Title: After (00/?)
Author: Prospero Hibiki
Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer characters are the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, UPN, Fox and WB Network. In no way are these aforementioned characters being used for my own personal profit, and this is not meant as an infringement of the copyright owned by any of the above entities. Also the other people I didn't make up belong to the greatest creator of the illustrated word ever, Warren Ellis.
Rating: M (For Language)
Timeline: Post Graduation Part 2.
Spoilers: Up to Grad Pt 2 and maybe some later as necessary
Summary: The world has been saved. What happens next? Who remains? Where do we go from here? This is the story of After
Author's Comments: I’m really freaking tired…who cares what else I have to say.
The day started for me the way it ended. This only goes to show that I never did get to sleep last night. I greeted the New Year in a fashion that my foster parents would heartily approve of, if they could even be bothered to care that is. They never have before and suspect they couldn't be bothered to this time as well. So anyway the year 2000 is rung in as I sit on a bar stool in Willy's Alibi drinking most of a bottle of vodka. I know she's gone. Felt it seven hours ago when Big Ben struck the hour. She always did love London. Figures that her timing matches Greenwich Mean Time. Yeah, I felt it when it happened as we'd come to suspect I might. God, I wish we'd been wrong.
Things don't always make the news here in Sunnydale, but then I knew what was going on from other sources. She told me herself when she canceled our little get together. To be fair I think both of us knew it wasn't going to happen long before that point. It's just the way our luck goes I guess. It hurts though. It hurts that I only really told her that one time how I felt. That I never really told her that she was the reason I started to fight. That she was the one that influenced me to make a stand. That without her in my life my life was meaningless. That I loved her.
"Willy, gimme a pack of cigarettes." The growl comes out much as it has been the entire night. For once the miserable little weasel has decided that arguing with me tonight isn't worth the beating I'd give him for it. The pack slides across the bar almost instantly. I ignore the fact that there isn't a way to light them.
Pulling a cigarette out of the pack I bring it to my mouth and let it hang there as I survey the crowd gathered in the bar. It's your standard collection of demons, if there can be such a thing. Most of them seem somewhat cautious of the human that just strolled in eight hours ago and hasn't left. Of course that might have had something to do with the pile of goo that is almost finished melting in the corner. Five demons decided to protest my being in the bar. One of them changed his mind which is why there are only four charred bodies in the corner.
One of the vamps in the bar is working up his courage to attack me when I smirk at him and light my cigarette using my finger. Suddenly he's finding his glass of blood to be much more interesting than he thought it was a few minutes ago. In fact, that state of affairs seems to be almost universal around the bar. Pity. I was almost hoping one would be stupid enough to try and attack me even with my little display earlier. I almost miss the dumb vampires. They could have been counted upon to attack me no matter what I'd just done. I guess the song is true. You don't always get what you want.
A solid thunk on the table in front of me attracts my attention something that I would have sworn Willy didn't want to do. Guess I was wrong. After punching Willy in the nose for the fourth time that night I ask the question on my mind. "What's with the drink?" The first few words come out garbled as he sets his nose again, but I get the general idea from his mutterings. Well, the mutterings and the words from the demon who apparently decided to buy me a drink.
"Stop playing with the worm, boy. He's not worth your time." The fact he's right doesn't stop me from chucking the glass at his head. The effect being ruined slightly as he snatches the glass out of the air and doesn't allow a single drop of the liquid inside to escape. Despite myself I'm impressed. "Damn it, don't you know how expensive this stuff is?" He sets the glass down almost reverently. I don't know why as it just looks like an average glass of scotch. I turn away and go back to surveying the room. I freeze at his next words though. "This scotch is very old, boy. Your mother's age actually."
As my head whips around, he smiles. It looks fairly disturbing in a purple horned face that has more teeth than your average mako shark. "I thought that'd get your attention. Come join me in the corner and we'll drink the rest of the bottle. I'll tell you glorious lies about when I met your mother. When dawn comes I'll give you a second one for you to take with you and drink at your wedding. She'd like that I think." He stood and walked away as if he hadn't seen my clenched fists or sensed the energy radiating behind my eyes. The other demons back away from him fearfully with the lone Polgara almost pushing his way through the wall of the bar in his attempt to get as far away as possible. I think that fact impressed me the most.
Shrugging I got up and followed him to the dark corner he'd seemed to claim. On the way I paused and gave Willy another strong punch to the nose. Just for fun.
We didn't finish the bottle that night. Webe'valic, the demon, had waved his hand and the bottle sealed itself again when there was just enough for one decent drink. He'd said I'd want to drink it at the funeral. At the time I didn't understand. But he just nodded and placed the second bottle on the table as he left. No one spoke as he left, hardly surprising since no one else was actually in the bar at the time. Well, I guess Willy was, not that he really counts because I wasn't counting the roaches.
I understood the next day. January second dawned bright and early. Well early in my case. The phone is what woke me at four in the morning. It was the lawyer in charge of her will. It shouldn't have been a surprise that she'd wanted me to speak at the funeral. Especially since the powers had started coming in stronger and stronger as time passed this past year. I was safer now. Well, better able to protect myself from certain people at least. That was really what the problem had been. Anyway there was nothing from keeping me from accepting my inheritance now. I only wish I'd been able to do so while she was still around.
I looked out the window of the private jet that was winging its way toward the place of my birth. I didn't remember it. But then I'd been barely a few months old when I'd been sent to good old Sunnydale. Young enough that Willow never really knew I'd never been born there and that Tony and Jessica Harris weren't my real parents. But I knew. They'd never tried to hide it from me, and had in fact gone to great lengths to point out that no one had wanted me and that I should be grateful that they'd taken on a stupid brat. I didn't know until later about the stipend that was designated for my care growing up. That it was the real reason they never seemed to run out of booze no matter how little the two of them worked or how much they drank.
The plane bucked slightly and I focused my mind on other things. It's not that I thought I'd caused the small bit of turbulence, but I didn't want to push my luck. Instead I focused on the happy things in my life. The pleasant memories I had that started with my twelfth birthday. The first time I met her. As the memories swept me away into a much happier state of mind I sank into the plush leather seats and smiled. My last conscious thought was of her grinning at my embarrassment as she ruffled my hair.
The limo dropped me off in front of the Anglican church where the funeral was being held. The same lawyer, I guess they’re called solicitors here, from the phone call met me and led me into a waiting area where I could sit until it was time for the service to begin. I didn’t feel much like sitting to be honest. Instead I stood at the small window where I could view the assembled throngs. The speeches would actually be given from a small podium that had been set up on the church steps while I was waiting just inside the doorway.
People arrived by the hundreds filling the plaza in front of the church until it was too crowded to move. It was reassuring in a way that so many had arrived for the funeral despite the fact that they wouldn’t be able to actually attend. Slowly the inside pews of the church filled and I took it as my cue to move into my seat. I got several rude stares being dressed as I was in a long flowing white duster. I ignored them. Who were they to disapprove of me? She was the one who gave me the coat, saying I’d have to wear it when I came to England or I’d freeze. “It’s the bloody temperature difference, luv. You’ve never been anywhere else other than this ruddy place during the winter. If you ever hop the pond during the winter you’ll understand. And wear a scarf too.” He’d rolled his eyes then, but sure enough just getting off the plane had proven that the advice was well given.
The service was nice. She would have approved. It was obvious that at least a few of the people inside the church had cared. Sadly it was in fact only a few. The speeches that began outside put paid the idea that everyone did. Finally I’d had enough and as the next political windbag stepped up to the microphone I cut him off. He started to say something so I did what she would have done and kneed him in the crotch. With a bit of thought I actually came up with the bastards name and did it again. Mom really had wanted to kick him in the balls if I recall correctly. His security came running up only to be cut off by the solicitor. I’m really hoping he’s getting well paid for this.
The people in the crowd were getting restless. They’d come to say they were here for the funeral and they had been. The funeral was over and all that was left were these bastards running their mouths. I was hoping to change that. Would it work? I didn’t really care. I was here because she’d asked me to come.
“You don’t know me. And I honestly couldn’t care less about any of you than I do right now. The only reason I’m here is because I’m the only person Jenny Sparks actually asked to speak at her funeral.” The quiet was almost eerie with its sudden spread. “Now that got your attention did it? The people who’ve already spoken and the ones who will no doubt speak after me will all tell you the same general story. They’ll tell you what a great person Colonel Sparks was. What a hero she was to both Britain and the world. They’ll tell you about her monumental deeds all the while slipping in the occasional promotion of their own agenda. This isn’t going to be one of those speeches. I was told to come here for one reason. The only thing you’re going to get from me is the unvarnished, painful truth. I don’t think any of you are ready for it. And that’s too fucking bad.”
“The first time I met Jenny Sparks, I was almost ten years old. She came up to me and introduced herself. She was more than a little hung over at the time, but the only way someone could tell was if they’d been around people in that condition for long periods of time. Needless to say I could tell immediately. She asked about how I was doing in school and if I had any friends. The usual things someone asks a child they’re introduced to at a social get together. I guess we spent an hour or two talking that day as well as the same then next. As a kid I didn’t really think much of it at the time. I didn’t see her the next day but I did get a present from her at the birthday party my friend’s parents held for me. I also got one that Christmas.”
“The next two years followed the same general pattern. She showed up a few days before my birthday and we talked. I guess we got to be friends. Somehow I got a hold of her phone number and called a few times. Those years she even showed up around Christmas for a bit. It was when I saw her after my twelfth birthday party that I asked the question. ‘Why?’ She told me the answer and I told her I never wanted to see her again. And I didn’t. I did get a few presents from her that were signed by my friend’s mom. I could tell though. The smell of her cigarettes was always there.”
“Things changed though when I was fifteen. Something happened. Something horrible that I thought she’d be able to help me with for some reason. I called her. It must have been three in the morning here when I called but she didn’t let on. She just listened as I told her.” I take a deep breath and while I remember take the bottle, glass, and pack of cigarettes out of my coat and set them on the podium in front of me. “You see, that night I’d discovered that vampires were real. That the monsters that people think hide under the bed in the darkness really are there. I’d killed my first vampire that night. His name was Jessie. I’d known him my entire life. It was his mom that’d thrown me all those parties over the years. He was looking right in my eyes as he told me how great it was to be a vampire, how liberating. Wanting me to join him he was looking right in my eyes as someone ran into him throwing him forward onto the wooden stake I’d had clutched in my hand. He turned to dust right in front of me. The next day I called Jenny.”
“That phonecall lasted for hours. By the end of it we’d both cried so hard that we didn’t have any tears left to shed. It was the first of many that would happen that year and the ones that followed. We talked often as I fell into a job that she’d been doing for the past seventy plus years. She visited over the summer and took me on a few trips to gain some perspective as she put it. And it helped.”
“As time passed and things happened we had a lot of conversations. We talked about a person’s duty to do the right thing no matter the personal consequences. We talked about the truth and the times to tell that ever important lie. We talked about drinking. We talked about sex. We talked about killing demons. Betrayal, innocence, guilt, vengeance, religion. We talked and talked and talked. She missed my high school graduation when it happened. Some petty bastard was trying to take over the world at the time. A shame because we could have used the help. We lost thirty students that day. Our asshole of a mayor had decided to make that day the time when he turned himself into a demon. Instead Jenny picked me up on the outskirts of town the next day and we started our whirlwind tour. We met religious leaders, mafia dons, multi-billionaires, panhandlers, con-artists, refugees, farmers, and artists. We drank absinthe in Amsterdam and watched the sunset from the top of Everest.”
Taking a deep breath and looking over my audience I see that I’m losing some of them. “She did it for a reason. She wanted to show me why. Why she still gave a damn about you. Why she hadn’t left you all to rot. Why she’d kept going back despite the time after time you bastards had knocked her down. Jenny Sparks was called the Spirit of the Twentieth Century by so many people and yet you never knew why. She gave up everything for you bastards because there were always a few people who gave a damn.”
Opening the bottle I pour the last of the hundred year old scotch into the glass. Knocking it back I can feel the burn as I pull the last cigarette out of the pack. “Some of you, no doubt, are wondering why I’ve told you all this. The reason I’m here was because Jenny asked me to be here. The reason for my words is simple. Jenny Sparks gave her life for you. Personally I don’t think she should have.” The surprised mutterings of the crowd amused him. “I think she was worth the lot of you. But obviously she thought differently. There must be something about you all that I haven’t been able to see yet. Sure there are some very good people on this planet. I’ve met a lot of them. I’ve stood by some of them as they’ve stopped the world from being sucked into hell. But honestly anything I did I did for Them. Not you. She did it because she thought you were worth it. That you were worth everything she had. She thought you could be better than you are now and she was going to do everything in her power to give you that chance.”
“Jenny Sparks died because she thought you could do better.” Putting the cigarette into my mouth I looked up at them as I lit it with a single arc of electricity. I could see the ripples of shock as at least some of the people present figured it out. “My mother died because she thought you could do better. My name is Alexander Sparks. My mother had faith in you, and you’d all better fucking prove her right.” Looking at the cigarette in my hand I chuckle as I drop it to the ground and step on it. “Bugger this I want a better world.” Reaching out with my mind I grab the singing currents of the hastily rigged sound system and pull myself into the London electrical grid.