Disclaimer: Joss’s. Later bits will be Sorkin’s. Only the idea is mine.
Warning: Spoilers for ANGEL Finale, BUFFY Finale, (eventually, Season four of West Wing)
A/N: Distressed with the cliffhanger finale of Angel, I’ve decided to embark upon something that others will no doubt try as well. But first, a short rant. Angel, for me, was ultimately about hope. "We help the hopeless!" Cordelia said cheerfully, every time she picked up the phone. No matter how dark the world got – and, as it’s Joss’s, the world was dark indeed – our heroes overcame. A vampire had a child. Angel/us brought back the sun. Jasmine was destroyed. Cordelia ascended to a new plane of existence. Angel was the subject of a prophecy – someday, he would be human. Though the hopes of our heroes were dashed against the rocks time and time again, some ultimate destiny or hope was dangled in front of them by Master Joss. They never gave up.
And that’s what distressed me about the finale. In the end, WE gave up. We knew they couldn’t survive. Their entire reason for being became futile, despite Gunn’s little moment with Anne. Wesley died, Gunn was almost dead, Lorne abandoned them, Angel signed away the only hope he had left, and the final moment was one of tragedy. They had nothing left to lose, and gave up their lives for something utterly futile. Yeah, nice one on the hope there, Joss.
So I propose an addition to the end scene. Imagine this: after the four remaining members of Angel’s team rush the baddies, we get a flash of the fighting. Then, the camera focuses on the sun rising in the east, shedding light on LA. We pan down into the alley – as the sun hits each demon corpse, it dissolves. The camera focuses first on Gunn, who is very obviously dead. Then is Illyria – we aren’t quite sure about her. She may yet be breathing, but she’s in bad shape. A pile of dust catches our eye and, at the center, is a silver claddagh ring. And, finally, we see a dark shape rise in the shadows. The camera follows him as he stumbles out of the alley, and he is revealed to be Spike. He’s in terrible shape – a cut runs down his face, his leather duster is in tatters. He turns to look back at the alley, then strips off his duster, which he tosses aside. He takes a deep breath and steps into the sunlight. He starts to sizzle and lets out an anguished scream... and then, just as the flames appear to be consuming the whole of his body, they burn out. Spike is standing in the middle of an intersection in the sunlight. From above, the camera shows him falling to his knees. A soft thumping becomes the only soundtrack, save Spike’s sobs. We close in on his face – he reaches up and touches his chest, above his heart. He is crying. The screen fades to black, and we are left with the sound of Spike’s heart beating.
See, isn’t that better? Hope. And with that, a new chance begins: this will ultimately become a West Wing crossover, though it isn’t in this chapter. Sit back and enjoy a more hopeful end to Angel.
The sun rose in the hazy eastern sky, as it always did, but the sight it shed light on was one vastly different than the sunset before. Smoke curled in a lazy trail from a lump of rubble behind a sign marking the ruined building as the Wolfram and Hart Law Offices. A ringing thump echoed across the pitted landscape, quickly followed by another and another as the approach of a helicopter broke the silence of the city below.
From a bird’s eye view, one thing was clear – the horrible seismic event that destroyed Los Angeles was centered on the law firm. The devastation radiated out in waves from the focal point. "They’re saying it’s an 8.8 on the Richter scale," a tinny voice said over Sgt. Malcolm Warren’s headset.
Warren banked left, taking the helicopter toward the center of Los Angeles. "Only that? Looks like it could be a ten."
His copilot snorted as she punched at the dashboard, but the seismologist in the back spoke up again. "Each number is an order of ten magnitudes above the last, so a 10 on the scale would be enough to -"
"I know that." Warren replied. "Jimmy, take a load off. There’ll be plenty of time to examine it when we’re down there looking for survivors. Martha? Anything?"
Martha shook her head. "It’s almost too light to use the night vision anymore – I’m gonna start looking for survivor heat signatures with infrared, but it might be that the quake caused enough fires to throw off the – wait. No, it couldn’t... I think it worked. I’ve got two at eleven o’clock, almost right beneath us."
Warren didn’t wait for Martha’s "take us down" to start the descent. There was an entire city to cover, and these two might need immediate evacuation to a medical facility. Already, survivors were filling relief hospitals, as if SoCal hadn’t seen enough. It was almost exactly a year since the quake that leveled Sunnydale, a town only a few miles south. Was it a sign of something? He’d ask the seismologist later.
"Dan, Martha, we’re gonna get the survivors loaded on. Josh – stay on the copter, here, until we know how much medical attention they need. I’m not leaving you behind while we take them to the hospital." They set down in the middle of what had been an intersection. Between the bricks, there was barely space to land, anymore.
Martha was out as soon as they hit ground, Dan the medtech on her heels. Warren followed, as soon as the helicopter was secured. "Condition?" he called.
"One man, one woman," Dan called out. "The man appears to be in his early thirties, suffering from a severe concussion and a... stab wound to the gut? The woman is late twenties, bleeding from the temple and covered in bruises. And cuts. They appear to have been in some sort of knife fight, possibly with the dead man near them. They’re... filthy. Both covered in ash."
Warren helped Dan to move the woman onto a stretcher – she was painfully thin and had odd streaks of blue in her hair. Normally, he’d have labelled her a punk, but she was wearing a dirtied, flowing dress, like something his little sister would’ve worn to church. As they moved her, she groaned softly, eyes flickering open. She winced in the sunlight. "What happened?"
"There was an earthquake, ma’am. We’re taking you to get medical attention."
She glanced around and tried to sit up. Dan restrained her. "The sunlight – Angel?" she asked. "Where’s Angel?"
"Is Angel the blond man?"
"No – that’s Spike, he’s – he’s not – then Angel’s..." She lifted a hand and touched the light coating of ash. "Angel’s dead."
Martha made a motion toward the sky and Warren sighed. "I’m sorry, ma’am. About Angel. But it’s time to go... Can you tell me your name?"
"Time to go," she repeated. Then she looked up and met Warren’s gaze. Her eyes seemed to flash a liquid blue before she blinked, and they were brown again. "Fred. I’m Fred." She closed her eyes and lay back against the stretcher. "I’ll always be Fred."
"Right then, Fred. Let’s get you and Mr. Spike there off to the hospital. We’ve all got a long day ahead of us."
They were loaded into the helicopter, and Warren reported in. Two survivors. So far, that was the most anyone had found.
The blades whipped wind across the vacant streets as the FEMA helicopter disappeared to the north. The wind picked up the grains of ash from the broken alleyway and flung them to the four corners of the earth.