Rating: NC 17
Pairings: Wesley/Lilah, Buffy/Angel, (minor) Fred/Gunn
Timeline: Set before/during/after the finales of BtVS S6 and AtS 3.
Summary: If you're going to hell, might as well enjoy the ride.
Warnings: Language, sexual situations, violence
[she says: the epic to beat all my stories, a Wesley fic of immense proportions. Dark, no happy endings, and a rollercoaster. Because sometimes, you can beat destiny.]
Part Seven - Epilogue - The Rest is (Silence)
Lilah had spent the night running and she was too tired for the moment to continue on. She looked like a nightmare, torn and bloodied, hard to believe that over 24 hours ago, she was an in-charge, commanding, and well-feared partner of one of the most infamous law firms.
Which, according to the news had "mysteriously" burnt to the ground last night. She shuddered as the waitress poured a second cup of (awful) coffee. A cheap 24-hour place and they let her in, so she was happy for that. Too risky to go to her apartment and the little cash she had miraculously still possessed in her pockets were good only for a cheap meal.
"You sure you don't wanna go to the hospital, hun?"
"No," she muttered, attempting not to wince at the too hot and too strong coffee-flavored murky water.
"Yeah, well, they're plenty busy with all the earthquake victims," the waitress tssked, tap-tap-tap of a heel as she spoke. "I was plenty scared, wanted to stay home, but I have to pay the bills, y'know how it is."
"No." Lilah tried for a nasty "go away" stare, but it was either too pathetic with her bruised face or the waitress was too dumb to take a hint.
"Sugar, I heard that there were some rival gangs fighting during the earthquake. Burned up a building awful rotten. Police don't seem to be very concerned, but ain't that always the way with the po-lice?" She added with an annoying emphasis on the "po."
Well, maybe that was because the police were too busy celebrating Wolfram and Hart burning down. Their hatred of the lawyers had always been openly hostile.
Putting down her coffee, tossing down the appropriate change, she said, "I'm leaving."
"Take care of yourself, honey," the waitress chirped in a way that showed it was something she said to all departing customers, not meaning it all.
"Not likely," Lilah commented more to herself as she squinted, adjusting to the early morning light.
Maybe she'd be able to get to her apartment, take what was needed, and get the hell out.
Maybe there was time.
Lilah was not stupid enough to believe any of that, but she continued on her way.
The sound he made as he got up from the floor, stiff muscles making it just that much worse, was quite an ungentlemanly sound.
"Uggghhhh..." he grumbled, blinking, trying to make the blurry vision come into focus.
He was in a bar.
Empty bottles 'round him and he didn't even have a headache. That was a surprise, but he wasn't awake enough to even attempt to be shocked by that.
Stumbling out of the bar, he shielded his eyes as the too bright sun penetrated the slight hazy fog caused by the rainfall of last night. Damn. He'd think about sunglasses, but it was too early to go purchase a pair. Of course, there were probably a few broken store windows - perhaps he could simply borrow a pair - no. He didn't need to.
Walking on, the air was still cool, pavement still damp. Taking small, measured steps, he was tempted to whistle a jaunty tune, but first he needed to make sure it hadn't been a drunkard's dream.
Had to be sure it wasn't a dream.
It was all over the news. Earthquake, fires, rival gangs (how quickly everyone jumps back to denial), and the destruction of a large office building, burning out from the inside. Wesley did not feel any victory, but there was the numb sense of knowing that he had done it. And that was better than winning.
No word on who had died last night, if any, but Wesley was sure that the numbers of Wolfram and Hart were likely to have been depleted and, at the very least, completely scattered and powerless. He did not think of the humans that had tried to go out into the streets last night...
The magics couldn't save everyone.
Just the entire world. It was up to the individual to save himself or herself. He groaned, the lecturing tone of his thoughts giving him the much-delayed headache.
Shaking it off, he made his way down the street. He had several options. Leave town immediately, but that would be most foolish.
Try to contact the Watcher's Council and inform them that they were about to be drawn into the war to end all wars. Too boasting, that.
He'd been fired and he decided that his information didn't have to be shared with those stuff-coats, overseas and too far away to do anything - it was too late for anything, really.
Go back to his apartment. He desperately needed a shower and a shave, fresh clothes. However, there was the possibility of Angel being there. Or Buffy realizing what he had done. That could end in a very bloody painful death.
Yet, he took the walk back to his apartment, not confident he would be safe.
If he died, that was fine.
He didn't matter anymore.
He should have died a long time ago, yet he didn't.
And he wanted a fresh change of clothes. Simple as that.
"Buffy?" he mumbled as he woke up, her fragrance, their combined scent, still hanging in the air.
Raising up his head, he looked around the empty room. Frowning, he got up, calling into the hallway, "Buffy?"
Going back to retrieve his pants, he walked downstairs, to the lobby.
And neither was the shirt that she had tossed off.
She wasn't there.
She had left.
"Buffy?" he asked, more to himself, not wanting to accept that she had left. But...why?
There wasn't an answer to his question
He went to go to his car, see if she had taken her bag, that she was really gone, "maybe she just went to go get something to eat," he tried to reason in his head, but he was panicking, panicking, she had left - but they had worked it out.
It was supposed to be okay.
Not like this.
Angel managed to stop himself from walking out into the sun, a foolish thing, but then, he wouldn't be feeling this horrible thing inside of him. Another dream broken, no, it was more than that.
It was reality shattered, a promise that was lie, this was this thing inside of him, clawing at, mocking him.
She had left him.
I love you.
He never heard her answer. She never answered him.
She was gone.
Closing his eyes, he sat down, the burden too much this time.
She hadn't stayed.
It had been goodbye. And she hadn't told him.
He'd feel rage, god, he wanted to, wanted to scream and yell and burn, yes that was it. Because this hollowness hurt just too much.
But after a long moment, he got up.
He had a war to fight.
And to win.
Alone, if necessary.
She got up from her seat, facing the door as it opened.
He managed to look somewhat shocked, yet didn't seem surprised at all. "And where is Angel?" he asked, by way of greeting.
"At the hotel."
Where I left him.
"Ah. Well. I - I think you've figured it out, haven't you?" he asked sharply.
"Yes. I...didn't go. I wanted to talk to you."
"Really. That surprises me. I was sure that you'd be furious. As you rightly should be."
"What I am is..." Sad. Alone. Ready. "I think I understand."
She hoped that what she wanted to believe in was somehow true.
That there was a reason for this.
"I hadn't intended to have you become a part of my plans, Buffy," he said softly, leaving the doorway, entering the apartment. "Not at all. But things changed, I'm afraid. I had to do the only thing I had left. If I hadn't, they would have won."
"Wolfram and Hart."
"Then tell me this," she asked, the fear and worry leaving her and she suddenly felt strong, stronger than she had in a long time, "why start up the Apocalypse to end it all? Why, Wesley?"
"I answered that question to Lilah last night. Yes, she's still alive," he added off her look, "Not for long. Those that survived the demonic uprising will be after her. She was involved in bringing me to them; she was the one that helped me finalize my plan. Without her knowledge, of course."
"Then, they're after you too."
A reason to fight.
She could live like that forever.
"No. Too weak at the moment. They lost their power last night. They lost the battle. Now the war, the rules, it's all up the air. We're free. I'm free."
"Is that why you did this?"
The stake was sharp, whittled to a fine point, pressed against her skin, underneath her loose sleeve. And if that was the only way - then she'd do it.
"No," he said with a resigned sigh. "I'd like to say I was going mad, that I am insane, but I did it this, because that's the only choice I could make. I had to make a choice. Destiny...prophecies...they're null and void as of now. Rendered without power."
"Many people died."
"More demons died. People have been saved."
"A lot of people are going to die in the next days."
"Yes. I'll have to do my best. It's time now, you see. This isn't an apocalypse than can be fought by the few; it will eventually need the masses. Soon humanity will have to fight to save their world."
A simple question with no answer. She asked it anyway. She needed a reason.
"I changed it Buffy," he said, looking straight at her and what scared her was that there wasn't a mad glint in his eyes, no, there wasn't an ounce of insanity in him. It was perfectly clear. "The Powers That Be have no authority anymore. The dark forces have been scattered. Demons will rise, demons shall always come, but a unified force no longer binds them. It's all over."
"You really believe that?"
"I know it. That is all. I lost my beliefs. I lost a sense of myself, the person I was before. Even if you don't trust in me, believe that."
"I know that," she said softly. Make that final decision, the thought whispered. She dropped the stake; it clattered to the floor. He wasn't surprised by it. "Wesley, I'm coming with you."
A frown and he began to ask, "But Buffy-"
"No. I'm the Slayer. I handle the apocalypses. It's my job."
He put a heavy hand on her shoulder and replied, "What you are saying - I hope you understand."
He nodded slowly, still sluggish and she realized that he reeked of alcohol and hospitals. No doubt about where he spent the night.
"I shall take a shower and get dressed. Pack up, and then, we'll have to leave. To Sunnydale. I - I wanted to make sure that the Hellmouth doesn't resurface considering the magical imbalances that occurred last night."
"You're going to seal it," she replied, somewhat amused.
"That's all it takes? A spell?" A bitter smile crossed her face. She could have been released of her duties; she could have gone elsewhere to college. But those choices were taken from her. And now, she had made one for herself that would last forever.
"Slightly more complicated that a simple spell, but the Hellmouth can be bound to prevent it from reacting to the changes. L.A. is facing the end of days now, and my attention must only be on that."
"Your attention. Got it. You did plan this out."
"No. I planned a way to stop the order to bring chaos. What happens next, that is not planned at all. That is life."
"Go, Wesley," she responded, the answers given to her in full. She could live with them. "I'll go ahead, tell Giles what happened."
"Yes. A Slayer must inform her Watcher," he said, going back to his old lessons, the old beliefs he no longer cared for.
"No. Not for that. Because we have to prepare for the war. And I need to say goodbye. Once we leave Sunnydale, I'm not going back unless I have to."
Unless I have to fight there.
"Is that your decision, then?" he asked, no judgment in his voice, just a resigned, measured tone.
"Yes. It's - it's what I have to do."
He gave her something like a smile and told her, "I shall be grateful for your help. Thank you."
He walked into the other room and she went over to the window.
Everything had changed.
And she was actually happy about it.
This was her choice, her reason. She was going to live.
She left for Sunnydale; walking into the daylight, ready for goodbyes and battles, and for once in her life, she was ready for whatever came next.
She smiled, looking much like the girl that hadn't know her future, that hadn't known she had a sacred destiny. Yet it was a knowing smile, one of a warrior who was prepared, who was ready. For anything.
For whatever happens next.
This hurt less.
She didn't have to feel. It was freeing.
Like being alive.
Lilah quietly entered the apartment, gun drawn, but she wasn't really hiding at all.
Wesley watched her enter, pointing the pistol at her head and drawled, "Now is this the way we must say goodbye?"
She turned swiftly, aiming her gun at his head as well. She certainly looked better, like the slinky ice princess that that slunk into his apartment and left him a book and a number, telling him to choose his destiny.
And he picked something else.
"I think killing you will just be really fun," she said, voice steady and cold.
"No. You won't. And what a way to say bon voyage! I'm leaving the city for a bit, you know," he said in a polite, conversational tone as though they both weren't aiming guns at one another.
"They haven't found me yet. And they won't. I kill you and I leave town."
"No, Lilah, I doubt it, my favorite little cliché." Taking careful steps towards her, he had the gun again her forehead, hers against his own head. "We could end it like this."
She dropped the gun. He followed suit.
Wesley looked over this woman he felt nothing for. The ice princess. The bitch. The one that was once there in a time of desperation.
She did not want to die; Wesley knew that much. This woman who lost her humanity and took up a mask instead, she still feared death, still trembled. Remarkably human, that, especially for Lilah.
He reached over and tasted those cool, perfect lips. Nothing. Absolutely nothing. It had been something that had kept him from insanity; she had kept the solitude from breaking him.
A reprieve from reality.
"You won't escape," he warned her, not out of any feeling, but a mutual broken bond they had unknowingly created whilst they fucked and tried to pretend that nothingness was better than actually having something.
Yet Lilah was too stubborn, too used to winning at the last moment to listen to his warning. She straightened up, breaking away from him, "No, that's you. I'm free."
"Yes, it could appear to be that," he agreed, a swift kick putting both guns out of reach. For now. "But even if you left, you'd start over again, do the same thing, try to be the evil one, when really, you're just as lost as most people. You cannot hide what you are, Lilah. No matter how hard you try. Neither can I."
"That isn't true-" she tried to interject, to save her reputation, refusing to see that it was shattered beyond repair.
"So predictable, we all are. So pathetic. We always make the same mistakes." He thought of Buffy then, adding, "Or we change when it is too late."
"Ooh, lecture me again Wes," she snapped, but she did not move towards the guns, insolent and stupid in her fury.
Grabbing her wrist, he said in a deathly whisper, "Pay attention. One last time. If I see you again, I'll be forced to kill you. In fact, I'll do it happily. Perhaps give you a matching wound across your lovely neck. You always seemed fond of staring at my own. You do know too much, but you can't do anything with it. Yet - if you try to do anything rash or get into my way..."
He trailed off and dragged a finger across her neck for emphasis, unsurprised to see the dark thrill in her eyes.
"It's a new world, Lilah, new rules," he said, taking up a heavy, packed suitcase with everything he needed. "Or rather, no rules at all."
She gave him one final look as he backed away, walking out and leaving her there in the ruins of the city, the destruction of all her planning and plotting. Finally, she asked in a weak, distressed voice, "Is this how it's going to end?"
Not turning around, he promised her, "Lilah, my dear, this is how it's going to begin. Well, that's also an awful cliché, isn't it? Not really anything else to say, though. Let's just say, this is the end. The rest is..."
And he left.