Special thanks to puguita for the icon. She's the web mistress of the Xander-centric archive Map of the Human Heart. Go, visit. It's one of the best collections of Xander-centric stories on the Web with nary a bash-y fic in sight. It's one of my feel-good stops and I'm thrilled she's updating the site again. Hopefully, Living History will be archived there very soon. I just need to read through all my files to make sure they're reasonably free of typos.
Even though in Living History Xander has a fake eye replacing the patch, I couldn't resist using this icon for the final part.
This is it. The end. Finito. I'll be sort of off line tomorrow since I have to make sure the beginning of nwhepcat's fic is in order. *sigh* Yes, WiP again. That's because I've already hit 100 pages on it. Because I'm stupid. And complicated.
It's something of a loose follow up to Living History, although you don't have to read this story to understand the b-day fic. It merely takes place in the same universe that starts with Whisper and moves on to Living History.
Once again, thank you all. I honestly will try to answer comments on the last two parts this weekend.
Screening anonymous comments are off for this post.
Also, in celebration for this being the end, this is the second disc of the Living History soundtrack. You have seven days to download the tracks. I'll post a warning for both Disc One and Disc Two the day before each one expires. Let me know if there are problems with the links.
Instructions to Get the Music
- Click on the song title just like you would any other link.
- Click on the link that will download the file.
- A dialog box will come up. Follow the instructions there.
- It's My Life by Talk Talk (Xander's Discovery Theme)
- Nightswimming by R.E.M. (Catherine's Theme)
- Don't Walk Away by Pat Benatar (Dawn's Theme with Buffy and Xander)
- Bouncing Around the Room (Live) by Phish (Snake's Theme)
- What's the Frequency Kenneth? by R.E.M. (Willow's Insanity Theme)
- A Sorta Fairytale by Tori Amos (Faith's Theme)
- When I Am King by Great Big Sea (Buffy's and Xander's Reconciliation Theme)
- Wonderwall by Oasis (Faith's and Xander's Theme)
- Ordinary Day by Vanessa Carlton (Catherine's and Xander's Theme)
- Black Balloon by The Goo Goo Dolls (J'Nal's and Willow's Theme)
- Someday by Nickelback (Giles's Theme)
- As Cool As I Am by Dar Williams (Kennedy's Theme)
- Time Passes By by Kathy Mattea (Rona's Theme)
- My Father's Shoes by Cliff Eberhardt (Xander's Theme)
- Time of Your Life (Good Riddance) [Acoustic] by Green Day (Willow's Theme)
- Send It Up by Vertical Horizon (Scoobs' Closing Theme)
- Am I Here Yet? by Billie Meyers (Closing Theme)
You know the drill:
Up to Part 66 is here.
Up to Part 69 is here.
Continued from Part 69.
Part 70: In the End A New Beginning
The last day was a laid-back affair.
J’Nal managed to convince Andrew to let him have a Cling-On lexicon, making sure to stress how very important it was to have it since Cling-On may be the future’s last, best hope to rescue the universe. Andrew was hooked, lined, and sinkered into turning it over, although J’Nal had to sit through a brief lesson in how to properly speak the language and use the book.
Willow and Giles managed to convince Catherine to part with her family journal and the letter—the one that was made public—so they could do something called “zerocks.” Once they explained that “zerocksing” meant electronically copying the pages they could see in the journal and the letter explaining about the future for future reference, Catherine let them have both after she extracted a promise that she’d get them back.
Dawn showed up with something called “disposable kammerraz” and made the Cleveland crew and Catherine’s team stand together in groups while she snapped away. She disappeared after she had consumed three of these boxes, only to return a few hours later and hand a stack of images to Catherine’s people with a promise that she didn’t make copies for the present-day people.
Catherine’s team oooed and aaahhhed over the likenesses. Catherine knew she biased, but she thought the best one was the one with her in the middle grinning like a fool with Alexander and Faith on either side of her. Faith had her dimpled, cheeky grin and Alexander seemed on the verge of laughing.
Hunh. She had his smile. She never noticed that before. Looks an awful lot like family, she thought. Catherine’s caution kicked in and she removed the picture from general view by shoving it in her pocket and hiding it until the images were packed away.
All in all, there was a lot of low-key happy natter and chatter, exactly the kind of thing she’d expect after a hard mission.
As the sun set, the time finally came for the household to trudge back to the alley where Catherine and her people made their entrance. At first Catherine was a little nervous that the crowd would attract attention, but she decided that she didn’t care.
Charlie had the Grail, the letters, the likenesses, and Catherine’s family journal tucked in a bag that was slung over his shoulders. Tikri had her MemePad up and recording the good-bye for posterity. J’Nal nervously paced as he concentrated on the spell back home.
“We need to say good-bye,” Ruda said as she tugged on Catherine’s coat.
“I hate long good-byes,” Charlie good-naturedly grumbled as he approached the Cleveland group one last time to do the grip and grin. Catherine noticed he paused to exchange a few words with Alexander, Faith, and Giles, probably offering encouragement about their search for the Polgar Syndrome cure.
J’Nal was a little more reserved, opting to merely wave and smile, although he did make it his business to stand before his ca-Rosenberg, cross his arms over his chest, and bow deeply at the waist to show his respect and acknowledge her superior place in his universe.
Catherine bit her lip to keep from laughing when Willow blew Prima tradition out of the water by clumsily copying J’Nal’s actions. She had no idea that the proper response was to simply accept it with a nod. The icing on the cake was when Willow hugged a shocked J’Nal, whispered something in his ear, and planted a kiss on his cheek.
As J’Nal dreamily retreated past Catherine, the Watcher Honoria couldn’t resist. “Went well?”
“She bowed to me. She bowed to me,” he said with wonder.
“What did she say?” Catherine asked.
J’Nal’s white teeth flashed in his smile. “She said thank you. To me.”
“Go get the spell started, you big old mush,” Catherine teased.
J’Nal’s head was obviously still full of cotton since he did what Catherine said without complaining that he wasn’t a mush.
Tikri was busy glad-handing the Cleveland group when Catherine stepped forward. First she approached Alexander and shuffled, not quite sure what to say.
He surprised her by engulfing her in a hug. “It was nice meeting you Catherine,” he said.
“It was good meeting you…Xander,” Catherine said back.
He leaned back so he could look at her, but didn’t let her go. She thought his smile would split his face in two and his hazel eyes— both the real and the fake one— seemed to sparkle in the dim light. “Xander. Much better.”
She could feel her own smile as she answered, “Yeah. I think so, too.” Out of the corner of her eye, she could see Faith standing with her hands in her pockets and fidgeting. She held out an arm to the Slayer and said, “Come here, you.”
“You’re a hugger, hunh?” Faith asked.
Catherine reached out and pulled Faith into the combined embrace of herself and Alex—no, Xander, she’ll have to remember that—and said, “It was good meeting you too, Faith.”
Faith stiffened for a moment before finally relaxing into the hug. “Back atchya.” she murmured.
Looks like family. Feels like family, Catherine thought as she allowed herself a moment to enjoy it.
She reluctantly broke away from them. While she wasn’t all that surprised to see Xander blushing around his smile, the fact that Faith was blushing around her dimpled grin was a shock, a nice shock, but still a shock.
She turned to the next person in line only to come eyeball-to-eyeball with an amused-looking Dawn. “We all going to get one of those? Or do we have to be —rah-sens to get one?”
“Dawn!” Xander exclaimed.
“She’s right.” Catherine forced herself to look comically serious. “There’s enough of me for everyone.”
Which is how Catherine ended up hugging almost everyone in the Cleveland crew. When she finally reached Robin, she stopped.
He shook his head with a grin and said, “It’s fine. You don’t have to hug me.”
Catherine studied him a moment. “I know your family. Well, sort of. I’ll tell them I met you.”
Robin started, although Catherine wasn’t sure if it was because he was surprised he had descendants, or that she admitted to knowing he had descendants, or if it was because she said she’d contact them about him.
“Try not to be too hard on me, hunh?” he said lightly.
“I’ll tell them the truth,” Catherine promised. “I will say that you are a brave and honorable man who passionately believes in the mission.”
A beatific smile spread across Robin’s face. “Thank you. That’s all anyone can ask for.” He held out his hand for her to shake.
“You’re welcome,” she said quietly as she gripped his hand momentarily before turning away.
In the meantime, Ruda was engaged in a flurry of hugs with everyone in the Cleveland group, but when she got to Buffy she stopped short. As Buffy nervously shuffled from one foot to the next, Ruda drew herself up to her full height and, with as much dignity as she could muster, formally stuck out her right hand.
Buffy looked at it a moment, as if not sure what it meant. The gaze traveled from hand to face. Whatever Ruda’s expression, it prompted a warm million-dollar California smile from the blonde Slayer as she just as formally reached out and grasped the proffered peace offering.
Since formality and Ruda were at the best of times nodding acquaintances, the dark-haired girl engulfed Buffy in a lingering hug before bouncing to Catherine’s side. Through the whole business Buffy’s grin didn’t dim one jot and even widened when she saw the Watcher Honoria place an arm around her charge.
“J’Nal says everyone needs to back up a little,” Charlie announced.
The Cleveland crew shuffled a few steps back.
Catherine could hear J’Nal’s chanting rise in tone and pitch behind her until there was a distinct sound of a pop followed by a subsonic roar. She turned around and saw the swirling pool of pure light hanging in midair. She could swear that she could see home on the other side despite the glare.
J’Nal got to his feet. “I’ll anchor us. Hopefully the ride won’t be as rough as the last time.” With a final wave at the Cleveland group, he stepped into the portal without looking back.
“C’mon,” Ruda said as she grabbed Tikri. “I’ll make sure we don’t get too bruised.”
“All systems ready, back to the future we go,” the witnesser agreed as she stepped through the portal arm-in-arm with the Slayer.
Catherine Anastasia Harris-Lanoire-rah paused and took a final glance back, eyes searching the Cleveland group until she found the particular two people she was looking for.
She couldn’t help it.
She wildly waved.
And yes, her heart skipped a beat when those very two people waved back.
“Will you miss this?” Charlie asked.
“No,” Catherine firmly said as she turned back to the portal.
“Are you disappointed?” Charlie asked.
An illuminating grin—her inheritance from across a few hundred generations and a few hundred light years—spread across the Watcher Honoria’s face.
“Never,” she softly replied.
And then she stepped into the light.