Exit, Stage Left (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

Originally Posted: Mar. 8th, 2007
Length/Rating: 409 words, PG, Gen
AU: The Secret Lives of Superheroes
Pairing/Warnings: none
Summary: They’re calling for an encore…

BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER is owned, trademark and copyright by Twentieth Century Fox, Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and the WB Network. All rights reserved. No copyright infringement is intended nor implied.

They wandered the Midwest for almost two months, wiping out what pockets of evil they stumbled across, but never looking too far beyond the pale circle of Ruth’s headlights. Sometimes they ran into others, baby slayers, vigilantes, law enforcement who’s never quite sure what’s going on, and once, a beat-up black Impala with a love of classic rock.

They’re moving, always moving, and yet it’s stopped feeling like they’re running away. There’s no sense of urgency anymore, just an inherent momentum rolling them down dusty roads and empty highways. Plenty of time to stop and see, well, whatever catches their attention. The Grand Canyon, flea markets, state fairs, vampires, demons, even a giant fiberglass frog. When he’s feeling philosophical, Xander wonders if they’ve fallen into a comfortable sort of Purgatory; they aren’t running away, but they’re not running towards anything either.

A few days after the frog they run into Spike, scowling at a pump in the middle of the night, trying to figure out how to buy gas for a van with tinted windows. They carefully don’t ask him what’s making the muffled thumps and curses in the back and he doesn’t ask them where they’ve been. Instead they trade amiable complaints about the trouble with staying dead in a world that loves heroes, Angel’s obsessive pursuit of martyrdom, and Buffy’s tyrannical micromanagement of the world in general (and Spike in specific). All in all it’s one of their more pleasant conversations.

A week later Buffy and Willow roll in to save Xander from himself. He’d expected them to show up, ever since the gas station; not even Spike could keep secrets from those two for long. But it’s depressing, rather than ironic, that they wait until he’s almost happy again to charge in and save him. He keeps waiting for Faith or Ruth to go on the offensive, but they don’t, and it’s only after Buffy starts laying the foundation for the guilt trip to end all guilt trips that he figures out they’re waiting for him to choose.

So he stops Buffy in mid-lecture, declines politely, and it’s back to two against three instead of two against one. That causes all sorts of headaches (figurative and literal), but in the end Buffy and Willow agree to leave him be.

Spike shows up two weeks later to apologize; Faith’s forgiven him but Ruth’s still furious and the vampire makes a quick retreat, nursing burnt fingers and cursing.



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