One Life To Give
Part of the Omniverse Project
By Benji: The Vampire ConfuserThe Majority of the characters in this fic were created by Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy. Sita is the creation of the author Christopher Pike, and her husband is an OC from the Highlander TV Series by Rysher. This is a work of fan fiction and the author is not making any money off this.
“Let’s go to work.” Angel said, swinging his axe, and neatly cutting the front-runner of the horde in two. Four more took it’s place. They took slightly more time to take out. All around him, Demons, Ogres, Trolls, Goblins, and other things he couldn’t identify swarmed around his small band of heroes. Spike was doing as well as could be expected, Illyria was wiping the floor with anyone who came within reach. He couldn’t see Gunn.
Spike, quite honestly was having a grand old time. He’d died once to save the world. But his motivations for that were, well he hadn’t done it for the sake of the world. He’d done it for Buffy. But this time…well he’d heard someone say once that the truest mark of a hero, is one who gives his life, knowing that those he saves will never know.
Spike didn’t know who might have benefited from killing the members of the Thorn. He’d never know them, and they’d never know him. The infant he’d rescued not an hour before would probably never even remember it had been in danger in the first place. If there was a better way to go out, a second time, he couldn’t think of it. Not that there was really time to think. Punch, slash, ouch, dodge, block, kill, next.
Illyria felt satisfaction with every creature she took down. This world was supposed to have been hers. Wolfram and Hart had stolen it from her. Now she had stolen it back. Not for herself though. Her time, she’d realized, truly was over. But she had seen potential in these mortal creatures, these humans. They had supplanted the dinosaurs, which she had helped wipe out. She’d been one of the council of Old Ones who’d conjured up the fire from the sky. The mammals had survived. No one had taken any notice of them, and therein had laid their power.
Humans could one day be gods. And if in some small way, she could clear the way for them to realize that potential, then this second lease on life had not been the waste she’d feared it to be.
Gunn felt the axe fall from his numb fingers. His stomach burned, and he knew he was done. One eye swollen shut, he could hardly hear even the sounds of battle. His ears were ringing from the blow to the head he’d gotten maybe half a minute ago. It was no surprise that he was the first to go down. Not just because he was wounded, he was mortal. When one’s allies are Demons, gifted with powers far beyond those of mortal men, and also with a couple centuries of fighting experience on him, in addition to having a better understanding of evil…where was he? He couldn’t feel the rain anymore. Or the pain of his injuries. Guess it was time to go. Time to join his sister, and Wes.
“I’m coming.” He thought, as the monster before him raised it’s war-hammer to smash in his skull.
It never connected.
Light flooded Gunn’s eyes as he looked up in surprise.
“No one else dies this day.” A determined voice said. The light consolidated into the form of a young man dressed all in white. He was short, with short black hair. He looked down at Gunn, and with a gentle smile said; “Don’t worry Charles. You’re safe now.” The young man took a step towards him, and his feet slid out from under him on the wet pavement, sending him unceremoniously into a puddle.
“Nice move there Jonathan.” A more familiar voice said. Cordelia appeared beside the embarrassed boy and helped him to his feet.
Gunn was pretty sure that either he was dead, or hallucinating.
His weapon was gone. Knocked out of his hand by one of the faceless horde. Fine. No biggie, he was the Big Bad. He didn’t need no stinkin’ weapons. He fought on, though eventually, even a Vampire must tire. Damn he could use a drink. Vodka or blood, it didn’t matter which. Both would be best.
A troll’s club caught him in the temple, staggering him, and leaving him open for a sword through his ribs. “Guess it’s time to say goodbye.” He muttered, resigning himself to the end of the fight.
“Guess it’s time to say goodbye?” Anya asked, grasping his arm and supporting his weight. “Please Spike. You’re supposed to be a poet. Can’t you do any better than that?”
Here came the dragon again for another pass. He’d hadn’t managed to hurt it thus far, since his attention was being drawn by other opponents. Suddenly, he found himself in a clear area, the demons drawing back in shock.
He couldn’t say he blamed them. Having their target suddenly flanked by two glowing angels probably hadn’t been part of the plan.
“All clear darling.” Darla said. “Make us proud.”
“Who are you?” Illyria demanded of the dark haired young man who had removed a would be back stabber from the field. She studied him for a moment and cocked her head to the side. “You are of the Powers that Be. An Angel I believe the mortals call you.”
“Yeap,” the boy said. “That’s exactly what I am. Coming up on the left.”
A chop of the hand smashed in the skull of the hell beast that had leapt for her. “Why are you here?”
“Let’s just say we decided not to sit this one out.”
Illyria shrugged and continued to fight.
The sun was beginning to rise by the time the battle was done. The alley was choked with bodies of demons, even after those that melt, or disintegrate, or burn to ash when they die had done so.
Gunn, Angel, and Spike sat exhausted in the shelter of an overturned dumpster, trying to recuperate. Gunn’s eyes were closed, and his breath was shallow, his skin an unhealthy pallor.
Illyria sat cross legged not far away, her eyes closed. It was impossible to tell whether she was even winded.
Now that the fury of battle was gone, Angel and Spike were able to pay closer attention to the Angels that had helped them. Angel recognized Jonathan, and Xander’s friend Jesse, and Theresa before they faded away. Theresa gave him an enigmatic smile. How strange must it have been for her to help the Vampire that killed her? Jenni Calendar had left already.
Spike for his part shared a fond smile with Tara and Anya before they too faded from sight.
“Invigorating.” Said a voice from the mouth of the alley, and Angel leaped to his feet. Four figures stood relaxing at the far end, where the rear of the Demon Army had been. Well, standing was too strong a word for two of them. A young man with long red hair, and red, bat like wings shrinking into his back was being supported by another young man with short, black hair and broken sunglasses. After a moment, he remembered seeing them harassing the mayor during the Graduation battle of 1999.
And beside them stood Sita, a woman who he’d only known as the wife of the man whose body she was holding. His brown hair was a mess, and he was quite obviously dead. But his head was still attached to his shoulders, so Angel imagined he’d recover. After all, when Angelus had flayed him alive in front of the then-mortal Drusilla, he’d returned about a century later ready for pay-back.
Sita nodded at Angel before turning back towards the street. The black haired young man stepped into a portal he’d created and helped his friend through. He shouldn’t have been surprised really. Huge army like that was bound to bring out the city’s reserve protectors.
He turned his attention back to Cordelia, who was now the only Angel remaining. She was laying her hand on Gunn’s stomach. “Jesus Gunn,” she was saying. “Can’t you ever stay out of trouble without me to look after you?”
The wound in his stomach closed with a mild tingling, and he felt life return to his blood drained limbs. Taking a deep breath, he focused his gaze on his friend. “If this is what it takes to get you back, I’d do it again.”
Cordelia smiled sadly. “Sorry, one time only deal.”
“Why are you here?” Angel asked.
“I think Jesse said it to Illyria best.” She answered. “The Powers that Be decided not to sit this one out. They couldn’t interfere directly, but there were more than enough of us who were willing to do our part.”
The look on their faces told her that that explanation was not going to cut it. Cordelia sighed, and sat down on an overturned trashcan. “Okay,” she began. “this was major. I mean bigger than anyone’s done in, well a long time.”
“What about when Buffy fought the first?” Angel and Spike asked at the same time.
“We were there too.” Cordy told them. “Though, not nearly as obviously as this. Now are you gonna let me finish?”
“Sorry.” They said, again, at the same time. They glared at each other.
“Maybe you hadn’t noticed, but the forces of good were pretty much fighting a losing battle for the last 1000 years or so. I mean, one Slayer? Against who knows how many demons? With new end of the world plots popping up every minute? And not to mention for every demon or Vampire that someone killed, ten people died of un-natural causes, and like, 20 new demons would pop up. And then another 30 mortals would have joined the dark side. You get it?”
They nodded in understanding.
“So hey, Buffy wants to make an army of Slayers? Me and Tara were all over that. You guys get it in your heads to take out the big-wigs in the Evil world? Hell yeah. And hey,” she pointed at the defeated army lying about them. “That’s one hell of a dent in the forces of Darkness.
“Sure, they can rebuild, but it’ll take a while. And by that time the Slayers will be ready. And each Slayer has the potential to do what Buffy did. Recruit a little Scooby gang all of her own, and maybe even redeem some people. These past two years, individually might not have meant much. The world would’ve gone down the toilet right on schedule and become hell on earth. But together…I dunno if you’ll live to see it, but the world’s gonna get better. A lot better. Give it a century or two and you’ll hardly recognize the place.
“Okay it won’t be pretty getting there but…” she shook her head. “Bwah, I’m babbling like Willow.”
“Well I’m glad we saved the world and all,” Gunn said. “But that still doesn’t explain your part.”
“Like I said,” Cordy explained. “The PTB didn’t want to sit this one out. Plus they weren’t sure you’d be able to pull it off all on your own. So we came to make sure you stayed alive long enough to do it.”
“And we live still.” Illyria said, finally speaking up. “An unexpected benefit.”
“Yeah,” the angel Cordelia grimaced. “That’s the catch. Something like this, this major, is meaningless without sacrifice. Buffy beat back the Neandervamps because Spike sacrificed himself. As far as the rest of the world is concerned, you guys died at the end of the battle.”
“We have to fake our deaths?”
“Sort of.” She sighed. “Okay how do I explain this? You’re dead. But you don’t have to stay dead. You sacrificed your lives to change the world for the better, and as a reward, you get new lives.”
“That’s what the Shanshu was.” Angel guessed.
“So,” Spike said slowly. “Which of us gets to be a real boy?”
“I signed away the Shanshu.”
“The Circle wanted one last thing from me before they’d trust me.” Angel said gingerly. “So I had to sign away the Shanshu prophecy.”
“YOU TIT!” Spike shouted, slamming Angel’s head into the side of the dumpster. “Who gave you the right to-“
“That’s ENOUGH!!” Cordelia’s voice was beyond anything any mortal could have made. It shut Spike up, and quelled any thoughts the two Vampires might have had of fighting. “Yeah that Shanshu is gone. Doesn’t mean another opportunity won’t come up. I’ll see what I can do. For now, you have to stay Vampires.” She looked at each of them seriously for a moment.
“What you’ve done will be legendary.” She said. “Buffy’ll make sure of that. In about 20 minutes she’ll show up and find your bodies.” She pointed at Gunn and Angel. “The world already considers Spike dead. No one knows about Fred/Illyria’s situation, so it was just the two of you that, against all odds, destroyed the Circle of the Black Thorn and then faced off against an Army of demons. And you lived long enough to defeat them. But only long enough to do that. Gunn you came ready made with a stomach wound. Angel, you became human and had enough time to feel the rising sun on your face before dying of your own wounds.”
“Two against the world.” Spike said. He gripped Angel’s shoulder and grinned at him. “That sounds bloody perfect.”
“So do we still look like ourselves?” Gunn asked.
“Yeah, you’re gonna have to not run into too many people you know. Or it’ll, you know, ruin the effect.”
Gunn shrugged. “Hell, not many folks still around that know me. And going out the way I did…I got no complaints.”
Angel however looked less happy. “Connor, I can’t ever see him again can I.” He swallowed hard.
Spike and Gunn looked away, embarrassed, as Cordelia took the elder Vampire in her arms. “I’m sorry Angel.” She whispered. “I know. You just got him back and now you’ve lost him again. But remember, he’s got a father he can be proud of.”
“I will look after him.” Illyria said, whose gaze had not faltered from Angel during this rare moment of weakness. Angel merely gave her a grateful look.
“Well I guess we better get goin’.” Gunn said finally. “I mean, it’ll look kinda weird if three dead heroes and one blue haired demon Goddess were standing around here when the Slayer shows up.”
As they rose, Cordelia pushed the dumpster around so that there was a clear path of shadow for Spike and Angel to get to the sewer. “Time for a new start Angel.” Spike said. “What do you wanna do first?”
“Sleep.” He stopped, just before reaching the manhole cover. “You know what, don’t call me that.”
“Angel. Angel’s dead. I’d always planned on going back to being Liam, you know, if,”
“Yeah mate.” Spike said. “I know. Liam it is then. While we’re at it, I guess Spike’s been dead for almost a year. Guess I’m just plain William now.”
Though saddened by their own apparent deaths, but proud of what they’d done, and feeling optimistic about their future, the two Vampires dropped into the sewer, while Gunn headed for the highway. He had a vague idea of hitch-hiking his way to, well, anywhere. He’d taken the precaution, while working for Wolfram and Hart, of stashing away quite a bit of cash. Enough to live on for a long time.
Cordelia watched them leave and prepared to fade away herself when Illyria’s voice stopped her.
“Wesley was not among you.”
She turned slowly, looking at the demon goddess. “I was kind of hoping you hadn’t noticed.” With a heavy sigh, she laid a gentle hand against Illyria’s cheek. “Wesley chose another path.” She said. “We all chose to be Angels. Me and Darla almost got into it over who was gonna be Connor’s guardian. Wes, he found out that Fred isn’t on this side.”
“What are you saying?”
“Wesley chose oblivion.”
“He didn’t want to face an eternity without Fred. So he opted out.”
Illyria’s mouth hung open as she struggled with what she was feeling. No. She couldn’t do this. She couldn’t handle such emotions. She’d mourned him once, how could she do it again? And like this? She’d taken comfort in the knowledge that a better existence waited for him on the other side.
“That’s why I was hoping you wouldn’t notice.” Cordy said. “I’m sorry.”
She received no answer. The old one turned silently, and slowly walked away. Only those with very acute supernatural sight would see the hand shaped white mark that glowed on her face.
“You didn’t tell her.” Doyle said, appearing beside her, taking her hand.
“Nope.” She said, not looking at him, but squeezing his hand. “If she knew that Wesley’s soul would return when she died and Fred finally got to move on, she might try to kill herself. And she’s important to allow that.”