Moving on

Author: Michael Wilson <wyrdradio[at]>

Rating: PG or so

Setting: Post Season 7 by many years

Summary: A day in the park brings some random thoughts to Xander's mind.

Disclaimer: Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy own the rights to everything relating to the series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

The sounds of laughter and happy voices drifted with the steamy summer breeze across the park. People were picnicking, children were playing, old men were challenging each other in endless games of chess... in short, everything was right in the world, but none of them knew why. Only one man in that park that day knew the answer... and no one would ever believe him if he told them.

*So much is different now. None of them know. They go about their lives, blissful in their ignorance of the dark world around them. None of them know what they sacrificed... what she sacrificed... to make this world one worth living in.*

The man sat against a large tree and let his eyes travel over the whole of the park. He was scanning it, searching for any sign of danger. He knew there was none, but it was a reflex... something ingrained into him from years of being in the middle of a war.

*It's hard getting used to not having to be on guard all the time. I'm so used to a vampire, a demon, or a dark mage of some sort being ready to attack and kill me. I don't know how to be... normal... any more.*

He noticed a young couple walk toward him on the path and for a moment, his heart ached with intense pain.

*Young love... so beautiful... and so not fair. It's been almost six years, but I still can't let myself get over her. She still means too much to me for me to let go. I love her so much still.*

He looked down at his hand and stared at the simple gold band... a reminder of the rare year he had of joy before his world was shattered. It had been over six years and still that ring remained on his finger. He refused to remove it... no matter what.

*They tell me she isn't coming back, that she's dead... but I can't remove it... because if I do, then what if I forget her. I don't want to ever forget her...*

He sighed and shook his head... then heard a child-like laugh from nearby. He turned to look at the owner of the laugh and smiled. It was a little girl, dark hair and green eyes, and she was beautiful. She was busy playing in the sandbox and laughing at something the little boy she was playing with had said. He watched her and felt his heart stop.

*I did get something good out of all of this... my Erica.*

The little girl looked up then and smiled. She waved and then said something to the boy before climbing to her feet. She brushed off the sand then ran over.

"Daddy... can we take Tommy to get ice cream? He said him mommy is over by the swings and that she's really nice. We could ask her too..."

The man smiled at his little girl and was about to say no when her face scrunched up into an expression just like that of her mother... and his heart gave in.

"Ok sweetie... let's go ask her then."

Erica giggled and held out her hands to her father as he climbed to his feet. He took a hand and let her drag him over. When they arrived, Tommy was standing with his mother and smiling.

"I'm so sorry about this. Tommy knows better than no try to convince people to buy him ice cream. He just has a nasty sweet tooth... like his father."

The woman smiled at the man and he swallowed hard. She was beautiful and there was something about her that made him feel... not so lonely.

"It's ok. My Erica was probably the one in charge of this mission anyway... Mrs?"

The woman laughed.

"It's Ms... I'm not married... and it's Amanda, Amanda Covington... and this is my son, Tommy."

He stared at Amanda and smiled.

"Nice to meet you, Amanda. I'm Xander Harris and you already know Erica."

Amanda grinned and batted her eyelashes at Xander softly... flirting with him. Xander blushed slightly and then grinned.

"So... ice cream. Where should we go?"

Amanda blinked.

"You still want to go? I'm shocked... and happy too. Um... Antonia's is good and only a few blocks away. We can easily walk."

Xander nodded and took a stronger grip on Erica's hand.

"Sounds fine with me. Lead the way... I'm new here?"

Amanda nodded and took Tommy's hand. She started walking and Xander found himself watching her body from behind. It was then it hit him... she looked a little like his wife.

*Is this your way of telling me it's time to move on? She looks like you, baby. If this is a sign... have her stop and... mention Monty Python.*

Xander swallowed and waited... then gasped when Amanda stopped and turned to look back at him.

"Xander... if you're not busy... after we get ice cream, would you and Erica like to join us for a movie? They're showing a Monty Python marathon at the Pavilion."

Xander felt his heart jump and butterflies form in his stomach. He nodded and took a breath. He glanced down at Erica and saw her smile back up at him. The girl needed someone to count on, to talk to... someone who understood what was going on in her... or would soon in a few years... and anyway, he had asked for a sign.

"Sure... sounds like fun."

Amanda grinned and wiggled her nose slightly... in a move that was identical to his late wife. Xander smiled and glanced upward... then moved to Amanda's side. As he grinned at her, he felt a warmth fill him... then leave, leaving behind a sense of peace.

*I'll always love you, Dawn... but you're right. I do need to move on. Thank you for everything, baby. I miss you.*

Xander felt a squeeze and looked down at Erica. There was a level of intelligence in her eyes he had never seen before. He winked at her and watched her giggle then walk ahead to walk with Tommy. Unconsciously, Xander moved next to Amanda and walked beside her. By the time they were at the ice cream parlor... they were holding hands.

As they sat down, Xander looked at his girl and his guests and for a second, he could see his future... and for once, finally, it was a happy one. He and Erica weren't alone. In fact, they all were a family... and somehow, he knew everything would be all right.

He, Xander Harris, only survivor of the Scooby Gang, once thought doomed to live in eternal agony alone... now saw a light at the end of the tunnel... all thanks to the young woman who wormed her way into his heart, then married him years later before she and the others were killed in the final battle between good and evil.

He now felt like the future wasn't going to be so bad... like he could finally have another chance at happiness... knowing that the one person who mattered most to him was ok with everything.

He could begin the healing process and finally move on.

Far away... someone smiled, knowing her daughter and husband would finally be at peace.