Title: To Die with Open Eyes

Author: Becka

Chapter 8: Screams

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Xander's laughing. It's so fucking _wrong_ but it's all he can do, and Andrew is shaking because there are some sounds the human voice isn't supposed to make.

It's hysterical and dark and twisted, and there's something in there that says Xander's not going to stop on his own. It's not a wave Xander's riding anymore - it's a fucking _tsunami_.

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Guard's shaking.

Trembling, actually, would be more accurate. Because the prophecy of the Hunter is coming to pass, and while Xander's been fucking with God for the past three years, this is the moment of truth. This is where it all plays out, and as a divine entity, Guard's entitled to watch.

Entitled, meaning forced.

It's like a fucking I-MAX theater inside of his head, and every other force of God is sitting in there with him, and Dolby surround-sound is a bitch because Xander's laughing, everywhere at once.

Clerk's there too, and he reaches out a hand and brushes it along Guard's face. Then the hand drops, but it's the effort that's put into that gesture that hits Guard in the gut because he doesn't think he can move right then even if God orders it.

But then, his respect for the Big Guy is dropping at a rapid speed.

It started more than one hundred years ago when God first spoke of the prophecy. He said that William the Bloody would become too bloody powerful, and isn't it funny that Xander had hit it right on the mark? Knowledge was divinity and there wasn't going to _be_ something bigger'n'badder on the food chain to kill Spike.

And that's what it all boils down to. The Big Guy was afraid the Big Bad might one day usurp His throne.

So He'd set the gears going for someone to kill Spike.

Why He'd picked Xander, Guard hadn't understood.

Guard had _thought_ it was because Xander was a true innocent. He'd thought it was because there was a fucking white knight inside the boy that would be their salvation. Hell, he'd even thought that it would be an honor for the kid - an honor to become the Paladin of God.

And then Guard had heard the prophecy.

The Big Guy wasn't setting Xander up to be a paladin. He was setting Xander up to be a fucking _sacrifice_.

He was damning the Hunter's immortal soul to _hell_.

That still left the question, though. Why Xander?

Listening to that laugh, Guard shivers. God's Tongue is incapable of speaking lies.

The prophecy is cruelty. No other prophecy has wiped the memory of its Chosen One from the minds of the only people who can help him. The "alive but not living, in memory dead" clause seems like just another way to drive Xander insane. Take away his life so that all he has to focus on is the demon that fucking destroyed him.

And isn't it just perfect that the particular demon in question is a vampire? For all intents and purposes, one of the two demons that already _is_ dead?

It's all clear to Guard now as he watches the prophecy play out. As God's Eyes, he should have known. He should have seen this coming a mile away, but hindsight, for him at least, is absolute.

The Hunter is insane. The Big Bad is lost. Neither of them is going to make it through the night because they were fucking _created_ to destroy each other. Spike's already damned, and Xander's well on his way, and neither of them will ever step a foot inside the pearly gates. They're going to be welcomed to hell with open arms, and Drusilla's going to be waiting at the fiery gates with a cup of tea and a picnic basket.

And the kicker, the real fucking _kicker_ here, is that God will be replaced.

He _created_ the prophecy to insure His throne, but after seeing the way this all plays out, no one up here's going to want anything to do with Him anymore. Every angel will want answers because every angel can hear Xander's laughter, and after tonight, God's fears will come to pass.

God created the Hunter to keep Spike from taking his throne.

But it's because of the Hunter that the angels will want a new God.

That will be later, though.

Because Guard is watching Xander.

And where God's Eyes gaze, all of Heaven's Eyes will follow.

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Xander's laughing. It's hysterical and twisted, and he shows no signs of stopping. Andrew's still covering his hands to his ears, sobbing, and the words, "Stop, please stop," that bubble to his lips are breaking.

And Spike can't take it anymore. He can't deal with hearing Xander's laughter, and if he had a stake, he'd use it, but somehow he knows that sound will follow him straight to hell. Then Spike's moving forward and his arms are around Xander and he whispers the only words that come to mind, a little late, but hey! Ten points for effort, even if the execution is fucked.

"Love you, pet."

Xander's laughter ceases abruptly.

Silence descends, and it's almost as damning as that laughter, but Xander's mouth is opening and a voice that he doesn't recognize is saying, "I'm a terrible person, Spikey."

"I raped you, pet. I think I can relate," the vampire responds gently, and Xander doesn't know how they're sitting on the floor, but Spike's rocking him like a child.

And there's that voice he doesn't recognize again. "I've killed so many people."

Spike buries his face in Xander's shoulder and whispers, "I made you kill your first."

"Was I ever innocent?" Xander knows that's his voice, but he can't ever remember sounding so lost.

"Before you met me."

And they're clinging to each other, and Xander doesn't know if he's supporting Spike or if it's the other way around. Andrew's watching this bizarre exchange through wide eyes, and maybe it's surreal, but this is a relationship between the Donut Boy and the Big Bad and it never could have been a normal one. And maybe he knows what's coming, or maybe he just can't take this anymore, but Andrew turns around and stumbles away.

So Xander just closes his eyes and hugs the cool body closer as he whispers, "I hate you, Spike."

Spike lets out a shaky breath, but doesn't let go.

Xander's voice is adamant as he says, "Ask me who I am, Spikey."

Deceptively soft, Spike responds, "Who are you, pet?"

And then Xander smiles, an empty smile, and looks at Spike with empty eyes, and says without a single doubt, "I'm the fucking comic relief."

There's a heartbeat as those words sink in, and he continues, "You know who you are, Spike?"

"Who am I, pet?"

"You're my salvation."

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All of Heaven is watching as the Hunter and his prey share a tender kiss. They watch as the two combatants turn to retrieve their weapons - a stake and a knife, both stained with the blood of countless creatures. And they watch as the fight begins.

There's silent agreement there, written plainly in baby blue and chocolate brown. It's more like Spike and Xander are testing one another as they dance with primal grace. And it's almost comical that the epic battle between Heaven and Hell comes down to a demon in love and a human with nothing but vengeance in his heart.

And when the final blow comes, when the knife and the stake are poised to strike each other in the heart -

- when all of Heaven holds its breath -

- when all of Hell begins to pray -

- Xander's left standing there, all alone.

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"Fucking undead PRICK!" Xander says, but there's no sting in the words, and the tears running down his face say something else completely.

/ Said I'd die for you, pet, / a voice whispers in his head.

And Xander's left staring at the ashes, and he _knows_ it's wrong because he just shoved a stake through Spike and the blonde had a knife to his heart and he didn't fucking _use_ it. Right before the killing blow, just a centimeter from his heart, and _why_ wasn't he bleeding to death? The vampire had stopped, pulled short, but Xander's stake had hit the mark, and he's crying, and he knows it's stupid, but he's so fucking _lost_.

/Can't kill my heart, / Spike's whispering in his head, /'cause my heart's already dead./

So Xander huddles there, arms around his knees, rocking back and forth.

His voice is small and hurt, like a little child.

"I'm supposed to die _with_ you."

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Spike's dead, Spike's dead, Spike's fucking _dead_. The mantra's looping in Xander's mind, but it doesn't really register.

There's nothing left for Xander - nothing left at all. And it's all Xander can do not to scream because isn't it just _fucked_. He's spent so long planning to kill Spike that there's nothing left in his life now that Spike's gone. He's the Hunter, the ex-Vengeance of God, but he's got nothing left.

No one remembers, and no one cares. Spike cared.

But Spike's dead.

So Xander smiles and picks up Spike's knife, twirling it with his fingers. He makes the blade dance across his skin.

/What was it that Spike said?/

There's blood, but there's always blood, and if he's honest, this is the way it has to be.

Spike was the only one that could have killed him, but now Spike's dead.

/Oh, that's right./

Xander smiles, just like a kid on Christmas day. There's blood, lots of it, and the knife's dropping to the ground and it hits the floor with a clang. It echoes in Xander's mind, and Spike whispers -

/I'll see you in hell, pet./

And even as he closes his eyes and the darkness overtakes him, Xander swears he can see Spike and Drusilla there, holding a picnic basket as, laughing, they beckon him to join.

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fin

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