Title: Rain Falls On The Just (20/20)

Author: Jeffrey Patrick

Type: B/X

Description: This is it... the end of the madness. Thanks to everyone for the feedback. I hope you all enjoyed it. I have another project on the table, but I do have a sequel in mind for this one. You'll be the first to know when I start it.

Disclaimer: I own nothing but a half-eaten bag of Doritos and a bad case of scurvy. Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy and (for now) the WB own Buffy and all related characters.



Buffy and the Scooby gang were in over their heads. The Wolfram and Hart building was crawling with vampires and demons of every sort. Downstairs, Oz was ripping his way through the bottom floor. He was every bit the distraction they hoped he would be. Unfortunately, it still didn't seem to be enough. The Host was on the run. He had taken the stairs down a few floors, where he led a large group of guards on a wild goose chase. He had no way of knowing he wasn't diverting the main assault.

"Willow!" Buffy shouted, alerting her friend to an approaching demon.

"Accendo!" Willow shouted. The demon burst into flames. "Thanks," she said with a wink to Buffy.

"Let's not start getting all full of ourselves," Faith warned. "Check it out."

The hallway they were proceeding down was filling with vampires from the other end.

"We don't have time for this," Buffy said. "Giles?"

"Leave them to Willow and I," he said, hefting his rather large battle axe. "You and Faith go on."

"But..."

"You heard me," he said sternly. "Just this once, do as you are asked." His command was followed by a gentle smile. She smiled back.

"Meet us downstairs," Buffy said firmly.

"We shall," Giles said. "I promise."

Buffy turned to Faith. "Let's do this."





"Here we go," Xander whispered to Alex as he carefully traversed the old door he had placed between two rooftops. "We just do this two or three more times and we're home free."

"Over there!" a vampire shouted, and Xander knew he had been spotted.

"Great," he said sarcastically. "If you got any tricks up your sleeve, now's the time to use'em, kid."




"Lindsay is this way," Anya said, leading Faith and Buffy down a dark corridor. I'll zip ahead and see what kind of protection he has." As quick as a thought, their ghostly friend was gone.

"That's gonna take some getting used to," Faith said. "You alright?"

"I'm five by five," Buffy said with a smile.

"Cute," Faith said, scanning the hall. "Now once more, with feeling."

"I'm just worried about..."

"Xander," Faith finished. "Does the word 'duh' ring any bells?"

"I love him."

"Again with the 'duh.' You're all ga-ga over each other. I'm happy for you guys."

"Really?"

Faith looked at her and smiled. "Yeah, B. If anybody deserves to be happy, it's..."

Faith's words were cut short when a hollow point bullet tore through her forehead and straight through the back of her skull. Buffy was sprayed by a fine red mist that had once been her friend's brain.
She was frozen in shock as the Slayer's body slumped to the floor. Slayer instinct gripped Buffy, and she was suddenly moving with no conscious thought of where she was going.

"Anya?" Her voice was raw and had no power behind it. "Anya?"

She rounded the corner to find her ghostly friend bound and gagged by some form of arcane energy. Anya could not speak, but her eyes pleaded with Buffy to run.





"Ft. Crandall."

"I need you to get a message to Agent Riley Finn."

"There is no agent Finn at this installation."

"Passcode Echo Bravo Tango Zulu Foxtrot Delta was given to me in case of an emergency. Now get him this message."

"Proceed."

"Living package. Drop code 3-7-alpha-4-gamma. Handle with caution. Will contact with instructions within 24 hours. Package not to be released without authorization from one of the Scoobies."

"Excuse me?"

"He'll know. Just get him the message."

Xander hung up the phone and steadied himself. He glanced down at the baby and smiled. "I'll bet I look pretty scary right now, what with the blood and all. But I promise, Alex, that the cavalry's coming. You'll be safe here. I've got to get to Buffy." Xander slid the bookshelf back in place. The store was abandoned, but he had remembered it as a hidden drop location from his psuedo military memories. With any luck, he could come back for Alex himself before Riley had to get involved.

He took a step toward the door and the pain from his ribs and head drove him to his knees. "C'mon, Harris," he whispered to himself. "Buffy needs you. Get up and get in gear. There's a war on."





Willow focused on the vampire behind Giles. "Decollo!" The vampire's head slid off his shoulders and hit the ground just before the entire corpse exploded into dust.

"Thank you," Giles said, holding his side.

"You okay?"

"Bruised, not broken. Come. Let's..."

Giles stopped at the site of a G'nareth demon ambling down the hall toward them. It was nearly ten feet long from horns to tail.

"Um, Giles?"

"Run, Willow. Just run!"




"Agent Finn."

"Agent Finn, this is Staff Sgt. Lewis at Ft. Crandall. We received a brief message for you containing priority authorization to break radio silence."

"What kind of message?"

Riley listened intently as the message was read to him, writing it down on a small notepad. "Did you get a trace on that call?"

"Yes, sir. That's standard procedure when that kind of clearance is given. It came from a cell phone registered to one Alexander Lavelle Harris. Ring any bells?"

"I'll handle it. Good work, Lewis."

Riley hung up the phone.

"What's up?" Graham asked.

"Get me a chopper," Riley said. "I'm going to L.A." He handed the notepad to his old friend. "And check out this drop code. The army was using some of them when they were secretly supplying the Initiative. Something's up, and I need to get there yesterday."




Electricity shot through Buffy's body, causing her to jerk involuntarily.

"Again," Lindsay said with a smile.

Buffy cursed in her pain, but she didn't scream. She wasn't going to give him the satisfaction.

"Just so you know," Lindsay said, checking his security monitor, "your Watcher and witch friend are cornered in a conference room by a G'nareth demon. Ever seen one?"

Buffy just glared at him.

"They're particularly nasty," Lindsay continued. "They live on a diet of human flesh. This particular beast hasn't been fed in two weeks. Should prove interesting, don't you think?"

"Go to hell, you son of a..."

The guards behind her zapped her with electricity again.

"Now, now, Buffy. Do you mind if I call you Buffy? Harsh language is unbecoming."

"Bite me."

"I'll do worse than that."





Giles dropped to the floor, barely managing to avoid the tail of the G'nareth demon. "Go, Willow!"

"I'm not leaving you," she screamed from the other side of the room. "I've got it! Propinquo!"

Oz appeared in the center of the room. Immediately, the scent of the demon drove him wild. He tackled the thing just as it took another swipe at Giles. It was a bloody fight, and Oz was at a disadvantage. The G'nareth outweighed him by several hundred pounds. Were it not for Oz's speed, the fight would have been over quickly.

Giles managed to clear out of the general vicinity, just as Willow collapsed to the floor. He picked her up and carried her from the room back into the hall. Her nose was bleeding.

"Willow, talk to me," Giles demanded as he put some distance between them and the battle of the two monsters.

"S'okay," she mumbled. "Damn teleportation spell always kicks my ass."

"Well, I appreciate your sacrifice."

A loud howl halted their conversation. "Oh my God!" Willow screamed. "Oz!"

Giles set her down, and began pulling her away. "We can't go back. If the G'nareth was able to stop him..."

Suddenly, the door to the conference room burst off its hinges. Oz was covered in the G'nareth's blood. There would be no stopping him. He ran with all his might toward the only other victims he could see.

"I'll try to teleport him, again," Willow said, barely able to stand.

"No," Giles said. "You go. I'll handle Oz."

"Or," came a familiar voice from behind Oz, "you could tranquilize him." A shot was fired and Oz collapsed to the floor, bringing into view one very battered and broken Xander Harris. "Geez," he said, dropping the gun. "Of all the things to leave in the van."





"You must have known you couldn't stop us," Lindsay said. "The cards were stacked against you from the start. One interesting file that I saw said that a demon named Whistler was employed by our office to find Angel and take him to you. We knew he was crucial to eliminating you. See the prophecies spoke of one Slayer unlike all the others. Her power came from someplace greater than any Slayer had ever known. If we didn't take action, you might have lived to a ripe old age."

"There will be others," she spat at him, her muscles still strained from her impromptu shock therapy.

"Correction," Lindsay said. "Don't use the plural. There will be one other, now that Faith is dead. If I kill you, there will be no second Slayer and the balance will be restored."

"You're insane."

"Am I? Ever ask yourself why, if there is only one girl in all the world, yada, yada, you have had two Slayers running around since you died at the hands of the Master?"

"I died. Kendra was called. It's simple."

"No. It's not. The Slayer power is a finite source. When you died it went to Kendra and then to poor Faith, whose brain is now staining our carpet. You, on the other hand, came back to life. According to Angelus, the Harris boy brought you back."

"He knew CPR. He brought me back. There's no mystery here."

"Then ask yourself this... If the power of the Slayer is finite, why are you and Faith not just half as powerful as what YOU were before your death?"





"Can you undo the spell?" Xander asked, as he and Giles struggled to carry the fully wolfed Oz.

"Yeah," Willow said. "Undoing is a snap. Much easier than the actual doing."

"Then get with it," Xander said. "We've got to get to Buffy."

"Reverto in initium!" Willow shouted. Before their eyes, Oz reverted to his human form.

"He's still unconscious," Giles said. "We'll have to find somewhere safe to leave him."

"No such place," the Host said, rounding the corner. "This place is crawling with uglies. And not a one of them has a decent singing voice."

Xander looked him over. "You look like you've seen your share of them."

"I abhor violence," the Host said. "But... a demon's got to do what a demon's got to do. I can babysit naked boy here so you can find Buffy."





"What are you saying?" Buffy asked between gasps for breath.

"That the power that you've carried with you since the Master drowned you is not from the source of Slayers."

"Then, how..."

"We don't know. We believe it has something to do with Mr. Harris," Lindsay said. "Which is why we want HIM alive."

"Xander? What could he have done?"

"Well, the working theory is that the depth of his love for you tapped into something even older than the Slayer essence. We plan on torturing him until we figure out just how."

"I'll kill you."

"I'm human. You don't kill humans. That's my job."

"You're not human. You think that just because you look like us you can call yourself human? No human being could do the things you've done."

"Not true. Come with me." He motioned to the vamps behind her. They lifted her to her feet and pushed her to follow him. He led her down a hallway and into a huge room. It was pitch black.






"Anya!" Xander ran to his former lover, and tried to pull her free of the energy bands. He was immediately thrown to the ground by the energy bands.

"What happened?" Willow asked the ghostly ex-demon.

"She's gagged, Willow," Giles pointed out. "She cannot tell us anything this way. We need to free her."

"Do you know how?" Xander asked.

Willow and Giles both shook their heads.

"Anya," Xander said, turning back to her. "We'll find a way to get you out. I promise we will. But right now we have to get to Buffy." He knew from the look in her eyes that she understood. Then, suddenly, a look of panic filled her eyes. "It's okay," Xander assured her. "Alex is safe. Riley will keep him hidden for us."

"You spoke with Riley?" Giles asked. "Are his troops coming?"

"No. I didn't want any other lives at risk."

"Then we're on our own, now," Willow said. "Just the three of us to rescue Buffy."

"Just like old times," Xander said.

"Then I have no doubt we'll be fine," Giles said with a half smile. "As will Buffy."




"Where are we?" Buffy asked.

"The main staging area for the next phase of the plan," Lindsay said. "Where all our hard work finally pays off."

"Not if I can help it."

"You can't. We've systematically taken everything away from you. Your family. Your friends. And these poor saps. Lights!"

The lights came on, shedding light on what had happened to the Council of Watchers. Lining the walls in the huge round room, the Watchers and their associates were skewered on steel pikes. Doors opened around the room, and vampires poured in. There must have been over a hundred.

"Gee, paranoid much?" Buffy asked. "Think it'll take this many vamps to kill a bound Slayer?"

"No. This is simply a delegation comprised of a hundred or so of the oldest vampires in existence. Once you are dead, your blood will be shared among them, completing the biggest contract Wolfram and Hart has ever taken. With you dead, a new era will begin."

"If I had a nickel for every time I've heard that..." Buffy started.

"She'd be rich," Xander said. He stood in one of the six doorways with a crossbow.

"Xander!" Buffy cried from the center of the large room. Her lover looked battered, but he was breathing.

"Get him!" Lindsay cried. "Bring him to me alive!"

Nearly a third of the vamps turned and ran toward the human in the doorway. A few were slightly confused by the smile he wore. All was made clear when he ducked out of the doorway and they saw the witch behind him.

"Lumen solaris!" she shouted. Between her hands, a ball of energy appeared. All the vamps diverted their eyes, but it did them no good. The ball was pure sunlight. All of the vampires closest to her burst into flames.

A shot rang out, and Willow went down. Xander rushed to her side, but the remaining vampires were already swarming. Giles appeared on the other side of the room, lowering a long bow, aiming straight for Lindsay's heart. "God, forgive me," he said, before a look of calm claimed him. The arrow flew straight and true. It pierced Lindsay's heart, and he was finished. A few vampires had seen him fall and rushed toward the Slayer. Giles began picking them off, one by one. "Buffy, this way!"

Buffy got to her feet and ran, though her arms were still bound behind her. Giles cleared her path to him as best he could. Once she made it to him, he loosed her hands.

"Giles, I have to get to Xander and Willow," she said, already heading back across the room. "Clear me a path again."

To Xander's credit, he was still standing next to the prostrate Willow Rosenberg, fighting with a fervor he hardly knew he possessed. Unfortunately, their sheer numbers began to overwhelm him. He looked down at his oldest friend and saw that blood was seeping out from underneath her. He dropped the crossbow and lifted the battle axe that Giles had given him. Then, he starting swinging with all his might. Behind the vampires, he saw that Giles had freed Buffy and she was heading toward them. It was then that a sea of vampires washed over him. He found himself on his back next to Willow, trying desperately to keep a vamp off his neck.

"Discede," Willow mumbled, and nearly twenty of the vampires surrounding him disappeared. Willow immediately started convulsing as blood poured from her nose.

Xander jumped to his feet. He reclaimed his axe and began wading through the remaining vamps, making his way toward the woman he loved. Giles, too, made his way toward them, hoping to give Willow the medical attention she needed. He would have to fight through the remaining vampires to do so.

How long they fought, none of them could say. When the dust cleared, they stood alone on a floor covered in ash. "D-did we do it?" Xander asked.

Buffy smiled at him and kissed him passionately. "We did it."

Giles ran to Willow's side and checked her pulse. "We need to get her to the hospital immediately. Stay with her. I'll find the Host and Oz. They can get us a vehicle."

"Oz'll still be out," Xander said. "I'll go." As fast as he could manage with broken ribs, he ran across the open room toward the route they had taken down there.

Buffy watched him run. As he got near the center of the room, she turned to Willow. "Hang on, Will. We're gonna..."

There was a gunshot. When she was able to finally talk about it nearly a year later, she would say that she knew what had happened even before she looked. She jerked her head around to see Xander falling face first to the ground. Behind him, Lindsay dropped the gun before taking his last breath.

She screamed, Giles would say later. He immediately ran back toward them. She didn't remember that. She only remembered the sickening feeling that settled over her. She knew the truth even before she got there.

"Xander," she gasped, turning him over. She wiped the tears from her eyes so that she could see his wound. There was little doubt that it would prove fatal. The bullet had nicked his heart. Blood soaked the knees of her pants as she knelt beside him. "No."

He smiled at her. It was that half smile that always calmed her. He knew.

"I... I love you," he said weakly. "Always have."

"I know," she sobbed. "Please... Please don't leave me."

"I'd stay," he said. "If I had the choice, I'd stay."

"You're gonna be fine. You're gonna get some help."

"No. I'm sorry. I wanted to grow old with you."

"No... No..."

"To sit on a porch swing with you when we got old. To watch the grandkids playing catch in the yard. I'm sorry."

"Don't leave me."

"I won't. Ever. I'll always..."

"Shhh. Don't try to talk. Just rest. We'll get help."

"Sing... for me. Please? Sing?"

It was then that Buffy noticed Giles and the Host standing behind her. Buffy fought back her tears and took Xander's hand. Each note would be agony, but they rose from her throat with a beautiful clarity.

"When I fall in love, it will be forever.
Or I'll never fall in love.
In a restless world like this is...

Xander glanced up at the Host who smiled at him and simply nodded. Xander squeezed Buffy's hand. She closed her eyes and continued.

"Love is ended before it's begun.
And too many moonlight kisses...

His grip on her hand went slack and she knew he was gone.





Epilogue: Three years later....




I'd been dead for three long years. What I found in death was not at all what I expected. I had never been particularly religious, but I thought I would go somewhere. Heaven. Hell. Anywhere. Instead, I drifted in the nothingness. Unable to live, yet not truly dead. I couldn't remember exactly what happened. All I could remember was her. Buffy Summers... the vampire slayer. I loved her. I remembered that clearly enough. She was still out there. I could feel her. I had tried to leave this place more times than I could count. I had searched for ways to break through to the other side, but always to no avail. Yet, no matter how many times I failed, I kept trying. All because of her.

Then, just as I was ready to give up hope, I saw a light. I had always heard you should go toward the light, but I would be lying to say it didn't frighten me a little. But then I heard her voice. Well, not her voice per se, but her love. It called out through the nothingness like a beacon. It was familiar and sweet. I ran for the light, if I truly had legs to run with. It consumed me in its brilliance, so much so that I closed my eyes. When I opened them, the first thing I saw was her smile.

I smiled back at her. I wanted to speak, but my voice wouldn't work. Giles stood behind Buffy with tears in his eyes. Willow was in a wheelchair, holding Oz's hand. There was a baby in Willow's arms, and Anya hovered intangibly near them. I looked back at Buffy. Her eyes were filled with tears. She embraced me lightly, as though it might injure me.

"I..." I struggled to get the words out. "I l-love... you."

"I love you too, Xander," she said with a smile. "Welcome home."



The End?



Not Hardly. Look for the sequel "Of Magic and Machinations"...