by chaoseternus

Note: I do not own nor do I cliam ownership of characters and / or concepts from Buffy the Vampire Slaye

Death, Buffy had always claimed that death was her gift, she certainly had been told that enough times, but that never seemed to be true to him. Certainly, she had welcomed death often enough, stridden knowingly to her end at the hands of the Master, laid in the cold arms not just of Angel but of Spike and after her return from her second death…

He had little doubt that she would have willingly, happily returned to the welcoming embrace of death.

Yet, that was her gift, her gift was life.

Willow's life, his life, saved on her very first day in Sunnydale, were counted amongst thousands whom Buffy had saved, to whom Buffy through her actions had granted, no, gifted more life. Given all the apocalypses, well, she could safely claim to have gifted life to every living creature on this world. Certainly, she had granted them continued existence.

No, Death wasn't her gift, life was.

And if he had anything to say about it, that was a gift she would she would continue to give repeatedly and often till the end of her days.

Course, Xander noted glancing away from the seething pit of black, spitting evil that was almost tar like in its thick glutinous evil, catching for just a moment the despairing pleading eyes of The Slayer, for that's what she would always be to him. She was crying as she beat, unaccustomed to weakness, against the aged airlock which had sealed this vault of evil for so many years, it wasn't like he would live to see her continue to give her gift to the world, but that was a small price to play.

Not that she would ever forgive him, not with the Crucimentium drugs sapping her strength once more, this time at his connivance and not the Councils.

But, she would be alive to hate him, and that too would be enough.

He didn't want to do this, God alone knew how much he had left to do, how much he had undone, how much he had wanted to achieve with his life, but given the choice, who would he rather have take his place?

The answer to that was simple, no-one. Something's you just had to do yourself because one way or another, you wouldn't be truly living afterwards.

This pit of evil, this festering pool of evil, hate and worse had to claim a willing sacrifice every fifty years else, according to Giles, near five thousand bound demons would be freed.

Worse, it could not be an ordinary human being, oh no, it had to be a Champion. Only the best souls to be consumed to keep the five thousand sated after all.

Buffy was the Champion of course, but he couldn't allow that. Not when she still had so much giving in her, not with all she had to do and see. Not to mention, Dawn.

No, Xander caught Buffy's eyes once more, then turned sadly back to the pool, ignoring the anguished howl that echoed hollowly through the room despite the thick metal door between them, it would have to be him.

Would it be enough to be truly willing to sacrifice yourself in place of the Champion? He mused, Only one way to truly find out.

With a sigh, Xander stepped deliberately forwards.

Beyond the airlock, Buffy lay down with a despairing moan, her eyes forever etched with the image of Xander stepping into the abyss. She closed her eyes as she sobbed, then stilled suddenly as a bright light pierced her sight. She felt warmed for a moment, almost as if she was being hugged and then everything faded to dark once more.

Bewildered, she opened her eyes, raising up to glance through the wedged airlock door to see a cavern that, for the first time in three thousand years, was empty of the evil that had been sealed there.