Changes and Choices

Disclaimer: I do not own "Buffy: the Vampire Slayer," "Angel," or "NCIS."

AN: I want to thank my Chapter 11 reviewers: mardar and Netchka3. I also want to thank everyone who stuck with this story week after week, especially those who reviewed. This is my most-read story!

Chapter 12 – Epilogue

Same Life, New Path

"Tony," called Ellie exasperatedly. "Would you please stop fooling around and set the table? The guests will be here soon." She had been trying to get him to set the table for nearly an hour now and was nearing the end of her rope. And, by guests, she meant Tony's team. Although they saw them every day at work, this was a special occasion.

It was New Year's Eve and, although it came every year, this one seemed monumental. A lot had changed this past year. All her secrets had come out and, contrary to what she had thought, it had not destroyed her life.

"Yo," said Faith, slipping in behind Ellie. She had arrived a few days ago to spend the holidays with Ellie and Tony. "Your boy toy not doing what you say? Damn B, you gotta do somethin' about that."

"I know," said Ellie laughing. She never would have believed ten years earlier that Faith would be her best friend, but she couldn't deny it now. Before, she had been too embarrassed and secretive to have Faith over, but not now. Tony may not understand Faith—and may even be a little scared of her—but he was always polite and supportive.

He had been seeing an entirely new side of Ellie since he had found out she was the Slayer, and he liked it.

The phone rang and Ellie grunted in frustration, anticipating one of the team calling to say they were going to be late or canceling. "Hello," said Ellie into the phone, letting an undercurrent of threat enter her voice.

"I don't know what I did to piss you off, but I'm sorry," said Angel quickly.

Chuckling, Ellie lightened her tone and said, "Happy New Year."

"Happy New Year, Buffy."

Cupping the receiver in her hand, Ellie called, "Faith, can you go 'help' Tony set the table. And by help, I mean 'make sure he does it.'"

"No prob. And tell Angel I say 'hey,'" answered Faith, making use of her Slayer hearing.

"OK," agreed Ellie, turning back to the phone.

"I heard her," said Angel, before Ellie could deliver Faith's message.

"That never stops being creepy," said Ellie. "So, please tell me you aren't calling to tell me that some huge world-destroying evil has just been unleashed and there is a prophecy that says we have to destroy it and that you're on your way here to make sure the prophecy comes true and you're going to get into a pissing contest with Tony and I'm going to spend days crying and then I'm going to have to recover from being stabbed with a sword."

"Ugh, do you have to do this every time I call you?" asked Angel.

"Yep," said Ellie, with a big smile on her face.

"And I will say again that I will not drag you into any fighting unless I absolutely have to," promised Angel. He knew that although her secret was out, she was still not ready to go back to the slaying. She was basically on a permanent hiatus. And, frankly, he was all right with that. He could never have the nice, normal life that you saw on TV, but she could and he was glad that she was living that life.

"So, why did you call?" asked Ellie.

"I was really just calling to wish you a happy New Year," said Angel.

"Thanks." She was really glad to be back in touch with Angel. She hadn't seen him since the whole Sargniss disaster. He had left a few days after their joint stabbing, once he was content that she was all right and that he wouldn't suddenly dust. He stayed long enough to make certain Ellie was settled and to make sure there were no more Sargniss. That was it.

Washington DC had recovered really quickly from the earthquake as well and no one was any the wiser that the world had nearly ended. The NCIS crew had found it hard to believe how naïve people could be. They found it odd that their entire world had changed drastically and yet the world still looked the same and no one else was affected. It always seemed that when something big happened to you, it should be mirrored in the world around you. But life went on and DC returned to business as usual. They had gone back to work and continued solving murders of the human variety. It was all so normal, too normal. Nevertheless, with Ellie helping them, they had all readjusted and recovered.

"Who's on the phone?" asked Tony popping up behind Ellie. She jumped gamely, even though she had known he was there. They both knew that it was nearly impossible to sneak up on her with her Slayer senses, but they both played along anyway.

"It's Angel," she said.

"Oh," said Tony, grabbing the phone. "Hey, Angel. How's it going?"

"Fine, Tony. How are you?"

"Great," answered Tony. "Are you calling because there is some huge demon thing happening and you need Ellie to help you fight them because of some ancient prophecy that says only you two can defeat it or else the world will end and then you have to make me all annoyed at you and make Ellie cry and get stabbed?"

"Why do you guys do this to me?" asked Angel.

"We get what fun we can," answered Tony, dead serious.

"I was just calling to wish you guys a happy New Year."

"Happy New Year, man," said Tony, before handing the phone back to his wife.

"Buffy, G-d help me, I think I like that guy," said Angel.

"Wow, we have so much in common, Angel. I like him, too," joked Ellie.

"It was nice talking to you," he said.

"Same here."

"I'll call in a few weeks."

"Make sure you do," said Ellie. "I like hearing from you and I have something to tell you, but not now."

Hanging up the phone, Ellie went into the kitchen to put the champagne for midnight on ice.

Walking into the kitchen area, Tony saw Ellie looking at the champagne. "Nuh-uh," he said. "No alcohol for you. I don't think I can handle Cavewoman Ellie."

"Ugh," groaned Ellie. "I never should have told you that story."

"Au contraire, Ellie, you should have told me that story years ago."

Rolling her eyes, Ellie said, "Anyway, you know I won't be having any alcohol tonight."

"Yeah," said Tony, grinning at Ellie, with a smile so big it threatened to split his face in half. "So, we're telling the team tonight, right?" he asked.

"Yeah," said Ellie. She had no idea how the team would take her pregnancy, but she really didn't care. She was tired of secrets and she and Tony were too excited not to tell everyone.

This was what she had always wanted her life to be and she had finally realized that having this life did not mean she had to throw away everything her life had been before.

x The End x

Th-th-that's all folks! Please review!