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Promises

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Summary: How would Xanders life have changed if Angel hadn’t left after Graduation

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
BtVS/AtS Non-Crossover > GeneralTarenFR15210,836064,75718 Sep 0310 Dec 03Yes

Family

Author: Taren

Rating: PG-13. If Joss can air his stuff on Prime Time this isn’t getting an R.

Disclaimers: Not mine.

Summary: A year after Promises. How would the Glorificus incident be different?

Pairing: X/C B/A

Category: Definitely AU here people

Family



Fourteen Months after promises

The Abbot raised his voice as he neared the spells completion. An un-natural wind carried his voice around the room knocking dust from the tapestries and rattling the stain glass windows. A trickle of sweat rolled down his forehead as he gathered his concentration for the final stanzas. All was prepared all that remained was to identify the guardian.

Prepared is the way
Fixed is the form
Chosen be the guardians
Protector of man
Purest of heart
Savior of all
Named be the guardians of the key
Bound to the line everlasting


With a brilliant flash of light the green glow of the key vanished from the abbey. With a weary sigh the abbot collapsed on the bench. He could hear the beast approaching. The dieing screams of his monks as they spent their lives trying to delay her approach were getting louder. But the key was safe now.

Coughing weakly the monk glanced towards the wrought iron door. He could feel his body collapsing. The power he used required more strength than he had to give and had taken a physical toll on him. If the brothers could delay the beast a minute more he would provide the final protection by taking the location of the key and it’s guardian to his grave.

“Protect it well slayers.”

Sending the key to the Slayers had been a stroke of genius. Something the beast wouldn’t anticipate. After all who would be foolish enough to send a dimensional key to the hellmouth. Even if the beast did track it there she would never look for a living breathing being. As security he had crafted the spell so that the key was passed on to the next slayer when the first died ensuring the keys protection as long as the slayer line existed.

There he could feel it, his soul was shuffling off its mortal coil. He was ready, had anticipated this and was looking forward to reaching his place in heaven. Did the screams seem louder now? What was with that incessant pounding? Putting aside those concerns he focused on the bright light. Yes it was all over now and the key was safe. The key was with … NO!!! That wasn’t the guardian I chose! The Abbot struggled vainly to return to his body. A small globe of light broke off and approached him and he paused in his struggle as if listening to a voice. As he did his face broke out in a brilliant smile and he turned and headed back to the light.

Not the guardian I intended, but they would be far better.

~~~**~~~

Glorificus sent a final kick to the door shattering the cross beam and blowing the doors inward. Ignoring the trail of broken and bleeding bodies behind her she strode into the room.

“Give me my key Monk and I’ll be merciful.” Glorificus began with all the arrogance of a god. She quickly scanned the room detecting the traces of a powerful translocation spell before her eyes fell upon the corpse of the Abbott and she screamed. “What have you done with my key?”

Picking up the corpse she lifted it giving it a shake. “If you won’t tell me I’ll rip it from your mind.” She had half a finger sunk into his skull before her features twisted in disgust. “Dead, now you’re just trying to be difficult.”

Popping open his jaw she began to scan his mouth intently. “Come on I know you’re in there somewhere…” Her expression shifted from annoyance through disbelief before settling on screaming rage and with a shriek she tossed the body across the room. “Empty. Stupid worthless monk couldn’t even hang around like a normal mortal. No matter I’ll find my key without your help.”

Shifting her senses she began a more careful scan of the room. Now that she was looking she could see the echoes of the spell the monk had cast. Drawing on the soul essence she had stolen in her earlier rampage she pushed and pulled at the echoes trying to draw forth the words. Even with her Eons of skill this was still extremely difficult and beads of sweat were forming on her forehead before she caught a faint whisper.

Fixed is the form
Chosen be the guardians
Protector of man


With that the final bit of her stolen power was expended and the whispers began to fade. Striving to prolong the echo she poured in all her reserves and caught an additional whisper. She sneered briefly at the monk in triumph before her features melted into a distinctly male body.

With a look around him the man shuddered. His new demon had been at it again. Judging by the solo body it hadn’t been too bad this time. It was then that he caught the scent of blood in the air. Blood, that had not come from the body in front of him but from outside the solitary entrance to the room. The scent set off warring emotions of desire and revulsion and for a second his eyes flickered gold. Pushing aside the conflict he mentally probed for his new roommate. The vampire was as present as ever and he pushed past it searching for the part that was *her*. The shock he felt was clearly evident on his face. “She’s almost gone. I can barely feel her.”

Looking down at the fallen form of the Abbott he whispered in awe. “I don’t know what you did to her, but thank you. It will be months before she fully recovers.”

The man’s posture relaxed as he contemplated what to do with the next few months of freedom. There were a lot of things he wanted to do, but there was one thing he needed to do. One person he needed to see and this was the perfect opportunity. However first he had to get some new clothes. He didn’t favor the red Glorificus had been wearing, and the dress really didn’t fit him. Looking around at the fallen monks he gave up hope of finding anything really decent and donned the least blood-stained robe.

~~~**~~~
Time irrelevant, Location indeterminate

“The final move has been made. All our pieces are in play.” Whispered a silky smooth voice slipping through the mists and shadows.

“Very nice counter, most unexpected” growled a decidedly male voice the words thundering and echoing across the ever-changing landscape.

“I’m glad you appreciate it. You do realize that you have lost?” The words flickered from shadow to shadow taunting the listener.

“Most likely. Your guardians are the perfect counter to my host. I should have stayed with the original plan. Regardless there is still a chance of success.”

“Your chance of success is not worth considering. Do you wish to observe the final results?” Questioned the darkness.

“The game is incomplete I would see it finished.” The voice rolled across the land slamming into the listener.

“So be it.” The mists and darkness resolved themselves.

~~~**~~~
Two Months later

“Shhh. Quiet Dawnie. We don’t want to wake your mommy now do we?” Whispered Xander as he gently rocked his daughter. “She’s got a big day tomorrow and she needs her rest.”

With a final whimper Dawn stopped crying and focused on the person in front of her. Xander watched with amusement as she worked her mouth in sucking motions. “Your pre-breakfast breakfast will be ready soon sunshine.”

Hearing a beeping he rose and headed silently for the kitchen. Cradling Dawn in one arm Xander reached over and plucked a now warm bottle from the microwave and elbowed the door shut.

As he shook a few drops on his arm to test the temperature the bottle slipped from his grip. With Dawn in his arms Xander made no attempt to grab it and watched the bottle fall. Halfway to the floor it stopped and floated back up to him. Plucking it out of the air he whispered, “Thanks Dennis.”

He smiled absently as he felt a trickle of warmth on his shoulder when the ghost acknowledged his thank you. Dennis had really advanced in the communication department and they now rarely had to resort to flickering lights or rearranged furniture. There were still miscommunications however. A pervading sense of doom had kept them out of the apartment for three days before they figured out that Dennis was upset about the cable being disconnected.

Sitting back in the chair to feed Dawn he started planning his day. “Tomorrow Grandma Joyce will come and look after you while I'm at the jobsite. You get to accompany her to her physio appointment. Watch her close, she’s going to be walking soon just like you will be." He paused as Dawn kicked her legs. "Yes I know she walks a little now, but soon she won’t need any help.”

Shifting her to a more comfortable position he continued, “I’m almost finished at this site. Half a day and I’ll let my crew go. Then I'll pick you up and we can visit the set of your mom’s new show. With luck we’ll be able to steal her for lunch. Afterwards you get to help me shop for an anniversary present. Don’t tell your mom but I hid my last overtime check so we’ve got almost four hundred dollars to spend.

“Then tonight Grandma Joyce is cooking supper for us to celebrate your mom’s first day as leading lady. Have I told you that she is the best cook ever? Just wait until you get some teeth and you can find out for yourself. It’s almost good enough that I would go to Sunnydale for it.” His mood darkened slightly as buried memories surfaced. After a few seconds his train of thought was broken when Dawn began fussing.

“Don’t worry we don’t have to go to that dark place. We’re lucky that Grandma decided to move to LA. She says it was to be closer to her physical therapist. But really I think she just wanted to see you.” Xander coaxed. Noticing her bottle was empty he set it aside and lifted Dawn to his shoulder for the dreaded burping procedure. Rocking back and forth he absently patted Dawn’s back as he drifted off to sleep.

~~~**~~~

Cordelia crept into the kitchen just as the sun was peeking over the horizon. She could smell the fresh brewed coffee and made a beeline for the coffee maker. Pouring herself a cup she took a tentative sip. It was a common joke between the two of them that despite being coffee addicts neither could brew a decent pot. When the taste met her approval she smiled “Thank you Dennis.” The ghost was a godsend. With their busy schedules and little Dawnie they didn’t have much time for housework. Matter of fact she couldn’t remember the last time she had cleaned and she knew all Xander ever did was take out the trash when Dennis left it by the door.

Sitting down to enjoy her coffee she watched her husband and daughter sleep. They looked so adorable curled up together on the chair. Xander had a little drool coming out of the corner of his mouth and Dawn was sucking on his pajama shirt. As she was finishing her coffee Dawn opened her eyes and started fidgeting. Xander twisted in the chair and unconsciously pulled Dawn closer. It looked for a minute that she might protest until she discovered his pocket and spent the next several minutes investigating this discovery.

Placing her glass in the sink she picked up her daughter “Time to get you ready for Grandma. She’ll be here soon and we don’t want to make her late.” Seeing that an absence of Dawn had woken Xander she turned to him and continued, “You might as well get ready to. If you hurry you can grab a cup of Dennis’ coffee before you have to take me to set. But first my good morning kiss”

Cradling Dawn on her hip she leaned over and stole a kiss. Or at least that’s what she intended. When she tried to pull away she found Xander had a handful of her blouse preventing her escape. After several long moments Xander's grip relaxed and Cordelia slowly pulled away.

“Mmmm coffee flavored Cordy kisses. Life doesn’t get much better.”

Cordy gave him a playful swat. “Careful. Keep that up and you’ll corrupt my daughter.”

Xander looked over at Dawn who was cooing softly and looking back at him with wide-eyed innocence. “I think she could survive a little corrupting.”

Looking down Cordelia had to admit that Dawn didn’t seem to mind. “Maybe later, but Joyce is due by soon and I don’t think she needs the visuals.”

“True. True.” Pulling himself from the chair Xander headed for the bedroom calling out over his shoulder. “Don’t drink all the coffee this time. You promised me Dennis made coffee not that sludge you make.”

“Then you better hurry.”

~~~**~~~

Joyce pulled up outside the apartment and with a dramatic sigh reached into the back seat for her canes. If the therapist was right she would be able to get by without them in three or four months. It wasn’t that she didn’t appreciate how far she had progressed, but damn it she wanted to be walking unaided before her granddaughter did.

Carefully she affixed the one crane to her still weak left arm before picking up the other and exiting the vehicle.

Not that Dawn was really her granddaughter. It was more of an adoptive system. Both Xander and Cordelia had adopted her as a parent and when they announced Cordelia’s pregnancy she had been asked if she would mind being grandma Joyce. That simple requested had infinitely brightened her day. Forgotten were the problems with therapy and being confined to a wheel chair. She was going to be a grandmother. Something she had given up on after learning of Buffy’s calling.

Thinking of her biological daughter brought forward her disappointment in the girl. She had such potential. She was bright and pretty. She should have gone far in the world. Sadly she was going from one dead end job to another drifting aimlessly. The girl complained about not being able to afford college, but at no point had she applied for student loans, much less tried to hold a job long enough to pay tuition. The girl still expected a silver spoon while therapy and hospital bills ate up their savings.

For a long time after the incident Buffy had been deeply depressed and every time they discussed the therapy or hospital bills she would relapse. It was tough to say whether it was guilt that caused the depression or if it was the loss of everyone she knew. *Again*. Just like at Hemerey. And she *had* lost everyone.

Although Xander and Cordelia were still alive they refused to have any contact with her. For any reason. She had tried to get the three talking and had even gone as far as inviting all three of them over at the same time. But as soon as they saw Buffy Xander and Cordelia turned and left never saying a word. They never mentioned the incident and she never tried again.

Pressing the buzzer for the Harris apartment she waited patiently for someone to buzz her in. It didn’t take long before Cordelia’s voice came across the intercom. “We’ll be a couple of minutes.” Followed by the long buzzing of the door. She knew that was an invitation to come up. Careful as always she hadn’t been invited in but if she was capable of entering she knew the door would always be open for her.

It took her a minute to climb the flight of stairs and upon reaching the apartment she found the door open and walked in. It still amazed her that Cordelia could keep the place spotless. There were never dirty dishes and you could eat off the floor.

“Joyce. Hi, why don’t you grab some coffee while I finish feeding the brat. Xander is still packing the day bag.” Cordelia called from the living room.

“Coffee would be great, but I have to ask who made it.” Replied Joyce as she made her way to the kitchen.

“Don’t worry it’s the good stuff this time. We wouldn’t want to poison our favorite babysitter now would we.”

“Favorite? I’m your only babysitter” Joyce joked as she poured a cup and sat down.

“That’s because you are the only one we trust with our pride and joy.” Claimed Xander as he stepped into the kitchen with a small backpack. “Here’s everything my two favorite girls need for a day on the town.”

Joyce smirked at him and raised an eyebrow.

Catching her smirk Xander waited for her comment. When none came forth and the smirk hadn’t gone away he realized his mistake and turned to face his wife.

“If they are your two favorite girls where does that leave me?”

“You Mrs. Harris. You are my everything. You are my savior, the holder of my heart, and keeper of my soul. Without you there is no sunshine.” Reaching out a finger he tickled Dawn before focusing on her again. “I love you Mrs. Harris and I always will. Never doubt that”

“I never will, and never doubt that I love you.”

Joyce smiled happily into her coffee mug. The Xander and Cordelia she knew before the incident would never have made such declarations. But then they had all changed and mostly for the better. Putting her coffee on the table she faked a cough to distract them before she had to physically pry them apart.

“Shouldn’t we be leaving? I would hate for you to be late for your first day of shooting Cordelia.”

Looking up at the clock Cordelia panicked. “Oh God. Xander hurry up we have to leave. Now!”

~~~**~~~

Buffy sighed contently. The last two months had been glorious. She had finally got away from the dead end jobs when she found herself a position at a temp agency. With the high turnover rate in Sunnydale temps were in constant demand and the constant moving around kept her from getting restless. That was just the topping on the cake however. The real reason for her bliss was the man in bed beside her. He had shown up out of the blue and they had been practically inseparable ever since.

Looking down at his pale features she again thanked whatever powers had returned her Angel to her. Brushing one of his dark locks aside she idly contemplated his face. He had the same features she remembered, but gone was the ever-present frown and brooding demeanor. He seemed much more relaxed now than he had been before and they had proven repeatedly that the curse was no longer in effect or at least could no longer be broken.

Feeling her shifting in the bed beside him Angel woke and turned to face Buffy. Reaching up a hand he gently cupped her cheek running his thumb over her lips. “Beautiful.”

Silently Buffy rolled on top of him and nothing further was said for a long time.

~~~**~~~

Glory breathed deeply and smiled. “Ah the lovely stench of home.” She had no idea how her host had known to bring them to the hell mouth but it made things a lot easier. In her weakened state it would have been difficult to influence the creature she now co-existed with. All she had to do now was locate the slayer and retrieve her key.

Briefly she considered baiting the slayer into coming to her. Then she discarded it. Waiting just wasn’t her style not when there were other ways. With a simple spell she could locate the slayer. Adding to the spell she could get the name and if she went all out she could even pull up an image of the girl.

Reaching her decision she glanced around the room looking for something suitable to wear. “Where are my minions when I need them. Inconsiderate little rodents.” Flipping through Buffy’s closet she growled in disgust before turning away. Whatever woman her host was staying with was much shorter than her and thin as a stick. There was nothing in there that she could use. With a snarl she grabbed the black duster off the back of a chair and headed out. “This wouldn’t have happened if my minions were here.”

Gliding down the street the setting sun at her back Glorificus searched for a suitable location to cast her spell. There wasn’t much in the area, mostly residential homes, and an elementary school. Ah perfect. There were almost enough souls here she could go for the full image. Soon. Soon she would be home.

~~~**~~~

Angel came to his senses to find himself in a daycare surrounded by children. With a sinking feeling he looked around the room. The glassy eyed blank stares he received from the children only confirmed his suspicions. The demon was back. Getting up he noticed that he had been sitting in the middle of a conjuring circle. Looking closely he thought he recognized a few symbols. She was looking for something or someone. Judging by the number of children she had drained the spell had required a considerable amount of power.

With a sigh he walked over to a little blond six-year-old girl who was staring blankly out the darkened window. He had seen this before and there was simply no hope of recovery for any of them. They would spend the rest of their lives in one form of institution or another. It would be best to end their suffering and give the families a sense of closure. Besides there was no sense in them going to waste was there? With a sigh of resignation he picked the child up and gently brushing her pigtail aside sank his teeth into her throat.

He was just finishing draining a small dark haired boy when he heard someone approaching. Somehow he knew with absolute certainty that it was Buffy. With a panicked look around he dropped the boy in the middle of the circle before turning and diving out a window.

~~~**~~~

Buffy was confused. She hadn’t seen Angel since early this morning. It was too early for him to have gone patrolling what with the sun having just set. Stopping in at Willy’s she checked but no one had seen him today.

Willy did mention that there had been a strong burst of magic from over on Arlington Ave. and that maybe Angel had gone to check it out. Without anything else to go on she had started to wander down Arlington looking for anything unusual when she felt the presence of a single vampire. With a whispered “Angel” she turned and headed into the Happy Child Daycare with an expectant smile.

When she stepped into the playroom her smile vanished. Taking in the sight of four dead children a tear started to roll down her cheek. She had been hunting vampires for almost six years now and finding children still affected her deeply. She looked out the broken window and saw a figure disappearing from site. Immediately identifying her boyfriend’s duster she smiled briefly “Angel will get him.”

Looking around the room she spotted the circle of symbols on the floor. With a shake of her head she dismissed them. Without Willow or Giles she had no hope of identifying the symbols much less deciphering them. She hated magic. It never leads to anything good. Soul curses, portals to hell, human sacrifices it was all bad.

Gathering the surviving children together she herded them out of the room. All of them seemed to be in serious shock and just shuffled along as she directed. She spent the next hour trying to comfort the children while waiting for the police and the parents. By the end she was starting to get concerned about the lack of response from any of the children. At least one should have started crying by now. Perhaps they were under some sort of spell like the silence deal that Faith and her Boyfriend had broken last year. No that only made people deaf. It was likely that they were all just in a really deep state of shock. That had to be it. Eventually she handed the children over to a policewoman and made her way back to her apartment.

Opening the door she smiled to see Angel present. “So did you catch him?”

Angel looked up confused, “Catch who?”

Crinkling her eyebrows Buffy stared back at him. “The guy you were chasing.”

“What guy?” Angel replied without thinking.

“The mage that murdered the children at Happy Child Daycare.” Buffy answered with exasperation.

Finally realizing that she must have seen him fleeing the daycare and thought he was chasing someone he replied, “No the bastard got away. I almost had him when he teleported away.”

Buffy groaned, “That’s all I need a vampire mage who can teleport. This is going to be Dracula all over again isn’t it.”

Angel shrugged “No. I don’t think so. Most magic users tend to stay away from hellmouths. They claim it corrupts their spells. Even Vampire Mages will rarely come near one. I think this guy is looking for something and once he’s found it he’ll be gone.”

“You really think so” Buffy’s voice filled with hope. “I don’t want to see any more dead children.”

Angel shifted uncomfortably for a minute before changing the topic. “Buffy we’ve been to Giles’ and Willow’s graves and I’ve said my apologies to them. But there is still one person I need to apologize to and I’ve put this off long enough.”

Buffy looked at him confused, “You want to apologize to Xander. Why? He’s the one that killed you and he almost shot me. You don’t nee-”

Angel put a finger to her lips. “Not Xander, your mother. I owe her an apology. Angelus tortured her for four days. He cut up her legs so badly she’s only now beginning to walk again. I have to tell her how sorry I am for what happened.”

Buffy sighed. Things hadn't been going well between her and her mother. Last time they talked the conversation had ended in an argument with her calling her mother a useless cripple. She supposed she owed her mother an apology as well.

“How about we take a trip down to LA tomorrow night and visit her. It’s been almost two months since I’ve seen her. Apologies should really be done in person right.” Mused Buffy.

Feeling for his demon he checked her strength before replying, “Tomorrow night should be fine.”

~~~**~~~

Cordelia exited the car shooting glares at Xander. Stepping around to the back she opened the rear car door to retrieve Dawn. “It wasn’t funny the first time and it isn’t funny now. How would you feel if Dawn screamed when you picked her up?”

Xander tried to stifle a snicker, “Cordy I barely recognized you. How do you think Dawn felt? Some strange woman with shock red hair was taking her away from her daddy. She may be only two months old but even she knows that mommy has brown hair.”

Cordelia muttered under her breath. “I told them it was a bad idea. But no someone said red hair and poof I’ve got glow in the dark hair.”

Xander picked up the chocolate cheesecake from the back seat and offered Cordelia a supportive smile. “Don’t worry the red looks good on you and I’m sure Dawn will adapt. She’s already stopped screaming when you pick her up.”

Perking up a little she shot back “Easy for you to say. You’re not the one who gets to walk around for the next week looking like a punk kid. Everyone stares at me. And not in a good way.”

Heading up the walk towards Joyce’s new bungalow Xander shrugged. “Sure they look at you funny now, but wait until your show airs. It’s got a great concept, talented writers, and one brilliant gorgeous leading lady. I’ll bet you see dozens of people walking around with the same hair color the week after it airs.”

Finally cracking a smile Cordelia rang the doorbell. “Brilliant and gorgeous? I think someone has a crush on a certain actress.”

Xander just smiled back as Joyce opened the door. Her eyes widened slightly upon catching sight of Cordelia’s new hair color before she stepped back allowing them to enter.

Once they crossed the thresh-hold she gestured to the living room. “Why don’t you have a seat? Dinner will be ready in a little while. Xander you can put the dessert in the kitchen while Cordelia tells me what she has done to her hair.”

Cordelia blushed slightly. “One of the executive producers saw someone with this color hair and thought it looked *neat*. Next thing I know makeup has dyed my hair.” Tugging at a loose strand she continued, “I’m stuck like this for at least a week as we film all the scenes. At least it’s only part of a disguise and they aren’t going to make it permanent.”

Stepping back Joyce cast her appraising eye on the girl. “Not a bad color for you. Quite shocking initially but it grows on you quickly. I think people will like it.”

After chatting for a while Xander took Dawn to go change her and wash up. Joyce was in the kitchen dishing up the food while Cordelia set the table. As the doorbell rang Cordelia shouted out ‘”I’ll get it.”

Opening the door she was surprised to see Buffy. Even more shocking was the corpse that accompanied her. She stared at the two for a long time.

Finally Buffy broke the silence, “Aren’t you going to invite us in?”

Cordelia continued to stare at the figures in front of her. Angel? Angelus? The name didn’t matter he was supposed to be dust. Xander killed the bastard. What had Buffy done to get Angel back this time? Wait she asked for an invitation he’s gone and turned her. Not good.

Buffy frowned at the still form of Cordelia blocking their entrance to her mother’s home. She had tried to be polite, but she wasn’t going to let the Queen bitch ignore her. “Look Cordelia we came here to apologize to *my* mom. Get out of the way and let us in.”

Frowning at the people in front of her she slowly reached behind her back and grabbed a black device. “Why are you apologizing? Everyone here has moved on and tried to forget so the apology won’t mean anything. Are you hoping for forgiveness? Because I don’t see any reason why they would forgive you. You haven’t changed.” Bringing the device around in front of her she pulled the trigger and hit Buffy with 50,000 volts. As the slayer hit the ground she closed the door.

Carrying out a bowl of potatoes Joyce looked up at Cordelia. “Who was at the door?”

Cordelia mentally pushed her writhing emotions into the back of her mind and drawing on all her talents as an actress turned to face her host with a smile. “I hope you didn’t want a copy of the Watchtower. I’m afraid I was rather rude.”

Joyce’s smile broke out in a wide grin when she saw the Tazer. “You have to stop threatening people with that thing. Someday they’ll call your bluff and then what will you do?”

“Why zap them of course.”

~~~**~~~

Cordelia lay awake planning. Angel or Angelus had returned. Didn’t matter which one it was she couldn’t let him near her family. It had taken both Xander and Joyce a lot of time to recover from the events in Sunnydale. While both of them were strong people she was afraid of how they would react to finding out HE was back. The solution was simple. She had to take him out before they found out and if he had turned Buffy then she had to go as well. She desperately hoped she was wrong about Buffy. The loss would devastate Joyce.

She sifted through her options. She didn’t have their speed or strength and despite all the martial training she had been doing she couldn’t match theirs. If she knew where they were staying she could do like Xander and get them as they slept. But she had no way of finding that out in the short time available.

No the only place she could count on them being was in front of Joyce’s. Wait a minute. Xander had used a gun to incapacitate Angelus before staking him. She could do that. She had spent considerable time at the local range preparing for her latest role and was considered a decent shot. Now where to get a gun and what kind? She had done more practicing with rifles than she had with handguns so that was probably the way to go.

Maybe she could borrow the one from the show. She’d heard one of the assistant directors bragging about the level of authenticity they had so the rifles were likely real. If she claimed that she wanted to take it to the range to become more familiar with it they might… No they would let her have it. That decided she curled up next to Xander and tried to make herself comfortable in Joyce’s spare bed.

~~~**~~~

The next evening Cordelia was sitting on the rooftop overlooking Joyce’s home. The location offered her an excellent view of both the front and back of the house. Dressed in one of the all black cat suits she had borrowed from wardrobe she was almost impossible to spot. Picking up the set of night vision equipment she had talked out of the props department she scanned the street.

She hadn’t been waiting long when she spotted two people walking towards her. Well one person and one mobile corpse. So Angel hadn’t turned Buffy yet. She let out a small sigh of relief.

Shouldering the rifle she sighted on the Vampires forehead. As she gently squeezed the trigger Angel turned his head to say something to Buffy. Instead of severing his spinal cord as she intended the low velocity round penetrated his temple and made mush of his frontal lobe.

With most of his higher brain functions destroyed Angel lost control of his demons. Glorificus and the Vampire fought for control of the body they inhabited. The goddess was still weakened from her bout of spell casting and surrendered control to the Vampire after only a short struggle. Angelus was back.

Buffy looked around trying to figure out whose car had backfired when she heard a low growl from her companion. Turning to look at him she was confronted by the fully vamped face of Angelus.

Looking up into his face with concern she whispered “Angel what’s wrong? Angel? Angel?” Then with a hint of fear she tried again. “Angelus?”

With an evil sneer he looked down on her “That’s the name sweetie. I’m back and ready to play. We had so much fun last time what games shall we play this time?”

Buffy backpedaled her eyes wide, “No not again. Please no.”

“Oh yes. Most definitely yes. I think this time I’ll make you watch. I’ll turn the rest of your friends in front of you then you can watch as we play with your mother again. She has the most exquisite screams.”

Tears rolling down her cheek Buffy reached in her pocket and firmly grasped her stake. “You won’t touch me you won’t turn my friends, and you sure as hell won’t lay a hand on my mother.”

“Such spirit, I can see why Angel enjoyed you so much. It will be a pleasure to break you.” With a sudden shift he snapped a punch at Buffy’s head.

Tilting her head to the side she let the blow pass her by before retaliating with an elbow strike that broke ribs.

Stepping back Angelus sneered. “You’ve been getting better slayer. Shame it won’t help you.”

Letting her tears fall Buffy finally pulled her stake out. “Same dusty old comments Angelus.” Stepping back she waited for his attack.

When the attack came it was the start of a combination she had seen him use often in their previous fights. First the kick towards her stomach that she was supposed to bend over to avoid which would be followed up with knee to the head and then a flurry of punches. This time instead of folding over she spun sideways and caught his outstretched foot. Then before he could recover she snapped a kick to his supporting knee.

With a roar of pain Angelus collapsed to the ground. Buffy followed up her attack by forcibly rolling him over with the leg she still held and then snapping his knee over hers. Picking up her dropped stake she walked around to the front of the downed vampire. “I’m sorry Angel but I can’t let my family go through this again.”

Plunging her stake into his back she collapsed in tears as he slowly crumbled to dust.

~~~**~~~

Something was wrong. The demon had lost the battle. Glorificus struggled for control but the demon was panicked and fought her. Even as she felt control slipping to her the human soul stepped in and aided the demon. With a growl of rage glory threw herself into the battle sensing that this was life or death. With a thought she crushed the soul and kicked it out of the body. Then as she brought forth her power to discipline the demon it flinched and began to dissolve.

Recognizing the significance of the action Glory poured power into the body desperately trying to hold it together. For a second it seemed like it was working and then her power began to fade. With an anguished shriek Glory was banished.

~~~**~~~

Cordelia watched the short battle surprised that Buffy was willingly fighting Angelus. Not for herself but for her friends and family. After Buffy had collapsed Cordelia helped her to the steps of Joyce’s and rang the doorbell before leaving. She doubted that Buffy would recognize her and didn’t care if she did. It was time to head home and explain events to Xander.

~~~**~~~
Time irrelevant, Location indeterminate

The mists returned and shadows flickered across the ever-changing landscape. “It is finished. Concede defeat.”

Lightning flashed and thunder rolled across an empty plain. A voice boomed, “I concede. What would you have as your prize?”

The darkness hummed and the mists rolled down a mountainside. “You know my choice. I want what I have wanted since creation. Give me the ability to make my own decisions outside of the games. Grant me free will.”

“Are you sure this is what you want?” the voice echoed down the canyon dislodging boulders and starting landslides before the scenery faded out to nothing.

The formless void rippled and swirling points of light began to form and spread out in all directions. “Yes.”

The lights continued expanding and began to fade and blink out. When all was dark a weary voice drifted across the void. “It is done old friend. Live well.”

A small window formed looking in on a small blond woman in a hospital bed holding a newborn babe. Surrounding her were the three guardians all with warm smiles. The young man reached down touching the babes’ forehead before turning so the child in his arms could see. “Dawn. Say hello to your cousin.” The entity smiled briefly before the window closed and it went on to other interests.

Fin.

The End

You have reached the end of "Promises". This story is complete.

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