Chapter Eleven

The vampire laid Xander's unconscious form into the make-shift cell. Falen grinned happily behind them. The vampire, who was named Nicholas, shifted his gaze at Falen. Nicholas didn't fear Falen as other vampires did. Falen was eerie, with powers that made other vampires look like mere mortals. At one time, Nicholas had feared Falen, a vampire who could change from a man to a woman, but that fear was long gone. After what Falen had done to him, Nicholas had lost his fear of Falen. All he felt for the vampire was pity.

Falen caught his gaze and grinned. In her current female form, Falen was beautiful, but that was mere deception. A facade to the true evil that Falen was.

"What's the matter Nicholas? You do not approve?" Falen said as she sat down on the ground.

Her voice echoed in the cave, causing each word to resonate with power.

"You didn't need to bring the boy into this," Nicholas replied. "He's an innocent. Your argument is with The renegade vampire and the half-breed."

"He killed Adam," Falen replied with a sneer. "You yourself saw him behead Adam last night. Adam was one of us, and you try to protect the mortal."

Nicholas sneered at Falen and replied, "I'm not one of you. You know it. You made me what I am now. I can't help the way I feel."

Falen groaned and responded, "You disgust me. With your excuses of emotion. God, sometimes I regret the change I made to you."

Nicholas looked at Falen with surprise.

"You mean, you sometimes like the fact that I have morals?" He asked with absolute shock.

Falen grinned smugly and replied, "Of course. Who would I talk to if I hadn't?"

With that Falen walked off, leaving Nicholas with the unconscious Xander Harris.

~ * ~ * ~

Buffy walked with Angel into the library of the castle. He sat down on a ancient looking chair and gazed at her. Buffy felt the overwhelming urge to stand.

"What the hell happened out there?" she asked.

Angel sighed and replied, "Xander told you, vampires."

Buffy shook her head and said, "Ohhh, don't give me that. You're lying to me. I can feel it."

"Buffy..." Angel began.

"No. Tell me," Buffy interrupted.

"You don't understand..." Angel began again.

"Damn you, tell me!" she screamed.

"I did it! Damn it, I did it!" he screamed back. "I attacked him! I hurt him! I was jealous, and I tried to kill him!"

Buffy backed away, shocked. <Oh, and let's not forget angry as hell.>

"You?" she repeated. "You attacked him? Why?"

Angel looked down and said, "Because... you love him."

Buffy was even more taken aback by this answer then the previous one. She was still reeling from Willow's accusations yesterday. She had spent last night staring at her ceiling contemplating Willow's words.

~ * ~ * ~

<Do I love Xander?>
<He was handsome.>
<But do I love him?>


<Yes? Where did that come from? She never saw him as more then a friend. But where did that yes come from? When did she start feeling this way for Xander?>

~ * ~ * ~

Buffy and Xander ran out of the school. Giles had dismissed them from a afternoon of training because he felt that they need time to relax. The Slayer also suspected that he wasn't feeling too kosher with himself. He's looking worse and worse, coming into school unshaven and in shambles. But as much as she thought he was giving them this break for himself, she also suspected that he saw how stressed they were getting. Unfortunately the day changed from a bright, sunny morning, to a stormy, raining afternoon.

That stuff is normal on the Hellmouth.

They ran through the rain, laughing. The cold rain seemed to wash away their worries and troubles. Or a few hours, they forgot about their responsibilities. Their worries. Their pains.

They ran through the rain acting like little children. They splashed each other by jumping in puddles on the way to Buffy's house. When they reached her house, Buffy had realized something.

Her house keys in her room. A room, locked away in a house that she couldn't get into.

Xander and Buffy sat on her stoop, in the rain, waiting for her mother. As the rain fell down on them, they both felt cold. They huddled their bodies together for warmth.

Buffy remembered how she looked up at Xander's light brown eyes, and felt complete bliss.

~ * ~ * ~

Buffy shook herself from her reverie. Angel looked at her with sadness.

"Do you love him?" Angel asked softly.

"No!" she yelled. "I don't love him."

Angel looked at her intently and replied, "Who's lying now?"

"I don't know if I love him," she whispered.

Angel nodded sadly and walked away, leaving Buffy alone in the large library.

~ * ~ * ~

Later that night...

Cordelia walked into the dining hall. There sat Buffy, Angel, and Giles. Cordelia noticed that Buffy and Angel were glancing at each other sadly.

Cordelia took a seat by Giles and asked, "Where's Xander?"

Giles shook his head, indicating he had no clue. He replied, "I haven't seen him all day. I was in the castles cellar. It has many volumes or vampire lore and such. I was trying to gather information on our new acquaintance, Falen."

"You'll have no such luck."

The group turned as Willow entered the hall. Cordelia noticed Buffy tense slightly a the sight of the red-head. Willow in returned avoided looking at Buffy.

Willow looked directly at Giles and said, "I've done so much research, but could find nothing about Falen and his gang."

Buffy sighed and said, "Okay, let's get beyond that for an hour and have dinner."

She looked at Willow and asked, "Where's Xander? Is he upstairs getting changed?"

Willow gave Buffy a bitter look and responded, "How'd I know? I haven't seen him all day. I thought he'd be with you."

Cordelia watched Buffy's brow furrowed. She knew that look. Something was wrong.

"He went out this afternoon to look for you on the path. When he didn't come back, I assumed he was hanging with you." Buffy said.

Willow's brow furrowed this time. "I didn't see him. I was in town all day."

Buffy stood up and said, "Something's wrong. I can feel it."

She ran out of the dining hall, leaving the rest to follow.

~ * ~ * ~

After combing the entire castle for Xander, they expanded their search outside. Buffy walked into the garden, searching for Xander. <Please let him be okay. I can't lose him.>

Angel walked up beside her and said, "I sent Giles, Willow, and Cordelia to look through the path."

Buffy nodded silently and walked on. As she walked through the garden, she saw something next to a trampled bush. The moon light was reflecting off it's metal surface. As she grew closer, she recognized the object. It was Xander's cross. The one that Buffy had given him a year and a half ago.

"Why would Xander leave this here?" she asked aloud.

"He didn't. He used it on me. He must have left it here," Angel replied behind her.

"Buffy!" Cordelia screamed from the forest.

As fast as possible, Buffy was running towards the forest. She adrenaline was pumping like never before. As she approached the beams from the flashlights, she could see the sad faces of Cordelia, Giles, and Willow.

"What? What happened?" Buffy asked frantically.

Silently, Giles pointed to a tree. Buffy followed his gaze and spotted what they found. The ground by the tree was all messed up. Uprooted plants and the scuffled ground indicated that there had been a fight. And by the blood on the tree, she could tell in was a bad one.

"They have him," Buffy whispered out.