Author's not 1: Sorry about the delay, I have just started uni for the year. Really enjoying it.
Author's note 2: I realised that I may have been rather vague on something regarding Fred's powers. The reason her powers haven't started to go out of control is because she has not been using them as often as Illyria and she has also only made use of the time jump power twice.
Chapter Sixty-One: The End of the Prologue
"So you're sure that you're okay?" Mrs Reilly asked in the type of concerned voice only parents can master.
"Yes Mother I'm fine," Connor said, grimacing as her hug started to constrict his airflow, "It's Dad that you should be worried about. He's the one who actually needed medical attention." Before she could reply however, his mobile phone started to ring. "Sorry Mom," he said as he extracted himself from her grip, "Got a call." He quickly fled to the relative safety of his room before answering the phone.
"Hello?" he said, "Connor speaking."
"Hi Connor," said the voice on the other end, "It's Dawn, Dawn Summers. Sorry it took me a couple of days to call, things got a little hectic back here."
"No, no, no it's fine, it's all fine," he stammered quickly, "How was it – I mean – did everything turn out alright?"
"Yeah it all worked out in the end," she answered, "Look, uh, I was just wondering if you were doing anything tomorrow?"
"Uh, um, no, no I'm not, why, did you want to do something?" he asked, still stammering.
"I was just wondering if you wanted to catch a movie or do something like that," she said.
"Uh sure I'd love to," he said, "It sounds great. What time is good to meet up?"
"I'm free whenever," she said, "Is sometime like 8:30 okay?"
"Yeah," he said, "Sounds great, see you there."
Dawn returned the payphone receiver to the hook and sighed with satisfaction. There, she had made an attempt to do something with a boy. Maybe it would help her move on. Oh please let it help me move on.
"Hey D," said a husky voice from behind her, "Who were you calling?" Dawn turned to see Faith hobbling towards her, leaning on a crutch for support.
"None of your business," she said, glaring at the Slayer.
"Look," said Faith quickly, "If this is about what you saw earlier, it was complicated―"
"This is exactly about what I saw earlier," Dawn snarled, "So don't you dare try to justify that!"
"It was a mistake," Faith said, "I get that but―"
"No," Dawn interrupted in an extremely quiet yet dangerous voice, "A mistake is when you lose your keys or wear a top like that with those shoes. That was… I haven't got the right words to describe that. I know that you're already a murderer but is there anything else you've done that you want to get off your chest? Any holocausts? Any war crimes? Why don't you do us all a favour and just leave? Because it would be then, just about then when I might even be able to consider the remotest possibility of forgiv…. forg… No I can't even bring myself to say it, just get out of my sight."
"Just GO!" she roared with a ferocity that was belied by her short stature, "Go."
"Okay," said Willow, "I'll do it. I'll make the preparations and will cast the spell when you are ready."
"Thanks," said Harmony, "I know that I've never given you a reason to like me but thanks for helping me out."
"It's for Xander," Willow said simply, "And there is nothing that I would not do for him. So later today I'll go out and get everything that I need and I'll make it so that you can trigger the spell when you want it to happen."
"That's a good idea," Fred said speculatively. Before she could elaborate there was a knock at the door. Willow frowned and opened the door to reveal Dawn standing nervously at the threshold.
"Hi," she said hesitantly, "Fred, I know you said you were busy but I really need to talk to you about something."
"It's fine," said Fred, "Willow's the important one right now. I can spare a few minutes." She led the younger girl out into the hallway. "What's wrong?" she asked.
"I need a favour," said Dawn.
"I'm sure that you've been asked this quite a bit now," Giles said, "But why did you and Wesley nearly beat each other to death?" Xander shrugged nonchalantly.
"I don't know," he said, "I got bored? Fun? Do I need a reason?"
"People always have reasons," Giles replied.
"I'm not people," said Xander, "We just wanted to know who would win. I hate an unsatisfied curiosity."
"I suppose I can understand that," Giles replied before sighing. "Look, please don't get angry but I need to ask; are you sure you know what you're doing with Harmony?"
"Yes." There was a hint of irritation in his voice, as though he was tired of hearing that question. "I'm with her, I love her and she has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that she loves me too. She went out into the sun to save my life. What more do you want?"
"I just don't want to see you get hurt," the Watcher said seriously.
"She wouldn't hurt me," Xander said, "She couldn't." Those words should have sounded arrogant but they didn't. They were so sincere. He simply, completely believed in her.
"If I may ask something," Giles said, "Why her? I need to know or this is going to drive me crazy. She is a vampire and you have never liked them. Not only that you have never liked her. What happened?" Xander laughed tiredly. His late night encounter was finally starting to catch up with him.
"I couldn't honestly say," he answered, "It just happened. I was at this bar and saw her sitting a few stools down from me. She was being snooty so I did the only sensible thing I could think of and I threatened to kill her or at the very least I heavily implied that was what I wanted to and the next thing I knew it was the next morning and I was at her place." Giles laughed in response to Xander's more truthful than not description of their first night together. Xander's expression became more retrospective. "She challenged me," he said fondly, "I needed that. I didn't care about anything all that much at the time. She pushed me, she annoyed me, she never let up for a moment and she saved me."
"The stuff rom coms and dreams are made of," Giles said dryly.
"It changed after I was shot," Xander added, "She changed. She just looked after me and then there was that whole thing in that other dimension. Now it's my turn. Just this once, just for the hell of it, I'm going to be the one who saves her. I don't know if that makes any sense to anyone that's not me but―"
"I think it makes sense," Giles replied. Before either of them could say anything else Lorne stuck his head through the door and said, "Xander, Angel's calling a meeting for all team members." The normally jolly demon was quite serious.
"What's wrong?" Xander asked.
"Angel has something to tell us," was all he said.
Fred listened to Dawn's request silently. She didn't say anything as Dawn spoke, presenting her case. When Dawn finished, however she opened her mouth and spoke. "Why?" she asked.
"What do you mean?" Dawn asked in confusion.
"Why me?" she asked, "If you wanted to stay in L.A. why are you coming to me? Why not Xander? He is your friend."
"Look," said Dawn, "I just think that something bad could happen to him and I want to make sure that it doesn't."
"You didn't answer my question," Fred stated, "You didn't tell me why you haven't asked if you could stay with him." Dawn looked down at her feet, a small blush developing on her cheeks. A look of comprehension suddenly appeared on Fred's face. "Oh," she said understandingly, "You're in love with him." Dawn didn't say anything, she just jerked her head in what might one day develop into a nod. "And if you asked him if you could stay with him," Fred continued, "he would say yes immediately and you would have to watch him with Harmony every day."
"Yeah," Dawn whispered, "I'm sorry. I know that it's weak and… not something that a friend should feel but it's just―"
"Very human," Fred finished sympathetically, "There seems to be a lot of that going around lately." She suddenly sighed and followed it with laughter. "Sure," she said, "You can stay with me until you are able to make other arrangements."
"Thanks," said Dawn quietly, "And I know that I'm already pushing it but if you could do one more thing, please don't tell anyone about… You know… him and how I… You know."
"My lips are sealed," Fred said instantly before turning because she could hear incoming footsteps with her enhanced senses. She smiled when she saw Wesley approach them.
"Hey," he said, his smile tempered with something that appeared to be concern, "Angel has called a meeting for all team members."
"Is something wrong?" she asked.
"I don't know," he said, "But they didn't look happy when they called me."
"Where's Harmony?" Xander asked, noticing that his girlfriend was not in the office at the reception.
"She's talking to Willow about something," Fred answered, "I didn't want to bother them. Besides you can fill her in… I mean, you can tell her later." Despite the paleness of her skin there was a faint blush on Fred's cheeks as she attempted to backspace verbally. Xander's eyebrows raised in amusement.
"I'll be sure to do that," he replied dryly before turning to Angel. "So what's the buzz, Fearless Leader?" he asked flippantly.
"There is something that I need to ask you all," he said, addressing them all, "I want you all to move back into the Hyperion. We're all living in company accommodations or in high cost places due to the salary that they are paying us. We need to stop, we're being blinded by all of the shiny toys that they've been throwing our way. That's not all, there is something that you need to know that Lindsay told me just over a week ago." Spike already knows." The other vampire nodded when his name was mentioned. "I now know that the Senior Partners are planning. Their apocalypse has started and has been going for years." Wesley's head jerked up in surprise.
"What do you mean?" he demanded, "How can it have been going on. We've seen what an Apocalypse looks like."
"I don't know," he said, "I haven't been able to get all the details out of him yet. There has been a lot happening recently."
"Their Apocalypse? Gunn asked. Spike shook his head quickly.
"No," he said, "The Apocalypse. That's what Lindsay said anyhow."
"There's more," Angel added, "Before she… Cordelia gave me a vision. The real power behind Wolfram & Hart and their Apocalypse is an organisation known as the Circle of the Black Thorn." Wesley and Lorne both breathed in horror. They had heard whispers and rumours of the shadowy organisation. Kingmakers and King killers the lot of them. "You've probably met many of its members; Archduke Sebassis and Izzerial are both memebers as was Vail." Wesley grinned coldly as he remembered killing the sadistic red hided sorcerer. "We need to break this organisation," Angel continued, "And we can't work against them while living under their eye." Gunn laughed.
"Meh," he said, "All of the luxury and perks were starting to get old."
"And it makes me feel like I'm selling out," Lorne added, "And you never want to do that."
"I'm with you til the end," Wesley said firmly.
"We're with you til the end," Fred clarified.
"I don't think I am," Xander said casually, "I kind of like the perks." He quickly added, "Kidding," when Wesley and Fred mock glared at him, "Clearly this isn't the time for jokes."
"Do we tell Buffy and the others?" Spike asked, realising that he wouldn't be able to help now that he was leaving for Europe in two days' time.
"No," said Angel, "The Slayers already have their mission and if we tell her Buffy will want to help even if it puts her at a disadvantage." Angel sighed and looked around the room. "This is it," he said, "Everything that has happened before now has just been the prologue. This is where it starts.
I hope that you enjoyed this. You'll notice that quite a bit has changed from the cannon version of events.