Happily Ever After
By Miss Witch

Title: Happily Ever After
Author: Miss Witch
Rating: PG (maybe, probably G)
Summary: Buffy dies. No, really... this is it. End of the line. Seriously, she's not coming back this time.
Spoilers: None really. It takes place about 10 years in the future.
Disclaimer: I own nothing. Not even my car. BtVS belongs to Joss (all hail), Mutant Enemy (grrr argh), Fox, UPN, WB.... whoever. Basically, it belongs to someone who is not me, no matter how much I whine and beg.
Distribution: Ask and ye shall probably receive.
Notes: <> means thoughts.
Notes 2: Thanks to Caz for the beta. Even though I pretty much ignored everything you said. ;-)


"It's time." Michael looked up from the ancient book he was perusing.

"Are you sure?" he asked. The messenger shrugged.

"As sure as we can be in matters concerning her."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Buffy was dying. There were no two ways about it. No trip to the hospital, magic spell or ritual was going to help her. She had managed to kill the Kraal demon, but it had managed to do fatal damage to her before going where ever it was demons went when they die.

"Buffy." the word was torn from Giles' throat. He held his Slayer tightly in his arms as she collapsed. She smiled up at him.

"It's ok, Giles." she said, patting his hand. "There's no pain." Giles looked up at Willow's concerned face.

"Get the others." he ordered, knowing that there wasn't much time. "Now!" he bellowed when she stood staring. Giles rocked Buffy in his arms. "Please don't leave." he whispered. "I love you."

Buffy smiled. "I love you too, Giles." she giggled. "Funny how I've never called you Rupert. Even when we've been married for years." Giles smoothed down her hair, tears running silently down his face.

"I don't know that I would've thought to answer if you did." he told her. "Please hang on, Buffy." he pleaded. Buffy shook her head.

"I'm tired, Giles. We both knew this would happen. I'm 37, older than any Slayer." Buffy laughed. "There's a reason the Slayer is called as a teenager. The adult body wears out."

Willow rushed back, the rest of the gang behind her. Xander took a wild look around. "We have to get her to a hospital." Giles shook his head.

"Nothing to be done." he whispered. He knew that his Slayer and his heart would soon be gone from this life. Buffy reached out toward the group.

"Promise me...." she began, as they crowded around her. They all looked anxiously into her face, each touching her in some way. She could feel them willing her to live.

How fitting that her last moments would be spent with these people. With Anya and Xander, Willow and Tara. Dawn, and... who is that guy? "A date?" she asked Dawn. "You brought a date on patrol?" And Giles. With her family. Oh, she wasn't related by blood. Well, maybe Dawn, but they were her family nonetheless.

"Promise me," she said again. "No spells, Will. Let me go." she pleaded. Willow nodded, crying silently. "Giles." Buffy whispered. "Promise me that you will live once I'm gone. You will laugh, and love. And you won't feel guilt about doing those things without me."

"Buffy..." There was a world of protest in her name. Buffy pointed at her face.

"Resolve face, Giles." she quipped, getting teary grins from the gang. "Promise me."

"I promise, Buffy." he whispered.

"Say it." she demanded. Giles closed his eyes painfully.

"I promised I will live, love and laugh after your gone. Without guilt." he vowed. Buffy sighed contently. She knew that he would keep his word. She looked at each of the gang.

"I want you all to promise me that you'll go on. Live life. Celebrate, don't mourn me. And I promise you that I will be with you always. Death hasn't stopped me before, it certainly won't now." Buffy looked at her friends. "I love you all. Never forget that." Buffy fought the creeping sleep that threatened her. She wasn't done, she hadn't said what she needed to yet. And she wasn't going until she was done.

"Giles. I love you." Giles was sobbing openly, tears freely flowing down his face. Buffy reached up and touched his cheek. Giles covered it with his own. "I will always love you." Giles bent down and covered her lips with his. Buffy returned the kiss. Giles felt her sigh, her life force fleeing her body.

Buffy died, surrounded by the people she loved.

For the first time, since the dawn of time, a Slayer died knowing that she'd truly made a difference in the world, and that she was loved.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"It's ok Buffy." Buffy gasped as she looked up from the scene of her friends crying over her lifeless body. Silent tears streamed from her eyes. The strong voice spoke seemingly from nowhere.

"Who's there?" she cried out. A tall, well-built blonde man appeared from the darkness behind her. He was dressed in black leather pants and a black silk shirt. "I'm getting sent to Hell?" she demanded. "You gotta be kidding me?"

The man smiled, no, he grinned at her. <Oh, no. You're so about to find out why I was the Slayer.>

"I know why you're the Slayer" he assured her. Buffy gaped in shock. "You are not going to Hell."

"I am the Archangel Michael." This was his favorite part. He unfurled his wings. The fact that they were 6 feet from end to end, unspread, never failed to impress.

Buffy stood unimpressed.

"Nice. You get good height with them?" she asked irreverently, tossing back her blonde hair. Michael threw back his head and laughed. He furled his wings back and held out his arm.

"Time to go. I've come to escort you to Heaven." Buffy stared at him confused.

"Why? I don't need an angel! They need angels." she said, angrily, gesturing to her friends.

Giles was weeping inconsolably over her still form, Willow and Xander on either side, holding him. Even Anya cried, holding on to Dawn. Buffy's eyes filled with tears. She wished she could make their pain disappear.

"You can't." Michael said, reading her thoughts again. "The pain will heal in it's own time." He waved his hand toward the scene. As he did, forms appeared standing behind each of the group, 2 behind Giles.

Each form was dressed differently, to mirror charges. Each shared the sorrow of the group, but provided silent support. The forms behind Giles and her still form were a mirror of herself and Giles, right down to her blonde hair and Giles' glasses.

"And they do have Guardians, or angels, as you call us. You've all had angels. We couldn't directly interfere. We could only influence.

"The Guardians have stood with you and your friends since the beginning. They have rejoiced with your happiness, and mourned with your sorrow." Michael looked at Buffy.

"We helped you stand every time you thought it was over, gave you strength to continue when you thought you'd failed. When you were first called, when Merrick died, when your parents divorced, they helped you carry on. When Angel turned, your angel gave you the strength to do what you needed to. When you hit rock bottom and were sleeping with Spike, it was your Guardian who kept you from the dark side. It was our hope and power you drew on when you thought yours was gone." Michael looked at the scene.

"They were also there when your new friends didn't abandon you when they found out you were the Slayer, you received your award at the Prom, when you realized you loved Giles, when you married him, and all the joy that has come with it."

"And for now, your guardian will stand and help hold Giles up. Help him to find the strength to keep his promise."

Buffy brought her hand to her lips. It was shaking.

"I want him to be happy. I don't want him to feel like he failed. He never failed me."

Michael placed a hand on her shoulder from behind.

"He knows that, deep down. I can't tell you the future. I can't tell you he'll be ok. But I can tell you that he loved you, and will cherish the time you had together." Buffy looked over her shoulder at Michael.

"Do....do you think he'll train another Slayer." she whispered. Michael laughed.

"No, Buffy. I think I can safely say that Rupert Giles will not train another Slayer." Michael put a hand on her arm. "Come Buffy, it's time to go." Buffy gave her friends one last look. She bent down and placed a final kiss on the top of Giles head.

"Good bye my love. I will be waiting." Straightening, she looked at the 2 angels standing behind him. "Take care of him." she ordered.

"Let's go." she said to Michael, turning her back on the painful scene. The sight that greeted her as she turned, stunned her. Where there had been nothing was now filled with Guardians, both male and female. They were dressed in battle armor. It reminded Buffy of Roman costumes. White tunics with gold chest armor. Some held swords, others spears, all had helmets tucked under there arms.

And every single one of them stood at attention, saluting her as she passed. Buffy stared at them, incredible moved. <Boy, Slayers get some welcome into heaven>

"No, just you." Michael told her. "No human, no mortal, has done what you have done for the universe" He put his hand on her back to escort her through the crowd. As they moved, the guardians snapped to attention like she was a general.

As she looked at their faces, she knew. She knew that these creatures, angels, guardians, whatever they were, respected her, were even in a little bit of awe of her.

"Yes," Michael said, "You are a hero amongst those considered heroes. We have followed your battle against evil the way humans follow television shows. How can they help but be awed of you. Do you have any idea how many times an escort has been dispatched to bring you here? How many times they've returned without you because you escaped death yet again? Even the one time you were here and were pulled back into the mortal realm, it was believed that the trauma of returning would cause you to self-destruct and return on your own."

<They thought I'd commit suicide.> Michael nodded. "Yes, we did. But you didn't. You pulled yourself up and carried on. Even knowing what was waiting for you, you staying in the death, destruction and heartbreak. You lived. And we..." Michael stopped and indicated the gathered guardians "We were so proud of you, proud that you fought for our side. It was quite an honor to be your Guardian, or that of any of your friends." Michael smiled. "So, it will be with no small ceremony than each of you will be welcomed to your just rewards here."

With that statement, and a flourish of his hand, a whole world opened up to Buffy. It was bright, it was beautiful, and her mother stood waiting for her. With a cry, Buffy ran into her waiting arms.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"It's time." Michael looked up from his book.

"Are you sure?" he asked the messenger. The messenger nodded.

"Positive." Michael nodded and shut the book. The messenger bowed out. Michael strode from where he worked to a pavilion where a small blonde woman sunned herself.

"It's time." he told her. Buffy opened her eyes.

"Are you sending an angel for him?" she asked. Michael shook his head. Buffy grew indignant, jumping to her feet. "You said that they would all get....!"

"I'm sending you." he said. Buffy froze, her eyes filling with tears.

"Thank you."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Giles was dying. There were no two ways about it. He'd lived a long full life. He'd kept his promise to Buffy, he'd lived, laughed and loved after her death. He'd never remarried, never found anyone he wanted to. But he'd dated, and the Scooby gang had kept him busy.

They surrounded them now. Xander and Anya, Willow and Tara, Dawn and that Jake chap who never quite got the hang of battling evil, but certainly tried. They'd all come to be with him while he waited for death.

"I wish you didn't have to go." Willow whispered. Giles lifted a gnarled hand to her cheek. Willow's red hair had a bold streak of gray in the front. Xander still teased that it made her look like Rogue from the X-Men.

"I'm an old man." he told her. "I've survived demons, vampires and more apocalypses than I care to count. I'm ready to move on." Giles managed a wry smile. "You just don't want to get stuck doing all the research." he joked weakly.

Willow and Tara exchanged soft looks.

Years of demon fighting had worn Giles down. He was in his late eighties, and quite simply, his heart was giving out on him. Privately, Willow thought that his heart had called it quits years before with Buffy's death.

Giles looked around at his family and smiled sleepily.

"I love you all." he said. "Don't be sad. I'll soon be seeing.... Buffy!!"

Everyone looked up in surprise. They followed his gaze across the room. There were a series of gasps.

Buffy had been watching as tears of sorrow rolled down her friends' faces. At Michael's nod, she stepped forward. She knew from Michael's explanation and instructions that she'd be surrounded by heavenly light.

"Buffy!!" Dawn rushed forward, but skidded to a halt before she actually touched her.

"It's ok." Buffy told them. "As a one time deal only, I have been allowed to cross into this dimension as a corporeal being."

"Oh sure. Dead for 30 odd years, and you come back spouting big words." Xander joked.

"It means we can touch her." Giles said softly from the bed. Buffy smiled at him bravely. Her eyes filled with tears, because she could sense the pain he was in. She knew how hard he was fighting for each breath, and how much pain each one caused him. Dawn looked at Buffy with wide eyes and grabbed her in a ferocious hug.

"I've missed you." she said. Buffy hugged her back.

"Same here munchkin."

Buffy was soon caught in a huge group hug. They all touched her face reverently as they pulled away.

"I can't believe it...."

"We've missed you so much."

"You look good, I'm glad to see we don't age in heaven." With the last comment from Anya, the entire group started to laugh.

"I've missed all of you." she told them, looking around the group. "Except you." she said, pointing at a man sitting off to the side. It was the same man from the night she died. Just older. "Who the hell are you?" The gentleman in question looked at Dawn, panicked. Dawn put her arm around him.

"This is Jake. My husband. He stuck around after you... I mean, after the Kraal demon, so I figured he was a keeper." Buffy nodded.

She walked over to Giles' bedside. "But I've missed you most of all." she whispered, taking his hand in hers. "You have kept your promise to me. And it's time to stop fighting." Buffy kissed the back of his hand and laid it against her cheek. Buffy turned at the sound of a throat clearing behind her. Michael made it clear that she was running out of time.

"There's not much time." she told her friends. "but I need to pass on a message before I go." Buffy began to move about the small room, touching each of her friends. "You've all fought against the powers of darkness for a long time. And the 'good guys' are actually way more appreciative than we ever thought." she snickered. "Just know, we'll all be together again some day. Oh, and that I've been so proud of all of you. A Slayer never had better friends. Oh and I love the hair, Will." she added, getting a strangled giggle from Willow.

Buffy turned back to Giles, who'd never taken his eyes off of her.

"It's time to rest now." Buffy told him, the glow about her increasing as she took his hand again. Giles closed his eyes and took one last breath. Willow clutched at Tara's hand as Giles rose from the bed.

Not the old, worn Giles that the Scoobies had become accustomed to. Instead it was a younger version, even younger than when they first met him at Sunnydale High. He was surrounded by the same golden glow that suffused Buffy.

"Buffy." he said, with joy. He reached out and touched her cheek. "I missed you so." he whispered. He brought his lips down on hers.

Willow sobbed audibly. She wouldn't have believed that she could be so happy and so unbearably sad at the same time. Tara's hand was joined by Xander's and then Dawn's.

Buffy pulled away from Giles gently and turned to her friends, her hand still in his. The Scooby Gang was together one last time.

"It's time to go." she told them. "I doubt they'll let me do anything this cool ever again. I'll try and talk them into it, but somehow I don't see it. But we'll be waiting for you." she promised.

With that, she and Giles began to fade from view. A chorus of "I love yous" filled the air as they disappeared.

Giles soon found himself alone with Buffy and a strange man.

"This is Michael." Buffy said by way of explanation.

"The Archangel Michael?" Giles asked. Michael nodded. "Of course, that makes perfect sense." When Buffy looked puzzled Giles sighed in exasperation. "You've been here 30 odd years and it never once occurred to you to ask why he was in charge, did it?" Buffy shrugged.

"No, not really." Giles pinched the bridge of his nose.

"The Archangel Michael led the armies of God against Satan. Michael, himself, expelled Satan from Heaven." Buffy's lips made an "O" shape as Michael chuckled warmly.

"Rupert Giles, it is my pleasure to welcome you to Heaven." With a sweep of his hand, the heavenly dimension opened before Giles' eyes. Giles looked at the scene before him, down at Buffy and then over at Michael.

"I'm already in Heaven." he told him, smiling down at Buffy. Buffy grinned back. She tugged on his hand to drag him through the dimension.

"Do you know what the best part of all of this is?" she asked Giles, after jumping on him and kissing him thoroughly. Giles shook his head.

"What's the best part?" he asked smiling.

"We finally get to live 'happily ever after'."