Secondly, I received a comment on the last chapter regarding Xander and how plausible it is that he is surviving on his own. They asked how he was getting money for any type of hotel, let alone paying for "food, school, books, supplies, etc." I addressed this in a personal reply to them, but in case it was bothering anyone else I thought I'd answer it again .
This is, in fact, something that I had intended to reveal later in the story, however since I received a question about it I decided to just answer it outright. Xander is not receiving support from the Watchers' Council, nor would he accept help from Cromwell for reasons we'll find out in this chapter. However, when Jessica was alive she did work since she had to support and house both herself and her child, so she had a small amount saved which Xander inherited when she died. In addition, Xander has still been patrolling since his mother's death. He has been supplementing his income by incapacitating his opponents and taking their money (should they have any) before disposing of them. As for paying for school and school books, Xander - both in this story as well as in canon - attends Sunnydale High School, which is a public institution. Public schools in the United States are free of charge and school books are almost always provided. There would be no need for Xander to have the money to pay for this.
This was not part of the question, but I thought I'd head anything else off by answering it preemptively:
I thought it might bother some that Xander was just roaming free. His father is out of the picture and he obviously does not want Cromwell's assistance. Again, this is something that was (and very likely still will be) revealed later in the story, but since people have inquired about unanswered issues like this I'm filling in the blanks. After Jessica died, Xander filled out emancipation papers, which he had Cromwell, his legal guardian according to Jessica's will, sign. This allows Xander the freedom to pretty much as he wishes.
Note: None of these things were going to be major plot points. They were all going to just be gradually woven in as the story progressed. I apologize for this long message, I just thought I'd clear up any misunderstandings.
As always, thank you so very much to everyone for reading. I hope you all enjoy this next chapter!
Title: Should the Wide World Roll Away
Rating: PG-13 now...will rise in subsequent chapters
Concrit: Comments are always welcome. I love to know you're reading.
Disclaimer: All characters are borrowed with respect from Joss Whedon.
Warnings: None for this chapter.
Summary: Jump into the DeLorean. We're taking a trip to the past.
Notes: While this is not my first time writing (as I'm an English/creative writing major), it is my first time writing and posting fic. I hope everyone enjoys. I'll be trying to update as often as I can, time allowing.
"Are you off your nut?!" Spike hissed across the table. "Keep your voice down! The bastard's probably already caught my scent and what do you do? Practically broadcast that we're here for the world to hear?!"
Spike slid out of the booth, grasping Xander roughly around his upper arm and pulling him up. "Do not look at them," Spike breathed into Xander's ear. With that, Spike dragged Xander swiftly through the bar and to the front door, where Spike hoisted it open once more to push the boy out. A malicious laugh chased them into the parking lot, eliciting a physical reaction from Xander and chilling even Spike to the bone.
Spike didn't release the grip he had on Xander until they reached the motorcycle.
Spike tore out and into the street, not stopping until they reached the motel.
"Come on. Get in…quick, now."
Once inside, Spike locked the door, then turned to face Xander.
"Sit," Spike said, voice low and deceptively calm. Once Xander was seated on the edge of one of the beds, Spike pulled the chair from the corner up to sit facing him. "I think you need to explain."
Xander stared for a moment before words seemed to erupt from him uncontrollably. "I can't explain! I wish I could! It shouldn't even be possible for him to be here! This is a dream. Is this a dream? This has to be a dream."
" Back up a tick luv," Spike said. "Help me understand. Why should it be impossible for Angelus to be here?"
"Because last summer…I dusted him."
Sunnydale, California – November 1995
Jessica was losing. A guttural grunt was forced from her as she was struck hard in the stomach yet again, sending her flying several yards backward, slamming into a brick wall. She didn't know what kind of demon this was, but Jessica was now scared for her life; this thing could swat her away like a bug. Struggling back to her feet, Jessica attempted to collect herself. If she was going to die she was going to die on her feet fighting back – not cowering and afraid.
Mentally and physically exhausted, Jessica stepped away from the wall, her jaw set stubbornly, meeting the creature's crimson gaze with as much courage as she could muster. Her only thought, as she stood there waiting for the monster to make its final attack, was regret that she would never get to tell her son "I love you" one last time.
Jessica stumbled, falling back against the wall again, this time in shock. The demon took one final step toward her before toppling over dead, a broadsword imbedded deeply through the back of its skull. A man stepped out of the shadows then, reaching down to retrieve his weapon, wiping the gore onto the motionless corpse with a flourish.
Speechless, Jessica simply stared at her rescuer, shocked that she was still alive. The man took a few steps more, drawing closer, a look of concern on his face.
"Are you alright?"
That question shook Jessica out of the trance she was in; she drew herself up with effort once more, determined not to appear weak in front of this unknown person.
"I'm fine," she said, fatigue apparent in her voice. When the man's look of concern didn't wane, Jessica tried again. "Thanks…for saving me. I don't usually need rescuing."
A small smile crossed the man's face. "No, I don't imagine you do."
Suddenly suspicious of the man, Jessica made to reach for something to defend herself with.
"It's alright," the man said quietly, reaching out to rest a hand on her arm to calm her. "I know you're the Slayer."
Jessica drew back from the man. "How?"
"I'm…a friend. My name is Angel."
Northern China – 1900
Great flames were engulfing the city. Around them, buildings collapsed into rubble as they gave in to the relentless rolls of attacking fire. The people still remaining in the city were frenzied, now driven by hysteria and fear, running haplessly through the streets like spooked animals. The chaos in the city was deafening, the screams audible from miles around. Inside the house of a family of Christian missionaries, however, the scene was a stark contrast.
"It's disgusting," Darla hissed, golden-yellow eyes catching the glare of the moonlight through the window, making her appear more other-worldly than usual. "I can smell it inside you. Tainting you. The soul those gypsies cursed you with, the scent is repulsive."
"I'm sorry," Angelus said contritely. "I have been killing. I'm trying – "
"Don't you hear yourself? Don't you see what you've become? Apologizing…like some human…"
Still showing his human guise, Angelus stared sadly into Darla's true face. "I'm sor – "
"Don't," Darla said, looking away from Angelus. Her golden locks bounced gently around her shoulders as she turned, affording her a look of softness that was almost alien on her. She gazed out the window, shifting back into her human face, the moonlight bathing her pale white skin in silver.
"Do you hear the screams, Angelus? Hear how they run in terror? We used to dance to that music. Angelus does not apologize; Angelus is feared by the entire continent of Europe. My boy," Darla whispered, almost to herself, "what have they done to you?"
They stood there for a long time, neither of them talking, just listening to the sounds of the riot still going strong in the streets – listening to the missionaries' infant cry out for his mother, who was lying on the floor beside her husband, both their eyes frozen open, staring at the ceiling in eternal terror. Dead. The infant continued to cry.
"There's a monastery up in the mountains…the mystics there claim to have the power to perform soul extractions," Darla said quietly, ignoring the baby's wailing. We could get you back. You want it gone don't you?"
Angelus shifted to his true face then, masking the guilt so visibly apparent on his human one. "Yes. I want it gone."
Angelus dropped the last of the Kun-Sun-Dai to the ground with an air of carelessness he hadn't felt in two years. He scanned the plain room, relishing the sight of he and Darla's most recent massacre, turning to flash his companion a bloody smile. "That's better."
London, England – April 1996
"We've received word from one of our associates stationed in Sunnydale that the vampire Angelus surfaced in the town a few months ago and is consorting with the current Slayer. Our source says that the vampire is claiming he was cursed by a group of gypsies while in Romania in 1898…that he now possesses a soul. We believe the vampire is deceiving the Slayer for reasons unknown to the Council at this time. However, it is the opinion of the Council that we may be able to use the vampire's presence to our advantage."
Travers allowed his gaze to travel around the room imperiously, as if daring the others in attendance of the meeting to contradict him. "The current Slayer has a son. Shepperd allowed this. But he is gone now and his death, though regrettable, has put me in charge of the Watchers' Council. Therefore, I think it is high time we address this issue. It is something that has been allowed to persist for far too long. The Slayer is not meant to have familial connections of any kind. These are distractions, and prevent her from performing at optimal standards. The solution is a simple one. We will have our associate in Sunnydale contact the vampire Angelus, and offer him a proposition. Have him…take the boy out of the picture."
There were several deep intakes of breath at this statement, but Travers ignored them all until a mousy-haired woman with silver glasses perched on the tip of her nose had the courage to speak from the middle of the long wooden conference table.
"Excuse me. I'm sorry but…you don't really expect the Slayer to allow her son to be killed without fighting back do you?"
The expression on Travers's face was not a nice one. "No, I do not. But, you see, I do not care. One way or another I will have a Slayer devoted solely to the mission. Even if I have to see the current Slayer eliminated along with the boy."
Sunnydale, California – April 1996
"Keep going," Cromwell called back to Jessica, ascending the stairs and into the kitchen to answer the phone. "Hello?" he said into the receiver.
"Good evening Aaron." Cromwell was immediately more alert at the sound of Travers's voice on the other end of the line.
"And a good morning to you, Sir," Cromwell replied formally. "Is there something I can do for you?"
"Yes, actually there is."
Cromwell's face grew sickly and gray as Travers explained his intended plan. When Travers was finished, Cromwell could barely find his voice to speak.
"Mr. Travers…you can't be serious about this," he said mutedly into the phone. "You can't expect me to keep Jessica away from her son and allow this…this vampire to kidnap and murder him! "
Travers's voice was deathly calm when he answered. "You will do this, Aaron. You will do this or you will be the next person I feel compelled to eliminate for the good of the cause."
Sunnydale, California - June 1996
"I just don't understand why we're training here tonight," Jessica said, completing another combination of punches against the pads Cromwell was wearing on his hands. I mean, my apartment isn't that big. And, you know," she said her eyes glancing quickly around them to indicate the kitchen they were standing in, "there's not a training room."
Cromwell forced himself to keep his face impassive. "I just thought you might like to change our routine up a bit. Variety is the spice of life…as they say." He trailed off, the words sounding false even to his own ears.
"Seriously, Aaron. If something's up you know you can tell me. I think we've known each other long enough that – "
A muffled scream coming from the next room interrupted Jessica's sentence. She sprung immediately toward the door that would take her to the living room where Xander was watching television, but before she could make it through, Cromwell jumped into her path.
"MOVE!" Jessica yelled desperately. "That's my son! Something's in there!"
Jessica pushed Cromwell bodily out of the way. When she entered the living room, Xander was being dragged out the front door, though he was kicking and fighting his attacker the entire way.
"Hey!" Jessica called out, crossing the room to the doorway quickly. "Let him go! That's my son!"
Jessica grabbed the attacker's shoulder, pulling him around to face her.
"Angel?" Jessica whispered, betrayed.
He flashed Jessica a nasty smile. "Not quite."
Angelus tossed Xander aside casually then, watching the boy's head slam into the wall, his body crumpling motionlessly to the floor.
A soft cry escaped Jessica, and she turned on Angelus, fire in her eyes.
The fight did not last long.
Xander opened his eyes blearily, awakening to the sight of his mother's head dangling lifelessly onto her shoulder, Angelus hugging her tightly to his body, a counterfeit of a lover's embrace, his face buried in her neck. The whole world seemed to stop for a moment, and the scene looked like some sort of horrifying painting come to life.
Xander did not even remember picking up the stake, which must have dropped from his mother's limp hand and rolled across the floor. And as suddenly as if he hadn't moved at all, Xander was on his feet behind Angel, driving the stake through his back and into his heart. The dust was still swirling in the air around him but his mother's body was the only thing Xander could see. He fell to the floor beside his mother, collecting her gently into his arms, and cried.
Sunnydale, California: The Wooden Nickel – September 1997 (Current Day)
Cromwell made another attempt to stand, wanting desperately to get away. Again Angelus was quicker, grabbing Cromwell's forearm and yanking him viciously back down into the booth.
"Sit," Angelus ordered, squeezing the hand still gripping around Cromwell's arm hard enough for the bone to ache in protest. "We're old friends…remember? Ya don't want ta have a pint with yer old pal Angelus? I'm hurt."
"How are you – what are you doing here?! What do you want with me?"
"I want the boy," Angelus snarled across the table, Cromwell easily hearing him even over the din of the bar. "I want the boy that staked me. You're going to help me get him."