It All Gets Done
Xander and Connor finally arrived with Spike. His face fell when he saw Wesley and Buffy talking quietly. From their body language, not to mention their combined smells, Spike knew he had lost any chance with her, knowing it was a fluke the first go round. He was willing to do anything to make it happen again, well almost anything - stupid soul. She looked up at him, nodding her head, but didn't move to greet him. Wesley felt concerned for her. He knew that nothing he said would change her mind, so he didn't try. He simply gave her his support and provided a few suggestions, which she considered.
Buffy observed the people gathered in her home. They were the last chance to stop The First from getting a foothold in their world, and they didn't even know it. Buffy turned to Giles, Willow and Xander. They had fought so many apocalypses with her. They weren't the real thing, not like this. This was it the big one, the end-all-be-all, the last chance and she didn't know how to tell them that it was either her or the First that would come out of this. Whoever won would decide the fate of the world. Giles knew it was bad, but even he couldn't grasp the complete picture. Wesley and Connor had an idea, and even their picture was small in comparison to what Buffy knew might happen. It was the End of Days and she was her world's last hope. The last Guardian of the Hellmouth was what the Shadowmen had called her and they meant that in every sense of the word. She was the last, even now, she felt the part that connected her to Faith, her sister Slayer, slipping away.
Faith, she wondered what she was feeling. If she even understood what was happening to her. Buffy knew she was alive, somehow the First wasn't interested in the dark-haired Slayer. She suspected it was because her dark past. It had tainted Faith in some way for the First's purposes, which left only Buffy. The First thought her an easy target, especially, if it could wear her down, tear her down far enough that she'd do something to allow the First to open the Hellmouth. It was time to get this done, to finish it. She wondered what her friends would think once they understood the repercussion of what they planned to do.
"Well, you're a sad picture of a hulking avenger of evil," a voice said from the doorway.
Angel didn't turn or say a word as he stared at Cordelia's letter. He couldn't believe that she'd leave them, leave him without a word. A letter, no a note saying goodbye and don't wear so much black. His whole world blew up in his face within forty-eight hours. How could this happen? He had loved Cordelia. How could she go back to that, that - Groo?
"She wasn't ever supposed to leave him. He was her destiny, where she was meant to be. The Powers gave Delia the visions because her path led to Pylea. Yes, she helped you along the way but she still had a destiny of her own. You were supposed to be seeking redemption for your past Angel, not trying to replace one past with another. If the Powers thought the love of a good woman was what you needed to set you on your way don't you think they would have let you stay with your Slayer?"
"What do you mean let me stay? I chose to leave Sunnydale, no one convinced me." Even as he said the words, he remembered the conversation with Joyce. The same conversation that he quoted almost by rote to Buffy, in of all places a sewer.
"Now, don't you be telling stories out of class, Angel, me boy. I'm in the know up there." Doyle pointed up. "It's time that you and me, my friend, have a nice long talk. Sit down, Angel." The normally jovial Brachen demon's voice left no room for argument.
"What's all this about, Doyle? How are you even able to be here? Although with everything that's happened lately, it seems that anything is possible."
"There's that tone again. The one where the world has been so hard on poor, poor, Angel. You me, boyo, have had more help and chances than any other champion that ever served the Powers. Now, it's time for you to hear what's in store for you. The End of Days is here."
Angel jumped off the bed and started for the door. "Stop! You've no where to go to Angel."
"But, the End of Days, I'm supposed to fight in it. The scrolls said that I'd fight, and if we won that I'd receive my humanity."
"That isn't exactly what they said. Prophecies are tricky things, you should know that by now. The scrolls said that if you stayed on the path then you'd be allowed to fight. Don't you get it, Angel? It was to be an honor, not a chore. There was more to the prophesy the missing piece. It had to do with the Destroyer."
"What does Connor have to do with the scrolls and my Shanshu?"
"Everything, from the return of his mother, to his birth and your endless pursuit of money for his future. You lost your way, yet again. How many times does that make, Angel? Did you never wonder why your son was called the Destroyer? It wasn't because of his fighting skills, though the boy does have those. He was sent to test you. He's the balance, not destined for either side, your greatest test. Could you make the hard choice, even with your family involved? Your past acts with Dru, Darla and the lawyers, not to mention walking away from your friends left them little choice. They gave you more than you had a right to and took from another. You had a direct link from the Powers while your Slayer was left to her own devices. Her friends and Watcher helped all they could, yet she fought every night. If you hadn't of gone after Delia, you would've helped her fight Glorificus. Now, it's your son who'll fight the End of Days by her side. He's grown into a fine man, who's made the Powers proud. You, my friend, I'm afraid, they don't know what to do with you. If the Slayer wins this battle, then it maybe beyond their control. If she doesn't, then there isn't much hope for any of us."
"I have to get to Sunnydale, Connor and Buffy need me. I can help them, I can't let them die."
"You aren't listening to me, Angel. You can't leave here until this is over. This battle's outcome will determine your fate. You can't help them, Angel. I'm not sure anyone can. One thing, I do know, if there's any way to defeat the First then the Slayer's our best hope. She took another big chance not too long ago, and may not survive the results. I'm sorry, old friend, you'll have to live with your decisions. I only hope the others won't have to suffer for them, as well."
Doyle patted Angel's shoulder before disappearing.
Buffy checked to make sure that everyone knew their assigned roles. She paired them off in groups of four, setting them off on different tasks. She stepped outside to take a deep breath, before they left for the fight.
"Going over last minute details."
She looked up to see Giles join her. "No, just taking a minute to catch my breath. I guess everyone's ready to go?"
She started to get up when Giles motioned for her to sit.
"I wanted to tell you how proud I am of you. You've become everything that a Slayer was meant to be and no matter what happens today I'm proud to have been your Watcher. You're the daughter that I never had." He pulled her into his arms, squeezing her tightly.
"Do you have a predilection for Englishmen? Am I going to have to keep an eye on all my countrymen?" Wesley stood in the doorway, watching his lover with the man who for all practical purposes was her father.
"My mom did say that he was a stevedore, maybe that's true for all Englishmen."
Giles started coughing and blushing furiously. Wesley just grinned at her with heated eyes.
"Let's go and get this done."
Buffy linked her arms with theirs and led them back into the house. Her mind already on the coming battle. It wasn't going to be the kind of battle that any of the others had ever experienced, not like when they fought the Mayor or even Glory. This was the big one, the final choice and it was up to her to make it. She knew their lives would never be the same again.
She had decided to keep Wesley and Connor with her. They were the most experienced fighters next to Spike, and she couldn't have the vampire close to her. Her plan would provide everyone the best possible chance at survival, which would allow her to concentrate on what she needed to do. The Hellmouth's total annihilation, not in the same way the First planned. No, she had a specific purpose and if she did everything correctly, it would have far-reaching repercussions.
"Don't over think it, Buffy. You have a good plan and they don't need to know anymore than that. Just tell us what you need and we'll help anyway that we can."
She stopped looking out the car window at his voice, turning in the car seat to look at them. "I know that you two have faced some hairy situations. I need you to promise me something. If it looks like I'm going to fail, I need you to kill me. It's the only way to end this."
Connor stared at her in shock. "You can't ask us to do that, Buffy. We kill demons not people."
"Ask yourself this Connor, which is more important ending this constant battle against demons or my death. I've already died several times and if I have to then I will again. Funny thing is I wouldn't mind sticking around for a while but that isn't what's important. I'm not going into this with a death wish, far from it. Still it's my responsibility to make sure the bad guys don't win. So, I need your promise before we get there. It'll take some of the responsibility off me, where I can concentrate on what needs to be done."
Wesley simply took his hand off the wheel and clasped hers, squeezing it reassuringly. "We'll do what we needs doing and we'll walk away from this together."
"Okay, this is the place that should line up directly between the temple Willow tried to raise and the seal under the school. I'm going to need your help to open the Hellmouth. The First is going to send whatever it can at me to stop what I'm trying to do. This is the part that will be hard for you two and that I knew the others couldn't handle. You have to let them come. I have to fight whatever comes at me and you have to stay alive. If it looks like I'm going to fail then you have to finish it like we talked about, all right?" Buffy looked at them as they got out of Wesley's SUV, loaded down with weapons. The two men looked at each other before nodding at the small blonde.
Connor thought he understood what she meant to do, until she asked them to kill her. He didn't understand that part, why should she have to die. They should make sure that she lived. He had talked to Dawn and Amanda today and learned more about the woman who befriended him and gave his life a new purpose. Dawn laughed, telling him that Buffy could make the devil himself want to fight evil if he could do it with her. He watched her walk confidently to a group of rocks. It wasn't until he got closer that he saw faint marking on the base of the largest rock. Even with his heightened strength, Connor knew that he couldn't move the rock. It was at least twelve feet high and several feet around with other large rocks leaning against it.
"How did you know that this was here?"
He looked at Buffy trying to understand what she hadn't told everyone.
"Remember our conversation about power?" She looked at him but also over his head and into Wesley's magnetic blue ones. "It turns out that power calls to power. That's how Willow knew where the temple was when she went dark and tried to destroy the world."
"Is that what you're going to do?" Connor's voice held a note of fear unsure what he should do or who he should trust.
"You have to answer that for yourself, Connor. Have I done anything that would make you think that I'd try to destroy this world? If you believe that then it's your job to stop me. If you don't then you have your answer. I can't make you believe in me or anyone else that's up to you. All I can tell you is that if I don't do this there won't be anything left to believe in, not here or anywhere else. I think that we've had about enough apocalypses don't you. I say we just do it, get it done already and quit pussyfooting around about it. People can't live like this and they shouldn't have to. Now, enough with this extranuous stuff, let's get this done." She leaned up and kissed Connor's cheek causing him to blush. "For luck, remember, don't get dead."
Wesley pulled her up next to him and kissed her passionately, taking their breaths away.
"You don't need luck. Just wanted to remind you what's waiting for you when this is over."
"Now, that's what I call an incentive plan. Thanks for coming with me; mostly, for our time together. It was one of the best days of my life. Please, don't think that I'm going into this thinking that I'm going to lose. I just want you prepared for whatever comes."
She leaned up to kiss him softly this time then walked away to stand with her back to the largest stone.
Giles' group included Willow, Kennedy, Robin and half the SiTs. They stationed themselves in the school's lobby. Willow put a protective sand ring around the Seal of Danzalthar. She worked with Giles, creating a spell, which asked the Earth to hold the evil within the bounds. Kennedy wanted to open the seal. Rona and Vi ganged up on her and told her to shut up. The once brash SiT leader followed along behind her lover, feeling left out and unwanted.
Robin wasn't sure he did right by giving Buffy his mother's bag, now it was too late. He had a feeling his demon fighting days were coming to an end. He stood at the west end of the lobby with a large sword in his hand and several knives tucked into his belt. The SiTs stood back to back, the way Buffy had showed them. They were amazed that after only a day with the blonde Slayer they had learned so much. The girls felt confident that they could hold their own if they used each other's strengths during the fight.
Willow stood with her eyes closed working hard to keep her connection with the Earth. She had spent the entire afternoon meditating. Her mind kept Tara's sweet face as her focus point, her lodestone to keep her balance. Willow knew that this was her last chance to make up for what she did, and she was determined to get it right. Something niggled at the back of her mind, a missing piece of the puzzle. An important part that it was too late to worry about it. Here they come - Bringers and the fight was on.
Dawn, Spike, Anya, Xander, Andrew and the remaining SiTs stood on the place of Willow's defeat. Anya and Dawn performed the same spell, creating a protective white ring where once a temple of darkness rose from the ground.
Spike stood apart from the others with Dawn at his side. He knew that his relationship with his Niblet would never be the same, not after last summer. He once gave a promise to a beautiful woman, a woman who had changed his unlife and he planned to keep it, till the end of the world, even if it was tonight. Spike knew a lot more about what Buffy was up to than she thought. He was a scholar in his previous life and would have eventually followed in his father's footstep and become a Watcher. There were things the others never knew about him, including Dru and Angelus.
He knew that Buffy planned to fight the End of Days battle tonight and she planned on fighting it alone. The small skirmishes that they fought were tactical false trails for the First, leading it away from Buffy until it was too late. He only hoped that she survived this battle. Spike knew he had to stop thinking about the woman that he still loved and concentrate on fulfilling his promise to her. He moved Dawn in position behind him and waited.
Dawn stood with Spike still not sure why Buffy trusted him after everything that he had done. She couldn't forgive him for betraying her friendship and hurting her sister. It was odd that even though Buffy couldn't be near Spike that she still sent for him to help fight. Dawn was glad that Buffy didn't try to send her away and was allowing her a chance to help. She tightly gripped the short sword and waited.
Anya didn't know why she didn't just leave with the other smart people of Sunnydale, but here she was with these people ready to fight. She didn't even have demon powers for goodness sakes. She saw the little nerd Andrew drop his crossbow, shaking her head she went to help him. Anya couldn't help but smile, he was a nerd sure, still he made her laugh and made the best blueberry muffins she ever ate.
Xander waited for the fight to begin. His thoughts on the last time he was here, remembering holding his best friend as she cried. He remembered thinking that he would die that day. Why didn't he feel like that now? Something was wrong with this plan, he just didn't know what it was? He saw Bringers coming at them and didn't have a chance to finish his thoughts or ask anyone else.
Wesley and Connor saw them coming and nodded to each other. They took up posts several yards away from Buffy. She waited for the first one to reach her then whipped out her blade to behead it. Her foot lashed out at another while she stabbed two with a sword in one hand and a knife in the other.
Connor fought two Bringers who decided that he would make an easy target. Wesley found himself in a similar predicament. They worked their way to the Slayer, their real target. Their master wanted this one dead and their only purpose was to please their master.
They saw him at the same time, walking across the open ground. He dressed like a preacher but the air around him left no doubt that he was evil. The blue sparks that Connor and Wesley saw when Buffy fought the First before were back. They arced from her fingers in short sparks that reached out to burn the closest Bringer, who burst into flame.
Caleb confidently walked forward His master gave him more power than he had ever felt before, bonding them together in a way that allowed him to face the Slayer. When the First returned from LA in defeat, it tore the vineyard apart in its anger. Now, it would open the Hellmouth and rule this Earth, using Caleb as its tool.
Buffy felt Faith's strength join with hers. She said a silent thank you and a prayer for her sister Slayer as she prepared for what would come next. The sun went dark by an eclipse that was not supposed to happen. Buffy braced herself for what was coming next and only hoped that Wesley and Connor would keep their promise.
Caleb stood in front of her with a malicious smile on his face. "You dirty girls never learn, do you? You think that you can prance around in your tight clothes and tempt men, that you can be a man when it pleases you and.."
He never saw her move, or the fist that slammed into him. Caleb's body flew backward into several vampires that had joined the battle now that the sun had set.
Buffy stalked forward, mumbling under her breath. "You evil guys are all alike. Blah, blah, blah, I'm big I'm bad. Could we fight already, listening to your preaching is killing me."
Caleb jumped to his feet with a furious scream. "Kill her, tear her apart and bring me her eyes."
The First appeared beside Caleb. "You're supposed to fight her, you fool. Let them help you if you have to as long as you deliver the killing blow. Now, get in there and do something, before I regret picking you as my servant."
He looked at the First and for the first time wondered, why it always chose the Slayer's face over any other. Moving back into the fight, Caleb had a hard time even getting close to the fighting. The Slayer was taking out three and four vampires at a time; Bringers fell like rag dolls at her feet. Caleb saw an opening and entered the fight.
Buffy's drew her hand back to take off the head of yet another Bringer when something stopped it. Looking over her shoulder, she saw Caleb holding the sword, smiling as blood dripped from his hand. He slid his hand down the blade to hers until their hands pushed against each other. Caleb felt powerful as he stared into Buffy's hazel green eyes. This was the Slayer, good's ultimate weapon and he was about to kill her. He would sit beside his master and help to rule this Earth. He would teach all the dirty girls to obey. His eyes flew wide in shock as a terrible pain shot through his stomach.
"You should pay attention in a fight. Thanks for coming, though you were exactly what I needed to get this done. Too bad you won't be around for the rest of the fireworks."
Buffy pushed Faith's knife further into Caleb's stomach. Blue streak of lightning shot out around her hand and the knife, which she pulled up, splitting the fake preacher in half. She screamed at the top of her lungs, breaking the rune stone in half.
The First saw an opportunity. It could still win; it pushed forward toward the opening, smelling victory, smelling home. Then she was there like a death goddess of olden times, a Valkyrie ready to take the worthy to Valhalla, Athena personified. The First couldn't allow this to happen this was its time to rule. Untold prophecies had written about this time. That fool of a vampire had opened the door long ago and the First had worked its way back ever since, its time was now and this mere Slayer was not going to stop it.
Buffy did the unthinkable, which if you knew her, really knew her was the norm for the Slayer who broke every rule then rewrote the book. She simply stepped over the place, which led straight into Hell itself. The rock was an actual rune stone set in place so long ago that no one even knew who put it there. Buffy knew who put it there but that wasn't important right now. What was important was that the runes would only work with enough power and only for the right person.
She grinned at the First. It was interesting that she could see it so easily now. The saying was true, like did go to like. They were the opposite sides of the same coin and it was up to her to make the right call and end this once and for all. With a saucy wave, she jumped down into the hole. The First surged forward trying to stop her, knowing that if she made it to the heart of the Hellmouth all hope was lost. Buffy folded her arms over her chest and closed her eyes, not wanting to see what surrounded her. The minute that she disappeared down the hole, the vampires and Bringers ran away in fear.
The lightning arcs grew stronger, pushing out from her entire body directly into the Hellmouth's walls. She knew that she had to reach the center that there this would all end. The End of Days would be determined by her past acts. Buffy felt the First rushing toward her, trying to stop her from reaching the bottom. A smile crossed her lips because it was too late; she was there. It was here that their fates would be decided. No sooner had her foot touched the very center of the Hellmouth, the sparks encompassed her in a whirlwind, before suddenly stopping. Buffy waited for what would come next when it happened. She shot back up toward the opening, moving faster and faster. The First screamed in impotence; it was caged forever.
Wesley and Connor were there, waiting for her. They caught her as soon as she cleared the opening. Buffy looked back at the rune stone, not surprise to see that it had returned to its place. She rested her head in Wesley's lap while she tried to catch her breath. Connor held her hand as he stared at her pale face with concern.
"What happened, Buffy? What did you do?" Wesley asked, squinting as the sun suddenly returned to the sky.
"It's over, all of it. This was the End of Days and we won." She closed her eyes and curled up closer to him.
"But, that's impossible, the scroll of Oberjian said that Angel would fight in the End of Days and he'd have a chance to win his humanity."
"No, it wasn't a guarantee and it didn't say that it was for Angel, he isn't the only vampire with a soul. In fact, he isn't even the first. Spike has a soul. There are also several others out there, well, there were."
"What does that mean? Is my father dead?" The question burst from Connor's lips.
"I don't know the answer to that Connor. It wasn't my call. I don't even know if Spike made it through, although somehow I think he did. No, the answer is there are no more vampires, no more demons, no more apocalypses. Humans are on their own. The only evil they have to worry about now is what anyone is capable of. The Shadowmen said that I was the last Guardian of the Hellmouth and that's true. The Slayer line is gone. What you see is just plain ole Buffy Summers."
Wesley snorted at that. "I don't believe that in any way, shape or form that you could be considered plain." He got to his feet with her in his arms and wasn't surprised to see the others slowly approaching.
They rushed forward to check on Buffy, who gave them a tired smile. "Hey guys, its all over." She shared a smile with Giles. "Someone once told me the good guys are always stalwart and true, the bad guys are easily distinguished by their pointy horns or black hats, and we always defeat them and save the day. None of us died today and we now have a chance to live happily ever after. Okay, I changed the last part only a little, but it's true. Now, I say we go home and start living the life that we deserve." She cuddled closer to Wesley while the others followed their general no matter that there were no more wars to fight.
Spike walked beside Connor as he tried to wrap his mind around the idea that he was human again. He liked the young man next to him. They both wondered about Angel. He figured they would find out soon enough.
"It's over, the Slayer did it. She fought the First, even entered the Hellmouth itself and gave back the power that the Shadowmen gave her. Her willingness to give up the power even her life to end evil's hold on this world was what tipped the scale. That girl's fierce once she gets an idea in her head. The Powers didn't think that she'd do it. They thought that they'd have to intervene to show her another way. They've always underestimated her just like you did. Before you ask, your boy is safe. He fought well and is now just a normal teenager. You've been given a chance to make a life, thanks to the sacrifices that your Slayer made over and again after you left her on her own. Don't try to find them, Angel, let them lead the lives that they've earned. If you're lucky, your son may come back to you, but you need to learn how to live. How to be the kind of man that Connor would be proud to have as a father." Doyle left his friend to consider the long road that he had in front of him.
Buffy rolled over to snuggle up to the warm body next to her. She breathed in Wesley's unique smell. His arms pulled her close to him and he kissed her head sleepily.
"Is it morning already?"
"Yeah, but I'm enjoying waking up just like I've always wanted to. A normal girl in the arms of her normal boyfriend. It's perfect."
Wesley kissed the top of her head.
"Why don't we see what else we can do that's perfect."