Chapter 1: Decision
Title: Vengeance Satisfied is Justice ServedAuthor: 3D Master
Keywords: X-over BtVS/The Crow, drama, action.
Time frame: S7, starts during dirty girls.
Summary: Buffy has a choice to make: Xander or Spike? Who gets to live? (XanderZone Challenge response.)
Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its characters do not belong to me, but to Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy Productions. The Crow and related concepts are created by James O’Barr.
Author’s Notes: In chapter 6, I’m paying homage to the story Dirty Mind by Tobias Spiegler, by mirroring (basically I’m stealing from the best) a scene from this great, but sadly still unfinished (hint, hint) story. Also in chapter 7 part of one conversation (won’t spoil you) comes from feedback to this story given to me by Lone Templar (thank you!), and I’m using it with his blessing.
Vengeance Satisfied is Justice Served
by 3D Master (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Chapter 1: Decision
Buffy, Faith, and Spike entered the Summers house through the front door. “Everything looks the same,” Faith commented looking around the house. In the living room Giles and Dawn got up grimly.
“Everything got destroyed, so it’s kind of newish,” Buffy answered the dark-haired Slayer, as Spike walked onward to his own place without a word.
Giles and Dawn glared at Faith, and Dawn called, “Buffy.”
Faith was perturbed, and tried to cover it up by saying, “Well, look at that, the squirt, all grown up and woman-like.” Faith hated herself in that moment. She didn’t know why exactly, but she was falling back into old habits. Back in LA while helping to get Angel back she had felt scared: taking on a rock monster and the Scourge of Europe weren’t things not to get scared about. But she had also been confident in her own abilities, and most importantly confident in who exactly she was, and what she was not. But now that she was here, once again, in Sunnydale, the place where her descent into darkness all began, where the people she had wronged the most all lived, she felt as insecure, out of place, and terrified as when she first got here, and she was once again trying to cover that insecurity up with boasts and an all-chipper-here attitude.
Dawn added, “Does she have to stay here? Can’t she go to a hotel where they take tried-to-kill-your-sister types?”
Faith was pained, but dug up a smile and said, “Come on, we can play monopoly together.”
Xander arrived from the dining room behind Buffy and Faith, and he muttered, surprised, but mostly uninterested, “Faith.”
“Oh, hey X-man,” Faith said nervously turning around. “If the squirt won’t let me sleep in her bed, I can always join you in yours, right?”
Silence reigned for a few moments, as Xander’s neutral gaze bores into Faith’s eyes. Trying to kill him had left an impression, a big one. Xander wasn’t able to just push it aside and pretend nothing happened, but neither could he ignore the pained expression on Faith’s face. Oh, she managed to hide it will, but he knew that look far too well, it was too often in the mirror. He could see the scared, little girl hiding there, of course he could also see that scared, little girl hiding in those eyes when she tried to strangle him, but that was where his inability to ignore her turning herself into the cops and spending years in prison came up. *Ah, well,* Xander thought bitterly, *If Buffy can be with Spike and go ‘he’s a good guy, /he’s/ got a soul now,’ I might as well.* His mouth quirked up just a bit, and he said with a mostly flat voice, “Right.”
Faith felt an enormous pain, as well as relief flooding through her being. It was obvious she wasn’t forgiven, and Xander didn’t seem to be inclined to do it anytime soon, but at least it didn’t seem she had completely burned that bridge down to absolutely nothing. There was still hope.
Buffy meanwhile turned to Dawn and Giles and said, “I’ve got to go to the hospital check up on this wounded girl that . . .”
Giles nodded, saying, “Willow called, she says she’s staying in the hospital.”
“I’ll go with you,” Xander offered to Buffy.
The blonde nodded her approval, and called out loudly, “SPIKE!” Giles gaze narrowed.
The blonde vampire called back a ‘what’ from somewhere, as Faith watched Xander’s seemingly unmoved face. Faith knew better, she’d seen enough masks in the mirror. With a moment of shock she realized that Xander was anything but unmoved. Right there, in his eyes, deep, there was a hard core that was . . . burning anger? Faith wasn’t sure, the moment she had been able to discern anything from Xander’s eyes was already gone - it had been no more than a flicker.
“Come along, we’re going to go see the girl in the hospital!” Buffy finished her summons as she turned around and opened the door. Xander started putting on his coat in silence, as Spike breezed by with his typical air of indifference, and Xander followed him out. On impulse Faith joined the trio, and closed the door behind her.
The four of them were walking through one of Sunnydale’s parks: a shortcut to the hospital. Buffy and Xander walked next to each other silently. Faith was walking behind them, next to Spike, and had pretty much decided early on in their walk that apologies were out until after they beat this First Evil thing; if she started apologizing now, she’d still be busy apologizing by the time the Earth had become a living hell. Faith felt chills running down her spine as she saw one half of a once invincible team walk next to each other without anything to say. And this wasn’t a nice comfortable silence between friends, their body language betrayed that much; Faith had enough time learning to read body language inside prison. How could things have gotten this bad? This just couldn’t be all this First Evil’s doing.
“You know all the tension back there wasn’t just you,” Spike explained suddenly, casually.
*Duh, Sherlock,* Faith thought, but held her tongue. *I may not be the brightest here, but I’m not stupid.*
“Giles was part of a plot to try and kill me for Buffy’s own good,” Spike finished, tossing away his cigarette bud casually, trampling it out a moment later with his left foot. His tone made it obvious he didn’t believe one moment his death could be for Buffy’s good.
*Giles thought Spike should die?* Faith thought, thinking over the implications. Faith thought more and less of Giles at the same time. On the one hand, the fact that he somewhat stood up to Buffy and decided to do something on his own raised her opinion of him, on the other, he failed in his endeavor to kill one measly vampire, who he had access to twenty-four hours in a day every day. It shouldn’t be so hard to dust him. Spike may now have a soul, but Faith knew that meant diddly squat if someone was determined to be evil: case in point, herself. *And he needed to go behind Buffy’s back to do it? She’s protective of this bastard? I haven’t seen him act particularly like a good guy.* That was bad, really bad, and probably also where the rift between Xander and Buffy came from. Xander hated vampires, she knew, hated them with a passion, and now Buffy hadn’t just shacked up with one, but with two it seemed; an unsouled one even, and took him back the moment he said he had a soul, letting him slaughter people on some hunch it wasn’t really him, finding out he had a trigger installed and just letting him wander around the house anyway, endangering everyone. No wonder Xander was pissed off. (What the fuck was wrong with her anyway!?) Willow really was a blabber mouth, then again, Faith figured it was some pretty need to know info, so she was forgiven. The dark Slayer briefly wondered what Buffy would do if she dusted the peroxide addict right here and now. Probably not something good, so she dismissed the notion. Besides, what if Buffy was right and they were wrong? She decided to keep her thoughts to herself, and said, “That makes me feel better about me, worse about Giles, and . . . kinda shaky about you.” Spike looked at her as they walked along, and then shrugged his shoulders. He couldn’t care less what the dark Slayer thought of him, as long as the blonde one loved him. “So, what’s with him?” Faith asked casually.
Spike shrugged, “He’s like that, ever since he found out Buffy was sleeping with me.” Faith kept silent, walking along. “Envy I guess,” Spike drawled on, uninterested in the way Faith reacted to his story. “He’s his typically useless self. Can smash a nail into a broken window well, but other than that? No strength, or fighting ability - dead weight. Never bothered with learning anything that could help Buffy in her fight. But me, you see, I went to get my soul for Buffy, I really love her.”
“I guess,” Faith answered, while seething inside. There weren’t many things she knew about the Scooby Gang as they once called themselves, but there was one thing she did know. Xander was anything but dead weight, and while he had tried to reach out to her, she had tried to kill him. She still didn’t know how to apologize to him, let alone how to act around him. Quietly she decided she would never turn her back on Spike, the way he talked made her skin crawl, like he was some obsessed psychopath, sounded a bit like herself once - she shivered at that observation - and unlike Buffy, she decided she would dust him if he gave her but one sliver of an excuse.
Suddenly a net dropped down from the trees and enveloped Faith. The net was extremely heavy, enforced with metal, and the slayer went down from the unexpected impact, rolling back. The heavy sound, and Spike’s surprised outcry of, ‘What the bloody hell!?’ caused Buffy and Xander to turn around as well and look surprised for a moment. Someone took advantage of their distraction, and from the trees a whole battalion of tall, and strong looking demons dropped down. They had horns and were a dull light blue, a total of sixteen of them, four for each person. A seventeenth larger demon, light purple, wearing some kind of impressive looking embroidered armor, and holding an impressive looking spear, dropped down right after that. The spear seemed to exude raw power, even though nobody could see that power.
The demons didn’t waste time with chitchat and attacked with everything they had. Four of them started kicking and smashing blunt weapons at the bound Faith, who unsuccessfully tried to get away. Another four attacked Spike with swords, sharp enough to sever his head, and Spike was forced to avoid the first swings desperately before mounting an ineffective counter attack.
When the first demon attacked her, Buffy avoided it, while making a backward roundhouse kick and sending a demon flying.
Xander ducked underneath the first demon’s punch, he flicked out a knife and rammed it in the demon’s gut. In shock and pain the demon was sent to the ground, to its knees. Xander twisted around, smashed aside a punch, while slicing open the first demon’s throat at the same time, causing it to keel over lifeless. He then kicked his foot into the shins of another demon, and got knocked hard in the back. He stumbled forward, and was only just barely able to keep himself upright and swat aside another fist before sticking his knife into a demon’s heart. He wished he had brought a sword, or a gun.
Faith in the mean time, ripped apart the net keeping her from attacking her opponents with a roar. Immediately she jumped up over another kick. Faith went ballistic; memories of the beast smashing her about like she was a rag dol, and other beatings sent her completely over the edge. One stake disappeared into one heart, while a second stake, held by her other hand, was rammed into one of the demon’s eyes, causing it to roar out in pain, and run away.
Spike had managed to tear out the throat of one of the demons attacking him, and broken the sword arm of another, when one of the demons managed to run him through his stomach, and he stumbled to his knees. Even as he fell he vamped out, and pushed himself aside, ripping the sword from the demon’s grasp, and rammed a stake in the fourth demon’s gut, causing it to double over and stumble away.
Buffy had snapped one demon’s neck, staked a second, and now pummeled a third after avoiding one of its kicks. Doubling the demon over with a punch, she stuck her stake through the back of its neck. It gurgled and fell to the ground. She was aware of the demon that she had kicked away sneaking up on her from behind. She jumped, circled in air and delivered a snap kick to its nose, which sent the nose bone crashing into its brain. It keeled over dead a moment later.
Buffy turned to the leader of the bunch, still holding the spear up, and she growled at him, “Nice spear, I’ll look nice sticking through your chest.”
The demon simply shook his head, lowered his spear somewhat, and a finger from the hand wrapped around the handle pointed. He said, “Choose.” Then he moved his finger over to the other side pointing at something else, and with an evil grin he said, “The vampire, or the human, who shall live.”
Buffy’s eyes widened in shock, and she whirled around. Three dead demons lay around Xander, who had a sword hovering above his chest, directly above his heart. The final demon holding the sword. To Buffy’s right, there was Spike, bleeding from a multiple stab wounds, looking fearfully up. The last demon held his sword above him, directly next to Spike’s neck. One slice and his head came away from his body. Buffy felt her heart breaking. For a moment it seemed as if the whole world and time stood still, the moment in which she had to choose. Xander or Spike, living or dead, human or vampire. Buffy chose.
Time sped up again as Buffy ran for the demon. The sword came down, and she jumped, ramming herself into the demon, and pushing it aside from its intended victim. She and the demon crashed to the floor, even as she smashed the stake she was holding through its heart. She quickly pried the sword away from the demon’s dead fingers.
At the same time the sword plunged downward, and sliced through Xander’s heart. He looked up at the demon, stunned. He dipped his head, looked over at Buffy getting up from the demon corpse and sped to him, pain and rage written on her face. She chose him, the vampire, she chose to save a corpse over her living friend. How can a Slayer, a supposed hero, a champion for humanity have so skewed priorities? How could she possibly be trusted to defeat the greatest of evils if she consistently chose vampires, chose evil, above good? Xander could understand Angel, after all she met him and fell for him before she knew he was a vamp, and he had a soul from the get go. In a way he could understand last year’s rompadomp with Spike, but he had no soul then, he had tried to rape her, and yet now she takes him back, and he could see no difference in Spike’s behavior before the alleged re-ensouling, reducing Buffy to a sick, ridiculous, puppy-dog-eyed going ‘but he has a soul now’ over and over. It made him wonder if the sick bastard really had a soul or if it was just one big lie. After all, how does one detect a soul? And even if he had one, he was still the same old Spike, so he got a blank soul, or William before being turned was just as bad as the soulless monster. Either way, the bastard had gone on and on about how bad he had been treated, and he shouldn’t have been so confused he’d tried to rape her, as if he was the victim when he made the try. Earlier, when he had lain potentially bleeding to death, and he saw Buffy go check up on the immortal vampire Spike who had nothing but a few scratches something had sparked within him; an annoyance, an anger, and pity that the once great Buffy Summers the Vampire Slayer had let herself be reduced to a battered wife or girlfriend and necrophiliac. Now, there was nothing but anger, boiling rage, and hate toward Spike, and to her. The little blonde bitch that would sacrifice anyone and anything, her friends, her precious potential slayer army, her sister, but not the half-wit vampire who was nothing but excess weight, utterly useless, who needed to be told what to do in a fight every step of the way or he would let people die. As life fled Xander, and darkness claimed his soul, his arms flexed, his hands clenched into fists, a burning rage and hate fusing into every part of his being, then turned to a small ball of raging inferno just before he finally died.
Right at the moment Xander lost his life Buffy decapitated the demon that had taken that very life. “It’s done. The contract is fulfilled,” the lead demon grinned evilly. It turned around and walked away, and then walked off the ground, as if he walked up an invisible staircase, before simply fading from view.
“XANDER! XANDER!” Buffy screamed out in pain, tears staining her eyes. Spike and Faith reached the grisly scene moments later, right as the demon corpses started dissolving. Buffy knelt down and pushed on his chest, causing more blood to gush from the large wound. She pulled his head back, and squeezed his nose. She dipped her head down, put her lips to his, and blew air into his lungs. “Come one, Xan!” she yelled as tears streamed down her cheeks. She blew air in again, before starting five pushes on his chest. “You brought me back like this, don’t die. Come back to me!”
But Xander did not come back. Faith watched Buffy pitifully trying to revive Xander. Her own eyes were misty, a few tears flowed from them. She quickly wiped them away, and forced herself not to cry. Not now, not when the blonde seemed to be breaking apart, and a vampire was apparently trusted above a living man. She watched how with every push more blood welled up from Xander’s chest, and she knelt down on Xander’s other side. With misty eyes, she grabbed the blonde Slayer’s wrists, and pleaded, “B. He’s dead, B!”
“NO! He’s not dead, he’ll come back, I came back, he can come back!” Buffy yelled out, trying to push down again, but Faith restrained her. She tried to dip down to blow more air into Xander’s lungs, but with her arms restrained that didn’t work well either. “Let me go!”
“Buffy!” Faith yelled at her, shaking her once, getting Buffy’s attention. The blonde looked her in the eyes. “You’re just pushing blood out his chest, B. He’s dead.”
Buffy looked up at Spike with teary eyes. The vampire watched the proceedings without much interest, and simply nodded to Buffy that Faith was right. Buffy got shakily to her feet, and then took the two steps to Spike and wrapped her arms around his waist, burying her face into his chest, and cried. Spike wrapped his arms around his slayer and murmured soothing words, thinking, *Why did that fucking bastard have to die? Look how he upset my precious.* Buffy dug deeper into his chest as he tightened his hug, and amended his former thought, *Then again, this might not be so bad.*
Faith watched the scene with disgust, shock, and dread, until she felt bile threatening to come up. She turned away and looked at Xander’s body, the scent of his blood, the sight of his body, the hole, and slowly flowing blood - it didn’t stem the tide one bit. She turned away, heaved, and sank to her knees. She crawled away, not feeling like she should throw up so close to his dead body. She heaved again, and couldn’t keep things together by the third heave, and threw up in the grass. Two more heaves dredged up more stuff she ate, and pored it out of her body.
Summers residence back garden
Buffy threw the final heap of earth down upon the newly dug grave, right next to Chloe’s, and then placed the shovel in the dirt. Buffy turned to look at the people gathered here. They were all there, Giles, Willow, Faith, Anya, Dawn, Spike, Robin Wood, Andrew and the potentials. Buffy glowered at them, her face showing her anger, and she said, “Xander died because he wasn’t prepared, all four of us weren’t prepared. We won’t make that mistake again. Tomorrow we’ll check out the information our newest member gave us. A preacher named Caleb says he has something that belongs to me . . . well, we’re going to get it. We’ll find out where he is, and take him and the rest of the bastards out once and for all. Now go get some sleep, you’ll need it.” Buffy then stalked past the group of people toward the house, Spike easily followed her in.
The potentials looked sadly, and painfully at the two graves. Slowly bit by bit they left, and went back inside the house. Andrew, crying, followed them. Of the potentials only Kennedy was left outside, hugging a crying Willow. The potential slayer felt saddened, and helpless. From the moment Willow had heard the news she had cried, and hadn’t stopped crying. Buffy had stopped crying already, if they were going to fight the First Evil effectively, then - she figured - they needed their strongest ally one hundred percent, but far more than that, she hated seeing Willow sad. She wanted to see the redhead smile, because she had such a beautiful smile, but the only thing it seemed she could do, was hold her and hope she would be done crying sooner or later.
Dawn was standing next to the lesbian couple, tears freely ran down her cheeks. “It-it can’t be,” she whimpered, sniffing sadly. “He can’t be dead, he just can’t be. Not him too.” The sixteen-year-old turned around and wrapped her arms around Giles.
The Watcher held her head as she cried into his chest, and gave her a fatherly kiss on the top of her head. “He was a remarkable young man,” he said, his voice breaking, a tear forming at his right eye and running down his cheek. “Perhaps even the best of all of us.” Dawn started crying harder, remembering the encouragement words he gave her only weeks earlier. She wanted him back. The reason why she had the strength to go on, and face her uncaring sister and still try to think of her as the once loving sister, was him. “Come on, Dawn,” Giles slowly muttered, and pulled her along. She slowly led herself be taken along.
Anya stood, standing there. Unable to grasp the concept. “He can’t be dead,” she whispered again, for the umpteenth time since the news had reached her. “He just can’t be dead. He isn’t dead.” She slowly turned around and walked to the house.
Robin looked around rather surprised. He knew the young man had to have been someone important, but from the group who had known him longest there was more than just emotional attachment. Dawn seemed completely helpless, more than just in grief. Giles calling Xander the best of all of them was unexpected, and he didn’t feel like it was an exaggeration because he had just died. “Faith,” he tried. The brunette was beautiful, a slayer, a broken girl. He briefly wondered if his mother ever was like her, but he couldn’t remember, she died when he was too young, he could only remember what she looked like, her face engraved in his memory, and the bastard who had killed her, the bastard who even now wore his mother’s coat like a trophy, and everyone trusted him to be some good guy. He was hoping this Slayer might have a different perspective, he was hoping he could make a connection with her, hopefully more than just that, because she was just beautiful, even in pain like she was now.
“Go away,” Faith told him flatly. Robin nodded respectfully and left.
Only Faith, Willow and Kennedy remained. Willow crying, having induced tears from Kennedy as well. Faith just stared at the grave, her eyes slowly bit by bit misting up.
“This is so wrong. Goddess, this is so wrong,” Willow suddenly piped up through her sobs.
“I know,” Kennedy said soothing.
Willow shook her head. “No, not Xander dying . . . at least not just him dying . . . This, just a shallow hole . . . My god, it felt wrong with Chloe, but it was Buffy, I didn’t want to go against her, I’m never right, she always is . . . she isn’t right.”
Faith blinked and looked up at Willow, similar thoughts about to wrongness of a mere shallow hole as a grave, but who the hell was Chloe? “Chloe?” she prompted.
The lesbians pointed at the looser ground next to it, a nice square. It almost seemed like just ground, but the signs of digging were still visible; Faith hadn’t paid attention to it before. “We put her there,” Kennedy said softly. “The First got to her, she killed herself.”
Willow nodded, “I can see it now . . . now that Xander’s there . . . what are we going to tell her parents when they come around and ask about her? ‘Oh, she killed herself, we put her in the ground there, she made good fertilizer?’” Willow broke down in cries again. She turned around and put her face in Kennedy’s shoulder, hugging the brunette potential tightly to her. “I can’t believe . . . Buffy just . . . put Xander in that hole . . . like he’s inconsequential . . . just collateral damage.” Kennedy tightened her grip, feeling her own grief welling up as Willow cried. She had kind of liked Xander, even though she hadn’t really talked to him. Now that he was gone, she wished she had, she had no idea the guy was this important to Willow. “He was my best friend, Ken,” Willow cried out. “Knew him from kindergarten . . . he saved Buffy’s life, and mine several times over . . . stopped me from killing everyone on the planet . . . he was the heart of our group . . . he was the heart in the enjoining spell we used to defeat Adam . . . now he’s dead . . . and Buffy just dumps him in a hole . . . not even a wooden stick to mark it.”
Kennedy blinked away her tears. Willow was right! This was wrong, so very wrong. How could Buffy be so callous? She thought she could look up to the Slayer, from all the stories it seemed she could, but she knew now, that something had happened to the vibrant heroine people told about in those stories. She hadn’t seen Buffy vibrant for one moment when she was here, and this . . . Kennedy had an idea. Slowly she disentangled herself from Willow, and gently pushed her away. Willow looked questioningly at her girlfriend. Kennedy gave her a sad, but reassuring smile. Willow turned around as Kennedy walked past her. The potential went further into the garden, searching for something it seemed. Moments later she returned, holding sticks, each about a meter long, in both hands. The first she stuck with force into the head of Xander’s grave, the second she stuck into Chloe’s. Willow looked at her now sadly smiling girlfriend gratefully, and then broke down crying again. Kennedy quickly walked over and held Willow close again.
A minute later a few drops of rain started falling, and Kennedy murmured, “We should go inside, Willow. Don’t want to catch a cold, and we should go to sleep, we need it.” Willow nodded dumbly, and let herself be taken away. Kennedy stopped and turned to the dark Slayer, still staring intently at Xander’s grave. “You coming, Faith?” Faith shook her head and waved them inside.
Faith looked at the grave, starting to cry uncontrollably now that she was alone, and she no longer needed to keep up appearances, and she remembered LA through her tears.
Angel and Faith stood on the Hyperion’s balcony, looking out over the city, and he suddenly asked her, “Faith, if it ever came down to choosing between saving my life or say Gunn’s, who would you save?” Faith looked stricken, even more so when Angel turned to regard her. How could he ask her that question? “Who?” Angel prompted gravely.
Faith looked at him, that answer she knew, but she was afraid he was going to hate her. “G-gunn,” she answered with a trembling voice.
A small smile adorned Angel, and then he said, lighter, but still grave, “Good, that’s the right answer. Soul or no soul, at the end of the day I’m a walking corpse, I’m already dead. If you have to choose, you choose life, not death.” He pauzed for a moment, and then added, somewhat sternly, “That goes for you too. You are alive, I’m not.” Faith blinked, and looked at him mildly uncomprehending. Angel reached for the pocket in her jacket he knew contained a stake. Faith watched him, as he pulled out the stake and placed it in her right hand, then brought the pointy end to his heart. “I’m not Angelus, if he ever rears his ugly head again I’m dead, doubly dead. He’s just another vampire you kill every night. No more stunts like that to re-ensoul me. You’re the Slayer, you are beyond a simple champion, you’re too important. In short: dust . . . Understood?” Faith nodded. “Good,” Angel told her, then smiled.
#Choose!# The demon’s words still echoed through Faith’s mind as she looked at Xander’s grave. She remembered watching in horror how Buffy went to save a vampire’s life. She had run toward Xander and the demon, but she had simply been too far away. Later Buffy had said by mere accidental explanation that Spike was stronger, that he was more valuable to the mission. But Xander had killed three of the demons before he had been overwhelmed: the same amount that Spike had killed, and even then, what in blazes could a vampire do against an intangible evil older than the universe itself? Spike’s fists would just pass straight through it. An energy blaster might work against the First, or some form of spell, this being the origin of evil, it would probably take something that was the opposite of evil; love, heart, a spell that needed a heart in the middle as a focus? Didn’t Willow just say that? God, Buffy chose death over life, she chose a dead vampire over a living man who could just be the focus a witch like Willow needed to defeat whatever the First was.
A man that had saved everyone’s life several times over, hers, and Faith’s included. A man who had saved the world, a man who had been there for her all through her life here, protected her, guarded her, had her back every step of the way, and she chose a vampire. Mother of god what had happened here? How could Buffy choose Spike over Xander? Just how screwed up was her mind to chose the peroxide vampire, that had tried to kill her several times over already? Soul or no soul, he was already dead, but Xander was alive!
Faith sank to her knees, crying, as the rain slowly started to pick up. She smashed her fists in the dirt, and started talking to no one. “This isn’t supposed to be like this! God, I’m supposed to help, just be on the sidelines, survive this shit, beat the apocalypse and apologize, make up, if not during, then after this fight. How can I apologize if you’re dead? You saved my life, you tried to save it a second time, and I tried to kill you for it. Damn it! How can everything be so screwed up like this? Did you know? Did you know, Xander? That things were this screwed up? . . . Of course you knew, that’s why you were so distant from Buffy. The potentials follow Buffy like good soldiers, they wouldn’t dare an uprising without more help. Robin is completely out, Giles is following Buffy’s lead because he doesn’t want to alienate her even more, Spike is good little puppy boy, Willow is too screwed up to go up against Buffy. Hell, she always would follow B straight into hell, and Dawn . . . Dawn is too young, too desperate to get attention from her sister . . .”
Faith cried into the dirt, looking down at it. “I’m no leader, Xan . . . I can’t do this . . . the students followed you to fight the Mayor, I know that much, you brought the rocket launcher to defeat the judge, you’re the leader. You can’t be dead, you’re needed . . . you could get the others organized, I know Buffy is too far gone to listen to reason, but the others . . . What happened here? What in blazes happened here?”
Faith slowly brought herself back under control, and got up as the rain became a full blown tropical storm, even though Sunnydale was not in a tropical climate. Lightning flashed in the distance. Faith looked and counted until the thunder followed. It was still three miles away. Slowly Faith turned around and walked back into the house, locking the door behind her. She went to the room that she was assigned to, sleeping among ten potentials all crammed together. She took off her clothes, leaving only her panties, and slipped, eyes still teary, into the sleeping bag. She tucked the bag up around her, and curled up into a fetus position, shivering, feeling lonely. The sound of the heavy rain was no comfort to her. The sound of lightning and thunder slowly coming closer wasn’t either.
Down the hall, Willow lay in Kennedy’s arms, crying herself to sleep. A lightning flash and thunder sounded at the same time, but they ignored it, and so did everyone else. In another room, Buffy lay comfortably in her attempted rapist’s arms, drawing strength from the vampire’s embrace, allowing her to fall asleep. Spike held Buffy comfortingly, looking down at the blonde hair, as lightning from outside illuminated her hair. He smiled, oh yes, Xander’s death was a good thing, he had his Slayer in his arms, already, much more so than that time on the couch. This time she was actually comfortable enough with him to sleep. Soon, soon she would be his completely again, loving him, like things were meant to be. A slayer in the arms of her attempted rapist and attempted killer vampire; just how much more romantic could this be?
Outside, in the garden, the lightning had flashed, thunder rolling at the same time. The lightning struck straight into the ground were Xander lay buried, instantly forming a tube of glass where it struck, smoke rising from the ground. A large pitch black bird arrived a moment later landing on a branch of the tree above the grave. It cawed several times, waiting patiently. The dirt of Xander’s grave moved a little, as if pushed up from below . . . then, suddenly a hand stuck out from the dirt, and opened, reaching desperately for the air.