Title: Take

Author: SenorTact

Story Link:

Gen/Het/Slash: Gen, mention of Het ships

Pairings: None. Mention of A/X and B/R

Genre: Season 4, after 'Goodbye Iowa'

Story Warnings: Character Death. This is for the Dark Xander fic-a-thon, so there is a good chance it may be…well…dark.

Summery: The consequences of 'Graduation Day pt.1'

TAKE

The form of Alexander Levelle Harris described a graceless arc as he sailed through the unseasonablely humid air of Pine Rest Cemetery.

Xander was often surprised with the thoughts that passed through his head in the endless split second between being hit by the demon of the week and his reconnection with the ground. In the past it had been thoughts like 'Buffy looks nice tonight', or 'Cordy has nice breasts', or 'I've had sex'. Lately it had been 'I can't believe that Anya really said that', but tonight his thoughts were different.

Tonight he thought 'The stars are crying'.

His internal monologue was interrupted, as they always were at these times, by impact. In this case it was the back of his legs colliding with granite causing him to spin 270 degrees and land face-first on the far side of a tomb-stone.

"Xan, are you okay?" Asked a concerned feminine voice from the other side of the grave marker.

"Yeah, Buff." He grunted. "Just giving tall, dark and slimy a faults sense of security."

"It's working." A gruffer voice floated back. "I'm not feeling worried about you at all."

"Hey," Buffy responded in defense of her friend, her statement of outrage interspersed with the sounds of impact and the grunts of her opponent. "That's my line."

'Sense when do demons quip?' Xander thought as he pulled himself up to his feet, releasing the weapon in the small of his back that he had unconsciously reached for when he collided with the ground. 'Isn't there an anti-quipage law for the bad-guys, or something? Of course the light blue sports jacket is a surprise to.'

The fight he saw when the male Scooby regained his feet was oddly balanced. Buffy was easily dodging the punches and the occasional sweep of the demon's antlers with a hypnotic grace, but the blows that The Slayer landed did nothing more than cause the monster to grunt, or stumble back a step.

Taking a moment to scan the area, Xander quickly found what he was looking for. Buffy's patrol bag. Ignored by the two combatants, he scrambled over and opened the brown, leather carpet-bag.

To be honest the blonde slayer never bothered to carry more than a stake on most nights, only bothering to take the weapons bag whenever a big bad made an appearance. Of course, when the gang found out that The Initiative had decided to rip off Marry Shelly and pull a Frankenstein, the bag had become a constant companion on the Slayerette's late night walks. Something that Xander was thankful for as he reached into the bag and pulled out the twin bladed battle axe.

Granted it was Buffy-sized, meaning that it was way to small for comfort in his hands, but any port in a storm, or weapon in a fight, as the case may be.

With a manly, if somewhat high-pitched, battle cry the young man charged the twenty, or so feet between himself and the demon, hurtled a grave marker and buried the axe in the monster's side with a powerful baseball bat-like swing. He followed this up a second later with frantic back-peddling to avoid the demon's clumsy counter, losing the now lodged weapon as it slipped from his grasp.

Tripping over the tombstone he had leapt a moment before, Xander expected to see the now enraged creature looming over him. Instead, her heard the sliding, sucking sound of the axe being pulled loose, then the meaty hacking sound of blade meeting neck, followed, oddly enough, by a loud, wet, popping sound.

Xander pulled himself erect and tried, unsuccessfully, not to gape at his friend.

'Don't laugh, don't laugh.'

A few feet away, stock still with her arms slightly out from her sides, stood Buffy covered, dripping hair to no-longer stylish shoes, in demon goo the consistency of motor oil.

Seeing her lower lip out and quivering, Xander looked up to the heavens for help.

'Please God, don't let me laugh.'

As requested, the weeping stars killed his withheld mirth.

"Buffy?" The young man asked slowly moving up to his friend. "Buffster? Are you okay?"

"It…He…It" The petite young woman stuttered, beginning to wave her arms, causing Xander to step back away from the flung goop. "He went all…plooey."

"And I'm thinking that's a mighty big shame. 'Cause those antlers would have made a fine addition to your den."

"Xander." Buffy admonished. "You're missing the big picture here. I liked this top."

"You're right, Buff." The Sunnydale native admitted with a smirk. "Stinky, green slime should be our top priority."

"Besides, I don't have a den."

A second later The Slayer caught up with the rest of the conversation.

"I'm stinky too?" She asked plaintively. "Great. I'm sticky and stinky."

"And stoically, standing stationary. Come on, Buff, no problem here. Casa del Summers is nearby." Xander reasoned. "We'll see your mom; you'll take a shower and grab some spare clothes from the homestead and I'll get some hot chocolate. Problem solved."

"Okay, okay," Buffy relented as she gathered the axe and patrol bag. "So. If I remember correctly, before we were so rudely interrupted by Mr. Nickelodeon, you were going to tell me where you got that bump on your head."

BTVS----BTVS----BTVS

Earlier

Xander was going to be late.

Not that he would shed any tears over loosing his job at The Qwik-e-Print, but rent was coming up and Anya had really seamed to like the bracelet in that little shop they had passed yesterday. That is if by 'seamed to like' one meant she had told him to buy it for her and then gone on a long trip down memory lane. This particular lane being the one that involved the gruesome fates of miserly men through the ages. In great detail.

With that in mind, and the mid-day sun clearly in view, a quick shortcut through the ally seamed like a good idea at the time.

At least until a clawed hand reached out from the shadows of a doorway and pulled the male Scooby into the darkness. Survival instincts born of fear and experience kicked in as the only son of Tony and Jessica Harris pulled a stake and struck, only to have the weapon slapped away and his head, almost casually, slammed into a nearby wall.

Groggily sliding to the ground, Xander looked at his attacker for the first time. The demon sported a pair of glossy ram's horns and a thick, green pelt of fur. It also wore a look of real irritation.

"Are you done yet?"

"Oh, no, furry," The young man said as he pulled himself off of the ground and into a fighting stance. "No Xander snacks for you."

The demon snorted in disdain. "You Alexander Harris?" He waited for the young man's confused nod then added. "I've got a package for you."

"Who? Huh? What?"

"A package. For you. Here." The monster stated slowly, and then thrust a heavy package, about the size of a shoebox, wrapped in plain brown paper into Xander's hands. "I was supposed to give this to you awhile ago, but I wasted two months looking for you in Oxnard before I heard you were back on the hellmouth." With a snarl the beast bared his teeth and came nose to nose with the young human. "For your information, I hate Oxnard."

With that the green demon turned and stalked out of sight leaving a confused Sunnydale High graduate behind.

BTVS----BTVS----BTVS

Just outside Pine Rest Cemetery

"What bump?" Xander asked, slipping a counterfeit look of innocence across his face.

In response, Buffy stopped, and placing her hands on her hips, turned to her friend.

"Uh…I ran into a door?"

The Slayer raised a gooey eyebrow and began tapping her foot.

"Um…I fell down a flight of stairs?"

The small blond rolled her eyes and sighed with exasperation and stomped her foot with a wet squish.

"Come on, Xan. Make with the spillage."

"Okay, okay, fine." The dark haired Scooby said raising his hands in surrender. "I ran into a vamp earlier on my way to meet you for patrol. No big."

A look of concern crossed the girl's face. "Xander, you need to be more careful."

Unnoticed by Buffy, Xander's eyes narrowed slightly as he bit back his first three responses.

"I would like to point out, in my defense, I am standing right here with all my fingers and toes still intact and a full supply corpuscles."

"And?"

"And What, Buff?"

"And pull out a campfire and make with the storytelling, Mister Can-still-count-to-twenty."

How had it taken him so long to realize that Buffy never noticed?

"Twenty-one actually."

The girl's eyes widened. "Xander!"

"My nose! I meant my nose!"

"Alexander Harris. Story. Now."

"There's just not that much to tell." He shrugged. "I left the hospital a little later than I expected and fang-boy must have been an early riser. He surprised me by yanking me into an ally while the sun was still setting and I surprised him by poking him with a sharp stick." Xander paused for a beat. "And they all lived happily ever after. Except for the vamp. The end."

Buffy laughed. Clapping her hands and bouncing in place, she, only half mockingly, took on the mannerisms of an excited child.

"Uncle Xander, you tell the bestest stories ever."

Lifting his hands to except the applause of an imaginary crowd, Xander bowed to his audience. "Thank you, thank you. No need for applause. I know I'm better than T.V."

BTVS----BTVS----BTVS

Earlier: The Harris' Basement

After a few minutes of searching, Xander found the V.C.R. laying under a half dozen comic books, an old pizza box and a bra that he had at first thought was Anya's, but soon realized was his mother's. It was at that point that he noticed that his bed was more ruffled than he had left it that morning.

A moment of shock passed, and then, with a violent shiver of revulsion, he flung the undergarment as far away from him as he could.

Ten minutes ago he had snuck back into his home and carefully opened the wrapped box the demon had forced into his hands.

The first two items that he had seen hadn't made any sense to him. More accurately he had no idea why anyone would sent him a handful of neatly folded sheets of paper and a weapon that would be of almost no use to him on patrol. The young man hoped that the third item in the box, a V.C.R. tape with a post-it note labeled 'play me', would explain the whys and what-fors of what was going on.

Besides, who ever heard of a cursed video tape?

For some reason that thought brought to mind last Halloween. Willow hiding behind the couch while Buffy and Faith laughed their asses off watching some Japanese horror flick.

In any case, with the tape labeled 'play me' the worse he was expecting was to get either really big, or really small.

With a shrug, Xander pushed the tape in and began the search for the missing remote. Before he found it, however, the T.V. came to life to show a surprisingly familiar face staring out at him.

"Hello, Alex." Richard Wilkins the first, second and third greeted from the screen. "I can call you Alex, can't I? Well, if you are seeing this message I guess that means that you and your fellow scoobies have won and I have failed to keep my campaign promises to bring order to Sunnydale. So, congratulations. Give yourself a pat on the back."

"But enough about that. I bet you wondering why I'm recording this tape for you. Well, you see my boy; you and I have a lot more in common than you might think."

With a disgusted roll of his eyes, Xander reached over to turn off the machine.

"Now, now. Before you hit that stop button. There is something you need to know."

"This is about Faith."

BTVS----BTVS----BTVS

Revello Drive

"So…Um…The hospital, huh? Buffy asked

"You know. Third Saturday on the month."

The short blonde seemed to shrink into herself a little.

"I've been meaning to visit her. I have. But with school and slaying." The Slayer let the sentence die out. "How is she?"

"The same. Pale."

A moment of melancholy silence settled on the pair only for the male slayerett to push it aside as he forced the conversation forward.

"Speaking of hospitals, have you heard from Reilly?"

Buffy raised her shoulders sadly. "Not really. The Initiative is keeping all mum on the Reilly factor. I did run into Graham today though."

"And?" Xander asked waving his hands in a 'keep going' motion.

With a sigh, The Slayer continued. "Graham said he's all depressed. You know. Won't eat, won't talk. Xander I'm worried." She ended plaintively.

The young man slipped his hands into his pockets and slumped his shoulders as the pair walked across the front yard of the Summer's home. "Don't worry about it, Buff. Big, strong commando guy, remember? And, I kinda get why he would be all down and stuff."

"Oh?"

Xander suddenly couldn't look at the small woman.

"Yeah. He really looked up to Professor Walsh. It hurts when you realize that your hero is a monster."

"Not to change the subject," He continued as they stepped onto the porch. "But, before you take your shower, I desperately need to use the bathroom."

"Come on, Xan." The corner of Buffy's lip twitched upward despite the complaint in her voice. "Why didn't you…you know…in the graveyard?"

"Oh, no. There will be no repeats of the last time!"

Unable to hold it in any longer, The Slayer laughed out loud. "I almost felt sorry for that poor vampire. That can't be a good way to wake up. I mean, I think he chased you for two, or three steps after I staked him."

"Laugh it up, but I still call dibs."

"Fine, fine." Buffy said as she opened the door to her home. "First Xander gets in touch with his inner bladder. Then Buffy gets to deslime. Mom! I'm home!"

Joyce entered the living room drying a glass with a towel. "Buffy? Xander, it's good to see you."

"Hey, Mrs. S." Xander greeted, making vague gestures at the stairway in way of explanation before he sprinted up the steps.

Joyce's expression became concerned as she looked over her daughter. "Buffy, are you alright?"

"Yeah, mom, I'm good. I've just got a bad case of eewww."

"What happened?"

"Nothing to worry about, just another night at the office." The young woman paused for a moment. "At least until Mr. Tall-dark-and-slimy went all…" Buffy made random exploding motions with her hands. "…Poppy."

Joyce smiled slightly and shook her head at her daughter antics. "Don't worry, Buffy. When Xander comes back down, just throw your clothes in the hamper and I'll…"

"…burn them?"

"…See what I can do. By the way, I noticed that Xander didn't seam to be covered in slime."

"It's all part of my master plan to take over the world." The young man in question interjected as he sauntered down the stairs wringing his hands dramatically.

Buffy grinned up at her friend. "Xander, stop it, you're scarring the rhododendrons. Okay, now mom, you see what you can do to thwart Scott Evil here's dastardly plot while I enjoy a long, hot, much deserved shower."

The blond slayer drifted of the steps to the second floor, visions of showers dancing in her head. Grabbing a used towel from the hamper as she moved into the bathroom, she tried to scrub the worst of the slime from her face. Looking into the mirror to check her progress, she for the first time noticed the sheet of paper taped to the corner of the glass. Distracted, but curious she let her eyes roam over what looked to be a page from a medical file. The name at the top brought her to full attention.

Faith LaHane.

Against her will her mind went back to the memories of last spring, to the fight on the balcony. She looked up from the knife she had plunged into the other woman's lower stomach and her eyes locked onto Faith's. The dark haired slayer's face had been filled with so much fear and pain and…remorse.

Buffy thought she had understood the look, but as she read the last, yellow highlighted lines on the paper in front of her she realized that she had barely scratched the surface of the loss that the other woman's eyes had conveyed.

It seemed so unreal. It took a minute for her mind to register the meaning of the last two lines on the page in front of her.

Pregnancy terminated at forty days due to massive trauma.

Paternity: 98.95 Harris, Alexander L.

"Oh, God. Xander."

She was brought back from her revelry by the sound of her mother's voice drifting up from the first floor.

"Xander, why do you have a gun?"

Followed by the sound of a car backfiring (it had to be a car backfiring) and then two more shots.

The piece of paper clutched forgotten in her hand, Buffy raced down the stairs and along the hallway to come to a stop at the doorway to the kitchen.

Her world collapsed down into nothing more than the motionless shape of her mother that lay crumpled in the middle of the floor.

Unable to look away she watched, stunned, as the rapidly spreading pool of blood expanded across the linoleum until it touched a worn pair of sneakers. Her eyes slowly traveled up to the face of the man she could no longer recognize as the boy she had met more than three years ago.

Xander stood, his face covered in shock and confusion, staring down at the snub-nosed revolver in his hands as if he had no idea what the object he was holding meant.

"Xander?"

He lifted his head to face the girl he had once loved, his confusion draining away to be replaced by loss and rage.

"Xander?"

"You tried to feed my baby to a vampire." He accused. "You tried to feed him to your dead boyfriend, and then you killed him."

"Xander…No…I…"

The man raised his gun to his head.

"You take from me. I take from you."

Buffy launched herself towards the dark haired Californian with every ounce of her slayer speed.

"XANDER! NO!"

A fourth shot rang out down Revello Drive.

fin.