As the cacophony of sounds rose to eardrum shattering heights, the edgy blond slayer sighed in relief as a familiar voice echoed loudly over the surrounding chaos.
"SILENCE!" Rupert Giles demanded firmly and loudly, removing his glasses for cleaning as he patiently waited for the noise levels to lower to a more acceptable level. Once the room' occupants had turned to him, he replaced his glasses and addressed the room.
"Thank you," he offered at their unified co-operation. "Clearly we have all been brought to the Hyperion's Lobby for some reason," he paused momentarily as he briefly considered the situation. "Perhaps now would be a good time for someone in possession of that reason to step forward and enlighten those of us not cognizant of the facts as to what precisely is happening here?"
A light chuckle echoed through the cavernous room. "Oh, Mr. Giles, If I didn't know that's how you speak normally, I'd accuse you of deliberately making your statement's and questions as long-winded as you possibly could, simply to watch the confusion on the faces surrounding you."
"Tara?" Willow whispered tearfully as the angelic form of her soulmate faded into existence.
Tara smiled softly at the redhead as other ghostly angels appeared beside her.
Joyce smiled at her loved ones, as did Wesley, Fred and Alonna Gunn.
Before Buffy could deny their presence, fearing The First had returned, Whistler popped into place in front of the Angelic Five.
"The Powers are over the moon with your success here, and they've decided it's gift giving time," the balance demon informed the group gleefully, he loved these moments, they were so much easier on his body than when he had to deliver bad news.
"I'll deal with the biggest group first," he began, "With the exception of Buffy and Faith, the rest of you have been released from your calling. From now on, if you still want to fight for the innocent, you might want to consider politics, with WRH gone, the unwashed masses are gonna need someone looking out for their rights!" He offered with a small grin.
Kennedy snarled in fury as she felt the much converted power drain from her. However, she seemed to be the only ex-slayer unhappy about the situation. On top of the very obvious love her girlfriend was projecting that was clearly going to someone that was not her, this ‘gift' from the PTB's ensured that little Miss-Trust-Fund was not a happy camper.
With a snap of his fingers, the vast majority of the room disappeared. "That's them home and happy," Whistler grinned cheerfully.
"Charles Gunn?" He called out, waiting patiently till the injured man slowly made his way forward.
Without saying a word, Alonna smiled lovingly as she stepped forward and healed her brother. As the first happy tear fell from his face, he was shocked to be on the receiving end of a smart smack across the back of his head.
"Mama would beat you black and blue for getting' involved with that dumbass vampire and his ego issues, Charlie Boy. You need to remember your roots. Get yourself over to Anne's place if you be needin' to help the hopeless. Don't make me come back here, my brother, I will slap you silly if you try that crap again," Alonna growled at now very embarrassed ex-street fighter, before turning abruptly to Angel and repeating her gesture to the back of his head.
Returning her gaze to her brother, Alonna smiled, "I love you," she whispered before fading away.
The street wise ex-lawyer smiled to himself as he turned and left the building, saying nothing to the frowning vampire that he had once called friend.
"Illyria," Watcher called to the God King, "You will be returned to the Powers and your rightful place," he said, gaining her attention so that she didn't notice when Fred stepped up behind her. A bright light momentarily blinded the surrounding group, as it faded Fred remained where the God King had stood, she smiled brilliantly at Wesley before hugging him tightly to her, shocking everyone with his corporality.
"And a second chance at life is your gift," the Balance Demon smirked at the elated couple before turning to the one-eyed carpenter, "You. Mr. Harris, get a choice."
"Um...Okay," Xander drawled out slowly, not real sure why he was getting gifts this late in the game, he'd been facing a yearly apocalypse since he was fifteen, and over the last year, since Sunnydale, he'd done a lot of growing up. He fought because it was the right thing to do, not for a reward, or prize, but simply because he could.
"I can return your sight or your girlfriend," Whistler grinned at the startled young man.
Xander's mind whirled with indecision, he darted a quick glance at his friends, Buffy in particular. "Would I be pulling her out of Heaven, ‘cause, gotta say, that way leads to badness?"
Whistler snorted, "Nah, she's actually been in a kind of way station; the PTB's were still arguing about what to do with her. She died fighting for the safety of the world, but she was a vengeance demon for a really long time, so..." he shrugged slightly, not really wanting to finish the thought let alone the sentence.
It really wasn't a hard decision, he'd lost Anya twice already; once to his own insecurities and once to death, "Third time's the charm," he muttered to himself before stating clearly that the loss of his eye was nothing compared to the loss of his Anya."
As the ex-vengeance demon popped into existence, Xander felt a burning sting in his blind eye. When his blurred vision refocused, his beautiful girl stood before him and smiled as she removed his eye patch.
Seeing through two eyes for the first time in a little over a year, Xander smiled in wonder.
"That was my gift Xander," Anya smiled shyly, hopeful that she'd done the right thing.
As the couple shared a soft kiss, Willow Rosenberg burst into tears.
"Willow?" Buffy softly tried to gain her distressed friend's attention.
The hysterical redhead threw herself into her friend's embrace. Between her sniffs, sobs and hiccups, Buffy finally understood the problem; however, it wasn't Buffy that addressed the weeping Wiccan.
"Sweetie, I wouldn't be offering to come back if I didn't want to."
Willow froze momentarily as Tara's words seeped into her brain. She slowly turned towards the angelic figure of her lost love, her hope and awe clearly visible for all to see.
Tara smiled shyly, her eyes brimming with happy tears as she nodded to the shocked girl that she loved, before leaping into her waiting arms.
The remaining scoobies, reached for the nearest hand as their tears of joy fell in copious amounts.
Whistler cleared his throat in an unsuccessful attempt at subtlety, "Just let me get through these last few, and then you have all the time in the world for your reunions - okay?"
At the return of their attention, the representative of the Powers-That-Be focused on the dark slayer, "We've cleared your record, Faith. You and Nikki's boy are slated to become the protector's of the Cleveland Hellmouth. Does that work for you, Dollface?"
"Hell, yeah!" Faith replied with a laugh; unbelievably happy to be given this chance. Not that she hadn't been happy to help Buffy in Sunnydale, but the opportunity to be the Slayer without standing in the blonde's shadow, was something that she had never been able to vocalise without coming across as needy; something she never wanted to be accused of being.
Robin smile as he wrapped his arm around the brunette's shoulder, happy to be a part of the world his mother had lived, fought and died in. The Wood legacy repeated in the new generation.
"Now, as I understand it, Miss Dawn Summers and Mr Rupert Giles both want the same thing." Whistler grinned and the looks of confusion the two shared before returning their gazes to him in askance.
"I don't really appreciate being referred to as a ‘thing'," Joyce Summers sniffed in indignation, before throwing a devilish grin at her daughters and a wink at Giles.
It took a few moments to settle Dawn down, before Whistler could reclaim the attention of the remaining group.
Alone on the stairs, his companions either gone or returned to their companions in the mortal realm, Whistler smiled his Mona Lisa smile and started his final bit of business.
"Once upon a time, there were five prophecies," he began with a grin. "The first one was fulfilled when Buffy met the master, the second was the whole Acathla episode, the third is the Shanshu, the forth is the joining of the champions and the fifth is the coronation of the supernatural world's King and Queen."
Giles was a little chagrined when every eye in the room, with the exception of Angel and Whistler, turned to him. He quickly removed his glasses and cleaned them as he composed himself. "I have absolutely no idea what this is about, but rest assured I'll begin researching it as soon as we return to headquarters," he assured them all stiffly.
Whistler, waved his hand in dismissal, "The last two will take care of themselves, we're here for the Shanshu," he stated firmly. "Now, because you both qualify, the Powers, in their ultimate wisdom, have decided you both get a brass ring and become live boys."
"Um...both?" Buffy asked in confusion.
"Yeah, brood boy and snarky," Whistler replied with a smirk as he pointed out both, he knew the, until now, hiding vamp was gonna be pissed over that little moniker.
Buffy followed his direction with her eyes. When she connected with twin soulful pools of cerulean blue, she gasped, her hand covering her mouth as her eyes filled with tears, "Hello, Cutie," she whispered, giving a watery giggle as he stalked towards her.
Spike stood in front of her, lovingly gazing at the face he had so often dreamed about. He raised his left hand, his finger lightly caressing her cheek, "Missed you," he whispered. He had only needed to see the look on her face when she had first sought him out for all his fears to dissipate. He briefly wondered how he had ever managed to stay away when he knew there was no where he could call home that didn't include Buffy.
Angel allowed Spike his moment, secure in the knowledge that once he was human, Buffy would always choose her soulmate over a milksop like William.
"Buffy," Whistler spoke directly to the blonde slayer. "Your gift is peace, love and happiness. After the Shanshu, you and your mate get to be together, get married and be crowned King and Queen of the supernatural set. You have made the PTBs proud. Congratulations, and may all your blessings be little ones!"
"Spike," the demon turned to the blond vampire next. "As your demon willingly joined the fight for the good guys and fought for the return of his soul, your gift is life. However, here's the kicker, a vampire demon inside a living body makes a slayer,"
Whistler grinned at the gaping faces around him before, finally, turning to Angel. "Now you, big guy; you come with a slight complication, so you need to make a choice."
Angel frowned at the Power's representative. He suddenly had a foreboding feeling.
"Because your demon didn't want this, he's gonna be removed. But that leaves us with a dilemma. Do we give you the soul that belongs to that body - giving Liam O'Conner a second chance at life; or do we give that soul, that's done all the work, the body it belongs to. It's up to you, Angel."
Angel thought about his options. The one thing he wanted was to get Buffy away from Spike, to once and for all show the little upstart that there was no way in hell he was getting Angel's cookie. Buffy was his soulmate, and because she was his soulmate she wouldn't care if the body changed as long as the soul was there. Clearly the soul was the important bit. Nodding his head decisively, he turned to Whistler with his decision. "The soul; It's the soul that makes me Angel, not the body."
With a nod of his head and a clap of his hands, Whistler's part had ended and he popped away from the suddenly silent room.
"This I can give the answer to," Giles announced happily. "I would like to introduce you all to Ava of the Calderash Clan, the gypsy that Angelus killed."
As Angel stood frozen in shock, the room exploded in gales of laughter.