The One Who Sees
By Vinya

I'm gonna' do what any man would do about it. Something damn manly.
Xander to Larry

Prologue: In My Dreamland

She turned over in her sleep, the pillow mussing her hair in just such a way, while the blankets tangled around her feet- unknown in the depth of her sleepiness. She snorted softly, and her eyes moved quickly in their REM state.

Buffy Summers had only now begun to dream.

She could smell salt water on the wind, and even feel the foam lapping up against her bare feet as she walked through the sand. Looking back behind her, she could see… there were no footprints where she had walked; this wasn't important however, in light of the fire. There were, however, the steps of others walking by and past her. Almost disappeared after being soaked by the ocean so many times.

A huge bon fire in front of her, set on the beach with no wood or kindling to keep it going. It sparked and spat at Buffy, and she smiled at the sight of it- she could she the flame, as though living, was almost responding to her… in fact, that seemed to be exactly what it was doing. Stepping closer, she could feel the heat of it hit her chest, warming her from the inside out.

Closing her eyes, the blonde girl focused on it, hard. The power, the warmth, everything that made her a slayer… she could feel it rising in her as she focused solely on it. Her strength, gifted to her by the powers that be.

With those thoughts of strength in her mind, she began to walk around the fire. One step, two steps. She was reminded of the Native American movies she had seen, with hundred of men dancing around the fire to get it going. To get emotions running high. -She considered doing the same; on some level she knew it would be all right, as this was but a dream. It was hard to explain.

She circled the fire, once, twice. Turning around to walk the other direction, her eyes on the centre of the fire at all times, it suddenly turned cold. It felt like sparks of ice were shooting upwards, letting the air freeze around the flames as it turned blue and green. Falling back she looked again at the fire, and saw that the tips of the flames had now turned a crispy dark- an ugly colour that she hoped against hope wasn't coming from her. She knew the power in her came from dark sources, but this…

Buffy stepped closer, trying to get back the feeling of warmth, but there was nothing… no, there was something. Freezing, hurting, alone. As she stepped closer she could feel all of these things, coming at her like a train track going over a cliff with nothing on the other side.

A step closer… but it didn't help at all. The fire spat at her until she finally had no choice but step back and watch in fear. 'Wake up!' she yelled to herself silently, not a word escaping her lips as she watched the flames, 'This isn't right!'

And across the flames, he answered, "No. It isn't."

Her head whipped up, hair grabbing at her eyes. The flames danced, making it harder to see the other side, so she tried to walk around the fire again- but as she moved, so did he. He didn't walk away- he was simply unreachable. Always on the other side of flames so high and cold they were impenetrable. Impossible.

The next emotion to hit the slayer was guilt, though she couldn't be sure exactly where that particular one was coming from.

"Where did you come from?" she yelled across the cracking flames; she hadn't seen him arrive. Hadn't heard his steps. The only show of his entrance was the footprints he left, heavy in the sand. Obvious. Water pooled around the prints, but never actually touched them.

Looking down, she could see that her own steps still left no such prints.

He shrugged, and the well tailored suit he wore shrugged with him. A white shirt underneath it, marred with drops of blood. A black tie. Hair obviously just cut, and well kempt. No whiskers, and no hair on his face- but she could smell the booze coming from him even through the flame, and she wondered if it were strong enough she could set him on fire.

It certainly smelled like it.

The man kicked at the sand- comfy shoes that looked to be far too expensive for even her own taste, polished perfectly.

He seemed the perfect, rather well off, gentlemen. Except, of course, for the splatters of blood every once in a while, mixed in with the fabric and cufflinks. And, sadly, for his face. One eye hidden behind a dark eye patch, the other staring at her with such anger it was impossible to measure.

A scar going past his hairline and down the side of his face until it reached his chin. Another running across his neck- Buffy wondered silently if it was self-inflicted or not, but decided she didn't care. This man… the way he stared at her, like a best friend who had abandoned him. Hurt him.

Like he had a personal vengeance to deal out.

Three steps away from the fire, she could still see the reflection of her own face in his eye, staring back at her. She looked so scared…

Black flames grew even taller, and Buffy knew that it was now in response to him- growing in response to his own reflection on his powers. It burned, growing taller by the second. Taller then it had gotten with her own, and it kept going. Flying upwards in patterns and shapes she would have recognized were her thought processes working properly. A wolf like creature, that giggled at her from its vantage point. A man, splattered in his own blood, camouflage fatigues.

She looked at him again, and through his anger and scary face- she knew he looked achingly familiar. Somebody she had fought with, perhaps? Somebody she had known when she was very young?

He looked at her with that anger, and then turned away to face the flames. The one eyed gaze went skyward, seeking the tips of the flames… and he smiled. It was a dim memory of a smile; one that had long since disappeard from his soul, Buffy was sure, but it was still an upturning of his lips.

"Oh my god," she breathed, quietly, bringing a hand in front of her face to try and mask her amazement, "Xander…"

The mans eyes snapped downwards quickly, locking with her own, and he said so quietly he might have hissed, "I see you."

And Buffy Summers woke up.

She didn't get much more sleep that night-images of Xander staring at her with those angry eyes haunted her even while she was awake.

To be Continued…