Title: Heroes’ Legacy (1/1)
Disclaimer: Not mine, not a one.
Synopsis: End of an era.
A/N: Not. One. Word. I mean it, the merest hint of a snigger from any of you and…well, I’ll think of something suitably nasty and do it to all of you. Repeatedly. And I’ll shoot the plot bunnies and have them for tea.
He shouldn’t be surprised to find himself on his knees, blood and guts leaking out over his splayed fingers, but somehow he is. It’s not like he didn’t know it would come to this one day, after all he wouldn’t be here if this self-same thing hadn’t happened to the ones that had gone before him, but he didn’t think it would be so *soon*. There’s so much still to be done.
The newest nest of vampires down by the docks is increasing daily, there are demons preying on young children at a park over the other side of the city and there is a rising due next week that he just can’t afford to miss. He gasps as his belly cramps again and more black blood pumps out of the wound that stretches straight across his torso and he grunts in sudden dark humour. Huh, looks like he’ll be missing the rising after all.
Twenty-five years, give or take a year, since he first smiled at the English witch and told her that he helped the helpless. Twenty-five years of battles and fights and laughter with the people that share his brutal life. Only fifteen of them spent with his Dawn; she had fallen to the swing of an assassin’s sword when Wolfram and Hart had launched an attack when he had been down in Mexico leading an assault on a demonic cult, and he had arrived three days and several lifetimes too late to save her. He laughs suddenly as he thinks of the funeral pyre he built her, of torching the new offices of the law firm, razing it to the ground and throwing her stiff body on the white-hot embers. It was a fitting end for the girl with the sky blue eyes and open heart that took him into her body and bed, making him whole for the first time in his life.
Mr Right Now, she had called him. He had asked her once in an uncharacteristic romantic mood if she believed he was the only one on the earth for her. They had been lovers for three years by then, had seen the best and the worst of each other, and fought daily side by side to drive back the evil that threatened to overtake them every day. She had laughed, a bright joyous laugh that made his heart swell, and rolled towards him to cover him with her naked body and his face with butterfly kisses. Looking deep into his shining eyes she had told him that there was no Mr Right for her, but he was most definitely her Mr Right Now. She had kissed the angry pout off his face and loved him all night until he was seeing stars behind his closed eyes and that was the last time they had ever discussed what they were to each other. It took him another three years to realise that she had seen too many people declare their love to each other only to have it ripped away that she couldn’t bring herself to do it to him. To say it aloud would make it real, and to make it real would be to risk having it destroyed and taken away. He smiles through the pain as he thinks of her beloved face. He had remained Mr Right Now for his Dawn from the day they had met to the day she died and in all that time she had never looked at another man. He was content with that.
He stifles a moan as his body slumps onto the wet asphalt and the last of his strength leaves him. In the distance he can hear the screams and yells of a furious battle being waged and he hopes that his troops are winning. He smiles through bloodied teeth as he listens to the clash of swords and coughs up more blood instead of the laugh trapped inside him. What is he thinking? Of course his troops are winning, they don’t know how to do anything else.
Angel’s Army they call themselves when they think he is out of earshot and he laughs to think of the mortification on his father’s face if he had lived to see the day that young warriors wage war in his name and cut jagged holes in the ever present demon population. It never occurs to him that none of the young soldiers have seen his father and maybe the name they fight in doesn’t belong solely to a dark eyed vampire with a soul anymore.
If ever the thought had occurred to him he would have been competing with his father in mortification and done more to stop them adopting the moniker. And to destroy that stupid badge that they think he doesn’t see that they all wear for good luck, pinned out of sight on the hems of sweaters and jackets every time they leave the hotel to patrol. In nearly thirty years not one person has ever guessed the first time that Cordelia’s drawing he has kept on all their stationary is an angel and not a lobster. He tries to laugh again. God, he misses her.
As the years have passed his memories of the time before reality changed have become stronger and his fake-life has fallen into the realms of his dreams. For the most part that’s not been a good thing, but he’s found somehow that the pictures he carries in his head of his early days in this dimension have helped him remember just what it is that he fights for when sometimes it all becomes too much to endure. When he looks on the latest recruits gathered from the streets or the newest frightened child to come to the hotel’s doors seeking sanctuary from whatever personal demon stalks them, he sometimes turns his back and lets the ever constant crowd in the lobby melt away and long dead ghosts take their place as he remembers for a bittersweet moment a simpler time.
Gunn’s booming laugh once more fills the room and Lorne is swaying and singing around the floor, toasting Wesley and Fred as they pore over their beloved books. Cordelia is radiant as she talks with his father and the two are huddled together, sharing whispers and secrets as they smile across at him. He wonders why it has taken all his life, and their deaths, for him to see how precious those times were before they were snatched away. And then he worries that he has lost his grip on his sanity because he knows that life was never as he remembers it and his father slit his throat so that he could leave the life he has lived behind.
His life. Full of exultant highs, and desperate lows but not something he could imagine not experiencing. Even as one by one their old allies died over the long years and slowly he alone was left amongst the young and eager, he never seriously regretted his decision to help that first young woman and follow his father’s path. Even now as he lies bleeding out his life onto the street at only forty-five, he can’t think of anything he would have done differently.
God, and when did forty-five suddenly seem so young? He remembers fighting for acceptance in the early years from men so much older than he, fighting for every bit of recognition for his achievements in the fight for good, and then one day he turned around and he has become the very people he had always railed against. Suddenly he was looking into young faces determined to do things their way and he was the old one, the one that practised caution and restraint when they would rush in and rely on youth and energy to carry the day. Now, suddenly, forty-five years of life is so short compared to what he could have had. But he knows deep in his heart that this game he has played all his life is for the young and the brave, the ones that can laugh in the face of death because they never truly believe that it will come for them. Well, death’s here for him now and he hasn’t the breath to laugh anymore.
He feels a stab of sorrow as he thinks of the last time he spoke with his father and Angel’s conviction that it wouldn’t matter what happened to him as long as his son lived on. He could go to his death happy because he knew that he would live on in his son. Well, safe to say that plan backfired. He blinks to try and clear his eyes of the rain that has started to fall but he lacks even the energy for that and is instead forced to lie inert and accept the gentle pummelling on his face as the skies open and begins to wash away his blood. Soon all traces of him will be cleansed from the earth and he wonders if he meets his father somewhere beyond how he will justify the existence he has led. He has no child to carry on their blood, no one left to tell the tales of the ones that died long ago and there is no one to remember them when he passes. For a moment that causes him a greater pain than the one in his belly, but then he hears in the distance the victorious cries of his child warriors and he knows that he leaves something greater than his bloodline behind on this earth.
He has created something new and brave out of the ashes of the old world that was his father’s legacy and its impact is now felt all over the planet and untold dimensions. The empty hotel that he called home after they died is filled with voices and strong, willing bodies from across the globe, the small band of urban soldiers he started out with now has grown to rival the strength of the Watcher’s Council itself. Through word of mouth he has found himself leader and guardian of troublesome slayers, damaged humans, a new breed of humanity that the old call mutants and fear and loathe for their unwanted differences. In St Louis he has allies in a master vampire called Jean-Claude and a vampire exterminator called Anita and far across the ocean an immortal man by the name of Macleod plays chess with him over electronic wire and tells him of demonic activity that comes to his attention by word of his own brand of Watchers.
Yes, he can be proud of what he is leaving behind. His influence, and the influence of others, will be felt long after his bones are dust and his failing eyes are smiling as the death rattle sounds in his throat and he sees the shade of the face that made all this possible. “Is this what it means to be a champion?”
Angel smiles with incandescent pride as he lays a gentle hand over his beloved Connor’s eyes and closes them for the last time. “Pretty much.”
The rain continues to fall as the last gasp of air leaves his body and he soars home, content to leave the tales of glories past and those yet to be won to the living. He has no need for them anymore.
Right, the man’s *dead*. They’re all dead. This series is now over. Caput. Finito. Can no longer be continued. I have nothing left to work with. ::bangs bloody and stiff body of Connor briskly on tabletop:: This Destroyer is dead. Dead this Destroyer is. ::points helpfully in the direction of the parrot sketch from Monty Python:: I could quote the whole thing if you’d like if it would make it any easier. He’s D. E. A. D. dead! Much like this series.