How is this possible? How? Since January I haven't had an *entire* weekend to get crap done. It's been all rush, rush, rush...no wonder why I've been so scattered.
Right now I have laundry calling me and bed reminding me that I really have to get my butt out of bed early in the a.m.
But before I toddle off, new Living History chapter.
Call this part aka, Xander's spectacular meltdown. Or, aka, Xander buries the coffin six feet deep on anything more than an uneasy working relationship with Robin. Or...
Truthfully, I feel bad for both of them here. Xander finally flips; Robin has no clue why.
And yes, before you ask, I'm letting S7's plot holes once again work for me. As far as we know, Robin has no idea about the real deal between Xander and Anya.
Up to part 41 is here
Continued from here
Robin was coming out of the first floor bathroom when he felt an iron grip around his upper arm. "Faith, I thought..."
"Not Faith," said a decidedly male and angry voice. "Back yard. We need to talk right now."
"Unless you want to talk in front of the kids and trust me, you don't want that to happen."
Robin looked down into Xander's grim face and sighed. Given the fact Xander'd been unwillingly dragged into the middle of a personal fight between himself and Faith, he honestly couldn't blame the younger man for being upset.
Problem is, I don't know who to believe. I doubt Faith would lie just to get back at me, but actions speak louder than words. The two of them barely talk about anything more than Slayer business.
But if Faith was telling the truth about a past liaison with Xander and Xander was lying by saying that there was nothing at all? Hard to tell if it put either Faith or Xander in a bad light since it was obviously meaningless to both of them. Faith deserved a hell of a lot better than a meaningless one-night stand.
She deserved better than what even he gave her truth to tell, but it was for her benefit. She'd see that eventually.
"Robin," Xander warned.
"Fine," Robin sighed back as he turned to go through the kitchen out the back door. Might as well get this over with. Just what I need is another damn fight over my sex life with Faith. You'd think he'd be more focused on what's important.
They were barely in the backyard when Xander finally exploded. "What the hell was that?"
"You did walk in the middle of..."
"What the hell are you talking about? You walked in on Giles and me."
Robin shook his head quickly, deeply confused. "I thought you were talking business."
"We were and actually, and I'm not annoyed about you sweeping in, but Jesus Christ. Show a little damn respect."
Robin gave up. Once again he had no idea what was going on inside Xander's head. Huge shock, there. So, Xander wasn't upset about getting dragged into the middle of his fight with Faith. He wasn't upset about his untimely entrance into Giles's room. So what the hell...
"In case you missed it," Xander looked like he was warming up to his anger, "Giles is the head guy around here. Not you. Not me. Giles. He's the Watcher..."
"So am I," Robin quietly interrupted.
"Good for you, then. Must be a dream come true," Xander huffed. "But Giles has been around longer than you've been alive. So before you go tromping off into the house to assemble your crack team, you owe it to Giles to run those names by him first."
Aahhh. Comprehension, Robin nodded to himself. This was the same-old, same-old argument he'd been having with Xander for the past few weeks. He was doing his best to keep people focused and maintain discipline and Xander had once again decided that he was stepping on toes. This Scooby cliquishness had to stop.
Besides, he really, really wasn't in the mood to deal with Xander's petulant complaints, especially since his bad day had started off with such a spectacular bang.
"Look, I was just trying to get the ball rolling and..."
"Let me repeat: No one is going out to Erie until tomorrow." Xander began to pace as his voice dropped in volume and pitch. "That's plenty of time for you to come up with your list and run them by Giles, Buffy, and Faith. I don't know if you noticed, but this fun little operation is going to take some amount of planning. This isn't like we've got rampaging badness at City Hall and have to scramble in anything resembling an emergency-ish situation."
"Okay, okay." God, he really didn't feel like arguing the issue. "Sorry. I'll run the list by Giles. I just thought..."
"You'd make an executive decision," Xander nastily finished for him. "Middle of a battle situation, fine. Every single one of us in this house has made a decision based on a vote of one in the heat of the moment. I get that. I do. But this? Not an emergency. Not yet. Personally, I want to keep it that way and that means teamwork, not 'I am the law, like it or lump it.'"
"Point taken," Robin said tiredly.
His quick capitulation obviously took Xander by complete surprise, because all the anger seemed to drain out of him. "Oh. Good. Well," he let out a huff of breath, "that's it then. My work is done. For my next trick, I'll skydive off the roof."
Robin fought the urge to roll his eyes. Xander's never-ending quips from left field never ceased to amaze him. One minute, the guy's ranting, the next minute he's going for the Borscht. Instead, he chuckled and shook his head. "For a minute there, I thought you were going to ream me about this morning."
"Yeah, about that," Xander looked troubled, "I don't know what happened. I don't want to know what happened, but whatever it is, take my advice and go apologize."
"Excuse me?" Robin felt the stirring of annoyance. "You have no idea what prompted that fight."
Xander held his hands up. "Let me repeat: I don't want to know. At all. But...I don't know...whatever she did to get you that angry, just say you're sorry and make it up to her even if she was completely in the wrong. Get down on bended knee and..."
Annoyance transformed into anger. That little prick. How dare he assume that Faith is the one... "It's over between Faith and I, not that it's any of your business. And I don't appreciate..."
"WHAT?" Xander shouted. "It can't be over. Look, go back to her. Crawl. Grovel. Beg. Plead. Promise her anything. Just get her to take you back. I'm sure that..."
"I broke up with her," Robin snapped.
"ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND?" Xander started pacing again. "You've flipped. That's the only explanation. The pressure's got to you." He stopped and looked at Robin with wide eyes. "Listen to me. You. Don't. Want. This. Tell her you changed your mind. Tell her you made a mistake."
"It wasn't a mistake," Robin grit through his teeth as he moved to get by his agitated opponent. Speaking of pressure, what the hell does he think he's doing?
The evil thought occurred that maybe Faith was telling the truth. And while he had a sneaking suspicion it meant nothing to her, he was willing to lay odds that it meant something to Xander. After all, Faith did say she popped his cherry.
Xander reached out and caught Robin's arm and tried to speak. Even though his mouth was moving, for once no sounds were coming out of it. Robin took advantage of the situation.
"Look, whatever it is you to had with Faith, you had. Ancient history. Get over it. You don't have the right to dictate how my relationship with her goes," Robin stated coldly.
"You don't know," Xander shook his head. "You don't know what you're doing. You have no idea what..."
"I know exactly what I'm doing. It had to be done." Robin yanked his arm out of Xander's tight grip and rubbed the ghost of Xander's fingerprints away. This made completely no sense. Xander seemed nearly distraught that he broke up with Faith. If Xander was still carrying a torch, his reaction was odd to say the least. Robin had no idea what to think.
"Why?" Xander stared at him in disbelief.
"Slayer. Watcher," Robin answered simply.
"Don't you see that as a little bit of a conflict?" Robin asked, fighting the urge to throw his hands in the air. "Can't you see how many problems that might cause when things get ugly? The fight is dangerous enough without..."
"So you'd throw your shot at happiness away just because it's dangerous?" Xander looked around. "I know you've done this a long time but, where the hell have you been? You can't just cut off any chance of..."
"There has to be some clear lines drawn." Robin had no idea why he was even bothering to explain.
"But Faith doesn't need a Watcher. Or Buffy. What they need are people who'll work with them, not hand them orders." Xander shook his head. "What the hell am I saying? You and Giles are outnumbered here. I'm thinking that should hold true for just about every Slayer in this house."
"What does that have to do with anything? And why the hell do you care?" Robin insisted, partially curious but mostly furious. "This is not Sunnydale. This is not your ad hoc club of demon hunters. This isn't a way to score with the ladies. This is the big league. It's serious business."
Xander stepped back, something in his face emotionally retreating. "Like it wasn't before? A lot of good people died," Xander's voice was soft, almost hurt.
"Which is my point," Robin insisted.
"What does this have to do with what you did to Faith?" Xander asked. Light dawned. "You think falling for her would distract you from your duty." He quietly added as he studied the ground, "You thought it was for the best so you just ripped her heart out. Just like that." He looked at Robin again, his eyes showing a hint of an ancient hurt. "At least you told her before it went too far, that's something I guess. No wonder she wanted to rip you apart for that selfish..."
"It's not selfish," Robin snapped.
"What else could it be?"
The certainty behind the question was enough to cause Robin to snap. "This is for her benefit and you know it."
Xander stood stunned a few moments before bursting out into an off-kilter laugh. Robin could feel something physical in it, something dark and violent that slapped at him and left him speechless. As suddenly as it started, the laughter was gone, snapped off like a light, leaving something behind that was running on cold fury. "I get it now. This is for her benefit. You're doing it all for her because it's what's best for her."
Robin stepped back under the unexpected onslaught. "That's right."
Xander stepped forward in response, good humor slipping back into face. "I've heard this story before. It's an oldie but a goodie." The smile turned sly. "Knew this guy, back in the old neighborhood. Had this girl. They were getting married, follow?"
"What does this..."
"Let me finish." The voice reached out like a whip, snapping off the end of Robin's sentence with smooth expertise. "Before he makes the big trip down the aisle, he runs into a fortune-teller with a crystal ball who promises him a peak into his big future. Now this guy's a dope. Big believer in the happily ever after complete with the rolling credits and the swelling music. There's a word for that."
"Naïve?" Robin managed to ask.
"Stupid," Xander corrected as he circled Robin.
The eyes staring at the principal were not the eyes of a man. Oh no. These were the eyes of a straight-up predator and that gaze was fixed on one Robin Wood, rooting him to the dying grass in the back yard.
This was not Xander. Whoever this was, it was not some smart-mouthed kid with more bravery than brains. This was someone who was far more intelligent, far more knowing, and far more understanding about the dark side of humanity than he let on. Xander wasn't evil, but Robin suddenly knew that he wasn't the good guy everyone thought he was.
"What he sees isn't a happily ever after." Xander was circling Robin in tight circles, predator eyes barely blinking. "What he sees is him killing his wife at the end of a marriage that spent decades in the ice age. He sees it and he knows it's going to come true. Want to know why?"
"Because he also figured out that he believes in happy endings for other people. Him? Not so much because this guy, like I said, is stupid. The biggest dumbass to walk the earth. And stupid people don't get happy endings. They get to be the sidekicks. They help make happy endings for other people by making them laugh, by screwing up, and, let's be blunt, dying horribly and senselessly at just the right moment to give the hero a chance to take center stage. Stupid people don't deserve happy endings."
Robin crossed his arms. "Never figured you for a snob. We should live happily ever after because we're the heroes, but no one else deserves it?" He shook his head. "What will the other people in the house say to hear you talking like this?"
Xander stopped and tilted his head in confusion, like he heard what Robin said but couldn't quite make sense of it. "Why are you interrupting? I'm telling you something important here."
"And you're talking nonsense." Robin turned to go, but was halted by the unforgiving iron grip around his arm.
"So, this guy dumps his girl. Because he's doing it for her you see. She's better off without him," Xander said casually, as if he wasn't holding Robin's arm and Robin wasn't doing his best to shake it off. "That was the plan, and as plans go it was a good one at the time. Didn't exactly work out, though."
Robin gave up. Xander was going to have his say and there was no point in trying to escape until he did. "Because, of course, he realized he was wrong and made it right and the happily ever after happened anyway. You're so predictable with the feel-good."
"No." Xander sounded confused again as he let go and stepped back, eyes blinking rapidly. "Girl's so hurt she gets self-destructive, which, if you know anything about Sunnydale after the sun sets, you know that can have some pretty fatal consequences."
"Yeah, but only in Sunnydale could you be stabbed with a sword for it," Xander said absently.
"Hunh? What are you talking about?"
"This guy, he sees it. Hell, he's watching on the sidelines. Doesn't say a word. Not one. It's killing him because he's still crazy about her. Misses her like he's missing his own heart. But, as bad as she's being, he figures she's still better off because he knows, he knows this, he's the monster."
Robin could feel the corner of his mouth quirk up. "Unbelievable. You actually buy Buffy-and-Spike as a love affair? You heard her. He was only necessary for the mission."
Xander's confused again. "Spike? What does he have to do with this?"
Robin felt his face drop.
Xander shook his head. "Actually, you sort of got part of it right. Sooner or later, he can't take it any more because he still feels. Idiot can't shut off the emotions and hide the buttons she can push. So they sort of reach an understanding. She doesn't want to kill him any more, and he still loves her. They make it up, sort of, but nothing ever gets said because, hey, he's still a monster and she's still better off.'
Xander paused and gave Robin a knowing look. "She died anyway, you know."
"Not surprised. Sunnydale was dangerous at the end." Then it hit Robin and he could feel himself get angry. "So that's the punch line? 'She died anyway'? You are a piece of work, you know..."
"That's not the punch line," Xander waved him off. "Tragic, yes. Ironic, possibly. But it's not the punch line. The punch line is that after it's all said and done, and this guy is sitting alone in the dark feeling numb, this guy looks at me, he looks right at me and he admits that he didn't do it for her. Nope. At the end of the day he put himself, her, everyone around them through hell because he did it for himself."
"Himself. He did it because he didn't want to even try to not be a monster. He didn't want to try changing the outcome because it would've been too damn much work." Xander stepped forward, face and voice devoid of emotion. "What it boiled down to was this: in some part of his brain, some reptilian part of his brain, he decided she wasn't worth the effort. Now that's the punch line." He stepped back. "You may laugh now."
Robin slowly began backing away. "You are one sick bastard, you know that? What exactly are you trying to prove?"
Xander moved suddenly. Next thing the newest Watcher knew, Xander was in front of him, iron grip around the back of his neck, pulling his face down so their foreheads were touching.
"Oh, what have you done, Robin Wood? What have you done?"
Robin shivered as Xander's breath ghosted across his lips in that haunting and haunted voice. It was the kind of voice he imagined Spike used as he hunted down and cornered his mother in that subway car. His skin prickled in protest as every muscle locked into place.
"What a tangled web, what a pack of lies. You can lie to yourself, but you can't lie to me. Not to me, Robin Wood, never to me," Xander said quietly. "I figured you for a smart guy, Faith fuckage aside, but really you're no better than anyone else, are you? Hide behind your mission. Hide behind your titles. Hide behind your authority. Hide behind your top-notch education. Hide behind your demons. Take that away and what are you? Nothing."
"Stop it," Robin whispered.
"So broken. I wonder who broke you, Robin Wood. Was it Faith when she put her trust in you? Was it Buffy when she saved Spike from you? Or was it your mother when she had the nerve to die on you?" Xander breathed back, thumb working in gentle circles at the base of Robin's skull. It was as intimate as it was perverse.
"Leave my mother out of this." Robin tried to jerk away, but Xander without exerting any effort at all, kept him in place.
"That's okay, Robin Wood. I'll fix it. I'll make sure to fix it." Xander suddenly let go.
Robin stumbled back a step, eyes not leaving Xander's face.
As for Xander, his face expressed puzzlement, like he wasn't entirely sure why the two of them were talking in the back yard. Robin wasn't entirely sure what he expected, but the dead-eyed look of someone who felt nothing at all was definitely not it.
Xander's dark, knowing smile was back. "It's what I do you know. Fix things. Houses. Windows. People. I joke about it. Laugh about it. Put it down like it's nothing. Probably will die doing it, too. Because someone has to fix things, someone has to build something real. Everyone loves destroying things, but no one wants to build and no one wants clean up the mess of broken bones, broken hearts, and broken souls." He tilted his head again, confusion back. "Why is that, do you figure?"
"There is nothing to fix," Robin ground out. "This conversation is over."
Xander held up a finger, as if testing the direction of the wind. "Now that is where you're wrong." On that, he started chuckling that deep-throated, off-kilter laugh as he turned on his heel and strode back into the house. "Get your soldiers together and present them to Giles," Xander's voice floated back to him with a hint of sarcasm. "You've got a mission."
Robin stood in the back yard for a long time after Xander made his exit stage right. He tried not to think about the chaos that would follow if anyone else in the house realized that Xander was certifiably and dangerously insane.
Now off to fold clothes...