It was suprising how many had survived the initial impact of the grenade. But then he hadn't brought along the 60 for shooting beer cans.
They charged, ran, or played dead. It didn't matter which. The sixty drew no distinction cutting them to pieces in the narrow confines of the bar, slicing through the flimsy cover the bar furniture provided like paper. Xander felt the steady thump of the butt in his shoulder, heard the snarling roar in his ears, drowning out the futile insults and battle cries that died halfspoken in their throats, the glorious sensation of the belted link of bullets disintegrating in his left hand, the expended cartridge cases flung out of view in his peripheral vision.
He never felt more alive than at that moment.
The 60 ran dry. Dead mans click. The 45' replaced it in his hand without conscious thought and he strode amongst them emptying magazine after magazine into anything that looked vaguely intact, slicing heads off with the Kar-bar when it looked as though bullets wouldn't make any difference.
Willy was behind the bar, hiding, his leg almost severed by a round. He was emptying the safe behind the bar as Xander stood over him. He still couldn't hear but the gesture of pushing the money towards him was enough.
"Here, kid, take the money, please, please don't..."
Xander put a round in his chest. He waited for a moment, watching him suck on the air as if that would make him live again. Then it stopped his hearing returning and the ringing replaced by the soothing wail of approaching sirens.
He took the money. He could always use more money. Ammo wasn't cheap.
Some were still alive and he didn't have time for them all. He took Willy's lighter and torched the shattered liquor bottles behind the bar before pocketing it. It was an inferno by the time he stepped onto the street, screams, human and inhuman rent the night air.
" Good" he smirked, "They'd be happy in hell". In the light of the fire he could see shapes disappearing into the distance, fleeing for their lives. He wondered why they bothered. Did they honestly believe there was anywhere they could go where he wouldn't find them?
She was there as always. He had long since ceased to wonder if she was real or inside his head. He hoped the latter, that he was crazy and she was at rest. But she was there, as always, perched on a gravestone just as she had been so often in life, the sun framing her in the morning light. They always watched the sunrise together. But it brought him no warmth, not anymore.
"It's nothing" he rubbed the blood off the knife on his trousers and heated it with Willy's lighter. She looked on without comment as he cauterized his slight wounds, flinching as his flesh sizzled at the touch of the red-hot blade. He refused to cry out. Pain was merely weakness leaving the body.
She placed her arms around his shoulders. He could feel the sensation of her touch but only the warmth, there was no pressure, no weight. He closed his eyes and leaned into the specter's embrace. She started the same old song. "Xander you have to stop this. It's killing you"
"If I don't who will?"
"Faith. Or any of the other Slayers who'll follow her"
He didn't look at her. "No more Buff, no more little girls dying alone in graveyards with bits of wood in their hands" He began to clean the 60, the sunlight seemingly swallowed up by the gleaming dark gunmetal. He didn't even bother to look, knowing the parts by touch alone. "No one dies for me, not anymore"
"Some of the things you kill aren't even dangerous…"
"They're demons. If it isn't human it dies. If they're human and they keep the wrong company, they die. They all die. They all die and none of them go to heaven. Them or us, nothing in between" He finished the field strip of the machine gun and quickly reassembled it. He would have to pull through the barrel and oil it later.
"This isn't about saving lives for you any more. This is revenge"
"What's your point?"
"Who are you doing this for? Not for me. For yourself? Look what it's doing to you!"
"I'm doing it for us all. Every fiend dead is a hundred lives saved"
"What about your life? When's the last time you saw Willow? Or Dawn? When did you last speak to the living and not walk amongst the dead? They're alive, spend time with them, not me! They're worried sick, Willow thought you'd been killed in that last bloodbath. Did you even go to Dawn's birthday?"
"I went" his voice was guarded, hollow.
"Watching from the shadows? They come here too, you know. They don't see me like you do but they talk to the marble. They weep. And not for me"
He didn't reply, instead recharging a magazine for the .45, staring straight ahead as he loaded the bullets, each filed at the nose and tipped with fulminate mercury for the dumdum effect. He never used a mag he hadn't loaded himself, checking each and every round to make sure none were defective.
"You're dammed Xander!" Her voice cracked with concern.
"Maybe" he hoisted the 60 across his shoulders, "But I'll take every demon I can find with me". He didn't look back, he knew she would be gone. But she would be there for him tomorrow morning. And the day after. And the day after… She would always be there for him.