CHALLENGE: 375 - Poetry Challenge #17 by Jinni – I Did Not Die; by Mary Sue Pacho
CONTINUITY: Side-story to my fiction: GMX Adventures. This starts at the beginning of that story from the perspective of the remaining Scoobies.
WARNING: Character Death, dark
DISCLAIMER: I do not own any of the characters or intellectual property mentioned in this story. I am not making any profit from this, nor do I wish to.Do not stand at my grave and forever weep.
All eyes snapped across the battlefield towards the Witch of Sunnydale. She was floating five feet above the ground, winds whipping around her body picking up speed and pressure. Her flowing white hair seemed to stream out behind her for a long moment and then, horrifically, it quickly bled to jet black. Her glowing white eyes became darker than the night sky and hideous veins boiled up out of her skin.
Then lightening began to slam down from the sky in great sizzling bolts that fried whoever was unfortunate enough to be her target. The human witches they battled burned to ashes with each strike and their demon servants exploded, sending burning gore in every direction.
Shrieking slayers ran from the witch destined to become a living deity, she who had called them into being. Fear running ice down their spines, they fled from her wrath and prayed that she would calm down before the world was sundered by her fury.
Only one did not turn from her display of power and cruelty. The golden child, the Slayer Prime.
Confused and scared for her dearest friend’s sanity, Buffy ran towards Willow while battling against the gale force winds her magic had summoned.
Buffy stopped before the witch, her nerves shivering from the pressure of so much dark magic pooled into one small space, and braced herself against the magical storm.
“Willow! What’s with the dark magic?! You need to stop!”
Buffy glanced around her quickly to see that the demons were dead and that the slayers were running for their vehicles.
“Please! Willow, you’ve got to stop!”
Willow looked down at her and whispered, “Buffy?”
And just like that, between one heartbeat and the next, Willow’s anger gave way to heart wrenching grief. Her hair lightened up to its normal red color and the black of her eyes drained away to show green. The winds died away and Willow floated back down to the ground.
“Oh…oh goddess…Buffy…” Willow’s voice was broken with the force of her sobs. Then she collapsed into the blonde’s arms and wailed her heartbreak.
“...what…” it was a breathless gasp torn from her chest as she held the witch in her arms while trying to desperately look around the battlefield for her beloved Xander-shaped friend.
“I…I saw hi…him get hit by…by a sp…spell.” Willow was nearly hysterical as she clung to Buffy. “Th…then he…he fell into th…the portal!”
Tears began to spill from Buffy’s eyes at that. The portal had led to a hell dimension. I am not there; I do not sleep.
Slamming closed another book, Dawn reached up and rubbed at her eyes. She was tired, exhausted actually.
It had been three days since the battle at Whispering Knoll. Three days since Xander was killed and thrown into a portal to hell. She hadn’t had a real nights sleep since that day. Just…nightmares when she shuts her eyes.
No one was taking it well.
Willow was being medicated to help keep her calm. That the medication prevented her from focusing her magics made everyone feel better. She had really frightened a lot of people when she had started channeling dark magic at his death.
Buffy was torn in two. Part of her worried about Willow almost obsessively. Mostly, this was out of friendship, but Dawn knew there was that little tiny voice in her sister’s head that was on the lookout for Darth Willow to re-emerge. Then there was the part of Buffy that was grieving Xander and punishing herself for not protecting him better.
Xander had been her first friend in Sunnydale. The one that started the Scoobies…not to fight the vampires beside the slayer, but instead to help his friend Buffy survive their evil.
Giles…well, Giles had quizzed Willow to find out exactly what she saw. He demanded all the details she could provide him.
Xander had been hit with a curse; one that transformed him into some sort of animal. The transformation was painful and disorienting, so when he was knocked towards the portal he couldn’t save himself from it. Xander fell into the swirling magical doorway and was sucked through swiftly.
Willow had him linked into her telepathy spell, so she felt all of it. Every last pulse of agony.
She felt his pain from the curse, his dizzying fall through the portal. Then she felt him hit something hard. And then, right before her mind was ripped from his, she saw the beast that killed him.
It looked like a man. He was wearing some sort of colorful armor under a trench coat of all things. He had dark reddish brown hair and a handsome face. Only his eyes betrayed the false image of humanity. His eyes, Willow had said, were glowing red coals of fire in a field of darkest night.
As soon as Willow saw this demons’ face in Xander’s mind, her telepathic connection to him was torn apart. Ripped to shreds.
Giles theorized that the human looking demon was actually the leader of the demonic hordes that the dark witches had conjured up. It was his belief that if this leader had arrived through the portal that he very well might have been unstoppable. Xander falling through the portal might have killed him, but it also prevented that demon from coming through.
He’d instantly begun making plans to build a memorial. Xander was a hero, and he’d be remembered that way.
As for herself, Dawn didn’t know what to do or what to think. Xander had been a cornerstone of her life ever since her family had moved to Sunnydale. He was her first crush, the first person to see her as Dawn and not just Buffy’s bratty little sister. He was the one that showed her that she could make a difference…even without super powers.
Reaching out, she snagged another book. She just wanted to find out what that human looking demon was. It was becoming a bit of an obsession. She knew that. Still, she was determined to figure out what it was and what its weaknesses were.
So she could tell Buffy how to kill it.I am a thousand winds that blow.
Buffy leaned against the wood of the door, her hand around the knob. Her heart hammered in her chest and her breath caught in her throat.
It shouldn’t be this hard. It shouldn’t hurt so bad. It was just a room.
With a hitch in her breath that sounded like a sob, Buffy turned the knob and opened the door. Stepping into the room she was hit instantly with the soft scent of Xander’s aftershave. She breathed it in and it curled up inside her lungs.
The wave of grief that hit her was so strong that she nearly collapsed. Unnoticed, a tear rolled down her cheek.
Turning in place, she looked around the room. He had always joked that it was his sanctuary. His one place that wasn’t invaded by hordes of slayers and witches and evil women wanting to date him.
There were a few pieces of dirty clothes over there on the floor from where they’d missed the laundry basket. And over there were a few comic books, either his own or borrowed from Andrew. There on the wall, was a handmade custom rack that held his favorite melee weapons and under it was a handmade wooden box that held the rest of his slaying gear. And there, hidden half under the bed was his super secret stash of Twinkies that no one was supposed to know about.
She walked over to his dresser and looked at the items displayed on top. There was his brush, his extra patch that he only wore when he was dressed up in fancy clothes, his aftershave, and his ipod. And there were a few photos in frames; there was one of Anya, one of her, Willow and Xander, one of her and Dawn with their mother, one of the Scooby Gang back in highschool, and one of him, Willow and Jessie.
Her breath caught in her throat and she forced it out in a sob.
Then, she turned and slowly walked over to his bed. She sat down on it for a moment before leaning over in a slow slump. Curling up on his covers and clutching his pillow, Buffy began to cry.I am the diamond glints on snow.
He poured the single malt into the glass and then set the decanter down carefully. For a long moment he just looked at it, then he picked the drink up and downed it all in one go. The burn of the alcohol slid down his throat and into his stomach, warming him from within.
Then, Giles spun about quickly and threw the glass against the stone wall as hard as he could. It shattered with a crash and glass rained down onto the floor.
“Dammit Xander!” he hissed.
Rage boiled through him and he clenched his hands into fists. He was so angry. So very very angry. And yet, it wasn’t Xander he was angry at. No. His rage was directed at those foolish and arrogant witches that had summoned the demons and opened the portal. Their actions had led directly to one of his children’s deaths.
And in a very real way, they were his children.
Those three incredibly brave and amazing children from the Hellmouth. They were his. His protégés, his students, his legacy. His son and two daughters.
And now…one was gone forever from his reach.
Sighing deeply, his anger washed away for the moment, Giles let the grief return.
He’d built something wonderful on the Hellmouth. He’d taken a rag-tag band of children and turned them into fighters against the dark. There had been those that had come and gone; Oz, Cordelia, Tara, Riley, Anya. Oh, he’d liked them all and he’d helped to guide and mold them. He was proud of who they had become and what they had accomplished.
But those three; Buffy, Willow, and Xander. They had been special. He’d practically raised them and he’d formed them into the greatest warriors for good that he’d ever seen or heard of. The Slayer, the Witch, and the Watcher. His children.
And now his heir, the one whose hands he’d planned to leave the Reformed Council in, was dead.
He…wasn’t sure how to deal with that yet.I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
Kennedy watched helplessly as Willow’s body shuddered again before her lover seemed to wilt back against the pillows of their bed. Looking over her shoulder she exchanged a long look with Vi.
Sighing sadly, she walked over to the edge of the bed and picked up a glass of water from the end table. She held it out and helped Willow to take a sip.
“Please…Willow.” She swallowed hard, knowing her request would not be welcome. She looked away from a moment and changed what she was going to say.
“Rest a bit. You’re so tired and it’s draining your strength. Just…please, rest a bit. Sleep would help.”
Willow shook her head and weakly pushed at her hand holding the glass.
“No…no I have to. I can’t…” She looked around, her eyes dazed from the tranquilizers swimming in her system. “I can’t find him…he’s gone. I’ve got to…got to find him.”
Kennedy put the water back down before it spilled and looked over at Vi, her eyes filled with pain. Then she looked back down at Willow and gently brushed the hair out of the witch’s eyes.
“I know baby. But first…you need to rest. Sleep.”
Willow’s eyes shut even as she whispered, “Xander…” and then she was drifting off into a fog of exhaustion and narcotics.
Sighing sadly, Kennedy turned around and walked across the room to the door. She silently shooed Vi out and then carefully closed the bedroom door behind them.
“What’s…I mean, why is she…” Vi’s voice made it clear that she didn’t know what to ask or what to think, even though she was dreadfully concerned.
Kennedy reached up with both hands and pushed her hair out of her face.
“She keeps trying to find Xander. I think…I think it’s the telepathy spell. It was up and running with him linked into it when he died. I think she just keeps pouring magic into it to try and find him or something.”
Vi blinked, the confusion clear.
“But…but why? He’s dead. I hate that and I wish it wasn’t true, but that’s a fact.”
“I know. It’s the tranquilizers. When she’s on them she can’t quite realize that it’s impossible to link minds with him. Only, whenever she’s off them she goes into a downward spiral of rage and starts channeling dark magic.”
Kennedy’s eyes were haunted as she looked up at her friend and sister slayer.
“I think Xander’s death drove her insane.”I am the gentle autumn’s rain.
“Oh Hellmouth…” Buffy heard one of the demons mutter just before it yelled loudly, “Run!”
Then the scaly thing turned around and lurched for the backdoor of the demon bar. She bared her teeth in a fierce parody of her once cheerful smile and dove into the fight. Most of the vampires and demons fought each other to get out of her reach.
She’d been on a rampage through the Hellmouth’s underworld ever since…that day. Her grief and anger demanded it of her. So, she poured her fury into the fight and slayed all in her path, a stake in one hand and a sliver edged dagger in the other.
Cleveland was quickly becoming a no-mans land as far as demons and vamps went. Only the deeply stupid wanted to hang around when there was a grief crazed witch about and a rage filled slayer tearing through their ranks. Of course, the undead that fled from her tended to run directly into squads of her slayers.
The dust was beginning to build up into drifts.
Maybe, eventually, if she killed enough demons and dusted enough vampires, she’d be able to sleep through the night without suffering the nightmares of overwhelming guilt. Maybe her grief would fade away and it wouldn’t feel like her heart had been torn out of her chest. Maybe she’d be able to learn how to smile once more.
She slammed her stake into the chest of the last vampire left in the decimated bar and tipped back her head and screamed.
It wasn’t fair.
And it was all her fault.
She was the Slayer…she should have been able to save him.When you awaken in the morning’s hush
She stood in the corner of the gym and slowly wrapped her fist with tape. From the corner of her eye she watched as Robin worked out on the weight machine. The sweaty muscles of his arms and shoulders bunched and flexed with each steady repetition of motion. He was so strong and handsome, her guy.
Sighing softly, Faith dropped the roll of tape back into her bag and flexed her hands, curling and uncurling them into fists even as she swung her arms back and forth to loosen her shoulders. She tilted her head from side to side, cracking her neck as she walked over to the heavy bag.
When people asked why she turned her life around, she always gave credit to Angel and then cringed inside when Xander would roll his one dark eye. She never mentioned that he had been the first one to try to reach out to her…to connect to her and bring her into the light.
She’s aware that Xander thought she never mentioned it because she simply discounted his efforts as worthless, but that’s not the truth. It’s because she’s ashamed of her own reaction to his attempt. Maybe because she had tried to kill him. Maybe because she hadn’t been smart enough to realize he was on the level and not just trying to get into her pants. Maybe because ignoring his offer of help had been the biggest mistake of her life and in doing so she had spiraled into the darkness and out of control.
It wasn’t until after Angel had helped her and she was sitting in jail with nothing to do but think that she realized just what it was she had lost. No…not lost, thrown away.
And when she returned to Sunnydale for the final showdown, Xander had been wary…but welcoming. He’d grown up in many ways and had burned out in others. He wasn’t the same boy she’d left behind.
It was ironic in a way. No one asked why she dated Robin. They just assumed that it was because she loved him and let it go. And she did. She loved Robin with all her heart. But, if anyone asked where she had gotten the courage to give into that love and let it bloom, she would have given the credit to Xander.
But no one asked.
Xander…the one without any powers had the greatest super power of all. He loved.
He loved Buffy, and Willow, and Dawn, and Giles. He loved all the little mini-slayers and even her. He loved people and was loved in return. But the greatest love he had was for Anya…a thousand year old ex-demon that had committed horrific crimes against humanity.
And that’s what gave her the courage to love Robin. If Xander could love Anya with all her baggage and past…then maybe Robin could love her with her inner darkness as well?
So, Faith had gone to him and they started a relationship. It had been rocky at the beginning. They were such different people. Yet, they’d worked at it and kept going when things seemed too hard. And in the end, it had worked. She was now Mrs. Faith Woods, wife of Robin Woods.
She turned from the heavy bag and watched silently as Robin finished his last set of repetitions. He sat up from the bench and twisted around to smile at her. She smiled back softly and tried to hide the shard of icy fear that speared through her.
Robin…her beloved husband was human. A simple human fighter that stood up against the dark simply because it was the right thing to do. Just like Xander.
And just like Xander, he too could die.I am the swift uplifting rush
Dawn hated playing den mother. It had been Xander’s job and he had been good at it. But she hated it because she always felt like she was messing up and that the slayers would just look at her…watching and waiting for her next mistake.
She was a pale imitation and she knew it.
When they had first come to Cleveland the ragged band of slayers had been so tried and worn. The battle at Sunnydale had been hard and their resources were limited. They had rented a house and waited impatiently for Giles to untangle the Council funds. It had taken months of living cramped and fighting for bathroom time.
Then they’d had money and it was such a relief. No more living hand to mouth with Xander, Robin and Andrew working themselves to death just to earn enough money to feed them all and cover the rent.
Giles had purchased a former Junior Highschool. It had been closed for roughly five years when the district lost funding. Xander…he had been in his element then. He’d built Sunnydale High from the ground up; refurbishing one in fairly decent condition had been nothing to him. He’d hired subcontractors and went at the job like a man with a new lease on life.
Such energy and hope had filled everyone. Giles focused on rebuilding the Council and recruiting Watchers. Robin had gone through all the legal hoops to make the Slayer’s school a reality with a curriculum and everything. Xander…he had taken that old school and turned it into something special.
The whole east wing had been turned into dorms with the basement section divided into storage units and a large laundry. The cafeteria had been redesigned into a restaurant style kitchen for Andrew and things were going great.
But now Xander was dead and all the little things he had just done weren’t being done anymore. So, those tasks had been dumped on Dawn and now she found herself arguing with Andrew over the food budget. Purchasing supplies for the school, the laundry area and managing the cleaning and janitorial services they contracted to. Plus the maintenance on the building never seemed to end with blown out light bulbs, the air conditioning system needing work, and several fields of grass always needing cut. And if one more slayer broke a window or floor tile because they were goofing around, she’d scream.
How in the hell did he manage to juggle all of that with a smile as well as research, train a team of slayers and patrol several times a week?
She looked around the small little office in the admin section of the slayer school and frowned. It was Xander’s office and when she’d had his den mother duties dumped in her lap she’d taken it over…yet, she hadn’t been able to bring herself to redecorate so his things and his pictures and his licenses were still here scattered about or up on the wall. At first, she’d just wanted to make him proud of her. To do a good job because that’s what he would have wanted.
Now, as she sat there staring at a list of things that she needed to order for the school and the growing ‘to do’ list she was struggling to keep up with, she just wanted to cry and promise to be good if he came back.
The phone on her desk rang and with a sigh she picked up the extension. “This is Dawn.”
“Dawn!” a slayer’s voice shouted across the line with a hint of panic to it. “I think one of the washing machines in the basement is possessed! It’s shaking and thumping and spitting out masses of bubbles everywhere!”
Dawn bit back a sob as she mentally translated the slayer’s words into ‘I put in too much soap detergent and now I don’t know how to fix my mess’. Slumping back in her chair, she mourned Xander’s death once again. He’d know how to fix this easy as, and he’d do it with a smile while she just wanted to kick that slayer in the shins. Hard.
“Okay. Don’t panic or hit it. I’m on my way.”Of quiet birds in circled flight.
“Something has to be done. Soon.”
Giles sighed and looked up over his glasses at Robin. The other man looked nearly as tired as he felt. Reaching up, he slid his glasses out of the way and rubbed his eyes for a moment.
“What do you suggest we do?”
Robin shifted in his chair and shook his head lightly, his lips pursed in thought.
“Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against Nick. He’s done an admiral job of trying to reach those girls. He’s doing what he can to keep up their skills and he’s really trying, but…”
It was the but that was the source of the problem. Giles didn’t need to hear the rest of the sentence spoken out loud. He knew what it was, ‘but those are Xander’s slayers.’
Out of all the Watcher’s here, Xander’s group had been the smallest; only four. However, they had also been the youngest. The baby slayers, he’d heard them called by the other girls. And those girls had latched onto him with a strong emotional attachment as he became a combination of mentor-brother-father to them.
And now they were emotionally lost without him and resisting any attachment to Nick, the newest Watcher to come up in the ranks. This wouldn’t do. A slayer that refused to listen to her Watcher often ended up a dead slayer.
Then, Giles had an idea.
“Have Nick start cracking down on those girls. Have him run them through tougher and tougher drills. Have him quiz and test them on all sorts of subjects.”
Robin lifted one eyebrow in question.
“Then talk to him about them, question him on their skills. Don’t be obvious, but let it get out through the grapevine that Nick is actually testing them to see if they are ready to be promoted.”
Now Robin’s other eyebrow lifted. “Promoted?”
Giles nodded, his idea stirring excitement in him.
“Yes. We’ll encourage the idea that Xander felt his so-called ‘baby’ slayers had reached the point that they were no longer ‘babies’. That they had learned enough to earn spots on teams with the older girls.”
Robin nodded, catching on. “And since Xander is no longer with us to do this testing, Nick’s doing it. Then, we say they passed and put them on other teams as the junior member.”
Giles smiled slightly and nodded. “I think that once these testing rumors hit those girls’ ears that they will do their best, if for no other reason than to prove that Xander had taught them well and that he was right.”
Robin chuckled. “Devious, Rupert.” Then he sighed, “But you’re probably right. They would defiantly want to make Xander proud of them.”
They were silent for a moment, then Robin asked, “Then what do we do with Nick? After the girls have been ‘promoted’ to the other teams, I mean.”
Giles shrugged. “We build him a new team of baby slayers to train. I’ve got reports that there are at least two girls that were recently called, but they were deemed too young to start full training. After another month or two of broken doors and random vamp attacks, their parents will change their minds. Especially if we stress that they would only be in training and not taken out to battles.”
Robin snorted air out of his nose softly and grinned, “Somehow, I think Xander would approve.”I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Rona watched as Buffy Summers reached up with both hands and shook the vampire dust out of her hair. Then the Slayer Prime stood up and snapped her head back, her blonde mane swinging up and back to frame her beautiful elfin face. She stood there silently as she watched Buffy shoo off the younger girls that wanted to go clubbing after a good patrol.
Buffy never went clubbing anymore unless it was to raid a demon club or bar.
As the last of the younger girls smiled and skipped away, Rona smirked and stepped over to Buffy and began walking next to her as she headed off into the deeper shadows.
“Not hitting the clubs?”
Rona shook her head, her braids rattling softly as the beads touched. “Naw.” Then she shrugged. “Figured I’d slay with you a bit more before calling it a night.”
Buffy nodded, but didn’t speak and just silently led the way further into the dark and twisted warrens of the Cleveland slums.
Sighing softly, Rona followed and considered Buffy. When she’d first met her, it had been back in Sunnydale with the First stirring up everyone’s emotions as its minions slowly picked them off one by one.
The Buffy Summers of that time had been so strong physically, but she’d been on the razor’s edge emotionally. Burn out, the cops called it. Soldiers called it PTSD. Rona had simply called it crazy, and prayed that Buffy didn’t lead the potentials to their deaths.
After Sunnydale fell the Scoobies had all spent about a week or so falling apart and going nuts. Then, to the amazement of Rona and the others, they’d pulled themselves back together through nothing more than strength of will and determination. And somehow with a mishmash of chaos and experience, they’d organized themselves and the rest of the newly called slayers.
It had taken time, but that sharp brittle edge of exhaustion and pain had faded away and let the real Buffy Summers shine through. For the first time since Rona had met her, she had seen what it was that everyone had been trying to tell her. The blonde woman that she had written off as a manic harpy really was a true hero.
Rona wasn’t even sure when her disdain had disappeared and was replaced by a sense of respect and affection. Maybe it didn’t even matter. What mattered was that slowly, Buffy Summers had become her friend. A friend she cared about deeply.
Only now, that Buffy Summers was gone. She had been replaced by another woman who had the same face, but refused to smile. A woman who’s compassionate softness had been exchanged for a cold hardness and iron determination. While she was easier to deal with than the brittle fanatic of Sunnydale, this Buffy was hurting just as badly.
She knew what the problem was. There was just nothing she could do about it. She couldn’t revive the dead. She probably wouldn’t, even if she could. Xander had earned his rest.
Rona just hoped that with enough time that her friend Buffy would heal. Just like after Sunnydale.Do not stand at my grave and forever cry.
Willow frowned down at her spell book and double checked her calculations once more.
She couldn’t screw this up. This was too important. This was about Xander’s soul.
The lesson that she’d learned with Buffy was still with her and she feared making that kind of mistake again. She wasn’t planning on bringing him back as much as she wanted to. And even if she did, she didn’t have his body, so she couldn’t do it anyway.
What terrified her though; the thing that woke her up at night with a scream on her lips was that Xander had fallen into a portal to hell. Did that mean his soul was trapped there suffering torments unknown? Or did all the good he had done in life earn him a reprieve and allow his soul to travel to heaven.
And after that mess with Buffy, Willow knew for a fact that heaven existed as surely as hell did.
That’s what she needed to know. She needed confirmation that Xander had made it to heaven…and if he didn’t, she needed to find a way to get his soul there. Even if she had to declare war on the PTB’s to do so.
So, she had to make certain the spell would work. She had to make certain that she would find out the truth. She had to make certain that she didn’t make a mistake that caused Xander to suffer as Buffy had.
She had denied Buffy the rest and peace of heaven, but now she could make up for that. She could redeem herself. She could ensure that Xander was safe and happy and at peace.
Then, once she was sure, she could begin to let him go. She could begin to heal. And maybe, just maybe…forgive herself.I am not there. I did not die.
“Finally!” she huffed with exasperation.
Grasping hold of the power building up, Cordelia grit her teeth and held on as it jerked her out of the upper realms and down, down, down in a swirling whirlwind of magic and emotion until she found herself swaying dizzily inside a containment circle powered by Willow's magic.
She caught her breath and marveled at the need to breathe once more. Then, she stood up straight and looked out over the Council’s library and gazed at strangers and friends from long ago. They were all here to witness Willow’s summoning, desperate to learn of Xander’s fate. Giles, Buffy, Faith, Willow, Dawn, and even Spike was there.
“Cordy?!” the voice was a surprised squeak.
She turned her head and arched one eyebrow.
“Hello, Buffy. Still abusing the hair bleach, I see.”
Ignoring the snickers coming from Dawn and Faith, Buffy rolled her eyes and sighed. “Yeah. It’s her.”
“Cor…Cor…Cordelia…” Giles’ eyes were wise and he gazed at her with such sorrow.
“Hello Giles, I’ve missed you.”
“And I you, my dear.”
“Okay,” Buffy said. “I don’t mean to break up the love-fest, but Willow can only hold the spell for so long. Cordy? What are you doing here? I though you became one of the Powers.”
Cordelia shook her head, her hair waving behind her.
“Not quite. I’ve ascended to the upper realms, yes. Only, I’m not a Power. Still just a servant, only…different now. No more vision-girl gig for me.” She snorted, “Not that I miss the blinding migraines.”
It was Dawn that asked the question they were all wondering, “Is Xander with you?”
Cordelia shook her head again and watched as hope dimmed and fear began to gain strength.
“No. Xander would have to die first, before he could be considered for joining the ranks of the Guardians. And that’s just it, the reason I’ve answered Willow’s call. Xander never died.”
“What!?!” was shouted at her from all directions and she grinned.
“The portal was redirected. It never went to hell.”
Buffy slumped down, her face twisting into lines of relief and hope so strong that she radiated it all around her. Her blue eyes locked onto Cordelia’s however, “Explain!”
“I don’t understand the true mechanics involved since I didn’t do it. But someone that cares about him very much but who has been forbidden to interfere with him…actually did.”
It was Giles who speculated, “By redirecting the portal?”
Cordelia shook her head. “No. By creating another one and sending it to slam into the portal that Xander was in. When the two portals hit each other, they both merged and then veered off in a new direction.”
“The red-eyed demon lord…wasn’t? I mean, he didn’t kill Xander?”
Cordelia shook her head once more and smiled her brilliant megawatt smile. “No. He wasn’t a demon at all. He is mortal. His world doesn’t have slayers, they have something else. He is one of those something-else’s. He was chosen by the one that redirected the portal. Even now, he and Xander are working to find a way here.”
Everyone’s eyes went wide at that and Buffy gasped. “Xander’s trying to get home? He’s going to return?”
Cordelia nodded and grinned. “Yes.”
She turned to face Giles.
“Who is it that redirected the portal if it wasn’t you or the Powers?”
Cordelia frowned and sighed. She didn’t want to tell them, but they had to know. It’s just, as much as explaining about Xander had brought them joy and relief, this would hurt them and bring them pain.
“Anyanka.”Do not stand at my grave and forever weep.
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn’s rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and forever cry.
I am not there. I did not die.
-- I Did Not Die, Mary Sue Pacho.