He knows she's here; her ability to hide in shadows that was taught to her by Angel may work on everyone else but never with him. His instincts have been honed the past fifteen years, but they aren't what make him able to sense her, it was something else, something deeper. It was love and it hurt to feel it.
He's been able to shy away from his feelings for her until now, allowing the anger he felt towards her to overshadow everything else. Now that she's here, the anger isn't enough to hide the love that he still feels for her.
She's moving stealthily along the rooftop, making her to their bedroom balcony. She knows it's pointless trying to enter unnoticed, she can sense him as well as he can sense her, but it isn't about catching him by surprise. She had to give him a fighting chance; she would not, could not do it any other way. She owes him that much at least.
He knew he had no chance against her; she was after all a Slayer. He was known as one of the most dangerous men in the world but he could easily have his ass handed to him by any of the hundreds of Slayers that worked for the Council and they would barely work up a sweat. He knew that his only chance was to cheat.
He had set charges within every wall of the house, turning it into one large incendiary device, with the intention of blowing her up like they had done her former boss. It had felt fitting at the time, to end her life in such a way, but now he was unsure whether he would, or could, go through with it.
As she walks across the floor of their bedroom, a room filled with so many warm memories for her, she hesitates. She wanted to leave; she wanted to turn around and to leave him and everything else behind. She doesn't though; she knows that it's too late for that. She's come too far, done too much to turn back now. She had known that the moment she saw the last vestiges of life leave Buffy's eyes.
She had been so angry then, completely controlled by it. The realisation they had a child together, the one thing that she could never give him, had released something within her that she had successfully bottled up years ago. She had revelled in the pain and anguish she had inflicted upon her Sister Slayer; taking her to the brink of death only to pull her back again and again until she had finally ended it.
The last thing on Buffy's lips had been her daughter's name, spoken so softly that she had barely been able to hear it even with her enhanced senses.
It was the morning after that she had truly understood what she had done. She had cried for hours, the realisation that she had killed, murdered someone she considered a sister bearing down on her with such force that she had been unable to breathe.
She had felt righteous in her anger, she had felt that justice had been served, but those feelings had been replaced with guilt and remorse. Instead of confronting them with what she knew, she had allowed her feelings to colour her actions and now everything she had achieved the last eight years was meaningless.
Now all she feels is revulsion about what she did, wanting nothing more than to take back every harsh word, ever kick, and every punch she had inflicted on her sister Slayer. She did the one thing that she could never redeem for and the ony way she could see was forward.
Not knowing when she would make her move had been torturous, knowing she was now here was even worse. Even with everything that has happened he had hoped that it wouldn't come to this. He had hoped that she would simply vanish off the face of the earth, leaving no trace and never to return.
He has tried to stop loving her, to stop missing the feel of her skin or the scent of her hair, but he can't. She is his wife and he loves her in spite of everything that she has done. He hates her more than he thought he could hate anyone, but he loves her just as much and knowing that makes him die a little inside.
He can hear her making her way to the stairs. Fourteen steps were all that kept them apart physically, but there was so much more that kept them apart emotionally. He loves her and doubts that will change, but he knows that this will be the last time they see each other no matter what happens.
She's close enough now to hear his breathing, a sound that before had always calmed her. Whenever she woke up from a bad dream, she would rest her head on his chest and combination of his regular breathing and heartbeat would soon lull her back to sleep. She'd barely slept at all the last few weeks because of what she'd done, knowing she'd never have that help made it worse.
As she slowly descends the staircase, she fights back tears because she knows that this will be the last time she will ever be in this house. Their house. It truly was their house; they had practically rebuilt the place one room at a time. A piece of both of them went in to every room and made it as though no one had ever lived in it before.
Xander and Faith look at each other, neither one knowing what to say or do but both knowing what they need to do. It's as though they're reliving their relationship within each other's eyes; every look, every smile, and every kiss they ever shared the last eight years. Both know they can't go back to the way they were and they realise that the only way to fix things is for one of them to not see tomorrow.
Xander holds up his right hand and Faith can see a small black device held within. Her eyes widen slightly as she realizes what it is and what Xander intends to do. She isn't all that surprised as she knows how Xander operates, but her heart breaks that she has forced him to be that way towards her.
"I need to let you know something, and I hope that you believe me; I never knew about Lexie until yesterday when Dawn introduced me. I have never kept anything from you Faith; I've told you things that not even Willow knows. I never knew, I promise you that."
She can see the absolute sincerity in his eye and knows that he is telling her the truth, something she should have known from the very beginning. She should have gone to him, had it out with him. Instead of acting like the woman she was, she reverted back to the girl she was when she first arrived in Sunnydale.
"I believe you Xand. The only thing I have ever been 100 certain of was that you loved and respected me, but when I saw mini B I freaked, thinking that you'd been lying to me the whole time. Well… you know what I did next, something that I would take back if I could, but I know I can never take back what I've done, anymore than we can go back to what we were before. There's only one thing I can do now to put things right." She holds out her hand, silently requesting he give her the device. "Go see your daughter Xand."
Xander has barely been able to breathe since Faith came into view, his need to avenge Buffy's life warring with the love he has for his wife. He's tried to push the button a dozen times since then and each time he's been unable to do it. When he realises what Faith is offering his eye widens in shock. "I can't let you do this Faith."
"It's the only way and you know it; I can't come back to the fold, not after this. If I run they'll come after me with everything they have and I'll have to do things I really don't want to just to survive. I want it to end, right here and now for both of us. Please, I just want it to end."
Xander can see that Faith is trying hard not to dry, as much for his sake as for her own. She knows that he can't bear to see her cry and would gather her up in his arms and try to make it better, but this time they both know that won't happen. Only the Creator could make this situation better and they doubt that He/She will help. The only thing he can do is give Faith her final request.
"I love you Faith," he says with as much feeling as he could muster.
"I love you too Xander, now and forever. Go to your daughter Xand, be the father I know you can be."
Xander says nothing; he simply gets up from his chair and after handing over the device kisses Faith softly on the lips. They rest their foreheads on each other for a moment, never breaking eye contact, before Xander walks past her and towards the front door. Just before he goes through, he stops and turns to face her.
"You'll always be my morning star."
Faith hears him close the front door behind him, get into his car and pull away from the drive. A single tear falls down her cheek and she has a small, watery smile on her face as she looks at the small device in her hand.
"Goodbye Xand." She presses the button on the device.
A/N: Like it or hate it, this is the end of the story. This was only ever meant to be a one-shot anyway so this has been a 'shoot from the hip' thing on my part. I do want to thank everyone who read and reviewed this story, I really appreciate it.