Title: The Account of Acathla
Rating: PG-13 for language and possible adult situations
Feedback: Yes, please
Spoilers: Season One, Season Two
Archiving: Just tell me first
Disclaimer: Not mine; please don't sue.
Summery: Buffy couldn't just shove Angel into the mouth of Acathla; but a body and some blood are still needed. Is Xander strong enough to survive a stay in one of many 'hellish' dimensions?
Pairing: None as of Yet; None Planned
The Account of Acathla
Acathla the demon came forth to swallow the world. He was killed by a virtuous knight, who pierced his heart before he could draw a breath to perform the act. Acathla turned to stone, as demons sometimes do, and was buried where neither man nor demon would ever want to look.
…Unless, of course, you're putting up low rent housing,
Angel to Spike, Season Two, 'Becoming'
"Willow," I said to her, "She told me to tell you…"
I wanted to tell her not to be an idiot. This wasn't Angel, her lover, this was a demon. A creature who would as soon kill her as look at her. This was the man, to use the term extremely loosely, who was the scourge of Europe; killing and torturing thousands. Murderer…
There was blood on his hands that could never be washed off, soul or no. But to her, to her a soul meant goodness. She didn't know. She was so silly. So innocent. So god-damned dumb.
Hitler had a soul. Rasputin. Kahn. Alger Hiss even, to name a few.
Who cared if you were bringing back a killer of thousands? Who cared so long as you get your boyfriend back? I wanted to say it. To yell it. To take her, shake her, and get it through that bottle blond head of hers. Yeah, I saw her at the supermarket. She thinks it's this huge secret.
"Tell me what?"
What do you think, Buffy? What would she say? Would she say anything you would listen to now? If there was any word that Willow wanted to say, that went against what Buffy wanted… what would it matter?
It was all about her. Always about her.
She has family who would die for her, given the chance. A boyfriend, however evil, that would kill for her. Friends who have stood by her side since day one, ready and willing to help her push through any troubles she came across.
But it was always woe as her. Buffy's sad life. After all, it's not like the rest of us have problems, right? It's not like the rest of us don't have our own demons and creatures to face… Whether they be in our minds, or the graveyards, it doesn't matter. It was always about her.
Miss Perfect Summers.
But this time it couldn't be. This time it was about others. About the people she was given these powers to protect. She didn't earn them, buy them. She was given them. She was given them, and told that her life was no longer of any consequence, because the entire point was that it was about others.
And now Willow wanted to help. Sweet Willow… I love her, and I don't. I love her as a sister, a friend. A best friend. But more then that, sometimes… but not in the way that she wanted. My love for her was unconditional; but not in the way she wanted.
But now she had Oz… and I had a world to save.
And she asked me to tell Buffy. To tell her.
I love Willow… but sometimes, she doesn't get it.
The world ain't flowers and sunshine. The world isn't a nice, pretty place. People die. People get hurt. People are in living torment every day, and none of them seem to get how lucky we are that we even know what's going on, let alone that were able to fight it.
I had a world to save; damn the consequences.
"Kick his ass."
She nodded, and continued on. An outside watcher might think it's because she realized what she had to do, but if she were given the chance to have her Angel back again, I think she would have taken it.
She walked on, going off on some tangent about how I was just supposed to get Giles, and get out. "You're not here to fight," she had said, "I can't protect you. I'll be too busy killing."
I wanted to scream. Shove her even. It wouldn't hurt her, but maybe it would get the point across. Funny Xander is being serious for once. Is fighting the only thing she knows? Understands? I don't want her to protect me. I don't want her to protect little ol' me, standing in the corner screaming. Can you hear my sarcasm? I was strong; stronger then most. I had gone through my fair share. I was ready to pay the price.
I never did need her, not like that, but she just doesn't get it. She has to be the protector… What she doesn't understand, can't even, is that the world got on just dandy for millions of years before she came along. Humans for thirty thousand. Why is it that in her mind, everything will go to shit now? Why is it that after seeing just how many 'end of the world's there are, she doesn't get that it's always been like that.
There will always be somebody to fight.
It's not just her.
And I nod, the dopey side kick way that I do. I do what she says. I smile. I want to hit myself now, for doing this. Why does she act like this, I wonder, and now I know. Because we let her. Because as much as we protested and told her that we wanted to fight, in the end we let her do it her way. Always her way.
She's a control freak.
It always has to be about her.
I heard about what Angel had yelled to her. It got mentioned sometime, though I can't be sure when now. "You don't get it," he had screamed, "It's not about you. It's never about you."
The only intelligent thing I have ever heard him say.
I love Buffy. I know her life is hard, and maybe I don't always get it… but I know what fate meant her to be. I've researched enough to know. Buffy the girl, the real girl underneath all the muscle and weapon, she is my friend, forever. No matter her stupid choices; god knows I've made my fair share.
But Buffy the Slayer… just a means to an end.
Sometimes I pity her. Her life's meaning is to do what she does until she dies and somebody else can. Literally, he life makes no difference in the world. She's here to slay, and no matter what happens to her there will always be somebody to do it.
Like I said, Buffy the girl, my friend. Buffy the slayer… a tool.
I could feel my wrist under my cast though… and something snapped. No, not the bone. A feeling, a thought maybe. I made a decision right then and there.
If she couldn't close it, then I would. However I could.
Because it was never about me either.
It was never about her. Willow. Giles. Me. It was about humanity in general, being able to live. Being able to have the chance. Being able to fight for your own right to live, and not have it decided for you in little Sunnydale by people who you don't know. There is no one person needed for humans to live so long as humans continued to get the chance.
If she couldn't, I would.
Like I said. I have a world to save.
I had to hit one of them over the head with my cast, and I've gotta say, that's one feeling I hope I never had to repeat. Ever. I could feel the bone re-breaking from the impact, and wondered for a moment what the doctor was going to say… but that brought my thoughts back to Giles.
Giles who would likely need a doctor one hell of a lot more then I did.
Giles who was likely to have one hell of a lot more ouchies then my broken wrist did.
I zigged and zagged, passing by vampire after vampire, even spotting Spike and Drusilla for a single moment. I wondered just how Spike was walking around… shouldn't he be in a wheelchair? That is what Buffy had said, right?
But it didn't matter. I could see a side door, with darkness beyond, and I knew that was where they were keeping Giles. Within reach, but out of sight. I ran, dodging random swipes and swoops from the vampires, ignoring the fight that was even now was raging on between Angeleus and Buffy.
When I was there I looked in, and saw Giles sitting; his head slumped over, his hands obviously tied behind his back, and his glasses falling from his face. And blood. More blood then I would have cared to see under any circumstance, dried around him. His sleeves, face, and chest were covered in it.
And there was a mark down his forehead, still spouting dark blood, but slowly now… was I too late… or was it beginning to heal? God forbid it be the first.
If we survived this… I was going to kill Buffy. Then hug her. Then kill her again.
"Giles!" I nearly yelled before realizing I would bring attention to myself, "Giles…"
"Xander…" he said faintly, startling me. I had hopes, wished, dreamed that he was still alive… I couldn't let him die. I couldn't let him be dead, even in my head. But the fact that he wasn't even unconscious after everything. It surprised me. Maybe it shouldn't have; he had gone through his fair share too.
"Can you walk?" I asked quickly, coming behind him to try and undo the bonds that kept him there.
His eyes were still closed, and his head bobbed a bit, but instead of saying yes or no he uttered, "You're not real."
I didn't know what to say, or what to do. What could have been done to him that he wouldn't even trust his own sight? His own hearing? This was Giles, smartest guy I had ever known…
And then I remembered Drusilla. Drusilla calling me her dark kitten, when I had placed the love spell on her by accident. She had eyes that could make you think things… she would get into your head… And I understood.
"Sure I'm real."
"Trick," he muttered, "Get inside my head… make me see things I want…"
I wondered for a moment just what it was they had showed him that would make him tell. Just what was it that he wanted to badly that Dru would draw on it, pulling it in front of his eyes. Not money, not power; not Giles. Giles didn't go for that kind of thing. Woman? There was only one for him, and she was…
My heart almost stopped beating at the thought, and I nearly sighed. How badly I knew he wanted her back. Wanted to love her. Wanted to see her. It had to have been like it was with me and Will in the hospital. So close and yet so far.
I turned in front of him, looked him straight in the eye and said, "Then why would they make you see me?"
It was half way a joke, and half way serious; just enough to Xander Harris to really get him to look at me. Blinked. Blinked again. "Oh," he said, and a smile played on my lips, "right then," he continued, "Let's go."
And so we did. Nearly carrying him on my shoulder I dragged him past the fight and out the door, stopping only for a moment to let him lean against the outside wall. "Look Giles," I said quickly, "I… um, borrowed a car. It's up the hill over there, okay?" I pointed the way just in case, and continued, "I'm going back in. Either we come out and get you, or the world ends… but if it doesn't, and we're still not coming out… well, get away, okay? Get help?"
He tried to stand, tried to place a hand on my shoulder, but I gently pushed him back down. "Xander…"
I knew what was coming. I knew what he was going to do. The stay safe, stay away speech was already ingrained in my head and I didn't need a repeat performance right now. But instead a great sadness passed through his eyes. "I told him…" he whispered, "Xander, I told him what he needed."
"It's alright Giles."
"It's my fault if the world ends… if we die, it's all my fault."
"Giles," I whispered back, sitting on one knee and looking him straight in the face again, joking tone gone, "Remember lucky 19?"
"Lucky… 19?" His face was scrunched up in pressure, and the rational thought process was obviously a few too many steps out of his reach. Well, not that I blamed him or anything.
"You're not the only member of this team Giles. This is the entire human race. We are who we were taught to be. If the world ends, it's action and reaction. Hundreds of years, thousands of people… not just you."
"It's my fault."
"It's Willows. She should have done the spell right the first time. Buffy. She should have killed him ages ago. Mine. I should have been a bit faster. A bit smarter. Cordy. She could have come back sooner. Giles, it ain't just you. This isn't about you. Or me, or anybody.
"This is the entire human race. Right here. Right now. We are what society taught us to be."
He looked at me, and blinked once. Tears so close to falling through pained eyes…
I had never thought I would see Giles cry; but here it was. The world was ending… and there was nothing I could do for him. Nothing I could say or do to make him feel better. So I took one of his hands in both of mine, and gave him a sad shake.
"Giles," I said as I stood, his eyes on my every movement, "All of eternity has made us come to this point, and I don't know if were going to live. But either way, I'll see you later. Alright?"
He nodded, and placed his head in his hands, trying to stem the flow of tears. "It's alright Giles," I said as I walked back to the door, "If this ain't a damn good time to shed a few tears, then there's no time at all."