Rating: PG for the present.
Disclaimer: All of the really good characters belong to Mutant Enemy and Crack-Head Joss Whedon, although he doesn’t deserve any of them, considering the way he’s destroyed them over the past couple years. I’m not exactly sure who the Underworld characters belong to, but I’m sure it’s not me. I'm just borrowing all of the characters for a while. There is no intent to profit from this. Only the story is mine.
Category: BX-relationship, along with some DX and WX.
Summary: This is a response to the challenge to crossover Underworld with BtVS. Know up front, though, this story is most definitely NOT going to be the movie re-told, with Xander replacing Michael as the main character.
Time frame: Alternate Buffy-verse, branching off immediately after Grave.
Character Bashing: I don’t think my treatment of Spike should be considered as bashing, but some people may disagree. Be warned, this is not going to be a story in which Spike is portrayed kindly in any manner. Based on his behavior in both the bathroom scene with Buffy and the final scenes of Grave, I do NOT think he was asking for a soul so that he could go back to Buffy, feeling all Dr. Phil touchy-feely, and apologize for his callous, ongoing manipulation and continuing sexual abuse of a mentally disturbed woman who had been in extreme need of serious psychiatric help the entire season. If you want to see a depiction of a nice-guy vampire named Spike (which I have done), read my story “Forever And A Day.” If you want to see a vampire with a soul (albeit a soul like Adolph Hitler, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, Timothy McVeigh, Terry Nichols, John Wayne Gacy, Richard Speck, Slobodan Milosevic and other creatures like them), then read on, but don’t say you weren’t warned. Joss’ apparently unwavering belief that possession of a soul makes you one of the good guys, in my opinion, is merely yet another indication that he either has been ingesting large quantities of illegal pharmaceuticals or that he requires serious therapy.
Author’s Note: This story branches off the Joss-verse immediately after the final Xander-Willow scene from ‘Grave.”
A cliff over looking the ocean (Kingsman Bluff)
The far outskirts of Sunnydale.
May 21, 2002
The huge steeple has risen out of the ground, pushing through the earth and rising up at an angle. Willow stood only a few yards away, holding out her hands toward it, her eyes black with the power she had drained and stolen. Various stone carvings of demons, gargoyles and other monsters decorated the surface of the steeple, with a large carving of a snake-haired woman with her mouth open and a long snakelike tongue, another snake wrapped around her body, sticking out prominently from the side facing Willow.
As the steeple ceased to rise from the ground, protruding from the earth at a slightly crooked angle, Willow stood with her arms outstretched from her sides, chanting in a language intelligible to only a handful of people across the planet’s surface.
“Proserpexa, let the cleansing fires from the depths burn away the suffering souls and bring sweet death,” she intoned, as lightning began to crackle between her hands and the statue of Proserpexa.
As the winds swirling around her tossed her black hair, the black veins on her face seemed to somehow glow as the lightning sizzling around her.
The ground shook and the winds grew even stronger, as the bolts of green magic continued to shoot from Willow's body toward the statue. Wind raged around her, filled with dirt and debris, and the ever-present lightning.
Slowly, the statue began to glow a bright yellow-white.
Suddenly the stream of magic was interrupted and the glowing subsided, as Xander stepped in front of the statue. Willow looked up, surprised at the interruption.
“Hey, black-eyed girl. Whatcha doin'?” he asked, feigning nonchalance.
“Get out of here,” the black-haired witch ordered him.
“Ah, no. You're not the only one with powers, you know. You may be a hopped-up uber-witch, but this carpenter can dry-wall you into the next century.”
“I'm not joking, Xander,” Willow warned her childhood friend, her eyes narrowing. “Get out of my way. Now.”
Willow then sent a bolt of magic at Xander that lifted him off his feet and threw him to the ground at the base of the statue. Lightning began to flash about the statue again, the green magic flowing from the witch toward the statue.
The earth rumbled and winds howled as the statue’s glow gradually mounted.
Xander sat up at the base of the temple, holding his ribs, then staggered to his feet and moved to block the flow of magic again, looking at Willow as she glared at him.
“You can't stop this.”
“Yeah, I get that. It's just, where else am I gonna go? You've been my best friend my whole life. World gonna end ... where else would I want to be?” he asked her, the expression on his face a mixture of pain, love, resignation and determination.
“Is this your master plan?” the witch demanded scornfully. “You're going to stop me by telling me you love me?”
“Well, I was going to walk you off a cliff and hand you an anvil, but ... it seemed kinda cartoon-y,” the tall brunet admitted with a wry grin.
“Still making with the jokes,” the witch sneered.
“I'm not joking, Will,” he protested quietly. “I know you're in pain. I can't imagine the pain you're in.
“And I know you're about to do something apocalyptically evil and stupid,” he told her, glancing back over his shoulder at the statue behind him, “and hey, I still want to hang. You're my Willow,” he told her as he spread his arms wide in a gesture of acceptance.
“Don't call me that,” the witch said angrily.
“First day of kindergarten, you cried because you broke the yellow crayon, and you were too afraid to tell anyone. You've come pretty far since then. Ending the world? Not a terrific notion,” he stated, staring her straight in the eye. “But the thing is – Yeah, I love you. I loved crayon-break-y Willow and I love scary vein-y Willow. So if I'm going out, it's here. If you wanna kill the world? Well, then start with me. I've earned that.”
“You think I won't?” the black-haired witch demanded, her voice rising
“It doesn't matter. I'll still love you.”
“Shut up!” Willow screamed angrily, as she gestured with her right hand. Xander's head jerked to the side as if he'd been hit, three parallel cuts appearing on his cheek, blood flowing as if he had been clawed by an animal.
Lifting his hand to his cheek, he looked at his fingers, the tips covered with blood as Willow watched, panting and looking anxiously at him.
“I love you,” he repeated, looking at her with an expression of love, sorrow and some other emotions she couldn’t put a name to.
She made another slashing gesture, and Xander doubled over and fell to his knees. Panting, he got up again, his shirt ripped open over his heart, and more scratches and bruises became visible on his chest. He panted and grimaced from the pain but turned to face her again.
“I...love…y-“ he panted, as the blood flowed down over his ribs
“Shut up!!” Willow screamed, frustrated and enraged at her failure to get him to curse her. Another blast of magic was launched at him – burns appeared on the right side of his chest and abdomen and he staggered backward but wouldn't fall down.
Willow hesitantly extended her hand, a puzzled expression on her face as a little bit of magic crackled around it, but not nearly as much as she had expected. Seeing the miniscule amount of energy the gesture produced, a look of surprise and anxiety stole cross her face.
Slowly, Xander moved toward her, still speaking in the same compassionate, low-voiced tone he had been using. “I love you, Willow.”
“Stop!” the witch screamed, sending another magic blast, but, again, it was weak and barely staggered him at all. He continued walking toward her, as Willow continued holding out her hand, repeating the gesture, her face disbelieving as nothing happened.
Tears began to slide down her face.
“I love you,” he repeated.
“Stop.” The command/plea was barely audible as she began to cry and, as Xander moved up to her, she began feebly hitting him with her fists.
Xander merely stood there, allowing her to release all of the emotions roiling within her.
After a moment, she stopped hitting him and started to cry for real. She fell to her knees and Xander knelt with her, putting his arms around her and holding her close while she sobbed.
“I love you,“ he told her again.
As she continued to cry in Xander's arms, sobbing hysterically as all of the emotional body blows of the past forty-eight hours battered her already fractured psyche, the veins gradually faded away from her face and her hair returned to its normal flame-red hue.
“I’m sorry, Xand. I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry,” she kept repeating into his bloodstained shirt as he held his childhood friend as tightly as he could and tried to reassure her of his unconditional love for her.
“I’ll always love you, Wills. Remember that,” he whispered into her ear as her entire body shuddered with her sobs, a moment before his iron-willed resolve finally gave way before the physical damage inflicted on his body and blackness overtook him as he collapsed to the now blood-speckled ground.
May 21, 2002
“Your pardon, my lord, but I believe that you would want to be notified of this report at the earliest possible moment,” the tall dark-haired man said, as he moved forward, dropped to one knee and bent his head before the shadowed figure seated at one end of the cavernous room.
“What is it you have to tell me, nephew?” the darkened wraith-like shape demanded, its voice low and harsh as it echoed through the room.
“One of our investigators reported to me this afternoon that he has determined that there is an excellent possibility that there is another surviving descendant of whom both our people and Lucien’s have remained ignorant, my lord,” the newcomer revealed, his eyes remaining fixed on the feet of the being before him.
“To the best of my knowledge, that has been proven to be quite impossible,” the shadow-cloaked figure intoned quietly. “Are you implying that my sources have been lying to me?”
“No, my lord,” the messenger quickly responded, “but it appears that the information on which they based their reports was quite possibly incomplete. Our investigator stumbled across his information while checking on an entirely unrelated matter. He has told me that he has reason to believe that the authorities of the town in question have apparently been falsifying at least part of any information they have released regarding fatalities in their jurisdiction for the better part of a century. The exact reason for their doing so is not clear at the moment, but he is now personally checking out all pertinent records and expects to have an answer for me within the next few days.”
“Good. You will notify me as soon as you have received the results.”
“Indeed, my lord. It will be as you say.”
Sunnydale General Hospital
Intensive Care Unit
May 23, 2002
< Come on, Xander, don’t do this to us, > Buffy Summers, currently the longest surviving Vampire Slayer in the records of the Watcher’s Council, sat by the bedside of her best male friend in the world (although it had taken her a while to finally realize that, after everything that had gone on over the course of the past several months), holding his hand and silently praying for him to open his eyes and tell her one of the innumerable lame jokes for which he was known.
< Please wake up, > she asked him silently, for what had to be the thousandth time since she, Dawn, Giles and Anya had first discovered his and Willow’s bodies lying on the ground near the remains of the temple Willow had been in the process of raising.
< I don’t know how we’re gonna manage to go on without you and Wills. Not after everything that’s happened, > she told him wordlessly, as she stared, dry-eyed, at his comatose form. It wasn’t because she didn’t care about him; it was because she simply had run out of tears to shed.
< Dawn hasn’t stopped crying since we found you guys, and I don’t have any idea of what to do to help her get through this, > she told the sleeping man lying in front of her, < I’m only barely managing to hold myself together, Xan. How am I supposed to help Dawn deal with you being in here? I didn’t realize just how much I was depending on you, on all of you guys, even when I was pushing you all away. Please don’t leave us, Xan. >
< Please don’t leave *me*. >
Staring at the brunet lying motionlessly before her, connected to myriad plastic tubes, lines and wires that all led to various pieces of mysterious electronic equipment that beeped or hummed or clicked at intermittent intervals, the petite, seemingly delicate blonde pondered just what this man had come to mean to her over the course of the past six years.
He had been the first person outside of the Council to step up and offer her support in her battle against the forces of Darkness, after inadvertently eavesdropping on her first conversation between her and her at-the-time-new Watcher, an outwardly stuffy, overbearing British librarian, whom she had eventually come to regard as the father of her heart.
At first, she had believed he was volunteering to help solely as a way to try to get close to her, to coax her into dating him, (And while she was sure that that thought was in the back of his hormone-driven mind, she knew it wasn’t the only reason.) and she had tried to brush him off and send him on his way. Instead, he had ignored both her and Giles’ discouragement and had stubbornly insisted on following her around as she sought out the various denizens of the Hellmouth, trying to determine the fate of his best friend, Jesse, abducted that first night when they had been met by vampires following the Master’s bidding. In actuality, that stubbornness had turned out to be fortunate for her in the extreme, since without his assistance, she would have most certainly been trapped in the warrens of the town’s sewer system and either died or, worse, been turned by one of the Master’s minions that same day.
It seemed, in the years since then, that they were continually taking turns saving each other’s lives from the innumerable vampires and demons who arrive in town seeking the Hellmouth, interspersed with their ongoing efforts to prevent what seemed to grow to be weekly attempts at initiating apocalypses.
It seemed that ever since they had first met, Xander had been a bastion of support for her and the other Scoobies, both when dealing with the supernatural aspects of life here in Sunnydale, and while trying to establish and maintain some kind of life apart from the Slaying.
If not for his and Willow’s efforts these past several months, she wasn’t sure that she and Dawn would still have a house to live in, or even be together as a family.
Hacker. Girl friend. Confidante. Witch. Would-be world-destroyer.
Oh god, she still didn’t know how she was going to explain to Xander about Willow. How could she, when she wasn’t even sure she understood what had happened?
“Hi, Buffy. How’re you doing today? How’s Dawn handling things?”
The speaker was Sheila Curtin, a supervisor on the ICU nursing staff and a tall, imposing, yet grandmotherly brunette who had taken a shine to Buffy and Dawn immediately upon meeting the two girls when she came on duty the night Xander had been admitted.
“I’m doing all right, I suppose, Sheila,” Buffy managed a small smile for the older woman’s obvious concern for her and her sister. “Dawn’s about the same as she’s been since Xan came in. She won’t be happy until he’s out of here. And neither will I,” she admitted, as she felt a lump rise up into her throat again.
“None of his vitals are looking very good, are they?” the petite blonde asked quietly, glancing over again at the various readings displayed on the monitors connected to the unconscious brunet.
“Now, don’t you worry about Xander,” the older woman advised her. “You two’ll be back to talking about wedding plans soon enough. Any man who has you as his fiancée isn’t going to be lying in bed any longer than he has to. Unless, of course, you’re in there with him,” she opined as she gave the Slayer a wicked smile, which brought a weak, somewhat embarrassed smile to Buffy’s face in response.
< Fiancée. Boy, is Xan gonna be surprised when he finally does wake up, > the Slayer grinned to herself momentarily as she turned back to watch the brunet breathe.
Somehow, during the hectic confusion that ensued during the carpenter’s admission, Buffy had been mistakenly identified as Xander’s fiancée. And, after learning of the hospital’s policy to permit only patients’ family members admission to the Intensive Care Unit, Buffy had continued the façade at Dawn’s earnest pleadings since, as his future sister-in-law, she had managed to persuade the ICU staff to allow her access to the comatose brunet.
The doe-eyed teenager had instantly become a favorite with the entire ICU staff when they saw the intensity of her devotion to the injured man who was her ostensible future brother-in-law, and they all went out of their way to comfort her whenever she was around. Like Buffy, the younger Summers had been spending her every free moment at Xander’s bedside, leaving his side only when forced to do so, to eat a meal or get a cup of coffee or hot chocolate, and only agreeing to do that when either Buffy or Giles was there to replace her at his side.
The day after the ‘incident,’ as Giles had referred to Willow’s arcane berserker rage, Buffy had finally realized some of the ramifications of her agreeing to pass as Xander’s ‘fiancée’ and had immediately called Anya’s cell phone, only to be greeted with a message informing her that the number in question was no longer in service. A quick follow-up call to Giles had provided her with the information that the redheaded Wicca’s rampage had finally convinced the former-vengeance-demon-turned-entrepreneur that her continued residence in Sunnydale would almost certainly not lead to a death from old age, and had then, accordingly, left for unnamed, but obviously much safer, locations.
The blonde’s ponderings were cut short as an alarm on one of the many machines to which the brunet was connected suddenly began screaming an alert. As the Slayer stood there numbly and watched with mounting apprehension, an ever-increasing assortment of nurses and doctors began streaming in and out of the cubicle in which her friend lay.
“Code Blue! Get me a cart!”
She could hear various people yelling monitor readings and orders back and forth to each other as she was roughly shoved aside by someone wheeling in a cart with yet another esoteric piece of machinery atop it, which they then immediately began attaching to Xander.
“I’m sorry, Buffy, but we need you to move out of here for now,” she could hear Sheila telling her, as she felt gentle, but insistent arms pulling her away from Xander and out of the cubicle his bed occupied. "You can wait in the outer reception area, and someone will be out to let you know what’s happening as soon as we can. I promise. All right?”
Feeling as though she had been anesthetized, Buffy watched helplessly from the doorway to Xander’s cubicle, completely unaware of the tears steaming down her face, as one thought kept running through her mind.
< Please don’t leave me, Xander. Please, don’t leave me. >