Somewhere in Sunnydale,
Saturday, 4:05 AM
As I plowed into Angelus, he grabbed me by the neck and pulled me up. For a split second I thought that he was going to rip my throat out, but instead he spun me around and wrapped his arm around my neck, holding me between him and Buffy.
"Hello, lover. I didn't expect to find you in a place like this, but then I found one of Spike's vampires and he couldn't stop talking, after I...reasoned with him." As Angelus spoke to Buffy, I could feel his cold breath on the side of my face.
Buffy had her pistol up and aimed at Angelus, but she had a sick look on her face - from her facing off with her demon ex-boyfriend or the fact that said demon literally had me in his hands, I couldn't tell. I bet the look on my face wasn't any better.
"Let him go, Angel. This is between the two of us."
Buffy's voice was not steady, but the pistol was - unfortunately, I was between the pistol and Angelus.
"I think not. That gun won't kill me but I don't want to get holes in my clothes. Besides, your friends have always been fair game. Drop the gun, or I snap geek boy's neck."
"I drop the gun and you'll kill both of us. Walk away, Angel...you stopped Spike's plan. You're already ahead on points," Buffy kept the pistol aimed at Angelus' head.
While the two of them were talking, I was inching a stake out of my sleeve and into my hand. The way Angelus was holding me I would not able to stake him in the heart, but I might able to get him to let me go and let Buffy get a clear shot at him.
When the stake was fully in my hand, I quickly reversed it and stabbed Angelus in the upper leg. He let out a howl of pain, but he didn't release me. Instead he reached down, pulled the stake from his leg with a grunt and brought it up to my neck.
"Alright, geek boy. You asked for it." Reversing it, Angelus slammed the stake into my chest and threw me to the side. I wound up on the floor, numb and breathless, about three steps from him and Buffy.
Buffy screamed when she saw me drop - not to protect her ears, but from shock and rage. The cracks of gunshots filled the air as Buffy started firing the Beretta at Angelus, but she was aiming at his chest and rapid-firing, causing her to miss with some of her shots. The shots that were hitting Angelus had little effect beside knocking him back a couple of feet.
Finally, the slide locked back on the pistol - empty. Angelus has still standing a few feet in front of Buffy, showing his true face and no visible damage except for his shredded shirt.
Laughing, Angelus started walking toward Buffy. "You're out of ammo and you're not strong enough to fight me, Slayer. Who's going to save you now?"
Unseen, I had drawn my Beretta while still laying on the floor. When Buffy ran dry and Angelus started toward her, I began to fire.
I was firing slower and more accurately than Buffy, but my shots were still off. I hit Angelus in the upper leg, in the side, and in the elbow, shattering it. When Angelus spun toward me, snarling in pain and shock, I started to fire at his head. I missed those shots, but Angelus, knowing that a head shot could kill him, turned and ran from the room. I kept firing at him through the doorway he went through until my pistol locked open.
Buffy rushed toward me and dropped down to the floor, looking at the stake still protruding from my chest dead center. I sat up and started to reload my empty pistol when Buffy grabbed my shirt and pulled my face toward hers.
"Xander! You're still alive! How can you be alive with a stake in your chest!" Buffy was almost screaming in my face.
I put the pistol down and reached up to my chest and pulled out the stake - there was no blood on it and the tip was broken. After I tossed it aside, I took hold of Buffy's hand and knocked it against my chest. We both heard a dull solid sound. "Kevlar body armor with laminated ceramic trauma plate. The plate kept the stake from going through. I'm going to have a hell of a bruise, though," I said with a slight smile.
"You son of a bitch!!! I though you were dead! Why the hell didn't you tell me you were wearing body armor!" Buffy was still screaming at me when I put my hand over her mouth, shutting her up.
"Not now, Buffy. We still have to get out of here."
I finished reloading the pistol and tossed a full mag to Buffy, who barely caught it. We both stood up and as Buffy reloaded her Beretta, I went across the room and picked up the riot gun, which wasn't damaged. Moving toward the outside door, I carefully looked out and saw no one on the street. Moving quickly, Buffy and I moved out the door and went down the sidewalk toward the alley.
We came up to Uncle Tim's car and I tossed the riot gun and the extra gear into the trunk. By this time, the fire from the basement had spread to the upper levels, and smoke and flames were becoming visible.
Just as Buffy and I jumped into the front seat, we heard sirens approaching. Quickly I started the car and drove away from the sirens and the burning factory.
I looked over at Buffy, who was slumped against the passenger door, looking exhausted. "You look like hell, Buffy. You want to go to the hospital?"
Buffy's head jerked toward me. "No! No hospitals! I just need some rest. I don't think we should go to either of our houses tonight, the vamps might be still looking for us. Is there somewhere else we can go?"
I spun the steering wheel, turning a corner quickly.
"You're in luck. I know just the place for us to be alone and no one will look for us there." I grinned at Buffy, who returned the smile wanly.
Timothy Harris' House
Saturday, 9:00 AM
After we got to Uncle Tim's house at 4:30 AM, I kept myself busy. I parked the car in the garage and led Buffy into the house. After she cleaned herself up in the bathroom, I gave her a set of sweats to wear and brought her down to the kitchen, where we ate an entire box of cereal - she was hungry from the blood loss and I had my normal appetite to deal with.
After she finished eating, I led her to Uncle Tim's bedroom and put her to bed.
While Buffy was sleeping, I brought back all the gear from the car and took it to the spare bedroom containing the arms locker. I cleaned all the firearms and put them back in the locker, and stowed the other gear in the proper boxes. The only thing I did not put back was the Kevlar body armor - the vest had a large hole over the trauma plate. The stake had not actually penetrated the plate, but had left a crack in the laminated ceramic. If the plate had not been there, the stake would have penetrated the Kevlar - and me.
By the time that was all done, it was 8:30 AM. I bit the bullet (figuratively speaking) and called my parents at home. After spending ten minutes trying to calm down my parents, I finally convinced them that I was OK and had wandered from the hospital to Willow's house, where I fell asleep. I promised to go back to the hospital for a check-up, but I said that I had to go to the police station to give my statement. When I finally got off the phone, it had been twenty-five minutes and I had a throbbing headache.
I walked into the bathroom and looked at myself in the mirror. The icepack the night before had helped: the black eye had not developed. Except for my eyes being a little bloodshot, I looked like I did everyday.
Dark Xander spoke quietly in my mind. 'You did it, kid. You went in and saved the girl and hurt the bad guys. You even messed up Angelus pretty bad - that elbow will take a while to heal. Were you really expecting to look different?'
'Not really. I just don't feel like the same old Xander anymore. It's like the kid part of me went away.' I replied to myself silently.
'That kid part will always be a part of you, just like I'm a part of you. Once you've gotten some sleep, you'll feel better. Only now you know that you are capable of more that you thought possible. Having something in reserve will help you in the future. Especially if you continue slaying with Buffy and the others,' Dark Xander finished quietly.
There was not much to say after that. I took a shower, put on some shorts and a t-shirt and went in to check on Buffy. She was deeply asleep, her breathing steady and deep. After making sure she was OK, I went back to the spare bedroom, lay down on the bed, and instantly fell asleep.
Timothy Harris' House
Saturday, 12:00 PM
After my nap, I went to check on Buffy and saw that she was still asleep. I returned to the spare bedroom and went into the closet and brought out Uncle Tim's guitar.
I had learned to play as a ten year old on this guitar from Uncle Tim. I actually got pretty good and Uncle Tim gave me a guitar of my own for my eleventh birthday. I still had that guitar at home, but after I discovered girls at age twelve, I had not used it all that much.
I sat cross-legged on the bed and tried some chords to make sure that the guitar was in tune. After some adjusting, I began to play a slow suite of Spanish guitar music I had heard in a movie once. It took me some time to get the hang of it, but after a few minutes, I was playing smoothly. I had not played in over a year and it surprised me how fast I picked it up again.
I was playing with my eyes closed when I felt someone watching me. I looked up and saw that Buffy was standing in the doorway, watching me play. "Don't stop, Xander," she said quietly.
I continued playing and Buffy came into the room and sat down on the bed, facing me. She sat there and watched me until I finished the melody. "I never knew that you knew how to play guitar, Xander. That was pretty good," Buffy said in a low voice.
"I'm a renaissance man. Alexander Harris, high school student, amateur musician, part time vampire hunter. There's many facets to my character. Did my playing wake you up?" I asked.
"No. I was laying there thinking about everything that happened last night when I first heard you. You never did tell me anything last night - you were in too much of a hurry. You can tell me now, you know," Buffy said, her tone a quiet command.
While I slowly picked at the strings on the guitar I began to recount last night's adventures. I told her about awaking up in the hospital and figuring out what had happened to her. I told her about coming here and picking up the gear and about my talk with Willy the snitch, which put a small smile on her face. She lost the smile when I told her about the vampire in the bar and how I questioned him. I told her about sneaking into the factory and finding her. Finally, I told her what I had done after she went to sleep this morning.
"We're going to have to figure out a story to tell the police and our parents. We can't tell them that you were kidnapped by vampires and that I went in with heavy weapons to get you out and burned the factory down. So the best I can come up with is that we got into a fight with some muggers and you got hit on the head and you blacked out. You found yourself at home later that night and everything was alright. If we both tell the cops that and just give them vague descriptions, everything should be OK. That sound good to you?" I asked.
"That sounds fine. You surprised me last night, Xander. The last person I expected to see in that room was you. Especially with you dressed that way For a second, I though I was flashing back to when you were possessed by the hyena." Buffy was looking at me in an odd way; I couldn't read her expression.
"I did what you would have done, Buff. I just needed the weapons to even the odds," I replied.
"How are going to explain that hole in the vest to your uncle?" Buffy looked at the Kevlar body armor, which was hanging on a chairback.
"I don't know about that - I may have to lose the vest and hope that he doesn't notice for a while. I'll think of something."
"I'm sorry that I called you a son of a bitch, Xander. I got pretty torqued when I saw Angel stab you in the chest with that stake, and then you kept him from getting me." Buffy was looking me straight in the eyes while she talked.
"Forget about it. I wouldn't have been too calm in your place." I finished the melody I was playing and glanced away from Buffy - the look in her eyes was was getting intense.
"What are we going to tell Giles and the others? They're all going to be back on Monday," Buffy asked.
"The truth? It's not like we did anything wrong. And I'm sure they will be amazed that Research Boy was able to save the Slayer from the clutches of both Spike and Angelus." I stood and put the guitar back in its case. After I put the case away in the closet, I saw that Buffy had also stood and was walking toward me, stopping a foot away from me. "I'll take you home now if you want, Buffy.
"Remember when we walked out into the mall parking lot last night... what I said I would do if you rescued me some day?" With Buffy standing so close that she was actually looking up at me, I flashed back for an instant to the love spell in the library.
"My memory's a little hazy - I don't know what you're talking about." Sure - how *could* I forget?
"Well, I remember. And I keep my promises." With that, Buffy reached up and pulled my head down slowly toward hers. Just before our lips touched, her eyes closed and her mouth opened slightly.
The kiss was like nothing I had ever experienced. I had kissed Willow years ago during a game of spin the bottle and we had both been giggling throughout. When I kissed Cordelia, it was all hormones and fireworks. But kissing Buffy was like the kiss you see older couples having. This kiss had respect and friendship and great affection and perhaps even love. It was a kiss that could lead to passion, but we both knew that that was not in the cards for us.
So while we kissed and tasted each other, our hands stayed still, mine on her waist and her's on my shoulders. And when we finally broke the kiss we were breathing heavily and our hearts were pounding but we knew that we would not go any further.
We stood there for a few minutes, our arms around each other, Buffy's head against my shoulder, feeling each other's heart beat in unison. After a while we finally separated and looked at each other, trying to figure out what to say.
"Buffy - " "Xander -" We both started to speak at the same moment, stopping when we heard the other start.
We both grinned and I motioned for Buffy to speak first.
"Xander, you're my best male friend." Buffy's hand was against my cheek, touching me lightly while she talked. "You're someone that I would trust with my life. I don't want to mess that up."
I reached up and took Buffy's hand in mine, stroking the top of her hand with my thumb. "Yeah, I was pretty much thinking the same thing. You know that I had a major crush on you, I didn't hide that very well." Buffy gave a small smile at that. "But our relationship has gone beyond that. We are just good friends and we're better off that way. Besides, you would probably kill me sooner or later for being a flake or a jerk."
"Don't say that Xander. You can be a jerk once in a while, but you are not a flake. You stuck by me through things that would send most people running away screaming. And when you do act jerky, it's because you are trying to protect me or the group. I can live with that, but don't do it very often or I will knock you the hell out," Buffy finished with a smile on her face.
"I can live with that." I echoed Buffy, putting my other hand around her's, then letting go. "I guess we better get going before my parents get hysterical and start looking for me. You ready to go now?"
"Yeah, just let me grab my things. How are we getting home?" Buffy asked as we walked out of the bedroom.
"By one of Sunnydale's premier mass transit vehicles, chauffered by a kind and respectful employee of the city." I replied, with a straight expression on my face.
"The bus? Man, have we gone down in status. I think I'd rather be driving around in your uncle's car, fighting the forces of darkness in torn and dirty clothes."
"Thanks Buffy. That's another image of you that's going to be burned into my memory." We both laughed as we walked down the hall.
Sunnydale High School
Monday, 3:10 PM
As I walked toward the library after my last class I was remembering all things I did the last couple of days. After I had dropped off Buffy at her place on Saturday, I had gone home and endured a ten minute hugging and crying session by my mother. When I finally convinced her that I was alright, I had gone up to my room and changed the clothes I was wearing - I had left Uncle Tim's clothes at his place and was wearing my dirty clothes from Friday night. After I was sure that my parents would not notice I was gone, I went back to Uncle Tim's place and cleaned up, making sure nothing stood out and showed that me and a girl had been there that weekend - I could just image my family's reaction if they thought that.
On Sunday I had spent half the day in bed catching up on sleep. I got up around noon and went to the police station to file my report on the attack Friday night. The rest of the day I spent working on my belated book report. I did not think that my English teacher was going to accept the excuse that I had to save the Slayer from vampires for not doing the assignment. But with the help of the Cliff Notes, (which had stayed in my jacket pocket after all that had happened), I finished a report that in my opinion would net me a solid 'B', which was rare enough.
I paused outside the double library doors, hearing Buffy's voice as she talked. Taking a quick peek, I saw that Buffy was sitting at the head of the table with the other Slayerettes with Giles and Jenny Calendar standing a little to the side. From the look on everyone's faces, I could see that they had a little trouble believing what Buffy was telling them.
"...So there I was, Angel coming toward me, with me thinking that I was toast because my gun was empty and we both knew that I wouldn't be able to take him on because I was too weak, when Xander starts firing from the floor and hits him in the side and the elbow and finally starts firing at his head. Angel takes off and there I am screaming at Xander because I thought he was dead but it turned out he was wearing body armor that stopped the stake from hurting him. So Xander finally shuts me up and we go outside and get in the car and take off. And that's what happened on my weekend. Pretty cool, huh?"
Giles was the first of the group to respond. "It was rather astonishing, Buffy, that you escaped from both Angelus and Spike. But the fact that it was Xander by himself that rescued you is what make this tale so ..." Giles struggled to find the right word.
"Unbelievable?" Cordelia piped up. Everyone looked daggers at my erstwhile girlfriend, which Cordy did not notice, as usual.
"I was going to say noteworthy, Cordelia. Do you find it hard to believe that Xander could accomplish what he did?" Giles had taken his glasses off and was looking at Cordelia as he spoke. "We all are capable of great acts of bravery, but the fact that Xander overcame such overwhelming odds to save Buffy is what makes this story so..." Giles struggled for a word again.
"Heroic?" This time it was Willow that spoke up.
"That is more like it. Thank you Willow. For such an act in the military, Xander would have been rewarded with some of the highest awards for valor. It is a pity that we can not publicly acknowledge Xander's actions, but perhaps we can treat him with a little more respect than we have in the past." Giles put his glasses back on and looked at everyone at the table.
"You mean he have to treat Xander like he is actually someone important? I guess we could do that, but that would require a total wardrobe makeover. Can you actually believe some of the shirts that he wears? I think sometimes that he raids the Goodwill dumpsters for his clothes..." Cordelia would have continued her fashion assessment of me but she finally picked up on the glares of everyone in the room and stopped speaking.
"Where is Xander anyway? He should be out of class by now." Jenny asked, looking at the Slayerettes at the table.
Willow answered again. "He should be here any minute now. What are we going to say to him when he come in, though? After what Buffy told us, he seems like a different person now."
"Don't worry, Will. The same Xander Harris will walk through that door and ask where we're going to eat, promise. He hasn't changed that much... though I have to tell you, he did look pretty hot that night in that dark blue shirt and those tight black jeans." Buffy leaned back in her chair and smiled sweetly at Cordelia, who gave her a confused look while everyone else looked at Buffy curiously.
I grinned at that, turned away from the door and started walking toward the hall door that lead outside to the front of the school. For some reason, I did not want to walk into the library right now and face them after they heard about Buffy's and my adventures. Maybe later, when the facts of the story did not seem so amazing. But for now, I just wanted to go home, get something to eat, and maybe practice on my guitar a little.
As I walked through the front door of Sunnydale High School, feeling that I could handle anything the Hellmouth could throw at me, I began to whistle an old Motown tune.
I want you in my arms.
I need your tender charms,
'cause I'm lonely and I'm blue.
I need you
and your love too.
Come on and rescue me.
Come on baby and rescue me...
Tell Greydon how great he is!