liz_marcs (liz_marcs) wrote,

FIC: Whisper, 11/12 (PG-13; BtVS; Ensemble)

Continued from Part 10

Title: Whisper, Part 11
Author: Lizbeth Marcs
Fandom: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Rating: PG-13 for violence, mild language, and some implied situations. Any similarities to a certain scandal that has rocked a certain religion in the Greater Boston Area is purely coincidental, even if it did originally provide the spark for this idea.
Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and related characters are owned by FOX, written and produced by Mutant Enemy. The song ‘No More’ is from the Original Broadway production Into the Woods, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and is therefore not owned by me, either. Dolly, however, is mine.
Summary: A demon is stalking the streets of Sunnydale and driving the residents into horrific public displays of suicide. The key to solving the mystery is locked in the mind of one Scoob who is unable to remember a part of his troubled past.
Pairing: None.
Warning: Spoilers for early S7 Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Author’s Note: This takes place immediately after ‘Him,’ but before ‘Conversations with Dead People. There is a slight AU element in that the Magic Box has been rebuilt in this story. This is the first novel-length story in a series that includes Living History (takes place four months after ‘Chosen’) and Water Hold Me Down (takes place seven months after ‘Chosen’).


A dark chuckle wrapped itself around Xander’s mind. He fought the whimper in his throat.

>>You’re hardly a virgin, are you?<<

Get off of me.

>>Pity. You’ve done this before.<<

Stop it.

>>Oooohhhh, but you are a delicious thing aren’t you?<<

I’m not a ‘thing.’

>>Yes you are, thing. No one sees the real you, but I do. Yes, yes I do, thing.<< the deChantal sing-songed.

{don’t listen to it.} the whisper said.

Xander turned his head away and was rewarded with a fresh wave of dizziness, a sure sign that he had a concussion. He saw the original victim crouched in a corner and crooning to himself.

“Help me,” Xander desperately whispered to the other man.

The man was so focused on his own misery that he didn’t even twitch at the sound of Xander’s plea.

>>Why should he help you? You’re not worth the risk. You know it and I know it. If you were worth the risk, your friends would already be here to save you. They abandoned you, just like they always have and always will abandon you.<<


Dolly watched as Xander struggled underneath the deChantal. Her demonic hearing heard his whispered plea for help to the incapacitated man and she fought to stay in place. She couldn’t interrupt this. She wasn’t allowed to interfere. Those were the rules. That’s how it worked.

No ending, good or bad, was really up to her.

This ending was entirely up to him.

She bit her lip so hard that she was sure she’d draw blood. Her hand clenched the cell phone so tightly that its shape was indented into her hand. “Fight it, fight it, fight it, fight it, fight it…” she quietly chanted over and over.


>> You can admit it to me. There are no lies here.<< The deChantal sounded almost reasonable. >>There’s just you, me, and the truth. You enjoy this. You’ve always enjoyed this.<<

Sick bastard. You are a sick bastard.

>>No. I misspoke. You don’t enjoy this.<< The deChantal’s endearments held a hint of teasing wonder. >>You need this.<<

No. You’re wrong about me.

>>A fighter.<< Xander could feel the sigh and grin against his cheek and he pulled his face away in disgust only to be rewarded with a new bout of dizziness. >>It’s been so long since anyone’s fought me. I forgot how mutually enjoyable it can be.<<

You’re the only one getting off you son of a bitch.

>>Am I? Is that why you’re squirming underneath me?<<

Xander jerked his body in defiance and felt a wave of nausea. The corner of his mind that wasn’t screaming coldly wondered if the physical illness was a side effect of what was happening to him.

>>Poor, poor, self-deluded Alex.<< The voice dripped in honeyed sympathy. >>You know I’m right. Without the fight, without the demons, without the physical and emotional punishment, you wouldn’t be able to function, would you?<<

I don’t know what you’re talking about.

{don’t have a conversation! you’re only giving it more rope to hang us!} the whisper yelled.

The deChantal sharply breathed in as if scenting something exciting. >>Ooooh, yesssss. This is delicious. Such a memory from the summer she was dead. <<

Memory? What memory?

{this is bad.} the whisper moaned. {i can tell this is going to be bad.}

>>Beaten by vampires while on patrol. Cuts and bruises and blood, oh my!<< The demon purred in Xander’s ear. >>You stagger into your home and she’s waiting for you, isn’t she? And what did you do, my sick little boy?<<

I’m not yours.

>>Did you clean yourself up? Did you staunch the bleeding? Did you kiss her tenderly and tell her not to worry?<<

Get out of my head!

The deChantal’s voice turned coldly accusing. >>You pushed her up against a wall, didn’t you? Then you fucked her. You fucked her against that wall and didn’t say a word while she rutted and moaned and dug her nails into your back. You reveled in that pain, blood, and sex like it was a holy sacrament and she had no idea what spun in your twisted mind while you pounded inside her. Did she scream when you came? Did you?<<

No. Dear god, no. Oh, god. Forgive me. I didn’t realize…I didn’t mean…

{it wasn’t like that. you know it wasn’t. it’s twisting the truth. you know this. you’ve got to remember that.} the whisper begged.

>>The pattern is so lovely, like bruises on white flesh.<< Xander winced when it paused to lick a stripe up his cheek. >>The only time you really feel anything is when you feel pain. The only time you’re truly alive is when you’re close to death.<<



Dolly fought a sob as she saw Xander’s physical struggle still into a deathly quiet while the deChantal shuddered and began stroking his face.

I can’t do this, I can’t, Dolly desperately thought. She looked at the cell phone and deliberated. She swallowed hard and looked into the alley.

Decision made, she checked the window and saw the number for Buffy’s cell. She hit the ‘send’ button with a shaky finger and listened as the phone rang. “Please pick up,” she begged.

She tried not to think about what she was doing. She tried not to think about all the rules she was breaking. She tried not to speculate on the long-term effect her actions tonight would have on her or the man now dying in the dark.

She tried not to pinpoint the exact moment where Alexander Harris crossed the line from client to friend.


>>But we know the really ugly secret, don’t we Alex?<< the deChantal said in a conspiratorial whisper. >>We know the ugly secret you won’t ever tell to the people you fuck, the friends who ignore you, or the family that hates you. We know the secret that you only admit to yourself when it’s dark and you’re alone and 3AM eats at what’s left of your soul.<<

Midnight. Midnight of the soul.

{concentrate. don’t let it lead you down that path.}

I’m tired. I’m just tired. Please let me go. Please. You’re hurting me.

>>Isn’t that better? Isn’t this more enjoyable when you Just. Stop. Fighting.<< the deChantal soothed.

{scream. yell. hit. fight. don’t do this. please don’t do this.}

>> You need to understand that ugly little secret about yourself, Alex. You know it, you may even whisper it to yourself in the dark, but you don’t truly understand it.<<

Nothing. There’s nothing to understand. Nothing.

>>That’s right. The truth of the matter: the only thing separating who you are now and the abusive drunk you are destined to become are the demons, the punishment, and the pain. Take all of that away and you are nothing.<<


Sweat and exhaustion settled on Buffy, Spike, Willow, and Anya. The fight had become almost mechanical with the thrust and parry of vampires feinting and the quartet charging their captors in various attempts to break the blockade.

The combined efforts of the white hats brought the odds down to six-to-four.

Under normal fight conditions, the Scoobs would’ve wiped out most of the original dozen with only one or two escaping with their unlives.

Except this wasn’t a normal fight. The vampires were effectively boxing them in, true. Yet, none of the bumpy forehead set seemed all that eager for a fight.

“Can some please tell me what’s going on?” Buffy asked as she bounced back from her last charge.

“Their hearts aren’t in it, that’s for certain,” Spike said.

A shrill ring echoing through the woods seemed to freeze all of the combatants. Buffy was the first to break the spell as she blindly patted down her coat and pockets while keeping a close eye on the vampires. “That’s my phone. I can’t find it,” she said.

“That’s probably because it’s somewhere over there,” Anya replied, waving vaguely at an area on the other side of the vampire wall.

“Shit!” Buffy shouted as she charged at undead blockade.

“Now there’s a battle cry I can get behind,” Spike whooped as he followed her.


You’re wrong. About me. You’re wrong.

>>Am I?<< The dark chuckle squeezed Xander’s heart. >>When you remembered, how long did you stare at the bottles, Alex? How tempted were you to open them? How much did you want to embrace liquid forgetfulness? What saved you, little boy? What were the only things that saved you? Rage. Pain. Fear. Tell me you didn’t feel it when you flung them against the walls of your prison.<<

Stop it. Stop it. Please.

>>And when those two found you crouched in the dark on the floor of your prison you didn’t dare tell them, did you? You didn’t dare admit that you wanted nothing more than crawl across your apartment and lick the alcohol off the floor with your tongue.<<

A Harris. I am such a fucking Harris. I’ll die a Harris.

{you’re better than that. you’re more than just that. you’ve got to believe that.}

>>Rage. Pain. Fear. The three things you steal from the demons that save you every time you venture into the dark. You hold evil close and feel righteous as you desperately try to convince yourself that you’re good man, a worthwhile man. You know in your bones that it’s a pretty little lie you tell yourself. All you’re doing is delaying the inevitable.<<

Xander moaned in defeat. The wedding, the vision…

{stop giving it ammunition!}


The vampires scattered under the weight of Buffy’s desperate assault. Willow muttered more words that shoved vampires into each other, keeping them off-balance while Buffy desperately slashed with her stake. Spike fought rear-guard action, keeping the braver demons away with a snarl and a kick. Anya stood guard by Willow and swung her makeshift weapon menacingly when any vampire got too close.

A quick succession of “poofs” brought the odds down to four against four.

“Screw this!” shouted one female vampire. She grabbed one of her fellows and high-tailed it into the woods. The remaining two survivors looked at each other, looked back at the enraged Slayer bearing down on them, and fled the area.

“The phone! Where’s the phone!” Buffy screamed.

Willow charged into the underbrush before triumphantly emerging. “Got it!”


“C’mon, c’mon, c’mon,” Dolly chanted as she sunk to her knees. The unanswered ring had gone on so long that she almost missed the breathless female voice that answered.

“Xander!” the voice on the other end shouted.

“Help him,” Dolly said. “You have to help him.”

“What? Dolly? Is that you? Where’s Xander?” the voice on the other end demanded.

“You have to get here. You have to hurry. It’s killing him.”

“Xander? No!”

Dolly heard a fumbling sound, as if someone had dropped the phone. She cursed as a new female voice took over.

“Dolly? It’s Buffy. Where are you?”

“Warehouse district,” Dolly replied.

Where in the warehouse district.”

“Wait, let me…” Dolly began as her eyes scanned the streetscape in a desperate attempt to find a clue. “Westing Ave. We’re on Westing Ave. I’m right outside the alley where—” she choked.

“Don’t move. We’ll be right there,” Buffy ordered and the phone went dead.

Dolly dropped the cell to the ground and dumbly stared into the dark. She closed her eyes and tried not to think about what was happening right in front of her as the story unraveled.


>>Now you see. Now you get it.<< A parody of comfort tinged the deChantal’s dark tone. >>You will lose everything when you can’t hide behind your tattered halo any more. You will finally accept your rightful place as just another worthless drunk who can only feel when teaching other people the meaning of rage, pain, and fear.<<

No. I wouldn’t. I couldn’t. Please. It’snottrueit’snottrueit’snottrue…

>>Oh, but it is true. What’s more, you know it’s true.<< The deChantal said this as if it were pronouncing Xander’s final fate. >>How will you die, I wonder? What hovel will you drink yourself into? Such a long, slow, agonizing process ahead. And every time you swallow your poison, every time you bloody the face of the people you fuck, every time you make your bastard brats cry in secret, you’ll remember the time you were underneath me.<<

Xander felt tears sting his eyes and angrily willed them away. A cold corner of his mind leapt on that one emotion: anger.

{rage, pain, and fear? that’s all we have? well, then maybe it’s high time we embrace our inner daddy harris.} the whisper spat.


Dolly’s eyes snapped open when she heard an enraged roar echo out of the alley. She focused her eyes and saw Xander throw the demon off him. Her breath caught as Xander jumped to his feet and began stalking his tormentor.

The demon tried to retreat, but every move to get away was blocked as Xander circled around the creature. There were no taunts, no quips, not a single word uttered as Xander silently used the threat of his physical presence to back the deChantal into a situation where it would have no choice but to fight its way to freedom.

Dolly clambered to her feet in shock as she watched the silent chess match between human and demon. She nearly jumped out of her skin when Xander finally spoke in a gravel voice that betrayed a cold, murderous fury.


“This ends now.” Xander’s voice sounded alien to his own ears.

The deChantal was off balance as it desperately tried to get around him, only to find one Xander-shaped wall blocking its escape.

Xander smiled.

He knew it wasn’t a particularly nice smile. He knew if he saw it in the mirror he’d be horrified that his own face could smile like that.

He rushed the demon and backhanded it into a wall, ending the opening cat-and-mouse salvo. “So, how does it feel to be on the other end?” Xander asked with a dangerous glitter in his eyes.

The demon jumped to its feet and tried to push past the human, only to be rewarded with another backhanded punch.

This time Xander didn’t pause when the demon slammed into the wall. He continued to press his advantage with a flurry of punches and kicks as he rode the wave of violent emotions. First he was going to hurt this thing and then he was going to kill it. When the demon fell to the ground, Xander landed a vicious kick to its face, bent down, and hauled it up so it could look directly in his eyes. “Did you enjoy your meal?” Xander asked. “I hope so. It’s your last one.”

He shoved the demon into the wall and chased after it, landing blow after blow on every vulnerable spot he could find.

“You are never, never going to hurt anyone again,” Xander promised between vicious swings. “And you are never, never going to play with your victims ever again. No one else is going to die because of you. No one. It’s over.”

Somewhere in the middle of his rant the demon sank to the ground, an action that spiked Xander to greater violence as he continued his beating. A fearful whimper that at first didn’t register finally broke through the red haze over Xander’s vision and he froze.

After a few agonizing seconds, Xander turned around to see the original victim back on his feet and hugging close to the wall. He tried not to think about the picture he presented: a violent young man covered in an unidentifiable sticky substance that looked like blood and looming over a helpless creature at his feet.

“It’s okay. You’re not hurt. No one’s going to hurt you. I promise,” Xander said, using as gentle a tone as he could muster under the circumstances. He took a cautious step forward and plastered what he hoped was a reassuring smile on his face. He strangled disappointment when the man shrank away from his approach.

Xander stopped, hands hanging uselessly at his sides. “Are you okay? How’s your head? You’re not, unnnh, having any weird thoughts are you?”

“What am I supposed to think?” the man responded with a shaky voice.

“You were lured here and…and attacked,” Xander helplessly explained. “A friend and I saw you were in trouble and…look, you’re not thinking that you deserve to die or something right?”

The demon stirred and Xander quieted it with sideways sift kick to the ribs. He tried not to wince when the man took a few more steps towards the alley entrance.

“Oh, I very much want to live,” the man fervently replied. “Do you want my wallet?”

“What? No!” Xander was horrified as he wondered how this guy could even think that. Then he looked down at the grey man-shaped demon on the ground and sighed.

{sunnydale denial strikes again.} the whisper agreed.

“Go home.” Xander sounded bone tired “I’m…I’m glad you’re alright.”

The man took a few more steps away. “Look, I promise I won’t tell the police, if you just—”

“Go,” Xander quietly ordered.


Don’t you dare do this to me, Xander. Don’t you dare die on me. Don’t you dare leave me, or so help me god I’ll drag you out of heaven myself, Buffy silently raged as she tore past the No Name bar. People scattered out of her way as she charged down the sidewalk. Buffy’s slight frame may not be the least bit intimidating, but the sword clutched in her right hand certainly was.

She tried not to think about how self-centered her own thoughts about Xander’s threatened extinction were. She also tried not to think about how close she was skating to her friends’ reasoning when they did the same thing to her.

Instead she focused on fighting the sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach that she wouldn’t be on time.

Buffy skidded around the corner onto Westing Ave. as she clutched her sword in a painfully tight grip. She could hear Spike cursing a half-a-block behind her as he chased her. She had no doubt that Willow and Anya were likewise racing to catch up, but the witch and the out-of-shape ex-demon were no match for Slayer or vampire speed.

She bounded over to Dolly and noticed that the waitress was staring wide-eyed into the darkness and hugging herself tightly. “Where?” Buffy hissed.

Dolly shook herself and turned to face Buffy. She blinked rapidly. “I—”

“Where is he?” Buffy urgently repeated the question.

She indicated a nearby alley with a jerk of her head. “In there, but I don’t think—”

Buffy charged the alley with sword raised before Dolly could finish the sentence.

“Wait!” the waitress yelled after her.

Buffy saw a man-shaped figure approach the entrance and swung her sword with every once of Slayer strength behind it. She misjudged her aim in her haste and the sword embedded itself in the brickwork with a solid chunk. The man-shaped thing widened its eyes in horror and let out a squeal of fight.

“Kill you,” Buffy snarled as she wrenched the sword free.

“Buffy, wait. He’s human,” a male voice floated out of the darkness.

Xander ghosted slowly out of the shadows. Buffy’s eyes widened in shock at the sight. There wasn’t one square inch of the man that wasn’t covered in what she assumed was demon blood. His clothes were tacky and stiff with the substance and his hair seemed to stick out in impossible directions as if he used the green goo as mousse.

“Xander?” Buffy ventured with trembling voice. “Are you okay?”

“Been better,” Xander interrupted. He looked at the cowering man. “She won’t hurt you, but it might be a good idea if you take off now. Oh, and a word of advice. Make sure you find a good therapist.”

The man let out a squeak and scurried into the night without a backward glance.

“Well, that went well,” Xander dryly remarked. “Much more fun than Nancy calling me a freak after we saved her from Killer Worm Ronnie the ex-boyfriend.”

“Xander? Is it dead? Did you kill it?” Buffy felt incredibly stupid as she asked the question. She tried to fight her uneasiness at the thought that Xander just might’ve ripped the demon apart with his bare hands.

“No. Not yet,” Xander grimly replied. He stepped forward and held out his hand. “Sword, please.”

“But—” Buffy protested.

“You may be the Slayer, but this is my fight,” he quietly said. “Give me the sword.”

Buffy handed her weapon over without a word. Xander nodded in response, turned, and reentered the shadows. Buffy silently followed. She halted when Xander stopped. When she saw the crumpled form on the ground, she hissed in shock. Granted, she’d been known to let her fists do the pummeling when her temper got the better of her, but this horror tableau didn’t even begin to match what she knew about Xander.

I’m beginning to wonder if I ever knew him at all, Buffy thought as she studied the broken heap at Xander’s feet. Something tells me that it’s time I learn starting now.

Xander grabbed the pommel with both hands and lifted the sword over his head with the point down. He shoved downward, pushing the tip through the demon’s heart with all his strength. There was a brief shudder and the demon was still. “Now it’s dead,” Xander announced.

The Slayer lightly stepped forward so that she stood shoulder-to-shoulder with her friend, her eyes not leaving the now-dead demon. “There really isn’t that much left of it to turn into goo, is there?”

Xander shrugged. “I was fighting for my life. Sorry if this offends your sensitivities.”

“Not criticizing, I’m just saying,” Buffy answered with a shrug of her own.

A relieved yell caused both Buffy and Xander to whirl around to face the entrance just in time to see a redhead barreling for them at top speed. Willow’s charge ended in an ecstatic hug that nearly knocked Xander off his feet.

“Whoa! Still thinking I’ve got a concussion here, Wills. Ease up,” Xander protested.

“Don’t care,” Willow’s muffled voice replied. “Worried. Glad you’re still alive.”

Xander blinked in surprise, as if that very thought hadn’t yet occurred to him. “I am, aren’t I?” has asked with dawning wonder. He followed the quiet question with a strangled a sound of happy relief while he drew Willow in tighter hug.

Buffy watched the scene with wry amusement. “By the way, starting tomorrow, you’re gonna start training.”

Xander lifted his head and regarded the Slayer with angry shock. “Excuse me? I’ve helped you train—”

“Yes, you have, from behind a puffy suit. That’s changing. Tomorrow, you and I are gonna start sparing hand-to-hand,” Buffy firmly said.

“Ummm, Slayer strength, remember?” Willow asked.

“So? I’ll pull my punches. And we are soooo going to start working on building your skills with crossbows and longbows,” Buffy crossed her arms. “This isn’t a debate. If I can have Dawn effectively defending herself, I can have you kicking demon ass before the month is out.”

Xander cocked an amused eyebrow. “Is that an order?”

“More like a threat.” Buffy let out a relieved chuckle. “If you refuse to train, I will march to your apartment, knock you out, drag you to the Magic Box, chain you to a wall, and then whine non-stop at you until you give in.”

“Ooooh, kinky,” Xander responded.

Willow started to giggle. “Buffy dragging your unconscious self to the Magic Box. Now that’s something I’d pay to see.”

“Because we all enjoy humiliating me, right?” Xander asked.

“Nope.” Willow’s giggles threatened to spin out of control. “More like height difference. I can see you slung over Buffy’s shoulder and your feet and knuckles dragging on the sidewalk.”

Xander and Buffy blinked at the mental picture before they both began hysterically laughing along with Willow.


Anya stood at the entrance of the alleyway torn between running to Xander to throw her arms around him in grateful relief that he was still alive and running to Xander to smack him across the face for being so stupid as to take on the deChantal himself.

“Looks like the fun’s over,” a voice said in her ear.

Anya turned and saw her. She blinked hard, shook her head, and blinked again.

Dolly responded by tilting her head and giving Anya a slight nod.

Anya looked away from the 40-something waitress to Xander and back again, emotions flickering across her face as she did so. Confusion was quickly replaced by anger, then sadness, and finally a hint of understanding. When her vision finally settled on Dolly, she could feel the question on her face, even if she didn’t dare ask.

Dolly shook her head in warning and pursed her lips.

Anya bowed her head and refused to meet the other woman’s eyes. She remembered what Xander said at their aborted wedding: “It wasn’t you I was hating.”

That only leaves one other option, doesn’t it? she thought. Stupid. I am so stupid. Why didn’t I think of it before? And all those questions Buffy put to me. Damn. Damn. Damn.

Next thing Anya knew, she was swept up in a bone-crushing hug as an ecstatic Xander whirled her around.

“I’m alive!” he shouted. “I made it! I did it! It’s over! Finally over!”

“Put me down!” Anya exclaimed.

“Whoops! Sorry,” he apologized as he let her go. He began brushing at her clothes.

“What are you doing?” Anya asked.

He stopped and winced. “Green slime?”

Anya looked down and realized that nothing was going to get the goo out of her clothes. She shrugged. “What the hell,” she said as she gave him a quick hug. “Good show, Harris.”

Xander let her go. “‘Good show?’”

“Interjecting a little Giles for your appreciation,” Anya said.

Willow whooped and tackled Xander in yet another hug, an attack that was quickly followed by Buffy’s own rib-bruising embrace.

Xander was clearly enjoying the moment of Scooby closeness just a little too much.

“Hope ya plannin’ ta take it to a hotel room,” Dolly said.

Xander’s head popped up and he grinned. “I’d offer to include you, but I don’t think you want to be slimed.”

“Got that right,” Dolly sniffed. “I’ll take my happy ending all vicarious like.”

“I’m thinking showers are in order,” Buffy announced. “Followed by a celebratory pig-out involving gooey sundaes.”

“Pah-tay at Buffy’s,” Xander grinned. “I’ll even refrain from making gagging sounds when Spike uses blood topping.”

“Cow’s blood and ice cream ain’t kosher,” Spike growled.

“Yuck,” Willow said. She blinked with surprise. “And kind of insulting now that I think about it.”

“I’ll pass on the calorie fest,” Dolly said. “I just wanna go home and get some sleep. Maybe if I’m really lucky the Sunnydale deep denial fairy will come along and make me forget.”

“Oh, like that’s going to happen,” Anya commented. She cowed when Dolly gave her an unreadable look.

“Anya’s right,” Xander said, letting go Willow and Buffy. “You might already be infected with the ‘know-all’ disease.”

“Which kills the denial fairy.” Dolly gave an over-dramatic sigh. “Still, I’m bushed. I’m thinkin’ sleep now, deal later.”

“C’mon, then. We’ll drop you home,” Xander said. “My car’s this way.”

Willow grabbed one arm and Buffy grabbed the other while Xander made his way down the street. Dolly, Anya, and Spike followed a little distance behind, listening to the three friends ahead of them giggle and trade jibes.

“So, Wills, I think I owe you a pint of Ben and Jerry’s, right?” Xander voice floated back to them.

“And dinner in a fine French restaurant, buster. Don’t you forget it,” Willow replied through laughter.

“Hey! What about me? Don’t Slayers get fine French dinners?”

“I dunno,” Xander replied. “What have you done to deserve it? Ow! Hey! No fair smacking me on the shoulder with Slayer strength. You do remember you promised to pull your punches, right?”

“Shut up, Xan,” Buffy giggled. “I didn’t hit you that hard.”

“Says you. I’ve lost all feeling in my right arm!”

“For someone one who’s covered in green slime and smelling like the bottom of a trash barrel, he’s a very happy guy,” Spike commented to Dolly and Anya.

“Yeah,” Dolly agreed with a smile that would make anyone think that she killed the demon herself.

Continued in Part 12




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