Disclaimer: I do not own BtVS, AtS, or any of the characters portrayed therein. They belong to Joss, Mutant Enemy, etc... of which I have zero affiliation. I'm just borrowing them to entertain myself for a little while.
Author's Note: Well, here it is, the final chapter! Just a short rest for Buffy and Angel before the worst hits. ;)
Chapter 27: Epilogue
The scythe clattered as it landed on the long, oval table, the tip of the blade scraping a thin line in the dark finish of the wood as it slid along the surface towards where Quentin Travers sat, his mouth agape as he studied the weapon.
"So," Buffy smiled, her hands resting defiantly on her hips as she surveyed the grey-haired men and women that sat around the table staring down at the scythe, then back at her, each with their own mix of abject horror, astonishment, curiosity or amusement, "Like I said," she continued, "you can either perform the ritual yourselves, or I'll use my own sources... if you choose the latter mind you, you're probably not gonna be too happy with it."
"Where... where did you find this?" Quentin almost growled.
"Like I even need to tell you," Buffy scoffed, "How long have you stuffy, tweedy bastards been hiding this from us?"
"Buffy..." I warned quietly at her side.
"This was not meant for you." Quentin hissed.
"Really? Cause there was this inscription... and I had a real King Arthur moment pulling it out of a stone and everything..."
"How dare you come here making demands of us!" Quentin seethed, "You have made a mockery of everything this council has stood for, and now you come here demanding we undo the way things have been since the dawn of time with a vampire in tow -"
"Hey, I'm a little hurt no one's noticed that it's daytime and I'm standing in front of an open window..." I sulked in jest.
"There there, Angel," Buffy soothed, sarcasm dripping from her tone, "These fine gentlemen don't notice anything – especially not a good idea when it slaps them in the face."
"What you're asking of us is outrageous!" Quentin spat, "To call upon all the Slayers lying in wait... it would... it would-"
"Save the world!" Buffy interrupted, her tone becoming more and more aggravated with each passing second, "Stop pretending that you don't know exactly what's going on over there in North America! You know the news is lying, you know what's really causing all that devastation... Do you really think you can just sit up here with your eyes closed and hope it'll pass you by? It won't.
"I'm the Slayer, the Chosen One, and I couldn't stop it by myself. I don't think anyone could. So either you wake them all up so we can wage a fair war, or we will. Those are your only options. So tell me now; yes, or no?"
The room fell into a silent stand off between Buffy, and the Council heads sitting at the table. I grinned as I waited for someone to speak.
As soon as I'd been released from the hospital, I'd convinced the entire group to evacuate, but Buffy had started having dreams, dreams about something hidden in Sunnydale that could give her the power to unite the Slayers lying in wait. Remembering what the Shaman had revealed when I'd failed her the first time around, I knew it meant we couldn't leave until we'd discovered what it was. Thankfully for all of us, it didn't take much time before the dreams led her to the scythe.
With the mystical weapon in hand, we managed to catch one of the last flights off the continent before the ports that were left went into lockdown. I was convinced Willow had worked some magic to get us all on board, but she wouldn't admit to it. Tara had looked concerned, and I convinced everyone to stop pressing the issue.
One short day after arriving in England, with Giles' help we located the Council offices, and Buffy wasted no time breaking down their doors and making demands of them – which led us to precisely this moment, where I found myself holding my breath as I waited for someone to cave.
Buffy turned to look back at me, and the air whooshed loudly out of my lungs as I grinned at her. I could tell by the look on her face that she wanted to roll her eyes, but she simply smirked and turned back to what had boiled down to an intense staring contest. She'd been teasing me mercilessly about all the human things I was enthralled with, or forgetting to do.
Things had been too good to be true between us; I knew she was as reluctant as I was to dredge up the past on top of the war we were about to wage, I also knew we couldn't ignore it forever, but she actually seemed more like her old self than I'd seen her in ages. With everything that was about to bear down on us, I didn't have the heart to ruin it. I had to admit I was still too caught up in revelling in everything human to fully care.
We had time to work everything out. And if we didn't – well then I was going to enjoy whatever time I had left with her.
"You know I've never been a fan of your methods," Quentin finally said, "This time is no exception."
Buffy's eyes narrowed, "Fine, I'll just be taking this back then-"
"Wait!" a grey-haired woman shouted just as Buffy leaned across the table to retrieve the scythe. She stopped, and turned her attention to the woman.
"What is the meaning of this Stella?" Travers muttered, turning to the woman at his side.
"Quentin, if we let her walk away now, we lose control completely," she replied.
"She couldn't possibly have the means to-"
"You still question her? After all these years?" the woman named Stella asked, "After everything she's overcome, despite all the odds, despite all the times she's strayed so far from what you'd consider protocol."
Stella turned to Buffy, studying her solemnly, "If we help you, what will we get in return?"
"Not killed. How does that sound?" Buffy snapped.
"You cannot expect us to call them all here, and then completely relinquish all our authority," she continued, "They have been our responsibility for millennia."
Buffy's eyes narrowed, and I could tell she was formulating some sort of witty comeback in her head.
"Buffy," I whispered as I stepped closer to her, "We're not in the position to be turning away allies... they may have resources we need."
"I don't trust them," she whispered back, never taking her eyes of the Watchers sitting around the table.
"Perhaps we can sit down, come to some sort of agreement?" Stella pleaded, shooting a stern glance to Quentin, who scowled.
"Yes," he grumbled, "Perhaps under these circumstances we should find some common ground."
It was Buffy's turn to scowl, and she turned to me with a frustrated look, I simply nodded. I knew what was coming, and I knew we would need all the help we could muster.
"Fine," she sighed, "We'll talk."
We exited the Watcher's Headquarters onto the bustling London streets, Buffy instantly shoving her hands into her coat pockets as we continued down the sidewalk.
Despite the overcast sky, it was far from being a cold day, however for someone born and raised in California, the weather would seem dreary. I wrapped an arm around her and pulled her closer, she instinctively pressed herself to my side for warmth. It made me grin.
"I still don't think we should have left it with them," she muttered.
"You'd rather tote a scythe around the streets of London?" I asked with a smirk.
"I just don't think we should trust them..."
"We don't have much of a choice," I answered, "Do you really think Willow could have pulled off that kind of a spell?"
"Probably. I mean, she managed to teleport all of us to the hospital safely," she offered.
When the overwhelming emotions finally wore off after our discussion in the hospital, I finally found a moment to ask Buffy how we even managed to get to Sunnydale. It turned out that Willow had been working on a teleportation spell in case of any emergencies, she'd never tried it with so many people, and it was an impressive feat that she managed to transport all nine of us safely, without any side effects.
"This is still a lot larger scale," I replied.
"I know," she sighed, leaning into me more heavily, "Ugh, I'm so sick of talking about this,"
"So am I," I chuckled, "So let's stop. We'll go back to the Council tomorrow with Giles, Wes and Willow, we'll figure it out then."
We continued on in silence a little while, Buffy finally pulling her hands out of her pockets to wrap her arms around my waist. Her touch was gentle, she still worried about my wounds. Regardless, it felt surreal to be having this moment with her, walking quietly down a crowded street in the middle of the day; nothing more than a normal couple, not being attacked by demons or bursting into flames.
"Where did the others say they were meeting us?" she asked finally.
"London Bridge," I replied, "I tried to explain to them that it wasn't the bridge they were thinking of, but they seemed pretty set on it."
"How far is that from Oxford Circus?" Buffy asked, peering up at me.
"Um... pretty far if memory serves, why?"
She grinned, "Shopping."
"I should have left you with Cordelia," I groaned teasingly.
"Hey! Can't a girl take her mind off the impending doom with a little bit of retail therapy?"
"We've got time, don't worry."
She fell silent, and we continued on. An old woman smiled at us as we passed, and I couldn't help but wonder what she would think if she knew what it took for us to get here. To her, we were simply a young couple, a budding romance, perhaps an echo of a love she experienced in her youth; what would she think if she knew this man had lived for centuries as a demon and a vicious killer, a tortured creature that had survived through the destruction of the entire earth. That the serene young woman at his side was really a warrior whom had made every sacrifice imaginable to keep the end from coming.
Maybe I had died, maybe this was just a dream after all. It felt too perfect, too mundane to be reality for us.
"Do we?" Buffy asked after awhile.
"Do we what?"
I turned to glance down at her, she suddenly looked distraught and pleading. I stopped, pulling her around to face me, "Of course we do."
"Because they're still out there... and we only have half of a plan so far..."
I knew she was talking about the Horsemen, she hadn't referred to them by name since I'd woken up. I brought my hand up to cup her cheek, and she lifted hers to cover it. Her fingers were colder than mine as she wrapped them tightly around my hand, it was a sensation I hadn't gotten used to yet, "We have time, I know it."
"We have no idea how to beat this, Angel, how can you say that?"
I knew her fears were justified, in fact, I shared them; this was a new future, I would never again be one step ahead of the game, fully aware of what lay in store for us. The next time Death came for her, there was no guarantee I would be able to stop him.
Gazing into her eyes, she stared back up at me pleadingly, and I didn't have to know the future to understand why. Our past dictated that we were doomed to suffer, that our love wasn't enough and our every attempt to reconcile would be met with tragedy; in another time that was enough to convince us both to let go, but not anymore. I had fought too long and too hard to keep her safe, and it was what I intended on doing this time – keeping her.
"Because I can finally grow old and wrinkly with you, and that's exactly what I plan on doing." I whispered, pulling her closer.
The concern that creased her brow disappeared, and her face broke into a smile, one of the few genuine ones I'd seen in a long time. I knew it wasn't an answer, that we had what would probably be another gruesome battle ahead of us, but she deserved to take a step back and not think about it just as much as the others did. She deserved the distraction, she deserved to smile... it had been too long since I'd been able to make her smile, since I'd allowed myself to smile with her.
I bent down to capture her lips in a kiss. Her fingers found their way into my hair, and the world melted away around us.
We would overcome this.
We finally had a real chance together; we had to.
So there you have it. I've left Buffy and Angel to enjoy themselves for a little while before I throw them back through the ringer in the sequel!
A quick, unrelated note; it continues to amuse me that everyone confuses London Bridge with Tower Bridge, I'm also well aware that Giles and Wesley would know the difference as much as Angel would, so please just assume they are not amongst the Scoobies Buffy and Angel are on their way to meet, it's just too tedious to list names, and completely unnecessary considering I just wanted Buffy and Angel to have a nice fluffy moment for all the hell I've just subjected them to.
If you're at all curious, even though I told myself not to, I started an outline for the sequel to this already (I will never understand why I have the best fanfic ideas when I'm determined to work on other things... never). One, I'm ridiculously excited to write some of the ideas I've come up with, and two, please, please, please don't hold your breath for it. The plot has already run away with itself, I'm not exaggerating when I say it looks like I've got character subplots comparable to Game of Thrones, so, it's gonna be a long and winding journey, and a long-ass time before I manage to finish it.
Finally, because I keep the best for last, a big thank you to everyone who's taken the time to read, and review (especially those who stuck with the story and wrote multiple), I'm glad the story was enjoyed despite how terribly depressing I made it.
Until next time, Ladies and Gentlemen!
~ Spectral Serenade