Normal Life, Now What
Rating: PG (maybe)
Pairings: None early; B/A later
Feedback: Please. Constructive criticism is always welcomed and appreciated.
Disclaimer: I do not own anything associated with BtVS or AtS. (Characters, plots, and dialogue from the shows are borrowed with no infringement intent whatsoever.)
Distribution: Please ask and let me know where it's going.
Summary: It has been nearly fifty years since Buffy and Angel last saw each other. Much has changed. Buffy got that normal life that Angel wanted for her. Now what?
A/N1: Story is AU after the end of both television series.
A/N2: Thoughts are in single quotes (' ')
She hadn't seen him in a long time, in decades, since before Sunnydale fell, when he had saved her from Caleb and given her the means to defeat the First Evil. Much had happened to her and the survivors who left the cave-in that was Sunnydale that bright sunny morning. They ended up in London where she, Willow, Xander and Faith helped Giles get a new Watchers Council, a new 'School for Girls' and a training center for said girls up and running. Watchers that had been away from London when the Council building was destroyed were located and retrained under new rules established by the original five from Sunnydale. Never again would there be a watcher or a Council that functioned like that under Quentin Travers.
At first Buffy and Faith were responsible for training while Willow, Xander and Kennedy traveled the world looking for newly awakened slayers. Dawn completed her high school education at the new School for Girls and decided to join her father in Spain for the rest of her formal education.
When Dawn returned to London she was no longer the bratty sister of the slayer, but a refined and well educated young woman who spoke Spanish like a native, was fluent in French and Italian and was learning Chinese. Everyone, especially Buffy, was so proud of her. She joined the training school for watchers two days after arriving back in London.
Four decades after leaving Sunnydale Giles had been married for thirty years to a widow with two adult sons and was now a great-grandfather. Xander was married with four boys of his own and was also a grandfather. Willow and Kennedy separated a few years after arriving in London. On one of their slayer search trips Willow and Xander ran into Oz and she decided then that she had finally found home again. They married and have two adult daughters. Dawn married the young musician who followed her from Spain to London; they also are grandparents.
Buffy was the last of the original Sunnydale crew to get married. She couldn't explain why, but when she witnessed the birth of Dawn's first baby, she decided it was time. She married Franklin, one of the watchers that had trained with Dawn and, with him, she finally found that normal life that Angel had wanted for her. She and her husband had six children, a beautiful home in the country (a gift from his parents when Buffy gave birth to their first grandchildren, twins, a boy and a girl) and grandkids galore.
Buffy was now sixty nine years old; her husband's death three years earlier hit her hard and some times it was so very difficult to face another day without him. Looking back on her life with Franklin, she knew that they had been happy together and there was nothing that she would change about her life with her husband. Before his death, he made her promise to keep living, to find someone who would love her as he had, with his whole heart. She promised, but she had no intentions of ever doing that.
"You wait for me," she told him on his death bed; "enjoy heaven, but you wait for me."
He smiled at her then. "I promise; just keep your promise to me and live," were the last words he spoke.
It had been forty years almost to the day since Angel last saw Buffy. Much had happened to him in that time. He and his team had taken on the Circle of the Black Thorn and won and he, Spike and Ilyria were still standing (barely) after the battle with the hordes of hell that the Senior Partners had sent after them. By some miracle, and he didn't know what else it could have been, Gunn had also survived and after spending a month in the hospital and almost two months in recovery, he was well on his way to being as good as new.
Without giving anyone an explanation, Ilyria took off soon after the battle and no one heard from her again. After making sure that Gunn was well taken care of, Angel and Spike left LA and for a few years they traveled around the world together taking out the fiercest demons they could find. Through the demon grapevine they heard about the new Watchers Council and the slayer school in London. Both were happy to hear that Buffy had survived. They carefully avoided the new slayers whenever they happened to be in the same city.
Angel and Spike could only stand each other for just so long and they eventually went their separate ways; Spike headed for Brazil, perhaps hoping to reunite with Drusilla and Angel headed for Ireland, perhaps hoping to rediscover his beginning.
While in Ireland Angel saved the life of a priest who was being attacked by a vampire. At first Angel was seriously losing as he fought and the priest saw his vamp face. Once he noticed the ring the vampire was wearing, he managed to remove it; after that his stake worked as it should've. Without mentioning the meaning of the ring to the priest, Angel decided to keep it for himself – just in case. He took the priest back to the inn where he had a room and bandaged his wounds.
"I know what you are," the priest told Angel, "but you are not like the others."
For saving his life that priest offered to bind Angel's soul, an offer which Angel gladly accepted.
He and Spike ran into each other a few times over the years, and fell into old habits of fighting together and eventually separating again. Angel didn't tell Spike about finding a second gem of Amara.
Sunnydale and LA were both rebuilt. With the hellmouth gone and with it the attraction it held for evil beings, Sunnydale became a thriving metropolis.
Gunn joined Anne and helped her run the teen center which eventually outgrew its walls. When he looked into the Hyperion Hotel and found that Angel was the owner, his idea was to get his old crew together and with donations from the city, they restored the damaged hotel and moved the teen center to the Hyperion.
Twenty years after seeing Buffy get married, Angel returned to LA and found his old friends running a teen shelter in his hotel. He was delighted and he joined Gunn and Anne, who were now married, and once again found himself helping the helpless and homeless in LA.
Five years after returning to LA Angel received a visit from the Oracles. The Shanshu prophecy was being fulfilled, not all at once as Angel had expected, but gradually. The first step in his march toward humanity was for them to remove the curse on his soul. Over the next five years Angel slowly, but steadily, regained his humanity.
The last step was the removal of the demon from him. After that was done and he was finally fully human, the Oracles appeared to him one last time; this time to thank him for his service and to release him from his obligation to the Powers. He had redeemed himself amicably. Even though he still possessed the positive physical attributes of the demon, he was no longer a warrior obligated to fighting evil; he could live out his life as a normal human being.
Joyce Ann was Buffy's oldest granddaughter; she and her husband moved into the house with Buffy when her grandfather, Buffy's husband, became ill. She had been trying for years to get Buffy to take her to California so she could see LA and Sunnydale, the cities where Buffy had lived in the US and where the hellmouth had been. Buffy had used every excuse she could think of to get out of returning home. She offered to take Joyce Ann to New York, Miami, Las Vegas, any place in the US except LA and Sunnydale.
Without really understanding herself why she didn't want to return, Buffy finally relented and agreed to the trip. Giles was sure he knew why she didn't want to go back, so were Willow and Xander, but no one would voice their thoughts to Buffy. To themselves and each other, however, they were sure they were right – Buffy didn't want to risk running into Angel.
At sixty-nine years old, Buffy looked like a woman in her late thirties; she attributed maturing well to the slayer package and good genes. She still had not lost all of her slayer strength, but it had gradually diminished over the years. Even today she could easily hold her own against the average human male. Her hair was still blond and beautiful, full, soft and silky as ever.
Considering her age, Buffy was really quite lovely. She was fit and trim, her figure had filled out with womanly curves and her hazel green eyes and fetching smile had not changed; these physical attributes plus her innate concern for others and her ability to draw others to herself combined to produce a truly beautiful woman.
This trip to the US was a birthday gift for her granddaughter on her twenty-third birthday. Both got a good laugh when they were mistaken for sisters when getting their passport pictures taken.
Buffy was pleasantly surprised when she and Joyce Ann arrived in Sunnydale. The town was beautiful, from the new Sunnydale High School to Waverly Park, from the mall to the Bronze and all places in between, there wasn't a pot hole or a cracked sidewalk or a broken tree branch anywhere. As it turned out some benefactor, whose identity no one seemed to know, had left a large fortune to the town so that in case a disaster struck, the town could be rebuilt and maintained as it had been in the late nineteen hundreds. When Buffy heard this, she was certain that the benefactor had been former mayor, Richard Wilkins III.
When she arrived back at her hotel after the first day's tour, she couldn't wait to call Willow and Faith to let them know about Sunnydale. Faith was not at all surprised that her former father figure would do such a thing. After all, in her eyes he was a very generous and caring person, even if he did have less than savory visions of grandeur for himself.
Instead of a dozen or more cemeteries in the town, Sunnydale now had only two plus a memorial park for all of its residents that died before the town fell. Buffy thought it was a fitting tribute for the town's former residents, but she regretted not being able to visit her mother's grave.
After spending a couple days in Sunnydale, Buffy and Joyce Ann moved on to Los Angeles. The neighborhood that she grew up in was now a senior citizen community; Hemery High School was now Hemery Institute and provided all levels of education covering what was formerly pre-school through four years of college. Buffy was pleasantly surprised to discover that one of her former classmates was Dean of Science at the institute.
Through the rumor mill, but not from Giles himself, Buffy had heard about Angel's employment with Wolfram and Hart and his subsequent fight behind the Hyperion Hotel. She knew that Angel and Spike had survived, but she didn't know more than that. She had allowed her former watcher and her friends to convince her that if either of them wanted to see her, thanks to Andrew, both knew where she lived and since she hadn't heard from either of them, she should move on with her life.
She did move on and she didn't regret it for a moment.
Now, nearly fifty years after she left California, Buffy and her granddaughter had spent three days exploring her old stomping grounds. They had finished their tour for the day and were relaxing over glasses of their favorite wine when Buffy heard someone call her name.
"Buffy … I'm sorry … t-that can't be you ... can it? Is that you Buffy?"
Buffy looked up to see a couple that she would guess to be in their mid to late sixties, a tall handsome bald black man and an attractive blond woman. It was the woman who had spoken. Buffy stared at her; she did look familiar, but Buffy couldn't place her. She kept thinking that it must be someone that she had known at Hemery High School.
Then it clicked. "Lily? Is that you?"
Before Joyce Ann knew what was happening, Buffy was out of her chair and she and the mysterious woman were hugging each other like old friends.
When they separated, Lily, or Anne, since she kept the name that she had borrowed from Buffy many years before, introduced Charles Gunn, her husband and Buffy introduced her granddaughter.
They shared a laugh when Anne told Buffy, "You two look more like sisters than anything else. We're about the same age and you look young enough to be my granddaughter. I guess it's one of the benefits of being a slayer. Huh?"
"That's what I keep telling everybody; it's the slayer package and good genes."
Buffy invited Anne and Gunn to join them and the four of them decided to have dinner together. Anne didn't mention Angel because she didn't know that Buffy knew him. Gunn knew because he recognized her from a picture that Angel still kept of Buffy. He didn't know if he should mention Angel so he opted for the safe route. He would mention it to his wife after they left the restaurant and they would decide whether or not to tell Angel that Buffy was visiting LA.
Back at her hotel Buffy pondered whether or not to contact Anne again. Anne had told her that they ran a teen shelter at the Hyperion Hotel which was owned by a friend of theirs. Buffy knew right away that that friend was Angel. She knew before she left Sunnydale that Angel ran Angel Investigations from the Hyperion and who else would give his hotel over to his friends for a youth center?
After discussing the issue with his wife, Gunn decided the correct thing to do was to tell Angel about Buffy and let him know that Anne planned to invite her and her granddaughter over for dinner the next day. This would leave it up to Angel to decide whether or not to be at dinner and if so, seeing Buffy would not be a complete surprise for him.
The next morning Anne called Buffy and invited her and Joyce Ann to have dinner with her and her family at the Hyperion. Buffy was torn over accepting the invitation, but she finally did accept and 5:45 that evening she found herself getting out of a taxi in front of the big hotel.
Inside the hotel Angel was nervous about seeing Buffy again, anxious to see her, but nervous at the same time. He knew about her marriage to Franklin and a little about their lives together, what little Willow was willing to tell him in their infrequent e-mails over the years since he returned to LA. He was glad to hear that Buffy lived a happy life and that she had children and grandchildren, after all, that was the normal life that he had always wanted for her.
How would she react to seeing him? Would her eyes light up when she saw him or would he be just another former acquaintance? He tried to ignore the phantom voice of Angelus as it laughed at him for being such a wuss.
'Years without that demon and still he returns to taunt me. Get a grip on your emotions before she comes through that door.'
Angel's thoughts were interrupted by Anne's voice as she greeted Buffy and Joyce Ann when they entered the hotel. Before Anne could introduce Angel, he whispered Buffy's name as he stood there awed by her presence.
"Angel." Buffy greeted him in the same breathless voice that he remembered.
She approached him eagerly with a big smile on her face and her arms outstretched in greeting; they hugged briefly as old friends would. "It is so wonderful to see you." She hugged him again and took him by the hand. "Come, I want you to meet Joyce Ann."
Angel followed her mutely, somewhat overwhelmed by her presence. He extended his hand to Joyce Ann.
"It's a pleasure to meet you Joyce Ann; you look just like your mother."
The others chuckled at that until Buffy spoke up and said, "Angel, this isn't my daughter, this is my granddaughter."
At this point Anne interrupted with, "I told Buffy I want her genes."
Anne's husband came back with, "Man I want your genes too. At the rate you're going, by the time you're a hundred years old, you'll barely look fifty."
Buffy was becoming embarrassed by all of the talk about her lack of aging. "Like I always say, looks like the slayer package was good for something other than slaying, huh?"
Anne noticed Buffy's discomfort so she changed the subject. "The food is ready everybody, so let's get ready for dinner."
Dinner went smoothly as the group traded stories about happenings in their lives; Joyce Ann contributed Buffy stories that had everybody either gasping in disbelief or laughing out loud. Once in a while Buffy would glance over at Angel; it amused her that she always found him staring at her.
It didn't seem to phase him at all to realize that Gunn, Anne and Joyce Ann seemed to find his behavior amusing.
At the end of the evening Angel volunteered to drive their guests back to their hotel; he considered offering them rooms in the Hyperion for the rest of their stay in the states, but thought better of the idea. He didn't want to make Buffy feel uncomfortable in case she chose to decline his offer.
At the hotel Joyce Ann said good-night and entered the suite that she shared with her grandmother.
Angel didn't want to let Buffy go. He took both of her hands in his. "It was so wonderful seeing you again, Buffy; I hope I didn't make you uncomfortable by the way I stared at you all evening. I just couldn't help myself."
A big smile spread over his face when she replied, "It didn't bother me, Angel; I kinda stared at you too."
It gave him the courage to ask her out the next day. "I'd like to show you and Joyce Ann the new and improved LA – the parts that the tourists don't see."
Buffy loved the idea and since, like herself, Joyce Ann was not an early riser, she suggested that she and Angel meet for breakfast and then meet up with her granddaughter later in the morning; that would give them some alone time, something she was sure both of them would appreciate.
To Buffy's surprise it was almost noon when she called Joyce Ann to let her know that she and Angel were on their way and she apologized for being so late.
"It's okay, Grandmother," Joyce Ann told Buffy. "I knew that you and Angel wanted some time together. It wouldn't surprise me if the two of you were in love all over again." She then told Buffy that she had decided to skip shopping and just wanted to spend the afternoon at a nearby museum and she would see her tonight. She ended with, "Call if you're not coming back tonight," and hung up the phone before Buffy could reply.
Angel noticed Buffy's red cheeks and was sure he knew the reason. "She guessed, didn't she?" Angel asked as he raised Buffy's hand to his lips.
Buffy blushed even more.
When Joyce Ann called her husband that evening to report on the day's activities, she told him about her grandmother's old/new love interest. Her husband's idea was to meet his wife in New York and leave Buffy in LA for the remainder of her vacation in case, for whatever reason, Buffy wanted to spend more time there.
"You can stop your matchmaking schemes now," she told her husband. "I think Grandmother has already found exactly what she needed, but was avoiding."
In one of their many talks about their separate pasts and united future, Buffy asked Angel, "Why didn't you come for me when your soul was first bound?"
"What? When? I haven't seen you since before Sunnydale fell."
"I know, but I saw you. When I recovered from the pain of having my soul bound, my first thought was of you. I had long ago searched the internet to find out where you were. That's how I knew that you were in London with Giles. I went there looking for you. The only person I saw at the new Council building was a guard at the front gate. He told me that everyone was at the wedding chapel.
"He didn't say who was getting married; he didn't have to. I could feel it in my heart, in my soul. I ran all the way there; I had to know if it was true, while all the time hoping against hope that it was not you that was getting married.
"I heard you say your wedding vows; I heard the priest pronounce you husband and wife. I saw the happy smile on your face and the look of love in your eyes when you looked at your new husband; it was the same way you used to look at me."
Angel smiled then, such a sad smile; she could see that it did not reach his eyes.
"After the wedding, I saw Giles. I gave him my number and told him to contact me if you ever needed me. I guess you never did. I walked away that day; I have never approached you again. You were happy. That's what I wanted most in the world and it was something I couldn't give you, until it was too late."
"I-I never knew." Buffy brought her fingers to her lips and closed her eyes as she fought back the tears. Giles had never told her about seeing Angel at her wedding. She understood his thinking - she was finally happy; Giles wanted her to stay that way. Considering her history with Angel, she could not be upset with him for that.
"He was right, Love," Angel said, interrupting her thoughts. "It still wasn't our time. Our time is now."
"But Angel, you have the body of a thirty-seven year old man. I'm sixty-nine. No matter how I look, I can't give you children and that wouldn't be fair to you."
"I've only ever wanted children if they were with you, Buffy. Besides, you're forgetting my son, Connor, has kids older than thirty-seven."
"But you could still have other children."
"No, Love, not without you. The way I see it, we still get our happy ending."
"Yes we do."
The tears came then, accompanied by smiles and laughter and hugs and kisses.