A/N: Story picks up right after Buffy tells everyone about Jenny Calendar’s disk she and Willow found in Becoming, Part 1 (2x21) and continues through Becoming, Part 2 (2x22). Disclaimer: All the dialogue in the last third of this chapter is from Becoming Part 2. It does not belong to me; it belongs to Joss Whedon. I’ve notated the specific part where this begins and added in another disclaimer at the bottom, just to be on the safe side.
Xander was feeling a lot of anger.
He might’ve even classified it as rage.
And the poor hapless locker in front of him was bearing the brunt of it.
“Ow!” he exclaimed angrily, shaking his hand as pain flared up his arm.
In his anger, he had misaimed his last punch so the right side of his fist connected with the metal surface first. He was lucky he didn’t break anything. The throbbing helped calm him, though, which was a good thing. He took a deep breath and struggled to sort through his emotions.
Xander had stormed out of the library right after their meeting broke up. Or more specifically, after Buffy announced that she was going to whitewash everything Angel, sorry Angelus
, had done and give that monster back his soul. As if he deserved it.
He just couldn’t understand it. How could Buffy let Ms. Calendar’s death go unpunished? How could she even look at her ex-lover’s face and not see every terrible thing the vampire had done? How could she risk this happening again?
The fact that Angel didn’t have a soul when he did all this didn’t matter. Giving him his soul wouldn’t bring Ms. Calendar back, or Theresa, or anyone else he had killed. No, he was a rabid dog that needed to be put down, for his own good as well as everyone else’s.
Xander loved Buffy, he looked up to her, but at the moment all he could feel was unbelievably disappointed in her.
What hurt the most, however, was the look on Willow’s face when he defended his stance. His Wills, looking at him like he was the lowliest of slime. Slime on slime, actually. Angel killed Ms. Calendar, psychologically tortured all of them, was currently trying to suck the world into hell, literally
, and suddenly he’s
the bad guy for wanting justice.
If only he could take on Angel himself.
Then it dawned on him. If Buffy wouldn’t kill Angel, he knew someone who could.
He never told Buffy or Willow about his strange encounter that Halloween night. He had told himself that he wasn’t purposefully keeping it from them; it just never seemed the right time. First there was Ford and then Kendra and then Cordelia… She definitely took a lot of his time and energy. Then Angel went all evil, and that pretty much sucked up all their focus.
Besides, it wasn’t like he was ever going to see the mysterious blonde man again. So there was another person out there fighting demons? Big deal. They had plenty of other things to worry about. Like Angel.
These were just excuses, though, and he knew it. Although he had told himself that night that he would never seek Edward out, he often thought of what it would be like to learn from the hit man.
Maybe now was the time to take him up on his offer and hand over to him one of the kills of the century.
But where would he, Xander Harris, find a demon hit man?
The outside of Willy’s Bar was just as seedy as Xander had imagined it. Maybe even a little seedier.
“One of Sunnydale’s finer establishments,” he said under his breath as he took in the exterior. Still, he made no movement to enter.
Though he hated to admit it, he was nervous. Not so much because of Willy. From Buffy’s description, the bar owner was a pushover. No, it was more because there was no going back once he stepped foot in the bar.
He took a deep breath and reached for the door. Luckily, it was unlocked. Xander figured that if your main customers were demons, you weren’t too afraid of someone breaking in. Or maybe it happened all the time, so why bother?
Xander walked inside and was immediately hit with the stench of stale blood and beer. A winning combination.
“Hey, we’re closed,” a high, nasally voice called out. “We don’t open till sunset.”
Xander cleared his throat. “I’m not here for a drink,” he replied. As his eyes adjusted to the dimly lit bar and he saw the seamy interior, he made a face. “Or the ambience.”
There was a moment of silence; then a small, greasy-looking man, presumably Willy, stepped out from the back room. He looked Xander up and down, and apparently he wasn’t impressed.
“Hey, scram, kid! You shouldn’t be here, especially when my regulars start showing,” Willy said with a frown.
Xander straightened up, giving Willy his best cold, hard stare. “I’m friends with Buffy, the Slayer,” he quickly amended. “And I need some information.”
To his satisfaction, the smaller man’s eyes widened in fear. “The Slayer’s here?” Willy said nervously, looking around as if Buffy were going to jump out of the shadows at any moment.
Xander frowned. “No, she’s not. Think of me as her ambassador… except I’m not coming in peace… and not so much with the goodwill, either… I’m big on diplomatic immunity, though…”
He was certainly off to a stellar start. Maybe he should've made a game plan before he walked in. He paused for a moment, trying to think of the best way to intimidate the man. It looked so easy in the movies, but he couldn’t think of what to say without sounding cheesy. Could he really ‘make him an offer he couldn’t refuse’? Maybe silent yet intimidating would be his best bet.
Before he could implement his plan, Willy picked up a bat from under the bar and began walking toward Xander in a slightly threatening manner.
So much for his first shakedown. While he knew that he could take down the slight bartender in a fist fight, the bat gave Willy a distinct advantage. And Xander’s hand was still a little tender from his earlier encounter with the locker. But that wasn’t really what was holding him back. Chances were pretty good that he could take Willy down, bat and all. He still went over military drills in his basement when he parents weren’t looking, didn’t he?
No, the real problem was his conscience. Intimidation was one thing, but he felt a little funny assaulting another person just for information. He had been the recipient of bullies’ beatdowns too many times not to have some issues with it. There had to be a better way.
“I just want to ask you a question,” Xander said quickly, backing up with his hands in the air. “I’m looking for someone.”
“Aren’t we all?” Willy said sarcastically as he kept advancing. “Now get out before you get us both killed.”
Xander thought quickly. “I have money,” he blurted out. “$26 on me right now.”
Willy paused to think this over. “And all you want is to know where you can find someone?” he asked slowly.
“That’s all. And not even a demon, just a human
,” Xander explained, hoping this bit of information sweetened the deal and put Willy at ease.
It worked. Willy nodded and held his hand out. Xander reached into his wallet and handed over the money.
“I’m looking for a hit man, one that specializes in demons. He’s about my height, blonde, blue eyes, lots of guns,” Xander said, immediately noting the way Willy paled. He went on, however. “He goes by the name Ed-”
“Shh!” the barman exclaimed, looking around wildly almost in a panic. “Don’t tell me! The less I know the better. I’ve heard the demons talk about him. They call him ‘Death’, and that’s all I need to know. He’s feared almost as much as your Slayer.”
This is what Xander wanted to hear. “Do you know how I can find him?” he asked intently.
“Geez, kid,” Willy said in a hushed whisper. “Death kills demons. He doesn’t send them Christmas cards or leave forwarding addresses.”
Xander flushed in embarrassment. Edward seemed like such a quick fix, he hadn’t bothered to work out the logistics. Come to think of it, even if Xander was somehow miraculously able to find him, there was probably no way the hit man could get there in time.
Still, he pressed further. He had to try. “Yeah, but they must have an idea where he is so they can stay far away from there,” he reasoned.
“Sorry, kid. I don’t know nuthin’ about Death, and I’d like to keep it that way,” Willy said. As Xander’s shoulders slumped in defeat, he looked at him pityingly. “A word of advice, kid, and this is for free. Stick with the Slayer. Death is one cold bastard.”But that’s what I need,
With a sigh of resignation, Xander left the demon bar. Of course Edward wouldn’t be easy to find. What was he thinking? And why didn’t he think of finding him sooner? Oh yeah, because Buffy wasn’t reconsidering her ‘kill Angel’ campaign until now.Okay, I’ll do it Buffy’s way,
he thought morosely. Not that I really have a choice.
(The next day*)
Everything had gone so wrong, so horribly wrong.
They had tried the spell to ‘re-ensoul’ Angel earlier that night, but they were attacked before it could be completed. Now Willow was in the hospital, Giles was abducted by Drusilla, Kendra was dead
, and Xander was racing through the streets of Sunnydale, trying to catch up with Buffy before she began her final showdown with Angel in the old mansion.
Willow, Oz, and Cordelia were going to try to do the spell again. At first, this made him hesitant to leave Willow at the hospital; he had come too close to losing her to leave her side. Yet the thought of Buffy going up against Angel, Spike, and Drusilla all by herself… There was no way he was going to lose Buffy tonight, too.
At this thought, he picked up his pace, he pausing only for a second to pick up a rock on the ground.Great
, he thought as he resumed his run. I’ve resorted to caveman weaponry. This is sure to scare Angel.
He cut through a small patch of trees and burst out onto Crawford Street. To his immense relief, Buffy was there, walking down the street. She stopped in surprise when she saw him. He gave her a small grin.
“Cavalry's here. Cavalry's a frightened guy with a rock, but it's here,” he said as he caught his breath. He immediately tossed the rock aside when she held out a stake to him. “That’s better.”
Buffy studied him for a moment before resuming her walk toward the mansion. “You're not here to fight. You get Giles out, and you run like hell, understood? I can't protect you. I'm gonna be too busy killing,” she said, brandishing the sword Kendra had brought.
Xander’s eyes fixed on the sword in appreciation. “Now, that's a new look for you.”
“It's a present for Angel,” Buffy said.
There was such grim finality in her voice that Xander was momentarily taken aback. This was it. She was really going to do it. Was it wrong to feel all warm inside? Willow would be smacking him upside the head right about now…
Willow. He almost forgot. “Willow,” he blurted out. “Uh, she told me to tell you...”A demon’s a demon, kid. Nothing’s going to change that. The sooner you realize it, the better off you’ll be.
It dawned on Xander then. Edward didn’t have to be there. Xander was. And he would do what he always did; he would help Buffy. He would make it easier for her.
But would Buffy ever forgive him?
Buffy’s voice broke through his reverie. “Tell me what?” she looked at him questioningly.
Here it was, moment of truth.
“Kick his ass.”
*Disclaimer: All dialogue in this section is from Becoming, Part 2 (2x22) and is owned by Joss Whedon.