Chapter Forty-Seven: Star Wars Is Awesome (Even the prequels)
"How is he holding up?" Buffy asked upon seeing her sister emerge from the recovery room.
"About as well as you would expect," Dawn replied sadly, "Blaming himself for what happened."
"Do you think that he needs to be alone or…?"
"I think that being alone is the last thing he needs right now," Dawn said, "Just keep it to one at a time. I don't want us to overwhelm him or anything."
"What did you do when you were in there?" she asked.
"Not much," Dawn replied, "I just sat there with him." Buffy nodded, the wheels in her head moving.
"I think I'll try a different approach," she said, finally deciding on a course of action.
After a brief detour to the nearest vending machine, Buffy entered the recovery room. It had been several hours since Dawn had first entered and, as a result, she was spared the horror that her little sister had been subjected to. Although it was still not good, Harmony looked considerably better than she had a little while ago. Though still charred, the pink was starting to return to her skin, isolated clumps of blonde hair were starting to emerge from her skull and the skin across her throat had started to heal, patching over the dreadful emptiness that had been there before. Even her spine had started to reform into its original shape as opposed to the ruin of Reginette it had been only hours before. He held a blackened, withered hand in his own. Apparently it was now safe to touch her.
"When was the last time you ate or slept?" she asked as she entered the small room. He looked up at her.
"A couple of days ago," he said tonelessly, "And, to be honest that's nothing. I won't bore you with the details but I actually went nine days without sleep."
"That's impressive," she said, still standing in the doorway.
"Not really," he admitted, "By the end of it I was… Not at my best."
"Here," she said, chucking him a bag of gummy bears. "It was the only thing in the vending machine," she said apologetically, "But I think you should eat something."
"Later," he said dismissively, tossing the packet aside to the floor. Her lipped curled.
"Oh no you don't," she snarled before storming forward to pick up the sweets before slapping the packet into his free hand. He looked up at her in shock, surprised by this sudden display of emotion.
"What the hell?" he demanded angrily, rising to his feet, Harmony's hand slipping from his.
"She is a vampire," she said, looking him dead in the eye, "She is going to heal. She is going to get better. So you are going to eat, you are going to get some sleep and you are going to stop whinging like a brat!"
"Oh you do not get to say that Summers," he growled. Harmony remained sleeping on the bed, entirely unaware of the conflict that was occurring mere feet from her side.
"Oh now he talks!" she said triumphantly, "I mean for months and months you're drowning in all of this pain and grief but do you ever tell anyone? Do you ever say "Hey guys, I'm in a bad way. I need help?" No, you do nothing. Then you have the gall to get angry when we don't respond to the signals that you didn't send!" If it was possible, Xander's expression became even more lethal. It was now thermal. She laughed. She actually had the audacity to laugh at him. "Oh look at that," she mocked, "The grumpy face! I'm really quaking in my stylish yet affordable boots."
"You are skating on very. Thin. Ice," he said in a low voice. She rolled her eye derisively.
"You know what you need, Xander?" she asked, "You need to grow up… and to get over yourself." She poked him roughly in the chest.
"Don't touch me," he hissed.
"Why?" she asked in the same mocking voice before poking him again, much harder the second time.
He clenched his fists.
The Previous Day
Location: Angel's Office
"He wants me to kill someone?" Connor asked incredulously. Angel had just filled in everyone on his meeting with Cyvus Vail. Apparently he wanted Connor to release and kill Sahjahn. If he didn't, Vail's demons would hunt down his family. Apparently was the word that Wesley was using to describe the situation as he was not entirely sure that Angel was telling the entire truth. Oh he had no doubts that Sahjahn was somehow once again in the picture and that Cyvus Vail wanted him to die by Connor's hand but his gut was telling him that Angel was holding something back. "Why me?" the boy asked, "Why do I have to do it?" Angel leant forward, resting his elbows on the desk.
"Because you're special," he replied, "There's a prophecy that says you're the only one who can kill him."
"Why are we even entertaining this?" Wesley asked.
"Vail's made some convincing threats," Angel responded.
"Since when did we start giving into threats?" Fred demanded.
"It doesn't really sound like something we'd do," Spike agreed speaking for the first time. Given that he didn't know anything about this Sahjahn person he figured that it was smarter to simply listen for the time being.
"That's easy for you to say," said Connor angrily, "He's not threatening you he's threatening my family!" Even though it was very clearly the wrong time to be entertaining such thoughts, Angel was proud of his son's concern for his family.
"We can't trust anything from Vail," Wesley said urgently before turning to his boss, "Angel, he did a massive spell the day we took over Wolfram & Hart. Until we understand why–" Connor ignored him and turned back to Angel.
"Is he pretty strong, this Sahjahn?" he asked. Wesley gave a brief bark of laughter.
"That's an understatement," he said darkly, "Last time you fought him, Sahjahn nearly killed you." Connor suddenly looked a whole lot less enthusiastic about the whole affair.
"Is that true?" he asked Angel. Angel looked down evasively.
"This is different," he said before looking the boy in the eye, "Like I said... you're special." Connor sighed.
"We don't have a choice, do we?" he asked. Wesley scoffed.
"Of course we have a choice, we always have a choice," he said firmly, "We just need time to figure out what Vail did."
"We don't have time," said Angel firmly, ending the discussion.
"If I kill Sahjahn, Vail will leave my family alone?" Connor asked seriously. Angel nodded, waiting for a reaction. Suddenly Connor grinned. "What are we waiting for?" he asked. They both stood up and left the office. As soon as the door was shut Fred let out the breath that she had been holding.
"Alright," she said, "I definitely saw that." Wesley nodded in agreement.
"What's going on?" Spike asked, sensing that he was missing half of this conversation.
"Angel's hiding something," Wesley explained, "We think that there is more than just this boy's family at stake here."
"Angel is being threatened by someone," Fred added, "It might be the Senior Partners or this Vail person."
"The day we took over Wolfram and Hart," Wesley continued, "There was massive reality alteration. We don't know what it means yet but it does not bode well for us."
"I thought it was fishy him letting a boy into the fight like that," Spike mused, "What do we do now?"
"Keep digging," said Wesley, "If we can find out what it is that they are holding over him, we can help him get out of it."
"I know that they're just vending machine food," said Xander, sitting at the foot of the bed, "But these are actually pretty good gummy bears." He passed the packet to Buffy (who was sitting next to him) as he felt what he suspected was a newly forming black eye. She rubbed her jawline, feeling a decent sized bruise there. The pair of them were both covered from head to toe with bruises, cuts and welts.
"I know what you mean," she agreed, pausing to eat one of the gummy bears. "How's your chest?" she asked, "I was trying to avoid your wound."
"Yeah, by focussing on my face," he said sarcastically before laughing. "It's fine. The wound is actually almost healed. We have pretty good doctors," he said before touching his nose gingerly and frowning.
"I've actually been meaning to ask about that," she said, "I've heard about some of the things Wolfram & Hart can do and… I heard that they can replace body parts." He knew where she was going with this. "Is that true?"
"Yeah, it is."
"Then how come you never tried to get a new eye?" she asked. He was silent for a while as he struggled to find the right words for what he wanted to say.
"I've done good work," he said at last, "I've managed to help people. Wolfram & Hart has helped me to help others. That being said, I have no illusions about this place. I've seen the things that have been done in its name. So far I have managed to not take anything from them. I am still my own man. I am still Xander. I would not be able to say that if they gave me a new eye. As much as I'd like to have a new one, I don't want to give my soul or my principles or… who I am. Does that make any sense?"
"It actually makes a lot of sense," she said, nodding. He touched his nose again before wincing slightly.
"My nose isn't broken, is it?" he asked. She leant forward to examine his face.
"Nah it's okay," she said, "A little big but there's no fixing that."
"Oh thanks," he scoffed, "That's real nice." He looked at her forehead and whistled when he noticed another bruise beginning to form, just above her left eyebrow. She noticed where he was looking.
"That was actually pretty impressive," she said, "Even if I was holding back a bit." He looked at her with a raised eyebrow, clearly not believing her.
"Okay," she relented, grinning, "I was holding back a lot, I'm a Slayer and I didn't want to actually kill you but still… Not bad all things considered."
"At what point did the fight stop being real?" he asked, swiping the last gummy bear.
"Probably when you started laughing," she said.
"I only laughed because you did the Matrix "bring it" thing with your hand," he said defensively, "It's very difficult to take a fight seriously when your opponent does that."
"It was supposed to look intimidating," she said, "And it would have been if you didn't ruin it by laughing."
"If I see something silly, I laugh," he said.
"Silly?" she screeched before relenting. "Yeah, you have me there," she admitted sheepishly, "At least it's better than horribly misquoting Star Wars in an attempt to cheer someone up."
"Hey! That was like four years ago," he said defensively before realising something, "Hang on for one moment. How on Earth did you know that?"
"Know that I misquoted Star Wars?" he asked.
"Well…" she said evasively, "Andrew might have bought me the complete set for Christmas and I might have… watched them." He burst out laughing with her joining in seconds later.
"That's not fair," he said, "I spend seven years trying to get you to watch them so you can see why so many people like them but nooo, it's silly boy stuff. I'm dead for a few months and then suddenly – Bam! – I guess I'll watch it, see what all the fuss is about. What did you think?" She didn't say anything, she just looked down at her shoes. "Come on," he pressed, "What did you think?"
"… It was awesome," she squeaked finally. That set off another burst of laughter from him that she could not help but join in. Suddenly the door burst open to reveal an agitated looking Spike.
"What happened?" he said, not really looking at them, "I was downstairs and I heard fight and smelled blood and…" He actually paused long enough to get a good look at them. "What the bloody hell happened here?" he demanded. They couldn't help themselves, he just looked so confused and so concerned.
Naturally they spent the next thirty seconds laughing, much to his confusion and consternation.
The Previous Day
"Oh my god," whispered Fred as she looked down in horror.
"What's wrong?" Wesley asked before being struck dumb by what he saw.
On the contract ordering the reality shift, as bold as day written in blood was Angel's signature.
"What does that mean?" she asked.
"I don't know," he said, "We have to stop him. That boy could be in danger."
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