Chapter Eight


"Shit!" Willow exclaimed. "Spread out."

The group spread out as Willow ordered, even Angel, who was still injured. Buffy and Willow, being the only uninjured, superpowered beings, stood in front of the rest of them.

"You know. Why can't they look like Tom Cruise?" Buffy asked out loud.

"You mean, 'Interview with a Vampire'?" Willow asked with a grin.

"Yeah. I mean these guys are in a gruesome way of lookin' and Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt were sooo excellent." Buffy replied as the vampires stared at them in confusion.

"What about Antonio Banderas?" Willow asked.

"Nah, he wasn't that good." Buffy replied.

Willow laughed and looked back at the confused vampires. Seeing that they were taken aback by the casual nature of the conversation, Willow pounce at one of the vampires while at the same time she pulled a stake from up her sleeve. She plunged the stake into the vampires chest and watched with satisfaction as the vampire erupted into dust. She turned around and saw Buffy give a vampire a vicious kick to the jaw, causing it to fly over the other vampires and collide with two vampires trying to get into the room. The three vampires fell out of the window and plummeted below. The three connected to the ground with a sickening crack.

She turned around and launched herself into the fray.

~ * ~ * ~

Xander spun around and swept the vampire's feet from under it. As the vampire jumped back up, the teenager delivered a powerful uppercut which caused the vampire to crash into a bookcase. As the books fell onto the vampire's head, Xander grabbed the leg of a wooden chair and snapped off a piece. He abruptly turned and slammed the former leg into the chest of the vampire. But before he could watch the vampire get dusted, Xander was grabbed from behind and flung across the room.

But Xander was not the boy he was two years ago. He had studied various forms of self defense and had practiced with Buffy. As he flew through the air, Xander used his momentum to flip in the air and land semi-gracefully across the room.

Xander swung around and viewed the carnage before him. Willow and Buffy were in the thick of things. They were staking vampires and throwing the rest out the window. Angel was not doing as well as them, considering his condition, but was able to hold his own with the vampires. Giles and Cordelia were doing fairly well themselves. They both were armed with crosses and stakes. They were using the crosses to distract the vampires, then they staked them.

But Xander couldn't fool himself. They were losing. There were more vampires coming in then they were getting rid of. Unless a miracle happened...

Then it did. Xander spotted something in a showcase that could help turn the tide. He swung his fist into the glass, shattering it. He grabbed the weapon and remembered what he had heard Darla say over two years ago in the Bronze.

"... They hurt like hell."

The perfect distraction. As he held the weapon, Xander's palms began to sweat. He felt anxiety fill him. He loaded the 9mm and took aim at the group of vampires and mortals. He took a deep breath. <I can do this. I just have to let my instincts take over.> Xander took a deep breath and fired.

Then again.
Then again.
Then again.

Purely driven by instinct, Xander Harris shot the gun. He watched as the vampires fell to the floor in pain. He picked them off so quickly that they didn't notice until it was too late. As for his friends, they stood as still as statues. They watched in total trust as Xander took down Falen's troops. They didn't hide, or duck, or cover. For one sole purpose.

They trusted him.
They knew he wouldn't hit them.

When Xander unloaded the last bullet in the clip, he lowered the gun in disbelief. The remaining vampires were running off, dragging their injured comrades with them. They jumped out the window, injured and uninjured alike, with the solitary goal of surviving. In less then five minutes the vampires were gone from the room.

~ * ~ * ~

From outside they could hear an angry, almost deafening shout, "This isn't over! You're dead! You hear me?! Dead!!"

The group turned to a still shocked Xander. He dropped the gun onto the floor and soon followed it. The heard Xander wheezing for breath. Buffy has never seen Xander act like this.

Buffy turned to Willow and asked, "What's happening to him? Is he okay? I've never seen him do this."

Willow looked at her friend with a sad expression on her face and replied, "Since Xander's dad was always away, his father made him learn to use a gun since Xander was 11. To protect himself and his mom. It was a big responsibility. And Xander took it seriously. But when we were twelve, one of the kids in our class had played with a gun that his father owned. The safety was off and the gun went off."

"Oh my god." Buffy whispered.

"Yeah... The kid died. Xander, Jesse and I were pretty good friends with him." Willow continued. "From that moment, Xander hated guns. The sight of them caused Xander the freak out. To do what he just did must have..."

"Taken so much courage." Buffy finished.

Willow nodded and followed Buffy to Xander. They both knelt beside him. As the 18 year old looked up to them, they saw that he was pale. Very pale. Both girls were at a loss for words.

~ * ~ * ~

But Buffy was the first to regain composure. Willow looked at her friend as she wrapped her arms around Xander.

"It's okay." Buffy cooed. "It's all right."

"I... I... I... I don't know if I can handle this." Xander stammered out. "I... I hate guns. I can't believe what I did. It doesn't matter that they are vampires. I used a gun. I shot at something. I.. I... Oh, God."

"Push it away. You saved our lives. You stopped them." Buffy replied as she ran her hand through Xander's hair.

Willow stared at this, not knowing how to react. She looked at Giles, Cordelia, and Angel. Giles and Cordelia were helping an injured Angel. The three were not paying attention to them. She looked back at Buffy who was holding Xander in a reassuring embrace. Willow suddenly felt like an outsider. A third wheel. <Why was Buffy acting this way with Xander? She didn't? Did she? She couldn't? Could she?>

Willow looked into Buffy's eyes. Buffy, who was paying sole attention onto Xander, didn't notice her friend's gaze. She was oblivious to Willow's curiosity. She didn't see Willow's expression change as she stared at them. She didn't see the shock in Willow's eyes. Shock from what Willow saw in Buffy's eyes.

Love.

For Xander.