Welcome to Denial of Destiny!
by Mark Jones
April 12, 2060
Buffy tugged on the white sheet that covered her. She could barely move the blanket-covered sheets. She used to be so strong… then again, she used to be young. Time and tide erode the body and the mind, and as she cast her eyes sideways at the heart monitor at her bedside, she knew it was almost time.
She looked around the room. Willow was there, staring off into the floor, seemingly lost in thought. Her red hair had long since been replaced by the gray hairs of age. But she somehow still maintained the same perkiness she always had. Buffy loved her for it. She always had, and she told her so. From Willow, her eyes came to rest on another blond woman, seemingly in her early 40s. She had brilliant green eyes, and a particular nose just as she had. Her daughter, Angela. Not born a slayer, but born beautiful just as well. She was strong in her own way.
Buffy swallowed back some tears as she thought about her children. Joseph was born a few months after she and Riley wed. It was a surprise to all... especially to Buffy and Riley. They had been careful, but sometimes you can't change fate. Angela was born a few years afterwards. When Joseph… when they lost him they knew it could happen. They tried to cope, they tried to deal, but it was so hard. So when they decided to have a second child, there were issues. A girl, maybe born a slayer herself, the first of a new generation?
But no, you can’t change fate. Angela was not chosen. But their choices did make for detrimental effects along the way…
"Buffy," Willow said. Buffy looked up from her aside into her friend’s smiling face. "We’re going to get something to drink, and then be right back, okay?" Buffy nodded weakly, and smiled at both of them to the best of her abilities. She watched her friend leave after holding her hand tightly, and then her daughter came over and smiled down on her.
"Mom…" she said. Buffy never got tired of hearing that. "I’m going to go with Willow also. Will you be okay for a while?" Angela knew inside that she might not. She may not make it for the next minutes. No one knew. But when you got her age, you had to be prepared. Say what you want to when you can, Buffy had taught her. You never know when you’ll get another chance… or if.
"I love you." Buffy croaked. Angela looked down, a tear running down her cheek. She leaned over and kissed her on the forehead.
"I love you, too." Angela said. She stood up, suppressing the desire to grab her up in her arms and hug her rightly, and walked out of the room. Buffy sighed as she walked out and shut her eyes again.
That familiar tingle… the hairs on the back of her neck still stand up… there was a vampire present. Buffy fought the weariness in her eyes to open them and saw Spike and Dru. Her eyes lost all of that weariness as they flew open in alarm. They were here… and had Angela pinned against the wall!
"Spike… Dru! No! Leave her alone!" Buffy managed, with more energy than she thought she had. Angela moaned weakly from where Dru held her down against the bench on the wall.
"’allo, love!" Spike said with a smile. "Do you know what the greatest thing is about being a vampire?" He strolled over from Dru to Buffy’s bedside. "You tend to… outlive your opposition!" He said with a grin. "All this time, you so smugly thinking you’ve won, but you know what, with that damned Initative out of the way, I got that chip pulled out of my head." Spike was now leaning close to Buffy’s face, the metallic smell of blood on his breath.
"I’ve cut a new path of destruction across the Eastern Seaboard. They quake in fear of me. And no slayer, still, survives me." He turned and walked away from the bed, to look back over his shoulder. "By the way, you and Faith never got along well, hmmmm?" Cackles were heard from the corner as Dru enjoyed the teasing more than anything. "Riley had a pretty gamey taste to him, though…" Spike added as an afterthought.
"Well, I’ve waited a long, long time for this, slayer…" Spike said with particular emphasis on the slayer part. He nodded to Dru who picked up Angela by her neck and pushed her over to Spike.
"Let’s have a snack now, Spike…" Dru said.
"Noooo…" Buffy said, shock running through her body. "No, Spike, take me, you’ve always wanted to kill me. Come on, take me!" She said, but the tears running from her eyes showed what she was truly afraid of.
Spike looked over his shoulder at her; hate, contempt and disgust were evident on his visage as he vamped out. He turned and together he and Dru both attacked Angela while Buffy looked on, helplessly. Angela soon sunk to her knees and then collapsed as the life-giving blood was drained from her body.
"Mmmm, Slayer vintage 2020… but I must say, I prefer mine a little younger." He said through a bloody smile at Buffy. Buffy cried, hardly able to move but almost enraged enough to do something. "Now for the best part…" Spike bit his own wrist and held it over Angela’s mouth, his blood dripping in. Even in death, Angela reached up to grasp his arm, holding it to her mouth to drink his blood.
Another vampire was born.
Angel sat upright in his bed, a cold sweat covering his body. He stared around the empty room, wondering if someone was there. He opened his senses, and could feel no one around. But he knew what had happened.
Getting up, he quickly dressed. He didn’t know what had happened, but she called to him. It had been almost 6 years since he last saw her. He knew she was getting older, and that she and Riley had split up a long time ago with the death of their son. But what could have happened to cause this, he didn’t know.
But he would find out. He paused as he buttoned up his shirt, his forehead crinkling up in awareness. The past years had taught Angel a lot, and as with most of his kind, his power had grown with age.
Someone had just joined his bloodline.
Several decades ago, Angel had taken it on himself to do his best to release those he had cursed with vampirism. He had hunted down his spawn, down to the last one. Druscilla. Even after all these years, she still remained his greatest guilt. Corrupting that nun, driving her insane and then turning her. And William. He couldn’t bring himself to kill them. Too much history.
But when is too much enough? Buffy’s calling to him, plus this, bode badly for the future. Had he, indirectly, caused more pain for others by being a vampire? Something else to atone for?
Angel took a large, ancient axe off the wall. It ends tonight.
"Oh, our daughter is awake!" Spike said to Dru. They smiled together as Angela sat up from the cot she was on. Her features, vamped, were completely developed. She looked around at her surroundings. The warehouse they were in contained large stacks of boxes and pallets of newspaper.
"I’m hungry." She said. Dru looked at Spike like a proud parent.
"Awww, she’s hungry. Let’s feed her!" Dru said softly. Spike smiled out of the side of his mouth, and walked over behind a crate, to drag out a bruised Willow.
"Eat up, love!" he said to Angela. The fledgling vampire approached Willow with a blood lust in her eyes. Willow looked up weakly at Angela.
"Angela… no… it’s me, Willow… you remember me…" Angela seemed to pause, searching her memory for something of this gray haired woman. Dru and Spike both broke into laughter.
"Come on, now… eat up. You’ll whither away to…nothing!" Dru giggled.
"Give up, witch. The demon has possession of her now…" Willow was trying to buy some time as she called upon her arcane magics, but was suddenly thrown backwards by Angela, who promptly buried her face in her neck… and bit deeply.
Willow cried out in pain.
"Will!" Buffy screamed as she came around the corner. She had managed to get herself up and moving, to come to their hideout. When she couldn’t find Willow, she knew the worst was bound to happen. Now she saw it with her own eyes, and her legs weakened with the effort to remain standing.
"Oh, it’s blondie…" Dru said as Spike walked over to Buffy.
"Hi, slayer. Come to watch the SHOW?" he emphasized the last word with a slap to Buffy that send her flying into another crate, and thankfully unconsciousness took her. "Damn, she won’t feel this as well, but I’ve always wanted to kill her." He looked again at his progeny drinking Willow, and decided to give into this bit of selfish euphoria and kill his nemesis. "Bye, bye, Buffy." He said, pulling his hand back to punch her unconscious form.
His hand stopped in mid swing by a larger hand that closed around his fist and started to crush it. Spike’s face contorted in pain, and he looked over to see his grand-sire.
"Angelus!" he said, still quivering in Angel’s grip. Angel nodded slightly in acknowledgement and looked at him darkly.
"You hurt my girlfriend." Angel’s fist slammed into Spike’s jaw, sending him flying across the room. "It ends tonight, Spike. For both of you. I should have ended his a long time ago. But I wait no longer." Spike was picking himself up off the floor when Dru sauntered over to Angel, tracing her hand across his built shoulders.
"Angelus… I’ve missed you so." Angel looked at Dru momentarily, then looked back at Spike.
"Can’t say the same. But we won’t miss each other anymore."
"What are you gonna do, "Angel"?" she asked sarcastically. "Kill me? I’m your number one baby…" She had her arms around Angel’s neck, standing in front of him. He looked at her momentarily, a flicker of additional regret passing in front of his eyes.
"I’m sorry I did this to you." He said. Druscilla’s eyes grew big in surprise. Standing across the clearing, Spike watched Dru, his companion of centuries, turn to dust. Angel stood there with a stake out which had just pierced what was her heart.
"Druuuuu!" He screamed, running at Angel full speed. Angel seemed to look at the ground and as Spike leapt at him. Dropping to one knee, Angel thrusted up with the same stake that sent Druscilla to the afterlife.
Spike joined her there.
Angel stood up, sighing in an almost uncompleted finality. He looked over to Angela, who was just finishing off Willow, seemingly unaware of what had transpired. Such was the way of the beast… it must be fed it’s tithe of blood or you can lose control. Angela stood up, her face reverting to it’s human form.
"Where did Spike and Dru go?" She asked, almost innocently. Angel just shook his head. With the change fully in place and her taken her first victim, there was no going back.
"Come to me." Angela walked over to him, blood calling to blood. "I am Angelus, scourge of Europe, sire of Druscilla, sire of William, sire of you. And I judge you as is my right to be free of your curse. Go on, now, lest your soul be tainted as mine was." The demon possessing Angela’s body must have figured out what was happening, because she suddenly vamped out and attacked Angel, her arms swinging wildly. Angel blocked them aside as an adult would a small child, and pinning her against the crate, looked at her for a moment trying to struggle against his strength.
"In another reality, you would have been our child." He whispered softly, and momentarily she stopped struggling, and looked at him with almost a new understanding. Her body convulsed, and then turned to dust. Angel put his stake back in his pocket, and turned to look at Buffy collapsed on the floor.
Buffy’s eyes flickered open, already knowing who was there.
The face of an angel.
Perfect, even after 60 years. He hadn’t aged a day, the same chiseled chin, those strong cheekbones, and those eyes that always bore right into her soul. Those eyes that now were already filled with tears.
"…angel." She said softly. Her hand almost instinctively reached up to his cheek, and he took it and pressed her palm against him. His flesh was still the same, cool to the touch like she remembered. He hadn’t changed… she wondered if he still remembered her. "I knew you’d come."
"Hi." He said softly. "I’m sorry I didn’t come in sooner… I didn’t want to upset anyone with me showing up after so long…"
"No, you could have come in anytime." Buffy responded, her own tears now flowing. "I missed you…"
After a moment’s hesitation, he admitted "I missed you, too." He looked at her, her face drawn with age, her eyes not quite as bright as they were before… but he still saw the same beautiful slayer in that face.
"Angela? Willow?" she said, hope showing in her still-blue eyes. The sadness in Angel’s eyes answered her, and he could almost see some of her spirit slip away.
"I’m sorry." He whispered. "I got there, and saw you go in. I tried, but…" he swallowed, his eyes starting to tear up.
"I know, Angel…" she said, touching his hand softly. "They’re all casualties in the war. We knew that when we started this that there would be casualties. Too often they hit too close to the heart." Looking at Buffy in the bed, he knew exactly what she meant.
"I was… sorry to hear about you and Riley." He said. Buffy nodded and looked off for just a moment before looking back at him.
"It wasn’t meant to be. When Angela was born, he had already blamed me for Joseph’s death, and then when I named her Angela…" She half giggled. "I guess if I was him, I would have been pretty upset, too." They lapsed into a silence of unsaid truths between them. But Buffy knew she had limited time, so she needed to say what she had to say.
"Angel." He looked down at her, smiling as his tears ran with memories of her. "I’ve pictured this happening thousands of times, but never believed it would happen. You’re here with me, again. I’ve always wanted to say…" He smiled at her again as she moved her hand over his chest. Her lip quivered as she said her too-long unspoken words.
"… I felt your heartbeat."
The words hit Angel like a sledgehammer to his jaw. He looked at her again, mouth hanging open, disbelieving.
"Everything we did, everything that happened… I’ll never forget." Angel’s head swam with dizziness as the words from a day lost more than 50 years ago came back to him. He relived them on a daily basis… did she?
"Buffy… how?" was all he could manage. She smiled softly up at him.
"I told you I wouldn’t forget." She swallowed, and Angel was pained as he watched her labor to take in a breath. He saw the truth in her eyes. "I love you. I’ve always loved you. Everyone else has just been a substitute. If this is my day to leave the Earth, then so be it. But I will go on to whatever waits for me with a clean conscience."
Angel clenched his jaw… all this time, wasted. All the chances… wasted. Too much time has passed… how can he just let her go… it can’t be… she’s here, now, loving him to the end…
"…angel…" she cried out softly… her hand softening up in his grip as she passed into unconsciousness.
"No! …no…" He moved closer to the bed still, feeling for a pulse. She still had one, and was still with him. He laid his head down against her forehead, crying. "Please, Buffy, please don’t leave me. Pleasssseee…" His body was racked with sobs as he talked to her. "So long… I’ve been alone so long, I love you. Please, you can’t go." He stood up slowly, tears running down his face. He looked up to the ceiling as if crying out to God himself. "Don’t do this! Don’t you take her from me! Damn you… you made me like this for a reason. I’VE NEVER ASKED FOR ANYTHING!" Angel collapsed to his knees, and buried his face in his hands. "Just give me her. Please. Send me back to hell for another 500 years. But don’t… don’t take her from me."
Angel looked at her prone form, and for one more time in his life, wanted more than anything to kiss her, and hear her say ‘close your eyes.’ Because he would know that she loved him, and she was okay in this dimension while he was in another…
Angel paused, suppressing a snuffle. Another dimension. Of course! Gathering up Buffy’s body, he left the warehouse bound for LA. He could save her!
Buffy’s eyes flickered open. The face of an angel was there again. She breathed deeply, almost like it was the first time she could do that in ages. He looked over to her from his chair, and then came and sat on the edge of her bed, brushing her blond hair back from her face. Wait a minute… blond hair?
"Angel?" she said. He smiled softly down at her.
"Hi. How are you feeling?" She pushed herself upright in the bed, and noticed that is was in a strange bedroom. She pushed herself up… how was she this strong? She looked at her arms… gone were the wrinkles and marks of age. Instead the same tan, supple skin of her early 20s was there.
"What happened?" she asked, bewildered. Was it all a dream?
"I’m hoping I did the right thing…" Angel explained softly. "A long time ago, I undertook a quest to save someone’s life. They couldn’t be helped. But I was still owed the favor." Darla had died without Angel’s sacrifice. She couldn’t be cured of the Syphilis which had plagued her mortal life. But Angel had earned cure for a mortal. And he used it.
"Everything that happened?" Buffy asked with a severe case of déjà vu. Unfortunately, Angel nodded his head.
"Still did. Willow is gone, so is Angela." Buffy bowed her head, saddened by the loss.
"I don’t know if I belong here…" She shook her head in uncertainty. "It was my time to go. I was… I was done with my life. Now… I don’t know…" Angel looked down, but he had expected this.
"I know. I debated for a while, but I knew that I loved you too much to just let you go. It’s kind of selfish, but… I think we have more possibilities now." Buffy looked up at him, puzzled.
"What do you mean?" she asked. He half smiled, taking her hand.
"Apparently, with the death of Druscilla and Spike, my time in the darkness, my curse is at an end. I have repaid my debt by cleansing the world of my line." Buffy’s eyes grew wider, as she suddenly realized his hand was warm. The window was open, and sunlight was streaming in on his face. Mouth open, she reached up slowly to touch his chest. Her bottom lip began to quiver as she did.
"…I felt your heartbeat." Both of their eyes were filled with tears.
"Buffy." Angel whispered back. And they kissed. It was not one of a world that would end a minute later, but a lifetime later. A second chance at a lifetime that was meant to be. Let no one deny it.