There is a speck of violence in this chapter, but I didn't mark the fanfic for violence, because it really isn't any worse than you'd see on Buffy/Angel. After all, Buffy is the show that showed Anya being cut basically in half, and the stuff in this chapter isn't worse than that.Consequences V - Moonlight
The vampires vanished, except for Spike. Logically Xander knew they hadn't vanished, they'd just moved away very fast, or possibly these vampires could actually fly.
Xander looked over and realized they'd left the human behind. He was laying on the ground clearly hurting.
"Family, my ass," Xander muttered. If Spike ever thought of treating him like this guy had been treated, relationship or not Xander wouldn't hesitate to stake his ass.
Xander moved to offer the human a hand, leaving Buffy and Spike to their clothing debate. Xander was a bit ashamed of himself, he wasn't moving to help because someone needed help, but while he and Buffy had talked before at length about her death and what came after, every time her death and resurrection was brought up Xander had trouble facing her right after.
Xander almost jumped out of his skin when, as he reached the human, another vampire appeared beside him.
The vampire had short spiky dark hair, where as the human on the ground had longer wavy and lighter brown hair. The new vampire was dressed in such a way to remind Xander of Angel, and Xander didn't need that reminder.
The human on the ground looked a bit older than Xander. He looked to be about Angel's age in human years. The vampire standing beside him seemed to be about the same age as Xander. Of course, with vampires looks were usually always deceiving, the vampire was probably hundreds of years old. Xander also noticed that the vampire's nose was bit too large for his slim face, but he wasn't an ugly man, quite the opposite in fact.
Xander grimaced as he realized the direction his thoughts were taking. He shook himself and glanced up again at the new vampire. He was losing manly points all over the place. The man was a vampire with dark short hair, and a slightly large nose, and that was all a man should really note or notice about the way another man looked.
The vampire smirked slightly, but Xander wasn't embarrassed about his reactions. He'd fought vampires for years, and was currently very involved with one, but for all that he was still simply plain ol' human Xander. And he was no longer ashamed of that, should never have been ashamed of that, but suspected that anyone facing themselves as a vampire would have more than a few problems.
Of course, he couldn't blame Vander for every time he'd felt inadequate. After learning about vampires, Xander had spent a few years trying to compete with Angel for Buffy, and of course no human could compare.
Xander sighed. That wasn't true, other humans could, but Xander hadn't been able to. Still he had tried, and had gotten himself something of a complex for his reward. After Angel Xander had done the same thing, on a lessor scale with Spike.
Xander barely suppressed a shiver. Did that mean he'd been attracted to Angel?
Xander shook his head. No, absolutely not, there was just so much wrong with that idea that Xander hardly knew where to begin.
"He'll be fine," the vampire said.
Xander nodded. He'd been beaten worse in his time, and eventually walked away fine. "You should probably take him home."
"No," the human grunted. "Beth, I need to see Beth."
The vampire nodded, and Xander rose to his feet. While the man being worried about getting laid didn't necessarily mean he was fine, he was well enough that he didn't need Xander's help.
Something crashed into his back, and Xander looked down and saw something sticking out of his chest.Strange
, Xander thought absently. It doesn't really hurt.
The vampire and human in front of him were looking almost fearfully over his shoulder. Xander slowly moved one foot, he was dying, he knew that, but he would see the face of his killer before he died.
The Trinus demon was standing over him smiling.
Xander was confused by the smile. Maybe he shouldn't have been, perhaps the haze settling over his mind was distorting things.
No, Xander, for some reason, never thought he would be killed by this demon. Of course, that was probably because said demon had seemed more interested in playing cat and mouse with them instead of killing them.
"The truth is revealed," the demon said as Xander's eyes closed.~ * ~ * ~
Buffy was gearing up for a fight with Spike. He was suggesting they should simply steal what they needed, and while Buffy couldn't deny that he had a point, because they had stolen things in the past, and there really wasn't much difference in stealing now. But for some reason it just seemed wrong to steal in the here and now while it hadn't bothered her much in the past.
However, before she could figure out how to explain all that to Spike, he tensed, and then practically disappeared before her eyes. She turned her head to follow his movement, and almost fainted at the sight which greeted her eyes.
The Trinus demon standing in front of another vampire who was holding a dying Xander in his arms. Anger washed over her as she moved to join Spike. However, the demon tossed Spike easily aside, and then turned to face her.
"I am merely revealing the truth," the demon said, which stopped Buffy in her tracks. "A truth which you have refused to consider," the demon paused, grinned, then continued. "It really should have crossed your mind that you wouldn't be the only one punished. That would be rather unfair, because out of them all you had less choice in the matter as they did."
It had crossed her mind, but she hadn't allowed herself to consider what might happen or had happened to those who'd pulled her from the grave. There had been no visible clues, and so Buffy had allowed herself to believe that nothing had happened or would happen to her friends. It was stupid, because she'd always known that if she'd been given a choice she wouldn't have chosen to come back.
"Did it ever occur to you that there was a reason for that," Buffy snapped.
The demon smiled. "Even the Powers thought, originally, to hide the truth from you, but then everything changed.
"The vampire knows. Has known from the moment he drank, but even he hid from the truth," the demon appeared confused as he turned to Spike. "You've had plenty of time to tell him, but you've chosen not to. He deserves to know."
"He's proud of being what he calls an ordinary mortal," Spike replied. "Who was I to take that away from him?"
The demon grinned. "Ah, but you have taken nothing from him. He did it to himself. They all did when they chose to middle with the natural order of things..."
"I am aware of that," Spike snapped. "Tried to tell him, I did."
"Yes, before you knew, you tried to tell him, but once you knew, you decided to conceal the truth."
Buffy was amazed when Spike looked down. Buffy reached out and took his right hand in hers.
"I understand," Buffy whispered. "I hated that Willow lost everything when she worked the spell that made me forget everything. During the spell, I was happier than I'd been in a long time. Ignorance really is bliss."
The demon smiled. "For you, perhaps, but I think you sell the boy short. He can't miss what he never had, unlike you."
"Wait," Buffy said, as something the demon said before sparked something in her mind. "Xander wasn't the only one involved in bringing me back, and two of them are most certainly dead."
Buffy blinked. "There were bodies..."
Buffy heard Xander gasp and was grateful when Spike moved to take him from the other vampire, which left her free to deal with the demon.
"I believe Willow told you that the First did not take Tara's form," the demon said. "We all know that hearing Tara
say such things to her would have been more likely to drive her to suicide than hearing said things from a stranger. Do you really believe the First was being gentle."
Buffy was forced to shake her head. That hadn't made much sense, then or now. "So, Tara and Anya - they're both out there somewhere?"
The demon smirked. "Tara was placed into a type of coma until she was buried. She never actually died, because the Powers stepped in. After she was buried, she was moved."
"You could have told Willow. If she'd known..."
"You will learn, Slayer, that sometime there are things that cannot be undone or changed."
"Anyanka is a different story."
"How so?" Buffy asked, and noticed that the strange vampire and human were watching with great interest and more than a little fear.
"There was a reason D'Hoffryn chose to kill Halfrek instead of Anyanka."
The demon nodded.
"In a demon dimension, yes. She died
as the Hellmouth closed, and like the Master before her, she got herself stuck. Though unlike him she got stuck on the other side."
"Then we have to rescue her." Buffy said. "You could..."
The demon shook its head. "You cannot, and even if I were inclined, I could not help you. You see Anyanka, out of them all, truly knew better than to do what she did. Her punishment is greater because her knowledge was greater. She knew, but still allowed herself to go along with the plan. There can be no rescue for her."
"I'll find a way," Buffy insisted, and she would. Anya might not have been her best friend, but she was not going to leave someone she knew trapped in hell. It wasn't right. Even after being brought back, while she had hated being back among the living, she could admit that she had been touched that even Anya had cared enough to try and rescue her.
Buffy felt her resolve rise. Anya hadn't been willing to leave her to suffer (that she hadn't been suffering wasn't the point), and Buffy wasn't willing to leave Anya to suffer.
"If I didn't know better, I would believe you. But she will serve the punishment she earned."
"That's not fair," Xander said weakly. "Anya and Tara both tried to talk us out of it. It was me and Willow who wouldn't listen."
"You dare lie to me," the demon hissed. "You objected more than Anyanka, but even still the Witch convinced you that Buffy was in hell."
Buffy frowned, and crossed her arms across her chest. "She should get points for at least objecting. She does from me."
The demon smiled. "She has - they have, actually. At some point Anyanka's sentence will end, and on that day she will be free."
"Define free?" Xander asked, and while his voice was weak, it was clearly an order.
Buffy blinked, while Xander looked tired and weak, he also appeared to be several years younger than he had been moments ago.
The demon chuckled. "When her sentence ends, she will be granted that which the Slayer craved."
"And what about Xander and Tara?" Buffy asked.
She didn't want to lose Xander, but knew it wasn't be right of to deny him, because she knew if she had been accepted into heaven, then Xander surely had a place there. She'd fought the good fight because she was in his words a super hero, but in the end she'd pretty much been forced into fighting by being chosen as the Slayer. Shamefully, she knew if she'd been given the choice she wouldn't have chosen to fight. Xander, on the other, could have walked away at any time, but had chosen to fight the good fight without destiny or fate hanging over his head. He'd done it simply because it was the right thing to do.
The demon seemed to sigh. "The Witch must be punished, which means the one called Tara must be kept out of her reach. However, because Tara did make some effort to stop the Witch, her punishment will end once she has accomplished the goals set before her," the demon waved his claw. "She understands, Anyanka, as well. They have accepted their fates, and that is why you cannot rescue them."
"And Xander and Willow?"
"While the Witch did not have the knowledge of Anyanka, she still knew better than to do what she did. Her fate and punishment should be absolute. However, since the three of you tied your fates together before the event
," the demon struggled for a moment, then seemed to sigh.
"Apparently, I'm not allowed to tell. So, I'll just say this, four people made a choice, and worked magic, magic that created a bond, but the event
only solidified the bond for three."
Buffy was both happy and sad. Happy for herself, sad for her friends. She realized that this was likely what her friends had felt when they realized that she'd been in heaven not hell. That was why she'd tried to keep it secret in the beginning, because despite everything she hadn't wanted to hurt them, except, of course, for the times that she'd wanted to hurt them badly, but even then she'd kept her silence.
Still she couldn't deny that she was happy knowing that eventually Tara and Anya would be granted peace, but sad because the demon seemed to be saying that she, Willow, and Xander would not. Despite what Willow and Xander had done, Buffy thought the Powers were being a bit harsh.
"And I believe you were told about Xander. Of course, he would have still carry a punishment, but he wouldn't have been exiled. Instead in a move that some of our
kind never saw coming, he joined your exile."
The demon smirked. "Why they never saw it coming is a point of confusion, because there isn't a one among us who didn't know that the boy would follow you into the very pits of hell."
Buffy sighed, and decided to change the subject. "Don't suppose you'd be willing to us a bit more about this reality jumping?"
"What about it?"
"When will it stop?"
"If, or when, the journey ends," the demon said, and then he was gone.
"Well, that was helpful," Spike said, and Buffy loved the sarcasm.
"It was certainly interesting," Dracula said stepping out the shadows, he was followed by Lance who was still holding Coraline, and the other thug-like vampire standing behind them. "It also nicely explains why my hold on both
of you is no more."
"I thought you were gone," Buffy said, and realized that she was suddenly so very tired. It wasn't sleep she needed, what she needed was to figure out what was going on and see about coming up with a plan to help her friends. She was not going to leave them to suffer, she just couldn't.
"We decided to hang around," Dracula replied. "I felt something building, and decided it might be worth remaining a bit longer."
Buffy opened her mouth, then closed it, and turned to face Xander instead. Xander was looking at the ground, and Spike was watching him intently.
"I should have told you," Spike finally said to Xander.
Xander tried to chuckle, but was apparently still in too much pain. Buffy could remember that her first death, or her first death after the immortality kicked in, had been the hardest. Actually, if she had died from the gunshot wound first, then it was her second death fighting the First. Still after that it seemed to get easier, and her recovery time faster. Buffy suspected soon she would be able to completely brush off the pains of death.
"I think you were right," Xander said softly. "That I really didn't want to know," he rubbed his eye-patch.
"On the other hand, I, we
deserve it," Xander closed his eyes, and turned until he was looking directly at Buffy. He took a deep breath. "It's still grossly unfair to you, though.
"You're being punished for our
mistakes and, if I understood all that right, you will continue to be. That really sucks," Xander yelled that last at the sky, then looked back at Buffy. "So, I think I'm the one who should be saying 'sorry' here."
"No," Buffy said, she was tired of this topic, in addition to being just plain tired. "I'm making it a rule that there will be no more apologizing for the incident
. It's over, and it is done. If we've been told the truth then there is nothing we can do to change it. We may not like it, but it is what it is."
Buffy was grateful when Xander flashed her a smile. "Agreed, and grateful, since I seem to be doing most of it."
Buffy grinned. She might have hated it at first, but for now being alive wasn't so bad. A few hundred years from now she might feel differently, but at the moment it didn't feel that terrible.
Xander frowned, and Buffy tensed, then when he removed his eye-patch, she felt like celebrating.
At least a short and quick celebration, because she was still tired, but at least now it was feeling more like a happy kind of tired. The eye that had been gouged out by Caleb was back in Xander's head, he had two eyes again.~ * ~ * ~
: Okay, here's the deal I need Spike to have a new pet name for Xander - google is being maddeningly unhelpful, which is a bit of a shock. Anyway, I'm wondering if any of my readers might have a good suggestion for a pet name here. Just keep in mind that Pet is out, because while I'm not having Spike use it all the time, he has called Buffy pet once or twice over the course of this story, and I'd like Spike to give Xander an original pet name. Yes, I have considered Nummy (re: the nummy num num treat from Season Four), but I think I'd rather have something else if possible.