From Across The Years
Title: From Across The Years.
Synopsis: A hero’s work is never done.
A/N: I don’t know why this series won’t die. Every time I think I’m done it turns out I’m not. It’s possible I am unable to actually leave a fic alone until I give it a happy ending.
Dedications: For Tals and Cutie-Pie, who take a chance on me even when I’m not writing the normal stuff. And for all the rest who apparently know me a lot better than I do myself and *knew* I wouldn’t be able to leave it alone. Smug devils.
It’s been three hundred years. Three hundred years of fighting, first in the shadows and in secret, and now in the light and it turns out the world wasn’t ready for reality. You’re shocked, right? Yeah, me too.
I grew up in what used to be LA. Street kid through and through. Ran with a gang almost since I was tall enough to reach the pedals and wheel at the same time on a jacked car and then I joined The Army. That’s what we call ourselves. Don’t really know why, it kinda fits even though we’re not like any army I’ve ever seen in books or anything. Those dudes all have these cool weapons and big, chunky cars and some bitchin’ threads. Most days we were lucky to lay our hands on an axe that still has a sharp blade and a place to crash that isn’t crawling with vamps.
Some of the older ones say there used to be a place we could call our own, some big building where people could lay their heads without worrying about it getting chewed off before they woke up, but most of us just think that they’re yanking our chains. I mean, you think of LA and you just don’t think safety, y’know? Big, smokin’ hole in the ground maybe, but definitely not safe.
Obviously it wasn’t always a big smoking hole in the ground, I mean before the big cheeses decided a full fucking armed *missile* was the way to go to take out all the demons it was just a pretty crummy place to live. No better or worse than somewhere like New York or Dallas, just a place to get through the day and hope you didn’t end up as dinner to some demon. It was home. Now it’s a big pit. I am *so* voting for the Democrats next time around. If they haven’t all been eaten that is.
The place I live in now used to be okay. I ran with the last of the refugees from LA when we got the word on the human underground what was going down. The Army stayed to the last possible moment trying to get as many as we could out and then we ran for the hills, looking back over our shoulders and watching as the only place we’d ever called home went up in smoke before our eyes. If you forget about all the people still left in the city that got vaporised that night it looked kinda pretty when the sky lit up with all the colours. Sure made up for the fact that we were a group of poorly armed humans barely numbering seventy souls and with a pitiful twenty-six weapons between us.
We walked for days, dodging the bands of soldiers from the government that had orders to shoot humans without identity papers on sight and the demons and other nasties lurking in the shadows to pick us off one by one. Definitely not one of my better months. Finally we made it to a little shantytown that had sprung up where one of our wizards had found an almost defunct mystical hotspot that had been miraculously overlooked by the demons now swarming over the planet. It’s a little valley down by the sea and when we staggered down the overgrown road that led to the lip of the hill swooping down to our new home it looked like heaven. One great semi-circle of trees and open spaces that framed the blue ocean and trapped the warm, sweet air that was untainted by anything demonic or even human. Trust me, to a kid that’s only ever seen a tree from behind a barbed wire fence at an open-air museum it was a lot more impressive than it sounds.
We made our new home down by the edge of beach and for a few months we were happy. For whatever reason we were left alone by the human soldiers and demons alike, and we made out okay. It was quiet, not much to do but stand guard and scare up food to feed us all, but we made it our home and we grew to love it. Then we started to get information through from the outside world in dribs and drabs and we knew that we were under threat again.
Demons have been on this planet forever and it only took a few humans to keep them under control so the rest of humanity could get on with their lives. The governments of the world find out what’s going on and what happens? You got it. They fuck it up. Big time. Despite all warnings from the ones that had actually *been* fighting the ultimate battle between good and evil for the last few centuries and making out alright. The best I can figure it is that it took approximately two and a half years from the world finding out demons exist to humans bringing about their own apocalypse. Yep, that’s what I said. All this time we’ve been looking over our shoulders waiting for that one demon to have himself a good day and all the time it turns out we should have been looking to some fat cat in a suit with his finger on the button of some big fuckin’ rockets. Go ahead, laugh, if you don’t you’ll start crying and you might never stop.
So, anyway, the threat. Turns out we were pretty much the last bastion of humanity left in North America left by the time the government boys got done proving what great demon hunters they *weren’t* and the demons that now ran the good old US of A were pretty fucking sure that they weren’t gonna be sharing it with any humans that weren’t locked up in one of their feeding camps and came complete with a nifty collar and tap in their veins for easy access to the blood. Cue demonic hoards massing on the horizon and some pretty hysterical people watching from down by the shore. They came, they saw, they ate everything that didn’t move like lightening and when they drew back there were one hundred and nine people left out of six hundred and fifty-two. And out of those one hundred and nine, fifty-two were little kids that we’d hidden in the caves down by the ocean. Obviously we were in pretty deep shit.
We were hunted for the next few nights through our valley and we lost another fifteen adult fighters before we finally came together and realised if any of us were going to make it out of there alive we needed a plan. Not a great plan, nothing ambitious, just something that would get us more than three hours sleep a night and not lead to us being eaten or tortured. And that was when a guy called Josh came forward with a little leather book and told us a story that had been passed down through the ages of a group of people that had lived centuries before and had the whole slaying gig *down*.
Seriously, these guys were the *shit* and they kicked some major demonic ass back in the day. Plus, turns out, the stories of those slayer chicks that I learned at the knee of my mom weren’t made up at all; those gals actually *lived*, man! Here we all were thinking it’s a nice story to tell scared kids to help fight the monsters they think they see in the dark and the slayers actually existed. Way cool.
So, anyway, back to the point. According to Josh it’s been three hundred years since this book was first found, nearly another two hundred since these people died, and he tells us the history that had been hidden even from the senior guys in our own organisation. And it’s a pretty cool history. The people in that book were *people*, you know? Sure they fought demons, but, gods, they lived while they did it and maybe that’s what made them so fucking good. Us? Well, we fight demons to live and that’s not the same thing at all. Josh says there’s only ever been one or two people per generation that have ever known the story in the book, and he was the first one ever to dig it up from its resting place in a long abandoned LA graveyard since it was put there three centuries ago. Then he hits us with the big one. He doesn’t just have the journal in his safekeeping, he has something else, something *huge* and things may never be the same again.
A century ago a keeper of the story found a spell and passed it down along with the tale of the Chosen One because he knew there might come a time when it was needed. And, boy, is it needed now. Now, admittedly, this spell is leaning towards the darker side of things, but we’re getting pretty desperate here and that line between black and white is a lot greyer than it used to be, y’know? Hey, you try being all noble and self-sacrificing when you’re watching the last free members of your species get eaten one by one and then we’ll talk, okay?
So we’re gathered here in the centre of what used to be our safe haven, watching the wizard that first picked this place for us to settle chant his exhausted ass off as he uses the last dregs of mystical power left in the ground to bring us our salvation. Hopefully. The chant seems to have taken on a pretty desperate quality as the alarm goes up from the guards we have on our perimeter that the demons have made our position and they’re closing fast.
Oh gods, this is it, we’re going to die. I can hear the first screams go up from the guards as the demons close in and our magic man is sobbing aloud with our need as he pleads for help and permission to bring them back. I can feel the hairs on the back of my neck rising as a breeze flows through the trees surrounding us and brings the stench of evil and death towards us and then I’m turning to meet the first rush and…
By the light of the moon I can see the first wave of vampires and demons standing frozen under the trees, but they aren’t looking at the pathetic group of broken humans they came here to kill. I frown in confusion. They’re looking past us and they looked…scared. Huh. Well that’s something new and different and I take a moment to enjoy the feeling before I realise that whatever is enough to scare the legions of Hell probably isn’t going to mean anything good is going to happen in humanity’s immediate future.
I have to force myself to turn my head and when I do I’m almost disappointed. Doesn’t look all that scary to me. Maybe there’s just some weird vibe coming off them that only demons can pick up on. Shit, maybe this is *them*.
Our wizard is still huddled on the ground, but now he’s surrounded by a group of unfamiliar figures and they’re standing in a loose circle around him looking curiously about themselves and not bearing a striking resemblance to any salvation of humanity that *I’ve* ever heard of. Maybe they aren’t who we were hoping for. Crap, when the demons’ surprise wears off we are *so* screwed.
After a few moments of silence a slight figure steps forward away from the others and into a patch of moonlight. It’s a girl. A *young* girl from what I can see, and she looks like a strong wind would snap her in two. Shit. I don’t know what the hell happened, but we fucked the spell up. We’ve brought some innocent kid back from beyond the grave and we’re gonna hand her over to her worst nightmare. Wide eyes stare at our ragged band of humans and then at the demons that are surrounding us. Her eyes get wider as she flips back her long blonde hair and cocks her head as she sniffs the air. “Home sweet Hellmouth.”
The delicate lines of her face are slowly changed as her lips widen in a shy smile and then the smile stops looking shy and instead starts to look…hungry. The girl rolls her shoulders absently as she looks around and then she bounces a little on her toes. “Oh yeah, nothing like a little time spent being dead to get you jonesing for some action.” She shakes out her hands and curls one leg up behind her as she locks her pretty eyes on a scary looking dude with teeth out the wazoo and antlers that stand two feet up from his head. “Hi, guys, miss me?”
I jump as a voice hisses from the gloom surrounding us, “Slayer.”
The girl laughs. “Well, duh!” She glances back to her companions and I jerk again as I see they’re smiling as well and looking almost excited as they meet her gaze. “You guys ready to kick a little demon ass?”
A slim redhead giggles and cups her hands in front of her body. “We’ve got your back, Buff.” She whispers something under her breath and a light starts to glow between her cupped palms. “Just like always.”
The blonde nods. “Then let’s do it.”
And they do.
For people that have been dead nearly half a millennia they’re pretty spry. From the moment the girl – Buffy – gave the order to move to the moment the demons were sent screaming and bleeding into the night, I swear only a few minutes passed. They were pretty scary and confusing minutes, but they’re ones that I wouldn’t give up my memory of for anything. I’ve never seen anything like it. Whenever we’ve fought demons in the past it’s always been grim and bloody, no one I’ve ever met has ever laughed while they dodged claws and fangs and traded quips with their companions as they plunged swords through hearts and chopped heads from shoulders. It was never supposed to be *fun*. Somehow I don’t think anyone ever told these people that.
When it’s over, when the last of our attackers has run in terror and confusion, our saviours pause for a moment and stare at each other over the bodies of the fallen and the clearing we stand in is filled with emotion so strong you can almost touch it. Eyes drift from face to face and they take their time as they drink their fill of each other and then, at an unspoken signal, they move to come together in a tangle of limbs and bodies and they hold fast in a silent circle that has been broken too long.
Eventually they pull back, not to separate, but to take stock. Soft touches and murmurs are exchanged as they reacquaint themselves after long years apart and it is with shock that I realise there are introductions being made as well. Not all of them know each other, despite fighting side-by-side moments before as though they’d never fought any other way. Some of them are strangers and there are joyful laughs and comments as they hug and slap each other on the back. Then they quieten down and other, more personal, touches are exchanged.
Buffy grins up at the oldest looking member of the group and flings her arms around his neck as he smiles and gathers her to him in a hard embrace. They hold each other for a moment and then are joined by the redheaded girl and a dark haired man who laughs exuberantly as he wraps his arms around all three and squeezes until they yelp in protest. They rock together for a moment before a girl with long dark hair and an angular woman with sandy brown hair push their way forward and wriggle into the huddle. Buffy starts to cry as she looks at the brunette girl and gently cups a cheek in one hand before pressing her lips to the girl’s forehead and murmuring low words that have all the group laughing and crying at the same time.
The emotion on their faces is too naked to witness for long and I have to look away, only to find my attention caught by the remainder of the people that came back with them. A tall, broad-shouldered man is staring with hungry eyes at a curvy brunette, his hands reaching out to cup a face that is radiant with a blinding smile and then she is in his arms and being held against a wide chest as tenderly as a new baby. Watching with wide smiles are two more men, one black, one white, and another woman. She’s almost painfully thin with long dark hair and is held between the two men in hard arms as gentle hands stroke her hair and pet her pale face.
I am so caught up in watching the scene that I almost miss the two figures standing in the shadows by the trees, but a flash of moonlight on white blond hair catches my attention and I finally see the last of our miracle watching their companions from the sidelines. I frown as I realise that something is obviously wrong, but before I can start to panic and think that we have somehow missed a threat to us in all the excitement, the broad-shouldered man looks up from where he is whispering to the woman in his arms and stares around with desperate eyes. “Connor?”
Even all the way across the clearing I can hear the hiss of a sucked in breath and then one of the figures steps out from the shadows and into the moonlight. “Hi, Dad.”
Connor? Dad? Gods, the man isn’t a man. He’s a vampire. At least I think he is. I’m not really sure how the spell was supposed to work. I’m pretty sure it brought them back as they were in their prime, and as they all at least came complete with clothes when they returned from the dead then I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that I’m looking at Angel, vampire with a soul. They look nothing alike. Connor is small, slender and his hair flops silkily over his forehead as he stares at the much bigger man with hooded eyes. For a long time they stare into each other’s eyes and then Angel takes a small step forward. “Son.”
Connor blinks and then takes his own step forward. “Hey.” They look at each other again and then they’re both reaching out at the same time and wrapping their arms around each other and holding on just as hard as they can.
Another movement catches my eye and I turn my head to see Buffy staring at the guy with the blond hair and walking slowly towards him. “Spike?”
“Who else?” Looking even more unsure of his welcome than Connor did, the other vampire with a soul reluctantly leaves the limited protection of the trees and hooks his thumbs into his belt loops as he tilts his chin defensively. “Got no place better to be, Slayer.”
Joy flares on Buffy’s face and then she is leaping through the air and the vampire is yelping in shock as he is hit full on by one hundred and ten pounds of over-excited slayer. For a moment his arms flail in the air and then he is wrapping them around the woman currently trying to squeeze him until his eyes pop and bouncing in mid-air as she shouts in his ear, “You came back!”
“Damn, looks like the Buffster’s taste in guys hasn’t been improved by spending a few years dead and dusty.”
“Xander!” The red head laughs and bats at the man called Xander standing watching the slayer and the vampire with resigned eyes and then she, Xander and the older man standing behind them are moving forwards with smiles and, in the case of the red head, arms opened wide. “Spike, it’s so *good* to see you.”
The vampire looks even more stunned as the three surround him and then he’s smirking and nodding around his armful of happy blonde. “Red. Whelp. Watcher. Oof!” He staggers backwards as the red head flings her arms around him and then the smirk is melting into a more genuine smile. “Good to see you too, Witch.”
My attention is diverted yet again as the girl that the slayer kissed and cried over walks hesitantly towards Angel and his son. “Connor?”
The man stiffens in his father’s arms and then slowly lifts his head and meets the girl’s eyes. “Dawn.” He reluctantly breaks his father’s embrace and stands rigid as the girl walks towards him and comes to a halt just inches away to look up into his carefully blank eyes.
The girl -- Dawn – reaches out with one hand and traces the line of his cheek down to his jaw before resting her hand over his heart. “I waited for you forever, you didn’t come.”
I’m not the only one to be shocked that she is speaking of where she has rested these past centuries and gasps sound all over the clearing. Connor closes his eyes as though he is in pain and turns his head away. “I failed you. I couldn’t save you.”
For a moment Dawn looks just as lost as her Connor and then she smiles and turns his face back towards her. “You doofus.” She smiles wider as his eyes open in confusion and then lifts her face to his. “You weren’t meant to save me, Connor, you were only meant to love me.” Her lips meet his. “You dick.”
The sound that explodes from his mouth is more sob than laugh and even with just my weak human eyesight I can see the tears that are starting to fall from his eyes as he gathers her to him and takes her mouth with his. I see Angel look over their heads at Buffy still locked in Spike’s arms and for a moment their eyes meet and bittersweet smiles cross their faces and then they look away and leave the reunited couple what limited privacy they have.
The sound of a throat clearing has everyone but Dawn and Connor turning to look at Josh as he hesitantly steps towards the slayer and holds out the journal that started all this. “This…this…belongs to you.” He clears his throat again as the newly resurrected legend finally climbs off the vampire she’s wrapped around and peers dubiously at the book in his hand. “Well, not to you. Angel…Connor…wrote your story and…well…”
Buffy takes the book between a finger and thumb and flips it open. Her face creases in a frown as she skims through the pages and then she closes it with a snap. “Giles. Your area.” The treasured book goes winging through the air as she tosses it carelessly over her shoulder and the older man snatches it out of the air with an annoyed grunt as Josh squeaks in protest. “Sorry, I’m not down with the research.” She glances up at the sky and then cocks an eyebrow at Spike. “How long?”
The vampire shrugs. “Thirty, forty minutes.”
Buffy nods. “Right. Okay, we’re gonna need a place to stash the stiffs before sunrise, some weapons, a run-down on what the hell is going on and something to eat ‘cos I’m kinda hungry.” One eyebrow rises as Josh just gapes at her. “Hello? I’ve been kinda dead and it’s been a long time between munchies. Which way is home?” Josh points speechlessly back towards the caves where are children are still hidden. “Great. Okay, guys, let’s go. Hey, is anyone else feeling kinda stiff? And my hair is, like, totalled. I need a hot shower and some intensive crème rinse, stat.”
“No, change there, Summers.” The brunette that Angel has wrapped himself around again, snorts and grips the vampire’s hand to drag him off in the Slayer’s wake. “I kept telling you, *moisturise*.”
“Bite me, Cordy.” Buffy stalks off into the trees, catching hold of the other vampire on her way. “Jeez, you never change. Vacuous tramp no matter where you are.”
I stand side by side with Josh as the last hopes of mankind wander off through the woods; unconcerned by their resurrection, the demons they’ve just killed and the fact that more battles are certainly on the horizon. They’re bickering amongst themselves, Connor and Dawn are still snatching kisses as they follow with arms wrapped around each other and the blond vampire is flipping Angel the bird behind Buffy’s back.
“Fuck.” I glance up at Josh as he stares after them and shakes his head in disbelief at what we’ve called back to save us. “The earth is *doomed*.”