Last Card

Author: Danii <debrabantknight[at]>

Summary: Someone makes a Choice and a sacrifice that will change their life forever.

Warning: Kinda sad!

Relationship: B/X feelings

Disclaimer: I own no one. I get no money. Just odd stares and headaches...

Distribution: Anyone who sends me their URL can take it. Just put my name on it.

Rating: PG-PG13


Please send Feedback!

"God does not play dice with the universe: He plays an ineffable game of His own devising, which might be compared, from the perspective of any of the other players [i.e. everybody], to being involved in an obscure and complex variant of poker in a pitch-dark room, with blank cards, for infinite stakes, with a Dealer who won't tell you the rules, and who smiles all the time."

- Good Omens (Terry Pratchett / Neil Gaiman)

There are moments that define us. Who we are, what we want from life, what we want from others. These moments tell us, and others to an extent, what sort of material we're made of. Fate can toss you around however He pleases, but at these moments, it's all you. It's down to what you can do, and what you don't want to do. Can't isn't a part of this. The ball is in your hands, and you can do whatever you want. You can fail, succeed, walk away quietly into the night. It's your choice, and the fact that you can fail so easily only makes triumph more amazing.

You can not lose and not win at the same time by walking away. Or you can do both. Lose and win. And perhaps this is the most defining of them all. The willingness to lose the battle in order to win the war. The willingness to lose your life to save another. People who will do this are rare, and sometimes they truly seem to be the last that would do it. But, that is part of the moment. That is part of the Choice. To be strong when thought weak, not to show others, but to do what has to be done.

Alexander Harris had found his moment. His Choice was before his eyes that night in the darkness of the park. He had had Choices before, Choices he'd thought would rule his life till the day he'd died. Yet, in the face of this moment, they all seemed to become dust, the scattered remains of which were blown upon the winds of Chance and Luck. Those Choices had been a path, a path with many winding roads and forks. They had lead him here, for him to make the ultimate Choice, the one that would truly, and for all time, define just who he was, what he was made of, and declare to the world just what he felt.

It seemed that time had slowed for Xander. The seconds were hours, and his eyes soaked in the scene for what he felt must be days. Buffy. Buffy in the hands of the master vampire, Martin. Buffy, held struggling against the monster's chest as he lowered his head down upon her neck. So slowly, ever so slowly. There was no way she could get out. No possible way. No one could see, no one could help. They were just trying to survive themselves. Except for him. Except for Xander. And he knew that the only way he could save her would be to destroy himself.

To save her, he would have to destroy the being that was Xander Harris. Every memory, every thought, every part that made him who he was would be burned away in that one shining moment of Choice. His Choice. A Choice, he knew, his heart had already made. Even if it meant losing his existence, he would make sure she lived, because, even if she didn't know it, he loved her.

He loved her with a passion, with a strength that frightened him in his more logical moments. He loved her like he had loved no other. He loved her in a way that was almost religious. He loved her enough to live for her, die for her. And now that the Choice had been made, he knew that he loved her enough to destroy himself for her.

Reaching deep inside himself, he pulled apart the barrier within. The barrier that had taken days to construct, months to strengthen, and years to perfect.

So much pain to try and forget.

Yet, in that one white-hot instant, he smashed through them, and allowed the beast within him be free.

Moving with a speed that none had seen before, the body that had once belonged to Alexander Harris went flying head first into vampire, knocking her away from him. What should have been his hands were now vicious claws, and before the vampire could even think of a counter attack, the raging hyena spirit within the Slayerette's body ripped him to shreds. Blood sprayed all around, and the being that had once been Xander licked it from the bleeding corpse ferociously. He continued, ripping and snapping, putting his now-fanglike teeth to work upon the corpse, who was in so much pain at the moment that his body had shut down. Finally, in a fit of anger, those deadly claws sliced the head clean off from the body, and both became dust upon the floor. It had all happened within three seconds, and Buffy had watched in horror as it did.

The hyena spirit made its odd laughing cry, then, his eyes burning with an unholy light, launched itself at the other attackers. The remaining vampires, who had seen their master's demise, went down quickly in bloody pools, then were made into dust seconds later. They didn't even have a chance. Buffy and the others watched as their Xander-shaped friend tore through the attackers with claw and fang, ripping each one up in truly gruesome ways. As he killed that last one, the little group became scared. What their friend had done was beyond frightening, and now they were unsure if he would turn on them.

But he didn't. He made that strange laughing cry, and walked over on all fours to them. The animal inside Xander's body looked up at Buffy, and there seemed to be a message in that gaze. Buffy didn't know if she could understand all of it, but what she did understand was that he had done it for her, and that he would never hurt her. The creature lowered its eyes, then slowly made its way to the edge of the battle ground. There, he made a piercing shriek, and shortly disappeared into the woods.

The Slayer, highly shaken, turned to her Watcher.

"What was that? What happened to him? He was-"

"He made a Choice." Giles answered solemnly.

"What do you mean, he made a Choice?" Buffy screamed, not knowing how to deal with what had just happened, "How did he-"

"When we were in the middle of the battle with the zookeeper," The Watcher explained, his hazel eyes filled with sadness and pain, "the man got the power of the hyena. Not the kind that The Pack had had, the true power. Being split up, The Pack's power was diluted and the effect from the hyena had been mild compared to...what was supposed to happen. But as the zookeeper died, the spirit needed something to inhabit. It picked Xander once more.

"He came to me, unable to control himself, and I helped him by walling up that part of him, for by that time, it was now part of his soul. He didn't want to tell you this, but he remembered all he had done as a hyena, and now, only an hour later, he was almost as bad. So I walled up the spirit. It would have no power over him. But behind that wall, it grew. It grew in to what you just saw."

"But, Giles, what about-"

"He chose to break the barrier. It's the only way it could be broken. And Xander did it. He broke the barrier, and let the beast free in order to save you. He knew there was no other way, and he couldn't-"

"Couldn't what?" the Slayer asked, tears in her eyes.

"He couldn't," Giles said slowly, breathing deeply for the strength, "let the girl he loved die, even if it meant letting the beast take his body."

"What do you mean?" Buffy cried, her voice filled with pain and frustration, "We can get him back! We just have to-"

"No, Buffy..." her Watcher informed her sadly, "There is no way to get Xander back. As I said, behind the wall, the spirit grew. It has him now, completely. He knew that...dear God, he knew that and he did it anyway..."

There was silence for a moment. The other Slayerettes, who had watched in sadness and curiosity, remained quiet. There was nothing to say. There was nothing that could be said. The Choice had been made.


She put the flowers on the gravestone that she was aware had no body beneath it. He was still somewhere out there, lopping around, living the life of another creature. The creature that had taken him away from her.

She looked at the inscription on the slab of marble. All the Slayerettes had chipped in, even Cordy, who had sent a tear- splattered note from LA along with the money. True, he had cheated on her, but she had loved him for a long while, and he had always had a place in her heart.

He'd had a place in everyone's hearts. To Willow, he was a best friend. To Oz, a good buddy to talk to. To Giles, the son he'd never had. To Anya, a sweetheart who was kind enough to show her how to be a person again. To her mom, a nice kid who had always made an effort to make the elder Summers smile. And to Buffy, the love she had never known she'd had.

Slowly, the Slayer traced her fingers across the words they had put on the grave marker, and in her mind, she could see them:

Alexander LaVelle Harris. Born 1980. Died 1999. He Shall Always Be Remembered For His Smile, His Love, His Courage, And His Choice. May He Rest In Peace.

As she rounded the "c", Buffy could feel the wet hot drops as they slid down her face. He had given everything for her. His life, his time, his love...and she had never said thank you. And now it was too late.

Buffy wiped the tears from her eyes, and rearranged the flowers so that they wouldn't be blown away by any wind. Then she took one last look at the gravestone before leaving. But as she walked away, two golden eyes flared in the darkness.

He had made his Choice and it had made him into what he was. He had played his last card. It had made him into a silent guardian, an unknown protector. The being that was Xander had not lost himself to save her once. It would always save her. The spirit would watch over her. He'd made sure of that. The hyena would watch over her for all time.

The End