TITLE: "Nothing Short of Divine Intervention"
AUTHOR: Wicked Raygun
SPOILERS: Up to season 5 episode "The Gift"
SUMMARY: Grief comes in stages. Now in the aftermath of his loss, Xander's psyche is a battered mess.
DISTRIBUTION: No problem. Just let me know where it goes so I can visit it and sing sweet nothings in its ear.
DISCLAIMOR: I honestly don't see the point in all this. I mean, does anyone here think for a moment that I own this stuff? Anyways, to the people who do own a piece of the Buffster and/or her friends and enemies, I mean you no harm. I'm just borrowing your toys for awhile to put on a little puppet show. I promise to bring them back to you in near-mint condition.
FEEDBACK: What?!? Do you even have to ask? Yes. Yes please!
AUTHOR'S NOTES: This is a continuation of my first Story "To Live is the Greatest Pain." So please read that. Also please take note that I do not write. My demons do and I will not be held responsible.
DEDICATION: To Danii. When I first posted "To Live is the Greatest Pain" I cockily wrote in the summary that Xander would never be the same. She dared me to show her how. I never could resist a dare. Good luck in VA sweetie. The beach is lovely.
Oh Dear God my head hurts.
It's my one thought before I return completely from the bliss of unconsciousness. Then I fully realize that I am still alive.
I want to believe that everything I saw just now was a delusion. A really fucked up nightmare.
The throbbing in my forehead suggests otherwise. It wasn't a nightmare.
It was a memory. A recent memory.
Where am I? And how come my arms are so numb? And while were on the subject how come they won't move, either?
I open my eyes. Dear God it's bright…umm in here. Well…I'm definitely in a room. Can't say I recognize it at the top of my head. It certainly isn't my place, which is just as well. Too many memories I don't want to deal with right now.
Okay, so I've answered my first question. More or less, anyway. I turn my head towards my right arm and discover the answer to my second and third question as well.
My hands are bound in rope to the bedposts. A bed. So I know I wasn't captured by any of Glory's minions seeking revenge. Somehow I just don't think they'd punish me for destroying their deity by placing me on a bed. Tied up or not.
So I'm in someone's home. Beyond the bedpost I see a desk with some photographs. It's Buffy, Dawn and Joyce. So I'm in Buffy's house. And judging by my lack of familiarity with this room I'm guessing in her mom's bed.
So my friends tied me up. And one of them hit me.
I should be angry I guess. But I couldn't really care at the moment. I feel nothing. It's a sensation, I'm thinking, I will have to adapt to.
It's certainly preferable to the alternative.
I hear some shuffling located at the foot of the bed. Well. Whoever it is will have to come to me because I really don't feel like tilting my head anymore.
Almost on cue Buffy's face appears in front of me. I can see the tear streaks around her red, puffy cheeks. She's been crying awhile. She looks at me like I'm going to be the first to talk.
If I cared, I probably would have. But as of right now, I just don't feel like talking. Hell I could be perfectly content to stay right here tied up with no feeling in my arms and my head feeling like I hit a brick wall because nothing they could do to me could be worse then watching Anya die.
I think my silence is unnerving her. That's her problem right now. Not mine.
"Xand?" Her voice is hoarse from crying, I guess.
I look at her but I just don't feel like talking now.
"Is there anything I can do?"
Yeah. Could you jump into the stratosphere, fly around the earth in the wrong direction and reverse time for me, like the little superhero you think you are? Huh, Buff? Oh wait, you can't.
I don't say that though. And not because I don't want to hurt her feelings, either. Because I could care less right now. I just don't feel like putting out the effort into talking, so I just shake my head.
Don't want her to think I'm comatose like she was earlier. Last thing I need right now is Willow delving into my mind. That's a huge invasion of privacy I don't feel like allowing them.
She looks at me. Expecting me to express some form of emotion right now, I imagine. Sorry Buff. I just don't have it in me right now.
"If I untie you, do you promise not to hurt yourself?"
Oh I see. She's worried I'm going to try and kill myself again. She shouldn't. Death would be a release from all my pain and I don't want that. I want my pain to be so achingly tangible I could drink it's bitter taste night after night. Hell I want to go swimming in it.
I was right about one thing. I'm going to live a long life. When I die it's not going to be because I chose the coward's way out like I did earlier. I'm going to die at the hands of something vile, cruel and nasty.
I deserve nothing less.
She heads towards the left side of the bed to begin untying me. She hesitates a little as she has to move the blanket to get at the rope.
I just realized that I'm not wearing any clothes. Meaning the only thing separating Buffy from me in my birthday suit is a single comforter.
You know a few days ago this would have been real funny. But then again a few days ago Anya would have been alive. Besides, I just don't have the time for petty concerns such as modesty.
Wait, my clothes…the ring was in the pocket of my pants. I need that ring! It's all I have left!
I start to squirm and grunt. Buffy stops untying my arm and backs away from me. Great. She's scared of me. That'll really help me get out of these ropes faster.
"Buffy get me out of this!" I'm not screaming but the urgency I meant to convey in my voice doesn't seem to calm her down.
I cannot believe this. This woman went toe-to-toe with a goddess and she's freaked out I might hurt myself. Looks like I'm going to have to calm her down a little.
I take a deep breath and try to keep my voice steady and even as I speak. "Buffy. Listen to me. I'm not going to hurt myself or anyone else. Okay. But I need to get out, now." I resist the urge to emphasize "now." She might take it as a threat.
Not that I think she'd hit me. But I need to see that ring as soon as possible and I don't want to risk a delay like that.
"You promise?" She sounds like a little girl. I don't think I've ever heard her talk like that before.
I'll analyze that later when I give a damn. Right now I need to see that ring.
"I promise." I do my best to sound solemn and serious. Mostly to calm Buffy down long enough to untie me. But also it is, after all, the truth. I'm not going to hurt myself. And I wouldn't hurt anyone else… in this house anyway.
What happens outside is going to be another story entirely.
She moves tentatively to my left wrist again. Oh God Buffy, come on. Move it willya.
"Xander…Do you want to talk about it?"
"Not right now." Hell, not ever if I get my wish. But I need to keep up the charade a little longer.
"Are you okay?" This cannot possibly be Buffy. Not the same woman who only a few months ago was driven nearly insane with these same stupid questions when her mother died.
"No." I don't even try to lie on that one. She would have seen through it from a mile away.
She nods then continues untying my wrist in silence. Something I'm really appreciating right now.
She finishes untying my arm and it slides back onto the bed. I try flexing my fingers a little but there are still some serious pins and needles in them. My head is still focused on my fingers as she walks to the other side of the bed.
I don't want to break this silence that I'm digging so much but I need to know. "Where are my clothes?"
She seems startled by me speaking. Apparently, I'm not the only one who was appreciating the silence, just now. It takes her a moment for her to process the question. "They're in the bathroom. They were…" She's searching for a word that won't disturb her or remind her of what had happened. "…dirty." I hope she did that for herself because it certainly wasn't for me. No pretty words were going to make me feel better.
Well at least I knew where I was going now. And hey…my hand is moving.
I have to ask. "Did everyone else make it out, okay?"
She can't look at me. "Yeah…Eve…" She can't say it. "…You saved Dawn's life." The tears are starting to fly. "Th-Thank you." Her voice is quiet again. "Oh God Xander, I'm so sorry!"
Buffy hugs me. Hard. She's forgetting that she's the Slayer again because it starts to hurt. If she was crying before she's really letting it all out now. She keeps saying "I'm Sorry" over and over again like it was her mantra.
I want to return her embrace but I don't. I can't yet. Not until I have that ring.
After she regains control of her sobbing she looks up at me. I didn't even realize it until now but I was crying too. It wasn't the painful wracking sobs Buffy was going through just tears of pain running silently down my face.
Buffy's never seen me cry before. No one besides Anya has. Not since Jesse died.
Her fingers trace over them as if she wants to verify that they're mine.
"Yeah?" Man her voice is really sounding horrible now.
"It's really important that you untie me now."
"Oh." Geez, what was she expecting me to say. I need to get out of here and this show of emotion is not helping me right now.
She moves to the bedpost and finishes untying me. I start to get up but Buffy's hand on my chest and shoulders stops me. She shushes me like a small child and tells me to get some rest.
Okay. Now I'm just insulted.
I roughly pull my arm from her grasp. I don't need comfort and I certainly don't need anyone coddling me. So I get up and take the comforter with me. She tries to stop me again as I get close to the door. Her hands are out wide as if trying to form a wall.
I don't have time for this.
"I have to go to the bathroom." Her eyes widen in understanding and she lets me through with an apologetic nod.
Well it wasn't completely a lie. I did have to go to the bathroom.
Once inside, I close the door. Across from me is the bath tub with my clothes inside. Someone probably tried to wash the blood off of them. Not that I care. I'm not here for the laundry. I'm here for what's inside the laundry.
I grab my pants and sure enough the ring box is inside. I open it up and there it is. The breath I didn't realize I was holding blew out of me.
I could not believe how much just seeing this ring made me feel better. It feels like a burden's been lifted. I kissed it like it was my fiancée reincarnated.
I collapse with my back against the wall. I slide down because my legs have simply turned to jell-o. As I do, I notice that the comforter makes a squeaking noise.
Funny the things you notice at a time like this.
Now I can cry.
This wasn't the soft tears I unintentionally let out earlier. This is the painful, soul-wrenching, Oh-God-what-have-you-done-to-me?, racking waves of pain. This was what I wanted to do earlier but couldn't. I've been alone for so long I don't know how to deal with my pain any other way.
"I miss you Ahn." It's hard to speak out loud. But I want to hear myself say it. "I always will. But I can't meet you yet. And God I want to. That gun was fully loaded. You stopped me from killing myself." I bring a hand to my face to wipe away some of the tears. "I'll fight for you. I promise you that…You know what, Ahn? When I told God he could have anything he wanted from me I had no idea he was going to collect." I can't help the small smile on my face. I feel like Anya is right here with me.
She probably is.
"I really, really wish I could say that I should have done something different, but outside of making sure that demon was dead earlier…I know that I would have done the same thing." My voice becomes a whisper. "Even knowing the consequences." My breath gets caught up in my throat and I choke on a sob. I compose myself as much as possible before I continue. "I love you… 'Til death do us part."
I'm losing it. The painful gasping once again starts and new tears join their brethren on my face.
The floodgates have been opened.
The door squeaks open slightly. "Hey Xander I brought you a towel so…" She hears me crying and hurries inside. Before I know it she's on her knees and she pulls me toward her chest. I'm not all that inclined to fight it so I allow my head to lean on her while she coos and rocks me back and fourth.
For some reason this seems like such a Joyce thing to do. And that thought causes me to wince as I remember telling Anya she would have made a great mother.
Buffy's crying too, now. Something tells me we're not going anywhere for awhile.
The doors open and I see Giles come inside with a fresh set of clothes for Xander.
"Buffy?" His voice sounds hollow. He took a long time to get those clothes from Xander's apartment. Something tells me that he cried when he went there. Not that he'd ever admit it.
Giles was probably the closest one to Anya outside of Xander. A twang of guilt passes over me.
I wish I could have gotten to know her better.
"I'm here Giles," I call from my spot over by the kitchen. "How's Dawn doing?"
Giles talks as he walks over to me. "She practically begged me to let her come over and see Xander. She's miserable and blaming herself for things she had no possible control over. Rather reminds me of her sister."
I smile weakly at that. "With the way you said Xander was acting I didn't want to risk him being violent with her." That's mostly true. But a lot of it had to do with the fact that I wanted to apologize to Xander first. "And Willow?"
"She's still shell shocked. She hasn't said a word to anyone other then Tara."
I nod. The look on her face when I first saw her after I checked on Dawn nearly killed me. I guess watching your childhood friend snap someone's neck will do that to you.
"How is Xander?"
I have to think about that for a second. "As good as can be expected. He wasn't violent or anything. Just closed off." I fight back a tear. "Did you know he proposed to her before everything went nuts?"
The look of horror on Giles' face was almost as bad as Willow's. "And she said yes." It wasn't a question.
I nod again. "I don't think we have to worry about him hurting himself."
"How can you be sure?"
"He told me, 'How could I kill myself after she saved me.'" I look away. This is killing me. I feel so helpless. 2001 is going down as the worst year ever for the Scooby Gang.
Giles is quiet for awhile then he talks again. "There may be some truth to that statement." I look up at him. I hope my posture says it because I just don't have the strength to say "what?"
"Buffy. He shot that Demon fellow from ten stories down with a revolver with no sight. The probability of him making that shot are astronomical. He'd have to adjust for gravity, arc... Without the proper equipment even the best snipers in the world couldn't have made that shot."
He continues. "And then he places a fully loaded revolver to his chin, pulls the trigger and nothing happens?!?" He takes a deep breath. "Buffy…Nothing short of divine intervention could have caused all that."
My mouth drops.