Since I am a poor chickadee with no wealth to speak of, I think it's safe to say that neither BtVS nor Doctor Who are mine. ^^;Written for: TtH August Fic A Day ChallengeSummary: The dead eyes of one of her Slayers stared at her from through the coffin lid, as it was lowered slowly, carefully, into the grave. She ignored the deep, pain filled gaze of the silent intruder on the ceremony, where he stood hands buried in the pockets of his familiar pinstripe suit.Author's notes:
Far post 'Chosen' for BtVS, with no comics. Set during the Doctor's regeneration, in 'The End of Time.'
The dead eyes of one of her Slayers stared at her from through the coffin lid, as it was lowered slowly, carefully, into the grave. Xander stood beside her, gaze settled not on the grave, and the dead woman- girl, really - but instead on her. She ignored him. She ignored Willow to her other side, clinging to Dawn as if the younger Summers was the only thing keeping her from collapsing- and she probably was. She ignored, more than she ignored anything else, the deep, pain filled gaze of the silent intruder on the ceremony, where he stood hands buried in the pockets of his familiar pinstripe suit. She ignored everything but the girl she had failed. The girl he
Hours later, after Dawn had all but carried a sobbing Willow out of the cemetery, long after the first clods of dirt had rained down on the coffin, and after the ground had been smoothed to a barren mound over the grave, she still stood. Alone, save for the figure that had never moved. His sorrow was written in his closed off expression, tense stature, stubborn refusal to leave without her- her what? What did he want
from her? The answer came immediately, and she knew just as instantly that he would never
receive it. And she knew, too, that even if she gave it, he still wouldn't accept it. He might leave, might even return sometime in the future, but he would punish himself far more than she ever could.
"Buffy." Finally her stare from the grave was broken, by the quiet voice of someone who knew her better than anyone else. Her eyes raised to meet with his one remaining, the mark of the 'one who sees.' "Buff, come on. Go talk to him. You need to. Then, when you're ready, we can leave."
'We?' Startled, she looked at Xander again, really looked, and- he was tired. Exhausted, more so than just Kennedy's death would have drained him. Had he really been here the whole time too? And she'd been too absorbed in her guilt, and in her blame, to realize that he hadn't left her side?
"Oh god, Xander, I'm-" Her voice cracked a little, from hours of disuse and the dryness of shame.
"Don't be." He managed a small smile, the barest quirk of his lips, and then he nodded his head to the still form still standing across the graveyard. "I'm not the one who's important right now. He
is. And if you don't go talk to him, you're never going to forgive yourself."
He was right. Of course he was. But at the same time- Buffy swallowed thickly, blinking her eyes quickly to stave off the sudden rush of tears that fought to fall. How could she make him understand that she couldn't
. Forgiving herself wasn't the issue.
"I can't- I can't make it alright for him. Not this time, not ever again. Because-" Because to do so would make Kennedy's death the worst kind of vain there could be. But he already knew.
"You're not going to make it 'alright,' Buffy. This will never be okay for him, and you know it." His words echoed her own thoughts from only moments earlier, but he wasn't finished. "But you can't leave him like this either. He-"
her, Xander. Even if it wasn't his hand that stabbed her through the heart, that gutted
her and fed on her body, it was his
"Let the demon that killed her get away. I know. We all
know, even Willow. But he couldn't have known that it would run into Kennedy's patrol later, or that it would kill her."
"Couldn't he have?" Her eyes left Xander's to stare accusingly at the statue still Time Lord, who met her gaze unflinchingly. "And he didn't just 'let it get away,' he stopped me from killing it. After
it had already had its midnight snack on some innocent teenager in the wrong place at the wrong time."
"You know it's different for him." Her old friend's voice was insistent, demanding her attention, but she didn't look away from the Doctor. She only listened. "Things aren't black and white for him, not just 'human and demon.' Just like it's not that simple for you anymore either. How many demons have you had as friends? How many do we have that work with the new Council? It hasn't been 'see demon, slay demon' for years."
"I don't work with demons who kill innocent people." Her voice was cold, even to her own ears, and Xander scoffed audibly, forcing her attention to turn to him finally.
"You really want to go down this path again?" His eyebrow arched, but Buffy didn't back down. Not this time. She couldn't. "The name Angel ring a bell? Spike? Anya, Illyria? Faith and Willow? Hell, even Clem played poker for kittens, and we do not
want to think about where those cute, cuddly kittens went after a game."
Fine. Two could play at this game. "I sent Angel to hell, Xander. Tried to kill Spike for years. I gutted Faith, and fought both Anya and
Willow, and by the time Illyria came to us, she was on our side."
"And yet somehow, they're all on our short list of friends and good guys. I know you fought them, Buffy, we've had this conversation before. That's not the point. The point
is that you gave every one of them a second chance. And that's what the Doctor does. He couldn't just kill the demon, not when he could give it a chance to turn over a new leaf."
And, if she was truly honest with herself, wasn't she just as guilty as the Doctor? Maybe not in this one moment, maybe not in Kennedy's death, but Xander's words opened a flood of memories. Jenny and Kendra, dead because she hadn't kill Angelus when she'd had the chance. The frat boys, and all of Anya's victims when she'd returned to vengeance. Anyone
Spike might have killed after she'd let he and Drusilla go in order to fight Angelus.
"Go talk to him." Xander's voice was quiet again, but firm, his gaze intense as he focused on her. "Before he leaves and never comes back."
"I-" Buffy gulped again, and dashed at her eyes quickly. Then, finally, she nodded. "I will."
She turned, to go to him, to talk to him. And he was gone.
Buffy never saw the Doctor again. And, deep inside herself, she hated herself for the rest of her life.