Wild Card

Author: Danii <debrabantknight[at]yahoo.com>

Summary: Two years after the events in "Last Card", Buffy finds out about Xander's whereabouts.

Distribution: Anyone, as long as you put my name on it and tell me where it is!

Disclaimer: I own no one. Don't sue. I get no money for this, just headaches and odd stares.

Rating: PG-PG13


Feedback: Please!


In the room, Chaos was being redefined by the battle. There was no order. No one was even looking for their allies; they were simply trying to survive. The demons were all around, their strange, contorted faces covered in maniacal grins as they realized that, despite the casualties, they were winning. And for once, it looked like the Slayer and her friends were not going to be able to turn the tide.

Willow lay on the floor, her halo of red hair turned even more crimson by the blood that ran slowly from the head wound that had knocked her out. Near her, Tara fought with the axe Giles had given her, its blade bloody and starting to crack. Slashes and cuts were all over the blonde witch as she tried to fight off the demons that had knocked out her girlfriend.

Giles was in the thick of it, his glasses now covered in a concoction of blood and slime, as he used one of the broadswords from the weapons closet as well as a normal human could. Yet, he still could not keep the demons from advancing. Blood poured down his right arm from a gash made only a moment ago, but he continued fighting. He had to. They couldn't die.

Anya sat on the floor, her battered body nearly out for the count due to the repeated blows to the head she had received. Yet still she attacked. Above her, Riley was fighting to get the thing away from her as it had tried to eat her a moment ago.

But the worst was Buffy. Too many to count were attacking her, their spiny claws swiping at her, hitting more often than not. She was bleeding from so many spots that her most important thought was not to slip in her own blood. She attacked, but there were just too many for her to fight off. When she killed one, another took its place. It seemed as if the battle was nearly over, and that the outcome was certain.

But then a wildcard was put into play.

Something crashed through the window of the apartment, eyes alight with frightening power. It immediately lunged towards the pack of demons attacking Buffy, its teeth and claws bared as it made a high- pitched laughing noise. The demons turned around to defend themselves from it, but they were too slow, and it ripped them to shreds from behind. Blue blood flew through the air as the humanoid creature slashed his way through them in a most un-human way, his fangs tearing into the bodies. He killed them, then he moved on to other groups.

The thing moved incredibly fast, slicing, gnawing, ripping. The demons didn't have a chance against him. And as he attacked, his piercing laugh-like cry echoed around the room with supernatural volume. The sound was eerie as it bounced around the apartment, a bizarre, yet fitting, counterpoint to raging and screaming of the demons. All watched and listened, too shocked to do a thing.

But as the last fell, the cry stopped, and the thing slowly stood up on two legs. His dark clothing, which was covered in blue blood, seemed to fit him like a second skin, showing off the large amount of muscle he had acquired since they had last seen him. His arms, both thick and filled with amazing destructive force, flexed in an almost relaxed fashion, making the strange claw-like hands move slightly. His legs, bare for the most part due to the shorts, were like his arms, filled with a now quiet power. But what they looked at the most was the face. It was a face they had all known and loved for so many years, a face they had thought they would never see again. But something was different.

The eyes. The eyes were different. Still that wonderful, familiar shape, but the expression and the color had changed. Gone were the chocolate brown irises, with their compassion and concern. They had been replaced by a feral amber-yellow, filled with something primal, like an animal. Yet a glimmer of the old seemed to be in them.

He walked over to Willow, who was still out, and began to lick her forehead. He pulled her into his arms, holding her to his chest as he gently pawed her in concern. The gang watched as he did this, unable to move due to the shock. It took a minute, but the redheaded witch woke up, her eyes dazed and confused.

"Xander?" she asked in a whisper, her eyes blinking and unsure.

The thing answered in a deep growling noise that somehow managed to be comforting instead of frightening.

"Xander? Is it really you?" Willow questioned, sitting up. He pulled back as she did, giving her the space to sit upon the floor by herself, "how are you-"

He looked into her eyes, those strange untamed yellow eyes boring into hers with an intensity that had come straight from the animal within. They held the gaze for a moment, then he stood up and looked to the Slayer.

A strange growling noise escaped his throat, and Buffy immediately pulled out a weapon. But Giles held her back.

"No, Buffy, he means no harm. He could have left us to the demons if he wanted us dead, and he's done nothing bad to Willow..."

"Then why is he growling?" Buffy asked, the fear in her voice betraying her cool exterior.

"I don't believe he's-"


They watched as the thing strained with his growls. It seemed frustrated at the sounds coming out of its mouth, like a child who wants to tell a parent something, but can't find the right word.

"Buuuuuuuf. Buuuuuuff..."

"Oh my God..."

"Buuuufffy..." he finally got out, the strange expression on his face turning almost into a grin at his success, "Buuffy..."

"Dear God, Xander!" the Slayer cried, running forward into the arms of the thing, not caring about anything but him.

"Buuffy..." it said again, sounding content, nearly purring as he pulled her into his arms, "Buffy..."

"Oh Xander..." Buffy said, tears running down her beautiful face, "Oh God, I thought you were gone. I thought I'd never see you again. How did you-"

"Rurrrrr..." the thing once called Xander growled, obviously trying to speak again, "Vrrrrrrr...Wrrrrrrr..."

"What? What, Xander?"

"Waaaaaa....Waaatch...Iya-I waatch...B-buuffy..."

The Slayer's eyes opened wide at the words that came from his lips. What did he mean? It couldn't be what she thought. He hadn't-or had he? Had he truly stayed all this time, out of sight, watching her from afar so that he could save her? Dear God, he had been there all along?

"You've watched me? Made sure nothing killed me? Protected me from the monsters?" she pointed towards one of the creatures on the floor, "From this?"

The thing nodded, then made a sort of low growling, similar to a purr, and began to paw her on the shoulder gently. The Slayer took his hand, then turned to Giles.

"He can speak...he can talk a little bit..." she told him, her eyes filled with hope, "Do you think, if we work with him, we could...we could bring him back?"

The Watcher stared at Buffy, then at Xander, whose soft growling was almost soothing. He looked at the claws, then the teeth, and then he looked at the way that he held her hand. They had to try.

"Maybe." The former librarian said, his own eyes now filled with optimism, "As long as you are there, Buffy, I'm pretty sure Xander can and will do anything..."

"Buuffy..." he said again, sounding for all the world like a begging puppy.

"Yes, Xander?"

"Iya-I luuuuu...luuuuf...luv Buuffy..." he told her, pulling her into his arms gently so that his claws didn't scratch her.

"And I love you too, Xander." Buffy said, the tears running down her cheeks, "It took me a while, it took me too long, but I...I love you...I'm so sorry, Xander. I'm so sorry..."

As she finished, he began to whine and pat her back softly. Obviously, he forgave her everything. But the Slayer wasn't sure about another person. She turned to the one she had been dating for the last two and a half years.

"Riley?" she asked. She hated this. She hated this, but she couldn't lie to herself, or anyone else again. Besides, Xander needed her.

The commando's eyes seemed to fill with unshedable tears, and it looked as if he was swallowing all the pain of the world, but he managed to shake his head. "I won't hold you..."

"Thank you, Riley..." she said, "Thank you. And don't ever think that I don't care about you..."

There was silence, and then he said, "I know you care. I know that. But him, you love. I knew that when he was human, and it scared me everyday that someday you'd realize it. And it's okay. I don't like it, but if it's what makes you happy, then I won't stand in the way. I'll be your friend. I'll be both your friends, and I'll try to help you the best I can...just don't ask me to be an usher at your wedding, all right?"

Through the tears, Buffy smiled at him. He was a very good man and he had done so much for her. But there was someone who had done so much more. She turned to Xander.


"Buuffy?" he asked

"You're going to stay with us now..." she explained slowly, as if talking to a child, "You're going to stay with us, and we are going to help..."


"Yes, I'll be right there, Xander. Right beside you. I love you, remember? It took me a while, but I know I love you so much..."

"Ia-I luuv Buuffy..." Xander said.

"I know. I knew the second I saw you. And for that, I have to thank you, Xander..."

There was a confused growl.

"Thank you for being Xander. Thank you for all you've done for me, for what you've given up for me...Thank you, Xander..."

The confusion left from his tone, and then it turned back into that gentle near-purr as he wrapped his arms around her. The Slayerettes, who had watched with fascination and now joy, finally came over and hugged Xander. He licked them back, or pawed them. And as they were all together, he made a laughing noise; no longer feral and angry, the sound filled the air, and it's carefree tone filled each and everyone of them with hope.

The End