Author: ScareGlow PM
Set after the series' ending, but mostly ignoring the comic. Buffy and Faith are training the new slayers in Scotland now, but when Buffy's behaviour becomes more and more aggressive, Faith decides to call in the heart of the Scoobies to help...Rated: Fiction T - English - Friendship/Romance - Xander H. - Chapters: 3 - Words: 4,948 - Reviews: 16 - Favs: 10 - Follows: 18 - Updated: 03-23-08 - Published: 03-15-08 - id: 4133145
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters and don't earn any money with this and all that jazz.
AN: And once again thanks for the reviews! They keep me motivated to continue as quickly as possible!
Enjoy the new chapter!
Xander could hardly believe that the person he'd heard screaming in the training room and the young woman now walking beside him were really one and the same. From the moment she'd realized that he was here, Buffy seemed like her old self, although Xander noticed that something was definitely different… He just wasn't sure exactly what.
"So how's Africa?" Buffy asked.
Xander shrugged. "Well, it's pretty hot. Or more like really hot. Perhaps even hotter. But I'd say it's good someone's there; I've traced a lot of slayers, and in most cases, it was good that I did. I mean, those people know surprisingly much about supernatural forces, but many think that the slayer's one of the bad guys, just like the demons. Which is kinda bad for the girls."
Buffy nodded. "You saved a lot of them, didn't you?"
He half-shrugged. "Well, they saved me a lot, too. I mean, you know me and how I can get into trouble sometimes."
He grinned, and Buffy had to smile as well.
"I seem to remember a few such incidents," she replied sagely.
"Thanks for saying 'a few'," Xander joked. "Anyway, I've got quite a team down there. I guess I got lucky in that department. How about you?"
"Oh, same old, same old," Buffy nonchalantly answered. "Nothing I can't handle."
Xander raised a curious eye-brow, and Buffy's façade immediately began to crack.
"I mean, it's not like I can't train slayers. I'm good at training. Great even! I…"
She stopped and looked at Xander, who's stopped as well, and then it just all burst out of her.
"God, Xander, I hate it. I don't mean to be so mean to the girls, I really don't, but the way they're always looking at me as if I had the answers to everything… it… it gets to me, you know? It makes me mad. Sometimes I feel as if they depend on me so much… and they shouldn't. They should be strong, capable and independent. Perhaps I'm really messing everything up here…"
From the way the speed of her speech increased, Xander knew that Buffy was about to break, so he put a reassuring hand on her shoulder.
"I didn't even learn how to be a senior slayer… And I shouldn't be the one in charge! Giles… Giles is so much better at it. He's the one with the answers! I'm the muscle; you tell me what to kill, and I kill it. Not so much with the planning, training others, being responsible for so many girls whose life could depend on any decision I make! We already saw that in Sunnydale, when I messed up everything with the potentials! What if I make another mistake? What if I get them all killed?"
She looked in Xander's eyes, all her fears and insecurities finally out in the open, even though she hadn't intended to tell her best friend all that. Surprisingly for her, he remained calm, as did his voice when he answered.
"No, you won't," he repeated a little more forcefully. "Buffy, you're not alone in this. And even if you were, these girls have brains of their own; they can make their own decisions. No one forces them to mindlessly follow orders, and no one trains them to do so, you least of all. All you do is giving them some extra skills and experience. So you don't carry all the responsibility for them, you understand?"
She nodded lightly, as if finding it hard to grasp what Xander was saying while at the same time feeling an enormous relief starting to wash over her.
"You're doing a great job, Buff, and always have. You always try to do what's best, and you've learned from your mistakes, especially from those in Sunny-D! The fact that you're so worried about leading those girls shows that! But you underestimate yourself here: You're a very capable leader and the best senior slayer we could wish for. The girls can count themselves lucky that they can learn from you. And you're still my hero. That hasn't changed."
Silent tears were finally running down her cheeks. "Not even after…?" she timidly asked, vaguely pointing towards his eye-patch.
"Not even after that," he confirmed. "You're not infallible, but no one's asking you to be." He grinned. "I mean, sure, we like infallible, so if you can be, go ahead!" He grew serious again. "But we don't expect that from you. We just need you to be here, 'cause we just can't do all this without you."
After a small pause, she took a deep breath. "I just feel… really alone right now. Everyone's gone…" Her voice sounded so small, so lost it almost made Xander cry.
"Hey now," he said encouragingly, "that's something we can change, you know? What would you say if I stayed here for a while? I mean, I don't know how much help I can be, but…"
"You'd do that?" she interrupted, her pose changing from dejected to hopeful within a blink.
"Do you really need to ask?" he countered, and Buffy threw her arms around his neck.
He hugged her back. "Come on now, no need to thank me. I get to annoy my best friend, and I get out of the African desert; it's a win-win for me."
She pulled back with a smile. "Well, but it's cold here. Rainy even. And you can't travel around. In fact, no travelling, period, 'cause you surely can't drive on the wrong side of the road. And you have to listen to all my whining and complaints, and you have to watch TV with me. English soaps."
He shuddered theatrically. "When you put it like this, perhaps I should ask Faith to drive me back to the airport."
"Don't you dare," she said, hugging her friend again. It must've seemed more desperate than she intended, for she could hear his voice quietly telling her: "You know I'm always there for you, Buffy. All you have to do is call me."
She nodded, feeling truly relieved for the first time in weeks.
"So, Faith called you, huh?" she finally asked after pulling back again.
Xander nodded. "She did. I was a bit shocked; I thought there had to be another apocalypse or something. I mean, Faith calling me, what're the chances?"
"She was just scared."
This answer obviously confused him. "Of what?"
"Facing you. She has lots of nightmares about her past, Xander." At his inquisitive look, she explained. "Her room's pretty close to mine, and I've heard her a couple of times. Her past's haunting her, and you're an important part of that."
He seemed taken aback a little. "I never thought…"
"You didn't think she even remembered it, right? That you were just another notch in her bedpost?" She tried not to sound too accusing, but Xander's ability to constantly sell himself short always got under her skin more than many other things.
He shrugged awkwardly.
"Don't underestimate yourself and your importance here, Xander," she warned. "Faith might not show it easily, but she hasn't forgotten what happened, and I think by now she's understood what you tried to do back then."
"Sounds like the two of you finally bonded," he remarked.
Buffy snorted. "Faith and I are far from best friends… but I think I understand her a little better now. We've had a few talks, and it's helped. At least I trust her to be on our side and not to turn on us at the next chance. She's really changed."
"I hope so," Xander said noncommittally, before faltering under Buffy's gaze. "Okay, yes, I believe it, too. She seems different and everything. We'll see."
Feeling a change of topic was in order, Buffy resumed walking, Xander quickly falling in step.
"So what did you bring me from Africa? Surely you didn't come here without a gift?"
"That's so typical. All you girls ever think about is gifts, gifts, gifts. Does anyone ask if I had a nice flight? No. Does anyone ask me if I'm hungry or thirsty after my journey? No. What is it some very greedy person, whose name shall not be mentioned now, asks me? 'What did you bring me from Africa?'"
Buffy returned his grin.
"That's not an answer, Xander. So tell me, or better yet, give me!"
He shook his head in amused defeat.
"Back in the castle. I got it in my suitcase."
She grinned even wider. "See? That wasn't so difficult, was it? Come on, let's get me my gift, and then you can tell me about your journey and have food."
"You're so generous, I can't even begin to describe it," he dryly remarked.
"And don't you forget it!"
As they returned to the castle, Xander noticed that Buffy seemed to have the old bounce back in her step, something that had clearly been missing when they'd walked out. Hopefully, things would return to normal quickly; while he didn't mind being in Scotland at all and in fact was looking forward to spending time with the oldest slayer, he wasn't too keen on another showdown with angry, upset, pissed off Buffy.
"Hm?" she asked, not really paying attention as she was looking forward to her gift.
"It's good to be here," he honestly said.
That stopped her abruptly. With a warm smile and a nod, she hugged him once more. "It's great to have you here."
"Everything gonna be okay?"
"Yep. Everything gonna be okay." And for the first time in weeks, she really believed it.