The Powers That Be

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DISCLAIMER: I own absolutely no one, although I really wish I did, because that utopian day was too good to be erased ....
SPOILERS: I Will Remember You
DISTRIBUTION: Isa, Daala, Sabreil, Gabby, Crystal if she wants it ... um ... well anyone else, yeah, sure! LMK. :)
DEDICATIONS: To all my fellow B/A shippers. *sob*
SUMMARY: The end of I Will Remember You, and beyond ... MY WAY. As in, I rewrote it. It's not so damn depressing that way!
NOTES: This episode traumatized me. It really did. So I had to do this. This is also the result of listening to my Dixie Chicks CD one too many times ...

Seven seconds.

"It's not enough time!" she cried, clinging desperately to him.

He tried to soothe her as best he could, stroking her hair, holding her to him, even as tears streaked his own cheeks. "Shhh ... please ... please," he pleaded.

This couldn't be happening. Not with everything they had fought for, everything they had lost, everything they had *won* ... it couldn't be happening.

"I'll never forget," she sobbed brokenly. "I'll never forget. I'll never forget. I'll never forget ..."

Angel knew it was coming. Any second now, everything would be erased and she *would* forget. He held her closer, trying to remember the feeling, to keep it locked in his heart - because after this, there was no going back. He would remember their time together for an eternity. She would never know the difference.

She was so desperate, holding onto him, scared for her life. Buffy couldn't help but wonder if that was what people felt like when they knew they were about it die. She certainly wanted to. Her life was about to halt, and she was powerless to stop it.

Angel watched the second hand tick past the twelve, past the one, past the two, as Buffy clung to him and cried.

"Where is it?" she choked out. "You said a minute. You said ..."

"I don't know," he admitted, choking on a sob himself. "They told me ... nine o'clock."

"Oh, God, Angel!" Buffy broke down again, slipping to the floor, wrapping her arms around her knees as she rocked back and forth. "I don't want it to end. I don't want it to end. Don't want it to end. Don't want it ..."

"It was the only way," Angel whispered.

"No! No!" she shook her head, crying. "It wasn't. It wasn't, Angel! We could have been okay ... we could have ..."

"We owe it to the world."

"We don't owe anything! What did I ever do?! WHAT DID I EVER DO TO THE WORLD?!" Buffy screamed desperately.

"Nothing. You didn't do anything ... and that's why you don't have to remember."

"I want to remember. I want to remember. I don't want to forget. If they're going to take it away, I want to remember that for one day, I was a normal girl. For one day, we had everything. Oh, Angel ..."

"Shhh. I know. I know." He sat beside her, cradling her in his arms.

"When is it coming? WHEN IS IT COMING?!"

"They said nine."

"The Oracles?"


"What do they know?! They're stupid Oujia boards! What do they know?!"

"Buffy ..."

"No! Don't 'Buffy' me!" Buffy looked heavenward. "Take it now!" she yelled in the direction of the ceiling. "Just take it away, if you're going to, GET IT OVER WITH! Don't make me suffer. DON'T MAKE ME SUFFER!"

Angel didn't know how to respond to his broken Slayer, so he just continued rocking her back and forth.

The door burst open. "Hey, Angel, Man, I think something went wrong, because I can still remember everything, including you and your girlfr- oh." Doyle stopped in his tracks. "What happened? Did you change your mind? The Powers aren't going to be happy ..."

"SHUT UP!" Buffy yelled. "Get out! Get OUT! This isn't your place! Leave us alone! Please ..." she begged, her voice quieting. "Leave us alone."

"I'd love to," Doyle told her honestly. "But I think we need to figure out what went wrong ... your watch!"

"What?" Angel asked, aggravated.

"You gave the Oracles your watch. Was it set right?" Doyle glanced at the clock. Nine-oh-two.

"Yes," Angel snapped. "It was set perfectly."

"Maybe the Oracles ... changed ... their minds," Buffy suggested tearfully.

Doyle looked at her sadly. "They don't have that kind of power. They can make the decision, but they can't take it back. That's up to the powers ... and the powers tend not to intervene."

"Maybe they did! Maybe they did intervene!" Buffy was clinging to the last little bit of hope she had left.

Doyle gave Angel a look. "I think we need to contact the Oracles again."

"But what if it suddenly ... erases?" Angel asked quietly.

"Then it won't make a difference, because we won't remember any of this. You could kill me and once it changed back we wouldn't remember. Everything would be like it was before."

"No," Buffy begged desperately. "Don't leave me here. Don't leave me here."

"I'm sorry, Lass, but -"

"Come on." Angel helped her stand up and allowed her to fully lean against him for support, their arms around each other.

"Hey, what's the deal?" Cordelia burst in. "Doyle called my cell and gave me some crap about not remembering and told me not to bother coming, which of course meant I should come, and ... Gosh, Buffy, you're a mess. Both of you. What happened?"

"I don't have time to explain," Angel turned away, heading for the door with Buffy.

Cordelia sighed. "You turned into a baddie again, didn't you, and Doyle had to curse you again, didn't he." She glared at Doyle. "I *told* you."

"No," Angel told her flatly, exiting with Buffy.

"What is *their* problem?" Cordelia asked.

"Long story. I'll tell you later. If there's a later. Just stay here." Doyle turned to leave, but Cordelia caught his arm.

"*If* there's a later? Oh no you don't. I'm coming with you."


"All right, you should be set to go, if your soul is still pure," Doyle informed Angel.

"I don't see how he could possibly be pure after all that banging downstairs last night," Cordelia muttered.

"I want to go with Angel," Buffy whispered like a little girl.

"I'm sorry, Lass, you can't," Doyle told her, and Cordelia reached out to give her a hug.

Buffy jerked away. "Why not? The powers have something to do with me, too, God knows this is all their fault, and I'll be damned if I don't get to say my two cents."

Doyle groaned and was about to protest when the gateway opened.

Angel picked Buffy up before entering.

"What have you brought me?" the female Oracle boomed.

Angel was about to present her with a gift when Buffy slid out of his arms and stepped forward.


"Excuse me?" The Oracle looked shocked.

"Me," Buffy repeated, suddenly very calm. "Take me."

"Why would you give up yourself after your love is prepared to give up everything for you?"

"Because I love him, and because it's not worth it to save me if he's not there alongside me."

Both Oracles looked shocked, and immediately began discussing something in a foreign language.

Finally, the male Oracle turned to Buffy. "Do you know why nothing has been erased yet?"

"Why?" she asked tiredly.

"The Powers That Be cut in."

"I knew it!" Buffy shrieked.

"Not so fast." The Oracle shook his head. "It was a test."

"What?" Buffy gasped.

"A test," the Oracle repeated.

"For which one of us?" Angel asked.

"Both of you," the female Oracle supplied.

"How?" Buffy asked softly, sniffling.

"It was a test to see how things would be if he was human. It was a test to see if your love was true. And it was a test to see if you were worthy. Both of you."

"Worthy?" Buffy questioned.

"Of redemption."

"What do *I* need redemption for?" Buffy frowned.

"You fell in love with the enemy. The Powers were not too pleased with that." The Oracle turned to Angel. "But mostly it was a test for you. To see if, when things didn't go right, you'd sacrifice everything, for her. That tested two of the three things -- your love and your worthiness."

"And?" Buffy asked desperately.

"He has passed." The male Oracle told her, then turned back to Angel. "Your love for her is true. And your love for the world is true, no matter how cruel it has been to you. You have earned your redemption."

"But ... no ... I haven't ... I ..."

Buffy looked at Angel incredulously. "The talking Oujia boards just said you did! Listen to them."

"We prefer the term 'Oracles' to 'talking Oujia boards'," the female one informed her coolly.

"I'm sorry," Buffy whispered, not wanting to be on her bad side.

"It's quite all right." The woman smiled.

"What are ... what are the rules?" Angel asked slowly.

"You are human. You keep your supernatural strength -- that means you both still work for the powers, just as you were doing. But now you have each other. And that will make you stronger."

The male Oracle spoke up. "The Powers realized this. That also factored into their decision. Don't disappoint them."

"Oh, we won't!" Buffy grinned so broadly that her face hurt. And then, much to the surprise of the Oracles, she embraced each one of them, whispering her thanks.

Angel reached out his hand to her, and she took it willingly, following him. When they had reached the exit, he turned back. "Thank you."

The Oracles nodded, attempting to look stern, but tiny smiles gave them both away.

There was a blinding flash of light, and suddenly the couple was standing back on the stone floor with Cordelia and Doyle.

"Hey wow, that was quick!" Cordelia murmured. "So? Are we about to be erased?"

Buffy jumping Angel and engaging him in a French kiss was all the answer Cordelia needed.

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