Chapter 5 Epilogue
Summery: Everyone assembles in LA, some unexpected visitors also arrive.
‘’ = Thought.
As more demons appeared over the brow of the hill, they were hit by fifteen tazer blasts and two crossbow bolts, as Colonel McBride with Mary led the defence on that side, some of the demons fell withering in pain while others just ignored it. Just before melee was joined, some of the remaining priestesses released various spells at them, from energy bolts to spells that blinded them. The defence on the other side facing the tower was led by Giles and Commander Johnson, vampires and demons were still continuing to pour out the tower, but because the doors would only allow two or three out at a time they were beginning to thin out the demon ranks.
Giles took the opportunity to assess their position, the spirits swirling around were actually helping them as some of the demons kept getting confused and tried attacking them, but he could see that if they didn't get help to McBride and the others they would be overwhelmed. He turned to Johnson, "Commander, I think you should take some men and help the Colonel before it's to late, just leave me one team and Sarah and James, we'll hold this side," he managed to say through ragged breaths.
Commander Johnson nodded before leading two of his remaining three teams to the other side of the circle. He arrived just as Colonel McBride went down under half a dozen demons, Johnson and his men aimed and fired all their tazers at the demons, knocking several of them backwards the rest falling dead on top of the Colonel, while two of his men pulled the Colonel from under the demons, Commander Johnson took command of the defence.
On the left flank furthest from the reinforcements Mary, who stood guard over the remaining priestesses, saw two soldiers go down after taking a swipe from a long clawed demon, which did not stop to finish them off but advance on where Buffy, Willow and Tara's bodies stood. Calling for help, Mary ran at the demon, as she got close she ducked under the thing’s long clawed hands as they swept at her head, moving in close she plunged her dagger into its belly. The demon roared in pain jumping back and causing Mary to lose her grip on the dagger, leaving her only a stake as a weapon, in desperation, as the demon stopped to pull the dagger out, she sprang forward and plunged the stake into its eye, with its dying breath it swiped at Mary catching her in the chest and sending her twenty feet into a couple of soldiers coming to her aid.
Looking around at the dead and wounded scattered around the Tor, Olivia wept openly, ‘So much destruction, I beg you Lady please help us,’ she sent the thought into the ether, as she saw yet another soldier fall.
Just as the soldiers thought this was going to be their last battle, there was commotion at the rear of the demon force, from his position Commander Johnson could not see what was happening but Giles could, several dozen soldiers were advancing on the demons firing tazer rifles.
As the demons began to route towards the north Giles heard the voices of five young women he knew so well. "We call forth a Veil to protect that which comes before and after. By our will so mote it be." Then everything went white.
As the four hellhounds ran forward, they were met by Spike and Helga, one jumped at Spike knocking him to the ground, trying to get to his throat; he held the hellhound's head between his hands snapping its neck. Helga allowed the two hellhounds she was facing to start to pass her, knowing that they were trying to get to Dawn, at the right moment she kicked out with her foot hitting one in the side and sending it into the wall, where Anya put a bolt into it, while decapitating the other with her sword. The last hound was past them before either could stop it but found itself facing Hank, as he drew back his sword to strike at it the hound sprang on him knocking him to the ground. Hank let go of the sword trying to stop the hellhound's teeth from getting to his throat, he knew he could not hold back those teeth for long.
Jennifer had cowered in the corner of the basement unable to do anything while Hank and Dawn's friends had tried to stop that horrible creature, she knew she wasn't taking all this very well but it was all beyond her. When the four ugly dogs had come in, she cringed when the young man had snapped one's neck and the big amazon blonde had cut another ones head off, but when she saw one knock Hank to the ground she was forced into action. Grabbing the baseball bat that Dawn had dropped she ran to where Hank was pinned by the animal, swinging the bat she caught it on the side of the head. The hellhound stopped attempting to get at Hank's throat and turned to growl at Jennifer who swung the bat again with enough force to knock the hound off Hank.
Taking the opportunity Hank grabbed his sword and lunged at the hellhound managing to plunge it into its heart.
Bending down Jennifer helped Hank up, she managed a little smile, "You said we'd have fun with Dawn this summer, you didn't say anything about this."
"I know what you mean, anything after this isn't going to be as great," he saw the look of disbelief, "I know it sounds crazy but I'm having fun... well the almost having my throat ripped out wasn't fun but still," he smiled at her. "Why don't you help Dawn's friend get her boyfriend over here so the two of you can help protect him and Dawn, I have to help the others," he finished as he moved just behind the man and woman. Who were far better at fighting than he was, but he figured he would be in a position to stop any of the creatures that got past the two from getting at Dawn.
Spike and Helga had started to systematically cut down the demons that were coming out of the tunnel, because of the size of the passage only one or two demons could enter at a time plus the number of dead demons was beginning to block the reinforcements from getting in.
Just as Jennifer and Anya had pulled Xander over to where Dawn stood motionless, Anya heard several female voices that sounded like her friends announce, "We call forth a Veil to protect that which comes before and after. By our will so mote it be."
There was a sudden flash of white light, when they could see again they saw Dawn looking around at them smiling, "Miss me," she smirked.
"The demons are running," frowned Spike beginning to enter the passage to go after them.
"Let them go Spike they can't hurt me anymore... I don't think," she said a strange expression on her face.
"What happened to you?" asked Hank coming over to his daughter.
"It's a long story," she said looking around grimacing, "But let’s go somewhere else."
"The bedrooms are probably best," nodded Spike, "I'll carry Xander if someone can get the doors," he said bending and easily lifting the still unconscious Scooby.
"Yeah, we need to pack anyway," said Dawn smiling at him.
"Why? Where are we going?" asked Jennifer following Hank up the stairs and helping push open the door.
"Well we can hardly stay here," pointed out Dawn walking into the hallway and looking around at the destruction, "And anyway we have to meet everyone in LA," she told them.
More and more vampires were jumping off the balcony forcing Gunn and Lisa to forgo their tactic of Lisa hitting them and Gunn staking them, they were slowly having to give ground.
Lisa more than once over the last half-hour had wished that Buffy was here to help, she had never imagined she would ever have to face so many vampires at one time. She heard a cry of pain come from Gunn, taking a quick look to see what had happened, she saw him hold his left arm to his body, it looked to be broken but he had managed to stake the vampire that had done it but was faced by two others. Hitting the vampire she was fighting so hard that her fist actually entered its chest, she let it fall to the ground in pain and jumped to her friend's aid. She delivered a one legged kick to the first one then did a roundhouse kick to it, sending it backwards into two others that had just jumped from the balcony, as she finished her spin she plunged her stake into the second vampires chest.
She took the opportunity to get Gunn out of danger by pulling him over to where Rosa was standing guard over Cordelia, unfortunately this forced Angel back from the stairs or he would have been flanked.
Gunn dropped his stake and grabbed a supersoaker and joined Angel and Lisa as they helped Rosa protect Cordelia, holding it one handed he squeezed the trigger hitting the two vampires advancing on him full in the face, they fell to their knees screaming in pain where Lisa took the time to squat down and stake them.
Now that Angel had moved away from the base of the stairs Rosa had a clear line of sight at the demons now advancing on them, rising her hands and chanting something under her breath she sent a stream of flame into them, with a roar of pain six of the demons turned to ash.
Gunn looked at Rosa in awe, "Remind me never to piss you off," he said, "Why didn't you do that earlier?"
"I have to choose wisely, I have not got an infinite amount of energy," she said, Gunn could hear the weariness in her voice.
Angel stepped forward to meet a large sword welding demon, he jumped to the left as the demon brought its sword down at his head, then swept his sword at the demon's midsection, somehow the demon managed to block the swing and lifting Angel's sword up with its own, this forced Angel off balance, the demon kicked at Angel's legs sending him to the ground. The demon roared in triumph as it raised its sword to deliver the deathblow, before he could do so his roar changed to a scream of pain as a bolt hit him in the side of the neck. Deciding not to look a gift horse in the mouth Angel pushed his sword up through the demon's stomach and into its heart, rolling to the side as the huge demon fell towards him.
Lisa ducked a punch from a vampire, then upper cut it to the chin sending it back into the three other vampires on her side of Rosa sending them all to the floor, as she jumped in to try and stake them she smiled seeing a stream of holy water hit the downed vampires.
Rosa was tired but still managed to block the punch aimed at her face, pushing the demon's arm to the side she plunged her strange wavy stake into its chest, she smiled at the look of surprise on its face just before the demon turned to dust.
Fred was frightened when she saw Lisa pull Gunn away from the stairs, with no one at the side the demons and vampires could get at her and Wesley, luckily for both of them all the demons seemed interested in was getting at Cordelia and only the occasional vampire took any interest in her and Wesley, which she could stop with her crossbow/supersoaker.
As Fred watched the last vampire turn to dust as Lisa staked it, she somehow sensed Wesley slipping away, even years later she was still unsure how she knew! She dropped her weapon and spun around to face Wesley lying on the table, she felt for a pulse in his wrist, she could not find one. Quickly she moved her hand to his neck, nothing. In panic, she began CPR, she screamed at him, "Don't you leave me Wesley," she said as she continued the heart massage.
She felt Angel's hand gently stop her, "It's to late, let him go," he said quietly to her.
She pulled angrily away from him as he tried to enfold her in his arms, "No, I won't let him," she shouted, redoubling her efforts. After some ten minutes she let out a cry of despair and fell across his limp body, they could hear her whisper to him, "Please don't leave me... I-I love you," she wept.
Angel and Gunn gasped as they saw a swirl of energy move from Fred to Wesley, who drew in a ragged breath of air.
Fred lifted her tear streaked face from Wesley's chest, a look of awe spread across her face as she watched his chest rise and fall; she wrapped her arms around his neck, planting kisses all over his face. She watched as his eyes opened, "Did you say you love me?" he asked, a smile coming to his face.
Fred blushed and looked down at the floor, "I-I... ah," she looked back up into his eyes, "Y-yes," she said before looking down at the floor again.
Wesley raised his arm to her chin gently lifting it so he could look into her eyes, "I love you too," he smiled before groaning, looking at the concern on Fred's face he half smiled again, "I think I need a hospital," he pointed out.
Before anyone could respond, they all heard a choirs of female voices one of which sounded like Cordelia's, "We call forth a Veil to protect that which comes before and after, by our will so mote it be." Then a flash of white light filled their vision, when it faded Cordelia was looking around smiling at them all.
Cordelia ran over to where Wesley lay on the table, taking his hand she smiled down at him, "Mother said you had died! How did this happen?" she asked looking around.
"Mother! What are you talking about?" asked Gunn.
Smiling Cordelia looked around at her friends, "Sorry, long story, I’ll tell you everything later but first we have to take care of some things.” Looking around at the destruction she sighed before beginning to issue orders, “Right Fred, you and Gunn go and get Angel’s car and bring it around the front, then you two take Wesley to the hospital."
"What about the demons?" asked Fred.
"The attacks are over, we won," smiled Cordy.
"Ok we're on it," said Gunn running up the stairs followed by Fred.
"Lisa check out the hotel, make sure we haven’t got any uninvited guests," instructed Cordelia, nodding Lisa followed Gunn up the stairs. "Angel carry Wes up to the lobby then start getting ride of the bodies lying around up there." She looked at Rosa for a second before turning back to Angel, "I need to talk to Rosa for a moment, then we’ll come and help," she gave him a little smile as he gently picked up Wesley.
Cordelia waited until they were alone before turning to Rosa, a sad look on her face, "Rosa there is no easy way to tell you this, I'm sorry but I have to tell you that your grandmother Sophia is dead, she was killed by the Warlock just over an hour ago." She sighed seeing the unshed tears in the other woman’s eyes, “If there is anything you want or need you only need to ask okay,” Cordelia finished placing a gentle hand on Rosa's shoulder.
Rosa just nodded not trusting her voice.
"Right, now I know this may sound heartless, but we need to clean up the hotel, we have several dozen guests arriving over the next couple of days, which gives us very little time. Will you help?" Cordelia finally asked, sensing that it would help Rosa get her mind off the guilt of not being at the Tor to protect her grandmother.
Nodding Rosa followed Cordelia up the stairs.
When the light had dissipated Buffy, Willow and Tara found themselves back on the Tor. Bodies were everywhere, they looked around for their friends, Colonel McBride was being helped over to them by Giles and Jimmy, Olivia walking beside them, Sarah and Louisa, along with the few priestesses that had survived, were attending to Maggie and Mary's bodies. Commander Johnson and the soldiers were taking care of the wounded as well as the bodies of those that had died that morning, which included Captain Henry Jones, Riley and 10 priestesses not including Maggie.
"Are you three alright?" asked Giles, "What happened to you?"
"It’s rather complicated, I'll let Willow and Tara fill you in I want to go and see Riley one last time," she sighed then looking at her girlfriends, "You're ok with that right!"
"Of course Buffy, go we'll tell Giles what happened," smiled Tara giving Buffy a quick hug then gently pushing her towards where Riley's body lay.
Willow looked at Giles and the other two men, "When we were taken from here we found ourselves in a strange room that we could all sense we had been in before but not knowing when or how," she began to explain as Giles and Jimmy helped the Colonel to the ground, "Also there were Cordelia and Dawn, we are the five sisters the prophecy spoke of, anyway after filling them in on what was going on, that was when Buffy and Cordy almost came to blows..."
"Not surprising when you take into account that they are literally Fire and Water," Tara pointed out to Willow.
"Yeah I guess your right there," smiled Willow, then a frown appeared on her face, "Aren't we opposites too? I mean I'm Air and your Earth."
Tara could sense the worry emanating from Willow, she smiled reassuringly, "No I think it also has to do with their mortal personalities," she pointed out giving Willow a quick hug.
"Willow, Tara can we focus for a moment, what happened in this strange room," asked Giles.
"Oh sorry Giles," Willow gave him an apologetic smile, "Anyway before Buffy and Cordelia could get into a fight the Goddess appeared, she explained that the five of us are the Primal forces that became known as Air, Fire, Earth, Water and Spirit," she had to smile at the shock on Giles and Jimmy's faces. "We were created in that same room and given the power to restore the Veil if it should ever be destroyed, she merged all of us except Dawn with mortal souls at the beginning of time, Dawn stayed as Primal energy until Glory showed up last year when the same was done to her," she explained.
"So you were able to restore the Veil?" asked the Colonel.
"Yes, but the five of us had to pay the ultimate price to do it," sighed Tara.
"What do you mean?" asked Giles.
"We have to remain in the realm of the living, we had to give up our rebirths forever," Willow answered, "We will see the end of time!"
"I see, I'm so sorry," Giles said sympathetically, "So what now?"
"We have to meet everyone in LA, where the Goddess will come to us, she said we were to bring all our friends as well," Willow told him.
"I'll speak to Sir Geoffrey, he can arrange to charter an aircraft," said the Colonel.
Buffy walked over to where the soldiers had laid Riley's body, she stood looking down at him for a moment, taking in his features, he looked peaceful, which somehow seemed out of place when you looked at all the death and destruction that surrounded them.
She knelt down by his side she gently straightened his clothes and smoothed down his hair trailing her hand down over his cheek, leaving her hand there, she slowly leaned down and laid a gentle kiss on his lips, "Thank you," she whispered. "I never said goodbye the first two times you left me... Goodbye Riley, I won't forget you," she said rising and walking over to where Willow and Tara had joined the group around Maggie and Mary, tears running down her cheeks.
As Buffy got to the group she found herself enveloped in her girlfriends arms, they both kissed a tear-streaked cheek, "Are you okay sweety?" whispered Tara.
"No not really, he gave his life to save us all, I've lost... no we've lost a good friend," she looked down at Maggie and Mary's bodies, "Make that many good friends," Buffy sighed. "I guess we will be going through this a lot in the years to come!"
"Yeah I guess your right, so what now?" said Willow.
"Well we make a quick stop at the base then get a flight to LA, then home," said Buffy. She looked around at the number of soldiers, "Is it my imagination or are there more soldiers than there was at the start of the fight?"
"Yes just after we left the base the second shipment of tazer rifles arrived, so Sir Geoffrey sent Agent Logan with another thirty soldiers to help, if he hadn't I don't think any of us would be here now," said Giles.
Gunn, his arm in a sling, stood with Lisa watching the three cars pull-up and stop at the front entrance, as people started getting out Lisa jumped down the steps to grab Giles and Buffy in bear hugs.
Gunn turned around and called out, "Their here."
"We know," smiled Cordelia as she and Dawn descended the stairs into the lobby.
Gunn looked at her closely, his eyes narrowing, "Is this something to do with being this Seer of the Goddess person?" he asked her.
Dawn giggled, "No we saw them from the window up there," she pointed to the balcony they had just left.
Dawn and Cordelia hugged their friends as they entered the lobby. On seeing Xander's bandaged head Buffy, Willow and Tara began fussing over him, asking what happened.
"I'll be fine in a couple of days, after all how many times have I hit my head when we're fighting to save the world, my head's becoming immune to the damage." Xander smiled, trying to lighten their mood, but could see it wasn't working, so he looked at them with a serious expression on his face, "I'll be fine, honest, the doctor said that I'll be as good as new in a couple of days."
After all the introductions were over Cordelia looked around, "We've put you all in the rooms on the top floor, then when you have settled in we can get the meeting with mother underway," she smiled at them.
"Thanks Cordy, we'd like to rest for a while but we are planning to leave tonight," said Willow.
Cordelia looked back at her and the others from the stairs, "Afraid not Willow, mother says that you will be here until tomorrow," she told them a big smirk on her face.
"How do you mean, mother said we'd be here until tomorrow?" asked Buffy, "She didn't tell us that, just that we had to come here."
"She told me later," she answered a big smirk still on her face, "I'm Steve's replacement, I'm the Seer of the Goddess," she paused for a moment her face taking on an almost melancholy look, "I will be for the rest of time," she finished.
"Oh great, Cordy's going to know everything we do! I don't know whether I'm going to be able to cope with that," Buffy ranted.
"Don't worry Buffy," smiled Dawn, "I'm sure if we can keep you two apart most of the time, say only meet every couple of decades or so it won't be too bad."
"I think that can be arranged," said Buffy.
As Cordelia was showing them to their rooms Buffy suddenly frowned and turned to Dawn, "Didn't dad come with you, I mean he's okay right, nothing happened to him did it?"
Dawn rolled her eyes, as they heard Cordelia giggle, "Oh yeah he came here with me, so did Jennifer. He's going to be a problem from now on," she sighed. At Buffy's confused look, she explained, "It seems our father 'loves' fighting demons; last night after we got here he went out with Lisa and Spike on patrol. He came back covered in blood, luckily not his own but a demon's, Jennifer freaked when she saw him," she laughed at the memory, "It took him three hours to pacify her and he's had to take her shopping this morning."
"Oh my god, I wish I'd seen it," laughed Buffy.
"Yeah well, I spoke to Spike, and Cordy did the same with Angel, they said they'd give him some training, so that he will be less likely to get hurt," smiled Dawn.
"Oh I almost forgot I have letters for the two of you," said Buffy looking at Dawn and Cordelia.
"A letter for me? Who from?" asked Dawn.
Before Buffy could explain Cordelia answered, "From my predecessor Steve Langly," she smiled at the annoyed look on Buffy's face, "I'm sorry, did you want to tell us?"
"No forget it," said Buffy before taking the letters from her jacket and shoving them into Dawn and Cordelia's hands, "Here. Now where's this room?"
"Buffy why are you acting like this?" asked Dawn a hurt look on her face.
A look of anguish crossed Buffy's face, she grabbed her sister in a hug, "I'm so sorry, I think it’s a combination of fighting I’ve done over the last few days and the realisation of what we did and had to give up." She released Dawn looking into her eyes, "We'll talk later okay?" she said smiling at her sister.
"Ok," said Dawn returning the smile.
When Buffy entered the lobby later, with Willow and Tara, she was in a much happier mood. She found everyone already gathered there. Spotting Giles sat next to Wesley who was in a wheelchair, they walking over to them, Buffy smiled down at Wesley, "Hi Wes are you okay? Mother said you died."
"I will be in a few days," Wesley smiled up at her before looking over at Fred who was talking to Dawn, Lisa and Cordelia, "I did died, but my fiancée brought me back," he smiled as Fred sensing that he was looking at her turned and returned his smile.
Giles and the others followed his look, "Your fiancée?" he frowned.
"Yes but please don't say anything, Fred wants us to tell everyone later," he pleaded with them.
"Of course we'll keep it quiet," smiled Tara.
"So what's with you and Cordelia," Spike said hooking one leg over the chair-arm.
"That's none of your business Spike," growled Angel glancing over at Cordelia as he always seemed to when someone mentioned her name.
"Course it is if you’re serious about her, I mean she'll be my grandmother," Spike smirked. "I think I'll go and talk to her about it," he said beginning to rise.
"Leave her alone Spike," said Angel, his eyes darkening for a moment as he grabbed Spike by the arm and pulled him back down.
"Ok, ok, I won't bug her, but you were more fun before you got domesticated."
"And you weren't so bitter before you got neutered," said Angel smirking at the scowl on Spike's face before turning serious. "What are you doing with Dawn? If you're planning to hurt her, Buffy won't be the only one after your ass."
"Dawn's my friend," Spike frowned, "I don't know why but I like her, I know being a demon and all I shouldn't, but I do. I made Buffy a promise before she died that I'd look after nibblet if anything happened to her." He looked at his grandsire a serious expression on his face, "Even without the promise, I would have protected her, don't ask me why! Maybe it's the Powers That Be!"
"So are you and Angel an item?" asked Dawn smirking at Cordelia.
"That's really none of your business Dawn," put in Lisa.
"Of course it is, Cordy's my sister, sort of, and I like Angel."
"It's alright Lisa," smiled Cordelia, "I love Angel and although he doesn't know yet, he loves me," she smirked as she looked over at Angel and Spike. She turned back to Fred and Dawn still smirking, "And you two have some interesting times ahead of you! Oh and congratulations Fred, you and Wesley will be very happy together. And Dawn, you need to sort out your feelings for Spike, mother wants you two together."
"What do you mean? He's my friend that’s all," Dawn said frowning.
"Dawnie although I know you think you love Kevin at the moment, you need to let him go, you're no longer a normal human being. How is he going to feel in 10, 20 or 30 years when he is getting old and you still look young," pointed out Cordelia. "Although Spike doesn't know yet, he does love you; you will have many happy centuries together."
"I'll need to think about it, have a talk with Kevin and Spike, I don't want to hurt anyone," sighed Dawn.
"Dawn you can still stay friend's with Kevin and anyway you're still at school you have a little time to sort things out with him," Cordelia pointed out.
At that moment everyone turned towards the front doors, to see Jennifer sweep into the lobby with several bags trailed by Hank carrying a pile of boxes.
Dawn and Lisa went to help her dad with the boxes, taking several off the top so that he could at least see where he was going. "Now that's a woman with style," laughed Cordelia, watching as Jennifer led the other three into the lift.
It was half an hour later, just after Dawn and the others had returned to the lobby that a middle aged man and a woman in her early thirties walked into the lobby. Everyone could sense the two were not what they seemed! Their smiles however were infectious everyone found themselves smiling back.
The five Primals moved forward and hugged the woman, before Cordelia turned to the others, "This is mother! At least that's what we call her. I'm not sure what you should call her?" she mused.
"You may address me by whatever you feel most comfortable, Lady, ma'am or mother if you wish," smiled mother before introducing her companion. "This is my companion; you may call him Herne or my lord."
Herne smiled at the look on many of those present, "Although I already know all of you, it is still a pleasure to meet you all in person."
"First of all my lord and I would like to thank you all for helping the Primals save this universe, although most beings will never know what you have done for them, know that we will not forget what you did," began mother. "Although you are all within my thoughts I will deal with the Primals first."
She looked at Dawn, taking her hand she walked over to Spike and placed Dawn's hand in his, smiling at both she announced, "It is my wish that you two be as one. William I know that you care for Dawn, although you do not know it yet, she holds your heart in her hands. If you accept Dawn into your heart you will be rewarded beyond your wildest dreams."
"I don't know about that! I can think of some really wild dreams," smirked Spike.
"Spike," pleaded Dawn.
"Ok, we'll talk alright," he said sitting down with Dawn. Everyone noticed that he kept hold of her hand.
Mother then turned to Cordelia who had taken a seat next to Angel, "Child your burden will be the greatest of all my children, you will need the love of all your sisters in the times to come." She said smiling at all the Primals but made a special point of looking at Buffy, who could not endure her look and looked at the floor blushing. "Before she bonded with Willow and Tara, Buffy was meant to be Angel's reward as he was hers, that cannot come to pass know. Cordelia you have taken her place at his side and will eventually replace her in his heart."
Mother walked over to Angel and placed her hand on his head, a white light slowly spread over his body, "Angel, know that your soul has been redeemed, the curse has been made permanent although it was not a curse but a blessing. I release you from your obligation to mine and my Lord’s cause, but would ask you to continue to fight by the side of your soulmate."
At first Angel said nothing, then he began to laugh, something he had not done in over a century, his heart felt lighter than he could ever remember, even when he had been human he had felt a burden on his heart. He looked into the pools that were the Goddesses eyes, "Yes My Lady I will continue to fight, I wouldn't know how to do anything else."
Mother then turned to Buffy, Willow and Tara who had sat down together on the step; she walked over to them a slightly sad look on her face. "I know that you three have been through much, both together and separately, but you have each other now, learning to lean on each other, in the years to come you will need each other even more." Then her smile returned seeming to light up the whole room, "But for now I have a reward for you," she gave a little giggle, "Although at times you will think differently, through you three shall come the chance to permanently close the Hellmouth on this world."
They waited for her to elaborate on the reward but mother just turned as if she were moving onto something else. Buffy jumped up, "So aren't you going to tell us more?" she asked.
Smiling at her, she giggled again, "I don't want to spoil the surprise."
"But I don't like surprises!" pouted Buffy.
"Nonsense, you love surprises you just hate not knowing before anyone else, you won't have to wait to long. Now rejoin your loves so I may continue," said Mother a little steel entering her voice.
Buffy turned and walked back to Willow and Tara, blushing like a chastised child, being pulled down by her girlfriends.
"Now the five of you have given up much, more than you really know at the moment. As you know because of your connection to the Veil you must stay in the realm of the living, but every 40 lunar months you may enter the realm of the dead for 12 hours, there you can rest, cleanse your soul and visit your families and friends."
She then looked at Olivia and Louisa as well as Sarah, Helga and Rosa, "The Coven will still need to re-enforce the Veil as it has throughout time, this way it will make it easier for the Primals to leave this realm. So Olivia will you take up the mantle of my High Priestess?"
All eyes were turned to Olivia who looked at Giles before turning to look at her Goddess. "My Lady as much as I am honoured that you would want me as your High Priestess, I do not feel able to take up such a role, with your permission I would like to stay as a humble Priestess." She smiled as she looked around at the others before taking Giles hand, "Besides Rupert and I plan to get married, that and being a Priestess is more than enough pressure," she laughed.
The next five minutes became a whirl of activity as Giles and Olivia found themselves being hugged and their hands shook by everyone present. Cordelia finally called everyone back to the meeting. "Ok let’s continue shall we!" she said clapping her hands as if she was a teacher trying to get the attention of a class. Buffy narrowed her eyes at Cordelia who just smirked.
Willow rolled her eyes as she took hold of Buffy's arm, "Just let it go sweety," she whispered.
Cordelia looked at mother after everyone had settled down, giving her a small smile, "Sorry if I over stepped the mark then."
Mother giggled, "Perhaps just a little dear." She looked over at Olivia and Giles, "Very well dear you have my blessing." She then turned to Louisa and John, "Will you take up the mantle of my High Priestess dear?"
Louisa looked into the eyes of her husband for a moment as if asking his opinion, John raised her hand to his lips, "You have always been MY Lady, go for it Lou."
Louisa smiled a shy smile at her husband before rising and walking over to the Goddess, standing in front of her for a second before falling to her knees, "I am, as always your humble servant My Lady, I will humbly take up the position as your High Priestess and try to fulfil the position as well as my predecessor Maggie."
She then leaned over and kissed the Goddesses foot, "I will walk in your footsteps with unwavering love," she then moved up to kiss the Goddess’ knee, "I will always bend to your will," she then straightened up and kissed her stomach, "I will guide and protect all your children."
Louisa rose before leaning forward and kissing the Goddesses between the breasts, "I will nurture all your children as I nurtured my children," she then kissed her on the lips before saying, "I will always speak the truth when invoking the authority of your High Priestess." Lou then gently kissed the Goddess between her eyes, "I will watch over your children and try to guide them on the right path," finally she kissed her forehead, "I will always be guided by your wisdom." Louisa then stepped back and fell to her knees again.
The Goddess smiled down at her latest High Priestess, "I accept your vows to me my child," she said placing a hand on Louisa's head, a white light spread throughout her body. After a few moments to collect her thoughts, Louisa rose and smiling at the others in the room she walked back to her husband and sat quietly next to him. Her daughter broke her quiet contemplation.
"Oh my! This means I'm supposed to be leader of the Sisterhood," she exclaimed before blushing when she realised she had spoken out loud.
The Goddess looked at her for a moment, "If you wish to be released my child no one will think any the worse of you! I am aware of your feelings for James."
Sarah looked around in what looked like despair, "I love Jimmy and being my mum's protector... I don't know what to do," she burst into tears; Jimmy wrapped her in his arms.
"Why can't she have both?" asked Dawn quietly.
"Because it is forbidden child," answered Herne.
Mother turned and smiled at Dawn before turning to her consort, "Maybe it is time for a change, many of the Sisterhood have sacrificed their love as well as their lives for our cause." She turned back to the two young lovers, "From this time on any Sister that wishes to be joined with a loved one may do so, with two provisos, the loved one must accept the Sister's place as protector of my Priestesses and be willing to live near the Priestess."
Jimmy took hold of Sarah's head, holding it between his hands, "I love you Sarah Grant, I accept your position in the Sisterhood and protector of your mother, will you marry me?"
Sarah gently pulled away from Jimmy, smiling reassuringly when she saw the worry of possible rejection on his face, she turned to the Goddess for a moment, "Thank you My Lady, I accept the position and will try my best to do a good job." She then turned back to Jimmy and flew into his arms, "Yes I'll marry you," she cried planting a kiss on his lips.
There was another round of hugs and congratulations before everything settled down again.
Next the Goddess turned to Xander and Anya, "My children you have my thanks for the help you have given to my Primals, know that without you two they would not have lived to see this day, my blessings on you and your planned union." She smiled at the blush on Xander's face before turning her full attention to Anya, "Child you are forgiven for your transgressions, are you ready to take up your place as one of my Priestesses once again?"
Gasps went up from all those who knew the former vengeance demon. She looked around them with a sheepish look on her face, "There's something that no one ever knew about why I became a vengeance demon. It wasn't a man that jilted me for another woman but a woman that jilted me for a man."
"And so you decided to take it out on all those men over the years... Wait your GAY," shouted Xander jumping up and staring down at Anya.
"Yes as I've told you before 'All men are evil' and of course I'm not gay I love you Alexander Harris," she said also getting up.
"Anya I don't know if I'll ever understand you or women in general," he said shaking his head before giving her a kiss.
"Welcome to the real world, women have been an enigma to the male of the species since the beginning," said Angel, getting many nods from most of the men in the room including Herne, who received looks from their respective partners.
Anya turned to the Goddess, "I can really return to you My Lady?" she asked the Goddess.
"Yes dear you may take up the position you abandoned 12 centuries ago," the Goddess said smiling at her.
"But My Lady she has no living female relatives," interrupted Sarah, "Who will be her protector?"
"Well strictly speaking that is true but Rosa here is a direct descendant of Anya's former lover and the man that she left Anya for, so if she is willing she can repay the debt owed Anya by one of her ancestors."
All eyes were now turned to Rosa, who looked at Anya then the Goddess, "My Lady I would be honoured to repay the debt to Anya if she will accept me as her protector."
"Yes My Lady I will take up my place within your coven and accept Rosa as if she were my own kin," Anya stated formally before taking a similar vow to the Goddess that Louisa had taken earlier, as she stepped back she had tears in her eyes, "I'm sorry for all the trouble I have caused your children over the years, I will not let you down this time."
The Goddess enfolded Anya in her arms placing a kiss on her cheek, "I know you won't dear, the hate has been replaced by love, the love of a good man, a man who will cherish you all the days of your life," she gave Xander an amused look before turning back Anya, "Even if you confuse him."
The Goddess next turned to Hank and Jennifer who both had what could only be described as awe on their faces, "You two have my thanks, I know you are confused with most of what has happened to you over the last few days. Although you did not understand what was happening you still helped protect Dawn, you are blessed threefold."
Finally, the Goddess turned to Wesley and Fred, "Although no one knew what your choices were Winifred, I always had faith in you, you have given this world a great gift and a great hope when you gave your love to Wesley." She smiled at Fred's confused look then turned to Wesley; "You my child will train and help guide the ultimate slayer, my blessing on you."
Turning to the two people in the room that the US and British governments had sent to the meeting, the Goddess looked very serious at them. "Although you have my thanks for your help in averting the end of this dimension I must insist that you leave my Priestesses and the Sisters alone, their responsibility is to the Veil and its maintenance. If they require anything from you then you may render assistance but otherwise leave them to do their duty."
"You have the assurance of Her Majesty’s Government and my personal guarantee that they will not be interfered with in anyway," stated Colonel McBride.
"Yes madam I will pass your request to my superiors," nodded General James Smith.
"It was not a request General!" said the Goddess the smile leaving her face.
"My apologies madam, a poor choice of words, I will tell them," General Smith amended.
"Very well gentlemen, that is all I have to say at the moment but Herne has some things he wishes to say," said the Goddess the smile returning to her face.
Herne smiled at her, "Thank you my dear." He looked around the room, "Now when the demons began their assault on this dimension and we created the Veil we still needed some way to protect the realm of the living, so we created the Slayer and the organisation that became the Watchers Council.
“Although we both use to watch over them we have had may other concerns in resent centuries so left the Council to run its own affairs, this has brought about many problems. Now My Lady and I have decided this has to change, in their arrogance they have corrupted the rules we laid down and have wasted that which we entrusted to them, the slayers."
"So even you think of us as a weapon to be used until we die," interrupted Buffy jumping up.
"No Eternal that is not what I am saying, yes the Council is supposed to help the Slayer with training and guidance but they are also supposed to help the her have as normal a life as her calling will allow, much like your own watchers Merrick and Giles.
“The Council feared that the slayers having friends and families weakened their authority over them, they began stopping the slayers having that normal life, that is why Kendra died so young and Faith turned out the way she was in Sunnydale." He smiled at Angel, Cordelia and Wesley; "Though her outlook is getting better thanks to you three keeping in contact with her, when she is released from prison next year she will need you to survive."
"If you wish sir, I could arrange for this Faith to be released now if it will help?" put in General Smith.
"My thanks General, but prison has and still is helping Faith change her attitude to the world, when she is released she will be one of the greatest slayers ever to exist that was not the Primal," he said looking at Buffy. "Now I request some of you to aid me in putting the Council back on track."
"Yes of course we will help," answered Giles getting nods and yes's from the others.
"Thank you, I have arranged for the Council's representatives to be here tomorrow morning, that is why you will be here until tomorrow, although some of you do not need to be here, some must." He began to explain, "Buffy and Lisa as slayers should be here as should Giles as a Watcher and Wesley as a former Watcher, I would also like Louisa as the High Priestess here and General Smith and Colonel McBride. Everyone else is free to be here if they wish although it maybe better not to frighten them with such a large group of people," pointed out Herne.
"That's okay with me, Will and Tara can get any information from the bond," pointed out Buffy.
"And I will be supplied with any information I need because I'm the Seer," smiled Cordelia before turning towards the Goddess, "Have I thanked you for taking away the migraines mother?"
"Yes dear on several occasions," answered the Goddess.
"Okay how about the rest of us hit the malls tomorrow morning," suggested Cordelia, this was met with almost universal enthusiasm by the women and groans by the men, who started coming up with reasons why they couldn't go shopping, but Cordelia managed to shoot every excuse down, so in the end the men gave in to the women as they knew they would.
At exactly 9 the next morning Quentin Traverse and Andrew Collins entered the lobby with their four assistance. Looking around at the people already there, Quentin frowned unsure why he had come here with Collins. He knew some of the people but not all this worried him more than he cared to admit.
Buffy smirked as she saw the confused look on Quentin's face from where she sat on one of the large couches with Lisa and Louisa. Sat on the other couch were Herne, Colonel McBride and General Smith, stood by the side of Wesley in his wheelchair was Giles.
As soon as Buffy saw the man next to Quentin Traverse, she sprang from the couch screeching like a banshee, before she could reach the man Herne was there holding her back. Speaking quietly to her, "Be calm Eternal if you kill him he cannot make amends to you and the five other slayers that have died because of him!"
"What are you talking about? Who are you?" asked Quentin.
"You can call me Mr Green," he smiled as Louisa laughed loudly. "As for the rest! Why don't you ask your friend there," said Herne looking at Collins.
"I don't know what you mean! I came here to meet a man who said he had information on why another Slayer was called and where she can be found."
"You bastard there's no way I'm letting you near another Slayer, I'll kill you first," growled Buffy.
"As I told you in England young lady, it isn't your place to question the Council," smirked Collins.
"When did you meet Miss Summers in England and why wasn't I informed?" asked Quentin frowning.
"It wasn't anything of importance Quentin," said Collins trying to reassure his colleague.
"Nothing important? You bastard, you kidnapped me and planned to brainwash me," snapped Buffy still trying to get at the man who was in league with the Warlock.
Quentin looked shocked as he looked back and forth between Buffy and Collins, "You kidnapped Miss Summers and planned to use our behavioural modification technique on her! Why?"
Collins turned to Quentin anger on his face, "Because you allowed her to dictate terms to us, she is the Slayer it is we who control the Slayer not the other way around."
"Actually it is suppose to be an equal partnership, the Slayer is the body and the Council the mind," Herne told them, "Neither can operate properly without the other."
Both Traverse and Collins turned to look at the man in front of them; it suddenly occurred to them that he was easily preventing the Slayer getting free.
"What are you?" asked Collins.
Herne smiled at them, "I have many names, if I were to speak them all your bones would be dust before I finished, my true name is only known to one other being in this universe. As I told you just now you can call me Mr Green, my friends here," He looked towards the others that had risen when Buffy went to attack Collins, "Call me Herne."
Herne stepped back, releasing Buffy who just stood smirking at the look of shock on the two men's faces. Herne's clothes began to shift as his body began to expand and change, his head started changing into that of a stag and antlers grew from his head, in less than half a minute the middle aged man had vanished to be replaced by an eight foot creature of legend.
"Your twisting and changing of the rules My Lady and I laid on you has destroyed many slayers before their time as well as thousands of the innocent it was your responsibility to protect. This will stop as of now or I will tear the Council down and start again. Choose NOW," said Herne his voice like thunder.
As Herne had been speaking, his body had been slowly beginning to glow with a white light slowly building until everyone had to look away, as he announced the choice, the light vanished and the middle aged man stood before them again.
Buffy arched an eyebrow at Herne, "That was a little OTT don't you think 'Father'," she smirked.
Herne returned her smirk, "That title is not strictly correct Eternal."
"Well if Mother created us and you’re her 'husband' that makes you our father doesn't it?"
"I suppose you're right Eternal," he nodded smiling at her.
"Why do you keep calling me that?" Buffy asked him.
"Because that is what you are now, 'The Eternal Slayer'."
Buffy frowned for a moment, "Great I have this gig forever... Just great."
"But you are as I have ever been, your entire being burns for the hunt, the kill, does it not?" smiled Herne.
Buffy could see the fire in his eyes, "Well yeah, but without the risk of losing, dying, it won't be the same!"
"Ah Eternal you cannot die but you can still be injured," said Herne then suddenly let out a roaring laugh, "And it will still hurt... a lot."
"Great... Just great," she sighed turning back to the Watchers, as did Herne.
"So gentlemen what will you choice?" asked Herne.
"You give us no choice, we will change," said Collins in a voice that conveyed a great deal of shock.
"I'm glad to hear it but just to keep you honest you will allow my representatives here full access to all Council property and the archive," Herne indicated Giles, Wesley, Buffy and to the surprise of everyone Colonel McBride. "If they find anything they do not like you will stop doing it or suffer the consequence am I clear," Herne finished the threat clearly in his voice.
"You want outsiders to have a veto on what we do?" asked Collins in shock.
"You have been out of control for too long, but yes for now I do until they are satisfied you have changed. You will also provide any relevant information to the various intelligence agencies around the world in their fight against the forces of darkness."
"And what happens if these intelligence agencies abuse the information as the Initiative did several years ago?" asked Quentin Traverse.
"That is where your intelligence will be of use," replied Herne.
"Is that all?" asked Quentin.
"Just one more thing," smiled Herne turning to Lisa and waving his hand for her to come to him, as he placed an arm around her shoulder he turned back to Quentin. "This is Lisa, she is the Slayer we sent to take Buffy's place, who is beyond you now, she and every Slayer that will come after her is under my protection, if the Council abuse their position I will be very angry." With that he turned and as he walked through the front doors he vanished.
There was silence in the room for almost a full minute until Giles turned to Quentin and the others, "I think under the circumstances Quentin it maybe wise if you left now," he said glancing meaningfully at Buffy. "I have to be in England in a couple of weeks to help my fiancée sort out her home and medical practice before coming back to the US, I will meet you to sort out how we proceed from here." He smiled over at Lisa; "Of course Lisa will remain where she is, helping protect the Hellmouth, I'm sure you'll agree?"
"Very well, two week then," nodded Quentin before turning and leading the other Council members out.
Buffy walked over to Giles and hugged him, "Thank you for getting rid of them, with Herne gone and without Will and Tara here I don't know how long I could have stopped myself from attacking them."
Before Giles could reply he found himself being hugged by Lisa, "Thanks for making them leave me alone." Releasing him, she turned to Buffy, "Now I've met some more Watchers I can see why you hate them so much, I'm glad I followed your advice and didn't get Giles to tell them about me."
"Yeah well I think things are going to change now, but I'm glad you're going to stay in Sunnydale with us, I know Dawn would have been very upset if you hadn't. Now why don't we go and join the others at the mall?" smiled Buffy.
It was almost three in the afternoon before everyone that had to leave were ready. Dawn left with Hank and Jennifer to continue their holiday, to everyone's surprise Dawn asked Spike to go with them, mainly because she was worried about her dad and his newfound enthusiasm for fighting the forces of darkness.
Helga returned to Germany to meet up with her cousin who had survived the fight on the Tor. Rosa said goodbye to Anya and promised she would return to Sunnydale as soon as she sorted out her affairs in Italy and Colonel McBride returned to report to Sir Geoffrey, he also arranged to meet up with Giles when he was in England with Olivia.
Lisa of course had to stay with Angel but didn't really want to go back to Sunnydale without Dawn. Louisa, John, Sarah and Jimmy took the opportunity to go to Sunnydale to visit with Giles and their new friends, as it was summer they felt it would be safe to do so.
The next few weeks went by quietly for the various groups, Dawn and Spike were planning their return to Sunnydale, although she was not really looking forward to explaining things to Kevin. Louisa and her family had stayed in Sunnydale until Giles and Olivia had to return to England to sort out Olivia's permanent move to the US, they planned to be married the following spring.
It was decided between them that while Lisa was in LA, Wesley would be her Watcher for which he was paid a good salary much to the anger of the Council, until Giles threatened to ask Colonel McBride to have some of their less lawful operations investigated.
On their return to Sunnydale, the gang helped Giles and Olivia move into the same apartment building as Xander and Anya.
The week before Dawn was due to return home Buffy was lying in bed, early morning sunshine streaming through the window; she looked over to her left when she sensed her lovers stirring.
Willow's eyelids fluttered open smiling up at Buffy who was leaning on her elbow smiling down at her, "Morning sweety," said Buffy leaning down for a kiss.
Just before either of them could deepen the kiss Tara who was on the other side of Willow sprang out of bed running to the bathroom where she began to heave the contents of her stomach into the toilet pan.
Willow and Buffy rushed into the bathroom concern and worry on their faces, they knelt one on each side of her, "Tara what's wrong?" asked Willow.
Raising her head and turning her pale face towards Willow, she tried to smile, "What does it look like I'm being sick!"
Despite the worry on both hers and Willow's face Buffy couldn't help giggling, "Baby that's not what Willow meant," she placed a hand on Tara's forehead, "You aren't hot, so you haven't got a fever, maybe its something you ate?"
"I donno maybe!" Tara managed to say before having to turn back to the pan as she began to heave again.
"Buffy go call Olivia see if she can come over and have a look at Tara," said Willow holding onto Tara as she continued to be sick.
"Right," said Buffy getting up and rushing back to the bedroom. As she was about to pick up the receiver the phone rang, grabbing hold of it with the thought of getting rid of whoever it was.
Before she could say anything Cordelia's voice came from the other end. "Buffy I need to talk to Tara before you call anyone."
"How did you know I was going to call anyone?" asked Buffy before she remembered, "Never mind. Tara can't speak to you at the moment she's sick, I have to call Olivia," she pleaded trying to keep her cool.
"Olivia is being sick at the moment, so is Anya that's why I need to tell Tara what is happening to the three of them."
"What do you mean? Are they under attack? I think you better tell me so we can start working on a plan to stop whoever is doing this," babbled Buffy.
"Buffy you've been around Willow to long, your babbling," Buffy ground her teeth trying to get her temper under control, wishing she could reach through the phone and strangle Cordelia.
At that moment Tara came back into the bedroom with Willow hovering over her, her face still pale, "Who is it Buffy?" she asked.
"Its Cordy she say's Olivia and Anya are sick as well, but she insists on talking to you," replied Buffy, the frustration clearly in her voice.
Tara took the phone from Buffy, "Hello Cordy, so what's wrong with me and the others?" She listened for a moment before sitting down on the bed; feeling like her legs would not hold her up. Willow and Buffy rushed to her side as her face drained of what little colour remaining, "Thanks Cordy, see you," she pressed the disconnect button.
"What's wrong Tara?" asked a very worried Willow.
Tara took a hand of each of her girlfriends, "It seems that Anya, Olivia and I are all pregnant."
They were silent for almost a whole minute, "What did you say?" asked Buffy.
"I'm pregnant... BUFFY," shouted Tara as the Slayer fainted.
This may seem a strange place to finish; I do plan to write the third part set 15 years in the future called 'Ashley the Ultimate Slayer' where most of the things I have 'missed out' including the contents of the letters will be explained.