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15 May 2012 @ 10:48 pm
Fic: A Slayer Tale [BtVS / Angel]  
Title: A Slayer Tale
Word Count: 3641
Rating: Teen and Up
Original/Fandom: Buffy the Vampire Slayer / Angel
Characters/Pairings: Angel/Buffy, Faith, Connor, Dawn, Willow, Xander
Warnings: none
Summary: Years after the events of Not Fade Away, Angel and a small band of refugees are holed up in the Hyperion. One of the small bright spots are Angel's Slayer Tales.
Notes: written for writerverse Table of Doom challenge to fill prompts: Once Upon a Time, The Great Escape, Happy
I reserve the right to update the hell out of this since it hasn't hit that spot I was hoping for yet, but deadlines loom!

A Slayer Tale

“Once upon a time, there was a Slayer.”

“The Slayer,” came a chorus of voices.

Angel smiled indulgently at the kids surrounding him and nodded. “Yes, The Slayer. She was gifted with strength and smarts and a whole lot of heart. And her name was...”

“Buffy Summers!!!!”

Angel kept his smile in place, even as he felt the customary pain that always accompanied hearing her name. He kept thinking it would get better as time passed; it didn’t. He looked at the young faces looking up at him, eagerly waiting for their nighttime dose of hope and distraction. Over their heads, he could see the teens and adults preparing the sleeping accommodations for the night. Beyond that, a few were reinforcing the wards at the entrance to this shell of a room that had once been the basement of the Hyperion Hotel. Even though exceptions for him were written into the spells, Angel could feel the energy pressing against him every night.

He told pieces of her story, almost as familiar to most of them now as to him, every night to entrance the children while their parents worked. Every so often, he would tell the whole thing. Tonight was one of those nights. As he spoke, he could still see her in his mind, all fierce beauty and deadly determination. He talked about her struggles and her victories, about her survival through the destruction of Sunnydale and how she moved on to live the life she had always deserved. He fell silent.

One of the younger ones, who hadn’t heard the whole story before, asked, “But what happened to her when the world ended?”

He looked at the little blonde girl and reached out to pat her hair. “No one knows. When Hell broke through, she was far, far away from here.”

The girl smiled up at him brightly and said with complete confidence, “She’s still out there, Angel.” He closed his eyes against the misguided faith of the innocent. He remembered all too well the horrific onslaught of the demon horde. Only he and Illyria had survived that first night; somehow, she had dragged him away, found some blood, stood watch while he healed. It was close to a week before he came back to any conscious awareness. By that time, the whole world was Hell for all he knew. Once he had healed enough to care for himself, Illyria had taken off for parts unknown.

Since then, he had heard nothing from outside LA. People had told him that they had heard radio reports of the horde moving steadily across the country for the first couple of days. Then even those communications had ceased. Angel had spent the years since then gathering up the survivors, educating them about their enemies, and teaching them how to protect themselves, both physically and mystically.

Eventually, the stories about Buffy and the Slayer line came out. The youngsters were entranced by the idea of someone like them who was strong enough to fight the demons and the forces of darkness. They latched onto these stories, starving for the glimpse of light and freedom that they offered. They put their faith in the idea of Buffy, the idea that she was out there working to save them from the fear and desperation that haunted them, some from the day they were born.

Angel knew better. He was alone, as they all were. He had opened the gates of Hell and had lost everything: friends, his promise of Shanshu, and Buffy. Angel had no more faith, but, if it put a smile on their faces, even temporarily, he would pretend.

Eventually, the children were put to bed and the room quieted down. With a brief nod to the night’s guard, Angel slipped through the warded doorway into the darkness. Making his way through the debris to the street, he began a patrol. Although he had trained all who were able to defend themselves, he would not allow any of the humans to accompany him, unwilling to risk another innocent life on his conscience. So every night he walked the perimeter of the hotel alone, making sure that nothing was getting too close to their little community.

Over the last year, the demons had been crowding in closer and closer, oftentimes crossing the invisible border that Angel had defined as his territory. The amount of defensible terrain was decreasing rapidly. Every few months, Angel would set out on a recon/recruitment trip, looking for new survivors moving into the area, extra supplies, anything useful. The last two trips hadn’t turned up any humans; the increase in the demon population was blatantly obvious however.

He heard the sound of fighting in the distance and altered his course to check it out. It could be another survivor, although it was much more likely to be a demon battle. Every now and then, the demon clans would start fighting between themselves, sparing Angel the necessity of killing them. But he still needed to know what was happening.

Surprise didn’t even begin to cover his reaction when he turned the corner and saw her. He thought that maybe he’d finally, really, lost his mind. But there she was, blonde hair shining in the moonlight, a whirl of lethal motion as she handily dispatched the Taplop demon with a grin. She froze for a second, then turned toward Angel, instinctively zeroing in on his exact position.

Her smile widened as she started toward him, but her expression abruptly changed and she started running. “Angel, duck!”

Without question, he crouched and moved to the side, hearing the whir of a projectile as he did. He came back up and set off after Buffy who was running, he supposed in the direction of their attacker. As he followed her down the dark street, an uneasy feeling settled over him. His trepidation proved justified when they turned down an alleyway to find a dozen waiting demons. Angel and Buffy pivoted as one and headed away at top speed. Buffy fell back half a step to allow Angel to take the lead given his greater familiarity with the terrain.

Taking some unexpected shortcuts, they lost their pursuers quickly and he then led her on to the Hyperion. Everyone looked up as they entered, still running, Angel not feeling safe until they were beyond the protective magical barrier. He turned to look at her and she smiled nervously as she felt not just his attention, but that of everyone else in the room.

Her smile faded to grim resolve as she looked around at the refugees. She noted the children, especially, and nodded to herself slowly as if coming to some decision in her head. She motioned to Angel and they withdrew to a more private area, a whisper of multiple conversations spreading through the room as everyone started talking at once.

She looked at him, studying him. He looked tired and worn, as if he’d been carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders. There were so many things she wanted to say to him, that she thought she’d never have the chance to say. The last few years had been brutal. They knew that the scourge had originated in LA, which meant that either Angel had turned evil or that he’d been in the first wave of defense. And from what they had encountered in the years since, they didn’t hold out much hope that any of Angel’s people had survived.

And Buffy had once again had to put her personal desires second to the fate of the world. Tactically, they had to wait before moving into LA, containing the demonic onrush and slowly pushing the lines back, until finally, finally, they could set up a camp just outside of the city. Two weeks ago, they’d started to move in, each of the top ten Slayers taking a different section. Faith and Buffy had flipped for their assignments: Faith drawing the Wolfram & Hart district, while Buffy took the Hyperion area. Buffy was already late reporting back, but she had kept pushing further in, desperate to find some clue, some resolution as to Angel’s condition.

Reluctantly putting all of that to the side for now, she looked back at the crowded room. “How soon can they be ready to move?” she asked quietly.

Angel looked at her, still stunned at the fact that she was standing here, real and alive. A thousand questions warred inside his head as her words slowly sank in.

“Move?” he repeated, matching his volume to hers, trying not to draw any more attention than they already were. From across the room, he could see the little blonde who had been so sure that Buffy was still out there sitting up on her cot, staring wide-eyed at the legend in their midst. “Move to where?”

“East.” She looked over the basement’s population with a practiced eye. “Probably take us about two weeks with a crowd this size.”

Two weeks. Angel was floored. Was it really possible that safety was that close this whole time? He hadn’t believed that there was anything to head toward; they’d just set up camp and tried to survive. Buffy could see the self-recrimination in his expression and hastened to reassure him.

“That’ll get them to our base camp. From there, it’s probably another couple of weeks to a month to true safety. I think we might have to give most of California up for lost, but we’ve finally got everything pretty much confined to this area.”

“Safety?” They turned to see those people nearest looking at them, hope warring with caution in their wide eyes, unable to stay quiet any longer. A buzz of excitement spiralled quickly throughout the room.

Buffy winced at Angel. “Guess the cat’s out of the bag.”

Angel hastily pulled together the de facto leaders of their little community while the rest of the adults held back, trying to pretend that they weren’t listening, or tried to settle the children back to sleep.

Buffy looked at the seven men and women surrounding her. They were pictures of exhaustion and malnutrition, and yet hope shone in each of their eyes.

“When can we leave?” was the first question.

“That depends,” Buffy replied. “How many of you are able to fight? I’m not going to be able to provide defense for a group this large all by myself. But I can go back and bring more Slayers now that I know where you all are.”

“I can help,” Angel broke in.

Buffy shook her head regretfully. “No can do, Angel. We’re going to have to move during the day.” Only Angel could read the regret in her eyes belying the brisk leadership tone she had adopted.

He nodded. It made sense. Plenty of demons were able to move about in daylight, but overall they still preferred the dark, when the humans were more vulnerable. The sun would help to provide the group with an extra layer of protection.

They sat with the seven for about an hour as they quickly made plans. Buffy had done this several times before and proceeded very efficiently. After some discussion, she agreed that they would be able to leave in the morning. Angel would make his way on his own beginning the following night.

Buffy smiled as she stood. “Everyone get some sleep, then. We’ll leave right after dawn.”

They drifted away. The kids were already sleeping, the adults trying to give Buffy and Angel their privacy. Only the teen girls sat still watching the tiny blonde Slayer as she stared up at the dark vampire, whispering among themselves as they waited for the unbridled passion to assert itself. Buffy’s eyes flickered over to them and she looked back to Angel with a wry grin.

“Is there someplace we can talk?” she asked softly.

Angel motioned for her to follow. They exited the basement, and she followed Angel up the half-demolished stairs to the remains of his office. He had barely turned to face her before she had wrapped herself around him and was holding on tightly. Without thought, his arms circled her. He had not allowed himself to get close to any of the humans under his care and, aside from a few comforting hugs for the little kids now and then, it had been a very long time since he had had this kind of contact with anyone. He closed his eyes, reveling in the feel of her heartbeat, the warmth of her skin.

She buried her head in his chest, allowing herself to savor this one selfish moment, the sensation of his hands gently stroking her back.

He kissed the top of her head. “Buffy,” he murmured.

She pulled back and looked up at him, a shimmer of tears in her eyes. Finally finding him after this time, alive and whole, and once again, bowing to duty. It was only the thought that after this, they would be fighting together, side-by-side once more that kept her from breaking down entirely.

“Angel.” She stretched up to meet his lips with hers. He eagerly responded.

Both aware that they were nowhere near safe, the kiss ended shortly after it had begun. As they disengaged, she smiled. “I’ve missed that. I never thought we’d get to do that again.” Her fingers traced the curve of his jaw, then rested against his cheek, unwilling to lose contact.

Her expression grew stern. “You keep yourself safe, okay? Don’t take any chances. Just head straight to the camp. Xander and Dawn should be there, maybe even Faith or Willow will be back already. They’ll vouch for you if there are any problems.”

He saw the worry in her eyes and brushed his knuckles across her cheek. “I will if you will.” He leaned into her again, meeting her lips gently before pulling back. “We should head back downstairs.”

She nodded reluctantly and they headed carefully back down the stairs and into the now quiet room, most choosing to rest in preparation for the morning. Angel found a bedroll had been prepared for Buffy, her bag resting beside it. “Well, good night,” he said softly. He turned to leave her alone, but was stopped by her hand tightening its grip on his. He turned back to see her hopeful eyes.

“Stay with me?” she whispered.

He was struck by how young she could still seem after all these years. He squeezed her hand and dropped a quick kiss on her forehead. “Just let me make sure everything is secure. I’ll come back.”

He quickly checked that everyone is settled, making sure that those on door duty will switch halfway through the night to ensure that they will be able to make the trip the following day, and eagerly headed back to Buffy. A smile crossed his lips as the thought wandered through his mind: ‘Back to Buffy.

As he drew nearer, he found her sleeping soundly but silently on top of the bedroll. Her hair was still pulled back into a tight braid, but tendrils had escaped and gently framed her face. He eased down next to her, just sitting and watching her for a few minutes. Her face was older, showed some wear from the past few years, he thought, but she was just as beautiful as ever.

Suddenly, without opening her eyes, she flung an arm out toward his shoulder, gently but firmly pulling him toward her. With a chuckle, he acquiesced, sliding down till he was laying next to her. She turned and wiggled until they were flush against each other, her back to his chest. She sighed contentedly as she pulled his arm around her waist and within minutes, he felt her fall back into sleep.

He stayed awake for hours just feeling her breathe, allowing her warmth to spread through his cold skin, thanking gods that he no longer believed in for her survival. His hopeful imaginings of a real future together morphed seamlessly into dreams when he finally gave in to fatigue.

He started awake as she tried to slip out from under his arm. His senses told him that dawn was nearing. She turned and looked at him, regret at their impending departure shading her expression.

Angel smiled encouragingly. “It’s just a few more weeks,” he offered.

She chuckled, her face brightening a bit. “You’ve changed since Sunnydale.”

Angel nodded. He really had changed in those first years after Sunnydale when he had had friends and purpose and a belief that there was a future. He thought that he had lost all that after the Apocalypse, but maybe he had just buried it. There was certainly potential for brooding, he acknowledged with a wry smile, wondering how long before he forgave himself for not searching conditions farther out than he had, but he couldn’t deny that he felt genuinely hopeful for the first time in a long time.

He stood and pulled her to him, holding her tightly, trying to share with her his hope that they would get their happy ending. He pulled back to look her in the eye. “Soon, Buffy. I promise.”

It was only half an hour later that he watched her lead the refugees out of the Hyperion into the daylight. He stood in the shadows, his eyes trained on her until he couldn’t see her anymore, trying to hold on to that feeling of hope.

That night, he started out on his own, following the directions that Buffy had given him. He encountered surprisingly little resistance; Buffy had done a good job of clearing the area on her way in. On the third night, he came upon the refugees’ camp and spent another precious hour with her. Her evident exhaustion, despite her protests that she couldn’t defend them alone, he knew that she was doing her level best, kept his visit short as he tried to allow her as much rest as possible. With another kiss and a smile, he promised to see her at the base camp.

One more week and he was there. As he had continued, he could see how the demons were already filling back in where Buffy had created voids in the population. It was going to get hairy for Buffy and the rest of them before they made it out.

As Angel approached the camp, he was met by an unfamiliar Slayer who looked like she would be just as happy to stake him and he tried to make himself seem as unthreatening as possible.

“You Angel?” she asked suspiciously, trying to match the vampire in front of her to her memory of the picture Faith had shown her a week ago. Before he could say anything, a familiar voice broke in.

“That’s him.”

Angel looked beyond the girl to see Connor stepping out of a nearby building. The young man smiled widely as he nodded at the vampire. “Didn’t know if you made it.”

Angel shook his head, astounded. “I... you got out?”

“No.” Connor’s face darkened slightly. “But I had enough warning to get some people and some weapons together. We’ve been holding our own. Then Faith found us a few weeks ago, led us back here. She’s gone back out to find Buffy.”

“She shouldn't be too far behind me, maybe a couple of days. She’s leading a group of about 50 people.”

Connor led Angel into the building that was serving as their temporary headquarters, the suspicious Slayer thankfully returning to her guard duties. Inside, it was bustling. There were a number of Slayers, a large number of refugees, and when Connor had led him to an inner room, Willow, Xander, and Dawn gathered around a laptop.

Xander spared a half-hearted smirk for the vampire, but Willow grinned widely when they saw him. Dawn was on her feet in an instant and throwing herself at Angel with an elated squeal. “You’re alive!” She jumped back. “Well, not alive, of course, but... Wow!” She twirled around and then stopped, looking behind him, expectantly. “Where’s Buffy?”

“She should be a few days behind me, but she’ll be here,” he answered. He watched as Dawn not-so-subtly sidled over to stand next to Connor as he updated the Scoobies on Buffy’s plan.

As a couple days turned into a few turned into five, tensions rose, but finally about halfway through the sixth day, Buffy and Faith led the entire group of Hyperion refugees into camp. Both Slayers sported a handful of bruises and lacerations, and were obviously fatigued, but they walked tall and proud. They both broke into relieved smiles when they saw Angel waiting for them in the shadows.

After a few days of rest, Buffy and Angel set out one night for the final leg of the journey; Faith and the other Slayers and Scoobies escorting the civilians by day. They slowly emerged into a world Angel didn’t recognize, one which now knew the truth about things that went bump in the night. A world entirely populated by survivors.

In some ways, he has to be even more careful in this new world. People know what idiosyncrasies to look for now and they aren’t afraid to fight back. But he has a place, working with the Scoobies and the Slayers as they continue to ensure the safety of mankind. They may not be able to banish the demons, but they will continue to keep them contained.

And he has her once more. The Slayer, his savior, his love. And while Willow spends a good amount of her spare time researching how to remove the curse, he and Buffy spend their time getting to know one another again, stealing kisses on patrol, and talking throughout the night.

And he knows that they will live (not quite perfectly) Happily Ever After.

riverotter1951riverotter1951 on May 23rd, 2012 07:05 pm (UTC)
This is poignant with Angel telling the story of Buffy. Good back story about what happened and the present as well. Wonderful as Angel and Buffy reunite with all the love evident between them. The ending is bittersweet with their living together while Willow spends her spare time researching while they keep the demons contained.

Will Willow be successful?
magickmoonsmagickmoons on May 24th, 2012 02:02 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much. By the time I actually got this 'finished' and posted, I couldn't tell if it was worth of hill of beans anymore. It's nice to see that some of what I was trying to convey actually came through :)

And of course, Willow will ultimately be successful :D