Without One's Heart
Disclaimer: Sadly, I own none of the characters contained within. They belong to far, far richer folks who have things like unions and strikes to claim hold over such concepts.
A/N: While this is the second part this is the true beginning of the cross with "The Cell". Thanks to Rose Jinx as it was her story Comalies that keyed me off on this tangent of how to better reflect where Xander is after six years of fighting and a lifetime of living on the Hellmouth. Forewarned there will be Buffy bashing. Turn away if this isn't to your taste. Feedback is always welcome, but please keep it constructive and not spiteful. Hope you like.
One month after Heart’s Sacrifice
The room was quiet except for the occasional sounds emanating from the various machinery that kept Xander’s unresponsive body operating. The beep that signaled another beat of his shattered heart. The nearly inaudible whirring of the electronics running their diagnostics and preprogrammed sequences as they kept track of all that was and wasn’t happening to his body.
Medical science had no way to cure him as his body was fine. He had no defects or ailments for medicine to remedy. No aches or discomforts that surgery might detect and correct. He was sound of body.
Mind on the other hand was a different matter.
The doctors had thrown words out there and contrived answers to questions they really didn’t understand themselves. They hoped to allay their fears of the unknown with jargon that was a prognosis, yet did not point to a method of resolution.
It wasn’t their fault really. They were working with an incomplete puzzle. Not all of the clues were known to them as doing so might only cause their further confusion. How does one convince the rational of the irrational and have them maintain their sanity?
Because of this, there was little to talk of among the four individuals that stood guard over one Alexander LaVelle Harris’ body. They all knew the man and what had brought him to this point. There was no bickering or petty infighting about what to do as they all felt the burden of responsibility to his being in the condition they now reflected on.
Giles was knowing of his part and how he had used his surrogate son to do a deed he now wished had never been needed. He was beyond proud of what Xander had accomplished with his life. Xander’s bravery and rock steady presence had helped keep the others focused on their parts in their group and allowed Giles himself to be fooled into thinking that they didn’t need his presences anymore. He knew that Xander made mistakes, but was never in doubt that the boy took those errors to heart and carried them with him like weights on his shoulders so as never to forget them and their message. It was all the more painful for Giles to see the best parts of himself reflected in the youth and that need to protect life at all costs lead him to a point where he has nothing left to give of himself.
Anya was troubled. She knew that she loved Xander deeply and still cared for him. She also still resented him for his leaving her at the alter just three months ago. And again she felt a large sense of wonder at him. Here was a man that gave up the one person that had meant most to him to save the world, which included her. It was really frustrating her as she wanted to still hate him, but couldn’t hold onto that anger that made her become a vengeance demon again. As soon as she had it, in would pop a fond memory or a sense of gratitude. Worst of all was that she couldn’t fix things. With all her power she felt totally alone and weak while looking at him in the bed.
Dawn was a wreck. Every time she turned around another person she loved disappeared from her life. Last year losing first her mother then Buffy had driven her into a shell that had taken most of that summer to break free from. It had been in no small part due to the attention and friendship with four people that in the span of a three days had all vanished from her life. Tara was sadly the easiest to deal with. She loved the blond wiccan and had knew only Willow had felt worse at her death. Tara was a calming and warm presences that one could only feel enriched by having around. That she died and by a stray bullet at that was tragic and horrifying with its total departure from the supernatural that surrounded them. Spike’s disappearance to who knows where both relieved and worried her. His quick humor and no nonsense approach to things had been grounding after her sister’s death and had given her something to cling to while the others all tried to come to grips with their own feelings. It hurt though that Spike had apparently first used her sister after her return only to turn violent and attempt to rape her. She had tried to ask Buffy about it several times since the day she found out only to be stonewalled. Willow dying seemed wrong, but then no more so than the way she had been after seeing Tara die in front of her. The confident redhead had been a role model and relatable one at that considering their history with dabbles in bad behavior. But out of it all her heart could only break looking at the one who disappeared while leaving himself there. Xander had been so much for her from crush, to big brother, to confident. That he was now here because of his trying to save them all again only showed just how unfair the world could be. What greater force in the world could ask the founding Scooby to kill his best friend from grade school, a girl he loved more that probably any other? Just what was wrong with those bastards that they could do this to him and not feel anything.
Lastly there was Buffy who just felt achingly tired. If she was honest with herself she had felt this way ever since her return the previous year. Almost as if something important had been left behind when she was pulled out of “heaven” by her friends and she couldn’t just sleep it off. For nearly the millionth time since that spell she wished they had just found another way of taking care of things. All she had since she came back was feelings of inadequacy, like she didn’t fit in her own skin anymore. She had reached a point that she realized the whole sick thing she had shared with Spike was some form of her trying to punish her friends and even Spike. By doing it she was only giving herself to something she knew was wrong as a means of throwing the gift of life in the faces of those that had given it to her. She had gotten out of a self destructive behavior only to lose the two closest people in her life in one petty act of vengeance by a guy who should have been vamp food a long time ago. That Warren had accidentally set in motion events that led to Xander effectively killing himself by taking Willows life had caused many a night of crying in the Summers’ home over the last month. The self doubting and questioning were unending and the only thing that stopped it was exhaustion that meant she could let herself simply pass out into oblivion.
As the unending drone continued by the machines paced the groups thoughts as they went between starring at the body in the bed and at the floor they didn’t catch the person standing right outside the room.
Catherine Deane was a brilliant psychotherapist and had been unequaled over the last two years since her use of experimental methods had assisted the FBI in locating the victim of a serial killer before she was killed.
She could feel the waves of agony and despair that radiated out from the room. She had read the file that had been sent to her two weeks ago and which had prompted her trip here. That two apparently life long friends had come to the point where one had to shoot the other fatally was intriguing. She would have been skeptical of the matter if the documentation and photos hadn’t pointed to the severe injuries that Mr. Harris had suffered obviously just prior to shooting his friend Ms. Rosenberg. The authorities had written it off after preliminary investigation due to the fact that there were no witnesses and the forensics seemed to point at the offered explanation by one Rupert Giles who was likely the English gentleman she saw in the room. The injuries sustained weren’t of a type or severe enough to have caused his coma like condition. Likely she reasoned that he had simply shut down rather than deal with reality and that was why she was here. Well, that and a call from an organization that was vague, but definitely governmental and off the beaten path. The man who had contacted her, a Mr. Riley Finn, had said that she might be able to help and would have all the necessary assistance, if required, to bring Mr. Harris out of his state.
‘Well, no time like the present.’ She thought to herself as she steeled her courage to enter the room.