Conversations in the Dark
A Chance Meeting
Disclaimer: I do not own either set of non-original characters and I do not make money off of this endeavour.
Time period: After Season seven of Buffy. And the other show (Alias), season 3.
The beam that held up a good portion of their ceiling definitely felt lower. Xander ran his fingers along the length of it still feeling the vibrations from its last motion. Air had to be seeping in from somewhere, illustrated by the fact that they hadn’t suffocated.
Swallowing hard he wrestled his attention back to his companion, who now sat shoulder to shoulder with him. “History, huh?” he said.
They had been talking for hours, each trying to take the other’s mind off the possible imminence of death.
He liked her. Sydney seemed to be a singularly cool individual. And she was way smarter than him. Beyond Willow smart.
“Yeah,” she said. “For a long time I wanted to teach, still do really. But first there was my job with the bank and then, of course, I went missing. Now there’s my job with the State Department. Everything just got twisted around from where I’d wanted it to go.”
“Now, the bank job was one where you travelled a lot?”
“Yes, though the State Department also has me hopping around.”
“I’ve never been farther from Sunnydale than Oxnard. And now here I am moving to Cleveland.”
“Travel can be nice, but sometimes I’d like to stay in one place for a while and just enjoy the quiet.”
“Yeah,” He said softly. “I like the quiet.”
He could almost see her cock her head at him, but he didn’t say anything more.
“So,” she said. “We’ve talked about what I want to do, but what do you want?”
He shifted uncomfortably and shrugged, knowing she’d feel the motion. “I don’t know that there’s much I can do. I mean I never got to college.”
“There are lots of people who don’t go to college, Xander. There are still lots of things to do. You must have wanted to do something.”
“I just never really thought that I actually had options, Sydney. With my family, and Sunnydale in general there were two possibilities: either I would simply never amount to anything, or I wouldn’t live long enough for it to matter.”
There was a moment of silence and then she said, “You’ve been editing pretty heavily on both the subjects of you family and Sunnydale.” There was a question in her voice. “More lunatic stuff?”
She had noticed. She didn’t sound angry, though. Just concerned.
“Sunnydale, yes.” He said. “My family, however, is just unpleasant to talk about.”
“You don’t need to be sorry, you didn’t have anything to do with the parents I got.”
Her voice was gentle, “Not what I meant.”
He felt her arm shift and her hand touched his wrist and then felt its way down to take hold of his hand. She gave it a squeeze. He found he had to clear his throat before he could speak again.
“So,” he said. “In a transparent attempt to change the subject, I’ll ask, where did you learn to fight?”
“A number of places,” she responded. “Most of my initial training was Krav Magna.”
That twigged something in Xander’s memory and he asked, “Isn’t that used by a lot of law enforcement agencies?”
“The Israeli military were the ones to start it. It’s quick to learn and very applicable. It seemed like a good idea.”
“Well, it paid off today.” He paused, another thought coming to mind. “Speaking of unusual talents, what language did that guy yell in?”
“Which you obviously speak.”
He felt her shrug again. “I had to do a lot of traveling, and I like languages.”
“Oh, how many do you speak?”
“Seven-” he stopped, gave a chuckle, and shook his head.
“Nothing,” he said. “It’s just taken me twenty three years to get English, and as people will tell you, I’m still not done.”
“It’s just a talent.”
Talents. There was one talent was certain he had.
“Carpentry,” he said.
There was a pause, “Pardon?”
“You asked what I wanted to do. I was a pretty fair carpenter. Well, before the eye thing. Now it’s a little more difficult.”
“You enjoyed it?”
“Yeah, it was one of the few things in my life that I did totally on my own. Where I actually accomplished something.” He paused and then said, “There were other things I was proud of, but the carpentry, that was a different kind of proud.”
“Are you going to start it again when you get to Cleveland?”
“Yeah, I think I probably will. Aside from Giles, Robin, and maybe Willow, the guys don’t have all that much in the way of saleable skills. With the eye, I’ll just have to be more careful.”
“I’m sure you can do it Xander.”
The statement was delivered quietly with nothing but certainty in her voice. It caused him to turn his head toward her.
She seemed to sense his regard because she said, “Xander, the man who took out one gunman, and helped me chase down another, can do anything he puts his mind to.”
The gunman. Shocked blue eyes looked into his as their owner struggled to draw breath. A hand grabbed weakly at the the knife as he fell to his knees. Bright red blood pulsed out around the blade as the man struggled to draw it out. He could see the dawning terror in those eyes as...
A hand touched his face, gentle fingertips on his cheek turned him toward her.
“Xander? I’m sorry; I shouldn’t have brought that up now.”
He took a deep breath shaking off the images in his mind. “Sorry, I've never reacted like this before.”
She was silent for a moment. “The mind is a complicated thing, Xander. It doesn't always behave like you would expect.”
He gave a humourless chuckle. “It's just that with the kind of things I've seen... I shouldn't... I...” Damn it! He gave frustrated sigh.
He couldn't talk to her about anything in Sunnydale without sounding like a lunatic.
A hand grasped his and squeezed it. “Killing someone is traumatic no matter what sorts of things you've seen or done. And it should be, if it isn't then there's probably something wrong with you.”
“You don't know…” he trailed off.
She interrupted him, saying, “I do.”
“Not here,” she said. “But I did have to kill someone. It was protecting someone else: Marcus Dixon. I hadn’t known him long at that point, but he became a dear friend. I know exactly how you feel Xander, because you were protecting someone too. You were protecting me.”
The tightness of his chest began to ease as she continued, “You did what you had to. He didn’t leave you any choice. No one will condemn you for that, Xander. I don’t.”
She sat silently beside him as he got himself under control. Taking a deep shuddering breath he said, “Does this mean we have to become friends too?”
He could hear the smile in her voice as she said, “Yeah, it’s a tradition.”
He was cut off by a horrendous grinding noise from above. Plaster, rubble and various objects rained down onto them. He felt Sydney go rigid beside him as shudders went through that they were sitting on. The beam keeping them from being crushed was letting go. Xander knew that he was about to die.
He twisted around and threw himself over Sydney. Futile, he knew, but he had to try.
And the world crashed down onto him.