Disclaimer: I own nothing but my own thoughts; everything else is borrowed from Joss Whedon, the writers, and ME, with the exception of Constance, she is entirely my own twisted creation.
Setting: Alternate Season 5. Takes place immediately after "The Game" and "Despair". It'll make more sense if you've read those two first.
Notes: Sorry it's taken so long, now on with the show.
I know indeed what evil I intend
but stronger than all my afterthoughts is my fury,
fury that brings upon mortals the greatest evils.
Euripides (484 BC – 406 BC), Medea, 431 B.C.
We shall find no fiend in hell can match the fury of a disappointed woman,—scorned, slighted, dismissed without a parting pang.
Colley Cibber (1671-1757), Love's Last Shift, Act 2Chapter 1: Indiscretions
It always started the same between the two of them. First he'd wrap his arms around her and pull her close. The smell of him was intoxicating. Then he'd lean in and gently trail kisses up her neck until he finally found her mouth. It was always gentle, soft kisses at first that escalated in intensity till the need overcame them both. They held onto each other as if they were all that was left of the world.
After he'd whisper into her ear, "It's everywhere."
At this point she'd always have her eyes shut and for some reason she'd smile.
"It's everywhere Buffy. Can't you see it?"
This is where she would try to stop herself. To not look, but she knew that wasn't possible. It was scripted somehow between them. She had to open her eyes. She had to look and it was always the same.
Blood. Blood on him and on her. Covering everything. Everywhere she looked there was blood.
"We can't stop it."
Buffy quickly checked the room unaware she'd just screamed.
"Damn," she muttered as she climbed out of bed. Three nights in a row now she'd had that dream and each night the feelings it provoked grew more intense, both good and bad.
Buffy glimpsed the clock. It was only 2:32 am, to early to wake her mom and sister by running the shower, so she headed downstairs instead. Bored more then hungry, she flipped on the television and surfed through channel after channel of infomercials.
Going over and over the dream in her head she couldn't quite settle on which was more unnerving, the blood or the sex. Either way she'd have no choice but to tell Giles now. The first time she'd written the dream off as stress from the situation, the second time as a fluke, but three nights in a row had to be something more and she wouldn't make the same mistake of withholding information again just because it made her uncomfortable.
It had only been four days.
Four days ago Giles, with help from Willow and Tara, had sent Constance to some unknown hell dimension.
The first night Buffy had stayed with Xander at his place until morning. They didn't talk much or even really sleep, they just kind of laid next to each other. It had been reassuring. Buffy had worried that Xander was going to go off the deep end, but he hadn't. Not yet at least.
Since then he'd been staying with Giles and was never really left alone. They were all terrified for him. She knew that part of him must hate being treated like a child, but it couldn't be helped and he didn't really object.
That probably bothered her the most, Xander really didn't object to anything now except for physical contact. You couldn't so much as put a hand on his shoulder without him half jumping out of his skin. That wasn't entirely true, she could touch him; he had no problem with that. It was everyone else he seemed to have issues with.
Xander was making an effort though. He wasn't isolating himself as he had before, which was good, but he also didn't seem to have much hope that they'd find a cure.
Undoubtedly he had changed, but none of them talked about it. He had moments where he would seem so much like his old self that you could almost forget the horrible things that had happened in a few short weeks, but those moments were fleeting. The majority of the time he sat quietly and stared at his hands or the wall. When he did talk he had a hard time getting the words out, to the point where he sometimes stuttered worse then Tara once had. On rare occasions he would talk to himself, mutter really, and that was the worst of it. But always he seemed easiest when Buffy was around.
The phone rang and she found she was glad to be interrupted from such thoughts. As quickly as she could she answered it knowing that there were only two types of calls at this hour, wrong numbers and bad news.
"Buffy?" asked Giles unmistakable voice.
"What's wrong?" She had already expected the worst and was not disappointed.
"You need to come quick. It's Xander."
Giles, is he okay?"
"Yes… well, now he is… he tried… Buffy, you need to be here."
"I'm on my way," she said and hung up, nearly at once. She wrote a note to her mom and pinned it to the refrigerator and then hurried to change. All in all, she was out the door in less than five minutes. The whole time she kept repeating the same phrase. 'Please be okay.'
Every light in the place was on when Buffy arrived at Giles' apartment not more then fifteen minutes after their conversation on the phone. Buffy didn't bother to knock and called out upon entering.
"We're back here," she heard Giles yell from the downstairs bathroom.
Giles apartment had two bedrooms and two baths. Xander had been more or less using the back room as his own for the past few days. More or less because no one really believed he'd been sleeping at all, it was more like a place for him to go when everyone else slept.
Before she could go inside, Giles had rushed out and pulled the door nearly closed behind him.
"What's going on? Was it a night…" Buffy stopped mid sentence and gasped, "Giles you've got blood all over you?"
"Yes, well," Giles tried to say. The stuttering was apparently contagious, "I'm fine. Xander's fine. It looks worse then it is. I probably shouldn't have called you but he was rather insistent."
"Did he try…"
"He won't tell me," Giles said looking down, "but I think so, yes."
Buffy said nothing. They knew this could happen. She took a deep breath and then stepped around Giles and through the door.
It hadn't occurred to her why Giles had met her at the door until she saw the room. She hadn't been prepared for this. The mirror above the sink was smashed and blood covered both items. Xander, sitting with his head in his hands, had more blood on him then Giles had. Giles obviously had tried to wrap his hands first with a towel before managing to get bandages around them. The towel, bloody and disregarded, was lying in the bathtub. For some reason she couldn't take her eyes from it. It reminded her of Constance. Constance had given Buffy Xander's blood soaked shirt once. Now it was all she could think of.
His voice had roused her from the memory.
"Hey Xand," she said trying to sound normal.
"I didn't mean to do it," he said, his voice was thick with emotion.
"I know that."
"Does he want me to leave?"
"Of course not," Buffy said with real heart, "Xander, don't even think that. Giles knows you didn't mean to do this. He'd never ask you to go."
"Why? Why would you
"Because I'm afraid…" he just trailed off and covered his face again.
"We're here for you," Buffy said placing her hand on his shoulder.
Buffy nearly fell over.
"What did you say?"
"It's everywhere Buffy. Can't you see it?"
Despite herself, she took a few more steps back and was now staring at him horror struck.
"Why are you saying that?" she demanded.
He looked up at her and met her gaze.
"We can't stop it."
It had taken longer for Giles to settle Buffy down then it had for him to settle Xander. Giles had cleaned up most of the mess. Afterwards she'd told him, more or less, about the dreams. It was now close to 6am and he still had no answers from her. Xander was lying down, seemingly asleep, in the back room, and Buffy was sipping tea at the counter.
"So you've dreamt this?" Giles asked breaking the silence.
"Sort of," she said quietly not looking at him.
"Sort of how?"
"There was blood.
More then back there, covering everything."
"And?" He hated prodding her like this, she seemed genuinely affected, but he needed to know if he was going to help.
"He said exactly the same thing."
"About the blood?"
Buffy thought about and shook her head.
"No," she corrected, sounding more like herself, "he never actually said 'blood was everywhere' he said 'it' was. I just kind of assumed he'd meant the blood."
Giles nodded, hoping it would be enough encouragement for her to continue.
"He said 'we can't stop it'. What do you think it means?"
"I'm not sure," Giles sighed, "You've had this dream three times now?"
Buffy just nodded.
"Was it in the same
context as tonight?"
Buffy stared at him not really understanding.
"Did the dreams take place here, in the bathroom, with you and Xander?"
Now she blushed. She wasn't about to go into 'what' had actually happened in the dreams.
"No," she said quickly, "I'm not really sure where they took place, but the exchange is always the same, that and the blood."
Giles either took the hint or figured it wasn't important enough to pursue.
"So, any ideas?" she asked after another few minutes of silence.
"I think I might have a theory."
She looked hopeful.
"But, I'd rather not discuss it until I'm sure. I just need to look up a few things. I think I can manage here now if you'd rather go home."
Buffy thought about it for a moment.
"No, I'll stick around if you don't mind. Check on Xander."
He nodded and went up to his room for the books he'd need while she headed for Xander's.
He was facing the wall when he heard her come in. He knew she would eventually.
"You're not sleeping, are you." She was across the room and she wasn't really asking. She was stating fact.
"I can't," he said to her, rolling to his back so he could see her.
It was that time of morning just between darkness and light. He could see her well enough to know where she was but not well enough to read the expression on her face.
"I scared you, didn't I?" he asked.
He felt her weight on the other side of the bed. It was comforting and familiar. He didn't have much of that left in his life.
"Maybe a little," she admitted.
"You don't have to be.
It's not your fault."
"I'm really tired of hearing that. It'd be easier if you'd just let me take the blame for some of this."
"Okay, then you can buy Giles a new mirror and we'll call it
He knew she was only joking with him but he couldn't laugh.
"I'm serious Buffy. I hate this. You should have just let me do it that night."
"Stop. I mean it Xander," she said, her voice nearly cracked, "don't say those things."
"You're just delaying it Buffy. We both know it's going to happen."
She had nothing to say to that.
"Do you know what happened in there? Do you remember any of it?" she asked.
It wasn't a complete lie.
She'd caught him.
"I remember going into the bathroom and…"
"And I don't really want to talk about it," he finished.
She seemed all right with that.
"Do you remember what you said to me?"
"Why'd you say it?"
He turned and looked at her. Serious and somewhat confused.
"You don't know?"
"Tell me," she asked.