Disclaimer: I own nothing. Joss owns the Buffyverse, Burge owns Charmed, and Rowling owns the Potterverse.
Spoilers: The Zeppo.
A/N: Response to Exarikun's "The Zeppo No Longer" challenge. I hope you all enjoy it.Wednesday, January 27th, 1999
Xander sat on his bed, looking down at his hands. He’d saved the world. If that bomb had gone off while the Hellmouth was open…
But it didn’t matter. No one would believe him. He’d still get pushed farther and farther out of the Scoobies, a name he’d
given to them. Okay, so maybe it wasn’t the most original in the world, but still…
This had become his life. Slaying. He didn’t have anything else. His father was a drunk, and when he wasn’t beating on his equally-drunk wife, he was turning it on Xander. Not that Xander minded. It kept his mom out of the hospital, which was fine with him.
Xander’s chances at college, and subsequently, a good job, were slim and none. All he had… was demon hunting. And Buffy wouldn’t let him have that. No matter how he sliced it, she was trying to keep him out of the game, and she’d succeed. She was stronger than him, and would be able to drag him home, no matter how many times he went out.
Sighing, he looked at his clock. 2:15 AM. Still dark outside. Good. If he couldn’t have a purpose in this life, there was always the final option.
Xander waited outside Willy’s Alibi Room. Someone, or something
, rather, would be coming out soon that could help him in his final plan. Eventually, he spotted it.
The vamp turned to face him. Xander didn’t know this particular vampire, but he would do.
“A human?” The vamp wondered aloud. “What do you want?”
Xander shrugged. “I want to die. Painlessly. And I don’t want to come back afterward. Think you can handle that?”
The vamp snorted. “What do I get out of it?”
“A free meal.” Xander replied. “Once I’m dead, you’re free to feed on me.”
Thinking this over for a moment, the vamp nodded slowly. “Alright. Anything in particular you want done with your remains afterward?”
Xander reached into his jacket, and pulled out an envelope. “The address on here. I’d like to be delivered there, please.”
“A good-bye letter?” The vamp guessed.
“Something like that.”
Shrugging, the vamp put one hand on Xander’s jaw, and the other on the back of his head. “As the man once said, you may feel a little bit of pressure.” With that, he snapped Xander’s neck, letting the body fall to the ground.
The vamp smirked. “Why can’t everyone be so cooperative?”
When Buffy awoke the next day, the sun was shining brightly. She stretched, enjoying the feeling of the light on her skin. She bounced down to breakfast (Pancakes with strawberry syrup), before showering, and preparing to head off to school.
‘Maybe I’ve been too hard on Xander lately.
’ she thought. ‘I mean, he
has helped a lot…
Still thinking on this, she opened the front door, and stepped outside, only to trip over something.
She landed with an “OOF!” Looking down at the obstruction, her mind froze when she saw what it was.
It was Xander.
Pulling herself into a crouching position, she shook him, trying to wake him up. “Xander? Xand? Come on, this isn’t the time to be funny…”
He didn’t reply, or move in any way.
“Xander, I’m serious. I’ll take your Twinkies away, I swear!”
Still, no response.
“Xander.” She shook him again. “Xander!” This time, more furiously. “XANDER!!!”
His head shifted, exposing his neck to her view. Two holes were clearly visible.
Her eyes widened, and for a split second, no thoughts crossed her mind. Then she began to cry. Sobs tore through her body, as she held her best friend close.
Her mother had come to see what was wrong by now. “Buffy, what’s—” She gasped at the sight before her. “Oh… Oh, dear lord…” She went to Buffy’s side, trying to pull her away. “Come on, Buffy…”
“NO!” Buffy cried, shoving Joyce away. Her arms went back to Xander, her tears still flowing.
“Buffy, we have to call someone.” Joyce tried again.
Buffy turned to glare at her mother. This was the Slayer, all the way. One of it’s friends had died, and now someone expected it to abandon him? “Call Giles.” Was the cold response.
“We have to call the coroner.” Joyce replied.
“Call Giles.” Buffy replied. “We’ll handle this.”
“Call Giles!” The Slayer roared.
Nodding slowly, Joyce went inside, dialing the Watcher’s number. Perhaps he would know what to do with a grieving Slayer…
The Scoobies were gathered in Giles’ apartment. They’d found a letter in one of Xander’s pockets, and they were going to read it.
The reactions to Xander’s death had been somewhat varied. Faith was confused, Willow was almost catatonic, Cordelia had taken to crying at random intervals, Buffy had sunken into the Slayer essence, giving her anger rather than grief, Giles was drinking heavily, and Oz… If one looked close enough, the corners of his mouth had turned downward into a frown.
Giles took a deep breath. “Well, we all know why we’re here. Let’s get on with it.” He opened the letter, and began to read aloud.Dear Scoobies,
I guess I finally had the guts to go through with it. I didn’t think it’d get that bad, but apparently, it did. Let me explain what I mean.
When I realized that Buffy was trying to push me out, it hurt. It hurt a lot. In my entire lifetime, I’ve only had a few people I’d call family. First, was Jesse and Willow. I lost Jesse, of course, but I got a few replacements. Buffy, Giles, even Cordelia, later on. And Oz. He was the ‘Cool older brother’ I always wanted.
Giles was the father I never had. And before any of you try to delude yourselves, Anthony Harris is
not my father. He had sex with my mother, and I was born. That was the extent of his parentage to me. Even though G-Man could get annoyed with me once in a while, he never stopped supporting me. He even kept it a secret that I kept all the memories from the Hyena thing. For that, I’ll always be grateful.
At this point, all the Scoobies looked at Giles. Sighing, he nodded. “It’s true. He remembered everything. He was afraid you all would abandon him if you knew.”
Not even Buffy could turn that into righteous anger.
Giles went back to the letter.Willow, of course, is my sister, in every way that counts. I went to her house whenever it got too rough at home, and she let me stay, no questions asked. That’s more than I would ask of just about anyone else.
Buffy… well, she’s hard to quantify. I’ve been attracted to her, I’ve supported her, I’ve saved her life… And I know she’s been guilty of the last two, at one time or another. I’d
like to think that the first one is true of her as well, but I have my doubts. Not that it matters anymore…
Cordelia. What can you say about the Queen C? She’s a bitch, I know that much, but she does it in a way that no one else can. She can tear you down, and make you feel like a million bucks at the same time. It’s an odd talent, but she’s got it down to a science.
Now, with a family like that, I should have been able to live quite happily, shouldn’t I? Sadly, it wasn’t to be.
Before I got into Slaying, I didn’t have anything worth doing in life. Sure, I hung out with Jesse, learned enough from Willow to keep my grades afloat, but I wasn’t really
doing anything, you know? My life was going nowhere, and fast. Then Buffy hit town.
Suddenly, I had a reason. A purpose. For those of you who have never been directionless, let me tell you, it’s an amazing thing. It filled a part of me that I hadn’t known about. It gave me strength, as much as having someone to fight for does Buffy. And then… you pushed me away.
I felt like my heart had been split in two. My family, the only people that I could count on for
anything anymore, were rejecting me. That’s not something I could handle. I could handle the ‘Fluke,’ I could handle Cordelia dumping me, hell I could handle the fact that Oz took Willow back so quickly, and Cordelia just took to insulting me. I still had my purpose, right?
My life began to spiral downward. I had nothing left. I’ve seen what happens when you don’t have a purpose anymore, and I refuse to become Tony. That is the one thing I will
Last night, while the rest of you were dealing with the Hellmouth, I discovered that Jack O’Toole, along with a few buddies of his, were planning to put a bomb in the school basement. I knew enough from the conversations the rest of you were having to know that it would probably spell Apocalypse if they pulled it off.
So, I stopped them. I cornered Jack, and didn’t let him leave until he’d disarmed the thing. Oh, by the way, turns out he was a zombie. Weird, huh? I say ‘was,’ because I’m pretty sure Oz ate him last night.
Anyway, I wound up sitting on my bed, thinking everything over. I knew that, no matter what I did, I wouldn’t be able to convince you guys that I can help. You’d still shove me away. To be honest with you, I couldn’t live like that. I couldn’t go back to being nothing, or as Cordy put it, the Zeppo. I can handle a lot of things, but not that. So, I came to a decision.
As soon as I’m done writing this, I’m going to go to Willy’s, find a willing vamp, and ask him/her to kill me. If you’re reading this, I guess it worked. I’m sorry if this hurts you guys, but I don’t have a lot in the way of options. I hope you can understand that.
Oh, one last thing: Faith, I want to thank you, for two things. First, you never treated me like second best, and second, if it hadn’t been for you, I’d have died a virgin. I don’t know if that gets you any brownie points upstairs, but it meant a hell of a lot to me.
With all my love (how ironic is that?),
Everyone was quiet for a long moment. Not even Faith could come up with a smart-ass comment for what she’d just heard.
Finally, Willow broke the silence. “We… We did that to him.” It was barely above a whisper, but no one missed it. And what’s more, no one disputed it.
Cordelia bent over in her seat, her head resting on her knees, and her hands on the back of her head. She couldn’t find the words to express what she was feeling.
“What do we do now?” Buffy asked.
Giles cleared his throat. “Xander left a post-script.”PS. Giles (Hah! Didn’t call you G-Man!), don’t read this part until someone asks what they’re supposed to do (You owe me ten bucks if it’s Buffy). I’ll tell you what you do. You’ve got a fine pair of legs on you (Especially Cordy). Get up, and move forward.
In their own ways, every member of the Scoobies took Xander’s words to heart. Cordelia chose to fully take his place in the Scooby Gang, helping with patrols, research, and everything else she could.
Oz took up meditation, gaining control over the wolf inside him. Eventually, he reached a point where he could transform at will, fully in control of his actions. Willow was a great help, and joined him in his sessions, keeping careful control over her magic.
Both Slayers took up the cause with renewed vigor, finding unlikely friends in each other. Though she would never admit it, Faith had felt left out until then. Xander’s letter inspired the other Scoobies to accept her on a new level, giving her the family and support they had unwittingly denied Xander.
Giles continued in his role as Watcher, despite the fact that he was no longer part of the council. He trained the non-Slayers in combat, giving them a greater edge in patrolling.
Xander, from his position in the next world, watched all of this, a smile on his face.
“They’ve done well.” A voice from behind him said.
Xander nodded. “They did.” He turned to face the speaker. “What can I do for you, Gideon?”
The Elder Whitelighter grinned. “Well, as you know, you’ve finished your training, and your new charges are ready to be watched over.”
Xander looked surprised. “So soon? I didn’t expect that. I mean, I am
a suicide case.”
Gideon nodded. “Yes, but there were extenuating circumstances. No one can be blamed for dying from despair of that magnitude.”
Xander nodded in understanding. “Cool. So, where am I headed?”
“Hogwarts school of Witchcraft and Wizardry. You’re going to protect a trio of students there. Come, I’ll fill you in on the details.”
Smiling again, Xander followed the Elder. He had his purpose back, and he wasn’t going to mess it up.