There was a hesitant knock at the door and Xander found himself biting back his frustration. Why couldn't they just let him be? For days now they'd taken turns traipsing up to his room offering platitudes and offers of "if you need to talk". He didn't, why couldn't they see that? Couldn't they see he just wanted to be left alone?
Two days ago he'd stopped letting them into the room and yesterday he'd stopped opening the door. Today he was trying out the `ignore them and they'll go away' approach – so far it seemed to be working. He checked his watch, mid-afternoon and he'd yet to speak to another human being.
A second knock came and he idly contemplated who'd drawn the short straw this time. Not one of the new girls, after all who was he to them? Just some guy who hung around fixing things. No, it wouldn't be one of them. Andrew perhaps? Probably not, even though he knew it was wrong, Xander couldn't hide the residual anger he held over the fact that Andrew had survived when she hadn't.
Giles was next to be struck from his mental list. Xander was sure the older man would be concerned but communication had never really been his strong point so he'd send someone else to test the waters first. Willow, now she was a possibility although the silence accompanying the knocking ruled her out, she wouldn't be able to stop herself
calling out even if she wanted to. Buffy? No, she would at least have tried the handle by now; she'd never been the most patient of people.
That narrowed the list of possible candidates down to one. Willing it to be anyone else, he listened in silence as a third knock came. It was swiftly followed by a muttered "screw this" and the sound of boot clad footsteps retreating down the hallway. Faith. A tiny part of him regretted not opening the door, but he suspected she had only come out
of some misplaced sense of duty. She didn't care, she couldn't. Not after he'd succeeded so completely in pushing her away.
He tried to tell himself it was just bad luck that he'd let her in, she'd just been in the right place at the wrong time and he'd broken down. The trouble was that he couldn't even fool himself; he knew he would never have opened up to anyone else like that – there was some kind of weird connection between he and Faith that he had no hope of
Her quiet compassion had shocked him, so unlike the Faith he thought he knew – the girl capable of cold-blooded murder – and that had finally driven him over the edge. For the past seven years he'd watched as his assumptions and beliefs had been torn asunder but somehow through it all he'd managed to stay sane, knowing that there
were certain truths that could never be denied. Buffy would always be a hero, Willow would always be a friend, Faith would always be a heartless killer.
He knew they were childish beliefs but no matter how bad things got he held fast to them. And then Faith had come along and with one fell swoop shattered them. He was drifting now, he knew that but he couldn't seem to do anything about it and he was fast losing the will to care. Life, fate, destiny – whatever you wanted to call it – seemed
to be taking great delight in blindsiding him and he of all people appreciated the irony in that. If he couldn't trust his own judgement then what the hell could he trust?
He was freefalling, his life as he'd known it was over and it wasn't fair of him to drag anyone else down with him. The only option he could see was to cut himself off from them, starting with the one person who might have a hope of understanding just what was going on in his head.