The Return to Sunnydale
For Disclaimer and Notes see first chapter.
Part Ten: The Return To SunnydaleNine months later…
I got off the bus and looked ahead at the large gate and the stationed guards that stood watch over the perimeter of what remained of Sunnydale. I had done my research and it had been more than a little difficult to gain the authorization I needed to get into Sunnydale. I had seriously considered just breaking in, but I realized it would be impossible, even for me. So, I got the bus to drop me off at Sunnydale.
I stood with a small bag slung over my shoulder and neck. Carefully secured inside the bag was a marble, sealed container with Angel’s ashes. Stashed on my person were a few different weapons, some from my time and some from now. I still didn’t feel comfortable using the weapons of the present, but I realized rather quickly that I didn’t have much of a choice if I wanted to survive. I was wearing black leather pants, black boots, and a black long sleeve shirt. I also had on a long black leather trench coat that Angel had given me. It had belonged to Spike, but he felt that I deserved it. My makeup was dark and drastic compared to the paleness of my face. I had pulled my hair back into a ponytail to keep it out of my face. I strode without hesitation confidently toward the guards at the gate.
“You know that you aren’t allowed in there,” the tall black guard said to me as I came approached the gate.
“I have permission to enter,” I informed the guard and reached into my pocket to pull out the card. It was an Alliance card. Angel’s crew had taken it from a woman they had killed a few months prior and then put my face and hologram on it through whatever technology was needed to do such a thing.
“You are part of the Alliance?” the guard asked me as he looked back and forth between the card and my face. He looked highly skeptical.
“You think you are in a position to challenge my authority over you? I could have you killed for that,” I replied with a sweet voice and smiled warmly at him. He shuddered as I smiled and quickly handed me back my card.
“Would you like backup in there? There’s been a lot of activity in there over the last week,” he questioned me.
“No. I don’t need any backup.”
“Ok. How long do you expect to be in there?” the second guard asked me. He was a burly guy, full of muscle, and way too much testosterone.
“I’m not sure. I’ll come out when I am ready.”
“Ok. But if you aren’t out in forty-eight hours then we have to follow protocol and report you missing.”
“I’ll be out way before then. Now, you going to let me in, or not?” I asked them.
“Sorry, right this way,” the black guard quickly apologized and headed toward a door in the wall. He punched in a series of codes, swiped his card, punched in several more numbers, and then the door opened on its own. He waved me inside. “After I secure the door on this side of the lock then the inside door will open allowing you access into Sunnydale.”
“Ok,” I answered and walked into the air lock. The door swung shut and clicked behind me. I heard a few more bigger, louder clicks, and with an eerie, horror movie style groan, the door leading to Sunnydale swung open. I took a deep breath, swallowed whatever fear had managed to creep up, and I walked into what remained of Sunnydale.
One of the first things that I realized was that I wasn’t the only being in Sunnydale. There were all kinds of creatures that freely roamed the streets. None of the buildings stood completely intact. Everything was pretty much destroyed. I couldn’t believe how different Sunnydale looked. Fortunately I had a general idea of where I was going. I didn’t want to draw any more attention to myself, so I didn’t pull out any of my weapons. But it was comforting to feel the cool wood of the stake tucked into the waistband of my pants.
The creatures that inhabited Sunnydale did little more than glance my way as I passed them. They made absolutely no move against me, which I was thankful for. I quickly made my way to the cemetery that was home to the mausoleum that housed the remains of the rest of the gang. I entered the cemetery through the broken, rusted, and pretty much nonexistent gates. I saw the mausoleum the minute that I got through the first gate. It was unlike every other building in Sunnydale, as it stood completely unharmed and in perfect condition. I could feel the magic surrounding it, which was the only reason the building stood untouched. I walked up the door and pulled out a different card. This card was a plain white card with no markings on it. I held it up in front of the light fixture on the mausoleum, to the right of the door that had no handle. The card was accepted and a small panel became visible off the left of the door. I blocked all views of the panel with my body and jacket and then punched in the twenty-seven-digit code that Angel had made me memorize the minute that I had arrived on his planet. After the code was accepted the door to the mausoleum slid open and I walked in. It closed immediately after me and another panel appeared to the right of this inside door. I punched in the same code, backwards this time, and everything inside the mausoleum came to life.
I blinked a few times to get my eyes accustomed to the light inside and I headed down the steps to the main floor. As I looked around I saw names on the walls where all the bodies of those who had died before me were buried. Buffy’s space was located in the middle of the wall furthest from the door. Next to hers was a nameplate that read Angel. He had already picked out his final resting place. It was a little eerie for me. Immediately underneath him was Cordelia, Spike was underneath Buffy. As I gazed around I realized that there were dozens of names surrounding me. I only recognized a few: Willow, Tara, Anya, Xander, Giles, Fred, Gunn, Wesley, Connor, Lorne, and the list went on from there. I was completely blown away by all the people that had fallen and given their lives to fight for the Powers.
I unzipped the bag that had Angel’s remains in it. I gently pulled out the marble container and tears began to form in my eyes. I shook my head to clear my thoughts and moved forward toward the vault that would hold Angel for the rest of eternity. I placed my hand on his name and stood back as the vault opened. It was empty as I expected and almost too sterile looking. But it was definitely Angel; he no longer cared for material objects and possessions. I slowly brought the marble to my lips and placed a light, chaste kiss on the top.
“Goodbye, my Angel,” I quietly whispered. I carefully placed the container inside the vault and then touched the nameplate again. The vault slowly closed and locked itself into place.
I took a breath and then whipped around, pulling my crossbow out of my jacket as I spun. I had it trained on the intruder when I came face to face with them. I almost dropped the crossbow when I realized that I was standing face to face with Dawn.
“Heard through the grapevine that you were free from your little…*prison*,” Dawn said.
“Yeah, Angel got me out. What can you say? The guy was always doing the right thing for other people,” I answered in a neutral voice but kept my bow trained on her heart.
“I’m not a vampire, surely you haven’t gotten that clumsy in your senses,” she said after she looked at where the bow was facing.
“It should take you down either way. In theory at least,” I answered and she smiled at me.
“In theory, but it wouldn’t even take me down for a few seconds. So, you could lower it. It would make it a little easier to converse,” she suggested to me. I raised an eyebrow and but relented. I put the crossbow back into my jacket and crossed my arms in front of me.
“So. Look at you. You look pretty damn good for a teenager who’s been around since at least 2000. So, how’d you explain the whole lack of aging thing?”
“I’m actually not a teenager anymore. I stopped aging when I was twenty-one,” she told me and smiled. “So, I think that I’m actually older than you are.”
“Well you got me beat with the whole being around since the beginning of time thing anyway,” I replied and she laughed.
“Yeah, well, even that gets old after awhile I do suppose. So, you brought Angel home? That was good of you. Do I even dare ask how you got through security?”
“Walked right on by ‘em. They let me in and even offered to give me some backup,” I answered with a smile of my own. “How did you?”
“I haven’t left Sunnydale in years. Can’t really.”
“Buffy died here. And since I’m made from her I am here. Don’t get me wrong, in the beginning after she died I could go pretty far away, but as time has gone on, I haven’t really been able to leave. I live down the street in a halfway decent apartment. None of the others in the town bother me. They just let me be. They at least have the option of leaving the Hellmouth. Not me though, I have to stick around.”
“I’m sorry Dawnie,” I quietly told her. “So, you wanna explain how you got in here without opening the door?” I asked her, all the emotional bullshit gone from my voice.
“Ghosts are invisible and go through walls and all sorts of other corporeal objects. It’s kinda nifty really. No humans see me, especially the surveillance people. Some of the demons roaming around here don’t. I have been forgotten. Perhaps when you die I will vanish as well. Would make sense. The last person to know about me keeps me here on this Earth. You don’t think you are going to die anytime soon do you?” Dawn asked me and I shook my head.
“Nope, I just got back among the living. Don’t plan on leaving for awhile. Sorry,” I answered and she shrugged.
“Hey, it was worth a shot right?”
“Right. So, the whole world went to Hell. Is this because there was no Slayer?” I asked.
“Yes and no. Quentin thought that he was doing the right thing by keeping you inactive. What he didn’t realize was that the lineage to the whole Slayer line had already been passed on when the Master killed Buffy. It went to Kendra, then to you. He didn’t realize that another Slayer wouldn’t be called when Buffy died her final death. He didn’t even realize that Buffy had died the second time. Giles never bothered to report it to the Council. And they had the Buffybot to take over. So, they didn’t really need to report it. You were taken randomly by the Council. They wanted to neutralize you before another Slayer was born, before Angel could get to you again. Typical mentality of the Watcher’s Council: act now; realize the ramifications of their actions later. It wasn’t until after Buffy’s final death in 2006 that they realized that you were the carrier of the Slayer line. But the spell that they had used was very specific. Not meant to be broken at all. So, they pretty much fucked themselves over. So, the world went without a Slayer for over fifteen hundred years until you recently became one of the living again. And from what I have heard, you’re off to a great start. Teaming up with Angelus, killing a lot of the Alliance’s main players, coming back to Sunnydale. You’re on a roll, sweetie.”
“I didn’t ask for you opinion, did I?” I cut her off sharply. “I didn’t see you trying hard to influence me.”
“Can’t really do that, being dead and all.”
“Angel managed just fine and he isn’t one of the living. Try again,” I snapped at her.
“Ok, I admit, I thought about trying to get you to come to Sunnydale. I could tell you were thinking about it. But you wouldn’t have gotten in. Not just anyone can walk into here. Without Angelus’s help you wouldn’t have gotten in here.”
“Why do you keep calling him that?”
“Because Angel is no more. He tried to explain that to you, didn’t he?”
“So fucking tell me Dawnie, what is he really?” I yelled at her. She smiled at me for a second.
“It isn’t polite to speak negatively about the dead. They aren’t here to defend themselves,” she quietly answered with a coy smile on her face.
“Nice cop out Dawn. Look, you obviously don’t have anything good to say here, so I am going to leave. You have fun haunting gold old Sunny-D. I’ll try my best to stay alive as long as possible,” I informed her and started towards the door.
“You don’t even know why you are back. You don’t know why the Powers sent the message to Angelus to free you from your prison. Do you even care?”
“So the Powers got sick of seeing me standing around and decided to free me to put me to some use. The way I see it there are tons of baddies in this world that need to be killed. I’ll do what I do best and get started. I would take a trip around Sunnydale, but killing off the population with the Alliance boys watching might be a little suspicious. Don’t you think?” I replied flippantly.
“Obviously you have no idea what you are doing in this world. Perhaps you should really just sit down and look around. This world is not yours. This world belongs to these people. You have to join this world. You can’t stay in 2001.”
“Don’t worry about me, Dawnie. I think I have the situation under control. Thanks for the…whatever…but I have to get out of here. I’ve got a ship to catch.”
“And what are you going to do with yourself? Ship to where?”
“Someone has to take over where Angel left off,” I answered and her eyes went wide.
“No, Faith. You don’t get it.”
“I get it. This Alliance…they aren’t cool. Angel was right in what he was doing. So, I figure, I may as well carry on the tradition. Kill whoever I can, whenever I can. He inspired me to do great things,” I answered.
“And your own redemption. The one that you were working so hard towards?”
“Fuck the Powers. Fuck redemption.”
“It isn’t that easy you know. You were brought back for a reason. The person…the reason that you were brought back is out there. It’s waiting and it definitely needs your help,” she said to me and I just shook my head.
“Nice try Dawn, but I’m not your sister. I was never big on the whole saving the world gig. So, the Powers brought me back to save a person huh? Is he at least cute?” I asked her and she shook her head.
“I said a reason, not a person.”
“No, you said person and then changed it to a reason. Sorry, I like my life too much to voluntarily give it up for some Joe Nobody that the Powers decided needed to be saved.”
“He isn’t just some Joe Nobody. He is important. And he is someone that the Alliance wants. He is of great importance to them.”
“So, maybe when I find him I’ll kill him. It would be a great way to start getting even, don’t you think?”
“He won’t be easy to kill, even for you,” she confessed.
“I doubt I’ll even run into him. I mean there are dozens of known galaxies out there. It is highly improbable for me to even think that I could run into him.”
“You will though. Against all the odds, you will. Don’t you get it? The Powers are behind this one. You are but a mere pawn in this game.”
“And they must know that I don’t play well as a pawn. I tend to move in directions that aren’t allowed on the board,” I answered back.
“He isn’t someone that needs to be killed. You might argue with that when you find him and find out about him. But he doesn’t deserve to die. Not everything in this world is at it seems. Perhaps you should consider just listening to me Faith. I don’t have much time,” she said.
“What? No time? I thought you had all the time in the world with you being dead and invisible and all,” I shot back.
“He is very important Faith. As are you,” she quietly told me.
“So what? What does that have to do with me finding this guy? What am I supposed to do with him once I find him?”
“If I told you everything it would take the fun out of things wouldn’t it?” Dawn teased me and I glared at her. “Look. He is important to the Alliance because he is good at what he does. They want him on their side. You just need to make sure that doesn’t happen. I won’t even tell you not to kill any Alliance members. See, a life filled with murder and mayhem. Can’t be all that bad right?”
“And how will I meet him? Like I said earlier there are too many places that we could both be but never be together.”
“You will meet him. Fate will bring you both together. It might not be tomorrow, or next week, or even next month. Hell, it could be years down the road, but you will meet him. And once you do, you can’t let him go Faith.”
“So, I just gotta protect him?”
“And how am I going to recognize him? Everyone, except for you and you are a ghost for that matter, is unfamiliar to me,” I questioned.
“I am going to help you out a little by cheating. When you meet him, and lay eyes on him, for the first time he will glow green.”
“Like what’s inside you?” I quipped but she didn’t smile.
“I don’t have insides anymore. Pay attention! He will glow green and only you will see it. One shot, one little green glow and that’s all you get. So, make sure you that are paying attention at all times.”
“Ok, fine. So, I’m off to save some Joe Nobody who I don’t know anything about and or any idea what he looks like. And from everything that I’ve gathered from you, which is slim to fucking none, is very dangerous. Am I missing anything here?”
“I think you got it all.”
“Fuck this,” I told her and climbed up the steps to get to the door. She materialized in front of me. “If you are a ghost then I can just walk right through you,” I pointed out to her and she nodded.
“Yeah you can. It is a weird feeling though, gives people the willies and such. You don’t get a choice in this one Faith. You will come across him. He is already marked. I only hope that between now and then you get the fact that you were brought back for a reason.”
“Justify bringing Buffy back. Really justify it. And don’t use your selfish reasons about needing your big sister. Really, honestly, justify bringing Buffy back. You ripped her out of Heaven,” I challenged.
“I can’t. All the reasons that we had for bringing her back were selfish. We couldn’t see ourselves existing without Buffy. We couldn’t see that she could have been in Heaven, or that we could have found another way to survive without her. I can’t justify it.”
“Then don’t tell me why I was brought back. If I was brought back to do something then it will happen. Don’t tell me what it is and why I have to do it. If I need to do this then I will. If I happen to find him then I will. But I don’t do things for the Powers anymore. I have seen enough over the last fifteen hundred years for me to justify, even to them, why I won’t work for them. And I don’t think that they are going to have an argument to defend themselves.”
“Perhaps not, but you will at least look for the glowing green man right?” Dawn asked me.
“I’ll keep my eyes open for the man that glows green. Past that…I can’t promise you anything,” I finally relented and she happily smiled.
“Sounds reasonable to me. You do realize that you aren’t completely human anymore, don’t you?”
“Part of me speaks Angel now,” I answered in response.
“How do you manage to camouflage it?”
“It was his parting gift to me.”
“You don’t think that it is a little abnormal?”
“When has my life ever been normal?” I shot back.
“Point taken. Have you thought about the consequences?”
“I have excellent night vision now. And I’m stronger and faster than I was before. I can still get a kick ass tan, wear a cross, and bathe in holy water, the works. I haven’t really thought about any negative consequences.”
“How about immortal life? Demon taking over your soul? Those pesky problems that come with the whole vampire thing,” Dawn suggested.
“I’m not a vampire Dawn. I just got a little added juice. Angel checked it all out. He wouldn’t want anything to happen to me. He went through a lot to get me out and alive. It would be a waste for me to die right off the bat, wouldn’t it?”
“It would. But he didn’t have to do it and you didn’t answer my question about the camouflaging the not so human parts of you.”
“I didn’t, did I?” I returned with a smile. “Can’t tell you everything Dawnie, it would take all the fun out of guessing,” I finished.
“Yeah, I guess it does. So…best of luck out there. It’s a rough world.”
“I’m sure it isn’t anything I can’t handle.”
“Let’s hope,” she answered.
“So, best of luck getting out of this hellhole. Perhaps now that you have spoken to me the Powers will let you go visit your sister. It is a little cruel to keep you two apart this long.”
“Maybe. Take care of yourself Faith. Watch out for him. Trust me, you won’t miss him,” she assured me.
“I will. And I hope not cause I tend to miss a lot of things…like my life,” I commented dryly. “Bye Dawnie. Tell the others ‘hi’ for me. And tell B…” I trailed off not sure what to say that would possibly make everything right.
“I’ll tell her. Go.”
“Bye Dawn,” I said and she disappeared from before me.