Chapter 5

The group crossed through the park to get to Owens', keeping to the bushes. They split up, Angel taking the unconcious members of the party and moving off to take a more quiet route. He said he still remembered some short cuts, and Giles saw him jump down a manhole cover. Nastassia,Xander,Buffy and himself kept to the park and moved quietly. The sun was coming up, and they hoped that Angel would make it to Owens' before the sun came up. Buffy and the rest made the house before the sun came up fully, and found Angel inside in the living room, sitting around watching the sun rise. He had put Oz into a bed and Larry was on the couch, stirring. He sat up, clutching at his head. "I was worried that you weren't going to make it." Angel said, not looking at them as they entered the room. Xander covered his mouth and ran into the backyard, where he proceeded to vomit into some bushes. He walked in, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand.

"Goddamn that was intense." He said, sitting down next to Larry. Oz walked in, also clutching at his head.

"I forgot how much it hurt to get knocked out." He said, smiling. He sat in an easy chair by the window. Angel had backed away from the window as the sun came into full view, and now stood in the back his head bowed slightly. He watched the members of the room silently.

"I don't suppose Owen got out?" Xander asked him. Angel shook his head. Xander looked over at Buffy.

"And you...."

"Xander." Giles warned, looking menacingly over at him. Xander nodded and sat back, visibly annoyed.

"Well, I guess we won since we're all standing here..." Oz said, looking around.

"Sort of." Nastassia said.

"Owen didn't make it. The bad guys are currently scouring the city looking for us." Angel said.

"Owens' dead?" Buffy asked quietly.

"Hey, she speaks!" Xander cheered mockingly.

"Xander..." Giles warned again. Xander nodded and folded his arms.

"Yes,Buffy." Angel said, watching her with dark eyes "Owen is dead. He stayed behind to cover us."

"That's awful." Buffy said, staring at the ground. Xander scowled at Giles, then stood up and walked out of the room. Buffy stood up and walked off the other direction into the kitchen. Giles hovered nearby. Larry looked around, still dazed a bit.

"So,uh...anyone want to play cards?"

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A few hours later Buffy seemed like her old self, walking through the house, examining pictures and things left behind of the old days. Owen had some liquor leftover, which Xander got a hold of. He took it easy on it after Giles suggested that he looked like an alcholic. Buffy found him drinking alone in a small room off of the main hall. There were two chairs and a desk. Xander had pulled up a chair to a desk and put his feet up onto it. Buffy walked in, head bowed a little, and sat down in the other chair. "So,uh...when did you start using guns?" She asked.

"When did you start freezing up in the middle of big fights?" Buffy flinched a little at the sting in his words.

"Okay, I guess I do owe you an explanation....."

"Damn right you do." Xander exploded. He watched her calmly. "Go on."

"Okay, those stories I told, about taking out factories..... I lied." Buffy bowed her head, tears coming down her cheeks slowly. "I spent the last five years wanderering, trying to find purpose. It all seemed so hopeless.....after I failed to stop Harvest from conquering everything...." The tears came more rapidly now. "I started to lose my faith in myself. I tried to fight, but people kept dying and there were more and more vampires...." Buffy started to sob, the tears flowing like a waterfall. Xander started to lean forward, to comfort her, but stopped himself. It wasn't his job to worry about her. She was the one who was always supposed to have it together, and he was supposed to be the one who made the jokes, who kept the moral up. What were they going to do without the leader? She looked up at him, crying. "After a while I just lost my will to fight....and I became afraid. A full blown terror of fighting...I couldn't bear to lose again." Xander nodded. He stood up and started to leave the room."Xander..." Buffy said. Xander turned to face her. "Thank you, for saving me."

"I would have done the same for anyone else." He said stifly, walking out of the room.

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Larry heard the crashing and went running out into the backyard,axe in hand, ready for a fight. What he found there was Xander, drunk, throwing a steel trash can. "Fucking hopeless!" Xander screamed, tossing another trashcan into the back of the house. Larry watched him from the porch, curious. "Xander...what are you doing?"

"What am I doing? What are we all doing, Larry?" Xander asked drunkenly, stumbling a bit. "Look at us! Oz is a friggin' monk, Giles is a cripple, Deadboy is acting more eerie by the second and Buffy is a fuckin' catatonic when it comes to fighting. Wills' missing and Cordelia is no where to be found....."

"And you're drinking your life away." Larry finished.

"How do we win, larry?" Xander asked, squinting at him "How do we beat a guy who has trashed us before when we were at the top of our game now when we're a rag tag band of charity cases?!" Xander threw the bottle down onto the ground. It shattered and fell about his feet. He stumbled backward and caught himself.

"I dunno,Xander." Larry said "We'll find away. But getting drunk isn't helping anyone, so why don't you come inside with me and get some rest?" Larry held out his hand to the drunken man. Xander took it and allowed himself to be pulled inside the house.

"It's still hopeless..." Xander mumbled as Larry pulled him inside.

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"Giles..." Buffy said, walking into Owens' room. Giles had sat there since they had arrived at the house, looking at Owens' books. Giles turned as the blonde entered the room.

"Oh, H-hello Buffy." He turned back to the books, hiding his face from her.

"Giles...I..."

"Lied about your five years, yes I know."

"Did Xander..."

"No." Giles replied, spinning on his heel towards her "I just figured that any girl who freezes up in a battle with a few vampires and lesser demons certainly couldn't have destoryed full factories swarming with those various beings." Buffy bowed her head.

"I'm sorry,Giles." She looked up into his eyes "Are you dissapointed in me?"

"A little." Giles said, lifting a hand to her cheek "But not really. It's a wonder we don't all react to that. Buffy, I will always be proud of you....but we need you. We cannot win without the slayer..."

"Nastassia..."

"Is good,granted,but she isn't you,Buffy." Giles replied. Buffy bowed her head again.

"How can I beat a guy who's already beaten us?"

"I'm the watcher here, Buffy. You're just the muscle. I'll let you know how and then you'll do it. That's how the game is played." Buffy smiled hopefully, and nodded.

"How do we get out of Sunnydale?' She asked, sitting on the bed. He sat down with a grunt next to her.

"My Van is a parked a few blocks from the Bronze. I figured that there might be trouble and prepared for a get away. There are a lot of my books in there, along with Willows' laptop and a few other new reference items. There is room for a few, and Larry mentioned his van a little earlier. Said it was parked where he used to live, which wasn't far from the Bronze." Giles replied. Buffy nodded.

"It's almost as if you both knew there would be trouble." Buffy said, looking up at him. Giles smiled and nodded.

"Yes." Giles said "Maybe we're getting more help than we realise" Buffy stood up.

"We'll leave at nightfall?" Buffy suggested. Giles nodded. "Okay, I'll go rally the troops." She walked out. Giles stood and walked back to the bookshelf.

"Yes, I really hope I can find a way to win this for us." Giles said to himself "I really hope I do."

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