Dragonheart, a Buffy the Vampire Slayer fanfiction.

Disclaimer: Buffy is owned by Joss Whedon and Co. other characters are copywrite of their respective inventors. This story is not written for profit but merely for entertainment.

Chapter 1

The fight had been going well, in his estimation. Despite the rapidly forming bruises on his stomach and chest, he'd managed to bag himself a vamp and Buffy was doing the whole Slayer thing and making the cemetery into an overgrown dust receptacle.

The blonde grinned at him and made her way around the headstones in his direction, carefully stepping around the various areas of disturbed earth to avoid getting any stains on her pristine white pumps.

"Hey, Xan, you okay?" she asked. He gave her a goofy grin and thumped his chest vigorously.

"Me man, me strong!" he quipped, carefully concealing the wince caused by the tender spot near his heart.

"Cool, though I wish you wouldn't just jump in, you know," Buffy chastised.

"I'll try to be more careful in future, Buff," he said, an easy grin on his face. It faltered for a moment as the pain in his chest intensified significantly before he managed to shore it up again. Buffy frowned and peered at her friend.

"You okay, Xan? You're not looking so hot," she stated. He waived her off with one hand, the other pressed to his left side.

"No worries, Buff," he muttered, "must be a stitch, that's all." The blonde appeared unconvinced and moved closer.

"You're really pale," she murmured, her eyes skittering over his features in concern. He grunted, bending over in an attempt to alleviate the growing pain in his chest.

"I'll be fine!" he insisted stubbornly through gritted teeth. The pain continued to squeeze at his chest, and he felt like someone was simultaneously trying to burn him alive and crush the breath from his lungs. He barely registered dropping to his knees but took some solace in the gloriously cool grass as it tickled his face, the scent of dirt and grass filling his nose as his vision began to grow dark around the edges.

"S-sorry, Buff," he whispered, recognising her voice as she frantically called his name and tried to pry his hands away from where they clutched at his sweater.

Her voice was the last thing that he heard as the fire in his chest seemed to spasm and drove him into unconsciousness.

"Xander! Stay with me!"

Awareness came back to him slowly, the soft beep of a heart rate monitor clueing him in to his location. Opening his eyes, Xander winced and tried raising an arm to cover his face from the harsh light, but merely managed to make his arm flop around like a fish out of water. Grimacing, he slowly allowed his eyes to open farther, resolving his surroundings into blurry shapes that slowly gained definition as he blinked away his gummy lids.

"Hey, Xander," a soft voice interjected from his left. He lolled his head in that direction and found himself confronted by a familiar head of red hair. A few more blinks and her features came into focus, showing him her red-rimmed eyes.

"'Sup," he croaked, managing a half-hearted smile. "Feels like I got hit by a train," he continued, slurring the words slightly. He watched Willow's expression waver before tears began spilling from her eyes.

"Oh, Xander!" she sobbed as she lunged forward, "I'm so sorry!" From there her words only degenerated into incomprehensible gibberish and half-formed words that even his extensive experience with willow-babble couldn't decipher.

"What for?" he managed after a while. He knew that his weakness couldn't be a good sign, but was at a loss as to what had happened as he didn't think that the vampire he had dusted had tagged him that badly. A new voice intruded on the awkward moment.

"Hello, Xander," Giles greeted from the door. He looked exhausted, his face drawn and lined far worse than any other time that the young Scooby had seen him, even after his time at the hands of Angelus.

"'Sup, G-man," Xander repeated, his right hand ineffectually attempting to soothe his best friend with small strokes of her elbow.

"Quite a lot, I'm afraid," the older man murmured as he pulled up a chair next to the young witch. "I've alerted the doctor's to your status and they will be here shortly to explain. I'm afraid to say that they have contacted your parents as well, who will be here shortly." The teen winced and allowed his neck to relax, bringing his gaze back to the sterile ceiling of the ward.

"Great," he muttered. "Buff?" he asked softly as willow drew back and dabbed at her eyes.

"She, she had to go, go home," willow said, haltingly. "Her Mo-mom said that sh-she could come back later."

"Long as she's okay," Xander said. Giles gave a sad smile and nodded his appreciation for the concern before his attention was caught by the small group that had appeared at the door.

"Willow, we should leave, for now," he murmured as he gently helped her to her feet. To Xander, he said, "We'll be back later, alright?" The young teen nodded, trying not to worry at the bone-deep weariness that felt like a suffocating cloud on his mind. His brown eyes lazily dragged themselves over to his parents as they entered with a man in a white coat and clipboard. Doctor, his mind supplied. The man, in his mid-forties with rapidly greying brown hair, looked grim. Not a good sign.

"How are you feeling, Alexander?" the man asked. "My name is Dr. Henderson and I've been monitoring your condition."

"Feel like crap," Xander replied, his eyes firmly fixed on his parents, or more specifically his father's warning expression.

"Yes, I'm afraid that is only to be expected," dr. Henderson said. "I'm afraid I have some bad news. Due to a congenital defect present from birth that caused a narrowing of your arteries and veins, you have suffered a myocardial infarction. That means that your coronary artery became blocked and was unable to receive any oxygen for a while. We have treated the blockage by a procedure called angioplasty, which uses a small balloon to stretch the artery to allow blood to flow past, but I'm afraid your heart has suffered significant damage."

"So what does that mean for me, doc?" Xander said. Dr. Henderson glanced at his parents, whose unusually stoic expressions caused him some concern.

"It means you need a heart transplant, Alexander," he said. Xander's father stirred.

"How much is this gonna cost?" he stated bluntly. Henderson paused for a moment, unsure of how to proceed.

"If costs are a problem, Medic-Aid might be able to help," he tried. The elder Harris' expression turned thunderous.

"Are you sayin' we need handouts?" he asked, his tone dangerous. Xander watched with a heavy heart as his father's pride reared its ugly head.

"No, of course not, Mr Harris, I merely meant that in order to save your son's life-"

"We've not taken handouts and we never will!" Anthony Harris snapped. "How much?" he demanded again. Henderson glanced at the young man lying on the hospital bed and saw a weary soul gazing back.

"More than you can afford," he answered reluctantly. "Thousands of dollars," he clarified, pulling his gaze from the teenager on the bed an meeting the angry look of the boy's father. After a moment, the senior Harris grunted and gave his son a dour look.

"Always causing trouble," he muttered to himself. "Fine. We'll look into it." Henderson found himself unable to say anything else before both parents started for the door, the mother giving her son a nervous, unsure look before she disappeared around the door frame.

"Don't worry about it, doc," Xander murmured. "So, give it to me straight. What are my chances?" Henderson pursed his lips and met the boy's level stare.

"A few months, at the most. It took you a long time to get you here. By the time we were able to administer proper medical aid, the damage had been done. You were clinically dead for about five minutes. It's a wonder you haven't suffered any brain damage, but the scans show that you were lucky."

"Not much up here to kill off, doc," Xander joked, pointing listlessly toward his head. Henderson smiled at the depreciating humour.

"I'm sure that's not true," he said, patting the boy on the shoulder. "But I'm hopeful that we will find something soon. The young are a higher priority, after all."

"Thanks, doc," Xander whispered, his eyes beginning to droop.

"You're welcome," Henderson replied, making his way to the door and dropping the boy's chart in its holder at the end of the bed as he passed. Glancing along the corridors and seeing that they were deserted, he walked briskly to the nearest stairwell and took out his cell.

Hitting the speed dial, he waited three rings before he heard the call connect to silence. "It's Henderson," he clarified, "I've found a suitable candidate." He paused, listening to the voice on the other end. "Yes, Alexander Harris. Yes, he is. The Slayer, yes. I will. When should I expect them? Friday? Yes, sir. I believe that there is a suitable place nearby. Yes, sir. I'll need a full team in order to complete it successfully. Thank you, sir. Goodbye." Disconnecting, he looked out the window at the California sky. "God forgive me," he prayed softly.