Angels and Demons: D
AN: Busy week at work. Unexpected house guest. General annoyance at the world.
My apologies for the slight delay.
Thank you guys once again for your continued support. As always, feedback is
good. Its nice to get perspective on each chapter outside of the voices in my
head. They're entirely unreliable. :)
*************** Trick or Treat: Chapter Thirty-Three Part D ***************
Xander was covered in blood. HER Xander was covered in blood. That was bad.
That was wrong. He wasn’t covered in his own blood though. For some reason,
the sinking pit in her stomach told her that that was worse.
He looked thunderstruck, a look she’d only seen on him a handful of times.
Mostly when one of the girls broke something expensive, or vital, or both,
like the TV. Man, they’d gotten screamed at for that one after the
thunderstruck part was over. Of course, it hadn’t been THEIR fault. Xander
had said no throwing stakes anywhere in the house except for the basement. He
hadn’t said anything about crossbows.
Or axes. You really think they’d make technology sturdier.
“Ash…” he repeated again, slowly, as the knife he was holding at the throat
of an equally blood-soaked man slid to the floor with a thud. The man wheezed
a bit in response before sinking to his knees on the floor. Xander walked
forward, slowly, completely ignoring the half-dead man as he went to her,
hands outstretched until he was right in front of her.
The man who had shown just exactly who she was meant to be. Why she was
special. Why they were all special. And it had never just been because of the
whole, ‘I can save the world’ thing. Not with Alexander Lavelle Harris. None
of the girls would ever whisper a peep of it to Xander, but it man, it felt good to
NOT feel the weight of the world on your shoulders the second you walked in
the Booty House.
Normal everyday things like chores and curfews when not patrolling, complete
with groundings for misbehaving, kept even the most pretentious or belligerent
of the girls a little more centered on normal teen and kid stuff. She didn’t want
to think about what her life would have been like if she’d learned the whole
Slayer shtick from someone like, well, Buffy.
All death and no fun made Ashley a bored girl. And a bored Ashley tended to get
her kicks doing destructive things, like befriending bloody fiends (though souled)
British Vampires, and tormenting the higher Powers in the universe.
“Oh Ash,” he whispered as his bloody hands cupped her translucent cheeks.
“Why?” he whispered, voice agonized, “Why did you come back?”
Oh good to see you too.
She snorted. She loved Xander like a big brother, she really did. But that
didn’t mean he wasn’t dense sometimes. Though Dawn said all men were dense,
so it probably wasn’t all his fault. But STILL. Geeze, get with the
“Because the Powers asked me to,” oh boy THAT got a reaction, “and,” she
continued primly, “because I wanted to mess with them a bit since JEZZE,
shouldn’t the people running things learn to lighten up a bit?” She
broke off her tirade before it could begin before adding softly, “and I needed
to check in one last time, on you guys, before going all wings and halos.” She
paused, “although I’m not real sure I’ll get to go to, you know, Heaven,
Xander looked apoplectic, but amused, a mix she HAD seen on his face an awful
lot. Especially when she’d had too much sugar and then fed it to Paula, who
had some sort of weird medical sugar intolerance. It didn’t really make Paula
sick, just super hyper. Like Angelique when she had tried to keep taking her
Ritalin after she got all activated. Apparently the whole Slayer thing cured
the ADD, or perhaps explained it, and Ritalin messed with Slayer metabolisms
“You think you won’t get into Heaven?”
Ashley snorted. “Not if the Whiners to Be have to write me a recommendation.
Morons. Now,” she pinned Xander with a withering look from her diminutive
height, “care to tell me why you’re playing stick-a-pig-with-a-steak-knife
with some Men in Black rejects?”
There was a muffled snort of laughter from said rejects. Ashley shot them a severe
look that only increased the amusement from the two very military looking men. The
military weren’t exactly on her favorites list after the whole kidnapping Xander thing,
but she reluctantly approved of these two. Most people would have run screaming
from the whole materialization thing. The fact that these two bozos got the chuckles
was a good sign. They had to be as crazy as the rest of them.
She watched and frowned as Xander’s expressive face grew cold and remote in
response to her question. “You shouldn’t be here. Not now. Not for this.”
“Oh yeah,” she blustered as she glared at her mentor, teacher, and still
living friend, “and where else should I be when you’re about to commit cold
Xander’s mouth tightened into a hard, compressed line. “You don’t know what
you’re talking about Ashley…”
That’s it, she was annoyed. Definitely annoyed. Mad even cause oh no, he
wasn’t going to pull those high and mighty tones with her. Not when he
hadn’t come back until after she had DIED. She crossed non-corporeal arms
across her chest and glared magnificently. “I know that you’re in a human’s
house, covered in human blood, enjoying yourself way too much, and about
cross a line you’ve told us to NEVER EVER cross.”
“DAMNIT Ashley,” Xander exploded suddenly as he whirled and pointed to the
half propped, somewhat mangled, figure on the floor. “That man, the man
you’re defending, ordered your death. He’s the one that sent men to OUR
HOME to put bullets in your chest. Don’t you DARE tell me what kind of
line I am or am not crossing. Not when…” he took a shuddering breath and
back a step away from her, “not when I’m going to have to go home and bury
you.” The man let out a wheezingly wet sigh.
He always cared too much, god damn him.
She stepped forward and, with an act of concentration, managed to wrap her
arms around him. She wasn’t solid by any stretch of the imagination, but
she knew he could feel the breath of her passing, and the ghostly touch of
her comfort. Ashley buried her face against his chest and, with another
force of effort, managed not to sink through his torso.
Stupid non-corporeal rules of physicality. Being dead sucked, and not
even in the semi-cool, ‘I’m a Vampire’ way.
“You always tell us that even though we kill, even though we’re MADE to kill,
that we’re not murderers. That we’re not monsters.”
Xander’s breathing was ragged and irregular. “Ashley…”
“Shut up,” she said, interrupting firmly as she closed her eyes and tried
to imagine how much nicer this would be if she wasn’t dead. “You tell us
that it’s okay for us to take life because we only kill the bad things.
Because we take care of all the creepy crawlies of the world that normal
people like cops never see. Because we ‘use the Force for good’ or some
Star Wars Zen thing like that.
“Xander,” she looked up and met his pained eye, “this, what you’re doing,
is wrong, ‘cause, if you go all Dark Side on us, what will we have left?
What will that make us, the Booty Gang, if you become a monster?”
He was crying, and she was crying, and damnit, if Spike laughed at them
she was kicking his ass over it. “Geeze, you of all people should know
that the whole eye for an eye thing doesn’t work in practice.”
“I can’t just let him walk away Ashley, not after what he’s done.”
And it was the hardest thing she’d ever done but, with a sigh that reached
to her soul, she let him go and was the one to step back. “There’s a
humane way to put down a rabid dog.”
Xander’s lips twitched in a mirthless smile as she reclaimed her place by
the so far silent Spike and Bruce’s side. “I promise,” he replied softly.
She was crying so hard suddenly she could barely see as Spike slipped a
comforting hand within her own. “Good,” she choked out, “I’ve never been
big on animal cruelty.”
That did bring a laugh cracking forth from Xander’s desperate façade, and
her last, blurred sight of him was leaning over her murder’s body, knife
in hand, to fulfill his last promise to her.