Forever, That's The Whole Point

Chapter 55

Chapter 55

Aurelia and Cassius walked back into her house to find Willow, Cordelia, Oz, Xander, and Giles waiting in the dining room. "Hi." Aurelia said, setting the scythe down.

"Did you find out anything about the scythe?" Willow asked.

"It slices, dices, and makes julienne preacher." Cassius said.

"Caleb?" Giles asked.

"I cut him in half." Aurelia said.

"All right!" Willow cheered.

"He had that coming." Cordelia said.

"Hey, party in my eye socket and everyone's invited." Everyone stared at Xander. "Sometimes I shouldn't say words."

Aurelia nodded. "I just came back to get some things."

"Where are you going?" Willow asked.

"Faith is still holed up in my room, so…. I'm going to stay at Cassius's place tonight." Aurelia shrugged. "Besides, this place is too crowded."

"Aurelia, you don't have to leave." Willow stood up. "We're still very sorry about what happened."

"I know. It's ok. I just need some time to sort through some things, that's all. The mansion is big and quiet, so it'll be good for me tonight. I promise I'll come back in the morning refreshed and with a plan." She smiled and headed up the stairs.

Cassius watched her go and then turned to Willow. "Tell her I'll meet her at the mansion."

"Where are you going?" Xander asked.

"I've got a surprise for her and I need some time to get it together." Without another word, Cassius headed out.

Aurelia walked into the mansion with her bag and looked around. "Cassius?" The place was covered in lots of glowing candles since the power company had deserted Sunnydale. The pinkish purple dress Aurelia had bought for her prom was hanging up beside the lit fireplace. She eyed it suspiciously as she walked over to it. A card and the shoes she'd picked out sat on the concrete seat jutting out from the fireplace.

Aurelia,

Please put your prom dress on and I will

be waiting for you when you are ready.

Love always,

Cassius

She stared at the dress for a moment, sighing that she hadn't gotten to go to prom. After a moment, she took the dress down and headed into the bedroom to change. When she got the dress fastened completely, she looked at herself in the mirror and sighed again. The dress was beautiful. Leaving her long blonde hair down, she walked out into the main room again. Soft music was playing from a portable boombox and Cassius, wearing a tuxedo, was standing in front of the fireplace holding a light pink rose corsage.

He smiled. "You look beautiful." He walked up to her and slipped the corsage on her wrist. "I know it's not a real prom, but I didn't want you to miss out on the experience completely." Taking her hand, he led her back in front of the fireplace and started to twirl her slowly in a circle to the music. "There's even refreshments." He nodded towards a little table set up with little finger foods, a large bowl of red punch, and two crystal wine glasses.

"You went all out for this." Aurelia laughed.

"Of course I did."

"Thank you. For this. It's wonderful."

"I just figured…. Well, you were looking forward to it and you've missed out on so much…. I didn't want you to miss out on this one thing."

"Cassius, my love…. I miss nothing when I'm with you. We're back. I'm holding you. I can feel your love surrounding me when I look in your eyes. Nothing could be better. Everything is right again. And everything will be right from now on." She laid her head on his chest and held him tighter, swaying to the music.

Later, Aurelia and Cassius were lying together in Cassius's bed, fully clothed in comfortable lounge pants and t-shirts. Cassius had his arm around Aurelia and she played with his hand. He rolled over, removing his arm from her, and she sat up. Standing and walking out of the bedroom, she found herself moving back towards the fireplace where the fire was dying down.

As she stared at the dying fire, poking it with a fireplace poker, the First as Caleb appeared. "Pretty, ain't it?"

"You're not him." Aurelia said.

"No, you killed him right and proper. Terrible loss. This man was my good right arm. Course, it don't pain me too much. Don't need an arm. Got an army."

"Yes, an army of vampires. However will I fight…."

"Every day our numbers swell. But then you do have an army of your own. Some thirty-odd pimply-faced girls, don't know the pointy end of a stake. Maybe I should call this off." Aurelia rolled her eyes. "I will overrun this Earth. And when my army outnumbers the humans on this Earth, the scales will tip and I will be made flesh."

"I'm not afraid of you."

"Then why aren't you asleep in your dead lover's arms? Cause he can't help you. Nor Faith, nor your friends, certainly not your wanna-slay brigade. None of those girlies will ever know real power unless you're dead. You know the drill:" The First morphed into Aurelia's form and changed its voice to hers. "Into every generation, a Slayer is born. One girl in all the world. She alone will have the strength and skill to…. There's that word again. What you are. How you'll die again. Alone. Where's your snappy comeback?"

"You're right."

"Hmm. Not your best."

The First disappeared as Cassius walked into the room. "Aurelia? Is something wrong?"

"No. I just realized something." He looked at her expectantly. "Something that never occurred to me before this instant. We're going to win."

Cordelia, Xander, Faith, Giles, Oz, and Willow stared incredulously at Aurelia. She had just lain out a plan to defeat the First and its army of vampires. Cassius stood beside Aurelia, awaiting her friends' reaction.

"What do you think?" Aurelia asked.

"That depends." Xander said. "Are you in any way…. kidding?"

"You don't think it's a good idea?"

"It's pretty radical, B." Faith said.

"It's a lot more than that." Giles said. "Aurelia, what you said, it…. it flies in the face of everything we've ever…. every generation has ever done in the fight against evil. I think it's bloody brilliant."

"You mean that?"

"If you want my opinion."

"Whoa, hey." Willow said. "Not to poop on the party here, but I'm the guy that's gonna have to pull this thing off."

"It is beaucoup d'mojo." Faith said.

"This goes beyond anything I've ever done. I mean, I just started out and this…. It's a total loss of control! And not in a nice, wholesome, my boyfriend is in a band kind of way."

"I wouldn't ask if I didn't think you could do it." Aurelia assured.

"I…. I'm not sure that I'm good enough."

"You can do this, Willow." Giles said. "I'll get a coven I know from England on the line and we'll find out how they can help." He stood up. "I'll go dig up my sources. Quite literally, actually." Giles walked out of the room.

"Come on, let's go assemble the cannon fodder." Cordelia said.

"That's not what we're calling them, sweetie." Xander said, following Cordelia out.

"Not to their faces. What, am I insensitive?"

Aurelia smiled and handed the scythe over to Willow. Faith stood on Aurelia's other side, watching everything. As soon as everyone was out of the room, Faith looked at Aurelia and Cassius. "You two still planning on ending it?"

Aurelia thought about lying for an instant, but decided against it. "It's our destiny." Aurelia said. "It's what has to happen."

"You could fight. You're good at it. You both are."

"I know. And we'll fight. Trust me, we'll fight. But it's our destiny to stop this. We're not going to commit suicide, but something's going to happen down there to cause our deaths."

"I don't want to be the Slayer by myself."

Aurelia smiled knowingly. "Don't worry, Faith. You won't be alone."

Aurelia stood on the porch of her house and stared up at the night sky. She used to dread the nighttime. When Angelus had been hunting her night after night, daytime was her only escape. Daytime was the only time she knew she was safe. Now the nighttime no longer scared her. It exhilarated her like it once had before her lifetime as Elizabeth.

When she was a little girl, a princess of Rome, her father had explained to her that the stars were the souls of those that had passed on. The ones that shone the brightest were her loved ones. They watched over her and protected her. That as long as the stars shown bright, she was safe. No bad could come to her. It had been a lie of course, but as a little girl it had been a magical truth that had helped her sleep soundly at night.

"Hey." Aurelia turned around to find Cassius standing there.

She smiled. "Hey yourself."

"Everything ok?"

"Yeah. I was just looking at the stars and thinking."

"Thinking about anything in particular?"

"Just what my father told me when I was a little girl." She looked back up at the stars. "I wonder if he's up there now. Watching over me."

"Probably. He loved you." Aurelia smiled. "You should get some sleep."

"I know. I wish I could."

"Restless?"

"Anxious. I'm ready for it to be over."

"I am to." He wrapped his arms around her. "I am to."

A car had been driven onto the front lawn of Sunnydale High School and crashed into a palm tree. Papers and boxes were strewn all over the grounds. The place was utterly deserted. Giles led Faith, Cordelia, Oz, Willow, Xander, Aurelia, and Cassis into the school. The potentials were directly behind them.

"Welcome to Sunnydale High." Xander said. "There's no running in the halls, no yelling, no gum chewing and apart from that, there's only one rule. If they move, kill them. If you have to go to the bathroom, it's to your left. If you don't have to go to the bathroom, picture what you're about to face. Better to go now."

"Ok, potentials, in the basement. Follow Faith and Angel." Faith and Angel left with the potentials following.

Oz took Willow's bag and the scythe. "I'll start getting you set up." He said.

"Thanks." Willow smiled at her boyfriend as he made his way to the library.

"I'll go get the weapons ready for the humans guarding up here." Cordelia said, walking to catch up to Oz.

Aurelia turned to the group still standing in the hallway. It was only Willow, Xander, and Giles now. They stared at each other in a heavy silence a moment before Aurelia broke the ice. "So, what your plans for tomorrow?"

"Nothing strenuous." Willow said.

"Well, mini-golf is always the first thing that comes to mind." Xander said.

"I think we can do better than that." Giles said.

"I was thinking about shopping." Willow said. "There's an Arden B. that just opened in the mall!"

"I could use a few items." Xander agreed.

"Well, now aren't we gonna discuss this? Save the world to go to the mall?" Giles asked as Xander, Willow, and Aurelia walked down the hall together away from Giles.

"See, I need a new look." Xander continued. "It's this whole eye patch thing."

"You could go with full black secret agent look." Willow said.

When they reached the hallway leading to the library, Willow stepped over, waving at Aurelia. Xander and Aurelia continued walking. When they passed another corridor, Xander grabbed Aurelia's hand and squeezed it before walking away down the corridor. Aurelia sighed and walked on down the hall by herself. She made her way down to the basement and joined Faith and the potentials over the Seal of Danzalthar. They formed a circle around the edge of the seal. Cassius stood just behind Aurelia, watching.

"You first, B." Faith said, handing Aurelia the knife.

Aurelia took the knife from Faith and used it to cut the palm of her hand so that it bled. She handed the knife to Faith. Moments later, after all the girls had cut their hands, they all held their cut hands out over the seal, activating it. It opened and parted, sinking into the ground to form a staircase into the Hellmouth. Aurelia went in first, followed by Faith, then Cassius, then the rest of the Potentials.

Willow was sitting on the floor of the library in the empty stacks. She was on the second level overlooking the main area. A semi-circle of white candles was lit in front of her. There were other candles in the room around her. Oz sat across from Willow, his back against the railing, watching her. Kennedy stood off to the side, ready to take the scythe down to Aurelia.

"They should be in place." Willow said, sitting back with her hands on her knees. "Ok, magic time. Brace yourselves."

"Come on, Willow. Make it happen." Oz said.

Aurelia, Cassius, Faith, and the other girls walked down into the Hellmouth and found themselves in a massive cavern. They walked forward to the edge of a cliff where they could look out and saw thousands upon thousands of Turok-Han below them on the floor of the Hellmouth. "I'm not worried." Aurelia said as the Turok-Han growled and made noises below them. "I'm not worried."

"Really?" Rona said. "Cause I'm flashing back to Xander's whole bathroom speech."

"Buffy…." Amanda said.

"I'm not worried…." Aurelia insisted. "As long as Willow can work her spell before they…." The Turok-Han looked up at everyone on the cliff. "See us." The snarling Turok-Han army rushed toward the cliff. Aurelia held her ground as the army charged. "Willow…."

Suddenly, Aurelia felt it. It was like a gush of air. All the potentials around her gasped and took steps back. The Turok-Han rushed toward them as they stood on the cliff's edge waiting for battle.

"These guys are dust." Vi said just before the wave of Turok-Han hit them.

Aurelia fought them off with kicks and punches, but the other potentials had super strength now too. And they were keeping up with Aurelia. Vi jumped and kicked a Turok-Han down. Rona punched a Turok-Han in the face, knocking it down. Faith fought one off. Amanda staked a Turok-Han through the heart as Vi beheaded another one. Aurelia fought off the Turok-Han, who were starting to outnumber them. Faith and Cassius and the others were still fighting them as well.

Kennedy ran down into the Hellmouth carrying the scythe. "Buffy! Catch!" She threw the scythe to Aurelia and Aurelia caught the scythe, immediately able to kill the Turok-Han faster than before, dusting them quickly. A Turok-Han attacked Kennedy, who was now able to fend them off with ease. "I could get used to this."

The battle was going well. They were able to keep up with the endless number of Turok-Han that came for them. Vi went after one with intensity never before seen in her. Aurelia used the scythe to behead a Turok-Han. As their numbers increased, some of the Turok-Han were able to get past them and go up through the Hellmouth into the school.

Cassius punched a Turok-Han with his left hand and his finger started to burn. He stared at it. "Aurelia…."

"Keep the line together!" Aurelia called out. "Drive them to the edge! We can't let them do…." She looked down to see that a Turok-Han had stabbed her with a sword from behind, piercing her abdomen. She stumbled forward and collapsed to the ground.

Faith noticed Aurelia lying on the floor. "Buffy!" She rushed to Buffy's side.

"Hold the line." Aurelia said, weakly handing the scythe to Faith. Faith took the scythe and went back into the battle as Aurelia stayed in place on the floor, grunting in pain.

Cassius couldn't see Aurelia, but he could feel her life beginning to slip from her. His claddagh ring started to burn hotter and it began to emanate a white glow. He groaned in pain, but continued to fight his way towards Aurelia.

A group of Turok-Han attacked Faith and she managed to throw the scythe to Rona before they brought her down. Rona used the scythe to mow down a couple of Turok-Han. Aurelia was still lying on the ground weak and wounded.

"Oh no…." Aurelia looked up at Elizabeth's body dressed in the same clothes Aurelia was wearing. "Ow! Mommy, this mortal wound is all…. itchy. You pulled a nice trick. You came pretty close to smacking me down. What more do you want?"

Aurelia looked at her burning ring and smiled, now knowing how she and Cassius would stop this. "I want you…. to get out of my face." With some effort, Aurelia stood up. Rona saw her standing and threw the scythe to Aurelia.

Aurelia caught it and swung it with a mighty force, knocking three Turok-Han off the cliff at once. Faith found renewed strength and kicked her assailants off of her as well. She took out a few Turok-Han, as did another slayer. Vi took out one after another after another. Kennedy disarmed one and dusted another. Aurelia knocked one off the cliff and killed one with the scythe before gasping at the pain on her finger. She stumbled backward, away from the fight, as she stared at her white hot ring.

"Aurelia!" Cassius called. He grabbed her left hand with his and their claddagh rings burned hotter. They both gasped in pain, but they couldn't release their hands. The rings had forged themselves together where they touched. A bright blue light shot up from their clasped hands, knocking a hole in the ceiling, going up through the floor of the library past Willow and through to the open sky.

The light turned a warm orange color as it hit the roof.

"Buffy!" Faith cried.

Their joined hands refracted the orange light out into the Hellmouth like rays of sunshine, but with the concentrated intensity of a laser. Aurelia and Cassius stared at their hands as the orange light worked its magic. The Turok-Han were turning to dust throughout the Hellmouth. The ground started shaking beneath their feet.

Faith called out to the others, "Everybody out, now!" Everyone rushed to the stairs that led up to the Seal. As soon as everyone was out, Faith stopped next to Aurelia and Cassius. Their hands were still glowing, sending rays of light out into the Hellmouth.

Aurelia held the scythe out to Faith with her free hand. "This is yours."

"B…."

"Go on, Faith." Aurelia said, looking at her friend. "You've beat them back. It's time for us to do the cleanup." The walls were crumbling around them. "Be safe, Faith."

Faith stared at them for a long moment before turning and running up the stairs. The school building above Aurelia and Cassius exploded as their eyes met. Faith ran out from the cloud of smoke and jumped into the stolen school bus. The bus drove off with all the survivors.

Aurelia and Cassius looked around them at the crumbling Hellmouth with light shining down on them from above. Cassius was beginning to turn to dust in front of her eyes. "I love you." She said quietly.

"See you soon, stranger." Cassius said. He dusted slowly, first his skin singed, then his muscles, then his bones. Then he was gone.

Aurelia closed her eyes as she felt the peace and the blackness surround her as the Hellmouth crumbled down around her. Her soul slipped quietly away and followed Cassius's soul into the waiting abyss.

Those who were less injured tended to the badly injured survivors on the bus. Vi tended to Rona as Xander took care of an Asian girl. Willow stared out the back of the bus, searching for Aurelia. The town behind them was falling into a massive crater. The destruction was almost right on their heels.

"Ease off." Faith said to Giles. "We're clear." The bus screeched to a halt.

Willow opened the emergency exit door at the back of the bus and jumped down. She ran to the edge of the crater, looking around and hoping to see a sign of Aurelia.

"I don't understand. What did this?" Giles asked.

"Aurelia and Cassius." Faith said.

Willow turned and stared at her. "What?"

"They knew this was coming."

"They're…." She couldn't finish the sentence.

The "Welcome to Sunnydale" sign still stood, perched precariously on the edge of the canyon. The sign teetered a little before falling backwards into the pit that used to be its city. Oz pulled Willow into his arms as she began to cry, mourning the loss of her best friend. Xander stared out at the crater, still hoping that Aurelia would emerge from the rubble.

"They restarted the Eternal Circle." Giles said, staring at out at the vast crater that used to be Sunnydale.

13 Years Later

A blonde haired, 13 year old girl smiled knowingly up at the brown haired 15 year old boy standing in front of her. "Hey, stranger."

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