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Intrusion - Chapter 4 (Epilogue)

18th December 2006 (00:35)
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Here's the final chapter of this story. Big thank yous to everyone who's commented so far. Previous sections are here, here and here.

Teaser:
Behind her, the Pacific Ocean was still dark and brooding, untouched by the first rays of sunlight sliding through and over the mountains and sparkling off the dancing waves in the bay. The headland she was standing on was once a line of bluffs, separating the coastal plain from the sea. For a brief time it had been the rim of a crater. Then came a time of storms and high winds, and the greedy ocean had broken through; and now she stood on a promontory guarding the entrance to a perfect circular bay. There was talk of developing the area for watersports, a marina… but for the time being it was mostly deserted. Which suited her fine.


Epilogue

Some time later

Willow eased the rented convertible off the potholed road onto the grass and sighed with relieved tension. A quick but careful check on the passenger laid out on the back seat showed she was breathing steadily and normally. Just asleep. Opening the door, the redhead stepped out onto the cool earth and stretched. The wind ruffled her hair playfully.

Behind her, the Pacific Ocean was still dark and brooding, untouched by the first rays of sunlight sliding through and over the mountains and sparkling off the dancing waves in the bay. The headland she was standing on was once a line of bluffs, separating the coastal plain from the sea. For a brief time it had been the rim of a crater. Then came a time of storms and high winds, and the greedy ocean had broken through; and now she stood on a promontory guarding the entrance to a perfect circular bay. There was talk of developing the area for watersports, a marina… but for the time being it was mostly deserted. 

Which suited her fine. There were a lot of memories up here. She forced herself to visit, every time she passed through southern California. To remind herself what had happened, and possibly – she was willing to admit in the privacy of her own mind – as a form of penance. Self-punishment, even. But now the tumbled yellow stonework was half-hidden by flourishing weeds, and a few hardy wind-blown grasses had even started to colonise the scorched black circle of ground she’d thought permanently dead. Life continued, and the world moved on. 

Her reflections were brought to a rapid halt by the faint sounds of stirring behind her. Whirling round, she met Kennedy’s eyes as she slowly blinked awake, and smiled tenderly. 

“How d’you feel, sweetie?” 

“Urgh. Like I’ve just been shot half a dozen ti- No, wait a minute. Actually I feel great… which is kinda weird when you think about it.” 

“Well, you are a Slayer. You’ve got all those mystical healing powers of yours.” 

“Yeah. Although I suspect Willow healing powers might have been involved somewhere along the line too, huh?” 

Willow grinned in reply. “I’m just glad you’re safe. Things got pretty bad back there. Um, d’you think we ought to pay compensation to the hotel for, y’know, wrecking their entire top floor?” 

Kennedy looked dubious. “How much compensation are we talking about? I mean, I could ask Dad for an advance on my allowance…my allowance for the next forty years… but even that’s hardly going to…” She trailed off as Willow tried, and failed rather badly, to suppress a fit of giggles. “Hold on. What is it you’re not telling me?” 

Willow’s grin became even broader, but instead of replying she reached over to the car’s front passenger seat for the PDA lying there. Switching it on and activating the cell modem, she tossed it to Kennedy, who absently caught it one-handed, propped herself up on her other elbow and looked at the screen. 

“So we did it? You managed to get into their accounts and get the - HOLY FREAKING CHRIST!!” 

Willow’s grin was becoming distinctly manic. 

“Three million dollars? You stole three million dollars?” 

“Um. No, Ken, you’ve, er, misread it. The decimal point is…” 

Kennedy looked at the screen more carefully. 

All the colour drained out of her face. 

She tried desperately to speak, but nothing, not even a croak, could come out. It was, Willow thought slightly hysterically, the first time she’d ever seen her lover speechless. Possibly it was the first time in her life she'd ever been speechless. 

“…billion…?” 

If Willow’s grin got any broader, she worried she was about to do a First Evil impersonation and swallow herself. 

“… three billion…?” 

“I think Buffy’s plan to set up a network of Slayer Academies just got its funding sorted, don’t you think?” 

“…three billion dollars…?” 

“Three billion, one hundred and twelve million, six hundred and fifty-two thousand, nine hundred and twenty-six. And thirteen cents.” 

“…THREE BILLION DOLLARS…?!” 

“Well, they’re not just a multinational, they’re a multidimensional, probably with thousands of years of investments. And it turns out that last account I accessed linked to their central Head Office cash reserve…” 

Kennedy’s brain was slowly starting to work again. “You know we’ll have to launder this, right? Split it up, spend a little bit here, invest a little bit there? It could, like, destabilise the whole world economy if we…” 

Willow shrugged. “That’s your department, sweetie. I steal it, you spend it. We’re like Bonnie and, er, Bonnie.” 

“Yeah. But they’re not gonna let us walk away from this. You know they’ll be coming after us.” 

“So? Apocalyptic forces of evil are always coming after us. It’s what they do. No big.” 

“Maybe… so how about us? What are we gonna do now?” 

“Well, I thought we should drive out towards –"

“C’mon, Red. I meant now now. Didn’t you say something about partying after we did the job?” 

“Huh? Well, I suppose we should celebrate, but isn’t it a bit early in the day for drinking and AWK!” 

Willow’s startled squawk of protest melded smoothly into a husky giggle as Kennedy reached over and grasped her under the shoulders. With a Slayer’s strength and grace she lifted her bodily over the car door and swung her down onto the back seat beside her. 

“I didn’t mean that sort of party…” 



THE END 

Grr. Argh. 

Comments

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 18th December 2006 07:26 (UTC)

"And thirteen cents." Heee. That was almost disturbingly cute considering the last chapter... and I like the visit to the Sunnydale crater to balance that. (Though honestly, I would have thought Willow would have at least a little pang of conscience at just having killed a bunch of people?) Still, great job on your first longer fic!

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 18th December 2006 21:54 (UTC)

Thanks. 'Disturbingly cute' would look good as a review snippet on a poster advertising this fic, don't you think? :)

I think Willow would be disturbed at how close she came to giving in to the darkness... but I don't think that would be a new revelation for her. In the story I tried to show how she's constantly reminding herself of what she's capable of, as a self-imposed means of keeping herself on the straight and narrow. It's either that or stop using her powers at all, and we saw how well that worked in late S6 and S7...

On the other hand, I think that using deadly force against someone who was actively trying to kill her and Kennedy wouldn't bother her at all. Not after seven years living in Sunnydale. This isn't torturing someone to death in cold blood, it's self-defence: no different to Buffy fighting the Knights of Byzantium.

Posted by: Owen (owenthurman)
Posted at: 18th December 2006 09:06 (UTC)

Finally a cyberpunk story with a lesbian lead. The world needed this.

I liked it, too. Especially the insistent, objective, visual narrative voice.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 18th December 2006 21:57 (UTC)

The world needed this. Er, right. Absolutely! :)

Glad you liked it - and particular thanks for saying how my writing style comes across. It's useful and interesting feedback!

Posted by: Lidia (beloved4always)
Posted at: 18th December 2006 19:17 (UTC)

a well written fic with a well constructed plot. thanks for sharing it with us, Stephen :)).

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 18th December 2006 21:58 (UTC)

Thank you for reading it. :)

Posted by: none of the above (frogfarm)
Posted at: 18th December 2006 20:58 (UTC)
willow wesley fetal pigs

Totally was not expecting. Imagine that -- *happy* last-minute twist endings. But now I'm even more grateful you already assured us there will be more to the story. And waiting to see what kind of problems Will and Kenn have to deal with now that the're financially secure...

(Plus, fun to see an idea I'm planning on myself, though I imagine it's a common theme among post-Chosen writers -- email me if you're sufficiently curious :)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 18th December 2006 22:11 (UTC)

Imagine that -- *happy* last-minute twist endings.

What can I say... I'm a big softy at heart.

I did panic a little when you said before "I'm sure there's more to this than just a robbery" and I'm thinking "Err, no, not really..." But ever since I started reading post-Chosen fanfic (which was oh, all of a month or two ago) I've been struck by all the mentions of well-equipped Watchers' Councils, Slayer Academies, etc; there's enough money to put Dawn through school in Rome, for Xander to go to Africa, etc; and according to the S8 comic Buffy's now riding around in a helicopter. All that money must have come from somewhere. Then I thought of Willow's hacking talents, and her magic-aided web browsing in 'Smashed', and made the connection.

I've no concrete ideas for a sequel as yet, although since W&K are currently in a convertible somewhere in the deserts of the American south-west, being hunted by a vengeful Wolfram & Hart, I suspect a homage to 'Thelma and Louise' may be involved somewhere along the line... :)

Posted by: Mrs Darcy (elisi)
Posted at: 28th December 2006 18:30 (UTC)
OMG LIEK SQUEE by buffychit

Grr. Argh.

I love it! :D This should *so* happen!

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 28th December 2006 20:40 (UTC)

Glad you liked it! Tune in for the next episode, where Willow and Kennedy buy a small African nation tropical island and retire to a life of luxury, where nothing exciting ever happens.... (Or, y'know, not.)

Actually, like I said to frogfarm, all that money the Scoobies seem to have in post-S7 fanfic had to come from somewhere...

Posted by: selinde2 (selinde2)
Posted at: 21st September 2007 03:03 (UTC)
Triffic, please more sir
determined

I too note the homage to Wm Gibson (*tips hat*) and enjoyed it. Could make a great comic - I can practically see the bullets ripping into Kennedy, but am v glad you resurrected her. Lots of fic writers seem to dislike her, but you have drawn her sympathetic and believable. Willow here is powerful, but because of Kennedy's strength is freed up to be self-effacing Willow, rather than having to be the more aggressive one as she is with Tara. Couple dynamics, eh. Thanks v much for posting. Made my day.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 21st September 2007 20:48 (UTC)
Re: Triffic, please more sir
willow-dune1

Woah - feedback on my first ever fanfic! Glad you liked it, and thanks for commenting.

I do tend to think of my stories very much in visual terms - I'm first picturing the scene (and 'hearing' the characters speak), and then the writing is describing what I've seen.

And I'm pleased you agree with my portrayal of Kennedy. In many ways she's the opposite of Willow's previous partners, but I think that somebody who's bouncy and extrovert and isn't willing to take any crap even from her lover is exactly what Willow needed at that stage in her life. Shake her out of her self-pity and push her into enjoying life again, while at the same time she can rein in some of Kennedy's excesses. It's a relationship of equals with complementary strengths.

(Well, you could argue that Willow is now practically a minor goddess and has no earthly equals; but it was my deliberate choice here to emphasise Kennedy's Slayer powers as a source of strength independent of Willow and different to her own power).

Posted by: The Mezzanine (deird1)
Posted at: 16th April 2009 04:39 (UTC)

Very nicely done, good sir.

Loved all the imaginey virtual stuff Willow was doing...

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 16th April 2009 11:22 (UTC)

Thanks! Glad you liked it.

I still need to send that royalty cheque off to William Gibson, though...

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