Title: The Reality Of Dreams

Author: VladtheImpish

Rating: Nothing worse than the show

Summary: What do you do when you realise that your dearest wish will never be fulfilled?

Disclaimer: I don't own anything to do with the show that could get me sued. This story was written for people to, hopefully, enjoy and no money will be made from it. If only.

The Reality Of Dreams

Giles, Buffy and the others were all sitting round the large wooden table in the library, all considering the recent events that they'd just gone through. Everybody took the occasional glance at Xander, who apart from answering direct questions in the briefest way possible, had remained silent since they'd found him.

They were all unnerved, not by his silence, although it was out of the ordinary, but by the expression on his face. They had never seen him look so defeated, so without hope, and they all wanted, needed, to know what had caused it so they could do what they could to fix it. All except Giles that is, who knew exactly what the problem was and knew that there was absolutely nothing that he nor anyone else could possibly do, and he was genuinely worried for the young man's sanity, and his life.

For the past several of weeks, semi desiccated bodies had been found in different parts of the town, and it had been obvious to those who knew what lurked in the shadows of Sunnydale that they were all victim to a demon of some sort. There had been no connection between the victims, and had been last seen in different locations so there was no discernable way of knowing where the demon was residing.

The only common factor between all the victims was that they all had smiles on their faces. Buffy and the others had been trying to find out just what demon they were currently facing, but despite the comprehensive research materials at Giles' disposal, their search had brought up little to no information.

Then, last night, Xander had been taken.

Giles had surmised that each victim had died roughly three days after their initial disappearance, which meant that they'd a small window of opportunity to recover him before irrevocable harm befell him. Their hunt for the demon's identity increased exponentially, although Buffy's zeal was beyond measurement. She had stalked every shadow, every dark corner of the town, cutting a swathe through the demon community that been unheard of before, seeking even the smallest snippet of information that could possibly help her find her friend.

Her unrelenting determination had borne fruit early that morning when, whilst taking the Alibi Room apart piece by piece, a Mezzagog demon that had been trying futilely to look inconspicuous had given her a lead as to the demon's possible whereabouts.

Only short minutes later, Buffy had been ploughing her way through the forest looking for the cave the demon had described to her before she had ripped its head off its shoulders and used it to render Willy unconscious, her boyfriend Angel following after her with a worried expression on his face.

His worried expression wasn't for Xander, as he had a feeling that even if the world destroyed itself through nuclear warfare, the young man would still survive, but for his girlfriend's current mental state. He had never seen Buffy so single-minded before, in fact he doubted that he had seen anyone act quite like she had been in the two hundred plus years of existence. To be honest, he was a little worried that her actions might be an indication that she had begun to see Xander as more than a friend, something he had been concerned might happen for a while now.

As they had reached their destination, Buffy had gone straight in without forming any sort of plan, her favourite battleaxe glittering slightly in the moonlight for a moment before succumbing to the darkness of the cave. Angel had dutifully followed her in, despite knowing that such a foolhardy action could very well cost them, her safety prevalent in his mind.

What they had found shocked them. Xander was standing in the remains of what they assumed were the demons that had abducted him, a tanto dripping iridescent fluid in his hand. The demon looked like novice butchers had used it to practise their carving on, as its remains covered a twenty feet radius of their friend and ally.

They had pulled an unresisting Xander out of the cave and back to the library, where they had listened to Xander recount his experience to the group, detailing how he had been blindsided as he'd been making his way home from the Bronze and taken to the cave, how he had been enveloped by several of the demons, cocooning him within them and began to feed off him, how they made him malleable by putting him into a dreamlike state. He then became rather cagey on what had happened next, only stating that he had suddenly come out of whatever state they had put him in and, after grabbing the short sword he kept in his jacket at all times, began hacking away at the demons with a vengeance until they had been nothing but a quivering mass of flesh.

Hearing Xander's description of what the demons had looked like before he'd killed them, Giles had quickly realised just what type of demon it had been and, instead of informing the others, had remained silent. He knew that Ytin'e'res demons kept their victims from escaping by making them believe they were living their most ardent fantasy. It explained why their victims all had smiles even at death, they had never been happier.

Giles knew that there was only way that Xander had been able to break free of the hold they'd had in his mind, which was by realising that his fantasy was just that and there was no way what he was experiencing could ever come true.

What such a thing did to a person's mind Giles could only speculate, but whatever it was he knew that only the most iron-willed would survive it, for few could survive knowing that there was no hope. As much as he'd like to believe that Xander was such a person, the look on his face painted a different picture and he feared that if he were to let the boy leave, no one would ever see him again alive.

He also wondered just what it was that Xander had to realise would never be.

"I love you Xander."

"Oh Buffy, I love you too."

The End