Title: Soul Train
Summary: A conversation concerning Xander's sexuality leads to revelations and confrontations.
Warning: Character Death!
Disclaimer: I don't owe anything to do with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Joss, WB, ME and others do. Although after the shambles that was the final couple of seasons they shouldn't either.
Spoilers: Up to season three, after Angel comes back from hell. Xander and Cordelia aren't together after realising that it wasn't leading anywhere. Faith isn't bad but prefers to patrol alone.
Xander walks into the library to meet up with Buffy, Willow and Giles. It seems that there is trouble brewing on the Hellmouth and research is in order.
"Hi, what's the what?" The only person in the library is Buffy #I guess I must be early#. He sees the look on Buffy's face and instantly feels nervous.
"We need to talk" Xander instinctively knew that this conversation was not going to be good. He keeps his features still, hoping to not betray the fear he felt inside. #I wonder what I've done this time?#
"Sure Buff what's up?"
"There have been some rumours going around that I think you need to know about"
"Rumours about me?" #The only ones' I have heard concern Cordelia but they wouldn't worry Buffy or the others, they never liked me going out with her anyway#
"Yeah" Xander jumped, he didn't hear Willow, his longest and closest friend, come into the library behind him. Hearing her use a single syllable answer increases his worry.
"I'm guessing that there is no research required?" #I can't believe I'd rather have to research#
"No we wanted to talk to you about the rumours going around and thought this would be the best way to go about it"
"Are they good rumours?" #Of course they're not good rumours you moron! They wouldn't be acting this way if they were good would they?#
"That depends on whether they're true or not I guess"
"How about you tell me what they are and I'll tell you if they're true" Buffy and Willow look at each other, silently arguing over which one starts the conversation first. This does nothing to alleviate Xander's fears; in fact they grow by a factor of ten.
"You're starting to wig me out big time guys"
"Sorry Xand but we don't know how to start" #Great, they lie to get me here and now that they do they don't how to start? Women!#
"Try from the beginning, that usually seems to work for me"
"Right, thanks. Willow?"
"Huh? Oh! Well it's like this, Buffy and I were in the ladies lockers getting changed from gym and we heard Cordelia and her sheep talking about you"
"And?" #Cordy wouldn't say anything bad about me, would she? I know we've split up but I don't think she'd return to her vindictive self#
"They were going on about how you only seem to hang with girls, with the exception of Giles and that they never see you on any dates. Cordelia was actually trying to defend you but since your break-up her standing has taken a beating and she isn't listened to as much as she used to"
"OK I'm with you so far but I don't get what's making you two so frightened to tell me what's up?" #That's nothing I haven't heard before so why are they acting this way now?#
"They think you're gay!"
"They think I'm gay?" #Of everything I expected her to say, I can guarantee that particular statement was not amongst them!#
"Yes! They also think that you're going out with Larry in secret. You're not are you?"
"They think I'm gay and that I'm going out with Larry?" #It's no secret that Larry's gay, he came out a couple of days after our talk. But to think that I am as well, not to mention that I'm dating him! Wait a minute, did she actually ask me if it's true?#
"Yes, everybody's talking about it"
"I'm not gay" #The award for the most obvious statement goes to...#
"You're not gay?" #Please for the love of god don't let that be a question!#
"Of course I'm not gay!"
"But you never hang with other guys" #My god they actually think I'm gay! No wonder Buffy called me 'one of the girls'#
"I staked the only guy friend I had, I'm not rushing to replace him. Anyway, I hang with Oz don't I?"
"Oh yeah you do, but you only see him when you're with us" #I cannot believe this!#
"I'm telling you I'm not gay. Anyway if I were gay I wouldn't go out with Larry, but as I'm not it doesn't matter"
"You're sure you're not gay?" #For crying out loud!#
"Of course I'm sure! How can I be gay when I'm in love with you Buffy!" #Shit! Shit, shit, shit!# The moment those words left his lips he knew it was the wrong thing to say. He meant every word but he didn't want his feelings to be revealed like that. The fact that Buffy looks like a deer caught in the headlights doesn't make him feel any better.
"You're in love with me?" Knowing that there was no turning back now, he decides to tell her the truth.
"Yes I'm in love with you" Hearing this, Willow decides that she shouldn't be there for the rest of the conversation.
"I just remembered that I'm supposed to be meeting Oz in the quad now, I better get going"
"OK" Neither realise that they spoke simultaneously. Willow then walks out of the library, breaking into a run the moment she is through the library doors. #Alexander Lavelle Harris, you have without doubt the worst sense of timing imaginable! Of course knowing you, you'd never have said a thing if this hadn't happened#. Willow always feels a little jealous when Xander shows an interest in another woman, even though she's with Oz now those feelings are still there. She does know that if he has to be with anyone, apart from her, Buffy is the best choice.
Meanwhile in the library, Buffy and Xander are still just standing there, looking at each other for several minutes before Buffy finally speaks.
"You're in love with me?" #What is she, deaf!#
"YES! I Alexander Lavelle Harris am in love with you Buffy Anne Summers" #She knows I hate my middle name so if that doesn't convince her, the only other ways I know could get me eviscerated#
Silence reigns in the library once more, Buffy and Xander simply staring at each other until Buffy breaks the silence once more.
"Why haven't you told me before?" #For someone as wonderful as Buffy, she can say the stupidest things at times#
"Let me see; when I asked you out I was turned down, then you were going out with Angel, then there was the whole Angelus thing, then I started going out with Cordy. Also there was no point in setting my self up for a fall. I wasn't thinking about telling you now, it just kind of popped out"
"I don't know what to say"
"Don't worry, I know that you see me as just 'one of the girls'. I won't cause any problems, just forget I said anything" Xander turns to walk away but is stopped by a hand on his shoulder.
"Where are you going?"
"I know that you'll want to keep some distance between us for a while"
"Why would I want that?"
"So you can think of a way to let me down gently, again"
"I don't want you to go Xander"
"I'm not leaving or anything, I'm simply giving you time to work out the best possible way to crush my heart under your foot" #OK I may well be a little bitter about this#
"Don't be like that Xander"
"I don't mean to be but this is the reason why I never told you before. I know that you don't have those kind of feelings for me and to tell you would only end up with you turning me down" #I am such an idiot, why did I tell her I loved her, it would have been easier to admit being gay!#
"You're not entirely correct Xander. You're right that my feelings aren't exactly the same as yours but I can't say that they're purely platonic" Buffy pulls him down and kisses him softly on the lips, Xander initially is frozen but soon begins to return the kiss. After a few seconds they part.
"Why did you kiss me? Not that I mind as that was mind-blowingly good, but I'd still like to know" #if I died now I'd die a happy man#
"I wanted to know what kissing you was like. I have to admit it was pretty damn good"
"Who are you and what did you do with Buffy?" #If this is another love spell I swear...#
"It's me Xan, there's no one else in here but me. I don't know when I started seeing you differently, although it was probably during the whole Angelus thing. I know how you feel about me and there were times when you could have easily made a move on me and I wouldn't have resisted. You didn't because you knew it wasn't right and that was when I started to look at you as more than just my Xander-shaped-friend. While I was gone, I thought over everything that you had done for me since I had known you and I realised that I had never allowed myself to see the real you. I had never really had a guy friend without any other feelings getting in the way so I never allowed myself to feel them, until now. You come out night after night without out the extra abilities that the rest of us have, not because you have to but because you want to and I don't tell you how much I appreciate that. You've always been there when I needed you and you've always supported me but you haven't followed me blindly. When you think I'm wrong you tell me when the others say nothing. I know that there's nothing you wouldn't do to protect me, even lying to me"
"As soon as I saw that Angel's soul had returned I realised Willow must have told you to let me know she was attempting the curse again. I was so mad at you in the beginning but when I thought about it I realised that if I had known I would have held back and Angelus would have killed me, I almost didn't win anyway. I want you to promise me that you won't lie to me again"
"You have my word that I will not lie to you again but that doesn't mean I will always agree with you decisions"
"That's fine with me"
"So where does that leave us?"
"Honestly I don't know. I love Angel but I think I'm starting to fall for you as well. I need to work out some things in my head before I can say anything for certain"
"All I want is for you to be happy, if I can do that it would be a bonus but I won't stand in the way if Angel is who you want. It might be wise to tell Angel what just happened, honesty being the best policy and all that"
"You're right, I'll tell him tonight during patrol. I doubt that he'll take it well"
"As I said before I don't want to pressure you in any way, but if he does anything..."
"I know, and thank you for the sentiment. We better go catch Willow up" They turn to leave and Xander takes Buffy's hand in his own. When he does Buffy stops walking. When he realises what he did he begins to blush and releases her hand.
"Don't be, I kind of like it"
"I didn't even realise I did it until you stopped, it just seemed like the right thing to do at the time. I'll try not to do anything like that until you are more certain about what and who you want" They look at each other for a few more seconds and then carry on walking towards the quad. They're no longer holding hands but they are walking closer together than normal.
TWO DAYS LATER
Xander is in his bedroom trying to do his homework when there is a knocking coming from his bedroom window. He goes to the window to find Angel looking at him.
"I think we need to talk" #The last time I saw that look was in the hospital#
"Will this talk include biting or any other form of violence?"
"There'll be no biting, on my end anyway, but I can't promise no violence" #That grin comes right from Angelus' play book but I know this is Angel. Why do I feel I'm being set up?#
"Don't take offence but I'm not inviting you in, I have a strict 'No Vampire' policy. I'll meet you outside in a couple of minutes"
"I'll be waiting" Angel then vanishes from sight. Xander gets a wooden box out from beneath his bed and retrieves a couple of stakes, a cross and a bottle of holy water. He then makes his way downstairs and outside the house. He finds Angel waiting for him under a streetlight.
"What would you like to talk about Angel"
"Buffy" #What a surprise#
"What about Buffy?"
"Don't play games with me boy, I know what happened. You told her that you loved her" #I knew that he wouldn't be happy about the situation but I never thought he would be like this#
"Yes I did tell her that"
"Because it's the truth, Although I have to admit that I didn't intend to tell her the way I did, if at all" That actually gets Xander a look of surprise from Angel.
"What do you mean you didn't intend to tell her?"
"There had been rumours going around that I was gay, Buffy and Willow asked me about it. They kept going on so I told them that I couldn't be gay as I was in love with Buffy. The timing was less than perfect but the sentiment is true"
"You know she's going to pick me don't you?"
"As long as she's happy it doesn't matter. I won't be happy if she does pick you but I will respect her decision"
"Don't give me that, you'll be heart broken"
"You're right I would be almost destroyed, but her happiness is far more important than my own. I will always be there for her when she needs me, no matter how she decides"
"There's no way that she would pick you over me, you're nothing but a loser"
"I don't give a fuck what you think of me, DeadBoy. This is and always has been Buffy's choice. Our opinions of each other don't come into it, even if I do think that you should have been dusted the moment we found out you were a vamp, soul or not" Xander knows that Angel is trying to bait him into a confrontation so he stays calm, although the urge to stick a stake through his non-beating heart is almost overwhelming.
"I know that you want to take a swing at me boy. Are you not man enough to fight for her?"
"Buffy's heart cannot be won, it can only be given freely"
"I bet it still kills you to know that I got there first doesn't it boy?"
"It won't work Angel, I won't fight you"
"I'll keep you to that" Angel lunges at Xander but he manages to dodge his advance and brings the cross he has to Angel's face.
"What's going on here!" Both Angel and Xander turn to face Buffy, who looks decidedly pissed off. Before Xander has a chance to speak, Angel gets in there first.
"Xander asked me to meet him and as soon as I got here he started to attack me. I didn't want to hurt him but he wouldn't stop. He would have killed me if you hadn't shown up" #That lying son of a bitch!#
After allowing a couple of seconds to allow that to sink in, she turns her attentions to Xander.
"What do you have to say for yourself?"
"I have nothing to say. At the end of the day it's his word against mine and I know whom you'll believe. I'm going back inside now, I'll doubt either of you will be seeing me around for a while" #I knew it would end this way, Angel being the one she chooses. If he does one thing to hurt her there isn't a power on this earth that can protect him from me#
Xander then goes into the house but when he goes to close the door he finds he is unable to as Buffy is holding it open.
"Why do you always do that?"
"Why do you always think I'll take Angel's side?"
"I've never seen any evidence to contradict it" Xander looks over her shoulder and he can see Angel smiling at him in triumph.
"I know that you didn't attack him"
"Two ways; Because I know that you would never do something like that, and I was there for the entire conversation" Angel hears this and comes charging at Buffy. Xander pulls her into the house and Angel is thrown from the door, as he hasn't been invited.
"I'm going to kill you boy!"
"You'll try and you may even succeed but you'll go with me and you know it. That's why you didn't attack me at the hospital" That stopped him in his tracks for a second before he could respond.
"That wasn't me that was Angelus"
"Right now I can't see much of a difference"
"What are you two talking about?" Seeing this as another chance to sway her, Angel starts to speak before Xander has a chance.
"Nothing, he's just trying to stir up trouble by telling lies" Realising that Angel is worried about what Buffy will think, Xander decides to tell her the truth.
"When you were in the hospital last year with the flu, I was keeping watch in case Angelus decided to take advantage. He showed up and I told him that he would have to go through me to get to you and that the guards and the orderlies would hear the commotion and come looking. When he realised that he couldn't win he left"
"I should have killed you then"
"I thought you said that it wasn't you but Angelus, DeadBoy?" Buffy turns to him before he has a chance to speak.
"If you had you would have gone on to kill or turn me wouldn't you?" When Angel had no reply, Buffy continued.
"Angel, what you did tonight is totally out of line, you tied to bait Xander so you could kill him, thinking that I would stay with you"
"It would have worked if you hadn't shown up. I promise you this Harris, I will see you dead if it's the last thing I do" He goes to charge him again but before he has a chance to realise what's happening, a sharp piece of wood suddenly appears in his chest. He looks into the eyes of its wielder, a teary eyed Buffy.
"Goodbye Angel" He turned to dust before he could respond. She begins to cry uncontrollably and finds herself pulled into a hug by Xander.
"You didn't have to do that, he was just not taking the situation well" #I can't believe I'm trying to defend the bastard that was trying to kill me#
"There was no other choice. If he was like that when I hadn't made up my mind he would have got worse when he found out I had"
"What do you mean?"
"I was coming over here to tell you that I wanted to give our relationship a shot. I finally realised that a relationship with Angel was doomed; there were just too many obstacles in the way. When you held my hand a couple of days ago I just felt so happy and safe that I knew that there couldn't be anyone else for me"
"I'm sorry about Angel" Even though he hated Angel, he knew that Buffy had feelings for him and that his death, even though it was by her own hand, would affect her greatly.
"I always thought that a soul was a guarantee goodness. What I saw tonight proved otherwise. He had his soul and yet he was still willing to commit murder to get what he wanted"
"You can't blame it all on him; we were fools to believe that he would have come away from his time in that hell dimension unscathed. He was there for more than a century from his perspective, not even the strongest soul could have withstood what he did. The Angel you knew wasn't the one you dusted tonight, I may not have liked him but I know he would never do what happened tonight" His words, the soothing tone of his voice and the small circles he's making on the small of her back all combine to calm her down. She pulls herself away from Xander, but does not let go, and looks up at him.
"Has anyone ever told you how wonderful you are?"
"Willow did once. When I was seven, she fell out of a tree and I had carried her four miles to her house" A sudden sadness appeared in Xander's face as he realises that it had been ten years since anyone had given him a compliment like that.
"I have a feeling that you won't have to wait another ten years to hear it again" She leans up on tiptoes and gives Xander a long and passionate kiss that leaves them both flushed and breathing heavily. "I can guarantee that you won't have to wait forever for that to happen again either"
"Thank god, I've only had two but I'm already addicted to Buffy-smooches" #God I love it when she smiles like that#
"Xander I want to take this slowly, you're too important to me for things to go wrong"
"Don't worry Buff, I don't care how fast or slow we take it, as long as we take it together"
"I can live with that"