Reunions and Finales
AN: This chapter begins shortly after the last scene of 'Not Fade Away', and for the 'Twilight' cast takes place a couple of years before the events of the first book (In other words, Bella and Rennesme aren't part of the family yet, so don't look for them); it's a complicated resolution, but I hope you like this conclusion
As he ducked under the latest punch from what seemed to be a never-ending stream of demons, Angel had to wonder what would run out first; him, Spike, Gunn and Illyria's own personal strength, or the sheer amount of demons that the Senior Partners were currently throwing at him.
He'd like to think that the four of them could put up a good fight even with Illyria depowered, but with Gunn injured and no way to get him to safety right now, it was only a matter of time until they were one fighter down, and after that they were facing an unknown onslaught with nothing going for them than the fact that even the Senior Partners could only throw so much at them before they attracted too much attention from the other side and were forced to shut down.
God, how the Hell
had it come to this? He'd known that attacking the Circle would bring the Partners' wrath down on his head, but he'd assumed that they'd focus on trying to stop him and leave everyone else alone; surely what he'd done would have had to have deprived them of some
of their usual resources...
In the end, the how of this army's origins didn't matter; all that mattered was that they keep its attention focused on them so that they couldn't hurt anyone else.
Still... even if they fell this night... unable to call anyone else for help- he'd left Buffy a message, but he had little hope that she'd find it in time to save him; unable to leave too many clues to what he was planning, all that he'd been able to do was warn her that there was a situation in Los Angeles that might need to be contained by the Slayer army-, having done little more than essentially bloody the Senior Partners' noses, at least they would have done something
that the Partners weren't expecting...
Glancing around, Angel's eyes widened in horror at the sight of a figure bending over Gunn's still form- the faint sound of a human heartbeat was only just audible to Angel's ears, and that was mainly because Gunn was the only
human in this alley-, the lack of a heartbeat and the way the body 'reflected' the sound around it making it all too clear what that figure was.
Even if they were going to die this night, they were going to die
this night; he wasn't going to let Gunn come back as any variation of the thing he'd hunted all his life, particularly not when there would be nobody around to help him control his thirst while he was still the person he'd been before...
"NO-!" Angel began, charging towards his friend's attacker, only to be suddenly halted when a smaller figure grabbed him by the arm and spun him around to face her.
, Angel!" a familiar voice said, a slight laugh to the speaker's tone even as she looked seriously at him. "Carlisle won't hurt him; he's here to help-"
?" Angel said, his eyes widening incredulously even as a broad grin spread across the lower part of his face as he took in the sight of his long-lost 'little sister' standing before him, dressed in a miniskirt and a tight maroon top but otherwise unchanged from when he'd last seen her.
"The one and only," Alice replied, grinning back at him before she spun around to kick an approaching Fyarl demon back, the sheer force of the blow breaking one of the Fyarl's horns and twisting its neck in a manner that no neck was meant to go. "And I brought a few friends."
Looking around, Angel's eyes widened as he realised what Alice was talking about; aside from the figure standing over Gunn, there were five other Cold Ones in the alley around them, each one of them striking out at the demons attacking them with a cold precision that made it clear that they were here to fight the demons rather than go after Angel and his allies. Angel could just make out two more women and three more men aside from Alice and the one she'd introduced as Carlisle, but that was mostly a guess based on hair length and what he could make out of their bodies in this darkened alley; right now, the only thing that mattered to him was that they were on his side rather than the Senior Partners' side.
"Don't worry, they won't go after Spike or the blue woman... although I am
confused about who or what she actually is, by the way," Alice said, looking curiously at Angel.
"How did-?" Angel began, only to find himself with other things to think about when two demons charged at him and Alice from either side, forcing him to halt the current conversation and spin around to fight the Miquot demon facing him with blades extended while Alice struggled with a demon that had a face that vaguely resembled a short-trunked elephant that made up for the trunk in the tusk department.
"I saw what you were planning in a vision, and, given the scale of the numbers against you- well, based on my impression of your despair, anyway; I still can't see demons in my visions but I could get a good sense of numbers from the amount of times I saw you trying to fight something-, I thought that it would be best if I made sure that someone else was available to help you out when push came to shove," Alice clarified, pausing to break off one of her opponent's sharpened tusks and ram it through the creature's eye, before breaking off another tusk to use as an improvised sword as she sliced her way through a new wave of attackers.
"You've been keeping an eye on me?" Angel asked, not sure how he actually felt about that particular discovery even as he sliced through the next demon in front of him.
"Only intermittently; I've seen you a couple of times since... that day... but only when it was something particularly big, and never at a point when I'd be able to make a difference," Alice said, looking apologetically back at him even as the slight glare on her face confirmed that she still wasn't entirely happy about him leaving her that abruptly. "I've never brought it up to the rest in the past- either you were going to handle it yourself or there wasn't anything I could do about it-, but when I saw you going up against all these things a couple of days ago I thought that it was time to step in."
"Appreciate the thought, but I don't suppose you have any other
ideas to get us through this mess?" Angel asked, ducking under another blow from his latest adversary- this one resembling a giant lobster with one claw larger than the other- before he was able to ram the sword through a weak point in the creature's exo-skeleton.
"I hoped that just being here would..." Alice began, before her voice trailed off as she looked upwards, her eyes momentarily blank in the manner that Angel recognised as her having a vision- it might have been almost six decades since he'd last seen Alice, but he'd spent the better part of the previous three decades with her- before she looked over at him with a smile. "Get Illyria; I saw our plan!"
As Alice turned to run towards the nearest Cold One, Angel leapt over an attacking Polgara demon, breaking its long claw as he kicked down at the claw to add to his rate of ascent before he landed behind the monster, ramming a fist into its back with sufficient force to send the creature staggering.
"ILLYRIA!" he called out, smiling in relief as he saw Fred's blue-haired form slicing her way through the nearest wave of demons.
"What?" Illyria asked, turning away from the last demon she'd decapitated with a stolen blade to look at the vampire.
"We've got back-up," Angel explained, manoeuvring into a position where he and Illyria were fighting back-to-back as they continued to struggle against the seemingly continuous wave of demons still charging against them. "An old friend has mentioned that they have a plan, but they'll need your help to pull it off."
"What is she?" Illyria asked, sounding like she was briefly straining against something else before Angel heard something crash into something else.
"She's on her way; in the meantime, we're available," an unknown voice replied, the tone a deep but amused one. Glancing around, Angel wasn't entirely surprised to see the physically largest Cold One standing there, his body reflecting a build that would have been exceptional even on a human, particularly since his physical age suggested that he had acquired it through a working life as he wasn't old enough to have acquired access to the gym resources that would have been needed if he wanted to build up his strength through more gradual efforts.
"Hi," the man said, smiling over at Angel and Illyria as he almost effortlessly drove his fists through the heads of a couple of demons that tried to charge at him from both sides. "I'm Emmett Cullen, Alice's brother; you're Angel, right?"
"Yeah," Angel said, nodding at the other man with a slight smile; being around a Cold One might be making Angelus uncomfortable, but his knowledge of Alice and his familiar golden eye-colour at least confirmed for Angel that this guy was a friend to Alice rather than a potential foe.
"Nice to meet you, even if we only heard about you a few hours ago," Emmett said, nodding briefly at the other vampire, apparently about to say more before Alice and five other figures suddenly appeared around them. Now that they were relatively still and significantly closer, Angel was able to confirm that Alice's new family included four male Cold Ones and three females- Alice being included in the count of females-, with the oldest-looking male dressed in a white coat with a sense of compassion about him that gave him the appearance of a healer, a brown-haired woman with a maternal manner about her, a thin vampire with long fair hair who seemed to be constantly glancing at his surroundings and drawing back his teeth as though preparing to snarl at something even as Alice moved closer to him, an incredibly beautiful blonde woman who was moving to stand next to Emmett, and a vampire with bronze-coloured hair and a moody expression that somehow left Angel with the unnerving feeling of looking at himself in the mirror when he was physically a few years younger.
"Ah, good, we're all here!" Alice said, grinning around at the other vampires even as their temporary gathering found themselves quickly facing outwards to fight the immediate threats still facing them. "Everyone, this is Angel, and the blue woman is Illyria; if we can just place our hands on her, she should
be able to do something about this mess-"
"Put our hands
on her?" the blonde Cold One said, looking over at Alice with an expression of confused disdain. "Alice, this isn't time for a meet and greet-"
"Trust me, Rose, it'll work; I've seen it," Alice said, looking at the vampire now identified as Rose with a straightforward intensity that Angel recognised as her equivalent of Willow's own 'resolve face'. "Look, if it doesn't work out, we can all go back to trying to tear through everyone with our bare hands; right now, I'm trying to find a way out of this that helps us stop the bad guy quicker!"
"Well, I'm game," Emmett said, grinning over at Alice before he turned to Illyria. "Shall we?"
"It is worth an attempt, at any rate," Illyria said, nodding grimly at the vampire.
"Right," Emmett said, reaching out to grab hold of Illyria's nearest wrist, followed closely by Rose and Alice taking a hold of the same arm. Acting as though on cue, the oldest two vampires and the thin fair-haired one grabbed hold of Illyria's other arm, leaving the vampire who reminded Angel of himself to take hold of Illyria's shoulders. No sooner had the last vampire taken hold of Illyria than she stretched out her arms and let out a loud scream, followed by her body and the surrounding vampires suddenly glowing with a brilliant gold light that reminded Angel of those rare occasions when he'd glimpsed Alice in the sunlight when they'd been travelling together. Before Angel had time to ask what was happening, Illyria had stretched out her arms- the vampires somehow moving their hands to hold on to Illyria's sides before Angel could register the shift- and opened a large rift in the air behind them, which began to generate a strange energy field that drew in the demons around them without affecting Angel, Alice, or their assorted allies.
"Just hold on!" Alice said, her voice only just audible over the chaos of the surrounding events. "We've got them now!"
Angel didn't entirely know what was happening, but he could see that something was taking place; even as he watched, the still-living demons in the middle of this alley were struggling against the pull of the portal that Illyria had generated, even as it pulled them into the black void within itself, starting with the smaller fighters and progressing to the larger ones. As some demons struggled to take hold of something around them, gripping onto the walls of the alley they had only moments ago been fighting in, the portal's pull grew increasingly stronger on the group's opponents even as it continued to 'ignore' Angel, Spike, Gunn and the source of its power, culminating in a final burst of brilliant golden energy as the entire alley suddenly seemed to be experiencing a moment of daylight at midnight, before everything went dark once again, leaving only the original four combatants and the seven new arrivals standing around.
"Oh, hello, Spike," Alice said, smiling briefly over at the other vampire as the other demonic vampire registered their presence.
"Who the bloody- YOU
?" Spike yelled, jumping back from Alice in shock as he recognised her. "What the sodding
hell are you
doing here, you-?"
Whatever else Spike would have said was cut off when the tall fair-haired vampire suddenly dashed forward and punched him in the face, glaring firmly at the other man.
"Don't talk about her like that," the Cold One said, glaring firmly at Spike.
"Check..." Spike muttered, rubbing at his sore jaw as he took in the new arrivals before he looked over at Angel. "What's with the-?"
"Can we put this discussion on hold until we have taken Mr... Charles Gunn, I believe his name is... to the hospital?" the vampire that Alice had identified as Carlisle said, picking up the human's still, bleeding body as he looked around at the others. "I've done what I can here, but he needs professional treatment before he gets any worse."
"Right," Angel said, nodding at Carlisle in agreement as he looked over at the others. "We've got a lot of questions, I'm sure, but we can't tackle this right now; let's get Gunn safe, and then we can talk."
"So... Charlie's going to be OK?" Spike asked, the assorted vampires and the former Old One ruler sitting in the hospital waiting room a few hours later. Getting to the hospital had been relatively easy at the speed that the Cold Ones could move at, and when Carlisle had offered his services- Angel was surprised to learn that the other man was an officially-qualified doctor but had kept his mouth shut about it at the time; asking a vampire how he coped with blood in a hospital wasn't exactly something that it was easy to bring up-, the doctors had been willing to accommodate his request to assist the man he'd discovered after a 'violent mugging gone wrong'.
"He's going to need extensive time recuperating, and I wouldn't recommend that he do anything overly physically strenuous for the next few months, but he should be fine, yes," Carlisle said, nodding reassuringly at Spike and Angel. "You're lucky I was able to get there in time; the amount of damage he'd sustained earlier..."
"It's not your fault, Angel," Alice said, looking firmly at her original mentor/brother as she noted his sullen expression. "Charles Gunn made his own choices, and he knew the risks that he was taking; you can't blame yourself for the fact that he was injured in the process."
"I know," Angel said, sighing after a few moments of contemplative silence. "But that doesn't make it any easier..."
Finally, he shrugged and looked at the other Cold Ones, deciding to attend to the most obvious question facing their new group. "So, I know Alice, but who are the rest of you?"
"Doctor Carlisle Cullen," Carlisle said, smiling reassuringly at the vampire as he held out his hand to shake it, studying the other man with a thoughtful grin. "It's nice to meet you at last, Angel; we've heard a great deal about you from Alice."
"Only in the last few days," Alice interjected, looking scoldingly at the other vampire.
"You really didn't mention me?" Angel asked, unable to stop himself sounding slightly hurt at that news.
"I didn't... I wasn't ready to share you yet," Alice replied at last, after a few moments of silence as though she wanted to think about what she was about to say to him. "The time we spent together was... it was ours
; when you left, I... I knew you wanted privacy, and I wasn't going to break that without a good reason."
Angel could only smile gratefully at Alice's decision; even if she hadn't known why
he'd left, she'd still respected him enough to give him the chance at solitude that he'd wanted...
"Hey, we all have our secrets," Emmett said, smiling in understanding at Alice. "Where's the fun in telling everyone everything right away?"
"Quite," Carlisle said, smiling over at the other vampire before he turned to indicate the other Cold Ones in the room. "We have already been told that your friends are Spike and Illyria; this is my wife Esme, and my adopted children, Emmett Cullen, Edward Cullen, Rosalie Hale, and-"
"Allow me," Alice said, turning to face Angel as she indicated the fair-haired vampire beside her with a smile broader than any she'd shown in her previous time with him. "Angel, this is my husband, Jasper Hale."
"Husband?" Angel repeated, looking at Alice with a slight smile even as he shook Jasper's hand. "You're married?"
"Actually, I met him when we... you know..." Alice said, looking at Angel an uncertainty that both saddened and relieved him; she might be upset that he'd left her so abruptly, but at least she didn't know all of the fine details of why he'd left the Hyperion like that (Alice's awareness of magic was significantly more limited than his; he wondered if his curse or his species gave him a greater awareness of it than she possessed or something like that).
"Right," Angel said, nodding reassuringly at Alice before he looked at Jasper. "So, you're treating her properly, right?"
"Wouldn't know how to do anything else," Jasper replied, a slightly Southern tone to his voice as he nodded in confirmation at Angel.
"Plus, he's an empath- you know, like I have visions, he can sense emotions?" Alice added, smiling at Angel as he nodded in understanding. "If he ever did anything I didn't like, he'd know how I felt about it before I even had a chance to say anything; if nothing else, it makes it very
easy for him to know what to do to make me happy..."
"More than I needed to know, Alice," Angel said, smiling over at the younger vampire despite the slight apprehension he felt at the idea of meeting the man Alice loved; as an older sibling figure, there was a desire to protect her that would always come first, but there was also the fact that he'd been out of touch with Alice for over sixty years and didn't exactly have any valid reason to object to what Alice had been doing with her life...
"Y'know, as long as we're talking, what actually happened back there?" Spike asked, looking curiously over at the other vampires. "Y'know, with the glowing and the portal and all that stuff...?"
"I drew on the energy of these ones and used it to generate a portal to a realm of nothingness and pain," Illyria said solemnly.
"You used us as batteries?" Emmett said, looking at Illyria in surprise. "How'd that work?"
"I..." Illyria began, before her voice trailed off in confusion.
"You don't know because you never encountered something like that before," Alice finished for Illyria, shrugging slightly at the former Old One. "That's OK, I'm not that sure either; I just saw the vision, and..."
"I do have one
theory," Angel said, looking over at Alice and Illyria with a slight smile.
"You do?" Edward asked, looking at Angel in confusion. "What is it?"
"Cold Ones are said to be direct descendents of the original vampire demons; they're... well, this is just a guess, but your race of vampire are probably the closest thing that Illyria has to a peer left on this Earth," Angel said, wishing he had more concrete evidence to draw on for that theory even as he knew that he was pressed for options and would just have to go along with what he'd picked up over the years. "Maybe, with all of you in contact with Illyria at once, their connection to the original vampires resulted in Illyria being able to draw on their energy and use it to supplant the powers that she'd lost?"
"That... sounds plausible," she said, nodding in acknowledgement of the vampire's theory.
"We were batteries?" Edward said, looking sceptically at Angel.
"It's the best explanation I can come up with, anyway; I'll let you know if something else comes to mind," Angel said, shrugging as he looked at Edward. "It's not like we had time to work out the 'how' of this situation; Alice saw a plan, and we went for it."
Edward looked at Angel for a moment, and then he turned around and walked out of the waiting room.
"Don't mind Edward; he's just being petty and annoying because he can't read your mind," Alice said, shrugging briefly at Angel. "I keep telling him that it's pointless, but he just doesn't quite accept how different you are from us; he tends to be a bit... set in his ways, really."
"Ah," Angel said, nodding sympathetically at Alice as he looked over at Edward.
In a way, it was actually kind of strange to look at the other vampire; allowing for the obvious differences in skin and eye colour- to say nothing of him being somewhat taller and older than the other vampire-, he and Edward actually looked surprisingly alike...
"Hold on; mind-reading?" he said, looking over at Alice in surprise. "He can read minds?"
"Only the surface thoughts, anyway; he can tell what you're thinking in the moment, but that's about it," Alice said with a shrug. "I've told him what you told me about telepaths being unable to read the mind of your 'breed' of vampire because your thoughts don't cast reflections, but I don't think he really believed it until he met you, and now he's just being all emo and frustrated because he doesn't get you the way he's been able to get everyone else he's met since he was turned..."
"Guy needs some sense talked into him, huh?" Spike said, shrugging as he glanced after the other vampire. "Well, I suppose we all have our gits in the family..."
"I think it's the fact that you have your soul that he resents," Alice said, smiling over at Angel as she shook her head in frustration. "We've done what we can to talk to him, but he remains convinced that we're nothing but soulless monsters after we're turned; the fact that I can confirm you have your soul back isn't exactly helping him accept the idea that he kept his anyway..."
"Ah," Angel said, contemplating and discarding the idea of talking to Edward about that misconception; if Alice, with her seemingly inexhaustible enthusiasm, hadn't managed to make her point to Edward by now, Angel didn't know what he could do and wasn't in the mood to try and think of an argument himself.
Right now, he just...
"So," Alice said, looking at Angel with a smile, "what are you going to do now?"
"I don't know," Angel said, grinning over at his younger sister-figure as she voiced the question he'd just been asking himself, before he looked over at where Spike and Illyria were standing outside Gunn's room, anxiously waiting for more news of their friend's fate, the remaining five Cullens gathered around the waiting room as though trying to decide what to do with themselves next. "But I have a feeling it's going to be interesting finding out."
He had stood up to the Senior Partners and won the battle of a lifetime, and been reunited with his 'sister' and her new family into the bargain; it wasn't what he'd expected would happen when the battle was over, but he'd dealt a powerful blow against the most powerful beings of evil he'd ever encountered and he was still alive.
Wherever things went from here, he had a feeling it was going to be very
AN 2: Well, that's the end of that story; hope you liked it!
No plans for a sequel as of yet- I've got some other stories I'd like to work on first anyway-, but if anyone has any particular ideas, let me know and I might think about them...