Chapter 50 or Epilogue
Rome, Italy ----------- May 20, 2006
Buffy Summers was twitchy. Her hand was wrapped tightly around her scythe and she was holding it proudly for all to see and (hopefully) keep back from. To her right, Willow strode beside her, her hair swept back in a tumble of wind that only seemed to be affecting her. This mysterious breeze and the light gold aura around her were sure signs that the witch was gathering all the power she’d need if it came down to a fight. Xander was at her left side, gripping her hand tightly in his and grasping the borrowed sword of St. George in the other.
A little to the back of their group was Angel. He hadn’t made eye contact with her since she’d barged in on him in Wales and yelled at him for three hours straight about keeping Spike’s resurrection a secret. Now, he’d come with her to help her complete her task.
As they reached the reception desk of Wolfram and Hart’s Roman branch, Buffy set down her scythe on the counter and glared at the immaculately dressed assistant. “I’d like to see Ilona, now.”
“And who may I ask is calling?” Surely someone had to be trained to cram that much snottiness into one sentence. Or maybe it was a natural talent.
The receptionist rolled her eyes and cast a glance at her freshly manicured nails. “Slayers are a dime a dozen, sweetheart. Ilona can’t concern herself with every teen-age girl with a bit of demon dust in her.”
“Not a slayer,” Buffy corrected, pushing the scythe under the receptionist’s nose. “Slayer comma The. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, closer of the Hellmouth, slayer of gods, stopper of Hell Inc.’s demon hordes. That slayer. Oh and Xander Harris and Willow Rosenburg of the Watcher’s Council and Angel.”
A lilting Italian voice rang out across the hall. “Oh Angel, it is you. You’ve come back and brought the beautiful Boofy with you. How romantic.”
Buffy turned to see a woman with ample assets crammed into a dress that would have made Sunnydale Era Cordelia blush coming out of the CEO’s office. Surely this walking advertisement for breast implants couldn’t be the head of (now) the most important branch of the largest source of evil in seven dimensions. Geez, how did she even conduct business over the hypnotic power of her Elvira-sized boobs. Heh, maybe they were a negotiating tactic.
“I am Ilona,” The woman said, confirming the Slayer’s suspicions and standing up on her tip toes to give Angel a hug. Buffy took petty pleasure in how uncomfortable he looked. “Angel, you look so nice even if you are no longer on good terms with the Partners. I blame your soul for you working for the Watcher’s Council. Oh the evil you would have made had those gypsies not cursed you. Pah!” She said, spitting to her side and barely missing Buffy’s new Italian leather boots (the fact that she’d missed was the only thing that kept her head on). “Filthy gypsies, we speak of them no more.”
“And you are Xander, yes?” She asked, giving him a huge hug as well. “I’ve heard many things about the ruggedly handsome Watcher with the eye patch. Our Johannesburg office complains all the time about the damage your girls do.”
Xander sputtered and stared down at Ilona’s chest for far too long and Buffy was forced to smack him on the back of the head. Rubbing the rising welt, he added, “Gee, thanks.”
“And Willow we’ve heard of. You gave the Senior Partners quite the scare with your own apocalypse a few years ago. Quite the power. If you ever change your mind about working for the Watcher’s Council, we’d love to have another sorceress on the pay roll.”
“No thank you.” Willow said curtly, but Buffy still noticed that the other girl was staring at Ilona’s chest. Oh geez, she even had Wills doing it.
Crossing her arms over her own chest, Buffy glared at Ilona. “We’re here to give you back something you’ve misplaced. Wills.”
The other girl blinked back up at Buffy still stunned apparently and handed the crystal with Zod in it to Ilona. The Scooby Council had struck a deal with Clark. The two criminals had been returned to the Fortress to be kept under his watch and care, but Zod could not be allowed to escape. He’d already found a way out of the Fortress once and, honestly, Clark was too incompetent to keep it from happening again, at least for now.
So they were taking the general to a place that would be sure to contain him. Angel had assured her that Wolfram and Hart punished those who violated their contracts severely.
Ilona’s expression hardened, no longer the fun flirtation of the schmoozing business woman, but instead the cold hardness of the demon she truly was. “He escaped. The Senior Partners are very angry with him. He almost threw off our new Apocalypse time table.”
Great another apocalypse. Just what the Slayer ordered. “We captured him first but we wanted you to have him. We figured you guys were better with the punishment.”
She snorted. “I forget the good guys do not believe in torture as such, do you?”
“Sometimes, if we need to know things.” She shook her head, “But we wanted top security on this and we know that if Wolfram and Hart wants to trap somebody they can do it for centuries.”
“Send him to the dimension of nothing but shrimp.” Angel added helpfully.
“And in the contests for non-sequitir statements, the award goes to Dead Boy.”
“Don’t call me that.”
“Oh please, stop acting like five-year olds.” Buffy said, smiling a little to herself. Xander had been at his most immature the second he’d realized that Angel was coming with them to Rome. Maybe it made her a bad person, but she kind of liked being fought over. It made it seem all romantic like Helen of Troy or a telenovela (she’d had far too much free time visiting Willow in Brazil). Besides, it really wasn’t a contest. Angel was the idiot who’d signed his soul away to Wolfram and Hart and gotten Spike, Wesley and several of his best friends killed. Xander was the man she trusted to protect everything she loved and to actually listen to her instead of pop in and out with cryptic warnings and stern edicts.
Yup, she decided, giving his hand an extra squeeze. Not a contest at all.
“So,” she continued. “Will you take him?”
Ilona wrapped both hands around the crystal and nodded. “He will get the punishment he deserves, I can promise you that. Do you have any other business you wish to discuss?”
“With Wolfram and Hart, never.” Buffy said, turning to the elevator. “Come on guys, there’s still plenty of time before the clubs open and I could use some pasta.”
“God, I love Italy,” Xander chimed in beside her.
“Goodbye Boofy and Angel.” Ilona said. “It is too bad that you no longer wear your pretty jacket, Angel, maybe the Slayer would like you more than Xander with his manly eye patch.”
“Jacket?” Buffy asked, arching an eyebrow at Angel.
“It’s a long story.”
“Oh there are pictures.” Xander added and Willow giggled.
Angel actually managed to blush which was pretty impressive considering the whole lack of blood flow part of being a vampire. “I’m going to kill Dawn.”
“You do that and I’ll send you and Andrew to Siberia and I’ll add Rhona to the mix to make it extra fun.”
Ilona had just finished depositing the crystal into the deepest and darkest pocket dimension the firm could provide. It was, as Angel suggested, a world populated with shrimp but not exclusively. It was famous for its Prometheus-like torments. Even the strongest and most stalwart soldier could stand having his liver and eyes eaten out for so long before he broke. It was going to be fun watching Zod fall, and even more fun watching what more advanced tortures the Senior Partners would come up with after they tired of that dimension.
Humming to herself, Ilona settled behind her desk and started going through the day’s memos and briefs. The work at an evil pandimensional law firm never stopped.
“Ms. Costa?” Her executive assistant’s voice rang out over the intercom. “Your four o’clock is here to see you.”
“Send Lex Luthor right in. We have a lot to discuss.” Not the least of which was how Zod managed to get trapped in a Kryptonian crystal in the first place, but Ilona was a shrewd lawyer and she had her suspicions. She definitely had her suspicions.