Intrusion - Chapter 4 (Epilogue)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…”