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Summary: Doing what you believe is right normally requires some sacrifice. Dark Fic. Character death.
It should never have come to this. Something should have prevented things from being as they are. Somewhere in the past a decision could have been made that would have caused a different outcome. Turning left instead of right at some time would mean life instead of death.
He was supposed to be the “One Who Sees’, yet this situation had never remotely been one of the outcomes he could have imagined.
And because he hadn’t seen it, the situation was what it was. No matter how much he desired it to be otherwise. However, he wouldn’t express that thought out loud because he knew that the odds were that something else just as bad would result even if he could avoid what he was going to do.
Realistically, he knew he hadn’t helped the situation any. Isolating himself from the others to avoid dealing with them being alive while Anya was dead. The fact that he had been having a natural reaction due to his grief did not make it the right thing to do.
His reasoning that someone had to do the job was reluctantly accepted when he volunteered.
Africa was hard. Warlords, disease, famine, wild animals, harsh terrain, and languages that were not even related to English made for a mountain of difficulties. He spent most of his time away from centers of civilization so he had even less access to the initial meager funds that Giles could scrape together from the old Council’s assets. The others didn’t get any more than he did but they had an easier time getting it.
He was very much alone and had to rely on contacts and alliances that he forged himself. Many he never told Giles about because he rarely had the chance to file detailed reports. Others were because he couldn’t obtain their aid without promising to not mention them to anyone. At the time, that is what he had to do to get the job done. The realist in him could see where his friends might view it as a betrayal of their trust in him.
Hell, he had viewed his keeping secrets from them as a betrayal at times himself.
Not that he didn’t view some of their actions as a betrayal of his trust in them. Willow and Kennedy living in luxury in Rio due to Kennedy’s family’s wealth while ‘searching’ for newbies in South America. Andrew being put in charge of over 20 Slayers while also living the high life in Rome. He even on occasion resented Giles, Faith, and Woods for the relative comfort they enjoyed while he barely eked by.
He would feel guilty for feeling that way a lot of the time, but it would crop up from every so often. Normally when he was justifying keeping things from them.
But it was Buffy’s actions that really upset him the most. After the Fall of Sunnydale, instead of helping find or train the newly Called Slayers, she supposedly was taking some time off to take better care of Dawn while she finished high school. However, she then she hooked up with another shady character and in essence turned her back on the fight against evil.
Thus, she stopped being his hero, despite still loving her.
That caused problems of its own in that the physical, and emotional, distance between them prevented him from putting that love into its proper category: Friend? Family? Lover?
And now he found himself preparing to do what was necessary, no matter how much a part of him hated it.
While the Immortal wasn’t particularly evil, he was amoral enough that he ran several operations that many world governments considered illegal. Their views didn’t bother him.
He also wasn’t above dealing with demons that were not known for being ‘live-and-let-live’ when it came to humans.
Therefore, it was no surprise when Xander learned several months ago from some of his personal contacts that a variety of agencies were interested in some of the Immortal’s more questionable activities with the ultimate goal of shutting them down.
He’d tried to get in touch with Buffy and warn her away from the creep, but since he couldn’t tell her why for fear of tipping the guy off that the authorities were closing in, Buffy just blew him off as being jealous of another of her boyfriends. It was her standard put down and hurt that she thought his concern for her was other than as her friend. He also hated that it was still partially true despite not being the most important impetus for his actions.
Now it was too late.
The situation had escalated and the agencies going after the Immortal were now out for blood, literally.
In part he knew it was the fault of the agencies involved that things had reached this point. If he had known the details of their investigation, he would have advised them against the particular action that triggered the current mess.
The 15 person surveillance team had been taken out – HARD. Granted no one died but the agents faced long months of recovery and physical therapy just to live near normal lives again. No more field work and most were not really suited for being desk bound either. Basically they would have to retire from law enforcement and learn new skills if they wanted to continue working.
Buffy had been the one to take them out. The Immortal had used his connections to keep her out of jail by claiming self-defense.
The story given the news media was that the agents had pulled guns when she invaded their observation post supposedly to ask for an explanation for the bugs planted in her bedroom. How she knew where to go for such an explanation was glossed over. As was the fact that her inquiries were not entirely verbal and more physical in the extreme.
Xander had no doubt that Buffy had lost her temper when she discovered the bugs. He even believed she was more than justified in being paranoid about the motives of the buggers, but for her to attack as viciously as his contacts indicated she did seemed out of character even for her.
The end result was that the case being built against the Immortal unraveled. Evidence disappeared, was lost, or was ruled insufficient. Witnesses recanted or developed amnesia.
Not surprisingly, at least to Xander, was that none of the witnesses simply disappeared or ended up dead. Even Buffy wouldn’t have been able to dismiss such coincidences and The Immortal wasn’t foolish enough to alienate her.
To say the authorities were upset about their case falling apart would be an understatement since the media, thanks to The Immortal’s influence, slanted the story to make it look like the authorities were conducting a witch hunt against an innocent couple.
Official channels of investigation were now closed in pursuing any action against Buffy or the Immortal. However, there were enough disgruntled people that felt that the use of unofficial channels was warranted. This was especially true for one particular government official whose son was part of the surveillance team. Said son now subsisted on a liquid diet while his jaw was repaired and, due to having his hands crushed, would have difficulty holding and grasping objects ever again.
What little he knew about the Immortal directly indicated that several people had claimed to have killed him in the past only for him to show up hale and hardy, thus giving some credence to his title.
That being the case, Xander surmised that if the disgruntled agencies were smart they’d use a similar method to what the Scoobies had on the Mayor or the Judge in order to take him out. Blast him into so many pieces he wouldn’t be able to put himself back together. The downside to that method was it had the potential of creating a lot of collateral damage since The Immortal and Buffy, along with Dawn, were currently residing, in separate but adjoining apartments, in a densely populated area of Rome. Not to mention the difficulty of breaching the Immortal’s most likely heightened security to arrange such an event short of using attack aircraft or artillery.
For the moment, that option was tabled. Which is why he was in Rome.
He had been contacted and told that if he didn’t take care of the situation, much, if not all, of the support he’d garnered over the years for his Slayers would not only disappear but might suddenly actively turn against them.
One life versus hundreds or thousands was how they put it. They knew Xander would do anything to protect His Girls.
Tell anyone and the threat would also apply. Not that they gave him much time to tell anyone or even think about it for more than a little bit. Even then he was only given 24 hours to get the job done.
Being on Buffy’s list of friends meant that he could get closer to the target than anybody else that the agencies knew of without tripping the outer ring of wards the Council had put up at Buffy’s behest as security for Dawn.
Xander at least gave her credit for not relying totally on the Immortal for Dawn’s safety.
Xander sighted through the scope and lined up on the target. Not too difficult since the target was stationary. Clicking off the safety, he took a calming breath and let half of it out. Gently squeezing the trigger, he was almost surprised when the rifle fired. Through the scope he saw the bullet impact the target. He kept viewing the scene for a few heart beats more as he professionally analyzed the splatter pattern on the wall behind the target to ascertain that the be-spelled bullet had done its job and made an exit wound the size of his spread hand. This meant that the target was indeed dead and would not be coming back.
Once he was certain of the kill, he quickly turned to place the rifle into its carry case so he could immediately leave before the active probes he knew would be coming could penetrate the wards that had kept him invisible. However, he was brought up short when he noticed an envelope next to the case. An envelope that hadn’t been there mere moments before. Of course that wasn’t the most shocking thing. No, that was reserved for the fact that his name was hand written on the front of the envelope and he recognized the hand writing.
Snapping out of his shock, he finished putting the rifle away. Grabbing the case and the envelope, he ran towards his extraction point where he could safely portal out of the area. Once he was safe, he would decide what to do about the envelope. He already knew it didn’t contain good news and most likely would be very, very bad news indeed.
Two hours later, after having stashed the rifle and ported to five different safe houses, he finally made it to his ultimate hide-away that only he knew about. The wards he had around the place would block even the most sophisticated tracking spell that might be on the envelope and its contents. While he had conducted some preliminary tests for any magical spells on the envelope, looking for both active and inactive signatures, and found nothing other than the spell that had delivered it to him, he was taking no chances.
He reran the tests he’d already done and then did a few more with still no change in the results. Finally he decided that he was just putting off opening it because he was afraid of what he would read. The sense of foreboding about what he would learn was like a ton of bricks on his chest. Even though he knew he was going to read the letter in the envelope, it took another couple of hours of just staring at it before he finally opened the envelope.
If you are reading this then you are alive and I’m dead. With a bit of good luck some time has passed since we defeated the First. Hopefully, several years.
The letter was able to find you because of the residual link between us from the Enjoining Spell used to defeat Adam. It is also enchanted so only you can read it.
Regardless of when it is, the problem will still be the same. All the Slayers that Willow’s spell empowered will become just ordinary girls again within 24 hours of my death. They will still be Potentials, but back to human levels.
The reason for this was explained to me in a Slayer Dream I received shortly after we defeated The First. The Slayer Activation Spell that Willow did with the Scythe drew upon the Slayer Essence within me. As we discovered from my second death, the Slayer line does not go through me since another Slayer wasn’t called when I jumped from the tower. So when I die, so does the connection to the Slayer Essence.
This problem wouldn’t have happened if Willow had used the Slayer Essence in Faith as it would naturally flow through her to the new Slayers.
There is a tarnished silver lining though in that any Slayer Called by the death of a Scythe Called Slayer will have permanent Slayer powers and will result in several new Slayer Lines. However many times this has happened will determine the maximum number of Slayers that will be active at the same time.
And we need way more than one Slayer Line now. The idea that One Slayer is sufficient to deal with the threats the Supernatural pose to Six Billion people is ludicrous. There is no Balance there.
Even with the Slayers Willow awakened we have only been able to push back the Darkness so far because we couldn’t get everything organized quickly enough to do more before the Bad Guys beefed up there side. We are still pushing them back but at some point Balance will be reached. And if we don’t have enough Slayer Lines to hold the line, the toll on humanity when they try to take back what they’ve lost, and more, will be immense.
Now you are probably wondering why I didn’t tell anybody about this dream and try to get more than my mind working to mitigate the problem.
The reason is simple.
I couldn’t take the chance the other side would find out about it.
No matter how much I trust you guys, if more than one person knows a secret then it is only a matter of time before the secret gets out.
This was proved when Glory was searching for the Key. It wasn’t really anyone’s fault but Glory still found out that Dawn was the Key, and before that Spike and Dawn herself found out.
So, rightly or wrongly, I decided to keep this secret strictly to myself. However, this left me with a few problems:
1. How to keep myself away from the danger of being killed for the longest period of time such that the number of Slayer Lines can become as big as possible?
2. If I stay away from danger, how am I to be protected to keep the bad guys from still coming after me without the protection itself painting a gigantic bull’s eye on myself?
3. Even if I only help out with the administrative side of the Council and don’t do field work, how do I keep from feeling guilty for sending young girls on dangerous missions, even with adequate backup, where they might be killed, thus increasing the number of new Slayer Lines, which is the goal of my first problem?
4. How to do all of this without you guys, and the other side, getting suspicious and discovering the secret?
5. And how do I keep Dawn protected during this time frame so that she can grow into her own powers and be able to protect herself?
It seemed my only hope lay with somehow distancing myself, along with Dawn for a short while at least, from the Council, and the Scoobies, in some way that seemed natural yet would still leave us protected.
Real simple sounding. Not so simple in the actual doing. That is until I read Andrew’s background notes on the various European Cities we were considering having Slayers and Watchers based out of. The notes pointed out that while Rome should at least have a liaison office with the Vatican and their Hunter organization, such an office would also allow us to monitor the activities of The Immortal as well.
Digging further into the notes about The Immortal, I found that while not truly evil, he was amoral enough to be a conduit for both human and demon underworld interaction with more legitimate organizations and governments. This meant that all sides had a stake in not bothering him too much.
The notes also talked about his love life and the various women he had been involved with over the years. He likes women who can challenge him on some level. Even when he dominates them, he treats his women fairly well. When he tires of them, he doesn’t usually just abandon them to their own devices unless they have betrayed him in some way. The life as one of his kept women would be rather cushy.
I’d found my protection.
Since I couldn’t be obvious about what I was doing and I was afraid that I might not be able to keep up appearances if I was aware of what I was doing, I did a memory spell to wipe everything I knew about the danger to the Slayers and included a compulsion to go to Rome for a kind of brief respite. It also had me do things where the Immortal would see me and view me as a challenge to woo and ensnare. This would result in extending my time away for an indefinite period that would last as long as I kept him interested and the compulsion would ensure I found ways to do that. Everyone would think I just reverted back to my Bad Boy fetish and it would seem normal.
Since I would be the one to place the memory spell on myself, there would be no way to determine that I wasn’t behaving the way I was of my own free will. Since it would be my decision that I behave that way.
Gotta love Karmic consequences. The Fates have really out done themselves in coming up with this one. I get to prostitute myself to atone for forcing young girls into this fight the same way I was forced, and complained about bitterly most of the time. On top of that I don’t even get the satisfaction of being aware of my sacrifice and my friends and family get to think I’m abandoning the fight for selfish reasons. And the big joke is that I’m doing this to myself voluntarily.
I hope you forgive me for making this decision on my own and for placing this new burden upon you, but even if you don’t forgive me, you now have a big responsibility. As the ‘last of the normal ones’, discounting a possession or three, you will have to teach the Former Slayers how to cope. You are the best one to do this above all other Watchers because you care more than any other Watcher with the exception of Giles and he’ll be too busy revamping, no pun intended, the Council again because of this. Plus, Faith will have to take the lead in reorganizing the positioning of the still active Slayers around the world.
I’m sorry for many things. For not protecting you. For not giving you a chance to see if there could be an US beyond just being friends. I’m sorry for the fact that I will not be able to tell you this in person because of what I must do and how I will act.
I know I’m stalling but as soon as I finish this letter and send it on its way, my memory spell will kick in and I will lose my friends and family forever. I don’t think getting pulled from Heaven hurt this much.
May you find love and peace somehow, though I know you will never stop fighting the Darkness.
Please try to remember me fondly.
There were tear stains on the last part of the letter. The new ones were his.
Buffy’s funeral was simple as per her request. Her body was cremated and her ashes placed in a secret chamber within The Vatican.
Xander forced himself to attend as part of his penance.
Other than calling Giles and informing him of the contents of Buffy’s letter, he hadn’t really seen or talked much to any of the others in the days leading up to the funeral. It had as much to do with avoiding awkward situations with them and them being too distraught to hold other than short conversations anyway.
Dawn had glommed onto his arm almost as soon as he’d shown up. She was stoic and didn’t shed any tears, even when she spoke some words of remembrance about her sister.
His own statement was short.
Buffy Summers was the greatest hero this world has ever known. And I promise that the bastard who killed her will spend the rest of his days regretting that action before spending all eternity in Hell.