Better or Worse?
:-:-: - Denotes the beginning/end of a flashback.!i!i!BETTER OR WORSE?!i!i!++Xander POV++
I hit my first problem as soon as I got to the building's front door, it was locked, and there was no buzzer in sight. I guessed the neighborhood was so bad, it just wasn't worth it to have one. I thought of yelling Cordelia's name, but I didn't know who else was out there within earshot.
If I could pry back the security bars, I could just smash the glass, unfortunately, I'd somehow forgotten to pack a crowbar. Looking around for something
, I realized I was an idiot. Every abandoned car in the street, potentially had a lug wrench I could use.
I came back a few minutes later, wrench in hand. I'd found it in an early nineties Dodge Neon that had been in a head-on with a pickup. After a few good yanks, the bars came loose, and I used my new tool to smash the glass.
Although it had been a pain in the ass, I was happy to see that the building was secure, at least to outsiders. Things weren't any prettier inside though, since I could see at least two bodies lying in the darkened hallway.
Looking over the mailboxes, I quickly found Cordelia's apartment number, and was ready to head for the stairs, when I heard it.
"Help me, please..." A hoarse, male voice begged through the door across from me.!i!i!
I looked back and forth between the door and the stairs. I was desperate to get to Cordy, but could I really leave a person begging for help? I had never bothered to ask Leo if I was now immune to the virus, did I really want to risk that?
"Please..." The voice continued to beg.
I thought about it, would Leo, and my unknown benefactor, go through all that trouble, just to leave me open to die from the virus now? It didn't make any sense. My mind made up, I walked up to the door and read the nameplate.[Miguel Umberto, Superintendent]
I guessed he was Cordy's landlord. I tried the door, and found it locked as well, yay. "Are you able to open the door sir?!" I called out.
Trying to pry the door open would take too long, I decided I'd have to kick it in. After leaning the wrench against the wall, and warning the man of what I was doing, I gave the door a hard kick, splintering the frame. Problem was, he had a chain on it as well.
I moved away, putting my back against the opposite wall. Quickly moving forward, I put my shoulder into the door, and it flew open. It didn't take long to find him, sprawled out on his back in the living room.
He was older, probably in his sixties, and dressed in a pair of what looked to be pajama pants. From the stain on the floor beneath him, I guessed he'd been there for awhile.
His skin was pale, and the things, what had Giles called them? Pustules, were spread all over his body. I remembered how painful they were, poor bastard. Crouching down next to him, I took his hand, it was the least, and probably only
thing I could really do.
"I'm here with you man, you're not alone." What else could I tell him, 'it's going to be okay'?
He opened his mouth to speak, but nothing came out.
"My name is Xander, are you Miguel?"
He simply nodded.
"Can I get you some water?"
"My wife-" He was cut off by a series of nasty coughs, bringing up bloody mucus. "Grand... daughters." He choked out, as the mess dripped from the corner of his mouth, and down his face.
I got a sick feeling, hearing that. "Where?"
He simply pointed toward a short hallway to my left.
As I slipped my hand from his, and stood up facing it, I knew
I wasn't going to like what I found.!i!i!
I reached the closest door and opened it, finding purple walls and Barbie's. There was a bunk bed in the corner, both were luckily, empty. Going back into the hall, I opened the next door and found... a bathroom.
The anticipation was killing me. I knew I was going to find something horrible behind one or more of these doors, and I just wanted to get it over with. Coming out of the bathroom, I stared at the last one, at the end of the hall.
There were no giggles, or a soft, older voice reading a story, on the other side of that door. I forced myself, step-by-step, until I stood in front of it. I blew out a breath and opened the door, the smell smacked me in the face.
Laying on the left side of the bed was a plump, older woman. To her right were two little girls, neither were more then eight years old. All three had their hands clasped in an eternal prayer. The other end of the bed was vacant, waiting for the final member of the family.
I practically raced out of that room, and came back to Miguel. He just looked up at me, unable to do much more.
Did he know they were dead? Had he asked for me to check and see if his family was okay? Was he asking me to reunite him with them? Should I lie?
"Do you want some water?" I was such a pussy.
He stared at me for several seconds, before giving another nod.
I moved to the adjoining kitchen and grabbed a glass from the strainer. Turning on the water, I heard the pipes groan and shake for several seconds, before a thick, black liquid started coming out of the faucet. I really should have expected that.
I moved to the refrigerator with apprehension, afraid of what I'd find. To my relief, there wasn't anything rotting in there, at least not yet. Finding a pitcher of kool-aid, I poured him half-a-glass, not wanting to add the indignity of spilling it all over himself.
"I hope you don't mind kool-aid." I called out to him, as I came back, and crouched down, to help him sit up. "Miguel..?"!i!i!
I sat back on my ass, spilling the juice across the floor. Why did I think this was somehow going to end differently then it had the other seven times? Every time one of them had died, I tried to convince myself that things would somehow be different.
I ran my hands through my hair, wondering if I'd just be better off dead. After several minutes of moping, it hit me, I realized I was being an asshole. I'd been given a second chance, while this poor guy died, lying in his own filth.
Standing up, I grabbed the bigger man by his wrists, and dragged him toward the bedroom, determined to make sure he was with his family. After getting him next to the bed, I went back out to the kitchen, and grabbed a couple of trash bags from a cabinet under the sink.
I ripped a hole in the bottom and sides of one, and pulled it over my head and arms like a shirt. The others, I pulled over my arms. Since I still had to lift him into the bed, I didn't want to get anything on me.
After a lot of struggle, Miguel was with his family. I made sure to clasp his hands together as the others were. With that done, I grabbed a blanket from a nearby closet, and covered the four of them with it.
Judging by the crosses and paintings throughout the house, I knew they were a religious family. I wanted to say a prayer, but I didn't know any. I'd been in churches plenty of times, whether for a classmate's funeral, or to grab a bottle-full of old Father O'Malley's holy water. But I'd never really listened
I tossed aside the trash bags, and held my hands together like the family had. I looked up at the ceiling, and just tried not to mess it up...
"God, you're obviously a good ah- person? You've got guys like Leo working for you, so you're doing something right. Just ah- just make sure this family is together, up there with you, they deserve it."
I gave the family one last nod before I headed back to the hallway. After shutting the door behind me, I was about to reach for my wrench when a thought hit me. Clasping my hands once again, I looked up at the ceiling. "And thanks, for giving me a second chance."
After grabbing the wrench, and double-checking the apartment number, I went upstairs to finally find Cordy. I tried not to get angry all over again, we'd beaten back five
apocalypses, just for a bunch of government assholes to do this...:-:-:Willow, Oz, and me were sitting around Giles' living room, doing research, and listening to his record collection. Oz had put on some Black Sabbath, his favorite song on the album, 'Sabbath Bloody Sabbath' was playing, and I swore I heard Giles sing along to it from the kitchen, before catching himself.
Suddenly, the front door was thrown open, and a blond blur shot into the house. "Giles! Giles!"
Staring at her, I could instantly see this was not the usual 'Ooh, a shiny thing!' Buffy. This was 'freaked out of her mind, the world is going down the toilet' Buffy.
"Really Buffy, is all of this screaming necessary?" Giles asked as he came in from the kitchen, a mug in one hand, towel in the other.
"Yeah Buff, jeez, is the apocalypse coming a little early this year, or what?" I questioned, as I watched her fall back on the couch and try to catch her breath.
For her to be that out of breath, she must have run far and hard. Considering the state she was in, something must have really spooked her bad.
Finally getting it back, she looked up at us. "I just talked to that cute TA from Doctor Walsh's psyche class, Riley. He didn't go into details or anything, but he said there was something seriously wrong on campus, a disease outbreak happened, and I should get out of there right away."
"Are you sure he wasn't trying to pull your leg Buffy?" Willow asked.
"No!" Buffy yelled, before catching herself. "Giles, he was scared, I mean really scared to death. That friend of his Forrest, kept trying to shut him up, and telling him to hurry. It was like, he didn't want Riley to warn me or something."
I looked to see what Willow and Oz thought, but they just sat there. I didn't blame them, this was really weird, even for the Hellmouth.:-:-:
As I got close to her apartment, I found a large corpse, about three feet away from her door. Not unusual, except this one had three bullet holes in his chest and stomach. I could see some of those pustule things on him, so obviously, he would have died anyway.
What worried me though, was that he had a blood-stained knife in his right hand. Something nasty had gone down here, I just hoped Cordy hadn't been caught in the middle of whatever it was.
When I got to her door, my heart sunk. It was closed, but the frame was shattered, like someone had tried to force their way in. I knocked on the door several times, but got no answer.
I decided to open it, and hope for the best. As I did, I felt something wedged against it, then the door stopped. I realized her chain was set. Looking through the opening, I saw a pair of jeans-encased legs, a body
was blocking the door. Definitely not of the good.
I knelt down, and pushed against the door, trying to see as much as possible. Just then, three shots went off, going straight through the door over my head, and showering me with wood slivers. "Fuck!"
"I- I've got plenty more in this thing, get out of here!" A familiar, female voice threatened nervously.
I scrambled to the left, getting out of her line of fire. "Cordelia, it's me!"!i!i!~~Cordelia POV~~
I sat in the corner, my knees to my chest, gun in hand. I could hear somebody moving around in the hallway outside my door, why wouldn't they just go away
If they came to the door, I was going to shoot them. All that was left between me and them now, was that dinky chain, and Doyle's body. I wasn't going to let anybody
touch me, especially not after he'd died saving me from that guy.
Then the knocking started, I stayed quiet, hoping they'd go somewhere else. If they went somewhere else, I wouldn't have to shoot them. I didn't want
to shoot anybody. Please just go away... Please just go away...
The door started to open, and they tried to get in, but Doyle's body was stopping them. The the chain got taut, before once again, going slack. Please just go away...
Now, I could see the chain straining, it wasn't going to last much longer. I got to my feet as quietly as possible, and aimed the gun at the center of the door like Doyle had told me to.
Getting a good grip with both hands, I let out a breath. It was me or them, and I wasn't going down without a fight. Finally, I pulled the trigger three times, and waited to see what happened.
"I- I've got plenty more in this thing, get out of here!" Good one Cordelia, that
Keeping the gun pointed at the door, I waited to see what would happen now. I was out of bullets, so if the guy wasn't dying, or scared off, I was in serious trouble.
"Cordelia, it's me!"
No, it couldn't
be, but maybe... "Xander?" I asked hopefully, as I tried not to cry.!i!i!
"Yeah Cor, don't shoot!"
Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. Great idea, just throw out a name, what are they going to do, say no
? "Prove it!"
There was silence for about thirty seconds, before he answered back. "Your horse's name was Keanu!"
Oh my God, it was him! It was really him
! I dropped the gun, and almost ran to the door, but I stopped myself. I didn't want to accidentally step on Doyle's body, he deserved a lot better then that.
I undid the chain, and held the door open as wide as I could. He was just standing there, waiting. A smile on his face, happy to see me, even though I'd just tried to shoot him three freaking times.
He just barely managed to squeeze himself, and then his backpack through, before turning to me. "I'm glad you're okay Cor, I was really worried about you."
Looking at him standing there, it all finally came crashing down on me. I'd been in this place for days, just myself and Doyle's body, waiting for the next creep to show up at the door. And now, Xander had come to my rescue, just like he'd always done.
I threw myself into his arm, and I held onto him for dear life. I buried my face into his chest and I cried, I don't even know how long I cried for. The whole time, he just stood there, rubbing my back and trying to tell me it was okay.
I doubted things would ever be okay again, but at least now, they'd be a little better.!i!i!A/N: I am not portraying Buffy as a dumb, gullible blond in this. I just had to cut the flashback off at an odd spot. There will be more on this in later chapters.!i!i!Disclaimer: The song 'Sabbath Bloody Sabbath' is owned by Black Sabbath, and Warner Brothers Records.!i!i!END