Title: The Monsters Are Due in Washington Square
Author: Lizbeth Marcs
Summary: Nothing’s the same after the monsters come to town.
Genre: Gen; Apoca-fic, dark fic, future fic
Series: Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel the Series
Characters: Xander, Faith, Willow, Angel, original characters
Pairings: Xander/OC; Xander/Faith (referred to in the past tense)
It became clear very quickly that there was no arguing with the Stranger, whoever he was.
He practically dragged her into the bathroom and ordered her to take a quick shower. When she argued that she didn’t have any clothes, he said that he would get them and leave them in the bathroom while she showered. He also warned her that if she wasn’t done with her shower in 5 minutes, he would go in and drag her out if necessary.
That was so not Chris. Chris would never in a million years walk into the bathroom while she was in it, let alone threaten to pull her naked self out of the shower.
The Stranger didn’t seem to care. He certainly didn’t care what she thought, and he certainly paid no attention to her protests. All he cared about was that she obey him without arguing, so it was maybe a good thing that she was too worn out, too scared, and too sick to do more than say a few a words in her defense. While she was pretty sure he wouldn’t hit her, even if it was the Stranger who was in control, she wasn’t a 100% sure that it was true.
It was that fear that in the end drove her to obey, rather than try his patience. She peeled herself out of her urine-soaked clothes, and threw herself into the shower to wash off the ick. By the time she shut the shower off, a pile of clean clothes was waiting for her on the corner of the sink. Her filthy clothes had disappeared.
When she emerged from the bathroom, she was relieved that Chris was waiting for her and not him.
Chris shuffled and seemed ashamed. “I’m sorry I was so hard on you just now.”
Moira noticed that he had managed to clean his face, but that he hadn’t changed out of his blood-covered clothes. She didn’t say anything. She was afraid she might set him off and the Stranger would be back.
Chris took a deep breath through his nose. “Okay. This is how it’s going to work. I’m going to carry you downstairs.”
“I can walk,” Moira said,
“Not with your eyes closed, you can’t,” he said.
Moira had enough of the dark. “I’m not going to close my eyes.”
“Moira, you don’t want to see what’s down there. Trust me, you don’t,” Chris pleaded with her. “Believe me, me carrying you and you keeping your eyes closed is for the best.”
She didn’t want to do it. She really didn’t want to do it, but she was afraid that if she said no the Stranger would come back and she have to deal with him instead.
“Okay. I’ll do it,” Moira reluctantly agreed.
It took a little doing. Moira was a lot bigger than the 6 year-old Chris used to swing around the backyard, and Chris seemed to be in a little bit of pain, but in the end he managed to hold her to his chest with her legs swung over one arm and her back supported by the other.
“Close your eyes, and bury your face in my neck,” he ordered. “Don’t look up until I tell you to.”
Moira did as he asked and wrapped her arms around his neck for good measure.
“We’re going to be okay,” he whispered to her before planting a kiss on top of her head.
Then she felt him begin to move.
The hardest part was feeling his movements as he walked down the stairs. It seemed to her that he was a bit unsteady on his feet. It took everything she had not to lift her head and open her eyes.
It appeared that she wasn’t the only one who noticed that Chris was having trouble, because she heard a female voice ask him if he needed help.
“I’m fine.” His voice sounded a little strangled. “Just keep everyone out of my way.”
As he continued down the stairs, she could hear the sound of distant sirens over the raspy sound of Chris’s labored breath. There seemed to be an awful lot of them wailing outside.
She wondered how many of them were for people who were murdered by monsters.
Like Mom, the dark thought whispered.
She whimpered as she automatically tightened her hold around Chris’s neck.
“It’s okay. We’re okay. One last step.” He quickly added, “You can’t look up yet.”
As soon as he reached the ground floor, his steps were more sure and his movements became smoother and faster.
“Almost there,” he promised. “I’m just going to carry you to the car and then you can open your eyes.”
“Made it with 2 minutes’ to spare,” said a female voice.
“Just open the car door so I can get her inside without dropping her,” Chris said.
Something brushed Moira’s arm and her head shot up with a scream.
“Honey, it’s okay! That was Sharon walking past us,” Chris said. “Just close your eyes and—”
But it was too late.
She saw a severed hand lying next to the sidewalk, and Mrs. Johnson’s head peering up at her from the bushes. A denim-clad leg without its body lay across the walkway like a snake, and a naked arm was hanging over the guardrail like it was a forgotten towel left to dry in the night air.
Courtesy of the flashlights carried by various people walking around her home, she could see that there were body parts all over the front yard. What wasn’t occupied by a head, or an arm, or a leg, or a foot, or a hand, or a torso was covered with a dark, wet coating of blood.
Moira managed to find her voice for more screaming as she kicked and struggled to get free.
“Moria!” Chris yelled.
His grip slipped as she twisted and turned. He was forced to half drop her, half let her go.
Despite her blind terror, she somehow managed to land on her feet.
As Chris made a grab for her, she again twisted out of his reach and darted away. When her foot accidentally kicked Jimmy Novak’s severed head in the face, her screaming picked up in intensity and she turned and ran for the house.
“Stop her!” someone yelled.
She dodged the outstretched hands, ducked through Chris’s spread legs, and managed to get into the house through the shattered front door.
Safe, she thought as she darted down the entrance hall.
She managed to get all the way to the living room before she was grabbed from behind.
“Let me go! Let me go!” she screamed as she bit, kicked, and flailed her arms.
Whoever it was that grabbed her had a grip of steel. She was dragged backwards as if all her struggles had no effect at all.
“I said let me—” Her voice caught in her throat when she caught sight of a nearby wall.
There weren’t just claw marks, there was also something dark and wet dripping down the surface.
She froze as she realized that she was seeing blood. Mom’s blood.
“Get her out of there!” she heard Chris shout.
She broke from her paralysis and she began screaming and fighting again.
“She’s bloody well not coming quietly!” a male voice with a British accent shouted in her ear as she was dragged back outdoors.
The sight of Chris’s worried face changed her hysteria to rage.
“You did this!” Moira screamed at him. “You!”
“Oi!” the British male voice yelled in her ear. “Watch the elbow!”
“This is all your fault!” Moira screamed.
A red-headed woman moved in front of her, blocking her view of Chris’s awful face.
“He killed her!” she screamed at the woman. “Him! He’s the reason she’s dead!”
The woman reached out a hand.
“Willow! Don’t!” Chris yelled.
The woman paused and looked over her shoulder. “We don’t have a choice. We have to get out of here before they catch on that you’re not as dead as they thought, and we’re running out of time.”
“Willow, please!” Chris yelled again.
The woman — Willow, yes, she remembered now — looked back at her. “I’m sorry,” she said.
She reached out with her hand, and touched Moira in the middle of the forehead.
And then everything went black.
When she finally woke, he was laying her down on a bed.
“Get away from me!” she yelled as she twisted away.
He backed up with his hands in the air.
“Are you okay?” he asked.
She glared daggers at him to show that she finally knew him for what he was. “Where are we?”
“We’re in New York,” he said. “We’ll be leaving for London tonight.”
She kept one eye on him as she glanced around.
Dear God. They were in a rat-trap of a motel room. The only thing that it had going for it was that there wasn’t any blood dripping down the walls.
Blood, dripping down the walls. Mom’s blood.
She wasn’t going to stay in the room one more second, especially with him.
“I’m leaving,” she said.
“You can’t,” he said.
She glared up at him. “You’ll stop me.”
“Yes,” he said.
“So, this time you’ll hit me instead of letting that woman hit me if I try to escape,” she said.
He seemed confused. “Hit you? No one hit you.”
“She hit me, right between the eyes,” she insisted. “I know what happened.”
Light seemed to dawn on his face. “No. No. No one hit you. That was a…” his voice trailed off and his shoulders slumped. “Never mind.”
She refused to look away from him. “Stay away from me.”
He stared at her with no expression on his face. His hands twitched, as if he desperately wanted to do something with them.
He was probably thinking that he made a big mistake in dragging her into whatever waited for him in London. Good. She hoped he was sorry. And if he wasn’t, she was going to make him sorry.
“And don’t talk to me,” she added, just to give him another kick.
Without a word, he turned away from her.
He paused to pick up something from the other bed.
It was a sword.
She nervously swallowed as she saw him hold it with practiced ease.
He didn’t bother look back at her.
As she watched him make his way over to a chair positioned near the only door in the room, she wondered if the person she knew back in Newport was real or just a brilliant disguise.
She wondered if he was even human.
She wondered what he’d do to her with that sword if she pushed him too far.
She wondered if he gave a damn what she thought.
As he sat down and rested the sword across his lap, she wondered if she’d ever see daylight again.
They’re alone again in the tiny, crappy, depressing motel room. There's no Faith around to keep the peace.
She's more than okay with that.
He remains where he is on the bed. He doesn’t even make a move toward the sword resting on the mattress behind him.
Strangely enough, she’s not nervous now.
She’s furious with him, and she doubts that’ll ever change. She hasn’t forgiven him, and she doubts that’ll ever change either.
She hasn’t made up her mind on whether she hates him. Before Faith set her straight, her answer to that one was a lot more certain. Right now it’s less so, and subject to change either way.
But she’s not afraid of him, and that’s progress of a sort. It’s probably the best she’ll ever manage.
“Who are you really?” she asks.
He looks up at her with puzzlement stamped on his face.
She crosses her arms. “What should I call you?”
He scrubs a hand through his hair in that achingly familiar way.
She scowls at him for reminding her of the man he pretended to be back in Newport.
“What would you like to call me?” he finally asks.
“Not Chris.” She’s firm on that.
“Fair enough,” he mumbles as he looks back down.
She carefully edges toward her bed, and cautiously sits down on it. The space between the beds is so narrow that their knees almost touch.
“You can call me Xander, then,” he says out of the blue.
“I don’t know him,” she says. “Does he have a last name?”
He looks uncomfortable as he answers. “Harris.”
“Mr. Harris it is, then,” she says.
His jaw clenches as he looks back down. “I’d really prefer it if you didn’t.”
She resists the urge to say, “Tough.” Now that she knows it bothers him, she’ll make sure to stick with Mr. Harris for the foreseeable future.
He looks back up at her. “You probably have a lot of questions,” he begins.
“Right now? Just one,” she says.
“What are you?”
He gives her a what-the-hell look, like he can’t even begin to understand what she’s talking about.
“What. Are. You,” she repeats.
His face scrunches as if he’s genuinely confused by the question.
“You. Faith. Angel. Willow. What are you?” she demands.
The clarification seems to strike him funny. His mouth twitches and a low chuckle starts in his throat.
Her hands clench into fists.
His chuckle turns to full-throated laughter as if her question is the funniest thing he’d ever heard.
“Stop it,” she says through clenched teeth. “Stop it right now. It’s not funny.”
He manages to bring his laughter under control, but his twitching smile remains. There’s something in his eyes, something in his face, that’s almost as dark as anything she’s lived through over the past few days.
Oh my God, she realizes, this is the thing that’s going to save me from the end of the world.
“Haven’t you heard?” he asks as if he’s telling her a particularly nasty joke. “We’re the good guys.”
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