All hail -- no, just kidding. Anyway, Mutant Enemy and all that that entails own these characters. I'm just borrowing them for a while. The Decemberists. "The Bachelor and the Bride.". Hush, Rough Trade, 2003. "The Sixth Extinction, Part II." Carter. Kim Manners. The X-Files. FOX. WJBK, Detroit. November 7, 1999.
Um. Do I even need to cite George Lucas or Star Wars
at this point? Just curious.Summary:
He'd never made Buffy cry before, that he knew. That was like a punch in the gut from every Slayer in the ICW at least twice over.
But the scariest part was that Buffy's tears had taken on a...a strange...dear God, was that blood?Notes:
and I had a little chat and this came out of it. Then she pointed out some stuff I missed while unable to stomach the last two seasons of Buffy until now, so I revised like all great writers do
Twenty points to whomever gets where the above line -- albeit paraquoted -- originated. It was
fairly recent, if that helps.
Salient point: it turns out I had some stuff to get off my chest that I hadn't even thought about in quite a while. So be it.
A lyric from My Chemical Romance's album, The Black Parade
, occurred to me while writing this because of a sentence I incidentally wrote, but that was a complete accident. There's also an ode to Joss' description of BtVS as a blend between The X-Files and My So-Called Life (Rawson-Jones, Ben. "Buffy The Vampire Slayer". BBC. Retrieved August 1, 2009.).Further Notes:
I have not read a single issue of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season Eight, and this wouldn't be reflected in it anyway, since the main focus is meant to be on Angel Investigations and NCIS. However, since Buffy characters may be named and this is, in fact, a parallel series, I'm taking advantage of that rule not applying and getting some (more) things off my chest.Further, further notes:
I'm actually listening to Weezer's mystical 'Pinkerton' album just this very moment. Sit back, marvel -- behold...I'll probably listen to more Decemberists before it's over. *almost smiles* ...Aha! *listening to 'Her Majesty' now, quite incidentally because I became distracted, but anyway...*Warning:
I don't enjoy character bashing, can't stand it, refuse to do it. Another thing I refuse to do, however, is gloss over their faults and just pretend everything about them is all fantastic and yay.Disagreement
"I can't believe you'd just ask -- you'd let them, you'd let him have international clearance to go wherever he wants when he's been sitting in the middle of an evil theme park having the time of -- "
Buffy turned and narrowed her eyes at Xander, who found himself blinking and even after all this time being her bestest Xander-shaped friend, wanting to back away from The Slayer and...possibly hide somewhere?
Yes, she was balling her fists now and that never boded well for whomever was on the other side of them and he was backing up again, but she gave her head a tiny shake and he stopped.
When the hell did that happen, that Buff would get so...holy crap, he couldn't even form a coherent sentence right now.
"Xander. I've told you once, I'll tell you one more time and you'd better make it stick this time because after that stunt you and Giles pulled with Dana you're both lucky you have all your teeth."
Xander opened his mouth to object but Buffy stepped forward and he froze in...holy crap, was he terrified of his best friend?
Yes. Yes, he was. So he shut up.
"First of all, I will again tell you that I do not, have not ever, will not ever have to answer to you. You are not my mother, you're not even my sixteenth-assed rate excuse for a father. You are -- well, you're supposed to be my equal. But the second you took a look at Angel, all you saw was a rival for my affections and it's been that way for you ever since. Even Willow's fury at you for lying
to me and using her to do it hasn't driven that into your brain. She's not talking to you, but oh, well!"
Buffy turned away from Xander in the hope that not looking at his face anymore would make her want to punch him less. It worked. Marginally.
"But then, just when I thought maybe you'd grown up with the rest of us -- maybe when I thought Giles had remembered what the word 'forgive' meant, you two turn around and send Andrew
to completely subvert Angel's authority over a Slayer he and his crew went through absolute hell to recover safely, you did it in my name
. And then you expected me to be okay with it."
Before she could help herself, Buffy turned back around. "Even Andrew's
angry at being used like that and he's about as violent as a freaking newborn puppy! Dawn's angry because she's always, always adored Angel -- not that you've ever cared.
"If Faith were anywhere near either you or Giles right now, we'd be obligated to put her back in prison and this time she'd have to stay. You lied to them all and to me and you did it in MY NAME
. To my -- "
Before Xander, himself, could help it, he snapped, "Oh, you're about to call Deadboy your 'husband'? Well, the last time I checked, it wasn't legal -- you were seventeen, and he's dead
-- you can't marry a dead guy and he didn't even -- "
Buffy's hand was clutching his shirt (he was later privately very grateful it hadn't been his throat Buffy had ensnared so hard, having bruises from even that small amount of contact), her arm outstretched as she held him almost a foot above the ground and more than as much above her own head.
"Do not ever speak about Angel that way again, do you understand, Harris?" Buffy asked and Xander's eyes widened in confusion as well as anger. "I'm tired of that idiotic name -- you don't even call Spike
that and they're both
vampires or have you forgotten?"
"Harris? H-H-Harris? That -- you -- a vampire
means more to you than I do? I can't believe -- "
Buffy narrowed her eyes at him again, reaching with her other hand into her shirt and removing the thin chain she kept her Claddagh ring on, snapping it with ease and tossing Xander to the ground, where he landed hard, before slipping it onto her left hand with the heart facing inward.
Xander struggled to scramble to his feet, but couldn't seem to find purchase on the slippery floor. Buffy ignored him for a moment, reaching up to softly touch Angel's mark on her throat, a soft hum sliding over her body as she did. Something was happening to him, she could feel it. She needed to make a few calls, but Xander, unfortunately, was her first priority.
"He means more to me if you've lied to me more often than he ever has out of sheer petty jealousy."
And here Buffy realized her eyes were beginning to become blurry. "He means more to me if you've gone behind my back to one-up him in some ridiculous pissing contest that he had no desire to ever take part in. You do
mean everything to me in the best friend department, Xander, just like you do to Willow but neither of us...neither of us
appreciate being lied to again and again and again, and for what? For what, Xander? Tell me that."
Xander had stopped struggling by now, staring upward at the tears that now streamed down Buffy's face, his eyes wide.
He'd never made Buffy cry before, that he knew. That was like a punch in the gut from every Slayer in the ICW at least twice over.
But the scariest part was that Buffy's tears had taken on a...a strange...dear God, was that blood?
Buffy took a deep, shuddering breath, wiping her eyes and staring at her stained hand before she gave a laugh so saddening Xander had to struggle not to do so, himself.
"If you want the answer to your questions, Xand," Buffy said softly, lowering herself into a crouch, her red-rimmed, still-leaking eyes now level with his. "I'll do it. First of all, if it weren't for the fact that Angel's no longer in Los Angeles, I'd have Dana removed from her containment -- which, oddly enough, could have been done at Wolfram and Hart for all the good that it's done here -- and returned to Angel and Wes, though I suppose it'd be rather difficult to impose that sort of surprise on one of Angel's children. 'Inconsideration', I believe it's called."
Buffy took a deep breath, again wiping her eyes, inwardly marveling that they weren't burning by now. "As for the fact that Angel even has
children -- well, we all know by now that whatever the Powers feel like doing, they'll do whether anyone down here likes it or not. Why should that not count? It doesn't matter that they're not biologically mine. They're Angel's and that's all that matters to me. What would you have me do? Sit back and order the Council's
assassins to slaughter them all?"
Buffy gave a deadened laugh and Xander hoped never to hear it again.
"I thought we were going to be better than that, Xander?"
"Buff -- "
"Don't. Don't call me that while I can't trust you." Buffy's voice was razor sharp now, her face paling dramatically as her fists balled again by her side. "My friends
don't do these things to me. My friends
look out for me before their own selfish desires. Or at least they try to. Have you forgotten that Doyle, Cordelia -- "
Here Xander flinched, but Buffy ignored it, her eyes trained on her own bloodstained hands. "Wes, though he and Spike each aren't dead anymore, thank God -- and Fred
-- we may not have known her, but Spike, Angel -- Spike says Wes can barely even say her name, he's in so much pain...they've all died trying to help Angel. And, true to Angel's form, we wouldn't have known a thing about it if Dawn or Willow didn't know how to pick up a telephone and call
before deciding someone's gone to the Dark Side of the Force.
"And Angel tried to die so that he could give their lives meaning. He tried to make things even, to take at least one thorn out of our sides. Yes, Xander, that includes yours. And you would repay him by doing just what you've always done. You've never learned a goddamned thing. The point, Xander, is that it's not about us.
It never was
Buffy stood, walked closer to Xander, then returned to a crouch. "There are things I'd love to know about my husband
. Everything. I'd love him to know everything about me. But you know what? That's impossible. I may not have lived but a fraction of the time he has, but he still doesn't know everything about me. And unlike you, my -- what's a good word, I've been doing a lot of reading lately, after all -- erstwhile
friend, one of the things that makes us, gives us the connection we have, is that we're okay with that.
"We may belong to one another, but we both understand that we belong far more to the world. I would have been furious with Angel, once upon a time, to find out what I know now, but my energy is just so much better spent elsewhere, doing better things. It hurts, what I've been shown. It always will. But I remember the look on his face, too. Like his heart had been torn out.
"I don't recall you ever looking that way for me, but -- again -- it's okay. It's part of what helped me grow up. He tried to save my life that day and while he may have failed, the fact that he tried that damned hard, the knowledge that he bought me whatever time he did, means more to me than I can say."
Buffy reached out and picked up Xander's hand, causing his elbow to hit the ground painfully, but Xander didn't dare say anything. "What was it you told him? 'At the end of the day, I think you're pretty much a vampire.'"
Xander's eyes widened even further, now afraid Buffy was going to break his wrist. "Buffy, please..."
She ignored him. "One day, I'll forgive you. Part of me already has. I heard in a movie -- or was it a TV show? 'The part that played the hero.' Ironically, that same guy said 'aren't you expecting me to sprout vampire fangs?' Oddly enough, no, I wasn't.
"I was kind of fascinated by the guy. Why'd his own son -- though, to be fair, the guy dying didn't actually know it until the older guy told him -- hate him so much? Why'd he go through so much trouble to make
his son hate him when it was so obvious he loved the guy? The son, I mean."
Then Buffy took a deep breath. "But that's it...he loved the guy, he loved his son. Do you love me, Xander? Or do you just want
me so you can say you've got me, have me? Am I just a trophy to you?"
Xander's mouth dropped open, "Why don't you ask D-Angel that? What makes you think he's never thought that, huh?"
Buffy gave a tortured laugh and again Xander was horrified into silence. "I know he has
thought just that. That side of him is called Angelus, you may have heard of him."
Xander wanted to call attention to the hurtful way Buffy flippantly referred to how Angel had terrorized them all for months, supposedly in her
name, then, since she wanted to make such a big deal about that. Wanted to ask her why she
would do such a thing. But Buffy's next words stopped him cold.
"But he's not human, Xander. What's your excuse?"
Xander stared at Buffy for a moment, his mouth hanging open, at a loss for anything to say. Then he forced himself to sit up, splaying his hands behind himself so he wouldn't slip again. "You know, sometimes I get the feeling you'd be happier if he never had been in the first place, that you weren't now -- that you'd never been."
Buffy glanced down at her shoes and the floor underneath them both, now visibly shaking, and Xander was afraid he'd finally gone too far.
Finally Buffy looked up and her face was awash with tears. "What makes you think I am? That I ever was? That any of these girls here are or have been?"
Xander began sputtering, trying to object, but Buffy held up a hand, tears still sliding down and splashing onto the floor.
"I'm part demon, Xander. How do you think I do the things I do, heal like I do? I may -- we may have needed to be 'activated' -- " and here Buffy made a disgusted face before it fell into sadness again. "But I'm not completely human. So how do you feel about me now, Mr. I Don't Like to Admit That I Ate an Innocent Pig Alive?"
Xander's breath caught in his throat, but Buffy only continued.
"You don't really like to accept those parts of others, I've noticed. God only knows what you'd make of my stepchildren or my step-grandchildren
. Say nothing of Leroy's wife and daughter
, though they were actually balancing demons. A lot of those in Angel's life. Hah."
Buffy gave a bitter smile now, tilting her head to the side and studying Xander in a way that made his skin crawl.
"What if I told you that, as it turns out, Slayers can't mate with humans? Activated ones, I mean. Well, actually, it seems we can't mate with anyone
, same as vampires. Something about alterations to our DNA, as Giles oh-so-regretfully put it. It seems we're only capable of doing so as Potentials and even then -- not with humans. It's astonishing.
"Giles almost fell out of his chair when he found it. He still can't look at me, even after apologizing a gajillion times, for everything -- like all of it was his fault. The research was done over centuries, apparently. The Watcher's Council and the Demon Research Initiative, later on -- you know how they were all about hiding things. More control for them, I suppose."
Here, Buffy rolled her eyes. "There's only been four recorded instances of a Potential mating in history and most of them were apparently hard as hell to get, given the location of the family
involved and the crap that was going on at the time -- is still
going on, actually.
"The majority didn't have Watchers, of course, what with never being Called. But they did have children. Two daughters and a son -- Angel's son Sam's children with three different Potentials, though, apparently, he appeared to have genuinely loved one of them, from the look of things. But the point is that they had a son. Rather like our buddy, Robin, and his mother, Nikki...Imagine that..."
Xander felt like his eyes were going to pop out of his head. He felt like he was going to puke. But -- of course, Buffy wasn't finished.
No, she instead examined her nails like they were just talking about movies or something.
"And you know who the catalyst for all this seemed to have been? The one vampire who turned the Order of Aurelius into the only line of vampires in all of time and Creation to ever love and procreate? The one vampire who's ever gone out of his way to help the human race or to make sure the helpless didn't fall through the cracks? The one vampire you've made fun of, openly wished dusted, would leave for someone to do so if given the chance.
"Before Angel, vampires simply didn't -- there weren't any..."
Buffy took a deep breath and blew it out slowly, another bloody tear falling. "They just didn't have the capacity to care, much less love, marry, all that. Believe me, the Watcher's Council and the Demon Research Initiative both spent tons of time and effort trying to make one of their 'Super-Slayer' or whatever prototypes and never got it. And at least twenty Slayers perished from that alone. Oh well, I guess."
"Buffy, please -- please stop," Xander moaned, pressing his hands over his ears now. "I don't want to hear anymore."
He didn't need to look at Buffy's face to know she had no mercy for him.
Buffy's voice was dark and angry as she suddenly brushed by him. "Of course you don't."...I will box your ears and take your tears and leave you here, stripped bare...
Prequel to Stained
; Side-Along to Invitation