Finally Free

Author: Koos van Winden <koosfanfic[at]>

Rating: R

Disclaimer: I don't own the characters in this fic. They belong to Whedon and Mutant Enemy

Beta: Keith

Timeframe: S7 Chosen

Warning: Character death

Feedback: Well, I expect some for this fic. But please do, it's, uhm, unconventional, even for me. So I really would like to know what you think of it.

Faith and Xander were the only ones left in the hellmouth, the glowing amulet around his neck, sending rays of light out into the hellmouth. Faith stood in front of him, staring, still holding The Scythe.

"Hurry," Xander warned the Dark Slayer.

"No. No, you've done enough. You could still-" Faith pleaded, her voice a million miles away from its usual cocksure tone.

"No, you've beat them back. It's for me to do the cleanup." He looked at the crumbling walls around them.

Buffy called down to her Sister Slayer. "Faith, come on!"


"Xander!" Faith screamed.

"I mean it! I need do this." He held up his hand to stop her. Faith laced her fingers through Xander's, ignoring the pain as the flames burning there scorched her hand.

She looked into his gentle eye. Strong emotions were overwhelming her. Searching for the right words she stuttered, "I-I love you. I mean . . . I-I am sorry-"

Xander smiled back at her as he interrupted her. "I know. It doesn't matter. I forgive you and I love you too." Another tremor shook the cavern. "Now go up stairs. I wanna see how it ends."


The school building exploded. Buffy ran out from the cloud of smoke and jumped into the bus. The vehicle immediately drove off with all the survivors. She looked one time back as disbelief and pure sadness smashed her like a iron baseball bat. <Xander!? Spike? Why didn't it work? . . . What went wrong? Why Xander!? How did he know?>

Dawn stared out the back window of the bus, tears all over her face, fear and worry took control over her as her body trembled. <Xander!>

Kennedy held a crying Willow in her hands, mumbling over and over again, "I shouldn't have given him enhanced power! I shouldn't have listened to him. Now he's dead!"

"He's not dead yet, honey," she tried to calm her, "Faith is still there and she'll save him."

"No, she won't! He won't let her!" the devasted redhead yelled, before continuing her rambling.


Faith charged through the hallway, Scythe in-hand. Tears blurred her vision as she hurdled the obstacles in her path and dodged the debries still falling from the roof, her ears pounding with Xander's last words. Finally she reached the front door and cursed. "Fuck! Blocked!" Turning she hurried to the roof.


Xander stood in the crumbling hellmouth with light shining down on him from above, a smile on his face. <Finally free.> He burned up until all that remained was a pile of ashes. Then the hellmouth crumbled in around him.


Faith charged along the rooftops of the shopping mall, one eye on the bus as it careered down the street, the buildings behind her collapsing as she pushed herself to catch up to the vehicle. She leapt from building to building, sometimes barely managing to reach her destination. Seeing her chance she jumped toward the street, landing on the roof of the bus.


The bus screeched to a halt and Faith dropped to the ground. After a second spent regaining her composure she stepped into the bus, barely managing to keep her bravado, conscious of every eye turned towards her she spoke. "He's gone," she simply said, her voice devoid of its usual strength and confidence.

The bus fell into a hushed silence, with even Willow shocked into quiet. Those who'd know him the longest relived their own moments with him.

Kennedy had wrapped her arm around her girlfriend, supporting her.

Giles took off his glasses and studied it for a moment before making a wiping gesture, removing a tear rolling over his cheek and putting them back.

Dawn's body had stopped shaking, but her mouth was slightly open, her eyes completely wide and a thin trail of tears visible down her cheeks.

Andrew looked totally lost.


In the heat of the moment Buffy had cursed at Xander for killing her beloved Spike with rays of light. Faith had brutally stopped her from attacking the young man, but it was the calm, satisfied, look on his face that brought back her sympathy for him.

Even though Buffy knew he was dead, Faith's words still hit her harder than she could imagine. The rush of pain she felt when Spike died - the loss of his insane obsessive love, blind trust and worship for her - was over-shadowed by Xander's death. It was the same hurt she felt when her mother had died, a deep pain that cut through heart and soul. A feeling of loss, helplessness and of injustice. And most important it was a feeling that she felt that, for the first in a long time, she could share with the others.

The moment that the bleached vampire had come to her when the others had disbanded her and told her how great she was, that moment she realized that something had gone very wrong. She didn't know what it was. It had given her the strength she needed to kill Caleb and to regain her leadership, but the feeling that something had gone very wrong didn't vanish. Until now.

Remembering Xander's kind words for her a few days ago, before he lost his left eye, she realized that that was his aim: that she was treated as one of the group and not a leader who lived in a ivory tower - the way Spike had treated her. This was the moment to return the favor, knowing that his friends needed it. More than ever it was harder for her to stand up and talk to them - to talk to the group as a real leader - but knowing that Xander wouldn't expect any less from her.

She stood up, her eyes wet, her face grim as she stared at them. She saw them facing her as she softly spoke, "I told him yesterday that he was my strength. I told him that I made it so far because of him. He was the reason for me to keep going on, no matter how hard it was, no matter what we were facing. Not today, not last year, but all those years back from the first day I came to Sunnydale. I wanted him safe, the only normal person that would make it through this hell-hole and could have a normal living. He and you . . ." She looked at her sister. ". . . Dawn. That was my goal."

She swallowed. "I was wrong."

She paused for a second before continuing. "He cared for me when I didn't. He was a friend for me when I asked. He saved me when I couldn't save him. He cleaned up whatever mess I made. He did all of this and never expected or wanted anything in return. And at times he made damn sure that I was doing my duty - risking his friendship with me. A friendship that meant so much to him. *That* is why I'm still standing here today."

Buffy stopped her flow of words as she saw that they brought feelings of recognition on all of their faces. "He loved me even though I couldn't see," she heard Faith mumble.

The oldest Slayer smiled a bit as it gave her a rare moment of introspection. "Here I am, giving a speech for a lost friend and I'm still speaking about myself. Self-centred to the last, huh?" she joked. "We are here and we won, because he loved us *all*."

She saw Faith glancing up at her and flashing a smile of understanding. She nodded back, smiling wryly.

Another silence took over as the blond Slayer glanced at them, taking in their grim faces. She took a deep breath. "We are going to face extra hard times now, without him around. And frankly I don't know if we . . ."

Buffy saw her sister standing up with her arm stretched and taking the word. "When we found out that I wasn't a destined one and I had to give up my powers, he told me how special I was for giving up so easily. He told me how hard it was for him to fight the good fight when he was just a normal guy. He told me how hard it was to watch all the others having or getting those kickass powers or those cool fighting skills and he didn't . . . He was just a guy, but he was a hero to me."

For the first time Buffy felt the same. <It's a shame I never told him.> She saw the Dark Slayer giving her a look that told her that Xander knew. She returned her a smile before she looked back at her sister as the teenager continued.

"I'm sure you all have got your own reason, if not for today, to look at him in a same way as I do. Let him be that hero . . . for all of us. Work a bit harder, help each other, take more care for each other and most of all: feel some pride that *we* are the ones who will make the difference and I'm sure we will make it through."

Buffy saw the faces of her closest friends and the SIT's lit up a bit and it made her smile. Not only for seeing some hope, knowing that they would be able to deal with the pain and with the future, but also for understanding what went wrong between the Amulet and Spike. She nodded to her sister. "He's now with Anya, but he'll be always in our hearts. He'll always be our Champion."