Chapters 12&13 - End
"How much longer?"
"Ten minutes, if the little bitch is punctual," this was spoken by Cordelia, arms crossed firmly over her chest. She turned a glare to Buffy and Willow. "If I lose my boss because you two couldn't keep your eyes off this stupid video --"
"She can't kill Angel," Buffy frowned, returning the glare tenfold. "How can she scare him to death when he's already dead?"
The Seer shrugged. "Dunno. But if it happens --"
"We're dead, got it," Willow hurried to cut them off, rolling her eyes. She wished she could say it was great to see the former Prom Queen, but it just wasn't so. Despite working for the Powers and going good, there was so little about her that -wasn't- still Queen C, that Willow found it hard to see any difference at all. She certainly still had her priorities in the wrong place.
"You're more than dead," Cordelia groused, glaring into the adjacent room. "The boss dies, the business closes, and I don't get paid. Got it?"
"Got it." Buffy snapped, huffing. "Not that him dying would be punishment enough or anything, right?"
The former cheerleader just rolled her eyes, stalking across the empty room to stand as far from their little group as possible. Xander smirked, shaking his head. "Same old Cordelia."
"You can say that again," Oz muttered. He had his arm wrapped around Willow's waist, fingers lightly squeezing her hip. She smiled at him.
"What if this -doesn't- work?" Xander glanced towards Giles and Wesley, taping from one corner of the empty apartment they had chosen to make their stand in. There was a small television in the other room, where Angel and Spike waited for the inevitable, but other than that and the recording equipment, there was nothing else. "I mean, what if she pops out, realizes that you two pulled a fast one and then comes after you anyway?"
Willow shook her head. "Giles said since we made it through our seven days we should be good."
Buffy nodded. "But if she does decide to make a go for us, we just throw everything we've got at her."
Reaching out, the red head hugged Buffy. She could see the worry in her friend's eyes. After all, if this didn't work and Angel died. . . Well, that was the Slayer's soulmate whether or not they could be together. It would kill her to know that he died for her.
"Soon," Giles offered, coming up to their little group. Willow saw him look over at Cordelia, all alone on the other side of the room; but he shrugged it off. Her temperament had only gotten worse since a week before, when they had asked Angel for this favor. A favor which, Willow was happy to note, he didn't even blink an eye before granting; whereas Cordelia had grumbled almost nonstop.
They found themselves holding their breaths as the last two minutes ticked off, waiting to see what would happent.
"Almost time," Angel muttered, not caring if Spike heard or not. His grandchilde was a completely different creature from the last time he'd seen him. The cockiness had been replaced by. . .whining. 'Bloody chip' this and 'damn chip' that. He was this close to wishing this Samara would have her way with Spike just to shut up the other vampire's incessant moaning over the fate the Initiative had handed him.
"Great. Let the little bint try to take me," Spike snorted. "I'll show her a thing or two."
He was entirely too happy about the chance to beat up on something that wasn't human, Angel sighed silently. The little TV was off, the black screen almost mocking. Any second now it would turn on, like it had in those videos Giles had showed him.
There - there it went now.
He watched, transfixed, as the static coalesced into a scene he'd witnessed before. A well, with trees in the background. Almost picturesque were it not for the eerie black and white quality.
"There she is," he heard Spike mutter, as first one hand, then another appeared. And then a leg as she hoisted herself out of the well. Her hair was down over her face as she started towards the screen, the odd shuffling of her feet as she half-stumbled, half-walked towards them was creepy enough in its.
"God," Angel muttered uncontrollably as she reached the front of the screen and began to pull herself through. He took an involuntary step back, finding that Spike had done the same.
"Bloody hell, Peaches." Spike was closer to him now, touching his arm lightly.
She was out of the screen now, regarding them intently through the cascade of stringy black hair. The ground, Angel noted absently, was covered in water, a damp little pool just under the television. He shivered as her head tilted towards him.
"Tricked. . ." she hissed, the chilling tone echoing through the small room. She turned her head slowly towards the doorway, where Buffy and Willow waited with the others.
But she didn't go near them. She didn't take a single step in their direction. With a frustrated growl she turned, scampering back into the television. It clicked off without another glimpse of the fright-inducing demonic girl.
"Would you get off my arm Spike? She's gone now."
It was almost anticlimatic, Buffy decided the next night in Giles' house, the way that she had just crawled back in. As if she were bound by nothing more than the rules of the very game she created. Well, children -did- live by a different set of standards, she supposed; and Samara, for all that she was a demon, was still just a child.
"It's over," Willow grinned, hugging Angel. "Thank you so much, for everything."
"None of that!" Spike shuddered, backing away from the over exuberant witch as she moved to hug him next. "I'm still the Big Bad you know. Couldn't let the little demon chit kill you before I had a chance, could I?"
Buffy snorted, giving the vampire an innocent look when he sent his glare her way. She met Angel's eyes, tilting her head towards the doorway. His nod was barely perceptible, but there.
Once outside, she gave him a smile.
"I really appreciate you coming down here and doing this." She offered quietly, shoving her hands in her pockets when the urge to reach out and touch him just -one- -more- time became overwhelming.
He smiled, eyes sad. "You know I'll always be there when you need me."
She nodded. "I know. Thanks, again. For . . .saving my life."
"You'd have done the same for me."
Except he wouldn't have asked her to, she knew without a doubt. He would have just let himself die rather than risk anyone else. Her eyes drifted to the street, the car waiting there and the woman inside of it. She smiled. "Cordelia's gonna get pissy if you don't hurry up."
The corner of his mouth quirked up. "I'd better go. Take care."
"You too," she called after him, watching as he slid into the car. She resisted the urge to cry. That part of her life was over, she reminded herself. No more pining for Angel. No more wishing he could be there with her, in a house with two point five munchkins and a white picket fence.
That wasn't how life went.
"So - what now?" She forced a smile on her face as she came back in the house. Willow's eyes met hers, and she could tell the red head knew. They'd talk later, over ice cream. -That- was how her life went. Moping over a gallon of double-chocolate almond fudge.
"Now we destroy the tape," Wesley sighed. "And the copies."
"That's it? Demon girl wins again?" Xander frowned.
"It's the best we can do, Xander," Giles offered in a gentle tone. "Sometimes winning is just surviving, as I'm sure you all learned."
"But. . there's going to be more tapes." The dark haired young man argued. "She'll just keep doing this."
"And we'll keep researching," Willow smiled at her best friend. "Don't worry, one day we'll kick her skanky undead bootie. Just. . .not today."
"She's right," Buffy smiled. "The baddies never get away from us for very long."
She caught Willow's eye again, remembering all too well what she'd felt the night before, when Samara had looked their way. It was war, she was sure of it. The red head nodded slightly. A silent vow between the two of them.
They'd make her regret the day she ever went straight to video.
It was just going to take a little time.
~*~The End - Complete - Done - Finished - No Sequel~*~