Disclaimers: Not mine.
Summary: What if Angel hadn’t left after Graduation
Pairing: X/C B/A
Distribution: Xanderzone, anyone else ask.
Warning: Character Death. This is not intended as a happy fic
Buffy looked through the smoke from the burning school and spotted Angel. Making a quick decision she sprinted towards him before he could disappear.
"You’re not leaving."
"Buffy I have to go. We can’t be together not like you want. I’m not going to risk your life just to be with you." Angel made a feeble attempt to pull away from Buffy.
"Not good enough Angel. You. Are. Not. Leaving." She emphasized each word by jabbing him in the chest. "We’ve lost enough people today we don’t need to lose you as well."
Angel sighed. He could feel his resolve to leave weakening but he had to try once more. "Buffy, it’s not safe for either of us. When I’m around you the temptation is too strong. I have to leave while I’m still able."
Buffy silenced his complaints by grabbing his shirt and pulling him in for a deep kiss and the last of Angels resolve flickered and died.
It may not be for the best. It may even bring about the ruin and downfall of the scoobies but he couldn’t bring himself to leave. With a sigh and a shake of his head he allowed Buffy to lead him back to where the Scooby gang was watching the school burn.
Approaching the gang he saw questioning looks on their faces.
It was Xander who spoke first, "I thought you were leaving?"
Angel opened his mouth to reply but Buffy broke in, "He was, but he’s not anymore. I talked him into staying."
Giles carefully removed his glasses before responding to Buffy’s statement. "Are you sure that’s wise?"
"Don’t worry Giles. We know all about the curse now and I promise you that nothing is going to happen."
Xander looked doubtful while Willow looked on with a smile. She had this thing for the doomed romance her best female friend had going.
"Don’t worry guys, if something does happen I can always redo the soul curse on Angel."
Giles frowned, "Well yes I suppose you could do that. But lets make sure that isn’t necessary in the first place."
Xander was struggling through a mental debate. He had planned his road trip thinking that things would be calm after the mayor’s defeat. But he didn’t trust Angel, and if Angel was staying then perhaps he should stay to keep an eye on him. The thing was he really knew he needed a break. The constant fighting was starting to get to him and he had to get away. Even if only for a little while.
Finally he decided to cut his road trip short. Limit the trip to a month instead of the two or three he had planned. Buffy and Angel should be able to keep their hands off each other for at least that long. Already starting to revise his plans he decided that with a shortened trip he could live a little larger than he had planned. Stay at the hotel with a pool, maybe even hit a bar or two during the trip.
Two days later he was dragging his last suitcase out to the car when he noticed a familiar figure sitting in the front seat.
"Cordelia? What are you doing here?"
"Look I know your leaving town, and I want to get out as well. I was planning on heading to LA to start my movie career, but you know…"
Xander looked a little puzzled. "Umm. No I don’t know"
Cordelia blushed in embarrassment "You need money to rent an apartment and they aren’t cheap in LA. I was going to work over the summer and get enough money together to last a couple of months. But with Buffy making cow eyes at Angel I don’t think I want to be here. So one way or another I’m getting out of Sunnyhell. Either I’m catching a ride with you or I’m off to the bus station and LA streets."
Xander sighed, he had to learn how to say no to women. One of these days it was going to cause him serious problems. "Alright I’ll give you a ride. I’m headed east going as far as Roswell before turning around and coming back. How long are you going to be riding with me?"
"I’ll let you know." Cordelia smiled, she was getting out of Sunnydale and maybe if things worked out she could repay Xander for everything he had done for her. Despite the fluke incident she hadn’t been able to let him go. It wasn’t when he purchased the dress that reminded her how much she loved Xander. No it was his silence. He had had the perfect opportunity to destroy her, and he said nothing. After everything she had said to him, all of which he deserved mind you, he still kept her secret.
Xander was actually finding travelling with Cordelia quite enjoyable. Their first stop out of Sunnydale she had insisted on stopping at a jewellery store. While she had been inside he had spent time in the sporting goods store across the street. He wasn’t sure how his money would hold out if Cordelia tagged along for the whole trip so he had decided to purchase some basic camping equipment just in case.
When he got back into the car Cordelia handed him a small jewellery box. Opening it he found a man’s wedding band.
"Cordelia your great and all but isn’t it a little soon to be getting married?"
She swatted him on the chest. "Very funny Harris. Like I want to marry you. But if we are travelling together it would look better if we are married. Particularly if you plan on stopping in small towns like you said. Besides this way the rednecks will leave me alone."
Before he could stop himself Xander replied, "So do I get the benefits of being married to such a gorgeous woman?"
With an arched eyebrow Cordelia responded, "And what kind of benefits are you looking for Mr. Harris."
Xander sputtered and stammered trying to work his way out of this conversation with his head intact.
Cordelia smiled to herself, it was actually fun leaving him speechless, his usual quick wit failing him. "I see. *Those* kind of benefits. I don’t see any of that in your near future, but if you play your cards right."
Xander went from sputtering and stammering to shocked silence. Finally he turned and looked straight ahead. Sliding the wedding band on he started the car. "Well I think we have everything here Mrs. Harris shall we be off?"
Allowing herself a smirk Cordelia replied. "I’m done here Mr. Harris. We may leave."
They had been traveling together for three weeks and Xander was truly enjoying himself. It had been a long time since he had been able to relax around someone. After the first hotel room, which had only a solitary double bed and no couch, they had given up some of their modesty and slept in the same bed.
It hadn't been that simple really there had been the arguement about who was sleeping on the floor. Cordelia had already crawled into bed when Xander got out of the small bathroom. Looking at Cordelia in the bed he paused and looked down at the floor and shuddered before crawling into bed beside her.
"What do you think your doing Mr. I said you weren't getting those kind of benefits."
"Not looking for them Cordy. Just want to sleep in the bed."
"Not going to happen Mr. Harris. You get the floor."
"Have you looked at the floor there is no way I'm sleeping down there."
Cordelia had to admit the floor was pretty disgusting. She hadn't even taken her shoes off until she crawled into bed. "Alright you can stay. But keep to your side of the bed and if anything crosses the line I'm keepin it."
With a grunt of agreement Xander shut off the light and went to sleep. Sometime during the night he woke up to find Cordelia snuggled up to him on his side of the bed. He spent several minutes staring at her sleeping face in the moonlight before drifting off to sleep again.
The next morning they had been a lot more comfortable around each other and the role of newlyweds was much more believable.
Cordelia’s negotiating skills still impressed Xander. Posing as newlyweds on a tight budget she always got them a free room upgrade wherever they stayed. Half the time they even ended up with the Honeymoon sweet at no extra charge. Truth be told he was enjoying having Cordelia there a lot more than he thought he would. Sure she teased and harassed him, but it was no longer spiteful or vindictive. The teasing had a playful flirty feel to it. Even more so than when they had been dating.
Even without *those* benefits he was basking in ego boost he received every time someone looked at him with envy. If he had been receiving the benefits in question he knew his grin would be permanently fixed to his face.
Right now he was regretting the conversation he was going to have. He was three weeks into the trip and it was time to start heading back to Sunnydale. He knew for a fact that Cordelia wanted absolutely nothing to do with the place and he was already feeling disappointed at her anticipated departure. Steeling himself for an unpleasant conversation he opened the door to their room.
"Cordy? Cordy we need to talk."
"What are we running out of money? Do we need to start using that camping equipment, cause you better buy another sleeping bag if we are? Don’t think I didn’t notice you only had the one."
"No I’ve still got enough money for the rest of the trip. The thing is I’m almost done my road trip and I’m getting ready to head back to Sunnydale. It’s been great travelling with you. Really I’ve enjoyed these last few weeks more than I thought was possible but I promised myself I would be back in Sunnydale to check on things in a month."
Cordelia looked up at Xander sadly, "You said you wanted to check on them after a month. Why not do just that. Then we can move to LA and I can start my movie career and you can pick up a construction job. You’d be good at that, you always hang around the construction people where ever we go and there are lots more construction jobs in LA than in Sunnydale."
Xander was stunned. First that she wanted him to join her in LA and second that she actually noticed the type of people he talked to. She had even said he would be good at something. "You actually want me to come with you to LA? Why?"
"I L…like you Xander. I don’t want to loose you to Sunnydale and if you stay there sooner or later something will get you."
"I can’t abandon Willow, Buffy and Giles. They need me."
"Yes they need you. But I need you more."
"You need me? What as some sort of sugar daddy to pay your bills?" Xander couldn’t believe what he was hearing. Cordelia Chase needed him. Right.
"What? No. I need you as a friend. As Xander Harris the man I’ve been pretending to be married to for the past three weeks. I need someone I can trust who wants me for me. I want someone who will be there for me, keep me off the casting couch and just talk to me. God Xander, you bring out the best in me and I like who I am when I’m around you. If I lose you I don’t know what I’ll do"
Xander sat back on the bed. Ok maybe she did need him. But there was still Sunnydale. He just couldn’t abandon them. Finally he decided LA is only two hours from Sunnydale. If there is anything apocalyptic they can always give him a call. "You won’t lose me Cordy. But I do have to stop in Sunnydale to make sure everything is Ok there. Do you want to come along or would you rather I dropped you in LA?"
Cordelia sniffled "You can drop me in LA if you promise to come back."
Xander walked over to Cordelia and pulled her into a hug. "I promise. It will take me a week to clear everything up with the rest of the gang, but I’ll be back for you."
"I’ll find us an apartment and get things ready in LA then."
Xander arrived in Sunnydale shortly after lunch. After a quick stop to pick up some donuts he headed of to Giles’ to see how things had been going while he was away.
He was completely unprepared for the sight that greeted him. The front door was hanging from one hinge and yellow police tape criss-crossed the doorway. Ducking under the tape he looked around the room. Giles’ meticulous living room was a shambles. The couch was overturned lamps were lying shattered on the floor and one of the bookshelves had been broken scattering priceless texts across the room. Looking at the scattered books he spotted a chalk outline surrounded by a small darker stain.
"Oh God Oh God. Gotta see Willow. Gotta check on Willow." He forgot completely about his car as he raced to Willows home.
He was faintly reassured when he found her door closed and locked. Digging the spare key out of the rose bushes he let himself in.
The house didn’t look any different, but there was something that put him on edge. Pulling his stake he checked each room carefully as he slowly cleared the house. Arriving at Willows room he slowly opened the door. With a sigh of relief he spotted willow asleep on her bed. He was about to call out to her when he finally figured out what was different. There wasn’t a single Star of David or other religious icon in the whole house.
He focused on Willow watching for the rise and fall of her chest. After four minutes tears started to roll down his cheeks. He was only gone a month how could this happen. Whoever did this to you Wills is going to pay but I need to find out who first. Slumping his shoulders in resignation he picked up Willows baseball bat and walked over to the bed.
‘Forgive me Willow.’ Swinging with all his strength he struck the vampire in the head changing it from sleeping to unconscious. It took him a few minutes to tie up the Vampire then he waited for it to regain consciousness. Fifteen minutes later the vampire Willow was struggling against her bonds.
"Who did this to you Willow? Who turned you?"
"Who do you think Xander? Your buddy Angelus is back and he’s not playing this time."
"Why should I tell you?"
Vamp Willow appeared to consider it for a bit before she cocked her head to the side. She couldn’t come up with anything worse than the truth so, "Alright. Seems your slayer and Angel couldn’t keep their hands off each other. About a week ago she broke his curse. Fun thing was she didn’t tell anyone. Four days ago Angel requested a Scooby meeting claiming a prophecy was about to come do. When I arrived Buffy was strangely absent and Angelus had just finished killing Giles. I tried to run but I had nowhere safe to go. Angel had been invited into all our homes at one time or another. He eventually caught and turned me. Since then he has been up in the mansion with his latest plaything"
"No he’s got Joyce. Buffy is hiding at her home. She did the uninvited ritual after her mother was taken."
Xander’s emotions were shattered. With a blank expression he walked over to Vamp Willow his stake clutched white knuckled in his hand. The Vampire struggled to escape but was unsuccessful as he plunged the stake into her chest. "I’m sorry," he whispered just as she burst into ash.
Making his way to Willow’s parent’s room he took their handgun out of the night table. He’d need the advantage if he was going to attack Angelus.
Grabbing Willows Cell from the table he headed for the mansion.
Walking to the mansion he could see the people scramble to get out of his way. Mothers were grabbing their children and disappearing, people would step into shops or out into the street to get out of his way. He didn’t care. It didn’t matter anymore.
Arriving at the mansion he did his best to sneak through the rooms. If Angelus knew he was coming, well he might as well shoot himself. He was counting on the vampire daytime sleep period to give him a chance. Upon arriving at Angels traditional lair he was sickened to find Joyce. She was tied to a table bruised battered bloody and naked. At least she was alive he could check on her further after he had dealt with Angelus. Heading for one of the bedrooms he pushed the door open with the pistol.
There he was sleeping in blood-covered clothes on silk sheets. Taking careful aim he slowly and deliberately fired six rounds into the vampires head. Placing the pistol in his belt he drew a stake and finished Angelus.
He had been staring at the pile of dust for who knows how long before a whimper in the front room caught his attention. Right Joyce needs help. Pulling out Willow’s Cell he dialled 911.
"Yes I need an ambulance at the old mansion on Crawford."
"No dammit this isn’t a crank call tell the crew the injured party will be out front in the bright sunshine, but get them here quickly she’s badly hurt."
"Yes she has medical coverage. If she’s still alive when you get here she can supply the information."
Carefully untying the woman he loved like a mother he gently wrapped her in the comforter from the bedroom before carrying her out the front door. He waited patiently for the ambulance crew to arrive cradling her in his arms the entire time.
He accompanied her in the ambulance and then followed a nurse to the waiting area where he waited for the doctors to inform him of her condition. The small part of him that could still feel was deeply worried. She had only whimpered the once the whole time and had been as limp as a rag doll when he held her waiting for the ambulance. Angelus had had her for four days. That little part that still had feeling was sick now.
In an effort of self-preservation Xander’s mind started to dig for happy memories. It pulled up childhood memories of Willow only to have them overlaid by Vamp Willow. It pulled up jokes and research with Giles only to have those overlain with chalk patterns. It dug up images of Buffy to have them replaced with a blood soaked Angelus on silk sheets. Finally it brought up Cordelia and he revelled in the memories of the past few weeks. He played each day over in his mind carefully calling up every detail. The smell of her perfume, the innocent look on her face as she slept. The look on her face as she got the better of yet another hotel desk clerk. When he reached the last night in LA he started all over again.
Outwardly Xander hadn’t moved a finger since the nurse led him to the waiting room. Offers of coffee had been met with stony silence. Request by the police to talk had been ignored. Xander sat eyes forward unblinking awaiting news from the doctor.
Eventually a doctor approached the waiting area.
Xander blinked and turned his head to look at the doctor.
"Mr. Harris I have some news regarding Mrs. Summers."
Xander stared at the doctor intently before finally speaking, "How is she?"
"Physically she should recover. We’ve re-attached her tendons and with a lot of physical therapy she should be able to walk again. We’re keeping her sedated for now giving her body a chance to recover."
The doctor looked away uncomfortable with Xander’s dead eye stare, "Can you tell me anything about the person who did this. Something to help the police out?"
"He’s dust. He doesn’t matter anymore."
The doctor started in surprise. So it was a vampire. That explained the boys state of shock. He’d seen a lot of people in similar states after seeing their first vampire. If the boy had dusted the creature… Well he wasn’t going to complain.
"Did she have any family?"
"A daughter. I’ll inform her. I was going over to talk to her anyway."
The Doctor nodded, "Very good. If you need to talk to anyone you can usually find me here."
Xander shrugged and got up to leave. "If you’ll excuse me I need to go see her daughter now."
As Xander walked away the doctor saw a flash of a gun. "I wonder if he used that on the blood sucker?"
One of the passing nurses looked up from the clipboard she was carrying, "What was that doctor?"
"Nothing I was just talking to myself."
Xander arrived at the Summers residents. Ignoring the curtsey of knocking or ringing the doorbell he strode in through the front door. It was fortunate he didn’t pause at the entry as a crossbow bolt nailed the wall an inch behind his head.
Pulling his pistol he lined up on Buffy and her now empty crossbow. "We need to talk slayer."
"Oh God Xander I’m sorry I didn’t know it was you. When did you get back? Are you OK?"
Xander stared at Buffy with contempt, "I’ve been to see Giles, Willow and Angel Buffy."
Buffy flinched at each name, "H-how is he?"
"Dead." The gun sights never left Buffy’s forehead.
"I-I meant Angel." Buffy eyed the gun warily.
"So did I. I dusted him right after Willow and right before I rescued your mother."
"You dusted Angel. But I was going to do the soul curse again. You didn’t have to do that. It would have worked one of these times and then everything would have been fine." Buffy actually whined
"No. I don’t think so. Giles is dead. Willow is dead. Your mother may eventually walk again. Things will never be fine again Buffy."
"Do you remember the promise I made you Buffy. Do you remember what I said I would do if anything ever happened to Willow?"
Buffy’s eyes widened, "You said you would kill me. You’ve killed Angel, are you going to kill me now too?"
Xander took careful aim. "Angelus Buffy. I dusted Angelus an evil Vampire who was torturing your mother."
There was a single shot and silence.
The candy striper was doing her tour of the hospital when she peeked in on one of the new arrivals.
Mrs. Summers I’m glad to see you’re finally awake. You’ve had someone very anxious to see you but they’ve gone to get some rest.
You’ve got some mail here do you want me to read it to you?
An almost imperceptible nod and the striper opened the letter."Joyce I’m sorry I couldn’t be around when you woke up. Sunnydale just has to many bad memories for me to stay anymore. This town has cost me both my childhood friends as well as the man I considered a father. It almost cost me the woman who I imagined as my mother.
The Candy Striper paused to collect herself.A person should never have to do what I did for my best friends and I can’t take the chance of that ever happening again. I will never again step foot in Sunnydale. Not for anything. If the world ends it’ll find me in LA.
You don’t have to worry about the creature that did this to you. He’s blowing in the wind somewhere.
I hate to ask this of you in a letter but could you inform the Rosenburgs of Willows passing. I’m afraid they will never have a body to bury but if they check the urn on their mantle they’ll find her ashes. Let them think she was mistakenly cremated.
When I first met your daughter I made myself a promise. Her life before mine her safety before mine. I would have done anything for her. I also made her a promise. If anything happened to Willow because of her I would see her dead. I’ve reached an impasse in resolving these promises and decided they nullify each other.
Tell Buffy that Cordelia is the reason I missed. She still needs me and I wouldn’t do her any good rotting in a prison.
Joyce I hope you can forgive me for not getting to you sooner. Had I known I would never have left.