Chapter 37

"So this is how the world ends," said Dawn as they all stood together, "in high school."

"School is evil," explained Xander with a casual shrug. He then smiled and asked over his shoulder, "Everyone know what we're doing?"

Kennedy cocked her head to the side and replied, "Killing everything?"

"Exactly," growled the vampire.

Giles frowned then said, "Remember, only Faith, Spike, and Xander…"

"Hey, don't forget about me, old chap."

The Watcher blinked as a figure strode out of the night towards them, dressed in dark military fatigues and carrying an arsenal of weapons clipped about him. Robert Bridges smiled cheekily at the assembled group then shifted the rocket launcher sitting on his shoulder as he said, "I got an invite to join a hell of a party. Or so I heard."

"Good timing, Bob," said Xander. "Try not to die too much."

"If only, if only…"

"Who is he?" hissed Rona to Kennedy, who shrugged.

Giles coughed and started again, "Very well then, Faith, Spike, Xander, and…Bob…shall be descending into the portal to deal with it. The rest of us have to deal with the bloody Bringers." He then hefted a battle-axe and growled, "Everyone get that?"

At a general mumbled of assent in answer, Faith softly said, "Let's go then."

As one they started into the school, ever slowly breaking off into smaller and smaller groups until finally it was just the Slayer and the three immortals walked into the basement. Standing over the seal, Spike shuddered, grumbling, "Didn't think I'd be next to this bloody thing again…"

Xander smirked and tugged the two curved daggers that hung at his belt from their sheaths, twirling them around so he held them with the blades extending back along his forearms. Unlike Darien, who preferred a single sword, he'd discovered over the years – most particularly that year away – that daggers were his specialty.

Bob grinned widely and shifted the rocket launcher on his shoulder as he nudged at the seal with his boot. "Nasty looking thing."

Slowly Faith smiled and made a small cut on her hands with the blade of the scythe, holding it out over the seal. As the blood started to drip and Xander couldn't help but eye it hungrily, he heard Spike say, "Nastier inside."

"Really?" asked the immortal human.

"Let's see for ourselves," growled Xander as the seal flared and opened before them. As one they leapt down into Hell itself and immediately the uubervamp's gathered there, ready to be unleashed upon the world, leapt forward.

Obscenities razed the air and smoke from the rocket launcher choked them from moment to moment until it ran dry. Then bullets sprayed into the vampires, the missiles created from blessed silver with a core of wood ripping several to shreds, as Bob let loose with his firearms.

Spike rushed into the fray, tugging the vampire-slaying broadsword from its sheath across his back, and started hacking away. He laughed every few moments, eyes gleaming yellow as his vampiric face was in place, and cut through another uubervamp with the sword like it wasn't there.

Amongst the bullets and the wild flailing of the broadsword, Faith practically danced as she wielded the scythe. It flashed again and again as she dodged and weaved amongst the enemies, taking them down with movements that were beautiful in their deadly grace. She was in her element with the scythe in hand, the epitome of what the Slayer could be and could do when truly driven.

Then, for one moment, she paused to watch a dance even deadlier than hers.

At first it had seemed they were going to be overwhelmed and driven back by the uubervamp's, unable to stop them. Then slowly the mass amount of them was trickling away and in that moment she realized why.

With the scythe, she danced and it was deadly.

Xander, however, moved like a ghost in a dance that was far faster and infinitely more deadly than even hers.

Half the time he was a blur, only blazing into view for a moment with blood red eyes that burned the soul and a smile gone entirely feral. His blades were nothing – no enchantments or anything special about them – but they were made as strong as was humanely possible and he had inhuman strength behind them. When he struck, he severed limbs as if they were twigs and the uubervamp's fell before him like cordwood. He hewed through them with an ease that was frightening and, in that moment's pause, Faith couldn't draw a breath.

If this was really what he could do…how very easily he could sweep through enemies…

If he wanted, nothing would be able to stop him.

Then the moment was gone and the battle surged back to the forefront, the deadly dance resumed. It lasted for what seemed a time that stretched into eternity, when fingers ache and muscles burned, then a light flared from somewhere.

Faith spun and stared at Spike as he tugged the medallion Angel had brought from under his shirt, smiling apologetically. The Slayer started towards him, ready to scold, then caught the hilt of the broadsword as he threw it at her, yelling, "Get the hell out of here!"

She stared then watched in shock as he staggered back as a blazing light burst from the medallion, destroying whatever uubervamp's lay within its path. Xander blurred into view for a moment above the light before vanishing again…then a vampire exploded in a bloody spray that he dove through as he reappeared. He rushed towards her and roared, "GO!"

Faith blinked then grabbed at the hand Bob thrust down at her from above, though she had no idea just how he'd gotten out. As he pulled her up, she caught a glimpse of Spike with a serene smile on his face and tried to figure out just what the vampire had been thinking. And why the hell he was supposed to be her champion.

Xander leapt up out of the seal then and landed in a crouch, sheathing his bloody blades without a care. He then looked up, almost every shred of him covered in blood, and for a moment Faith almost thought she was looking at the Rogue and not her friend from the power of the insanity in his gaze. Then it lessened and he growled, "Run, damnit!" just as the floor underneath them started to crumble.

They fled, racing the destruction out of the school, Xander practically throwing the two of them towards the bus he sensed the others in, screaming, "Drive! DRIVE!"

Faith landed next to Dawn and hugged the teenager to her as Giles pushed the bus for all it was worth, trying to outrace the collapse that was following them through the town. For a moment she looked back and it seemed like the ever-growing hole was about to swallow them…


Then everything went quiet…

Panted breaths were the only noises that broke the air as the bus slid to a stop, the engine guttering into silence. Then from the back Kennedy sat up with a happy shriek and hugged Rona about the neck, screaming, "WE'RE ALIVE!" At that the other three surviving potentials converged onto the other two, all of them hugging and crying together in joy.

In the middle of the bus, Willow and Tara wearily leaned their heads together, hands entwined between them as they smiled.

Andrew, shivering, fainted dead away after muttering, "Thank God."

Faith let go of Dawn after a moment then went to Wood, smiling as she kissed him and asked, "How was your first thwarted Apocalypse?" He laughed and hugged her close as he replied, "Scary as hell."

At the front of the bus, Bob looked up at Giles from where he sat on the steps and said, "That was exciting. But what are you folks going to do now?"

The Watcher sagged wearily in the driver's seat and replied, "There are always other Hellmouth's. And the Council should be rebuilt…to help the Slayer's in the future, not try to control them."

"Sounds like a plan," commented the immortal. Then he leaned forward to peer out the door and asked, "What'll happen to those two?"

Giles leaned forward slightly and smiled at the two figures that had exited the bus during the hubbub and were now standing together on the edge of the crater that had been Sunnydale. "They'll survive," he said softly. "She'll grow up. And he'll protect her every step of the way."

Bob nodded and said, "Then it'll be time for him to figure out what to do next."

"Yes," came the weary reply, "yes, it will be."

Outside, Xander stared down into the crater, unable to quite comprehend that just moments ago this had been home. Where'd he'd been born and lived and…hell, where he'd already died once.

It seemed…impossible.

"What are we gonna do now?" asked Dawn from beside him. She had her arm around his waist, blood or no blood, and he had hers around her shoulders, hugging her firmly against his side.

Smiling slightly, he replied, "We keep living. I'm thinking we should take a vacation…"

"Where to?"

"How's Ireland sound?"

"Okay," replied the teenager. She then smiled brightly up at him, adding, "I don't care so long as we don't have to fight anything or worry about dying for at least five months."

"Deal," said Xander, holding out his hand with the pinky extended. Giggling, Dawn caught it with hers and they shook on it before returning to their positions. As they heard the bus rattle to life behind them, she closed her eyes and asked, "Xander?"


"You think Mom and Buffy are proud of me?"

Xander smiled and tapped her cheek, causing her to open her eyes.

"Yeah," he said warmly. "And so am I, kiddo. Now, c'mon, let's get back on the bus. Its time to put Sunnyhell behind us."

"What's in front?" she asked as he steered her towards the bus.

"The whole damn world, Dawnie. The whole damn world."

No spell to turn all the potentials into Slayer's this time! I mean, c'mon, if Xander was that much against reviving Buffy, you know he's going to be against turning all the Slayerette's into Slayer's.

And that's the end of season 7! Stay tuned for either more chapters involving Xander and the rest or a new story involving them. I'm unsure right now where I'm going to put it but I am going to go a bit further with these guys.

After all…Xander's got an eternity to live now. He can get into all sorts of trouble.