Moving On With Destiny

Author: Anime Ronin <anime_ronin[at]>

Rating: PG-13

Summary: Graduation is over; orders are given, challenged and ultimately accepted with a grain of salt.

Disclaimer: I own nothing of BTVS, the song at the end is owned by Metallica and produced by Creeping Death, Bob Rock, Hetfield and Ulrich (that's all that's on the inside of the CD I own, so know that they own the song, not me).

AN: Two or three months have passed between this story and 'Of Faith And Horsemen'; flashbacks will explain things to some extent and others will be explained verbally. Know that this is the last installment of the 'Pale Rider' series, as I have taken to calling it; there will be another series to follow this, but it will be a while from now (starting in June, probably).

AN2: Note that while Xander has Methos within him, and in the past he has acted more like Methos than Xander, he is not wholly entrenched in the old ways – he still has some mind to the old axiom 'There is no situation in the human condition that cannot be solved with the proper and liberal use of high explosives and high-cyclic rate weaponry.' Also, he is not above dealing in the black market to get some of the things he needs – it's (technically) illegal, but so are most of the things that need to be done in the Buffy-verse.

AN3: I am not sure if I put this in the last fic, but I am choosing just after 'Of Faith And Horsemen' as to when Dawn is created/shows up – nobody notices anything wrong, not even Alex; as in the show, she still as her major crush on him, but also accepts Faith and Jenny as her rivals for his affections / time, thinks that her sister is a major cow and everyone remembers her dressing up as Amanda 'The Raven' (from Highlander – keeps French skills and only a slightly tacky finger, not sticky) to counter Xander's Methos on Halloween.

AN4: I know I screwed up in the last chapter and put that when Whistler left they were in a warehouse, when in reality they were in the Library – sorry. I wanted to get finished.

Chapter 1

With Whistler's warning that the next few months would be tough, Alex decided to take his advice and took both Faith and Jenny back to the hot tub at the mansion, but sadly she was able to conjure up at swimsuit, so there was no skinny dipping involved. They all enjoyed themselves that night with idle conversation and a few drinks to let off some steam, but when they reached the school the next day, it was all business because Giles had come up with the rumors and the prophecy concerning the Mayor's ascension.

For two months they tried to outmaneuver the Mayor, even gong so far as for Alex to seemingly join the Mayor's side as Methos, Death On A Pale Horse, but in the end they were unable to do more than to gain the bare minimum of what information they needed; during that time Faith accidentally stabbed / killed Alan Finch and almost went to pieces over it, but with Jenny's help (and, somewhat surprisingly, Dawn's). Even though Buffy tried to play it off as Faith's fault, it was Giles who asked her why Finch was in her way – Buffy copped to having tossed him to Faith and, as such, also had to cop to being partly, if not wholly, to blame for the incident (The Council was never involved, thankfully).

Finally, though, it came down to Graduation day; Faith had actually done rather well in her studies and would pass with a C+ average, Alex passing with a respectable B- due to his earlier slacking, with Willow passing with an A, Oz with a B, Buffy with a B, and Cordy and Amy both passing with B-'s; Cordy, incidentally, was saved from the IRS scandal her father and mother had committed by a timely intervention from an accounting firm who proved that the elder Chases were completely at fault and none of Cordy's assets could be touched, as they were in her name and, thus, hers alone (she accused Alex of setting it up but he was as much in the dark about it as she was).

There had been several ideas passed around, each of them credible, save Oz's Hummus Offensive (though many believed it was a tactic to break the tension), and Buffy fervently wanted to blow up the school with magical bombs that Jenny had researched – each were about as powerful as a four-pound charge of C4, and they could be lumped together in masses of ten each before they became unstable and detonated spontaneously {AN: isn't it the wish of every student to blow up their school at one point or another?}; the idea was the best of them all, but that was where Alex decided to change things up because of The Mayor, not bothering to tell anybody anything.

Finally the day came; hundreds of students who had survived Sunnydale High since the Hellmouth went active were ready to walk across the stage and get their diplomas, but before that, Mayor Richard Wilkins III wanted to speak; it soon became apparent that he would perform the whole speech and that led to Buffy whispering to Willow, "He really IS evil!" Finally, though, the eclipse came and the Mayor's transformation began; students and families ran for the hills when the transformation was complete and it was Principal Snyder who had the dubious honor of being the hell snake's first meal – oddly enough, though, Alex, Buffy, Willow, Giles and numerous others had to suppress their sudden urge to give forth a mighty yell of praise to the Mayor / hell snake for ridding the Earth of the foul troll-like human.

"Hey, DICK!" Alex yelled, uncovering a rather impressive-looking weapon he had procured by less-than-legal means nearly a month earlier and slinging it up before racking the charging bolt to chamber a round. What he held in his hands was the M60E4 heavy machine gun that fired off 7.62 mm jacketed armor piercing rounds that had been treated with the same potion that he had treated the .45 caliber rounds used to kill Kakistos; hopefully it would work, but Alex had his doubts. Neither Methos nor Xander liked losing, so when they played a game, they generally cheated outrageously, though in this case the game at hand had much higher stakes than who bought the next round or picked what movie to watch.

"Alex, where in the bloody hell did you get that thing?" Giles' indignant shout over the dull roar of the screaming masses that dove out of the way of the impending outpouring of firepower was strictly ignored as Alex grinned manically and squeezed the trigger. Round after round slammed into the body of the Mayor, raking his flank with pitifully little effect at first, but soon the flattened remains of ammunition that had somehow wedged themselves into the snake's armored hide began to eat through said hide and caused the Mayor to vent out an agonized howl of pure pain even as the first two hundred round belt of 7.62 mm ammunition was used up.

"How do ya like that shit, bitch!" It was a cheesy line to use, but Alex had other things on his mind as he hunted cover that would hopefully allow him time to reload the -60.

As if in response, a huge explosion rocked the other side of the Mayor and it allowed both Alex and Giles to see both Jenny and Faith standing there, the former making another magical bomb while the latter held in her hands what looked like a small baton that was … topped with a sparkler? She then hurled said sparkler-topped object just beneath the Mayor even Jenny hurled her bomb and Alex closed the access / loading hatch on the –60 and racked the charging handle again. Dual explosions later and a horrific bellow later proved that Faith was using either TNT or dynamite to accent Jenny's magical bombs.

Alex poured on the firepower again into the now-unarmored flank of the Mayor, who turned to expose his seriously-wounded side unthinkingly, but as bullets struck it and began to dissolve the meat of the demon he thrashed back in feeble hopes of protecting himself – it was feeble, yes, but the only option he had even though it seemed by that point to be a foregone conclusion that he would not win.

Even as the decaying / dissolving bullets did their work and ate away at the Mayor, he somehow found enough strength to lash out one last time towards where Alex and Giles were located. He never made it, though, as an act of what would later be defined as 'divine intervention' in the form of a lightning bolt struck the hell snake dead on in the skull and drove it to the ground, dead.

The day was won and it was Alex who put it best, "Now, for the victory kegger."


Sadly, though many of the Scooby Gang appeared to need more than a few kegs of beer themselves, they only had time for one or two stiff shots of a rot-gut whiskey that he'd purchased at Willie's for instances like this.

Faith, for her part, looked as if she had been given the key to the city with the interim diploma; she preened slightly at the praise she had gotten from both Joyce and Giles, Jenny doing more by giving the dark-haired Slayer a warm hug that was returned after a second or two of shock. Not everybody was happy, though.

Buffy was pouting like a five year old because she had wanted to blow the school up so much that she'd even gone so far as to take a 'Before Explosion' picture so that she could take an 'After Explosion' picture; Alex did his best to ignore it but often told her to grow up, which was then followed up by both him and his Dawn Patrol giving her a giant raspberry.

"Hey Kid."

"Enter The Whistler!" Alex, feeling in a good mood with his Dawn next to him, hit a near-by gong with a crash.

"Cute, kid." The Balance Demon said dryly as Buffy groaned and Faith sulked, the mood in the room taking a sharp nosedive. He looked around and smiled, "Well, it looks like you guys have managed to survive this little crisis, and that is a very good thing, because both you and Faith are needed elsewhere, Kid."

"NO!" The shouted response came from Dawn, Faith and, somewhat surprisingly, Buffy, with Dawn taking the lead, "He is NOT going anywhere, Balance Demon. I want my Xander where I can get my hands on him if I feel so inclined." This comment from Dawn raised an eyebrow from both Joyce and Jenny, got a scowl from both Willow and Buffy and a flat-out snarl from Faith. She then proceeded to tell Whistler just what he could do with his orders of Faith and Xander leaving town in no less then seven languages of varying use – vile, graphic words that were often only used to describe someone's reproductive organs and curses put upon them sizzled in the air and made Joyce, Jenny, Giles, Willow and Buffy alternately blanch and flush with embarrassment, Faith to raise an eyebrow and for both Alex and Whistler to even give her a standing ovation when she finished. "So he is NOT going anywhere!"

"Keep telling yourself that, kiddo, and one day it might even happen," Whistler said with a slight smile. "But in this time and place, he and Faith are out of here effective tomorrow to start on their mutual destiny."

"Wait a second, Whistler," Faith shot to her feet, scowling at Dawn for a second. "I already have a destiny – Slayer, remember?"

"Yes you are, for now. Later, that may change. Either way, this is kind of a warm-up for what you two will be doing later, and it is also a way for you two learn and polish the skills you will be learning along the way. Now start packing, 'cuz yer leaving at 0900 tomorrow for San Francisco and some rudimentary magic training. Alex, a word, now."


"I am NOT happy about this, Whistler," Alex said as they re-entered the room, having spoken about several things in private and with a spell up so Slayer-enhanced hearing could not be used to eavesdrop on the conversation.

"Noted and, quite frankly, ignored by those upon high, Kid." Whistler said, adjusting his hat, "You have your orders and your options; deal with it." With that, Whistler the Balance Demon stepped into the shadows and disappeared.

"Exit the Whistler!" Dawn crashed the gong again and everyone looked at her oddly, "What?"

Alex only shook his head, "Dawnie, do yourself a favor and don't use me as a role model – if life on the Hellmouth doesn't get you killed you sister will do it for remarks like that." He smiled and went to a one of his rather extensively-stocked bookshelves, places where Stephen King sat next to Socrates, Plato and Aristotle next to Heinlin and Eddings, and removed a thick leather-bound book, "Giles, how good of a swordsman are you?"

"Passingly fair, Alex. Why?"

"I need you to teach two students at least the basics of the blade over the summer." He tossed the Briton the book and smiled, "As compensation, I recently acquired a first-edition that you might like."

Giles looked on the inside cover and went completely white, "Good God above. Alexander, do you know how much this is worth?"

"A few million pounds Sterling, if I am not mistaken." He smiled cheekily and went to an old sea chest, rummaging around for a second before removing two sheathed swords, "Jenny, how are you on teleportation and portal spells?"

"I am okay, but I can get better if I need to."

"Do it." He passed her a sheathed French rapier, "I picked this up not too long after I started hunting on my own." She unsheathed it and gasped at the intricate inscribing on the blade, which allowed him to continue, "The hilt is inlaid with platinum, the basket with onyx and rubies; I saw it an immediately I thought of you for some reason."

"Alexander, this is too much." She sheathed the blade and embraced him hard, getting close enough to his ear to whisper, "We could have been great together."

"Perhaps in the future," he whispered back, hugging her before looking at the sheathed katana in his hand. He remembered Whistler's words and then looked over at Dawn, tossing it to her, "Try not to hurt anybody while practicing with that, Dawn Patrol."

"COOL!" Dawn squealed and unsheathed the blade, revealing a dark gray, almost black, blade with an ebony hilt inlaid with silver and wrapped over with silk, "Xander." She gasped at the stark contrast and beauty in the gently curving blade.

"Giles, teach them well." He looked over at Joyce, who had a worried look on her face, "Don't worry, Joyce, she'll be fine, better, actually. She gets lots of exercise, learns control, patience and even a touch of respect for her elders with these lessons, and on top of that she also must do well in her classes or they will stop."

"I understand, Alex." She hugged the young man, knowing that he was giving away gifts because it was a good chance she would never see him again.

"Expect some things at the gallery in a few weeks," he whispered to her before looking over at Willow and Buffy, who both looked expectant. "Sorry, girls, but no swords for you – Willow, learn all you can about magic from Jenny, Giles and, once you get permission from both of them, my library, but don't tread the dark path because then I WILL come hunting you and your head."

"Okay, Xander." Willow said absently, eyeing several books that she'd been pleading with him to allow her to read for months.



"Alex." He corrected her firmly; they weren't friends, not on the level they had been before two Halloweens ago, but he had tried over the past few months to at least be civil to her after their last little explosion had left her with a fine cut on her neck from where his sword had been.


Alex was in the Library, absently working his way through a kata with his sword when a voice behind him made him pause ever so slightly, "Murderer."

"I've been called that before, Elizabeth."

"Why did you kill him? He was a good person."

"He wasn't a person – he was a soulless vampire and free game. I think we've had this conversation before." He never stopped his workout even as she got closer.

"We were going to give him his soul back."

This made Alex stop and turn at her, his face set in stone, "Well whoopee for him, then. But where, I ask you, would that have left me? What if Methos' temporary possession hadn't left me as a pre-Immortal? I'd be dead, but that's okay, you'd have your Angel back, right?"

She looked as if she was doing her best to hold back tears, "Please don't do this."

"Do what, Slayer?" Anger started to creep into his words as his grip tightened on the hilt of his sword, "Do you know that he tortured me for over ten hours, Slayer? He broke just about every non-vital bone in my body before he plunged a stake into my heart. Do you know what he said to me before he did it? He said, 'Let's see how you like it, blood bag,' and then shoved a piece of wood into my heart."

"No." Her single word escaped like a gasp, laden with pain, sorrow, misery and even horror as tear began to spill down her face.

"Yes." His voice was like ice as the word was bitten out like a steel trap snapping shut. His face suddenly lost all anger and he smiled sarcastically, "But it's okay, right? I mean, I'm an Immortal, right? I'll be okay, right?"


"Wrong, Slayer." He laid the edge of his sword against her throat and began to press, making her back up, "Immortals never age after their first dead, Slayer. I'll NEVER age. I'll look SEVENTEEN for the rest of my life, Slayer. ETERNITY, SLAYER! Do you have even the slightest clue what that is like, Summer?" He whipped the sword away from her neck, cutting her just enough for blood to start oozing down her neck in small rivulets, but not life-threatening in nature, "No, you don't, because you can't. You're all too mortal to ever understand."

She fell to the ground at that point, a sobbing mess and he left her there, knowing in his heart that it was the right thing to do – and that one day he might even believe that statement if he ever thought it again.

//End Flashback//

"Keep them safe, Slayer, at all costs including your life." His words made her start slightly but then nod even as Joyce and Giles began to pack everyone up.

The rest of the night was filled with goodbyes and packing for the trip that would take place the next day.


Faith packed the last of her bags into the back of the Suburban, "Ready to go, Alex."

He smiled and turned the engine over, gunning the engine slightly afterwards, "I hope you brought enough snacks for the both of us, Faith." He looked back at the medium-sized cooler that held all sorts of cooled and cold goodies for the pair of them on their way to San Francisco.

"Maybe, but if you want…" she left it hanging before leaning over and giving him a chaste kiss on the cheek. "It's gonna be okay, Alex. They will be okay, even without you to watch over them."

He smiled slightly, dropping the vehicle into drive and then turning on the radio, which filled the SUV with a familiar opening riff of a good son, "I know, Faith, but leaving home has never really been easy for me."

And the road becomes my bride
I am stripped of all but pride
So in her I do confide
And she keeps me satisfied
Gives me all I need.

And with dust in throat I cave
Only knowledge will I save
To the gave we stay a slave
Rover, wanderer
Nomad, vagabond
Call me what you will.

But I'll take my time anywhere
Free to speak my mind anywhere
And I'll redefine anywhere
Anywhere I may roam
Where I lay my head is home

And the earth becomes my throne
I adapt to the unknown
Under wandering stars I've grown
By myself but not alone
I ask no one

And my ties I've severed clean
The less I have the more I gain
Off the beaten path I reign
Rover, wanderer
Nomad, vagabond
Call me what you will

But I'll take my time anywhere
Free to speak my mind anywhere
And I'll never mind anywhere
Anywhere I may roam,
Where I lay my head is home

But I'll take my time anywhere
Free to speak my mind
And I'll take my find anywhere
Anywhere I may roam,
Where I lay my head is home

Carved upon my stone
My body lie, but still I roam
Wherever I may roam.


End Notes: Okay, this is the last part in the Pale Rider series of stories. It started out as a one-shot story but evolved into this on a lost bet; guys, thanks for the support and reviews and know that there is another series coming after, but not until after Finals. Ideas, though, would be greatly appreciated.

Yes, I know I am possibly foreshadowing on who might or might not be a pre-Immortal/become an Immortal, but know that the status of mortality on one, two, or all three (Faith, Jenny and Dawn) are subject to change if the story and my muse demand it.

As to foreshadowing with Xander's comment to Jenny's, "We could have been great together," "Perhaps in the future,"; well, we'll see. (Yes, I am wearing a somewhat cheeky grin right now as I type this – I love to torture my readers.)

Finally, Faith and Xander will more than likely never see Sunnydale every again – their destiny lay out among the people of the world, as do several hard-won lessons. Xander's merging with Methos will help some, but not a lot, and Faith's hard shell, while Xander has pierced it, will stay in place while they travel.

Thanks again, Anime Ronin.