Tuesday's Gone

Author: Drake Tepes <daemondrake[at]charter.net>

Rating: PG-13

Spoilers: All of BtVS S7 Set after "Chosen", the stuff on Angel about where Xan went not applicable.

Summary: Xander on a train bound for nowhere. Some angst.

Disclaimer: I own nothing. Literally. None of this. It's sad. Are you happy now you lawyers? Forcing me to do this disclaimer and making me feel sad at my lack of owning things. I hate you all! Lawyers: Well we don't like you either!

Drake: It's like they're cheerleaders without breasts or legs or all the fun stuff.

Author's Notes: A bit of a crossover here, or two. If things don't make sense… Don't worry. Assume whatever you wish to make it work. :) Also, to my loyal minion whose soul I hold dominion over, thank you for beta'ing Mark.

Mark: If you had dominion over my soul, that damn SWAT fic would be done by now.

Drake: Yeah, you know, why don't we mention the SWAT fic here? See if anyone on XZ wants to read about Xan in SWAT. Shall we do that?

Mark: *silence*

Drake: Alrighty then, on to the fic.

Chapter 1

"Tuesday's Gone," The man across from Xander said unexpectedly as they were both looking out the windows of the moving train.

"Pardon me?"

"You remind me of that song son. Are you trying to ride your blues away?" The man asked kindly, focusing his gaze squarely on Xander.

It took a moment for Xander to understand, before the song clicked into place. While country could be the music of pain, southern rock was a balm to help the pain heal. "I guess you could say that. I'm leaving my friends behind."

"And your woman?"

The man noticed the flash of pain across Xander's face, "She's gone. Everything we had, what had been our home… Everything's gone."

"You're from Sunnydale?"

"Yeah. The great sinkhole. I wonder if it'll fill in with water and be Lake Sunnydale. I wonder if anyone will try to find the bodies…" Xander choked up a little.

"Maybe they'll fill it with dirt son. Put a marble slab up with the names of those who didn't make it out, and with those who were buried there. A memorial park. A place of joy and happiness commemorated to those lost."

"I'd give most anything for that to be. Some… some good friends, some family, are there. I'd like to be able to pay my respects to them." Xander said, absent mindedly wiping away a tear that fell from his eye.

"Those we've lost always know we loved them. Grieving is more for the living than the dead. With or without a memorial, they'll know you loved them."

"You've lost someone like this too?" Xander's quiet question hung a moment after he asked.

"I've lost many people in my life. Some I've had a place with a connection to them that I could visit, others I've had only my head and heart. Those we care about, that we love and know, live forever in our hearts. You can pay respects by closing your eyes, seeing their face and simply remembering."

"Thank you. I… I needed someone to talk to." A honest smile, belying the tears the fell, graced Xander's face.

"I'm happy to be here. But I think there's still something else. We've got a long ride ahead of us son and I've got some good ears for listening."

"What do you mean?"

"What about your friends?"

"Oh." A thick silence hung for a moment as Xander thought of what to say. "Even before Sunnydale sank, before this," he motioned to his eye, "my friends and I were drifting apart. We were… involved in our community, a beautification and safety group. We were going to keep on in the same field after the town sank, but we got a lot of new recruits. A lot more people ready and willing to help out. More skilled at it. And who had depth perception."

"So they fired you?" The man asked, his face showing he knew there was a lot more that wasn't being said.

"They pushed me out of it. We did a lot of work trying to get gangs off the streets and it could get dangerous. The new recruits had skills that let them better protect themselves and no blind spot. So they tried to get me to move into an office job, which has been something we've always had covered as is. It just felt like…" Xander trailed off, not knowing exactly how to say it.

"Like the one thing you were good at, that meant something to you, was being taken away. Others deciding the laws on what can and can't be done and you're forced to follow along. That sound about right?"

"You've been there?" Xander's eye focused on the man, reading in his eyes that he clearly knew more than Xander was saying.

"Everyone has at one point or another son. And you did the right thing there, for them and yourself. Sometimes you can't stay where you're not…"

"Wanted?" Xander offered.

"Where you're not appreciated. Never let yourself be taken for granted. You were smart there. You knew when to walk away. It's never easy, but sometimes you just have to fold your hand and hope the next cards you're dealt will be better. It beats bluffing for the wrong reasons."

"I take it you're a card player then?" Xander asked with a grin at the analogy.

"I've played a few hands. I've learned to read people kid. I can tell you've still got some Aces coming your way."

"Thank you," Xander said earnestly. It felt like a weight had been taken off of him. To have someone tell him he did the right thing was very liberating.

"You're welcome. So, where're you heading anyway?"

"No clue really, I was just… 'trying to ride my blues away,'" Xander said, earning a hearty laugh from the man. "What's funny is, Tuesday's always were our roughest nights in work. Without fail, every Tuesday, some crisis would pop up."

"Sounds damn inconvenient."

"It was. Luckily there was never anything worth watching on tv on Tuesday nights."

"Ain't that the truth," the older man said.

A comfortable silence filled the cabin of the train then, rather companionable. It was broken after a few minutes by the man. "If you want, I've got a ranch I'm going back to. I could always use some help on it. Gotta warn ya though, it's a rough bit of work. But if those calluses on your hands are an indication you don't shy away from that."

Looking at his hands and really noticing how callused they were Xander smiled. "I was a carpenter for awhile, then moved up the ranks in a construction firm. I like to think I was pretty good at it, it was something to really get into. To have something to look at and know I contributed to it or outright did it myself."

"I know what you mean. You can always help me build a new barn and silo. Nothing'll clear a man's head like hard work and open land. And the smell of cow shit. Live on a farm or ranch long enough and you'll come to know cow shit as one of the smells of springtime."

Xander's laugh was full and easy, "I wasn't sure if I'd accept until that last bit. Now I have to go just to see how thick you're laying the bullshit on."

The older man laughed back with Xander, "That pun was almost painful."

"Ah, I'm good at those."

"Well, we've got a long ride ahead of us. You ever play poker?"

"Not really, I think I know most of the rules, you know. What hand beats what," Xander said by way of explanation as the kindly white haired man pulled a weathered old deck of cards from his jacket and set his cowboy hat to the side.

"There's more to it than that. If you're going to play the game boy, you've got to learn to play it right."

"You willing to teach me… I never caught your name, or gave mine, sorry. I'm Xander," he said, offering his man.

"Ah, sorry about that. Name's Brady. And I'd be happy to teach you. Every hand's a winner and every hand's a loser. But the main thing is, you've got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em…" Brady Hawks said as he began to train his newest student in the art of poker. He could teach him other things later if he needed. They had the time after all.

The End