Ran out of time
Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters. I receive no profits from this. It is just for fun.
Archiving: Please ask.
Feedback: Constructive Criticism desired.
Summary: The Scoobies bring Buffy back and it goes even more wrong.
Spoilers: Season 6 and beyond.
His chest hurt. His legs hurt. He had a hitch in his side that felt like he’d been stabbed with a hot poker. Still he kept running.
He just didn’t know where he was running to, only what he was running from.
There had been so many twists and turns in his flight that he no longer knew where he was despite having been in this particular cemetery hundreds of time in the past five years.
He knew that if he stopped and looked around he would probably be able to figure out his location but stopping was not an option available to him. Or his companion, whom he was practically dragging due to her own fatigue from trying to get away from the demons that seemed to be everywhere.
Neither of them even knew how long they’d been running since they could barely remember a time when they weren’t. They’d be heading in a direction and suddenly have to dart off in a different direction in a blind panic as the sound of a motor cycle engine would come from in front of them.
So they continued to run and stubble along, heedless of the many of the obstacles they encountered. Thus it was that the inevitable happened when her right foot snagged on something that tripped her up and he was dragged down with her.
“Aaaaaggghhhhh!” she cried out as her foot bent the wrong way.
This was followed by each of them groaning as their bodies crashed into the soggy ground.
Xander scrambled up and reached to help her up as well when she screeched and tried to back crawl away from what had tripped her.
Looking towards her feet he saw a hand sticking out of the ground and concluded: FLEDGLING!
He grabbed her roughly under her armpits and attempted to haul her up but she cried out in pain and caused them to both collapse to the ground again when she couldn’t stand on her right foot.
Knowing it would be foolhardy to try and outrun a hungry vampire while carrying someone, Xander began casting his eyes around for some thing to use as a weapon. He had lost his only stake somewhere along their madcap flight. Probably when they crashed through bushes or during one of the times they had tripped earlier.
Her sudden intake of breath caused him to freeze in his search as dread filled his heart that it was too late.
Looking back towards where the hand had been, he was surprised to see that it was in the same position he’d seen it in when he first saw it. It was also just there. No movement. Not even a twitch.
Risking a quick look at his companion, he saw that she wasn’t looking at the hand but at the air above it. But when he looked, he couldn’t see anything.
“Tara?” he asked, still looking around, in addition to listening for signs of the demons he knew were in the area. “What’s the matter?”
When she didn’t answer, he took a longer look in her direction and her face was one of sheer fright. Her eyes were wide open and her mouth appeared to be agape in a silent scream. However, she also appeared to be even more catatonic than when Glory had stolen her mind.
He grabbed her by the shoulders and gently shook her in an attempt to try and snap her out of whatever shock she was in.
It didn’t work. She didn’t even look at him. Even gently moving her head to face him and closing her mouth did nothing to alleviate her condition.
Again, checking to ensure the hand hadn’t moved, his gaze took in the tombstone belonging to the gravesite associated with it. The dim light and rain made the words difficult to read. Suddenly, a bolt of lightening solved that problem.
Now it was his turn to freeze in terror.
But it didn’t last long as he virtually leapt towards the hand, totally forgetting Tara and her stupefied state.
“NO!” he shouted as he began to dig at the soil around the hand, uncaring about the difficulty of doing so which was made even worse because of the rain. Heedless of the damage he was doing to his own hands. All the while repeating, “No! No! No! No! No!”
He had to continually scoop water out of the hole in addition to the dirt and mud.
By the time he had uncovered the head, the tips of his fingernails were ragged and worn away, and his hands were bleeding though the mud clinging to them staunched most of the flow.
The face was upturned and to his further horror the eyes were open. The open mouth and nostrils were packed with thick mud, but he could see the pain etched on the still, cold features.
He gave voice to a final, anguished “NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!” before collapsing over the face as he tenderly grasped the head by the cheeks. The tears that he’d been shedding almost since he’d begun digging continuing to fall.
He stayed huddled over for an indeterminate amount of time mumbling incoherently such that even his subconscious mind could not make sense of what he was saying. But anyone hearing it would note his tone of abject misery.
It was only when the very loud sound of a motorcycle engine passed by less than 50 feet away that he managed to again be aware of his surroundings and went silent. Since the biker continued on his way, he was sure they hadn’t been spotted.
He took a cautious look towards where Tara was and saw that she hadn’t moved an inch from where he’d left her on her back. Neither had the expression on her face changed even though the rain continued to pound at her open eyes.
Reluctantly, he cautiously moved from the face in the hole towards her, not wanting his movement to draw the attention of the marauding demons, if only for Tara’s sake as anything they did to him would pale in comparison to the Hell he was already experiencing.
Tara was still unresponsive. Even when he examined her badly swollen ankle. It was bad enough that he was sure it was broken. Using the sleeves of his shirt and a couple of sticks he’d found, he splinted her foot, and then hefted her in a fireman’s carry to try and get her to safety.
He took one last look at the hole with the face in it but it was already filled with water. With that he turned and left the area, taking poor solace that it would prevent the body’s discovery by predators, both natural and unnatural. Also, it would do no further harm to the person anyway.
He failed to notice a small mist-like cloud trailing along behind him and his burden.
It took some time but Xander finally made it to the Magic Box. Thankfully, he’d had very few close calls with the demons running amok.
It had been when he was two blocks away that he’d had to take cover as several demons on motorcycles came down the street. They didn’t appear to be as boisterous as they’d been when he and the others had run into them before. In fact, he saw that they were crouched forward over their handle bars to cut wind resistance to get as much speed as possible. And though it was hard to tell with the flickering electric lights and various fires making strange shadows on them as they passed by, it looked like some of the blood on their clothes was colored something other than red.
Not really caring at the moment what might have driven them off, just thankful that they were leaving, he again hefted Tara up in his aching arms and trudged towards what he hoped would be safety.
He noted that her skin was clammy and cold. Her pulse was steady but slow, as was her breathing. He hadn’t been able to close her eye lids and she no longer blinked. Or at least he hadn’t seen her do so if she still did.
Considering how bone shuddering cold he himself felt, he knew hypothermia was a big possibility.
Hopefully, Anya and Willow were already at the Magic Box and could take care of changing Tara out of her wet clothing, otherwise he would be forced to do so and just the thought had him feeling very awkward.
Of course he wasn’t sure how he was going to tell them what had happened in the graveyard.
He made it inside the Magic Box using his spare key and made it down to the center of the store before two forms rushed at him.
“Tara!” screeched Willow.
“What happened to her?” she demanded.
“Later,” he replied with a bit of a snarl in his voice which brought the Redhead up short. “We need to get her in the back room and out of these cold wet clothes.”
With that he brushed past his oldest friend and Anya as he made his way to the training room.
Worried about her girlfriend’s condition and her best friend’s apparent anger, Willow followed close behind. Anya scuttled along with them, not wanting to be left alone in the front of the shop.
After laying Tara down on the gym mat, he said, “Strip her while I get some blankets.”
He then turned away towards the supply cabinet while Willow quickly did as he’d commanded. After a quick hand wave from Willow, Anya went over to help her.
Xander returned but kept his eyes averted as he handed over some blankets. Willow and Anya managed to wrap Tara with two layers to help her keep warm.
Xander was shaking and it wasn’t because of the cold he felt. He was furious. With Willow. With Anya. With himself. Even with Tara.
They’d been stupid.
Anya saw how tense Xander was and wondered what had happened to make him that way but some inner sense told her she really didn’t want to know, so she said nothing.
Willow, on the other hand, was still looking at Tara and asked, “What happened, Xander? How did Tara get like this?”
Before he had a chance to answer, the back door opened and in walked a short, blonde figure.
Xander initially took a protective step forward then looked like he might have a heart attack as the figure came more into the light.
“Willow, I’m damaged. Fix me,” said the figure.
Shaking his head as he recognized the Buffybot, Xander was about to turn back towards the others when another more menacing and sarcastic voice rang out.
“Yes, Willow, fix us!”
Willow, Anya, and Xander all stared as a translucent mist coalesced above the Buffybot’s head. While the other two had no clue as to what was happening, Xander had a dread deep in the pit of his stomach that he did and it was not going to be a good thing.
When the patently angry shade of Buffy Anne Summers finally took enough form to be recognized, the two young women gasped and Xander felt more fear than he’d ever done in his entire life.