Six Hours In

Author: Beleg_Cuthalion1 <beleg_cuthalion1[at]>

Rating: Very slight language

Disclaimer: The characters do not belong to me; they belong to Joss Whedon and Co. Only the story is mine.

Category: I'm not entirely sure.

Summary: Xander's ruminations on the ride away from the Sunnydale crater, immediately following the finale.

Author's Note: I was requested by someone called goatboy to post this here and being a narcissist, I am happy to comply. Some of you may know me from the BX fanfic or BX love lists.

What do you do when you've won? How do you deal with the fact that for more then a third of your life you have had an overriding mission that very few could help with or know of and suddenly not only have you won, there are people to pass the torch to?

Xander had a brief vision of him and Buffy and Willow, much older, sitting in rocking chairs and telling all the young slayers how much easier they have it now. Talking about how in their day you had to walk seven miles uphill both ways in the snow to kill vampires, and yes, it did snow in southern California, you young whippersnapper. What happened was…

For a brief and morbid moment, he flashed back to the old song and how wrong it was; "It Never Rains in Southern California." It rained; hell, sometimes it rained blood. It rained from the necks of the foolish innocent and from the limp bodies of girls too young to drive and from the torn open stomachs of women you left at the altar and from the eye sockets of the stupidly heroic.

Where did they go now? Giles was driving the school bus but Xander had no idea where they were going. He couldn't summon the energy to care, much less to ask. The desert passed by on either side. He supposed that the new slayer army would need instruction and organization. Giles had the work of a lifetime before him. Buffy and Faith were the elder veterans now and their help would be needed, for training if for nothing else. Faith, he felt, might fill that role but Buffy he wasn't sure about. She had done her bit for queen and country and he suspected that she might just leave it all for a time, possibly for a long time. Inevitably, she would go back. The calling was strong for slayers, he knew.

He wondered about Willow. She had gone beyond the need for the formal educational settings she had always loved. There would be no college for her; she didn't need it. She was already among the best in the world at what she did, better suited to teach then to learn. But she, too, was tired. Maybe she would run off to some beach or something with Kennedy and just bask and rest for a few years. Still, she too, would be back. She would be needed. After all, slayers were now a dime a dozen. The mighty one that changed the structure of the world to allow such numbers was sure to be called on. Willow would answer the call when it came.

What of him? The one eyed Zeppo, the glorified bricklayer; did he have a place in the future or was he just to settle into anonymity. He envisioned a little plaque in some future slayer central with his name on it and one of the girls, the "potentials" he had come to know slightly saying to an even younger girl, "Yes, I knew him." What else would they say?

It was ironic that he now had the best prospects for a normal future of them all. Who would ever have guessed that he would have more earning potential then Willow? There; that was something he could do. Maybe they could all get together, he and Buffy and Willow, and throw a dart at a map. They could move wherever the dart hit and he could get a job and support them. Willow could even bring Kennedy if she wanted and Kennedy could be the local slayer. Dawn could finish high school and go away to a nice normal college with frat parties and boys. Buffy could just rest and he could watch them all be happy. It was a comforting thought, so he forced himself to dwell on it.

He saw Dawn bringing home boys and himself playing the part of the glowering father, warning the boy not to get out of line, the poor kid completely unaware that the big scary one eyed man was the least of his worries if he did.

He saw Buffy, with a certain cynical humor, unable to find anyone to date because there were no vampires with souls or super-soldiers around.

Xander settled into the fantasy. For some reason, he wanted to take his family to a place with snow. He wanted to see Dawn and Buffy with wonderfully red cheeks laughing through a snowball fight. He wanted to see Willow and Kennedy walking hand in hand under glorious fall foliage wearing bulky sweaters. He wanted to rake leaves into big piles and have the kids jump in them and scatter them. He wouldn't mind at all that he had to rake them again…

Kids? Where had the kids come from? Okay, maybe they wouldn't all live in the same house. Maybe they could just be neighbors and when Dawn and Buffy had settled with husbands there could be kids. He could be Uncle Xander and teach them important things like which comic books were good and that there was no such thing as too much junk food.

Giles would make a wonderful grandfatherly type for them. He had that wise, tolerant thing going in spades. They had all broken him in well for that. Of course, his bedtime stories would not be for the faint of heart.

He knew it wasn't going to happen, any of it. Well, Giles would likely have a part in managing the new slayers, but other then that it wasn't likely. Willow and Kennedy would go one way, Buffy and Dawn another. He had no one and would probably drift till he found a job and just stop there. He had no place now.

It was an option for him to wait for the women to choose and then simply follow, but he had followed long enough. As depressing as it would be, he would have to find a life for himself somewhere there was no Buffy or Willow. He had to be his own man; most importantly, he had to be a man.

He looked around the bus. The girls were all silent, shell shocked. Willow met his gaze and smiled wanly. He returned it. They held each other's gaze and Xander found his smile widen. Willow's did too. It felt almost wrong with so many dead, but in many other ways it felt so right. He smiled wider and Willow returned it, till suddenly he laughed. "We are alive, people," he said into the silence, his voice fiercely exultant. "We beat the sons of bitches and we are alive."

"Not all of us," someone said. He didn't know who, one of the girls.

"Not all," Willow said, and she glanced at Kennedy, "and it's not like we should be celebrating or anything, but damn it, Xander's right. We're alive."

Around the bus, the younger girls were looking at each other and out the windows for the first time since they had started the long ride. There was movement and a hint of life.

"We're alive," Dawn said, her voice soft and surprised sounding.

"We are," Buffy said, taking Dawn's hand and smiling gratefully at Xander. "We sure are."

Xander smiled as the bus rolled through the desert and the sun set around them. Oddly curious, he looked at his watch and saw that they were six hours into the new world. In spite of all, it wasn't looking so bad. He still didn't know what to do now that they had won and his war was over, but he at least knew that there would be something and for now that was enough.