E-mail: kevy_s__girl [AT] hotmail.com
Pairing: S/X, references X/Anya.
Warnings: Character death, though not the boys.
Summary: After ‘The Gift.’ Post apocalyptic struggles.
Notes: This fic came about because I was craving some apocalypse stuff, and I had this vision of what would happen in times of crisis. I really wanted this chapter to be sort of a numbing haze of non-emotion, so hopefully it somewhat resembles that. Thanks to my beta, lunabee34! Feedback is love.
Part 1 is here.
They drove until they were nearly out of gas.
Xander woke at the gas station. Dawn was in her seat, tapping something against something else rhythmically and driving him insane. Spike was gone, and Xander blinked through the haze of the early-afternoon sun to look outside for him. There was a large metal overhang that kept the sun from directly under the gas station, thus explaining Spike’s absence.
The rough desert terrain was a smudge of dust and sky, and the small gas station was the only building within sight. Xander sat up more fully and swallowed; his throat felt cracked and harsh. There was blood on his cheek, and his body felt sore and achy. Xander licked his lips and encountered a cut on his lip; it felt swollen and was most likely bruised.
Xander glanced back at Dawn who was staring out the window, anxiously tapping her hand on the seat as she awaited Spike’s return. Her forehead was marred by a cut, and there were deep bags under her eyes. She looked to be on the verge of tears as she turned her eyes to Xander. Her eyes were red from crying earlier, and Xander blinked away bitterness at the sight of the way the terror and sadness had warped her body. They were both so shaken and numb.
Before Xander found his voice to speak to her, the driver’s side door opened, and Spike got in. He held a bag of supplies and a cigarette was between his lips. He glanced at Xander and frowned; at what, Xander wasn’t sure. Spike took a drag and tossed the cigarette out the window before leaning back to give Dawn the supplies.
“I got some bandages. Can you patch yourself up?” Spike asked. Dawn must have nodded because Xander didn’t hear her say anything.
“Good.” Spike turned to Xander and asked, “You all right?”
Xander nodded slowly before changing his mind and shaking his head. “Where’s the bathroom?”
“Back there.” He gestured with one hand toward the side of the building. “Behind, on that side.” Xander nodded and opened the door. He frowned up into the sunlight and walked toward the restroom. His body ached, but he pushed it to the back of his mind.
The bathroom was small but surprisingly clean; it had that same truck-stop disinfectant smell that all gas stations and rest-stops have, but it was fine, and he went about his business. After finishing up, Xander was washing his hands when he finally looked up at the mirror. He stared for a moment before he realized that the person he saw was himself. The cut running along his cheek had dried blood around it, and his eyes were almost empty looking. His right eye was purple from where he had been punched at some point, and his lip was split and swollen. Xander began to clean the cuts before he noticed the raw edges of his hands; his knuckles were rough and red, and a few of them with the skin worn away entirely, and it looked as if he had been punching everything in sight. He barely thought as he cleaned his hands. The fluorescent light blinked rapidly overhead and Xander decided to focus on the strobe effect and his hands. There was no need to relive the nightmares of what he had done throughout the past 48 hours.
When he was done cleaning up, Xander left the bathroom and got back in the car. Spike met his eyes with a questioning look. Xander shrugged in response.
Spike started the car, and they began to drive again. They were heading east. Xander wasn’t sure how Spike had driven them through the morning sunlight that had surely poured throughout the car, but it was afternoon now, and he didn’t want to worry about it. There was silence between the three of them, a hollow void of awful things that didn’t need to be said.
After what seemed like hours of driving through nothingness, they started to see signs of life. A couple buildings scattered here and there—a gas station, a diner, little outcrops of civilization in a raw world of undeveloped desert.
When they passed through what could actually be called a town, Xander had to wonder where they were. “Where are we?” His voice broke slightly, and he cleared his throat.
“New Mexico.” Spike pulled a cigarette from somewhere within his duster and lit up. The click of the lighter seemed louder than normal. Spike rolled down the window for the smoke, and the desert air at dusk was cold.
Xander stayed silent, but Dawn spoke up. “Where are we going?”
Spike inhaled on his cigarette. “East.” He exhaled, and it sounded like a sigh.
“Not sure yet.” He paused. “Don’t worry about it.” Spike rested his arm on the window ledge, and there was silence between them all again.
Another hour or so and the small towns they encountered began to grow. Spike got on some kind of freeway, and before they knew it, they were in Albuquerque. Xander watched as the lights of the city passed on the hood of the jeep, the different colors changing the dust on the vehicle into visions of light. Noises of the city began to penetrate the car—horns and an ambulance in the distance. Spike got off the freeway, and Xander started to watch the people that flew by. Everything was still normal here. Shouldn’t there be fire and brimstone? Something this big was sure to be news. Spike stopped at traffic lights, and Xander peered in at people in the cars next to them; he saw people singing along with the radio, talking on cell phones, going home from work. It was all so normal.
Spike turned the car into a parking lot, and Xander looked up to see that they were at a motel. It wasn’t a horribly crappy dive, but it definitely wasn’t the Ritz. Spike pulled into a parking space and turned off the engine. He stared out the front window in silence for a minute before speaking.
“I’ll get us a room.” He said it mechanically. They all sat for a minute, waiting, Spike a bit frozen as he stared ahead. When he came back to life, Spike turned to face Dawn. “Stay here.” He said it to Dawn, but he meant it for them both.
Silence reigned in the car. Xander breathed in the silence, and it surrounded him; it felt as thick as honey. He felt like drowning in the silence. Everything was so quiet; it would always be quiet now. A few minutes must have passed because he was startled out of his blank void of thoughts when Spike opened the car door.
“Let’s go.” Spike slammed the door shut again, and they began to unload the car. Xander focused on the task of carrying their things.
Once everything was unloaded and they were in the motel room, they weren’t sure what to do with themselves. Spike sat in a hard-backed chair by the window, chain smoking, while Dawn sat numbly on the edge of one of the beds. Xander stood at the door, unsure of what to do or say or where to go.
The motel room hadn’t been updated since the early 80’s. The walls were a faded shade of green, and the decor screamed tacky. Time and space seemed to move more slowly than normal in this place as was evident by the decorations. Dawn stared at the floor, and the faded plum of her dress was dark against the fake cheer of the room. She seemed more than out of place. Spike’s eyes were vacant as he too stared at the floor. The cigarettes all met his lips, but he didn’t focus on each breath he took in.
Xander looked at the floor, wondering what was so interesting; the shaggy rose-colored carpet stared up at him, just simple carpet. In the process of examining the carpet, he noticed his shoes were scuffed with something like dried blood. The dust from the desert was still evident, but a brownish red stain and something slightly green also marred his Nike’s. Xander was struck by the horror of not knowing whose blood was on his shoes. It could be demon blood or human or, god, it could have belonged to one of his friends, one of his family. Before he was aware of what he was doing, Xander was pulling off his shoes. He ripped the left one off and dropped it to the floor. He stumbled trying to pull off the right one and sat suddenly onto the floor. He scrambled at his shoe and the laces caught until he finally just yanked the shoe off and shoved it away.
The shoes sat mocking him, glaring at him, accusing him of all that had happened. Xander glared back at them, but it was useless; he couldn’t get far enough away from them. He stood up abruptly and grabbed the shoes. He needed to get rid of them. He turned around toward the hotel door and tried to open it, but the locks were fastened. At first, he couldn’t get the locks undone, and he started to breathe hard, shallow, breaths as the door seemed to loom menacingly. He felt claustrophobic until finally the locks released. He threw open the door, and before he knew what he was doing, he was hurling the shoes as far as he could. They soared over the parking lot, and while one went askew back toward the street, the other kept going in a straight line, and then they were both out of sight. Xander shut the motel door and turned his back to it. He slumped against it and slid down to the floor breathing hard.
His shoes weren’t a problem anymore.
Dawn and Spike stared down at him, unmoving. Spike’s cigarette even hung limply in his hand with a long line of ash clinging to the butt. Xander was breathing hard, and as he started to come to his senses, his breathing slowed.
Dawn stood then, suddenly, and turned to the bathroom. She left the room slowly and shut the bathroom door behind her. After a few minutes, the shower started and the room was filled with a monotonous hum.
Spike had regained himself and was finishing off another cigarette. He took a drag and then glanced at Xander. “Turn on the TV,” he mumbled around the smoke.
Xander got to his feet and found the remote on the nightstand. With a click the TV came on, and the sounds of the shower were drowned out. There was a baseball game on one channel, cartoons on another. Xander flipped around until he came to the news.
“-say that Marquette was seen fleeing the scene of the crime, and they do have a witness in custody. We’ll have more information on the Marquette case tomorrow morning, and be sure to check out our continuing coverage of the case on our website, www.16channelnews.com .
In other news, a bizarre story is coming out of the town of Sunnydale, California; apparently there was what looks to be a gas explosion. A massive fire seemed to start somewhere in the downtown area where it spread rapidly to other parts of the city. We don’t have much word on what happened with the fire, but the town is now under military control.
We do know the following for certain: Sunnydale was unbalanced by the fire, and looting and general vandalism began to spread sometime yesterday evening. Residents were urged, early this morning, to either stay in their homes or evacuate, but we don’t have any word on what has been happening in the past few hours. A federal official stated that ‘there is no need to try and contact residents from the town of Sunnydale. All phones have been disconnected and the town is under military supervision.’ We will be sure to keep you updated on this odd story as more information becomes available, but for now we can only hope that things get settled soon.
Now we’re going to talk to Rod McMurty about tomorrow’s weather; Rod?”
Xander sat the remote on the bed beside him. A fire and vandalism? That was all? No apocalyptic warnings, no death in the streets? It was all just calm and collected?
Spike swooped in and flipped off the TV. He turned to face Xander, hands in his pockets and a look of inquiry on his face. He didn’t say anything, however, and they both stared at one another for a moment.
Finally Spike spoke. “’M goin’ out real quick. I need some smokes and blood.” He paused. “Will ya be alright while I’m gone?” Spike looked toward the bathroom door where the shower was still running.
Xander cleared his throat but just ended up nodding. Spike also gave a curt nod. “Alright.”
He went to the door and stopped with his hand on the knob. “Stay here.” He said it quietly, much more softly than Xander was used to, and then he was gone.
Xander crushed the feeling of helplessness that began to well in his chest and looked around the room. He had to find something to do, something to occupy his mind. He noticed the two suitcases sitting awkwardly beside the dresser, and he decided to unpack. He carefully opened the first suitcase and began to fold articles of clothing before settling them in a drawer. He was nearly finished with the suitcase when his hand touched leather. He pulled the leather item from beneath a cotton shirt and nearly choked. Buffy’s red leather jacket.
Tears came to Xander’s eyes, and he clutched the jacket to him. The scent of jasmine and vanilla reached his nose, and he wanted to sob. An unbearable pain ripped through his chest, and he couldn’t breathe. His chest constricted, and he let out a harsh choking sound. He buried his face in the leather coat and began to cry, his emotions breaking inside and everything pouring out.
His life was gone. Everything was gone.
Xander’s friends and his family, were dead. His fiancé, his future, was dead. His best friend, his past, was dead. It was all just gone; everything was dead. He sobbed into the jacket quietly as everything fell upon him, the horrible things he’d seen and done; the lives that had been lost and the people he would never see again. He felt like his whole life had died, and he was the only thing left. That wasn’t exactly true, but as Xander took a deep breath and raised his head, he looked around the empty motel room and still felt completely and utterly alone.