All characters from BtVS, Angel, and Charmed are the property of Joss Whedon and Aaron Spelling, respectively. Summary:
AU Crossover between the Charmed and Buffy-verses. The Turners and Halliwells celebrate Independence Day with an old-fashioned barbecue. Author's Note:
Thanks to all my reviewers at Twisting the Hellmouth and Fanfiction Net. This story has been a revelation to me. It was wonderful to discover that I had all this just hiding inside me begging to come out. I realize I have left a few unanswered questions in my story. I am leaving these as storylines for futures fics. If there are any stories in the Cole/Willow AU that someone would like told in particular, please let me know. Thanks again for all the support! Epilogue Part One
The Turner's back yard was bursting with color. There were red, white, and blue balloons floating over several tables. The tables themselves were decked in red tablecloths. There were American flags on each table and in a large centerpiece on a central buffet table. A large red awning had been stretched across the patio. No sense in having two of your guests bursting into flames just because it wasn't sunset yet. Willow smiled at the two vampires and waved happily, as she surveyed the set up in the back yard. Cole had even found a small child's picnic table at a rental place. It was perfect. Buffy and Ben were excited at being the hosts at their own table. Buffy had wanted the baby to sit with them, but her godmama had vetoed that idea. She'd wanted to keep baby Kieran with her at all times.
Willow frowned. Cole's outburst had changed everything. Buffy was now at slayer alert. She'd most likely kill anything... or anyone, for that matter... that tried to take her “son” away from her. But what was that son? What would he grow up to be and do? Willow chuckled to herself. Now she knew what Buffy, Xander, and Giles had felt when she had gotten pregnant by her demon husband. They'd never said a word against her children. But, she remembered the tension. Especially during her first pregnancy. They hadn't been sure what she'd give birth to. Still, though, they'd all fallen in love with her little darlings. She turned to look at where Ben and Buffy were playing in the grass. How could you help but love them? Looking back at Kieran, she wondered. He looked very alert for a child that age. But, still, he didn't seem evil. He just seemed... well, baby-ish. The only problem was what would the Halliwells do when they saw the child?
Willow looked around at the rest of the preparations. There were several torchieres lining the perimeter of the yard. They were ostensibly for lighting after sunset. But, there was more to it than that. She had enchanted them. Once they were lit, the spell would be active. No demon or any other magical being, for that matter, would be able to materialize within the circle. Willow was very pleased at the outcome. She certainly didn't want her party ruined because some demon or other big bad wanted to pick a fight with the Slayer or the Charmed Ones. No, sirree. Once they arrived, she could light them. That way the only fighting would be between the guests. And, she certainly hoped they could avoid that.
Everyone was here, except for Xander and the Halliwells. Willow hoped that those Elders didn't ruin her party by summoning Xander, or even Leo, for that matter. But she wouldn't put that past them. She also hoped that Buffy's natural bad luck with parties didn't screw things up for this party. Well, at least it's not her birthday, she thought to herself.
“Hello!” Willow looked up at the sound of Piper Halliwell calling out from the side of the yard. She smiled happily and ran up to the gate to let them in.
“Piper! I'm so glad you could come. No last minute demon problems I hope?” She hugged Piper and waved happily at the rest. Paige, Phoebe, and Leo followed Piper, all carrying covered dishes. “Piper! We're the hosts. That means you weren't supposed to go to any trouble!”
Cole chuckled to himself from his post at the barbecue. As if. If Piper had an excuse to cook , she cooked. There was just no way around that.
“Now, Willow, calm down, sweetie. If Piper had come without food, I would've had her committed.”
Leo and Piper's sisters laughed. “Yeah, that's for sure. I would've signed the papers, too.”
Piper glared at her husband. “Hmmm... I'll keep that in mind next time a dark lighter shows up.” Piper turned back to Willow. “I couldn't just come empty-handed. I just brought a few things. Nothing much.”
“Hey, Wills!” Xander trotted up, followed by Piper and Leo's two boys. Xander was carrying yet another package. It was a large cake box. “Where do you want this?”
Willow raised her eyebrows and looked back at Piper. She motioned at the buffet table behind them. “Nothing much? I count three covered dishes and one very large cake box.”
Cole moved forward to help with the dishes, but was waved off by his ex-wife. The Halliwells all chuckled as they lay down and uncovered their burdens. Piper had brought a pasta salad, a potato salad, and some stuffed mushrooms. But, the big surprise was what had been in a large box. Buffy and Willow moved forward to look at it.
Buffy was the first to respond. Laughing, she looked at it closely. “It's a Hellmouth cake! Wow! Complete with nasty beasties and demons!”
Willow looked at Piper, and then Xander. Piper giggled. “Oh, don't look at me, Xander and the boys did that. If you get food poisoning, it's nothing to do with me.”
Buffy and Willow smiled at Xander. But, Xander wasn't looking at them. He was looking at the baby. “Umm, Buff, is there something you need to tell us? 'Cause the last time I saw you, you weren't pregnant.”
Xander looked at the bundle in her arms. The baby actually looked like he could be Angel's son. Still, he didn't think it was possible. True, Angel had conceived a child before. But, he didn't think he would, or could, do it again. He looked into Buffy's eyes. She was nervous! Of him. But, why? He walked towards her with one hand outstretched to touch the baby. To his surprise, Buffy backed away from him. What's this?
Cole looked up sharply and nearly groaned out loud. Damn! He was hoping they could've gotten through the party without any white lighters getting suspicious. He glanced at Leo and Paige hoping it had gotten past them. He knew that Xander would never intentionally hurt Buffy, even if she's just adopted his mortal enemy. Well, non-mortal enemy, at any rate. But, Leo and Paige, they were a bigger problem. Hmmm. Good, it looks like Paige is more interested in something else... However, Leo is staring right at the child.
“Buffy? Buffy, what's wrong? I just... Well, I don't mean to upset you. It's just... well, why didn't you tell me you and Angel were thinking of adopting? Right? You did adopt the baby, right?” Xander was upset. He'd never seen Buffy back away from him like this. It was almost as if she thought that he was a...
“A dark lighter!” Leo screamed out as Cole cringed. Yep, I knew that Leo'd be the one. Now, it's going to hit the fan.
Cole moved forward to intercept Leo before he got to close to Buffy and the baby in question. Buffy had already taken a defensive posture and Cole noticed that Angel and Spike had decidedly militant looks in their faces. Luckily, though, Leo was standing in the sunlight. The vampires shouldn't be able to get to him.
Phoebe and Paige started at Leo's yell. A dark lighter? Where?
Phoebe thought as she looked around in confusion. She wiped her mouth reflexively to remove the small bit of saliva that had gathered there. She hoped nobody had noticed her drooling earlier. But, damn! That was one of the finest examples of manflesh she had ever seen. EVER! She had never seen anyone that looked THAT good. She exchanged a look at Paige who was blushing. Ah, yes, Paige had been drooling over him too. That was good. But where was this dark lighter? She and Paige scanned the back yard and saw nothing out of place.
The gorgeous, young God was standing up and moving towards them, and his peroxide-blonde companion was heading that way too. Oh, damn! They're gay! There is no justice in the world.
They were looking rather angry at Leo. Oh, no! Could they be the dark lighters?
Phoebe nodded towards the two men, and looked questioningly at Paige. She shook her head emphatically. No, definitely not. Besides Leo was looking at that girl Buffy, the Slayer. That didn't make any sense. She's a Slayer, not a dark lighter. They both turned to Piper who was looking as confused as they felt.
Willow and Giles moved to flank Buffy, who backed up into Angel's arms. Spike moved in front of his Sire and his Sire's mate. Well, that bloke what Willow married predicted this. And, he was right.
Spike shook his head. Well, Buffy always did have track record with parties. Nice to see she's right on track!
Leo froze at the look in the young Slayer's eyes. He'd never been looked at in quite that way before. He could see why she was so dangerous. He'd hate to be a vampire being hunted by her. He looked at the two men flanking her. They were dead. Vampires. The one holding her had to be the vampire that Xander had sacrificed himself for. The other, well, he didn't know who that was, but they both looked dangerous enough to him. And, if that was the vampire Angelus, Leo didn't want to piss him off. So, he looked around. Xander was just looking confused. Leo didn't think he knew what the child was. And, Giles and Willow seemed to be flustered, but he didn't doubt that they would stand on the Slayer's side. So, he did the only thing he could. He turned to the demon standing behind him.
“So, Cole? Something you want to tell me?” He asked as calmly as he could.
Cole laughed and put his arm around his ex-brother-in-law's shoulders. “Yeah, Leo, you might say that. But maybe I should get you a beer first. You'll need it.” Part Two
Phoebe still couldn't believe it. That gorgeous god of a man wasn't gay. No, it was far worse. He was married to the Slayer, which meant that he was her undead husband. The vampire that Xander had sacrificed his mortal life for. What a waste! She shook her head in disgust.
“Ah, dammit, girl. You wouldn't have been his type anyway. Not for either of them.”
Phoebe turned to look at one of her two dinner companions. It was the peroxide-blonde. He, apparently, was also a vampire and quite a flirt. She'd never been leered at quite this much. “Either?”
“Yeah, Angel or Angelus. See, you don't look like much of a screamer. That's what Angelus really liked. A good screamer.” He smirked at the little piece of fluff. Very nice, probably quite nice in bed, too. After all, he didn't imagine a demon like Cole would've settled for anything less. Demons being what they are. She was bustier than he usually liked them, but still... But, damn, if it hadn't all been ruined as soon as she realized that he was a vampire. What a bigot. He turned to focus his attention on the other sister. Not much luck there either. For some reason, the damn girl's attention seemed to drift towards Xander. A more unlikely angel he'd ever heard of! He cackled and went back to his beer.
Paige started at the sound next to her. She'd really have rather that Xander was sitting next to her. But, he'd decided to sit next to the children. Leo and Piper had made up a foursome with Cole and Willow at the table nearest the barbecue, where Cole could keep an eye on it. The final table was made up of the trio of Angel, Buffy, and Mr. Giles. Paige tried to glance at the baby surreptitiously. She didn't want to make the Slayer any more defensive than she already was. He really was a very cute baby. She hadn't noticed any demonic or dark habits. Then again, he was just a baby. She'd listened to Cole's explanation and wasn't entirely comforted. She also wasn't as disturbed as Leo quite obviously had been. The thing that had struck her about the dark lighter nature was that a lot of it was learned. They learned to hunt white lighters. He'd said that they could hunt anything. Hunting was in their nature. However, the same could hold true for any number of predators in nature. But, they weren't evil. Perhaps (and it was a big perhaps), the child wasn't inherently evil.
Giles looked at Buffy closely. She was a little strained from the day and the two arguments. But, as he looked at the baby, it was if the little mite hadn't realized he was the focus of a great deal of tension. Looking at his former charge, he smiled. “Buffy, may I hold him for a while? You look like you could really use a break, and I'd like to get to know my newest grandchild.”
Buffy looked up into his eyes, as her mouth widened into a big beam of a smile. She nodded happily and handed over her son to her Watcher. “Oh, Giles! I'm so glad you said that. You'll see, he'll be... well, maybe not perfect... but he'll be a normal little boy. Well, maybe not quite normal, but who is? I mean...”
“Buffy.” Giles interrupted as he took the little lad and placed him in the crook of one of his arms. He really was a pleasing child. It would be difficult to raise the boy, but not impossible. Also, if anyone would know how to raise a child born to hunt and kill, it would be a Slayer and her vampire. He looked down and smiled at the boy.
Buffy was ecstatic. She got up to snag some more dessert before it was all gone. She bee-lined for the seat that Cole was in. “Hey, Cole, something burning?”
Cole looked up, laughing. Yeah, right. “Buffy, if you want to kick me away from my seat, just say so.” He got up and moved towards the empty seat next to his ex-sisters-in-law. Sitting down, he just stared at the vampire, who got the hint and backed off. He shuddered as he felt it leave. He really did not like vampires at all. Well, Angel was alright but that one...
Paige looked up at the new resident at their table. Cole was smiling happily. “So, Cole, did you throw away the key on those low lifes?”
“Yeah. We threw the book at them. The tape Phoebe made really helped, that and catching them with their pants down. Unfortunately, it looks like there may be more of those nutcases out there.”
“More?” Phoebe breathed out. She shuddered thinking at what they were capable of.
Cole nodded, as he took a bite of the hellmouth cake, which was actually very good. He hadn't realized that Xander could actually cook, or bake. Maybe Wyatt or Chris inherited some of their mother's talents. “It looks like they may have compatriots in other states. The FBI is researching it. It's out of my hands for now. At least we stopped them.” He turned to Phoebe. “Phoebe, we really owe you a lot. We couldn't have done it without your help. But, so help me, next time you do something that stupid, I'll feed you to the fire ticks!”
Phoebe giggled, and blushed in shame. “I know, Cole, I know. I'll tell you, I was scared to death. They were worse than any demon I'd ever seen.”
Paige looked at her sister. “Oh, come on, Pheebs. What about Zankou? The Source?”
Phoebe shook her head. “Much worse.” She looked at Cole and smiled. “I'd never thought about it until that day. But demons... well, they're much more honest. These guys just hated. And it was a cold hatred. There was no sense to it. A demon, well, there's nothing cold or unfeeling there. And you can understand why demon feels what it does, why it kills. This was different. It was cold and it scared me. Can you understand?”
Cole nodded. Quite a change for his ex-wife. She actually described his people rather well. Demons did hate people, but not the way these nutcases hated. And she put her finger right on it. “Of course, I can, Phoebe. I'm glad that you understand about demons, as well. You describe it to a tee.”
They both turned as they noticed Paige get up and head towards the punch bowl. They smiled conspiratorially as they noticed that Xander was already there. Cole shook his head and laughed. “Not too obvious, is she?”
Phoebe laughed in response. “Yeah, but I'm not sure how he feels.”
“Oh, I think he's attracted. You'll know when it hits him. He's terrible at suppressing his feelings.” Cole replied. Phoebe froze as he saw her ex's face turn serious. “Phoebe, I'm sorry for... well, all the crap you've had to go through because of me.”
“Cole, people that are in love tend to put each other through hell. I think it's a rule. Maybe if that doesn't happen, it's not real. Anyway, I was to blame for a lot of it. It's hard enough to have a relationship. But when you're a white witch, and the man you love is a witch-killing demon, there's bound to be some baggage in the relationship. Right?” He nodded. Phoebe took a deep breath and decided to press on. “I'm really jealous of you, Cole. And, of her. But, don't get me wrong, I like her. It's really hard not to.”
Cole chuckled, nodding. It really was. He didn't know if he'd ever met someone who didn't like his Willow. “Even after meeting Dark Willow?”
She shuddered. “That was scary. I really don't want to know what she's capable of like that. Still, if she knows someone gorgeous, who's okay with witches, who isn't gay... Well, let's just say I wouldn't mind their number.”
“Hmmm... Well, your criteria are steep, but I'm sure she'll keep that in mind. I take it vampires are off limits?” He laughed at the size of Phoebe's eyes. “I guess so.”
Cole looked up as Buffy leaped up into his lap, a big cookie in one of her little hands. “The boys are talking about boy stuff, Daddy!”
“Well, precious, boys will do that. Maybe you could talk to Phoebe here about shoes. She likes shoes. Don't you, Pheebs?”
Phoebe laughed and looked at this little red-headed girl who had her daddy's heart-breaking smile. “You bet I do!” Part Three
The tables had been cleared and the barbecue stowed away. In a small clearing, Cole, Leo, and Xander were discussing the finer points of deploying fireworks. Both Cole and Leo had thought it hadn't actually been necessary to buy fireworks. After all, between the two of them, they were quite capable of creating a suitable impressive visual display. Xander, however, had vetoed that right there. He had brought a whole complement of fireworks to the Turner house. Some of them, Cole mused, were quite probably illegal.
“Now, Xander...” Leo started and stopped when I saw the look in the boy's eyes. He was certainly set on this. “Okay, okay, I get the hint. Maybe I should back up and be ready in case any first aid is needed.”
“Well, Leo, it is a good thing that he's not mortal. Just in case he blows himself up.” Cole cut in.
“Hey, cut it out! No back seat fireworks here! Why don't you daddies go back to the kiddie gallery, huh?”
Leo and Cole exchanged a look and backed up. Looking at their wives, they cringed. Piper and Willow were side by side, laughing at the two of them. They decided to do as Xander suggested, and they sat with their children in the sandbox. Cole looked around as Xander made his preparations. Giles was sitting down at the table with a cup of tea, holding his new baby grandson. Hmmm... Looks like Giles has gotten attached already. Well, that was to be expected. Paige was talking with Buffy and Angel about something. What he wasn't sure. And, Phoebe was being cornered by a leering Spike.
He turned as a whistle sounded and as he looked up, he saw a bright red flare in the sky. His little Buffy crawled up into his lap, and looked up. He kissed her on the top of her head and settled in to watch the rest of the show. He looked back at his wife and smiled. She smiled back and mouthed something to him. I LOVE YOU TOO.