"Loose Ends..."



Summary: Following final victory over the Senior Ps, the triumph over Darkness has been sealed...But there's always something left behind...

***

LA...The under-reconstruction former Wolfram-Hart tower, now housing the offices of Angel, Burkle, Gunn, and Walthrop...LA's most unique legal/investigative firm...Though the legal credentials of its associates might not have stood the utmost scrutiny...

Senior associate Liam Angel's office...A week from next Tuesday...

A weeping, guilt-ridden...Human-souled...Harmony apologizing once again to the frowning Buffy seated next to her...Angel behind his desk, doing his best to be invisible to the Slayer's glare...

"I feel so bad, Buffy...Keeping your letters, telling you William didn't want to take your calls...I know I should've tried to control It...But I couldn't stop It..." she sobbed...

"Oh, no..." Buffy shook her head, giving the vampiress a sympathetic look...A gentle pat... "It's not you I blame Harmony...You're not responsible for what your demon did..."

No, I can't blame you, honey...But...she turned to eye Angel coolly... "But...I can blame the jealous sob who didn't tell me William's soul was still here, nearly let him slide into hell..."

Angel sighed...Look, Buffy...he began... "What did you expect?...I've never claimed to be a saint...And I had good reasons for doubting..."

She waved a hand...Enough...

"If he can forgive you, I can...It's forgotten..." she looked at him...

Provided...He...She paused as William entered from the room where he'd been for the past ten...Holding some sheets of paper...

She looked intently at his face...As did Harmony...

"You read them?..." Buffy asked... "All my letters...?"

Yeah...he nodded...

And...They were generally about what I'd expected...he sighed...Very kind...

"And I care too..." he eyed her...

Harmony looking at him, then Buffy...Oh...

Buffy looking rather crestfallen...Then up at him...

"Will?..." she began, standing up and moving to him...A plea in her voice... "You can't have read..."

He gently interrupting her...

"All were...Except that first one..." A smile breaking out on his face... "That one was a bit more than I'd ever dared hope for..."

She smiling back... "You liked that one, eh?..."



Yeah...he grinned... "A bit overdone, some might say...But hey, I'm the insanely overblown romantic type, so naturally a declaration like that appeals to me..."

Thought it would...Buffy nodded...

"What the hell did she write in the first one?..." Angel hissed to Harmony...Who gave an innocent look...What?...Would my innocent soul have retained the memory, even if my fiendish demon might have opened...Some...? He stared at her...

"Ok..." she nodded... "It was beautiful...Passionate bordering on suicidal...Left no doubts about it..."

"Guess you got a little nervous after that..." Will noted to Buffy who had frowned briefly at Harmony, then let herself be pulled away for a quiet talk...

"Just didn't think you were ever gonna believe me..." she sighed... "I'm sorry...I shoulda known you'd never give up on me..."

But you shoulda believed in me enough to come straight out to Rome months ago...she whacked him slightly...

Yeah...he sighed... "I'm sorry too, Buffy..." It's ok...It's fine...she hugged him...Pulling him close... "Alls well that ends well...Thank God..."

My love...she kissed him gently, then with increasing passion...A desperate embrace at the end...William...she whispered...Forgive me...

"Never leave me again...Please..."

"Well..." a beaming Harmony nodded happily... "Looks like we've finally got things set to rights...The Partners are kaput...The world's safe...And all vampires are souled again..."

Ummn...Thanks to you, boss...she noted to the frowning Angel...

"Well...I dunno if I particularly love being put out of a good chunk of my job..." Buffy noted from where she held a gasping Will in a vise-tight embrace... "And Giles and the Council are a leetle concerned about what'll happen to all those restored souls...They are still vamps, ya know...There've already been reports of staking suicides..."

Only in extreme cases...And they deserve the right to make a choice...The rest, who do want the chance to live their lost lives'll be fine...Angel waved a hand... "We'll take care of them and get them back on their feet...It'll be fine...Where there are a few readjustment problems, we'll handle it..."

Yeah...Harmony nodded... "I mean just look at me...Ready to get out there...At night, anyway...And get on with my interrupted life..."

After I figure out how to explain things to my family...she winced a bit...

"They did take my coming back from the dead and savagely killing Grandma a leetle hard...But they'll be really pleased once they understand..."

Hmmn...A now-released Will (Sorry for the near-throttling, babe...Buffy noted apologetically) shook his head... "I'm still not sure about this one, poof-boy...We might have waited and thought things over...Tried it in small stages rather than on the global scale...These sort always have consequences you know..."

"We only had use of the Partners' power for a short time...I had to make a decision and once we were sure it wouldn't affect the handful of souled vamps, I felt it was the only choice...Give these people a fair chance like you and I have been given..."

"Well..." Buffy eyed him... "It's done...And we hafta to hope for the best...Lucky for you though, Will came through ok...Else I'd be driving you through your office wall right now..."

Will grinned at her...But turned serious... I dunno...he sighed...



"The Powers That Be never give gifts for free..."

***

An underground lair deep in LA's sewer system...

She looked at the pictures taped to the dank cement wall, collected from various sources, mostly Net, some over years and a bit faded and crumbling, some fresh, gathered in the past few nights ...Staring carefully at the first...

"Mr. Walthrop..." she gazed at Spike, in his trophy duster, a mocking pose mailed to the Council of Watchers after his second triumph over a Slayer, the copy preserved and treasured by her fiend over the years since...And at one of the modern William, post-soul, captured from a Wolfram-Hart security camera and placed on the web by some Internet fan in the know... "Forgive me..." she murmured...Barely able to look the now, at last, partly-freed man in the face...So like the kind and courageous man her trapped, lost soul had vaguely sensed through the lost years to have begun to free himself...

She could not of course, as a restored handmaiden of Christ, offer him the love even her demon had felt...But she could yet offer him, the one her black side had so horribly condemned, who'd done so much, in the limited way a trapped soul could, to comfort her poor soul though the decades of horror, a service of love...

"Forgive my weakness and sin, sir...But I who though my weakness began, will end this curse and your torments...I swear it on the soul God has so mercifully and miraculously restored to me..."

Her eyes wandered to the next set of photos...The famed, at least to those in the know, Slayer of Slayers, Ms. Buffy Summers...A cold, hard look coming over her face...Her voice steely...

"And you, Slayer...You who betrayed your sacred duty...Keeping this poor man in torment because his demon amused you...Using him as your sexual plaything and abandoning him when he began to save himself...With no help from anyone, least of all you...I, Drusilla Alice Waverly...Will not let you make him suffer further to serve your pleasures, then live out a lonely existence in Immortal horror...No...I will give him the peace and joy of Heaven this good man so deserves..."

She looked away, nerving herself for the final encounter...Her spirit quavering a bit, she breathed deep and resolutely brought her eyes up to look at the Monster...The Author of all horror...He who'd taken all from her and betrayed her compassion...Nearly made her doubt God's infinite mercy...

But God had at last restored her...With not only the monstrous power of the fiend now fled from her, but the strength of the Slayer whom she would have been...Had...He failed...

She now had the strength...And faith to do this work...The work Ms. Summers and her fellows had failed to complete...To bring the peace of God to all the tormented...

But first...The original circle had to be closed...The original Fiend punished and removed to torment no more...

She looked upon the face of Nemesis himself...A smiling, suited Angel in a months-old publicity photo for Wolfram-Hart...

"My name..." she told the photo... "Is Drusilla Alice Waverly..."

"You drove me insane...Cursed my soul...Made me doubt my faith..."

Killed my family...

"Prepare...To die..." A stake whipped into the wall, striking the photo exactly in the heart...

"My name..." she repeated, like a mantra... "Is Drusilla Alice Waverly..."

"You made me a monster...You cowardly murdered my brave old uncles...You killed my fellow noviates in the very sanctuary of the holy church..."



"Prepare...To die..."

Another strike dead on target...

"My name..." she stared firmly at the photo... "Is Drusilla Alice Waverly..."

"You stole my life...Killed my family..."

"Prepare...To die..."

Two stakes fired at once...Direct hits...Striking so hard the photo burned and the stakes vaporized to dust, leaving only charred bits in the wall...

"And may God have mercy on your pitiful soul..."

***


Go Back