your memories first, so as to make you remember the sister always having been there. Then they got remolded again to make you forget again? That's hilarious.

BS: (Distantly) But . . . this doesn't make any sense. I didn't have a sister, then I did, then I didn't again?

ER: Like I said, very funny.

RG: (With disgust) You haven't changed at all, Ethan. You still have that twisted sense of humor.

ER: What? You think that just because my opinions have changed, my mannerisms have as well?

BS: Why are you telling us all this?

ER: You wanted answers, so I'm giving them to you. Besides, isn't it better to know the whole story and why things are the way they are?

Buffy doesn't answer.

S: Back to this Source thingy. What's The First's plan for that?

ER: Well, as you must have witnessed, it had The Master use it to shift the balance of evil in one direction, affecting The First's presence, causing it to become a corporeal version of any form it chooses.

BS: And it chose mine. Why?

Meanwhile, inside the cavern, The First, The Master, and Illyria are standing around The Source.

FE: Why? That girl has caused me more trouble than any living being in the history of the world. It's only appropriate that I get to kill her as her. Besides, what more powerful and ironic form could I become?

M: (Sarcastically) Oh, I don't know, maybe some more powerful demon, like, say . . . ME?

FE: (Raising an eyebrow) You would want me to be stuck as you? With that face? I don't think so. Besides, this is only temporary. Once we accomplish our goal, I will become my true physical self. Anyway, you are not as strong as that Slayer. No demon ever has been, and the ones that were, she has outsmarted. Why do you think she has survived this long?

M: You are starting to pick up her pathetic sense of humor.

FE: (Shrugs) Comes with the outfit. (Reminiscently) Sometimes you remind me so much of Caleb . . .

I: What do we do next?

FE: First, we will reprogram the Source to wipe out all the good power in the world, leaving only the darkest life forms alive. Then once that girl and her gang are gone, we can decide who will rule the new world.

M: I am the only person who can say they have ever slain Buffy Summers. I have the advantage over both of you.

I: Even if true, my power is unmatched by any. I am Illyria, god-king of the primordi-

M: Blah, blah, blah, we've heard the speech enough times already.

FE: Would you two mind not fighting until after we finish our mission first?

The Master grumbles, then bends down and works on the Source.

Back outside the cavern.

BS: How?

ER: What?

BS: How do we stop them from erasing the good magic in the world?

ER: Well, there is one way. It would be difficult. And dangerous. And, I imagine, painful.

A: Why? What has to be done?

ER: Well, the only way I know of to stop it would be for somebody to merge with it, a good supernaturally enhanced person, sacrificing their life-energy to it.

BS: No.

ER: I'm sorry?

BS: Nobody here is sacrificing themselves to stop this thing.

ER: You really don't have a choice here. This would mean that only one of them (He points at Angel, Connor, Faith, and Oz) must do it. None of the rest of you are supernaturally empowered. At least not anymore.

Oz: You are.

ER: What?

C: Yeah, you're a self-proclaimed 'sorcerer', aren't you?

ER: Well, yes, but . . .

RG: I don't think it will work with him. He's not really a good person, you know.

FL: He says he's changed, renounced Chaos, and is helping us take down The First. I think that qualifies him.

ER: Now wait just a minute here. I came here to take down the First, not to die.

BS: You want us to believe you've changed? Prove it.

Ethan looks around at everybody, lingering for a moment longer on Giles, before facing Buffy again.

ER: You drive a hard bargain, Slayer. (Sighs) Very well, I'll do it. It's not like I have much to live for anyway. (He smirked at Giles) Be seeing you, Ripper.

He walks toward the entrance to the cavern.

BS: Wait! (Ethan stopped and turned to face them again) You can't just walk in there! We need to plan our entrance so that they don't know we're-

Buffy stops dead as a fist protruded from Ethan's chest. Ethan coughs blood out of his mouth, then slumps forward to the ground, revealing The First Evil standing behind him, finishing Buffy's sentence with her own voice.

FE: -coming? Too late.

ACT 2: Outside the cavern. The First looks down at Ethan's body.

FE: Traitors never live, Ethan. (Looks up at Angel and Spike, standing side by side next to Buffy) You two will learn that lesson too. Renouncing me is a death sentence.

BS: Yeah, well, I've got a sentence for you too: ATTACK!

Everybody swarms into the cavern. The First signals at the army of Bringers to engage them, and the fight begins.

S: (Over the sounds of fighting, to nobody in particular) Guess the 'need for a plan' idea isn't necessary anymore!

Angel's face morphs to vampire visage and heads straight for The Master, who turns and sees him coming.

M: Angelus. It's been a century.

A: Two, but who's counting?

They circle each other, sizing each other up.

M: I don't know what's more pathetic, you falling for a Slayer or having a soul.

A: What's pathetic is that you still-

Angel's sentence never got finished as he is socked backwards by The Master.

M: I'd love to continue this pointless banter portion of the fighting, but I've got a score to settle.

Angel gets up in time to see The Master making a b-line straight for Buffy.

Well, it's been one-to-one for a decade. I guess now a champion will finally be decided.

Buffy defeats the Bringer she had been facing, and turns to see The Master approaching her.

M: Well, well. You've grown up since last time I saw you. But it doesn't matter. You will always be that pathetic little girl who thought she could stop me.

BS: Um, maybe your memory is going with your old age, but I did stop you!

The Master lunges, but Buffy dodges him.

BS: Memory and speed going? Ouch.

The Master suddenly moved so quickly, even Buffy's eye could not tell what he was doing until his hand was already around her neck.

M: You always did like to banter, didn't you?

Across the room, Riley, Connor, and Gunn are faced off with a Bringer apiece. Riley shoots his Bringer with his taser rifle. The Bringer yells and convulses with electricity.

RF: Don't be shocked.

He turns and shoots the Bringer facing off with Gunn as well.

CG: Thanks, man.

RF: Here to help.

They both turn to see Buffy struggling with The Master.

RF: Buff-!

Riley is knocked sideways as Gunn shot past him toward the struggling pair. Gunn body-slammed into Buffy, knocking her out of The Master's grip, but The Master's teeth still found a mark. Buffy looked up from the ground, horrified, to see The Master draining Gunn, then dropping him to the floor once he realized he wasn't Buffy.

M: Bah!

Buffy starts to get up to engage The Master again, but then Angel, Spike, and Oz (Now transformed) fly into him, knocking him out of the way. Buffy crawls toward Gunn, who is bleeding from the neck.

BS: No, no . . .

Gunn reaches up and grabs Buffy's shoulder.

CG: C-consider this . . . my version . . . of an apology . . . for startin' this . . . this whole mess . . . and for . . . your sister . . .

Gunn's voice faded and became an empty sigh as his head fell back to the ground. Buffy stared down at him in shock.

BS: (Faintly) Apology accepted.

She stood up and looked at the other battles happening around her: The Master was pinned by Angel, Spike, and Oz; Riley, Connor, and Robin were facing Illyria; Xander, Willow, Giles, and Andrew were facing Bringers; and Faith was battling the corporealized First Evil. All on her own. Buffy ran toward them and jumped in beside Faith.

FL: Thanks for joining in, B.

BS: Thanks for having me.

FE: I'm sorry, but this is a Slayer-only fight. You aren't in our club anymore.

BS: Neither are you.

FE: Wrong. I have the powers of a Slayer as well. Unlike you.

BS: I still remember how to fight, you know.

With that, all three of them moved at once.

Twenty feet away from them, Robin, Connor, and Riley dodged around Illyria, who was throwing punches and kicks at alarming speed.

RF: Connor! Get on her other side so she can't-!

Apparently, whatever Riley wanted Illyria not to do, she must have done it already, as he went flying backwards.

RW: (As he backed off) Illyria, we don't have to do this! You knew us! We were your friends!

I: I have no friends. I never did.

She grabbed Robin and threw him into the air. As he fell back to the ground, a nasty crack was heard when he landed. He had either broken his arm or his neck. She didn't want to take any chances, so she headed toward his motionless body, dodging Connor as she went. Then, all of a sudden, the sounds of fighting around Illyria faded away. She stopped and frowned in confusion and suspicion. Nobody was fighting her now: Riley and Connor had gone to fight Bringers, while Robin still lay on the ground, dead or unconscious. Illyria couldn't tell, nor did she care anymore, for at that moment, a voice spoke, sounding distant, like the person spoke from another place, a voice she had not heard in years.

WW: You had me.

She turned and saw a figure standing next to her, semi-transparent, looking right at her: Wesley Wyndam-Pryce.

ACT 3: In the cavern, Illyria stared hard at the figure of Wesley, not knowing what was going on.

I: (Tentatively, suspiciously) Wesley?

WW: Yes.

I: Are you real?

WW: If by real you mean, am I really here, than yes. But I am only visible to you.

I: You are a ghost again.

WW: (Nodding) Yes. Once again I was brought back from the afterlife to witness the horror of what I'd left behind. What have you done, Illyria?

I: I have done what is right for me.

WW: Betraying your friends? Hurting them? Helping the worst evils in the history of the world?

I: It is my only place.

WW: No, it isn't. Your place was with Angel, with Spike and Buffy, with the heroes of the world. You were meant to be a hero, Illyria, not a monster. That is why you were destined to be brought back from the Deeper Well, not to destroy or rule the world, but to save it.

Illyria looked blank. Not angry, not sad, not happy, not relieved, just blank.

I: (With growing disgust) My life . . . was meant for this? To be a pawn in the battle against good and evil, with my path already chose for me? Impossible. I am Illyria. I choose my own path.

WW: And you still can. Nobody can choose your path for you, Illyria. You must choose it on your own. Just be sure to pick the right one, not just for yourself, but for the world.

I: I have already chosen, Wesley. I chose when I renounced the Slayer and Spike. I have chosen to rule the world, as I had before time began.

WW: Are you sure?

Wesley pointed behind Illyria. She turned and looked at where he was pointing. She saw Gunn dead on the ground, blood trickling from the two puncture marks on his neck from The Master's bite. She stared down at him, feeling nothing at first, then, slowly, an overwhelming feeling of sadness consumed her.

I: No. (A teardrop landed on Gunn's face. She blinked back the tears and shook her head) No!

WW: You feel something for him don't you?

I: No! It is the memories of this shell, her mind infects me! I . . . am . . . not . . .

She couldn't finish, so Wesley finished for her.

WW: Human? (She spun around and flung a punch at him. Her fist sailed right through Wesley's head. He only lowered his head in sadness) Gunn had been my friend for years. He went through so much. His sister's death, Fred's death, what he did during The Fall, and destroying The Source in Cleveland. Yet he found redemption in dying, for saving the life of another. Everyone is capable of redemption, Illyria. You are too.

I: (Trying to control another outbreak of sadness) What . . . if I . . . don't . . . want redemption?

WW: That is up to you. Think about what you are doing. Think about what you've done. Think who your allies were, and who they are now. Think.

She thought, long and hard, knowing the battle around her would not interrupt her. Fred's memories weakened her, she was sure of that. They made her feel for other living beings, as though they mattered more than her own life. More than Illyria. Then she realized that she was working with The First Evil, the ultimate evil in the world, the only thing in existence older than herself. She remembered what the British man had said while she and The First were eavesdropping on their 'private' conversation. The First had used him, tricked him, and discarded him. Was it so impossible that it was planning to do the same to her as well? Discard Illyria? Nobody discarded Illyria. She realized next that she had worked with Angel for so long, that she would qualify as good in the view of the world. As Wesley had said, she was meant to be a hero for the world. If she helped The First complete its plan, she would be wiped from existence as well, along with Angel and Spike and the others. She would not get to rule the world either way. It was over for her. Her reign was finally, officially over. Then she thought of Gunn, dead from the bite of a vampire. The Master vampire. She knew it. He was the only evil vampire in the cavern. He killed Charles Gunn. Her friend. Her grief for Gunn was painful. She had only felt this way once before; three years ago, having watched the man standing next to her die in her arms. The man who had helped her adjust to life on earth, even after she had inadvertently killed the only true love of his life, and lived in her empty corpse ever since. Charles Gunn deserved death no more than Wesley had. They were both so sad. What they had gone through in their final years of life . . . And yet here she was, betraying the memories of both of them . . . for power? Domination? Ruling the world? Silently, she turned from Wesley's ghost and Gunn's body, and walked straight toward The Master, still fighting with Angel and Oz, while Spike sat next to the wall, rubbing his head. She would avenge Gunn's death. The Master turned to her, holding Angel by his neck.

M: Well, I think this is going quite well, don't you-?

Illyria grabbed The Master's neck, causing him to drop Angel in surprise.

M: Wh-wh-what are you-?

I: You. Killed. Charles. Gunn.

She held him high in the air and placed her other hand on his shoulder. Then violently pushed down with her left hand, and up with her right. With a nasty, ripping, shredding sound, The Master's head was ripped from his neck. His body collapsed into a pile of dust and bones, shortly followed by his head, which fell on top of it as Illyria dropped it. Angel stared at Illyria in disbelief and relief.

A: Illyria.

I: Yes.

Oz transformed back into his human appearance and was trying to help Spike get back to his feet.

S: (Muttering) Bloody pointy-eared git, I'll show him how to- (He sees Illyria standing before a pile of bones on the ground. He quickly put two-and-two together. He grins) 'Bout time you saw sense, Blueberry. Knew you'd come back.

I: (Merely nodding) He upset me a great deal.

Oz: Are you really on our side now?

I: I am most certain.

Suddenly, behind them the Source fragment The Master had reprogrammed began to glow and hum with power.

I: It is starting.

S: Starting? What's . . . oh, bollocks.

A few feet away, The First backed off from Faith and looked at The Source as well.

FE: Time's up.

As the Source began to activate, The First looked around the cavern, summarizing the situation: Most of the Bringers were dead. That guy Gunn was dead. The old high school principal was on the ground not moving. He looked dead. Nodding with satisfaction, it looked for The Master and Illyria, and saw The Master's pile of bones at Illyria's feet. The First gave an exasperated, irritated sigh.

FE: How many times have I told you not to fight each other until the world is ours, Illyria?

I: You used me. You planned to discard me. You planned me to die.

FE: (Looking taken aback) What? No, I gave you the chance to the rule the world.

I: You knew I would die in either option. You knew I qualified as good because of what I'd done while on the side of good. I was a tool for your ambition.

FE: Well, okay, fine. But, I am evil, you know. (The Source began to vibrate. Illyria ran toward it) What are you doing?

I: The right thing.

FE: You will die if you stop it. You're better off just letting it happen.

Illyria turns to face The First, with the Source in front of her.

I: I will die no matter what course of action is taken. I would rather die doing what is right. (She looked over her shoulder at the assembled friends/allies he had made, and saw Wesley standing at the back, smiling and nodding his approval) For the world.

Then she turned back to The Source, stretched out her arms, and merged with it. Everyone shielded their eyes as a blinding flash of light shot through the room, and Illyria disintegrated and disappeared. Then the light faded. Illyria was gone. She had sacrificed herself to save them all. But-

AW: It's still there!

RG: (Shocked) But . . . but Ethan said-

They were interrupted by The First's triumphant laughter.

FE: That arrogant fool! She thought she qualified as good? Well, if anyone deserved a pointless death, it was that traitor.

S: (Walking forward) Her death wasn't pointless, you bastard! She tried to save the world!

FE: Didn't work though, did it? She should've known she couldn't do it. She doesn't have a soul!

At the word 'soul', every head turned to look at Angel, but he was already several steps in front of them, as he had already started to run toward the Source.

BS&C: NO!

He turned to look back at everybody.

A: Part of me knew it had to be this way.

BS: Angel, no! Don't!

C: Dad, please!

A: No, this is what I was meant for.

S: But mate! The Shanshu deal-!

A: Was meant for both of us.

S: What?

A: The prophecy told of a vampire with a soul, who would play a pivotal role in the apocalypse, avert several smaller ones beforehand, and become human. You turned human, Spike. You and I helped avert all the minor apocalypses for the last decade, from The Harvest, to The Ascension, to the final battle in Sunnydale, Jasmine, The Circle of the Black Thorn, The Fall of Los Angeles, all the way up to here. And now, I will fulfill my part: To end the apocalypse and save the world for the last time.

BS: Angel . . .

Then Angel is hit from behind by The First.

FE: I'm sorry, was that not in the script?

It lifts Angel up from the floor. Angel stared into its eyes, green like Buffy's, but definitely not the same.

A: You can't win.

FE: Your role in the apocalypse is with me. You were brought back to serve me, Angelus; To kill the Slayer.

A: I'll never join with you. I said it before, and I'll say it again now: I'll never hurt Buffy or anyone else again.

FE: A hero to the end, are we? Well, that's a shame. We would've had a great partnership. In that case, it's time we finished what we'd started when you tried to kill yourself.

C: Dad!

WR: Angel!

The First prepared to do the same beheading maneuver Illyria had used on The Master, when Buffy ran forward and slammed into them, causing The First to drop Angel.

FE: Well, Slayer, looks like you do have some fight left in you after all.

Then it kicked her so that she flew across the room and slammed into the wall.

FE: Of course, 'some' isn't all that much.

Then it turned to see Angel's fist fly straight into its face. It fell backward to the ground as Angel turned back to the Source. Buffy ran back up to them while The First got up as well, seething with anger.

BS: Angel . . .

Angel looked back at Buffy and Connor, watching him in horrified admiration.

A: Buffy, Connor, I love you both. Live your lives the best you can. You've earned them.

FE: NO!

The First ran toward Angel, but he had already merged with the Source. His body disintegrated into ashes, then evaporated and vanished. The Source made a loud, roaring sound; The First transformed into its huge, silver-horned-demon visage, screamed something that sounded like "Damn you all!", then the bright light faded again, and Angel, The First, and the Source were gone. A long, long silence followed. Buffy and Connor stood at the forefront of the group, staring at where Angel had vanished. Then they turned to each other and hugged, feeling the same helpless sense of loss, comforting each other. After a few more minutes, Andrew spoke.

AW: Is it over?

WW: I'd wager yes.

Everyone jumped. Wesley was still there, except now he was visible to everyone.

RG: (Breathlessly) Good god.

FL: Wes?

WW: (Nodding) Mr. Giles, Faith. Good to see you again.

S: You're a ghost again?

WW: Yes. I was brought back by The Powers that Be to try to convince Illyria that what she was doing was wrong.

S: Oh, so that how she changed her mind mid-battle.

AW: Wow! Mr. Pryce, you're just like Obi-Wan Kenobi!

WW: Um . . . th-thank you. Have we met?

AW: Andrew! Mr. Giles sent me to pick up the disturbed Slayer Dana from you guys. Remember?

WW: (Uncertainly) Ah, yes. You.

BS: (Impressed, despite herself) Wes, you look . . . I mean, apart from being dead and transparent, you look . . . wow.

WW: Thank you. It's been a long time, Buffy.

BS: Very long time.

Xander stared at Wesley as though never having seen him before.

XH: When did this happen?

WW: I . . . dealt with some things during my time in Los Angeles, helping Angel.

BS: And the battle. You're sure it's over?

WW: Yes. The Source fragment has been destroyed, and because of that, The First Evil is now trapped in limbo; not able to interact with the world, while still existing and keeping the balance between good and evil intact. But since only two portions have been destroyed, there will still be demons and vampires, and a single Slayer to fight them once again.

He nods at Faith.

WR: So the Slayer line has been restored?

WW: Yes. (To Buffy) Your activation of all potential slayers was a brilliant strategic move to defeat The First the first time, but in the long run, it would've left the Slayer line stuck in a position from which it could never recover. The line would have ended once the last of the activated potentials died. There would have been no one left to inherit the power. It would not have been passed on.

A moan on the ground startled them. Robin was getting to his feet, holding his arm.

RW: Aggghhhow. What, where has-?

He looked in confusion at the scene before him.

WW: I must be going now. I was only to be sent down here to help Illyria and to explain the situation to you all. Farewell and good luck.

Then he faded away from sight.

RW: What happened? Did we win?

Buffy looked at him sadly, one arm still around Connor's shoulder.

BS: Yeah. We won.

ACT 4: Later that day, Buffy, Xander, and Willow were sitting with Oz and Riley in the lobby of the hotel, seeing them off.

BS: What are you two going to do now?

RF: I don't know. I'll drop off Oz in Tibet, then think of somewhere to go.

BS: Do you have a reliable way back?

RF: Yeah. We've got a helicopter.

XH: (Eagerly) Oooo! Neat!

RF: It's borrowed. When I return it, I'll meet back up with Sam somehow.

They stood up. Xander shook Oz's hand, then Riley's.

XH: Thanks for stopping by, you guys.

RF: Yeah. Good to see you again.

Xander grinned then left the room. Buffy hugged Oz, then turned to Riley.

BS: Thanks for coming.

RF: I enjoyed the visit. I missed you, Buffy.

BS: Yeah, me too. (She hugged him, or tried to. He was much taller than her, but they somehow managed it) Good luck.

RF: Thanks. You too, with whatever you're doing next.

Buffy smiled, then followed Xander. Riley turned to Oz.

RF: Coming?

Oz: Give me a minute.

Riley left as well. Oz turned to Willow.

Oz: I know this isn't Istanbul, but here I am.

Willow gave an exasperated laugh, then hugged him.

WR: It was so great to see you again.

Oz: We'll stay in touch, I promise.

WR: But why can't you stay?

Oz: (As he broke away from her) I thought you were over me.

WR: No! I . . . my life is so . . . Tara's gone . . . Kennedy's gone . . . I just . . . need someone, you know?

Oz: But why me?

WR: You have this . . . calming, comforting energy, you know? And I . . . I really missed you. Having you back here again made things easier for me.

Oz: Willow, I have a life of my own in Tibet now, and I'm close to being cured. Maybe in a few years I can come back, but not now. I came back too soon once before. I don't want to make that mistake again. You have to understand. (Willow looked resigned) I do love you. I never stopped. I thought about you every day I was away from you. You were the best thing to happen in my life. But I go crazy for you. Literally. I can't put you or anyone in that kind of danger again. I'd always hoped that you still had left a place for me in your life, but I can't hold you back waiting for me to be ready. (He turned to the door, and looked back at her one more time) You're an amazing women, Will. I'm proud of you.

Then he left the room to join Riley outside. As the door closed behind him, Willow stared at it, as though hoping he would come back in and say something else, or hug her. The door stayed closed.

WR: (To the empty room) Bye.

A few weeks later, Giles is seen in a building with Faith, Robin, Andrew, Buffy, Xander, and Willow. He has just signed a piece of paper on the desk.

RG: Ah, there we are.

WR: That was quick. I thought re-forming the Watcher's Council would've been a lot harder than signing some paper.

RG: Yes, well, this is just the first stage, but we are well on our way.

XH: Does this mean that you'll be the new Quentin Travers?

RG: If you must put it that way, then yes, I am taking Quentin's old position within the new Council.

FL: You sure you're up to it, Big G?

RG: I am fairly certain I'll manage, both as the new Council leader, and as your new official Watcher.

FL&BS: What?

RG: I've also signed to be your Watcher, Faith. As there are not many in stock at the moment, I felt I was best qualified, especially as I've already had some experience with you.

FL: I'm cool with that.

BS: But . . . what about me?

RG: You are no longer the Slayer, Buffy. You haven't needed a Watcher since before you died. Well, the second time, anyway. You are now free to abandon demon fighting forever if you wish to.

BS: No, I'm not giving it up altogether. I'll just be a part-time associate-type to you guys.

RG: If that's what you want.

BS: It is. I can't just back out entirely.

AW: (Gesturing at himself and Robin) What about us?

RG: Yes, well, you two will be my first recruits to the new Council.

RW: You're hiring us as Watchers?

RG: Not quite. (To Robin) You will be a trainer for any potential slayers that have not been activated yet. I figured your training with Mr. Crowley will benefit you here in this position.

RW: Really? I'd like that. Thank you.

RG: While Andrew here will continue his training as a Watcher. (To Andrew) I know Faith has already taught you how to fight, but there could still be some improvement.

AW: I won't let you down, sir.

RG: Strange as it is to hear me say this about you, I have no doubt of it. Soon you might even be in charge of training the next Slayer.

AW: (Awed) Wow.

RG: This will be our official headquarters. The Council does not need to be based in England. Buffy?

BS: You're doing great, Giles. (To Faith) The mantle's completely on you now. Be careful.

FL: You know me.

RG: Willow, Xander, what are you two doing?

XH: Oh, I was thinking me and Will could bunk with Buffy and take some demon-slaying time off as well.

WR: That would be nice. Although, if I ever find another girl or boyfriend, I'll have to move out.

BS: That's' fine, Will.

WR: I mean, until then, you and Xander can still, you know, snuggle and stuff.

XH&BS: Willow!

WR: What?

BS: We're not in that kind of relationship, anyway.

XH: (Startled) We're not?

BS: Not right now. But maybe someday.

XH: (Slightly disgruntled) Oh, so for right now, it won't go any further than kissing?

BS: (Kissing him) Yep. That's all you get for now.

WR: Are you still feeling tentative about this because of . . . you know . . .

BS: A little. Angel was and always will be my first love. But we both knew there was no way it could've worked, even if he had survived.

FL: You're proud of him though, aren't you? He fulfilled his life's mission after two and a half centuries, give or take.

BS: Yes. I am, I just . . . I miss him.

WR: We all do.

RG: Speaking of Angel, where is Connor?

FL (V.O. as Connor and Lorne are seen at the Hyperion, then saving a pair of girls from vampires in an alley): He went back to Los Angeles. I heard he's still running Angel Investigations in honor of his father.

BS: I couldn't think of a better way to honor him.

RG: And Riley and Oz?

BS: Riley is taking Oz back to Tibet, then he is going to find a new position for himself somewhere.

RG: I see. So, that's it then.

BS: Pretty much. Good luck, you guys. Call us if you need us.

Buffy, Xander, and Willow walk toward the door.

WR (Over her shoulder) We'll keep in touch! With all of you!

XH: Yeah, letters, postcards, telegrams, the whole enchilada!

BS: (Pointedly) Or we could just drop by, as we live only a few miles away.

XH: Oh, yeah. That would be easier.

FL: Take it easy, B. (The door closes behind them. Faith turns to Giles) What first, G-Man?

RG: First off, never call me 'Big G' or 'G-Man' again.

FL: (Grinning) Got it, boss.

A few days later, Spike is seen walking up to a small house, up the path toward the door, smoking a cigarette and wearing his leather duster. He stops outside and knocks. Willow opens the door.

WR: Hello, stranger.

S: Hey, Red.

BS (O.S.) Who is it, Will?

WR: It's Spike!

XH: (O.S.) Great. Don't let him in!

WR: Too late! (To Spike) Come on in.

She and Spike walk into the next room, where Buffy and Xander are sitting on the couch, watching TV.

S: (To Buffy) Hey there, luv. (Nods to Xander) Monkey boy.

XH: Pleasure as always, William.

BS: How're you doing?

S: Not bad. Got myself a nice little place nearby.

XH: How'd you manage to buy it?

S: (With pride) Got myself a part-time job working in a pet store, brushing their hair and clippin' their nails. (Buffy and Xander look dubious. He sighs) Alright, I stole it. But hey, old habits can't die just like that.

XH: Unlike you.

S: Exactly. Now I can and will die at some point, and not in a dusty way.

XH: I dunno, you could still grow old and rot away with age.

WR: If you guys need me, I'll be upstairs, 'kay?

BS: Okay.

Willow backed out of the room and went upstairs. She sat on her bed and glanced out the window. She still couldn't believe they'd done it. Of course, the fighting wasn't over, but the biggest threat to the world ever known was over. Now there wasn't much left for her to do.

TM: Willow.

She jumped off the bed in alarm, looking wildly around for who had spoken.

TM: Will, it's me.

She instantly relaxed and smiled widely.

WR: Tara? Is that you?

Next instant, Tara had appeared next to her, looking very much like Wesley had been, semi-transparent.

TM: Long time hasn't it?

WR: What are you doing here?

TM: Well, I couldn't help overhearing your thoughts about having nothing else to do now that you've saved the world for the last time.

WR: Well, it was actually Angel who saved the world, not-

TM: I know, but you helped. I'm going to teach you how to channel your magic back again.

WR: Whu-what? How? Why?

TM: Your magic powers were sucked away by the Source before, but they are still dormant within you. I'm going to be teaching you how to control, channel, and re-awaken it.

WR: But the magic-

TM: Is not dangerous, Will. If it were, I would know, as I am technically one with the magic now. I wouldn't help re-awaken any dark magic within you. I wouldn't put you or anyone else into such danger.

WR: Oh, I know that. I'm just nervous.

TM: I'm here. I'll guide you through it.

Willow smiles and sits down on the bed. Tara sits next to her.

WR: Okay, Gandalf, what first?

TM: Close your eyes and follow my astral self.

WR: Astral self?

TM: Like when we traveled to the Nether Realms. Our first big spell, remember?

WR: Like it were yesterday.

Smiling reminiscently, both women closed their eyes.

TM: (Quietly) Here we go.

Back downstairs.

S: So, how's life going for you, pet?

BS: Very relaxing. I never was able to enjoy life fighting evil all the time. It's nice to have an indefinite break from it.

S: Cheers to that.

XH: I thought you enjoyed fighting and killing things?

S: Yeah, when I was a vampire. Now it's too much work as a human.

BS: So you're retired now?

S: Mostly. But I'll join into a fight if there's a cash reward or a free smoke involved.

XH: (Sarcastically) What a heroic champion you are, sir.

S: Like you would do better.

XH: Damn right I would. I wouldn't get bribed into fighting.

S: But your performance might work against you.

XH: You know, I did say that if you ever got that chip out of your head and were human, I would be able to kick your ass.

S: (Backing away, raising his arms) Come and get it, then.

BS: No! (Spike and Xander look at her) We just won the battle against evil! Do we really need to start fighting ourselves?

S: Yeah.

XH: Just to settle a score.

BS: Can't you do it some other way?

Xander and Spike look at each other.

XH: Well, we could battle over chess or something.

S: Not bloody likely. Try something like poker.

XH: (Getting up) I'll get the cards.

S: You're on, mate. (To Buffy) You're gonna be routing for me, right, pet?

BS: Hm. I don't know. I am dating Xander . . .

S: Come on, after all we've been through?

BS: Well, since you cheat and Xander is inexperienced, I think I'll just sit back and enjoy the banter.

S: (Grinning) Good choice.

Xander comes back into the room with a deck of playing cards.

XH: Alrighty, then. What are the stakes?

S: Was that a pun against my former stature?

XH: (While Buffy laughs) No, just a convenient choice of words.

S: Right, let's get this thing going.

BS: (Eagerly) This should be fun.

The view slowly backs out of the window, over the house and into the distance to where Whistler is standing on a hilltop, overlooking the city of Cleveland. He smiles to himself and looks up at the sky.

W: You did it, Angel. All is well now.

He turns and vanishes from sight, leaving the world, safe at last, behind him.

The End