Pairing: John/Rodney Ronon/? Tayla/Kanaan
Summary: It’s Hell on Earth. General Xander has seen many bad things and knows that as long as things keep happening the way they are blood will not stop spilling. Willow can fix it after all these years of suffering, there’s only one catch a sacrifice is needed. It’s Earth or his life.
Disclaimer: I do not own anything within the Buffy: The Vampire Slayer or Stargate universes. I plan for there to be same sex romance within the story. If you do not wish to be exposed to that kindly move on to another story. I apologize a head of time for any spelling, grammar, or punctuation mistakes.
There are spider cracks in the plaster walls; everything is falling apart around them like sand castles drying in the sun. Everything is crumbling like every inanimate object is calling it quits along with the sour drags of the living; everything is lying down to die. Pathetic. Xander looks at the round room he is in and remembers all the patch jobs and construction he did in the beginning when he was hopeful and young, no one wanted to live in a dump and fixing up slayer bases reminded him of before. At the time when he was super carpenter/health councilor and before others turned to him as a leader Xander had thought, was sure, that Willow, her coven, and the scattered Watcher’s Council could overcome their problems. Xander snorts. He doesn’t fix stuff anymore. Repairing home base is like putting a band-aide on a gun shot wound, the cracks keep spreading, foundation keeps warping, and the wood keeps rotting. Life really is over when none-living objects roll over and die.
Xander hates the blue paint on the walls; it reminds him of the sky from before, of happiness and smiles and sheep fluff clouds. Shit like that just hurts to remember. He remembered painting the room blue when it was new, when Watcher’s HQ was popping out training houses like frisky bunnies going for the record. He remembered how tired he was of the paint color and the horror he had felt when dozens of slayers offered to help. How the paint got everywhere (except on the newspaper that had been laid out), in the giggling girls hair, on their clothes, on him (Especially on him), and on the new wood floors. A floor that still bared the faded shoe prints and paint splotches because on that day he was too lazy to pull out a paint scrapper and fix it. The walls echoed with their laughter and his, with their smiles and voices, with their deaths and losses. Looking at the walls with his old eyes all faded, ugly, tainted with magic, and rotting with the memory of dead girls painting it hurt him like a hot knife to the belly.
The room used to have one of those long dark wooden tables, weapons and pictures on the walls, and billowy blue curtains . . . Everything that was of use was used. Curtains for cloths, pictures and frames burnt to start fires, and table as a barricade to cover the wide windows in the room. Only those who wanted to punish themselves looked outside.
Beyond the cracked walls of the conference room Xander can hear weeping. Such a familiar sound. People are always crying here, he could even name some of them by the way their voices hitch and how they cry. Who would have thought there was so many ways to cry? Softly, hysterically, soundless and gasping, loud like a dying animal, painfully where one can’t breathe . . .
Xander didn’t like hope anymore, it hurt as much if not more then loss. But hope with a catch . . . that sounded real.
“This could fix everything? Take us back before all hell broke loose?” Xander brushed long graying hair out of his face and looked at his oldest friend with hope shinning in his discolored eyes. One eye the color of melted chocolate, shifting and defiant, proud and sad. The other eye unnatural, almost glowing, a shifting storm of greens, blues, and browns, like a deep ocean with lurking predators in its depths. The years had not been kind to Xander, his lips no longer stretched into a smile naturally, he no longer laughed, and battling Hell it self made him an old man fast. His body is failing him just as he needed it the most. Xander looked at one of his hands, they are sword roughened, scarred, and wrinkled like dry cracked clay. No longer the hand of a warrior in his prime, he squeezed his hand and joint pain flared like a deep wound. He could no longer leave the safe house with his slayer army, he could only lead behind walls and that was killing him. The proud general who had once stood tall with strength and fierceness wrapped around him stood stooped by time and loss and wounds that just wouldn’t heal right. His face full of wrinkles, scars, and regrets, his natural eye starting to cloud with cataracts while the other flashed the emotions of his inner beasts. With each day, with each breath he is slowly becoming a liability to his people. He is an old dog fighting in an ugly immortally old war. “You can set it all back before Dawn was killed?” That damn hope was clogging his throat making it hard to breathe.
Dawn . . . The Key. She was more then the way to other dimensions, she was the way to unlocking every Hellmouth on Earth. The Scooby gang didn’t know that if they had . . . if Xander had known he would have done something. The younger naive WhiteKnight would have just kept a better eye on Dawn, would have felt safe with a slayer with her, or a Willowy spell on her. Xander of now, as a broken down, angry, sad old man would have looked for a way to make her not the key but if he couldn’t he would have killed her, burned the body, and sealed away the ashes. Erased Dawn. Even though it pains him to think that he had fallen so far from grace to kill one of his girls . . . if he could just go back in time he would stop all of it from ever happening. The day Dawn was taken and the world broke is clear to this day in his head like the scene in a movie on replay.
~His phone ringing shrilly again and again. Xander stumbles out of bed, wrestles with stubborn blankets, and reaches for a phone he doesn’t really want to answer. “Hello?”
“Xander! Dawn is missing!” Buffy’s voice is shrill with panic and her breathing is puffing through the phone like a race horse on its final turn. “Get to HQ now!” With that said the line goes dead.
‘Shit. Oh shit’ is all Xander could think as he shrugs on yesterdays vamp dusty patrol clothes and races out the door with his keys cutting into his hands. ‘Dawn is missing! Dawn is gone.’
Xander breaks every speed limit and goes through every red light it’s a miracle that he didn’t get pulled over. He is the last to get to the meeting room and is surprised to see how crowded it is. When the meeting gets going Buffy looks at everyone a little lost for a moment then her face loses all emotion, she is in Slayer mode now. She tells everyone about a weird guy Dawn befriended a guy who knows about the supernatural, and is obsessed with hell. A guy that Dawn was meeting up with so she could meet his friends. Buffy never liked Dawn’s new friend so had Willow hack his files. He doesn’t go to Dawn’s school, he has no paper trail, and no one by the name of Markus Fredrick Grimm exists.
Dawn had been gone all night and she missed class today. Missed a big test today.
Wills along with her best students started casting strong locator spells creating a portal to New York where Dawn was. The spell leads the Scooby gang and a couple of young slayers to the freaking rich gated community in Albanee New York. To a beautiful three story white mansion. The house was only beautiful on the outside. Spike halted everyone at the door. “I smell blood, lots of blood. Animal and human.”
“Is some of it Dawn’s?” Buffy asked worriedly.
Spike shook his head. “Too much to tell, it’s all mixing together in a mess of cat/rat/human/dog/sheep. Giving right messed up metal pictures.”
When Buffy opened the door Xander gagged. Inside the walls were painted in blood, dead dogs, cats, sheep, and rodents littered the floor. The place smelled of pee, rust, and sweat that burned inside Xander’s nose. There were no doors so every room they passed was open for the gangs viewing pleasure. Every room was an alter room with a bloody animal corpse on it and as they went deeper into the house the offering was bigger. The first of seven rooms had an alter overflowing with dead rats, the walls were painted black and pictures of dancing demons in white chalk. The second room they passed had animal bones hanging in the doorway with three bloody cats propped up like they were alive sitting on a white stone alter. The third a large white dog laid on a white table low to the ground its belly cut open with its organs spread out in a circle around it. The next room had just a large pile of guts and fur in the middle of a bloody floor. The one after that had four goats hanging from the ceiling their blood dripping like rain to the floor and onto a living lamb tied to a post. It sat quietly on a small stone alter its white fur turning pink with blood. Xander was about to go in and free the poor creature when Willow grabbed his arm tight. “There’s dark magic in each room. We can’t go in.”
The next room held three headless chimps sitting against the wall holding their heads in their laps with the symbol for eternity carved into every bit of skin surface. On a small alter in front of them a black candle that seemed to be leaking blood instead of wax. Xander stood outside the seventh room for a long while his eyes wide. The last room seemed to represent Adam and Eve and the snake and apple. All over the floor were the bodies of many different kinds of snakes and apples at different rates of decomposition. And lying in a bed of leaves and fur were two dismembered bodies. The bodies were arranged as if they were spooning with the male arm around the female and their legs intertwined. The girl’s head tipped to the side showing where her neck was severed from her shoulders, the cut was clean like it was done by a butcher or a surgeon. The girl seemed to be looking right at Xander.
At the center of the house they found the only door, a large thick wooded door covered in runes. Willow broke the protection spells on it easily and they opened the door. The room full of half naked men and women all bloody and dancing like hyper children. They passed a large silver cup about and drank deeply of the blood inside it. Hanging from an inverted cross naked and covered in whip marks Dawn was bloody and pale. Bloody flowed down her chest like a river with her neck slit open from ear to ear. The group stood in horror as Dawn took one last wet breath and died. Buffy screamed in pain and loss and the evil cult moaned in ecstasy as Dawn’s death gave them the power of the Key. The young man that befriended Dawn grinned. “You’re too late. Soon the greatest of all angels will rise from beyond and rule Earth! We will be rewarded!” Markus raised his hands into the air and a portal started opening in front of him.
Buffy screamed and screamed as she started killing men and women left and right, she dropped her sword and attacked like an animal with teeth and claws. Spike roared like a broken lion and attacked with deadly speed, snapping arms and legs like dry noodles. After getting over their shock of watching Dawn die and demons pop out of portals the others joined the fray. The first person Xander came across was a pretty brown haired girl with blood around her mouth and down her neck. She smiled as Xander’s axe lopped off her head.
Outside the mansion thunder rolled and lightning clashed but there was not a cloud in the sky. The trees started to wilt and some animals fell dead where they stood the meat immediately rotting. The world started changing rapidly as the mansion was ripped apart by the green portals and the earthquakes. Foolish people with cell phones and cameras started appearing outside the battle zone to watch like useless lumps as flying, horned, sharp toothed, and many eyed demons poured out of thin air. Portals started opening around them like popping abscess on the Earth and in the seven rooms great evils were awakened and given life anew. The First looking just like Buffy walked into the room as she brushed dead rat parts off her clothes. Demons the size of elephants followed her with one munching on a cat carcass. The first vampire stalked into the room looking like a cross between a bat-human and a dinosaur. His fangs long and yellow, eyes black and soulless, skin grey and leathery. Demons made of fire crashed through walls and as they walked the floor sizzled and rotted away. Under Xander’s feet the Earth split open like a massive cut and stairs formed. A beautiful man walked up them with the grace of flowing water, his skin glowed like he had swallowed sunshine, and his eyes so blue Xander lost himself in them. His soft wings framed his body like white clouds embracing him. Around him the other evils looked at him like he was the leader and with a flick of his hand the demons left him to deal with the gang. Xander could hear screams come from the way the First and the others left. The Angel smiled at Xander making him want to reach out and touch; the man radiated calmness and peace in waves. Xander needed to touch him. His hand stretched and stumbled forward to do just that but Faith got to him first.
Faith was dead with her neck twisted to the side a peaceful look frozen on her face. The Angel surrounded by hells fire laughed like sweet bells chiming and the sound soaked into Xander’s bones making him warm and relaxed. A mix of horror and need filled Xander as he lifted his axe ready to fight the winged creature. The winged man batted them all away like one would flies and laughed like it all was a fun game. Lifting his hand to the heavens the winged man summoned a beautiful glowing staff to him and aimed it at the wary group. Xander was about to get up and fight again when Willow tackled him to the ground and started mumbling a chant under her breath. A bubble appeared around them and Xander watched Buffy, Giles, and Spike along with the other slayers and witches burn in glorious light. Willow and Xander watched their friends scream and shake as flesh melted away and bones became dust. When the light cleared the winged man smiled at them and walked away like they didn’t matter. Those of the cult who survived followed after the beautiful winged man like meek happy little lambs.
Shivering with loss Xander looked up through the gaping hole in the roof of the mansion into the sky and watched the blue color bleed away, watched monsters rain from portals like a plague. He wrapped his arms around Willow and they sat together frozen in shock. ~
Devil worshipers bled Dawn dry and drank in her power, a power that should never have been wielded. A power not even Dawn could fully use. Hellmouths appeared on the Earth like sores and out of them poured Evil. The First of all evil, the first vampire, the old ones, and demons so vile they blackened the ground with each step, walked out of the Earth following a beautiful winged man. The devil. The day Dawn died many joined her not a minute later. The lucky ones Xander called them. Those souls were the last to enter the afterlife, after that one minute the battle for the Earth begun in earnest. Falling from the heavens angels clashed with demons in a last stand, the land shook with terror reminding Xander of a corpse in its last death twitch. As he watched from Willow’s circle of safety Xander knew it was hopeless, knew he would be lucky to live for another day.
Thirty years and billions of lives later Xander wondered why he wanted to live past that day. He should have gone down fighting with Buffy, Faith, Spike, and Giles at least then he would have been remembered as a Saint by the humans left. He’s surrounded by idiots but he won’t begrudge them their illusions, not after Willow’s speech all those years ago. It still echoed in his head today. ‘They’re just trying to keep hope alive anyway they can Xander. If people want to pray to St Buffy for strength or St Giles for knowledge just let them. As a general of the slayer armies you tell them of reality and keep them alive. Beyond our gates lay still and dead angels, our dead walk, and demons rape and murder! Screams ring through the air constantly! Let them believe that the light that swallowed Buffy and the others was holy and good. Let them, Xander! Only you and I know that they died screaming and burning!’ Screaming and burning. Xander could still feel the heat like sunburn that would never go away.
“Yes, but the spell is dangerous. It calls for the loss of years then the life of the giver. It could make everything worse.” Willow stood straight, her frame painfully thin, and her skin vampire pale. Her hair flowed around her like a white cape and framed her withered face making her look ghostly and cold.
“How can it get worse?” Xander pulled the curtain aside and looked through the magical barrier up into the burning sky, watched the fire rain down and burn the Earth to ash, smothering and charring the Earth black as coal, killing nature as surely as poison to a man. Watched the dead walk, stumble, shuffle, leaving trails of blood and guts as they wondered aimlessly. Interacting almost like normal with the exception to the heavy cloud of misery. He didn’t like looking at them too closely and never met their eyes if he could help it. The horror and awareness in their milky decaying eyes too much to bear, but it did answer where the souls went when there was no up or down for the dead to go. There was just here. The demons roamed, roared, and shed blood. In the sky it was forever night, shadows twisted and churned, alive and hungry. The moon in the sky the only light twisted unnaturally with a seam cut in its center, it opened and blinked. An eye of red and black shined rays of blood and glowed with savage delight. Too late. The scoobies had been too late to save the world . . .
“It could always get worse Xander. We have fifty safe havens all over the world with over a thousand people in each. The spell could fail. I could short out our only defense against the war.” Everyone would die. Willow pursed her lips her fingers tracing over magical lines Xander could not see. Bit by tiny bit Willow was loosing herself to the dark magic; sooner or later Xander would have to kill her. Witch madness was common and the only cure was to kill them and toss the body. Xander didn’t want to live to see the day Willow gave in to the darkness.
Willow’s spell could give the scoobies a chance to kill the devil worshipers and stop their world from dying. One life would be worth it. Many died already, no meaning to their slaughter, one more would be nothing. It would have meaning. Xander turned to Willow and stared into her green/black eyes, eyes tainted with the Earth’s poisoned power. She was now blind to the physical world, all witches that drew on the Earth were, they could only see with magic. Auras, spirits, wells of magic, and souls were visible to her; the table Willow leaned against and the carpet under her feet were not. Sometimes it disconcerted Xander that Willow was looking through his body and at his soul. “Let’s do it Willow.”
Willow blinked her eyes the lids rippling over bulging black veins and at the corners inky tears trickled down. “If this works you won’t exist anymore Xander, I might not be able to get you back . . . I wish we could just force someone to do it, maybe I could talk a broken slayer into it? No one would miss her.” Before all this Willow would never have said that, but all the wish demons were gone and witch madness was chipping away at her compassion. The last light in Xander’s life was slowly becoming a black hole.
“I would miss her Willow, just like I would miss you if you were gone.”
Willow frowned. “You would? How odd.” Witch madness was fickle, one minute Willow would be human with emotion and understanding the next a talking block of ice.
Xander rubbed a hand over his face his palm rubbing over fresh cuts, new scars, and old ones. He was tired, he was getting old, and he wanted it all ta just stop. Even though Willow could no longer see Xander in flesh and blood he gave her a tired smile something so foreign after so long without, this could be their last conversation. “Come on Willow, let’s save the world!”
Each witch stumbled toward Xander and felt along his face with bloody hands, blood that almost felt too warm. Blood full of tainted magic. After the thirteen witches painted blood across Xander face, giving each of the half sane witches a power line to focus on, they went to stand in a semi-circle around him. Xander stood in the middle of a circle of salt a willing sacrifice to the Powers and to the Earth. Xander’s gut twitched as he looked at the sightless witches all ranging from ages sixteen and forty with Willow the oldest. He couldn’t look at them for long and see girls that he helped bring up, women who chose to give up their minds to protect their loved ones, fall into the power like drug addicts on a good high. They looked the part of addicts in need of help, hair a rat nest, clothes covered in grim, eyes sunk in. Woman that used to be so alive now nothing but living magical husks, like sickly dogs that should be put down because it’s best for the dog. Even as an old woman twice some of the witches ages Willow still took care of herself, still had moments where she was here and not gone in her magic. It was all thanks to Giles and Willow’s long dead coven for her magical control. Control that many of the other never got a true handle on thanks to the taint in the magic. Xander couldn’t look at them, he could see girls that wanted to have children or be teachers or fly planes or paint wither away to nothing. Xander looked away from them and focused on the blue walls that he hated, on the memory of long dead smiling slayers. That failure hurt less right now then this one.
In the center of her group of sickly witches Willow swayed and chanted and like ink slowly poured her hair became black and her eyes the color of the dead sky. With each word pain like a knife twisting in his chest became stronger, so strong it spread and brought him to his knees. The salt glowed and defied gravity as it floated around him; it took the form of familiar constellations. Surrounded by these glowing bits of light Xander felt like he was being judged. The light floated for a moment then attacked his body, going through his flesh, each bit of light taking from him a piece of his life. Memories started falling away in chunks at random from his first time eating pizza to his third battle as a general. As the light violated his mind Xander screamed and twitched in the center of the storm of light. General Xander, killer of demons, leader of slayers, was dying, and in his place a new Xander formed, a Xander in thrall of the spell.
It no longer hurt.
Xander watched the light mesmerized by its beauty, calm and still as the particles passed through him, changing him. Calm in the knowledge that he was saving the world, saving it by just laying there. Xander smiled, wouldn’t Buffy and the gang be happy? This apocalypse of the week would be easy, Dawn would be safe. It could have been minutes or days when the spell was finally over he only knew it was when Willow kneeled over him. Willow. She was healthy again. “Your eyes are really green Wills. Pretty.” Even though she is an old woman with hair as white as snow Willow looked radiant and alive again and her eyes vibrant. Beautiful. “You look like a g-goddess Willow. A goddess pretending to be an old woman. Your hairs e-even fluttering in the air.”
Willow let out a hitched sob and clear taintless tears rolled down her worn cheeks. “I can’t do it Xander! I won’t finish the spell, the demons are gone now we can rebuild. I can’t believe you let me do a spell like that!” Willow wrapped her too thin arms around Xander and cuddled him into her lap.
Xander frowned in confusion. He was a bulky man thanks to all the fighting and training so he was easily three times Willow’s size how was she able to hold him in her lap? Even if age slimmed him down some and made his back stoop he was still bigger then her! So how? Xander blinked up at her from his spot against her chest. Willow brushed a hand through his hair a hand easily cupping the back of his head. Dark brown hair fluttered into Xander’s face and he stared at it in sick amazement, his hair hadn’t been that color since his fiftieth birthday! Xander raised a hand to touch that hair only to still at the sight of small smooth hands. “W-willow?”
“I can fix this Xander, thanks to you the Earth is fighting back! She’s healing. We don’t have to turn back time we can fix things here. You don’t need to die.”
Xander knew that was untrue. He could feel something pulling at him deep inside, he owed a debt. Xander scrambled out of Willow’s arms and looked around him at all the people in the room and at the changes. Young witches healed and looking at him and themselves like they had just awakened from a dream, sunlight was shining through the windows and in the sky black was being replaced with blue, outside the dead fell and did not rise again. Willow smiled at him as she placed a hand on his shoulder. “Everything has a bit of a Xandery feel to it don’t it? That’s your life force at work Xander.”
Xander could feel the pull get stronger, more insistent. He wanted to stay with Willow but he knew what he was looking at right now was just a bandage, a paper wall between Hell, Heaven, and Earth. He had to die. The spell was waiting for his consent. Xander let out a shuddery breath and walked toward the window he had looked through earlier. The barrier was gone and angels and demons were slowly getting pulled back to their homes like metal shavings to a magnet. Instinctively he could sense that this peace on Earth could last for a day or two but would end up the dark pit it was before, the spell needed to be complete with the willing sacrifice of a man child. “Okay, I’m ready.”
Xander closed his eyes as blue light exploded around him the last thing he heard was Willow screaming. Everything went dark.
Buffy hugged her sister tight and grinned at all her friends. “I can’t believe some wannabe devil cult tried to off my sister! God, can’t people find other stuff for entertainment like go to the movies or play golf?”
Willow shrugged. Something felt off, there was powerful magic all around them. “I don’t know Buffy but I think were real lucky we got here in time. Today could have gone real bad.”
Dawn frowned. “I’m just lucky the leader was a wind bag. Buffy let go! I’m fine but my grades are going to be crap if I don’t get back to the university! Did you give them an excuse?”
Buffy nods. “Yep! You got mono.”
Dawn frowned. “You better be kidding!”
Kennedy, Buffy, and the other slayers chuckled at the thunderous look Dawn had on her face, everyone laughed but Willow and Giles. “Are you alright Willow?” Giles asked softly.
“There’s magic all around us a-and something is missing. Someone!” Willow could feel panic start to claw at her heart.
Giles blinked. “You’re right. My word! Maybe someone did a spell on us while we were distracted with rescuing Dawn?”
Spike wrinkled his nose. “Yep there’s mojo. Can smell in mixed in with the blood and piss around us.”
“Now that you mention it I do feel like I forgot something.” Dawn looked worriedly about. “Suddenly I feel more lucky then usual to be alive.” Dawn grabbed Buffy’s hand tight.
In her mind mismatched brown eyes appeared like memories from a dream, Willow bit at her lip when equal parts panic and warmth flashed through her body. She was forgetting something real important.
“The thing I want to know is why they chose New York?” Buffy huffed. “What was wrong with staying in Cleveland? Hellmouth not good enough?”
Kennedy rolled her eyes. “You’re not the only one that hates traveling by magic portal, trust me. Makes my tummy upset.”
Willow bit at her lip as her frown deepened. “It was the house. All the power they were calling was centered on seven room and the big one Dawn was in. The house is like an evil sponge.” Mismatched brown eyes lurked in the back of her head teasing her like a persistent fly. ‘Come on Willow, let’s save the world!’ echoed softly in her ears with a male voice she could almost recognize. Willow looked around her, who was she missing?
He woke up alone and cold in a stone building that was mostly walls and broken glass now after years of erosion. The room looked like it had been through a war with stone rubble littering the ground and burn marks where it was fired upon. It was dark around him and the sky twinkled brightly with stars, near a mountain range two moons glow a bright blue. He shivered as the wind bit at his skin. What happened? Where was he?
No one answered his call with the exception of him startling an animal that looked like a slight boned many horned deer. He watched the animal run from the stone building and into the woods. Xander stood up and turned about like a confused child would when lost in a supermarket. He kicked off his pants when they fell around his ankles and ignored his shirt when it slipped off one bony shoulder. “Why aren’t I dead?”
His eyes fell on the large stone circle and its pedestal covered in weird markings. He press one down on the pedestal and the same one on the circle glowed. Xander let out a confused whimper, why was he here? Where are the others? Did the spell work?
Xander sat down on the stone stairs and hugged his skinny legs to himself and started to rock. “Willow will find me.”
He had to wonder though, how long would it take her to find him?
Merkat: Review! And I know what u r going to say! 'Merkat how could you! You write another story but have all these unfinished ones! Shame on you!' *shrug* My new muse moved in my head and she wanted to write. She's a bit gory but I like her. *pets muse on head* Tell me what u think.