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16 August 2004 @ 11:58 pm
Life Lessons, an 8 drabble answer to challenge #73 at open_on_sunday

Something slightly different happened this week when I saw the challenge. I ended up in Xander's head for quite a while, but never fear, I didn't desert my OTP entirely...

Author: darkhavens
Title: Life Lessons
Pairing: S/X right at the very end, kinda
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: Not mine, never will be. No harm meant, no money made.

Lesson the First - All Vampires Are Evil, Undead Demons

See, it's not his friend Jesse, not really. Not any more. It's just some killer demon wearing a Jesse-suit. With Jesse's memories. And Jesse's voice. They all say so.

It's just another monster they have to kill before it kills them. And he has the stake in his hand, and he means to use it, he really does... until Jesse speaks to him. Because it more than just sounds like Jesse, it is Jesse. Right there, inside the eyes. And now he'll never know whether or not he would have been able to do what he was supposed to do.

Lesson the Second - Not all Vampires Are Evil, Undead Demons

Angel is a vampire.
Angel has a soul.
Angel wants to help Buffy.
Angel wants Buffy.

So, after embracing lesson one - and really, how can he not, having watched his best friend turn to dust at the end of his stake - Xander has to learn lesson two. There is an exception to every rule. Their exception is Angel.

Xander doesn't like this lesson. And he doesn't like Angel. But even though lesson two somehow refuses to take, it still manages to undermine the foundations of lesson one. And sometimes Xander wonders. Just what difference does a soul really make anyway?

Lesson the Third - Soulless Demons Do Not Love

Maybe Angel with a soul did love Buffy, but without it he's a single-minded psycho-vamp. You don't terrorise the one you love. You don't kill and torture and torment their friends just so show you care. You certainly don't attempt to wipe out all humanity just to grab the attention of one teenage California girl.

But everyone refers to soulless Angelus like he's someone else, a separate individual from the Angel who hovered in their midst. Xander is confounded and confused. They're trying to find a way to save this murderous monster, yet Jesse was erased without a second thought.

Lesson the Fourth - Apparently Some Soulless Demons Do Love

The microscope hurt, and Xander is positive he'll have a scar to show his grandkids, if he survives the monster headache. And the monsters. But through the double vision and low-grade nausea he is painfully aware that Spike, the Master vampire Spike, is trying to convince sweet Willow to provide him with a love spell, in hopes of reuniting with the great love of his unlife, Drusilla.

And so yet another lesson is re-written.

This creature has no soul, and should not love, so Xander has been taught. It makes him wonder, late at night... what if Jesse had survived?

Lesson the Fifth - Love Hurts

It stings when Buffy rejects him for a walking corpse.

It burns when Cordy dumps him then tops it off with public humiliation.

It tears a hole in his heart when Willow, in the hospital, calls to Oz when he's just said the magic words...

But he really learns the lesson when Faith arrives in town. Being ridden and put away wet is bad enough, but then his first real lover tries to kill him. And, just to put the cherry on the cake, he's saved by Angel.

He very definitely doesn't think of Jesse while he learns this lesson.

Lesson the Sixth - There Are Worse Things Than Demons

This one is a bitter lesson to learn. Spike, chipped and defenceless. Soldier boys out to capture things they don't actually believe in. Riley. Buffy. The secret underground installation. The Initiative.

There are indeed things worse than demons, and top of the list is the great United Stated Government and their team of military Frankensteins.

What they did to Spike was bad enough - and doesn't that thought freak him out when it settles in - but the worst, the very worst, is how they tried to build their own monster, like a rag doll, stitched together from whatever they could find.

Lesson the Seventh - Vampires Make Strange Pets and Stranger Allies

Spike gives them information and they pay with heated bags of liquid cow. The discovery that he can still fight demons brings a change. No longer a pet puppy, Spike's a pit bull now, straining at his leash.

Slowly, over time, he starts to help for helping's sake. The others don't seem to notice that demands for blood are made by rote now, and never very often. He fights, he even sometimes comes for research nights, though never cracks a book (where they can see).

Xander starts to think, and, when he's saved by vampire strength, he thinks some more.

Lesson the Eighth - He Will Always Be A Demon Magnet

Praying Mantis lady, Inca Mummy girl, and an uncompleted pass by a newly ex-vengeance demon all confirm his status as a magnet to the less-than-human half of the population. A dangerous thing to be, living on a Hellmouth. So when Spike begins to take uncommon care to be close by when he patrols, Xander thinks it's just to reap the benefits of his un-natural draw.

And maybe it is, initially, but slowly Spike is there more and more often, always watching from the shadows, making him squirm and feel self-conscious.

That first kiss, when it finally comes, is a relief...

feeling: ditzyditzy
hearing: Jurassic Park II
I am Derek's vocal eyebrows: o; clive cig [me]literati on August 16th, 2004 11:14 pm (UTC)
gorgeous drabbles babe.. ::huggles Xander:: at least it all works out in the end ;)
darkhavensdarkhavens on August 16th, 2004 11:18 pm (UTC)
Yeah, but the end is only the beginning. ;o)

Thx sweetie. *smooch*
Teresatgray on August 16th, 2004 11:15 pm (UTC)
I love your drabbles so much! I can't write one to save me life!

The care and consideration you put into each and every thought was wonderful! Thank you, as always!
darkhavensdarkhavens on August 16th, 2004 11:28 pm (UTC)
Thank you! :o)

This challenge actually grabbed me by the throat yesterday and wouldn't let go. Usually I manage to fend off the bunnies until late Monday so I don't just keep going until cut-off time, but this time I kept 'receiving' whole sentences and phrases and I figured I'd better write them down before they vanished. Hee!

it only burns when I breathe: darkhavensrideacowboyspikedluv on August 16th, 2004 11:32 pm (UTC)
That was wonderful!! I loved the succession of 'lessons' Xander has learned, and the end, though hardly smutty, made me squirm. Beautiful job with this.
darkhavensdarkhavens on August 16th, 2004 11:49 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I usually get them into a real long-time love affair before the end of my drabbles, but this time it seemed right to end with the first kiss. Ending at the beginning. :o)
bdbdb: James by bdbdbbdbdb on August 16th, 2004 11:40 pm (UTC)
Just beautiful!
darkhavensdarkhavens on August 16th, 2004 11:50 pm (UTC)
Thanks :o)
xanphibian on August 17th, 2004 12:47 am (UTC)
Loooooove. Very nice. :)
darkhavensdarkhavens on August 17th, 2004 12:54 am (UTC)
Thanks. :o)
your royal pie-ness: xander by your side (dazzo)entrenous88 on August 17th, 2004 04:57 am (UTC)
Oh, loved this. Loved loved loved. Really just what I needed this evening. Thanks.
darkhavensdarkhavens on August 17th, 2004 05:09 am (UTC)
Thank you! Glad I hit the spot. ;o)
VF: Xander nummyvampirefever on August 17th, 2004 05:23 am (UTC)
Lesson in vamp loving - yum.

Your drabbles are so good ::hugs::
darkhavensdarkhavens on August 17th, 2004 05:27 am (UTC)
Thank you! ::hugs you back::

For once I ended just that the beginning of the relationship. Makes a change for me. ;o)
willshenilshe on August 17th, 2004 06:04 am (UTC)
*standing ovation* You know I love it when you do this, and this is bloody brilliant. Watching that process of thought, the slow and gradual changing of Xander's mind over time with what he observes... just wonderful. Bravo!

(And you had Jesse angst... sob!... alas, poor Jesse, we hardly knew ye...)
darkhavensdarkhavens on August 17th, 2004 06:18 am (UTC)
::curtsies:: Thankee, ma'am. ;o)

As soon as I saw the challenge I knew it was going to be Xander-centric. And for once I stopped before the smut and/or full-blown coupledom.

Foe some reason Jesse seems to have taken root in my brain. First Grungefic, now this. Odd. But good. He was such a there-and-then-gone character, we have more scope to make him into whatever we want.
Nashnashmaveric on August 17th, 2004 11:42 am (UTC)
::happy smile:: I love the inside of Xander's head. It's an interesting place to be. You should visit more often!
darkhavensdarkhavens on August 17th, 2004 07:40 pm (UTC)
I was there the second I read the challenge. It's a very interseting place. I will most definitely visit again. ;o)