An Offer She Can't Refuse
The Angel's Knight
by Philip S.
Summary: Sixteen years after Buffy's death she gets a chance to live again. For a price.
Spoilers: Everything up to the end of Buffy S5 / Angel S2. Everything after that is different.
Disclaimer: All characters taken from the TV shows Buffy and Angel are property Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy. No infringement is intended.
NOTE: It's been a while since I finished this story and some people might know it from Fanfiction.net. But maybe it's new for some, so let me know what you think. Oh, and like I said, it's finished. So you can expect new chapters in regular intervalls. Have fun!
"Where am I?"
"Where do you think?"
"I ... I'm still dead, right? I mean, I was dead once and it didn't last, but this time ..."
"You are still dead, yes, though death for you was never quite what it was for most people. And you're not quite as dead as you were about a minute ago, either."
"You're losing me here, you know."
"Not my intention, sorry. Can I offer you anything?"
"No drinks then. Very well. Have a seat." Pause. "Okay, if you want to remain standing, have it your way."
"Why am I here?"
"Well, right to the point then. You are here because we want to make you an offer."
"We? Who is we?"
"We have many names. A few friends of yours usually call us the Powers That Be. It's as good a name as any for what we are."
"Oh. So you're ... God?"
"Something like that. Though none of us has a long, white beard. Or was that Santa Clause? I always get your earthly stereotypes confused."
"Santa was the one with the beard. God has ... I don't know what God looks like. Why don't you tell me?"
"Let's not talk about God so much. Delicate topic, even in these parts. It's not why we brought you here."
"So why did you? Bring me here, I mean."
"As I said, we want to make you an offer."
"Basically, we want to offer you to return from the dead and become one of the living again."
"Will you give me the chance to explain?"
"Good. Let us start with what has been going on down on Earth in the sixteen years you have been dead."
"Sixteen years? I've been gone for ..."
"You were to let me explain, remember?"
"Sure. Go ahead!"
"Very well. Since you died ..."
"It's really been sixteen years?" Pause. "Oh, sorry. Go on!"
"A lot has happened down on Earth in the meantime. Much of it has revolved around your former lover, Angel. Ah, I see he still gives you that dreamy smile."
"Yes, Angel. He is the most important warrior for our cause at this moment in time. He will play a pivotal role in the upcoming Apocalypse and ..."
"Apocalypse? Another one?"
"No, the one and only. What you have faced during your life, though no doubt world-threatening in nature, were just the preliminaries. This is the real deal. The big title bout. The main event."
"I think I got it. Never mind the sports metaphors."
"Good. As I said, Angel is the key player for our side, our general, if you will. And he has done very well these last few years. For a time we feared he might despair after your death, but he resolved to go on and fight the good fight, as he was sure you would have wanted him to."
"Yeah, I ... well, I was a bit unsure about the whole good fight thing at the end there, but..."
"You still did what had to be done. You always did. We were very proud of you, Buffy. You accomplished a lot during your life."
"My very short life."
"I know. I am sorry about that, believe me. That is part of the reason we want to make you this offer."
"Why do I have the suspicion this offer of yours does not entail a quiet, normal life with a loving husband and 2.5 kids."
"Because you have good instincts. But let me bring you up to date before we come to the offer. As I said, Angel did well these last sixteen years. After he returned from mourning you, he began to expand his operation in Los Angeles. A friend of his, Gunn, had at one time been the leader of a gang of street kids who were fighting vampires. Angel took all of them under his wing, moved them into his hotel, and became their surrogate father, teacher, and protector, all in one.
"He also became good friends with an acquaintance of yours. A girl you gave your second name to."
"Lily? I mean, Anne?"
"Her true name is Sara, by the way, but she still goes by Anne these days. Shortly after you left her in Los Angeles she began helping out in a shelter for homeless kids. She eventually took it over and, about a year after your death, joined forces with Angel. Together they got a large part of the city's homeless kids off the street."
"Not that I'm not proud of what Angel has accomplished, but what has that got to do with an imminent Apocalypse?"
"More than you would think. One of the other side's greatest weapons, Buffy, is hopelessness. And there are so many people these days that have lost all hope. They don't believe that the world is a good place anymore. They believe that darkness, not light, is the prevailing force on Earth. And by believing that, they help make it true. That is one of the reasons why, when Angel moved to Los Angeles, we recruited him to - as your friend Cordelia put it - help the helpless." Pause. "And, incidentally, a lot of the kids they pulled off the streets joined the cause."
"Ah, so this isn't a completely altruistic thing after all, is it?"
"Nothing really is. Though I can honestly say that our cause is to the benefit of your race. Among others."
"A tale for another time. To continue the story, over time Angel branched out his business. Did you know that he is, in fact, quite well off? Angelus collected a lot of riches across the centuries. Angel was always reluctant to use the money due to the ... means by which the demon acquired it, but he figured that, by using it to help people, he could maybe wash the blood off it.
"At this time the Angel Foundation has shelters in all large American cities, as well as some in Canada and Europe. Most of these serve the double purpose of being training camps for demon hunters. Angel himself stays mostly in the shadows. Your former Watcher, Wesley, is the official head of the Foundation."
"This is so typical of him. Angel was never one for reaping the glory, even when he fully deserves it."
"That hasn't changed. Though many of the kids under his care hold him quite in awe. Despite most of them knowing what he is."
"I bet that would make him blush if he could."
"Most of your former group, your Scooby Gang, have joined forces with Angel as well. Your friends Xander, Tara, Giles, even your sister Dawn. They are all helping him these days. And they are quite good at it."
"I'm glad. Though I wonder, if they're all helping him, what about the Hellmouth? I mean, someone has to be watching it, right?"
"That is no longer necessary. The Hellmouth has ... well, it is a long story, but the gist of it is that the Hellmouth was ... depleted of a large part of its energy some years after your death. It is not quite the demon magnet it once was, though I fear that Sunnydale was all but destroyed in the process. Officially it was an earthquake and they managed to evacuate most of the population before it happened. The town is gone, though."
"Oh! ... I never thought I'd be sad to see Sunnydale gone, but ..."
"You spent the most important years of your life there. It's only natural that you are a bit sad."
"Yeah, I guess so. So everyone's moved in with Angel and he has built quite the army, or so it sounds. Where's the down side?"
"The down side, Buffy, is the fact that the final battle will soon happen. And though Angel and his friends are well prepared we ... to be honest, we fear that Angel might be ... tempted."
"What do you mean, tempted?"
"I mean, Buffy, that we are not the only ones with a stake in this. The other side knows all there is to know about Angel. About you. They also know that most of Angel's motivation for the coming battles, in fact his main reason for being, is you."
"When Whistler first recruited him for our case he showed him you, at the moment you were called. He fell in love with you instantly and it was you that led him out of the shadows he had been hiding in for a century. You are still his driving force, Buffy. His quest for redemption, his need to atone, it can all be traced be back to you. He wants to be a better man for you, even now that he knows he will probably never see you again. But that is part of our problem. Because in the final battle Angel will be facing the First Evil."
"Yes, the entity you have faced once before. The First is a master of illusion and manipulation, but also holds real power. It could, for instance, promise Angel to bring you back to him."
"Is that within its power?"
"No, but it is well within its power to make even someone with Angel's strength of will believe that it did. We fear that his devotion to you, the love he still feels even after all these years, might well be used against him. When the First Evil tried to destroy him back in Sunnydale it did so by making him believe that his continued existence would mean your death. Do you remember?"
"He was prepared to walk into the sun that day. Yes, I remember."
"Your presence saved him. Your words, your continued love. If not for you the First would have succeeded and he would have died."
"There was also the matter of a little freak snow storm, as I recall. You wouldn't happen to have something to do with that, would you?"
"Well, we do what we can. But the point is that this time, without you by his side, Angel might not be able to resist the First. And if he falls there is a very great chance our cause will fall with him."
"So what? You want to resurrect me so I can aid him in the final battle? I mean ... it's that easy? I just say 'go ahead' and I'm alive again to help him?"
"Would that be your answer?"
"Let's make a deal. You stop pretending you didn't know my answer ahead of time and I will stop interrupting you."
"Okay, deal! But I fear it is not that easy. You see, Buffy, there are rules we must follow. Rules that have been agreed upon by both sides, our own and the other. These rules bind both of us from direct interference in the battle. We can influence events, we can give guidance, we can recruit warriors and set them on their paths, but we can't fight the fight ourselves."
"It is a cold war we are fighting, Buffy. It can not be any other way because if we were to fight directly we would inevitably destroy that which we are both fighting for. Our power would lay waste to creation. Neither side wants that. Which is why we created the rules. Both of us. And as long as both sides follow them there might actually be a universe left for the victor to claim after the final battle is finished."
"So ... if I understand you right, just snapping your fingers and putting me back among the living is out of the question."
"In essence, yes. You were a warrior for our cause. One of the best, I might add, but you died. That was the end of your battles, as far as the rules are concerned."
"So what alternative is there?"
"We can't break the rules, Buffy, but we can bend them a lot. Both sides have done that rather often as of late. The snow we sent you on that day, that was us leaning pretty far out the window already. It was hard at the limit of what we are allowed to do and we could only do even that much because of the direct involvement of the First Evil."
"A snow storm won't bring me back, will it?"
"No. Buffy, I want you to understand that you have a choice in this. We can't force you to go back and wouldn't do so even if we could. You have earned your rest many times over."
"Didn't we already agree that ..."
"We did, yes, but I want you to understand that bringing you back, the only way we can bring you back, will not make it easy for you."
"When is it ever easy?"
"The only way we can bring you back without breaking the rules is for you to forget who you were. We will bring your soul back in a new form, but you won't remember that you were ever Buffy Summers. You will have a new name, a new face, a new identity. You will not consciously remember anything of your old life. You will only remember in your dreams and they will give you guidance, that is all. During the waking hours you will be a completely new person."
"Wow! I mean ... you certainly weren't kidding with the not easy part."
"As I said, it is your choice."
"But you said that having me and Angel together would help him defeat the First. How is that supposed to work if I don't know him and he doesn't know it's me?"
"Well, that is the tricky part. He has to find out. You both have to find out. With no rational way for the two of you to recognize each other the rules won't be broken. You have to know through the irrational. Through your feelings. Your souls. Because those will not, can not be changed. Not even through rebirth."
"So ... so you're gambling, is that it?"
"Yes, we are gambling. The stakes have never been higher, Buffy. We wouldn't attempt this if they weren't."
"And how do you think the chances are?"
"With the two of you? Better than with any other two people I could think of. But still, not the best."
"I ... damn! I must really be an idiot to agree to this."
"Is that a yes?"
"Yeah! It's a yes. Put me back!"
"Thank you, Buffy."
"Just make sure you get the dream thing right, okay?"
"We will do our best."
Los Angeles, September 27, 2017
"I've got a pulse!" The nurse yelled.
Thirty minutes ago Diana Knight, aged 17, had flatlined. The doctors had worked furiously, but finally given up hope. She had been pronounced dead at 15:43.
At 15:46 Diana Knight started breathing again, leaving modern medicine at a loss as to how this miracle had happened.
No one noticed that the color of her eyes had changed during the thirty- three minutes she had been dead. No one realized that Diana Knight was gone.
And someone else now in her place.