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Author Notes:

An attempt at a non super-powered protaganist and a straight forward romance between two broken characters.

The pen is mightier than the sword, or so his history teacher told him. He didn’t believe her at the time, why would he have?

He’d seen swords used against vampires; he’d seen rocket launchers used against demons. How could words have that sort of affect?

But then he’d felt the pain that a few words caused him, and while the words were spoken, not written, he’d understood the point. Finally.

“We don’t need you.”

Four words that changed everything in his life.

He’d always sworn that he would stand by her, by them. They were his friends, his reason, and his redemption for the crime of not saving his best friend from the vampires.

But they didn’t need him. Not his help , they didn’t need him .

He could no longer claim that they were “his girls”, because they had chosen not to be. It was the one thing he couldn’t fight.

The only way he could have ever left them was by their choice, not his.

And they had chosen. With simple words they had destroyed him; and what made it worse was that they did it carelessly.

They were trying to protect him, and if they had said anything else, he would have accepted it, but not that.

They had made it personal, struck him where he was vulnerable, and the pain was too much.

He wouldn’t allow himself to be hurt like that again. He’d remove himself from the situation.

That had always been his way of coping. He’d put up with something for as long as he could – like his home-life – then it would reach a tipping point, and he’d never let himself get into the situation again.

He was broken.

He trudged through the night, wondering what would happen if a vampire attacked. Would he die?

He’d fight, and he’d lose, because that was what he did.

Only this time there was no one around to save him, and maybe that was the way things should be. Or maybe the stake in his pocket would be used, and he’d survive.

Because that was what he did.

Even if he was broken.

He wished he was driving; then he’d be away by now. The car was as broken as he was. At least the money from the scrap yard gave him an extra cushion.

He walked into someone and bounced off, landing on the ground. He looked up. Faith.

“What are you doing here?” she sneered.

He looked at her for a long moment. She was broken as well. But she didn’t know it, and she didn’t care. She was so broken that that was the only state she knew, and perhaps she was fixed because of it.

He didn’t want to talk to her. So he didn’t.

He slowly climbed to his feet and walked off. He couldn’t fix her; she didn’t want to be fixed.

“What?” she shouted, moving in front of him. “I’m not good enough to talk to?”

He looked up at her. Her eyes were wild, panicked. She looked like she needed something, but didn’t know what.

“I can’t fix it,” he whispered. “I can’t even fix myself.”

“Fix what?” Faith said aggressively. “What are you talking about?”

He sighed and stepped around her, continuing his slow, methodical walk.

“Actually,” she said as she fell into step next to him, “you can fix it.”

He looked up at her.

“I’m horny; you’re not bad in the sack.”

“Liar,” he whispered.

She stopped and growled in anger.

He didn’t stop.

“Come on,” she said, “let’s go back to my place and fuck.” The word was drawled, laced with promise and desire.

“I don’t want to fuck you,” he said honestly. “You don’t want me to fuck you. You want something that I can’t give. I wish I could; I wish I could give you what you need, but I can’t.”

She turned so that she was walking backward, her face dancing through emotions like shadows from a fire. Anger, hurt, pain, loneliness, confidence, regret, they all flickered through her dark eyes.

“Maybe,” she whispered, “I can help you.”

“No,” he replied sadly. “What I need, you can’t give. You’ve forgotten that you have it. I’m sorry Faith, for a lot of things. Not sorry for sleeping with you, that would be hypocritical. I am sorry that I didn’t stand more in the middle of you of you and the other girls, so you didn't seem as much as an outsider. You deserved that.”

Her eyes were locked on his. She was confused now, and that was distracting her from whatever had spooked her earlier.

He chose his words with care, wanting her to leave him alone. “Goodbye, Faith. Just like everyone else, I was a day late and a dollar short.” He turned the corner at the last second, when she was already past it.

He didn’t run, he couldn’t outrun a Slayer. He couldn’t out-anything a Slayer.

She appeared back in front of him, her eyes now very angry. “Don’t do that again,” she growled.

He didn’t stop walking, he couldn’t.

Her hand shot out, catching him by the throat. She lifted him into the air.

He fought not to struggle. A vampire he would fight, but not a Slayer. There was enough of a chance, no matter how miniscule, that he might kill her.

The world needed Slayers more than it needed broken teenagers. Even a broken Slayer was worth far more than a broken teenager.

He looked in her eyes and accepted what she gave.

Her arm started to shake, tears fell from her eyes, and she let him go.

He dropped, kneeling, as he gasped for breath.

He thought about helping her, but he couldn’t. She wasn’t one of his girls; he didn’t have any girls. Slowly, he stood. He wanted to say something to her, so that she wouldn’t feel guilty, but he couldn’t.

He didn’t know what to say. The jokes seemed flat. The witty retorts stale.

So he walked, because that was all he had left.

“I killed someone today.”

Another four word sentence with such power.


“I don’t know,” she sighed. “We were fighting, I was going all out. He surprised me. I turned, and he didn’t turn into dust.”

The words were simple, and yet he could picture it. Faith flowing from one move to the next, matching Buffy, but being more so, being lost in the fight.

Surprise, followed by horror.

He took a deep breath. He closed his eyes. “You don’t need me to say anything. You need to forgive yourself. But you can’t.”

“Why not?” she asked. The question was genuine.

“Because you don’t know who you are. You’ve been broken for so long that you think it is normal.”

“What!?” Now she was angry, now she was mad; the tears gone, replace by fury.

He stopped walking and sat down. The fluorescent lights of the bus station cast an unhealthy pallor on Faith’s face. She looked surprised that they were there.

He had what was needed in his pocket. A ticket.

“You’re leaving,” she stated.

“I am.”

“Where are you going?”

He pointed toward the big city. “There, to start with, and then onwards.”

“You’ll die.”

“More than likely,” he agreed.

She sat beside him at the bus stop and stared at him.

“I don’t know you,” she eventually said.

“You do,” he replied. “But you know the non-broken me. You know the goof-ball, the joker. I am him. He is me. But now I am broken, and he is hiding.”

“How can you be broken?”

“Because I have no reason.”

“That makes no sense.”

“Your watcher,” he replied.

She stiffened. Then nodded. Once. She acknowledged his point.

They sat in silence.

The minutes ticked by. Somewhere, the bus drew closer.

“Can I fix me?”

He looked. The question had been so soft that he had to check that he hadn’t imagined it.

“I don’t know,” he replied. “This morning I would have tried to help; but this morning you would never have asked. It’s funny that you only ask when I can’t do it.”

“Maybe that’s why,” she whispered. “Maybe I need someone as broken as I am.”

“You are strong. You are a Slayer. You are Faith.”

“Those words don’t help,” she replied, her voice still so barely audible.

“I’m sorry.”


Cars drove by.

People moved on with their lives.

“Why are you broken?”

“I’m not going to tell you,” he whispered. His voice held no rancor, no insult; it was just a statement of fact.

She nodded, as if she had expected that.

More silence.

Somewhere, the bus was near.

“Are we friends?”

He thought about it for a long time. Were they friends? Friendship was a two-way street. He’d tried, and he’d failed. That was what he did.

“No,” he eventually said sadly. “We were normal.”

“Normal?” she queried.

“We argued, we fucked, we tried. We failed. Normal.”

“Can we be friends?”

He looked at her. “I doubt it. You’re broken. I’m broken. Tomorrow, you’ll change from how you are tonight.”

“Tonight, I am broken,” she agreed. “Tonight, I see his eyes as he died. Tomorrow, I will probably run.”

He nodded.

Silence again.

A car backfired, or maybe it was a gun. They didn’t flinch.


He didn’t look at her.

“Will you help me?”

“No,” his answer was honest and immediate. “I can’t help anyone.”

“But maybe,” she whispered. “I can help you in return.”

He thought about it for a long time.

He didn’t know if he wanted to be fixed.

If he was, he would feel pain. Like this, he was empty. “Fixing hurts.”

“I know.”

More silence.

The bus appeared.

It stopped.

He didn’t get on.

The bus left.

“Thank you,” she whispered.

Faith was broken.

“Why me?”

“Because you’re the first person that can understand,” she replied.

“Because I’m broken.” It was a statement, not a question.

She agreed.

He stood. She did as well. They walked, silently. Not to his parents’ house. Not to her motel room. To a diner.

Neutral territory.

Coffee. A table. A large tip to be left alone.

He sipped, the bitter liquid burnt him.

“Can you fix me?”

It was a plea. It came from somewhere inside her.


Her eyes fractured. Her head nodded.

Honesty; that was the only thing he could give. “You killed a human.”

Her head nodded again.

“You didn’t kill me.”

She looked confused.

“Someone moved up to you during a vampire fight,” he said. “He knew about vampires, he knew about Slayers. It was an accident. That was it.”

“He is still dead.”

“You Slayed the wrong person. It was an accident. You will see it every time you close your eyes. You will see it when you look in the mirror.

“And in time, it will fade. And you will learn. But you won’t change. You fight the night. Every vampire you kill is ten, twenty, a hundred lives saved.

“One life does not wipe out hundreds of thousands of people safer in their sleep because you walked through the night.”

Her eyes were locked on him.

“You may do it again; but as long as it is not on purpose, you won’t break. Intent is what counts. He surprised you. You reacted. His fault. He knew Slayers.”

She lowered her head. Her hair draped forward. When she looked up, she had accepted.

“The council?”

“Lie,” he replied. “Say his blood was green.”


He looked at her for a long moment.

“Xander,” she said softly.

He looked at her.

She took a deep breath. Her hand was shaking slightly, her eyes were nervous.

“I…” she paused, as if unable or unwilling to go on. “I need you.”

The words hit him like a bolt of lightning.

They were honest. They were torn out of her.

They were from her soul.

“You don’t,” he protested.

“I do,” she replied slowly. “Because you know what it is like to be broken. Because inside you, is the same person you used to be.”

“Like the person you used to be?” he asked.

She froze. She looked like she was going to run.

He reached out and clamped his hand on her arm. She could break the grip, but he made the gesture anyway. To keep her here, to keep her from running.

She settled. “Yes,” she whispered.

He looked at her.

“I need you.”

The words were as devastating the second time as the first.

He tried to fight them.

“I need you.”

“Please,” he whispered. Not sure what he was pleading for.

“I need you.”

He placed his head in his hands. “You’ll only be able to get rid of me by saying so.”

She sniffled slightly, and he realized she was crying.

“I need you.”

“I’ll help,” he whispered.

She smiled, and in that smile was something different. She was still broken, but not as much.

Maybe they could find what they were looking for.

Maybe they couldn’t.

It didn’t matter.

A journey always began with a single step.

And a step had been taken.


Maybe they weren’t as broken as he had thought.

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