Knight of the Falling Star
Disclaimer: I don’t own Harry Potter or any of the characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.Warning
: Possible Spoilers for the Harry Potter Books and Season Seven of Buffy. Character Death(s). Some Language and violence. Reader discretion is advised.
Authors Note: Set approximately two years after Buffy’ season seven. The Scoobies run various halfway houses and homeless shelters, including their school for Slayers and Future Watchers, known more commonly as "The House".
Rating: FR18 (Just to be safe.)
Authors Note #2: This is a rewrite of what I had originally started posting several months ago. Even though I did have a positive response to this story I soon found myself hitting something of road block, creatively speaking, and couldn’t seem to finish chapter three to my satisfaction. So I did the only thing I could think of, I sat on it and read it again later. Low and behold I discovered what my problem was – I’d rushed (yeah I know it took me forever but I still rushed it), and because of that my story arch wasn’t able to support what I wanted it to. So I’ve taken some time and rewritten chapters one and two and feel that the whole thing is better for it. I sincerely hope my readers agree and enjoy the new and improved version.
Summary: He fought all of his life only to discover that Death is only a Beginning."Knight of the Falling Star"
By Toenail Writings
Prologue: Say Sweet Goodbye
Buffy stood just outside of his hospital room, eyes closed her hands clutching the doorframe as if it alone could keep her standing. It was cracking under the pressure of her superhuman grip but she didn’t notice. Tears burned behind her eyelids, a few escaping to trickle down her face, yet she didn’t bother wiping them away, wasn’t really aware that they were there. She could hear the bibs and beeps of machine’s tracking his heart and his breathing and everything else that they were made to watch. It was painful to see him like this; black and blue, IV's sticking from his hands, barely breathing even with the help of a respirator.
There was nothing she could do for him and that was just as painful as everything else was.
For years he’d been the strong one, the glue that had held them together, even when no one would admit it. After the destruction of Sunnydale he’d thrown himself completely into the group. Making sure they got to Cleveland, helping them to find a place to live. He’d found the building they could convert to a boarding school for the girls, he used the money Anya had left him to pay for the funding and maintenance until Giles could unlock the old councils bank accounts. He did a lot of the work himself when money was thin. He was even the first one to find a job outside of the school, a custodian at a meat packing plant, but he never complained. He said he didn’t mind because he was helping and that was all that mattered.
Sure he didn’t smile the way he had before and his jokes were more cynical, more bite then bark, but he was still their rock. Holding the girls when they cried, or lending an ear if anyone needed to talk. Most of the new slayers would turn to him when they had a problem; they looked to him for advice and friendship. It was good that way and no one thought it would ever change.
Buffy blinked softly, more tears making their way down her face. He still had that job at the plant, even though they didn’t need to worry about money now, they could even pay him for everything he did but he said it was just something he needed and none of them thought to argue. He’d worked the late shift yesterday and he’d called them just before midnight to let them know he was on his way home. He did that every night he worked late, just like everyone who held a job outside of the House. That was the way things worked; it was supposed to help keep them safe.
But only safe from the things that went bump in the night, apparently.
No amount of planning or magic could save you from a Drunk Driver.
They were worried when he wasn’t home the next morning, his truck wasn’t there and his bed hadn’t been slept in. They assumed that he’d been attacked by demon and were preparing to search for him when the hospital called the House. Giles was the one who took the call and wouldn’t tell them anything other then Xander had been in an accident. Everyone scrambled into whatever vehicle was handy and rushed to the Hospital but there was nothing they could do for him. After a while Buffy just sent the other slayers home with Robin and Andrew, sending Kennedy with them despite her protests. They all wanted to stay but she knew it would be easier with them somewhere else, somewhere she knew they’d be safe.
Faith stayed, pawning off an excuse about too much history to not be there for him. Buffy was glad she didn’t leave, she helped keep Dawn, who’d flat out refused to go anywhere, distracted. Those two had gone down to the cafeteria to get drinks for everyone. Probably Hot Cocoa if they could find any.
Giles and Willow were down the hall, quietly talking to the doctor. The doctor, she hadn’t bothered getting his name, kept shaking his head saying something about internal injury and bleeding and tests. Giles looked worried, very worried, past the point of cleaning his glasses worried. Buffy sniffed tearfully, if she didn’t know any better she’d swear he was clucking under his breath but it was to soft for her to be completely sure. He held Willow against him. She’d bawled all the way there, had nearly fainted when they’d finally gotten to see Xander and now leaned limply against the old watcher, worried and scared and all cried out.
A groan came from inside the room, so soft if she hadn’t been a slayer she wouldn’t have heard it. When it came again, slightly louder this time, she released her grip on the door, not seeing the dents she left behind. His room was very well lit; the various machines continuing their jobs as she cautiously made her way to his bedside. To her the read outs were the same as they had been a few minutes ago but she knew she’d heard something. She stepped carefully around them till she reached his side, praying that she wouldn’t trip or stumble and mess anything up. Looking down at the unconscious man she couldn’t stop the tears. They flowed down her cheeks and dripped onto his bandaged face.
"I don’t know if you can hear me or not but please wake up." She turned her face, her voice barely a whisper as she began to cry in earnest. She’d had to be strong before but now there was no one to see her. "We need you."
Several minutes passed like that, her crying slowly turning to hiccuping gasps. She didn’t see it when his eyes fluttered open or the sad smile that drifted across his face. "Buffy…"
She blinked in disbelief. "…Xander…?" Her voice shook as she whispered his name. Her head turning back to him, gasping when she saw his bruised face smiling at her. "Oh God… I’m not dreaming am I?"
"I don’t know," he coughed, "do you dream about me in bed a lot – not that I’d mind, mind you."
"Oh Xander, you are awake." She threw herself forward, throwing her arms around the one-eyed man and hugging him tightly.
Too weak to even wrap his arms around her he just like her hold him until the pain became to much. "Hey Buff," his voice rasped against her ear, "as much as I hate to say this – breathing is becoming a problem."
"Oh… sorry…" she released him slowly, almost as if she was afraid he might disappear the instant she let go. An awkward pause followed, neither one really sure what to say. They’d been in similar situations like this, hundreds of times over the years, with one of the others slayers and the other Scoobies but more often then not they were in reverse positions. Her sitting there after taking one too many hits from some overly developed demon or another, needing stitches or a cast and him hovering over her, telling her jokes or just holding her hand. Every one of those visits had been short a couple of hours or a day or two at most, but this was different. Even if he healed quickly he’d still be there for at least a couple of weeks; it could even be months.
She didn’t want to think about the other alternatives.
"How are the others?" The question came out harder then he’d intended but it managed to bring her back from wherever her mind had wandered. "How are they taking it?"
"They’re worried… and scared." She sniffed and reached down to gently touch his arm. They both flinched, abet involuntarily, as her hand brushed against IV cords and bruised flesh. "It’s understandable. We thought we might loose you." Her fingers trailed down his arm, pausing to squeeze his hand briefly before bringing it back to her side. "But you’re awake now and everything’s going to be alright – or I’m not Buffy the Senior Vampire Slayer."
They both smiled fondly at that.
Calling Buffy and Faith the "Senior Slayers" had started off as a joke, a poor one but a joke none the less. Over time as more and more slayers and potential watchers joined their group it became less of a joke and more a reality, helping to denote their rank among the legions of super-powered preteens and teenagers.
"Speaking of which," Buffy said suddenly, her smile widening further. "As much as I enjoy the me and you time the others are going to castrate me if I don’t tell them you’ve woken up." She paused, scrunching up her nose as she thought about she’d just said. "Okay so they can’t castrate me… me not being all manly and missing the key body parts but they’ll do the female equivalent of it I’m sure."
She’d expected a laugh at that but he remained silent.
"Xander?" She looked down at him; her eyebrows furrowing with worry as he fought to keep from falling back into sleep. "Do you want me to go get a Nurse?"
His eyes fluttered shut and he mumbled sleepily. "No need, I’m fine… just sleepy that’s all." He yawned. "Why don’t you go tell the other’s… tell’em to start my AMA* papers while I take a … take a quick nap."
"Hey," he called out as she began to turn away. "You know I love you guys right?"
"Yeah Xander, we do."
His answer came back garbled through sleep addled lips and she squeezed his hand one final time before turning and heading towards the door. She got halfway across the room before she turned back and looked at the slumbering form of one of her oldest friends. Even as beaten up as he was he was still the same guy she knew and loved and it made her smile. Well it was more of a grin really as she realized that for once – it really was going to be okay.
The hallway seemed a little less bleak as she made her way back to where Giles and Willow still stood. They were talking to a doctor, one she hadn’t see before or at least didn’t recognize, and it took them a little bit to notice her headed their way. Willow was still a quivering mass of tears and still too distraught at the moment to do much but Giles stared at her like she’d grown another head, clearly confused by the huge grin that permeated her face. She just winked at them, shaking her head slightly. She could see Dawn and Faith getting out of an elevator a few yards back, each one carrying a couple of those Styrofoam cups.
They reached Giles at the same time and Buffy took one of the cups from Faith, using it to give the confused group a tiny salute before speaking.
"I have wonderful news…" She started but was quickly cut off.
The doctors’ beeper began to buzz. He quickly excused himself and scuttled down the hall, veering sharply into one of the rooms on the left, where two nurses soon joined him.
"Isn’t that Xanders' room." Dawn commented. She sounded worried and confused as her sister continued to smile.
"That’s what I was trying to tell you… it’s Xander… he’s…"
"Dr. Esinburg to ICU – room 214 – Code Blue. I repeat Dr. Esinburg to ICU – room 214 – Code Blue."
Buffy’s face fell. That was his room.
She stood at his grave sight, wrapped in one of his old coats, holding herself as the others paid their respects. It had been one week since his accident and she still couldn’t believe he was gone. He’d been awake, in bad shape, yes, but still very much alive. The doctor had said that it was just the body’s way of giving one last hurrah, that some terminal patients did that. But it didn’t make it any easier for any of them to accept.
Giles had made most of the funeral arrangements, with help from Robin and Faith. Willow, who’d spent the majority of the week in her room, made only one request; she wanted to have yellow flowers there. She grew them herself, using her magic, in every shade of yellow imaginable, and had some of the younger slayers and watchers arrange them.
Even Dawn helped. She managed to find a preacher for the funeral. One who didn’t mind the night ceremony, who ignored the strangeness of the attendees, who didn’t wear a white collar, someone Xander might have liked. Everyone was grateful for that.
Buffy shifted her weight and pulled his coat tighter around her. She hadn’t been able to bring herself to do anything for the funeral. It was just too hard. So she did the one thing she knew she did best: she slayed.
By the end of the week every vampire in town knew the Slayer was on a rampage and either hid or fled. She still managed to find some of the braver ones though and ripped through them like tissue paper. She went on her own not caring about the danger, doing her damnedest to fight through the pain.
Buffy shifted again, noting that some of the more peaceful demons of Cleveland had come to pay their respects. There were about a dozen of them standing amongst the crowd of mourners, their bodies covered and faces hidden. These were the braver ones, probably the ones that knew Xander personally. After Anya’s death he’d taken up demon bar hopping, searching for someone to remind him of her, and had managed to make several friends and allies that had been helpful over the years. The majority of these allies and even some of those who only begrudgingly respected the one-eyed man had left flowers and baskets on the steps of the House.
The sun was beginning to rise as the last of them departed, leaving only the Sunnydale gang to stand around his grave. She watched as one by one the girls dropped a flower on the coffin lid and left. Andrew went next lying down a comic book before scrambling off; Robin and Faith followed him after saying a few final words. Then Kennedy and Willow, and Giles and Dawn said their good-byes. With a nod from her they moved off to the edge of the cemetery letting her say her final piece in private.
She moved next to the coffin, ignoring the diggers who stood a few graves away, and laid her hand on the surface. She stood there as the sun continued to rise, crying silently until it had come completely over the horizon.
"Good bye Xander – I’ll miss you."
She whispered then turned and ran. She couldn’t stand to see them lower him into the ground, not when she knew he’d never come back. Yet little did any of them know that in the far distance that is the after life…
One man was beginning again.